Tuesday, January 03, 2006


Canadian country singer Dick Nolan has died at the age of 66. Nolan fell victim to the career curse of a novelty hit, which overshadowed his more serious work.

Born in Corner Brook, Newfoundland in 1937, Nolan made his first records in the late 50s while resident in Toronto, comprising mainly of Johnny Cash covers. Ten albums later, he'd built a reputation as a singer of "truck drivin' country and western songs" for Arc Records and wanted to try something different. He returned home and became the forefront of a new Newfoundland Country style, which married traditional themes from the province with the sound of country and western.

In 1972, he released Aunt Martha's Sheep, a comical tale of rustlers trying to convince a mountie they were eating a moose stew. It was to become both Clark's biggest selling record, and one of the most successful of all the Newfoundland Country hits.

Nolan was happy to work this furrow, releasing a further collection of songs aimed at the funny bone with differing levels of success, both in terms of target and sales. His happiness to play up to stereotypes wasn't universally popular with critics who viewed the Newfoundland Country scene with distaste, but it proved a formula which worked; he carried on releasing albums up until 1999 and was still playing live in the last months of his life.

In November, Nolan recieved a lifetime achievement award from MusicNL, the industry association for Newfoundland and Labrador. He died in the last week of the old year following a stroke; he is survived by his wife, Marie.

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