KEN REYNOLDS (1986 Inductee)

Born in Brownsburg, Quebec on August 9, 1929, Ken and his family moved to Leitrim, Ontario when he was in public school. At 13, he began calling square dances and formed his first band while still a teen. His "caller" talents were in great demand, and he soon began teaching square dancing using 44 different "calls".

In 1951, after being awarded the first ever Booking Agent license in the city, Ken brought Wilf Carter (Montana Slim) to Ottawa and became his exclusive agent and tour manager for 10 years, booking him in over 300 venues coast to coast in Canada. A successful 66-venue tour of Australia arranged by Ken proved to be the springboard for even greater success the next year. In 1955, Ken and band members Ward Allen, Bob King, Vince Lebeau, Joe Brown and Lynn Strauff formed the original CFRA Happy Wanderers, a group which became, under Ken’s leadership, the most popular in the history of country music in the Ottawa Valley. In one year alone (1959), the band played 51 weeks, and performed on 440 live studio broadcasts and 105 remotes. Over the years, the group performed on almost 5,000 radio shows, for which Ken chose the theme music, booked the venues, arranged accommodation and looked after every aspect of each job.

As Manager of the CFRA Entertainment Bureau, Ken auditioned countless entertainers and helped start the careers of Ronnie Prophet, Ron McMunn, Ralph Carlson, Orval Prophet, Jimmy Allen, and Claudette Lefebvre, among others. He arranged and promoted every CFRA Old Time Show with top names in country music: Johnny Cash, Hank Snow, Marty Robbins, Jim Reeves, Sonny James, Webb Pierce, George Jones, Ray Price, Mother Maybelle Carter and June, Roy Acuff, Faron Young, Jimmy Dickens, Ernest Tubb, Loretta Lynn, Bill Monroe, Hank Locklin, Stonewall Jackson, Homer & Jethro, Carl Perkins, the Louvin Brothers, Kitty Wells, the Wilburn Brothers, Grandpa Jones, Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper, Jean Shepard, Mac Wiseman and Bobby Helms and took many of these stars on tours of the Maritimes and other parts of Ontario. In appreciation for Ken’s promotion of so many Grand Ole Opry stars, Ken and his wife, Dorothy, were made Honorary Citizens of the State of Tennessee in a proclamation by the Governor.

In 1961, Ken left CFRA and became tour manager for Don Messer’s Jubilee Show, a program with a larger audience than any other, including the National Hockey League games. The relationship lasted until Messer’s death in 1974. The show traveled across Canada 13 times (1967 Centennial Year Tour, Calgary Stampede, Expo ‘67, and the Canadian National Exhibition). After Messer’s death, Ken managed Marg Osborne’s career for 4 years and, from 1980-84, ran the New Happy Wanderers with Ward’s nephew, Jimmy Allen. Ken handled the Farewell Tour of the Maritimes for Doc and Chickie Williams, Ivan and Vivian Hicks, and Ned Landry, and he has been involved with the careers of Howard Hayes and other Ottawa area entertainers.

An Honorary member of the N.B. Country Music Hall of Fame and the Maritime Fiddlers Association, Ken is currently writing a book on his 55 years promoting country music. His other interests include vegetable gardening (Director of Publicity for the Nepean Horticultural Society) and dog grooming. Through all the years, Ken remained a family man, and he and his wife raised 5 daughters. Ken is known for his honesty, integrity, loyalty and caring, and he is one of the most respected individuals in the music business.


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