|Dick Nolan – the deep-voiced singer who became a
legend with a song about a confused Mountie and a delicious feed of
mutton – died overnight in hospital in Clarenville.
Nolan, 66, was honoured only last month with a lifetime achievement
award by Music NL, the provincial music industry association.
He suffered a stroke last week.
Nolan released more than 40 albums during a career that spanned
five decades, but will always be known for one song in particular –
Aunt Martha's Sheep.
Written with Ellis Coles, the 1972 song tells the tale of a group
of Carmanville sheep-stealers who hoodwink an investigating RCMP
officer by insisting their stew was made of moose.
"We might have stole the sheep, boys, but the Mountie ate the
most," Nolan sang to end the tune, a singalong favourite in pubs and
kitchen parties alike.
The album containing Nolan's signature song went platinum, selling
more than 100,000 copies in Canada.
In an interview last year, Nolan said his record label at one point
could barely keep up with the demand.
"They even had to stop pressing Elvis Presley in Smith Falls, Ont.
– that's where they had their pressing plant," Nolan recalled.
Nolan moved to Toronto at 19, and became a staple of local bars. He
went on to record frequently, releasing at least one album per year,
often consisting of country cover tunes and "down east" music, as it
was then known.
However, despite becoming a household name in Newfoundland and
Labrador and with expatriates on the mainland, Nolan found a downside
to his success.
Like many other recording artists of his time, Nolan went years
without receiving a royalty cheque.
"I don't have any regrets, no," he said.
"I've made some mistakes and everybody makes them."
Last summer, Nolan returned to his home province with his wife,
He was writing his memoir and had been planning to release a CD of
all his albums recorded with RCA in the 1970s