Wednesday, December 14, 2005
Singing Legend Dead at 66
by Jean Edwards Stacy, The Telegram

Country singer/songwriter Dick Nolan passed away at Carbonear Hospital overnight Monday at age 66, after suffering a stroke.

Richard Francis Nolan was born in Corner Brook on Feb. 4, 1939.

He is survived by Marie, his wife of 26 years, daughters Donna (Rudy) Nolan Wagoner and Bonnie Lou (Ray) Gardiner, sisters Lillian (Pat Hayes), Priscilla Boutcher, Dorothy (Bill) Gough, Marjorie (Phonse) Rowsell and Patricia Nolan and four grandchildren.

He was predeceased by his sister Ann and brothers John, Martin, and Duncan.

Called one of the finest country singers in Canada, Nolanís name is intrinsically linked with Aunt Marthaís Sheep, the song that became his biggest hit following its release in 1972.

He and Ellis Coles of Carmanville wrote the song that begins, ďCome gather all around me, and Iíll sing to you a tale.Ē

Over the course of a career that began in the late 1950s, Nolan released more than 40 albums and recorded more than 300 tracks.

He was nominated for a Juno Award, appeared at the Grand Ole Opry, had one platinum record and two gold, and had five songs listed on RPMís national charts. 

Living in South River at the time of his death, Nolan was in Grand Falls-Windsor last month to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Music Industry Association of Newfoundland and Labrador.

He sang with the 8 Track Favourites and was scheduled to appear with them in concert at the St. Johnís Arts and Culture Centre Feb. 20.

As well as getting back into making public performances, he was working on a Best of Dick Nolan CD with Sony BMG. The album is targeted for release in late January.

Nolan was also busy working on his memoirs, assisted by friend and retired civil servant Wayne Tucker.

ďThereís a lot people donít know about Dick Nolan. He died a very active man. He had a lot of projects on the go. He had a lot to live for,Ē said Tucker, a St. Johnís resident who plans to complete the book that was high on Nolanís priority list.

Tucker became a fan of Nolanís in the 1970s when the singer was playing regular gigs at the Strand nightclub in the Avalon Mall.

ďI loved his voice ó his voice was just amazing ó as well as his ability to entertain, and his sense of humour and his rapport with the audience,Ē he said.

Much of Nolanís musical career was spent in Ontario. In 1958, he moved from Corner Brook to Toronto where he and his Blue Valley Boys were headliners at the Horseshoe Tavern for many years.

His first two albums were for Arc Sound and consisted of songs that had been hits for Johnny Cash. All told, he did 11 recordings with Arc. Some were recorded as duets with his daughter, Bonnie Lou, or with Marlene Beaudry.

Nolan returned to Corner Brook in the late 1960s. In 1972, he began to record for RCA. His first album, Fishermanís Boy, included Aunt Marthaís Sheep. He returned to Toronto in 1973.

Over the years, Tucker followed Nolanís career. Not finding much information about him on the Internet he began putting together a website ( about 18 months ago.

Tuckerís first contact with Nolan was when he called him in Toronto to tell him about his website. Nolan checked it out and liked it.

The two first met last February when Tucker was invited to the singerís birthday party. At the time, Nolan and his wife had returned to Newfoundland and were living on Bell Island, Marieís home.

Tucker and Nolan quickly developed a rapport and the idea for a book was born.

In subsequent months, Tucker did many interviews, with the last ones conducted in South River.

Nolan is being waked at Mooreís Funeral Home in Bay Roberts. The funeral is 10:30 a.m. Friday at All Hallows Roman Catholic Church in North River. Interment to follow at All Hallows cemetery.

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