TREENA MIELKE/Rimbey Review
It must be summer because Dick Damron is home again.
For many years, Damron has spent his winters in Mexico and his summers living near Bentley, enjoying the familiar lush, green beauty of the Blindman Valley.
The well-known performer/singer and writer carries with him the unmistakable air of down home country, as fresh as the prairie breeze and as ageless as a tangle of wild roses caught in a barbed wire fence.
As always, Damron is happy to be home again.
And, as always, he’s busy, the juices of his ever creative mind stirring up ideas, stories and songs.
But, now at 77 years of age, he admits his get up and go has somehow, gone somewhere.
“I still have the passion, I just don’t have the energy to follow it up,” he said. “I’m not performing as much, but I’m writing. I’m writing more instrumentals.”
His latest venture, a book called Refried Dreams is still in the making. The book is a collection of short stories; capsules of pieces of life as well as humorous anecdotes and reflections.
He plans to title one of the chapters of his book, ‘Pretend I Never Happened’. In this chapter he writes about how many people know him only as the guy who plays in the Monkey Top Saloon in Bentley.
“I’m just that guy they know,” he said. “The guy from Bentley.”
It is during times like this that he has flashbacks of the life he has lived, the people he has met and the places he has been. He recalls playing at the Wembley International Country Music Festival (the largest country music festival in the world) in London in 1976 and ‘78.
“It was incredible,” he said.
Since his first record release of Gonna Have a Party in 1958, his first chart record That’s What I Call Livin in 1961 and his first number one recording of Hitch Hikin on RCA in 1964, Damron has written more than 500 songs and recorded more than 30 CDs, cassettes and vinyl albums.
He has performed in thousands of venues around the world, ranging from tiny country halls and clubs to Las Vegas casinos and huge music festivals.
Damron’s autobiography, The Legend and The Legacy, was published in 1998. He has also written the novels Rock A Bye Baby Blues and Pacific Coast Radio.
Damron’s early recordings are now available on a three-CD digipac complete with a 68-page booklet with Bear Family Records label.
On his life’s journey, Damron has experienced pinnacles of fame and glory many times. He has won almost every country music award in Canada, as well as five Texas awards and was twice named foreign artist of the year in Europe.
He was recently inducted into the International Country Music Hall of Fame.
But success has not come without a price and Damron has gone through his own personal hell of drug addiction and in 2001 a debilitating stroke left him temporarily paralyzed and in need of extensive therapy.
His struggles have given him insight, compassion and understanding, which is particularly reflected in his song, Jesus It’s Me Again, the song of the year in 1984.
Damron said this song is the one accomplishment he is most proud of.
He recalls how the family of a woman who had passed away found a slip of paper in her purse with the words to this song written on it.
Knowing that the song had touched people’s lives is humbling, he said. “It’s my gift from God to them.”
Having the song become known as more than just a country song is one of the items on his bucket list.
“To me, having it become more than just a Dick Damron country song…it’s in the works,” he said.
As to what else is on his bucket list, Damron hedges a little, and simply smiles.
“It changes. It’s like a letter to Santa Claus.”