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Abner Doolittle
Maine CMA Hall of Fame (1999)
WWVA Original Jamboree
WABI Bangor, ME
WCOU Lewiston, ME
WWVA Wheeling, WV

Fans of old time hillbilly or country music knew him as Abner Doolittle. His parents gave him the name of Raymond Couture. He grew up in Lewiston, Maine.

He took to music and entertainment at a youthful age. When he was just 15, he formed a band with his cousins Champ and Rich Bilodeau. They called themselves, "Champ, Rich and Pan". In fact, they were one of the first acts to perform over radio station WCOU in Lewiston.

We've seen some indication that Ray began working with the Lone Pine Mountaineers (Lone Pine's real name was Harold "Hal" Breau.) as early as 1936. A Maine Country Music Hall of Fame biography indicates he joined Lone Pine in 1938. They were teen agers at that time and evidently it was Ray who introduced Lone Pine to his wife, singer Betty Cody.

Ray would write a lot of the tunes the group played and recorded.

Some of the tunes he's written are "Good-Bye and So Long To You", "Prince Edward Island Is Heaven To Me", The Tom-Tom Yodel" and "Honey, Honey Mine". He worte "Lipstick On Your Collar" with Lone Pine around 1953.

A term paper of sorts on the internet indicates that Ray wrote a lot of those tunes based on what he was observing during the days of working with Lone Pine and Betty Cody. Apparently, Lone Pine had strayed a bit and some of the duets they were doing at that time, written by Ray, focused on "cheating" and from the hurt woman's point of view. Betty had a hit with one of Ray's tunes, "You Broke My Heart In 15 Million Pieces". But the gist of the song was she was going to hurt her cheating husband even more. These tunes were written before the 'honky tonk era' arrived on country music's history.

At one time, Ray left the Lone Pine show and began working with Gene Hooper which took him to Bangor, Lewiston, Aroostook County and the Eastern Canada area.

He came to Wheeling in 1953 and joined with Lone Pine and Betty Cody again. Lone Pine later left the Jamboree, but Ray stayed on. He spent some 45 years working on the legendary Wheeling Jamboree, initially as a guitar player and eventually becoming the director of the staff band.

His guitar work can be heard on recordings by Lone Pine and Betty Cody, Gene Hooper, Big Slim, the Lone Cowboy, Hawkshaw Hawkins, Chet Atkins and Grady Martin.

Ray also taught one of the great guitar players how to play the guitar, Lenny Breau.

Credits & Sources

  • Country Song Roundup; No. 23; April 1953; American Folk Publications, Inc.; Derby, CT
  • Cowboy Songs; No. 26; May 1953; American Folk Publications, Inc.; Derby, CT
  • Cowboy Songs; No. 35; July 1954; American Folk Publications, Inc.; Derby, CT
  • Country Song Roundup; No. 32; June 1954; American Folk Publications, Inc.; Derby, CT
  • Pickin' and Singin' News; June 26, 1954; Nashville, TN
  • Country and Western Jamboree; Winter 1957; Maher Publications, Chicago, IL

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