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Doug LaValley
Born:  February 24, 1934
Died:  November 15, 1999
Massachusetts CMA Hall of Fame (2001)
WWVA Original Jamboree
WEAU Plattsburgh, NY (1950)
WWSR St. Albans, VT (1955)
CKCW Moncton, NB (1959)

Doug LaValley came into this life in Boston, Massachusetts back in February 1934, on record as the coldest month ever in Boston. In fact, on February 9, it dropped to an all time low of minus 19 degrees. Doug was the son of Joseph and Eunice (Lash) LaValley.

In late 1959, Doug LaValley was enjoying some success with his recording on the Cape Records label, "Have You Seen Suzie" b/w "Alone With You". The record was cut with his wife, Jean Marie. By the time they had cut that record, they had already been in the music business some eight years. The liner notes on an ARC LP out of Canada gives us some background on those early years in their careers. Doug was played steel guitar for the legendary Wilf Carter (also known as Montana Slim) around 1953. He was touring various Canadian cities at that time and also some border cities in the USA, including Plattsburgh, New York. Which is where he met his future wife, Jean Marie who was in the audience that night. Those same liner notes indicate that Jean Marie didn't begin touring with her husband until 1958 and had not sung professionally prior to that.

During his career Doug also recorded for the Dufford, Raycraft and Sioux labels as well as the Cape label.

Around 1959, their personal appearances were taking them all along the easter seaboard country of Canada and New England. A 1959 article terms their group a "Swingin' Hillbilly" band.

Around 1963, Doug's career was gaining more attention. He had toured the New Foundland area with Bobby Helms, recorded an album and had joined the cast of the famed WWVA Original Jamboree out of Wheeling, West Virginia.

Around that time, he had been entertaining fans with an up-tempo version of the Nat King Cole classic, "Mona Lisa". That got him the attention of the Sioux record folks.

His obituary indicates he had appeared on other legendary country music shows such as the KWKH Louisiana Hayride out of Shreveport, Louisiana and the WSM Grand Ole Opry in Nashville.

He had several television shows, perhaps his most successful being the "Country Music Palace" that originated from Jackson, Mississippi.

While in Nashville, he proved to be a versatile session musician, perhaps the unsung heroes in Music City. He played steel guitar, lead guitar, fiddle and bass drums on numerous sessions. When he performed in person, fans would get to see him play the five-string guitar, mandolin, and harmonica.

Doug's love for country music went beyond just entertaining fans. He was also a producer, promoter and disc jockey at one time or another. For a time, he served on the CMA (Country Music Association) membership committee.

Among his career highlights was a commendation from then President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1966 for his work promoting country music.

He was also a bit of a country music promoter, responsible for bringing Grand Ole Opry acts to Boston, Massachusetts.

A 1963 article indicates his band was called the "Country All Stars".

Doug married the former Jean Marie Varno and they had three children, Pamela Jean LaValley White, Douglas LaValley, Jr., Rodney Louis LaValley, Cheryl LaValley Stallings and Jean Marie LaValley, Jr. He was married to the former Julie Williams and they had one daughter, Julie LaValley Wilkens. He remarried, on February 15, 1982 to the former Elisa Girard in Plattsburgh, Tennessee and they had two daughers, Lisa LaValley and Taylor LaValley.

Timeline & Trivia Notes

Group Members, circa 1959:

  • Doug LaValley, fiddle, mandolin, banjo, guitar, bass and vocals
  • Jean Marie, bass, vocals
  • Leon Clark, lead guitar
  • Joe Pawlaski, steel guitar
  • Herb Hoovin, fiddle
  • "Hot Shot", comedian (Its not clear who "Hot Shot" was - whether a member of the band or one of the members took on the comedic role)

Credits & Sources

  • Hillbilly-Music.com wishes to express its appreciation to Doug's daughter, Pamela White, for providing us with a copy of the obituary and the album liner notes cited above.
  • Country Song Roundup; No. 63; November 1959; American Folk Publications; Derby, CT
  • Country Song Roundup; No. 80; May 1963; American Folk Publications; Derby, CT
  • Country Song Roundup; No. 81; August 1963; American Folk Publications; Derby, CT

Sound Sample—(RealAudio Format)
Please Believe Me

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Recordings
 
Stop
Rec. No. Side Song Title
  410 A Honky Tonk Fiddle
  410 B As Long As There's A Honky Tonk
 
Sioux
Rec. No. Side Song Title
  101861 A I'll Die of Love
  101861 B Please Believe Me
  5165 A Time
  5165 B Two Years For Non Support
  5170 A Lonely Little Room
  5170 B 190 More Days


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