JACK McRAE (2023 Inductee)

Jack Alexander McRae was born on Sunday December 15th, 1940, and raised on his Grandparent’s farm in the Laurentian Mountains in Avoca, Quebec. He was brought up hand milking cows (of course giving the barn cats a squirt), handling the horse team (Bess and Queenie), and tapping for maple syrup in the spring.

As there was no indoor plumbing or electricity, his earliest musical memories came from the early 1900’s records played by his Grandparents on their gramophone. Jack said that, even before going to school (he started at age 7), he somehow knew that "music was what I wanted to do". During his boyhood, when cardboard was available, he would make guitars and entertain the farmhouse walls.

Starting at the age of twelve, neighbors in their teens and twenties would come and pick Jack up and have him entertain them as they drove through the countryside, and sometimes in small bars along the way. They gave him borrowed guitars (not lefties!), and even fiddles, which he could play a bit. The farm was sold when he was about 15 and they moved to a house not far away. At 18 years of age, Jack left home to seek work in the Ottawa/Pontiac area. Jack spent about 12 years working in construction, driving trucks, then going on to obtain his Heavy Equipment Operator’s license. All during this time he played music with local friends and neighbors on nights and weekends.

By the 70’s, the band he was with transformed into a five piece, playing country and southern rock music. Through member and style changes, Jack was still looking for his place. By 1978, he had become a familiar face to many in the Ottawa Valley area and was part of the country/rock sound known as "Prescott and McRae". Jack’s next move was to be an original member of his friend Terry Carisse’s new band "Tracks". Music was now changing styles and Jack was drawn to the sound of "New Country". It was now his opportunity to showcase his high-energy stage presence with his own band.

In 1980, Jack formed "Jack McRae and King of Clubs". It was just a matter of months before he and the group became ‘the hottest sound playing the Ottawa Valley country club circuit’. In 1981, Jack released his original single "I Believe She’ll Be Leaving Again". The ballad shows the more sensitive side of Jack McRae, and he was quoted as saying ".... not what people expected to hear from me". For the next ten years or so, Jack and the band toured Canada extensively. They were very much in demand and headlined many outdoor festivals and major events, all the while keeping up with regular bookings in the clubs and lounges. Jack was always grateful to the people who came out to listen and dance to the music. He had finally found ‘his place’. However, the road ended up being longer than the ride.

Jack started having health problems in the early 1990’s and received his first cancer diagnosis in 1995. It was a slow progressive type involving so many treatments and surgeries, lasting 13 years. He went through every one with remarkable bravery and courage.

Jack was a devout Christian and attended his Church regularly until he was no longer able. At that time, Pastors would come to Jack’s home and, when speaking of his death, Jack would have just a little bit of a smile and say, "It’s going to be glorious".

Jack McRae closed his amazing denim blue eyes for the last time on Friday June 27th, 2008.

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