THE CANADIAN SWEETHEARTS (BOB AND LUCILLE)
Bob Regan, born Robert Frederickson, 13 March 1931, Rolla, near Dawson Creek, British Columbia, Canada. Died 5 March 1990, Los Angeles, CA
Lucille Starr, born Lucille Raymonde Marie Savoie, 13 May 1938, St Boniface, Manitoba, Canada. Died 4 September 2020, Las Vegas, Nevada.
Bob Regan and Lucille Starr were the Canadian Sweethearts from 1956 until 1967. An accomplished duo strongly rooted in the country tradition, they worked on the fringes of the Canadian and Californian country music circuits, making the odd record as they went. Bob Frederickson was born near the Canadian-Alaskan border in 1931. He was a musical prodigy, playing harmonica, guitar, mandolin and fiddle as a child. After leaving school, Bob went on the road with one of his brothers, a country singer who performed professionally as Keray Regan. Bob also started calling himself Regan and made his first recording with Keray's band, the Peace River Rangers, in 1953. It was an instrumental called "Teenage Boogie" (not the Webb Pierce song), with Bob Regan on lead guitar, released on the Aragon label. Subscribers to the magazine Now Dig This will have this track in their collection, some probably without being aware of the fact. It is included on the Bear Family CD "Perfect For Parties", which came free with an issue of NDT in 2006. The flip of "Teenage Boogie" was a duet of Bob with his sister Fern, "I Will Never Hold Another". Bob and Fern's partnership came to an end when Fern got married in 1955, after which Regan soon teamed up with Lucille Savoie.
Lucille was born in Manitoba, but raised in British Columbia (Port Coquitlam). In her teens she sang with a French ensemble, Les Hirondelles. She began her career as Lucille Starr in Vancouver in 1954. Her main influences as a singer were Hank Snow and Peggy Lee. She met Bob Regan when he played at a wedding party she attended. They became an exciting musical duo, with Lucille's good looks and strong, distinctive voice, and Bob's guitar wizardry. By 1958, they were married and headed for California, working as Bob and Lucille. There they met promoter Norm Riley who had briefly managed both Hank Williams and Hank Snow in Nashville. Now based in California, Riley part-owned the Riverside Rancho, a popular country music venue, and managed local acts such as Whitey Pullen and Carol Jarvis, also briefly Gene Vincent. Riley also ran his own record label, Ditto Records in Hollywood. It was for this label that Bob and Lucille recorded their first two singles. The great "Eeny-Meeny Miney Moe" came out in December 1958. Bob, who wrote the song, leaves most of the singing to Lucille, but plays some strong rockabilly guitar licks. The second Ditto single, in late 1959, was "The Big Kiss"/"What's the Password". There were not too many buyers, but King Records judged the two A-sides of the Ditto singles worthy enough to reissue them back to back on King 5631 in April 1962. Prior to that, Bob and Lucille had another fine release, "No Help Wanted" on the Soma label in 1961, this time credited to the Canadian Sweethearts. In 1963, they signed with A&M Records, the label of Herb Alpert and Jerry Moss, for which they recorded five singles and an LP. Lucille started making solo records and in 1964 she had an international hit with "The French Song", a.k.a. "Quand le Soleil Dit Bonjour Aux Montagnes". Sung partly in French, partly in English, the song went to # 54 on the Billboard charts, but in many other countries it was a # 1 hit. Also in my country, the Netherlands, though it was not number one there for 19 weeks as is alleged on this website http://www.ncifm.com/aboriginal-music-hall-of-fame/lucille-starr.html but only for two weeks. (It stayed on the Dutch charts for 19 weeks.) In the UK, where "The French Song" was issued on London HL 9900, it did nothing at all. The A&M album "The French Song" also sold millions of copies and several tracks from the LP, like "Colinda" and "Jolie Jacqueline", were international hits when issued as singles. ("Colinda" had an even longer Dutch chart run than "The French Song", 21 weeks, peaking at # 3.)
Meanwhile, Bob recorded a good, but overlooked guitar instrumental for Challenge in 1964 ("Tarantula"/"Highland Lassie"). The couple divorced in 1967 and though they would continue to perform together occasionally until 1977, the Canadian Sweethearts were sweethearts no more. Lucille continued her successful solo career, scoring several hits in Canada in the 1980s. In 1987 she became the first woman inducted into the Canadian Country Music Association Hall of Honour and in 1989 was made a member of the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame. She is notable for being one of a handful of Canadian popular musicians to record in both English and French. Her son, Bob Frederickson, played guitar with a later version of the group Buffalo Springfield. Bob Regan found a new female singing partner in Keree Rose and carried on performing in the USA until his passing in 1990.
CD : The Canadian Sweethearts, Bob & Lucille, Eeny Meeny Miney Mo (Hydra BCK 27106). 30 tracks, including four by Keray Regan. Released in 1998.
Acknowledgements : Rob Finnis, Liner notes for the CD "King Rockabilly" (Ace 777), which includes "Eeny-Meeny Miney Mo". - Encyclopedia of Music in Canada http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com/index.cfm?PgNm=TCE&Params=U1ARTU0003304
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