Class OF 2022

LARRY MERCEY

LARRY MERCEY

2022 Inductee

Larry Mercey Born in Hanover Ontario, Larry Mercey is an icon of Canadian country music. Larry and his brothers grew up making music, but only started to seriously pursue a professional career together in 1957 as the duo of Larry and Ray Mercey. They were a regular act on the CKNX Barn Dance radio show and later CKNX television. Their first hit, ‘Just the Snap Of Your Fingers’ was released in 1961, following their signing to Chateau Records. Joined by their third brother, Lloyd in 1966 they went on to perform and record together for over 30 years first with the RCA label and then with their own MBS label. Larry Mercey wrote several of the group's hit songs. In total, The Mercey Brothers had six songs reach the top of the Canadian country music charts with another 18 tunes reaching the top 10. They released 12 albums and 35 singles and eps. The Mercey Brothers were nominated for 15 Juno awards, winning 7. Their first was a Gold Leaf award at the first ever award show. The trio were named group of the year by the CCMA and Big Country Awards in 1985 and 1986 respectively. In 1973, The Mercey Brothers opened their own recording studio called Mercey Brothers Recording in Elmira, Ontario. They also started their own Record Label, MBS (Mercey Brothers Sound) in the late 70’s, releasing their own recordings and signing, among others, fellow Hall of Fame inductee Marie Bottrell. The trio toured extensively in Canada and appeared on major CBC, CTV, and syndicated country music TV series. The Brothers were asked to perform the national anthem for the Toronto Blue Jays. They performed early in their career at the Grand Ol' Opry in Nashville and toured in the late 1970s in England and Germany and in the mid-1980s in Holland and Scandinavia. The Mercey Brothers were inducted into the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame in 1989, which is the same year they disbanded. Larry Mercey then began a solo career fronting the Larry Mercey Trio with George Lonsbury and Al Alderson. Mercey was nominated for Best Country Male Vocalist at the Juno Awards in 1991 and 1993. His 1993 single "If I'm Only Good for One Thing" reached the Top 20 of the RPM Country Tracks chart. In total, as a solo artist he released 3 albums and 9 singles and eps. One of Larry’s fondest memories is hearing Charlie Pride’s recording of “America the Great,” a song Mercey co-wrote with Georgia native Ed Gowens. Larry moved to Ilderton 6 years ago and completed his Autobiography, “Have Mercey: My First 60 Years Making Music.” He continued to perform until the pandemic paused live music in 2020.

CHERRILL RAE YATES

CHERRILL RAE YATES

2022 Inductee

Cherril Rae Yates, one of 8 children, was born in the United Kingdom and moved to St. Thomas as a child. She began singing at a young age and was lead singer for the popular local band Comic Opera. At 17 she moved to study music at The Cardiff College of Music in Wales and began performing in the UK. Yates was booked on a BBC variety show hosted by Robbie Rae and soon after they were married. The Raes, a Cabaret style act, was born. Cherrill convinced Robbie to move to Canada and they began touring in Canadian venues from coast to coast. While performing at Ye Olde City Hall here in London, they caught the interest of reps from Dixon-Propas Productions. This led to a record deal with A&M records in 1976. Soon after on the advice of their management team, they reinvented themselves with more of a dance/disco sound. They recorded a cover of the Doris Day song “Que Sera Sera” as a dance track, and it hit the Canadian charts peaking at #1. It also earned them a Juno award nomination for best selling single. The success of the single lead to their first album “The Raes.” This album went gold and a second album was quickly recorded. “Dancing Up A Storm” was released in 1979 and included the big hit (on both the pop and dance charts) “A Little Lovin’ (Keeps the Doctor Away).” 1979 saw a successful year of mini-tours of Europe and the US, which included appearances on US television shows such as American Bandstand, Soul Train and The Midnight Special. They also hosted their own Variety Show on the CBC. The show was called The Raes Variety Hour and made its debut on June 30, 1978, as a summer replacement for the Tommy Hunter Show. The show continued in 1979-80 as a half-hour show and retitled The Raes. It lasted until February 1980. 1980 saw the release of their third and final album “Two Hearts” and a Juno nomination for Most Promising Group. But musical tastes were changing and The Raes were dropped from the A&M roster near the end of 1980, their career as a duo was over and they divorced soon after. They remained friends and occasionally worked together until Robbie moved to Thailand and sadly passed away in 2003. Cherrill released a single for A&M while still using the Rae last name. It was called “I Know I’ll Never Love This Way Again”, with the song “Gonna Burn My Boogie Shoes” on the flip side. Cherrill went on to perform with the “Men’s Room” releasing an EP and one LP. She performed in several other acts, including Backstreet, Rae and Rockit, and her own lounge act, The Cherrill Rae Trio. In 2002 she began performing for Carnival Cruise Lines and in 2008 released “Look At Me Now” a CD on the Society Hill label. Today she continues to perform her nightclub act and lives in Florida.

ROry dodd

ROry dodd

2022 Inductee

While you may not immediately recognize his name, you will recognize Rory Dodd’s voice from countless hits. Rory Dodd was born in Port Dover Ontario into a musical family. His mother Maureen Dodd was a well-respected music teacher and his older brother, Cal, is a jazz vocalist and jingle singer. Rory Dodd began singing Irish folk songs at the age of four, along with his older brother Cal. Cal was involved in a rock version of Hamlet for CBC Radio, and Rory successfully auditioned for the part of Horatio. As a teenager Rory and his brother moved to New York to perform the newly renamed “Rock-a-Bye Hamlet” on Broadway where he met Meat Loaf. Meat Loaf was so impressed with Rory’s 4 octave range and his unique falsetto trademark that he tagged him to perform on his upcoming album, ‘Bat Out of Hell.’ Meat, as Rory calls him, introduced Rory to Jim Steinman an American composer, lyricist, record producer, and playwright who worked with an unending roster of the top acts of the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. Rory became Steinman’s go-to vocalist performing on demo tapes of his music. While working with Steinman, Dodd met many top artists who sought to use him as a backup vocalist. He appears on tracks with artists including James Taylor, Carly Simon, Celine Dion, Bon Jovi, Barry Manilow, Lou Reed and Patty Smyth to name but a few. In 1983 Dodd performed on the number one, two and three songs in the country at the same time: “Total Eclipse of the Heart,” a duet he sang with Bonnie Tyler ranked No. 1, followed by “Making Love Out of Nothing at All” by Air Supply at No. 2 and “Tell her About it” with Billy Joel at No. 3. Rory sang lead on three songs on Steinman's solo album Bad for Good. One of the songs from this album, "Rock and Roll Dreams Come Through", was Rory’s biggest hit as a lead singer, reaching Number 32 on the Billboard Hot 100. Dodd also sang with Fire Inc. which released two songs for the "rock 'n' roll fable" film Streets of Fire in 1984. Rory also provided the singing voices for “Tex and Rex” on the Shining Time Station in the late 80’s and has done voiceover work for commercials. Dodd currently lives in Simcoe, Ontario.

Loreena Mckennitt

Loreena Mckennitt

2022 Inductee

Born in Morden, Manitoba, singer, composer Loreena McKennitt moved to Stratford in 1981, where she initially worked with Canada’s renowned Stratford Festival. She became “smitten” with Celtic music in the late 1970s. This connection deepened after viewing an exhibition of Celtic artifacts in Venice which celebrated the rich, ancient tapestry of sounds and rhythms and stories of Celtic history. She strongly believes that music is a conduit to greater connection and understanding for all people. Over the last two decades Ms. McKennitt has sold over 14 million albums from her catalogue of seven studio albums, three seasonal recordings, a live in concert DVD and two DVD documentaries. Her albums have earned gold, platinum, and multi-platinum sales awards in 15 countries across four continents. Ms. McKennitt has been awarded 2 Junos and earned 2 Grammy nominations and has performed for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. In 1985 she established her own record label, Quinlan Road to produce and sell her recordings ethically. Ms. McKennitt is hands on with responsibilities that include everything from creating strategic business plans to overseeing marketing and promotion. In addition, Ms. McKennitt heads three charitable foundations she established. The Three Oaks Foundation provides financial support to cultural, environmental, historical, and social groups. The Cook-Rees Memorial Fund for Water Search and Safety has raised more than $4 million in support of water safety education, as well as search, rescue, and recovery operations. In 2000 Ms. McKennitt purchased a recently closed public school in Stratford and transformed it into the Falstaff Family Centre. The Centre focuses on the needs of families and children. Ms. McKennitt is a member of the Order of Canada and the Order of Manitoba. In 2002 and 2012 she was the recipient of Queen Elizabeth II’s Golden and Diamond Jubilee medals and in 2013 she was appointed to the rank of Knight of the National Order of Arts and Letters by the Republic of France. She has been granted numerous honorary degrees by Canadian Universities and was appointed Honorary Colonel of the Royal Canadian Air Force. Ms McKennitt has a well articulated set of principles which she shares on her web site (https://loreenamckennitt.com/) which have made her a strong advocate for human rights.

John Aquaviva

John Aquaviva

2022 Inductee

John Acquaviva, who moved to London from Italy at the age of 4 is a DJ, producer, artist, and musical entrepreneur. Acquaviva plays 50 to 60 shows a year around the world and works with artists as a producer and talent developer and appears as a speaker at universities and conferences. John got his start in the music business in the mid 80’s at London’s Dr Disc. His specialty at the time was new wave/electro, dance and the newer emerging house and techno genres. John began working as a DJ at Notes and then in 1991 began DJing at Western University’s newly opened Max Club. He hasn’t stopped since. John had a studio in his parent’s basement to start and eventually acquired a very expensive Spectral digital recording and editing system. Rob Nation from EMAC found out about this and offered John physical space at EMAC in exchange for using the Spectral system for EMAC projects. An offer John accepted, and this helped bring hip hop sounds to EMAC and gave John a much larger studio to work in as he was now recording and producing. Acquaviva often worked in Detroit where he performed under the name of J'acquaviva+8. There he met fellow DJ Richie Hawtin who became his business partner. In 1989, Acquaviva and Hawtin founded one of the world's best known and influential techno labels, Plus 8 Records. They released the label’s first records, "Elements of Tone" and "We Shall Overcome” under the name States of Mind. John is a pioneer in electronic music’s technological evolution helping the genre make the transition from analogue to digital and from vinyl to turntables and laptops. Acquaviva and Hawkins developed “Final Scratch,” a software program that allows DJs to connect digital files to turntables and have instant access to thousands of songs without crates full of records. He helped found and launch Beatport.com, the largest dance-music download site in the world. Acquaviva currently runs Definitive Recordings, which fosters new artists, DJ’s and producers. Acquaviva has had, both personally and with his label, six number one hits and narrowly missed a seventh when his track "Sofa King", made together with Olivier Giacomotto, peaked at number two on the overall Beatport chart. In 2016 John moved into film producing with the award winning film, The Red Man, His career has spanned more than 4 decades, through thousands of parties, with millions of people having heard him play. He is always in high demand.

John Smale

John Smale

Life time Achievement 2022

John Smale moved to London from Sault Ste. Marie at the age of 17 to attend Western University. The Hub, a coffee house at Western, impressed him and it became his dream to open his own coffee house. After graduating, John worked downtown doing displays for Eatons. On his lunch break he came across a building for rent on Clarence Street, an old Bell garage, and felt it would be perfect for his coffee house. With financial and emotional help from his brothers, Bob and Jim, who had joined him in London, a lease was obtained. With the physical help of his brothers, his musician friends, and their families the building was renovated. Smales Pace opened in 1970. John’s brothers worked with him for the first year and helped realize John’s dream of a place where a collective of artists: writers, poets, visual artists, storytellers, and musicians, could meet. After the first year John’s brothers moved on, but John continued to host newcomers, rising stars and established artists at his coffee house. Smales Pace offered a full menu and of course coffee, but there was no liquor served as it was a ‘listening house’ where the music and its message were of utmost importance. Artists felt at home and respected. Hall of Famer Paul Mills was one of the early performers, as was Laura Smith who also worked there as a waitress. In its five years of operation Smales Pace saw Bruce Cockburn, Murray McLaughlin, Stan Rodgers, David Essig, The Good Brothers, Jackie Washington, Willie P. Bennett and so many other folk artists take its stage. Smales Pace closed its doors in 1975, its impact far exceeding its lifespan. In 1974, the Home County Music and Art Festival, now celebrating its 48th year, began just a couple of blocks north of Smales Pace. The festival called on a lot of the local talent who had their start at the coffee house and booked many of the out-of-town acts who already knew London as a folk friendly town. In 1975 John moved on and accepted a design job at the Ben Miller Inn and began to raise a family. An interested group carried on the venue for a few years on Talbot Street under the name Change of Pace. John now lives in Belleville, working as a designer. He shares his memories on his YouTube channel. https://www.johnsmale.ca/smalespace

Brian Mortimer

Brian Mortimer

Lifetime Achievement 2022

Brian Mortimer left his native Ottawa to make London his home in 1972 when he was in his early 20s. A close friend had just purchased the Clifton Arms Hotel in London and was in the process of renovating. This led to the creation of Alfie’s Room and began Brian’s career of supporting, booking and promoting live music. After spending some time managing entertainment rooms for others, Brian moved into his own operation and he took over the Talbot Inn, an old downtown London hotel previously known as a country venue. He opened, in time, three separate entertainment rooms. Mingles was the rock room, with the Firehall dedicated to blues and roots music, and a short-lived smaller room for acoustic acts called The Cookery. During his decade at the Talbot Inn, The Firehall featured such greats as Matt “Guitar” Murphy of Blues Brothers fame, Eddie “the Chief” Clearwater, Jeff Healey, Colin James, and Tom Wilson. Mingles welcomed acts like David Wilcox, Kim Mitchell, DOA, Cub Koda, the Gun Club and too many others to name. When the modernisation of downtown happened, the old hotel was replaced by London’s new downtown arena, and Brian moved on to take over the old Red Lion Inn, now rechristened Leadbelly’s, and, later, another club at Talbot and York called Mortz’. During this time, he gave steady work to some of London’s finest blues, rock and roots musicians. He was one of the founders of the Great Lakes Blues Society and its predecessor the Canada South Blues Society and worked as the main sales and sponsorship person for the Forest City London Music Awards. Through the years Brian ran many successful Blues Festivals and blues shows including the infamous FireHall Reunions which remains a local favourite 32 years after the bar closed. He also hosted a regular Thursday night series at the London Music Club. He was involved with the Downtown Business Association and had a hand in starting many charity events including The Balloon Festival, The Corporate Challenge, and he remains a great supporter of the Unity Project, who named their volunteer award after him. Mortz is known for his catchphrase “The Blues is Truth,” and without him and his drive to bring world class blues to London, we would know a lot less truth.

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