Dean Maxedon was better known to his fans as Dean Richards. Although in looking through
our database of articles and information, we only found one entry under his stage name
of Dean Richards - most entries were for Dean Maxedon. He was married
for 52 years to another singer, Penny West.
Dean Maxedon's career was similar to many hillbilly music acts in the 1940s and later.
A bit of a nomadic life, taking them from one radio station to another. Along about
1940, Dean was a part of the group the Blackhawk Valley Boys.
A 1942 song folio of the Blackhawk Valley boys tells us that Dean was the 'baby' of the
group back then and was born in Sullivan, Illinois, a town about midway between
Decatur and Mattoon, Illinois. Along about that time, he was doing a bit of a comedy
routine using the character name of "Grandpappy Cuddlecush". The group took its name
from a valley in Northern Illinois and got their start at radio station WROK
in Rockford, Illinois where they first appeared on the barn dance show the station had
in 1934. They moved to WOWO in Fort Wayne, Indiana in 1939 and were also being
heard on the "Red" and "Blue" networks. In that folio, Dean was listed as songwriter
for the tunes "Tumbledown Shack" and "Baby Boy".
The Blackhawk Valley Boys in 1942 included Don (Ike) Lake, Red Bicknell, Pete Fall and Dean.
By September 1944 however, it appears Dean had entered the military service while
the group was at WOWO. An article in the Mountain Broadcast and Prairie Recorder
mentions the group being a part of the famed WOWO Hoosier Hop and the group then
included Andy Anderson on the accordion, Pete Fall, and George Arthur. A picture
accompanying that article seems to also include Red Bicknell, though he wasn't mentioned.
The group was said to then be nationally
known for its "...realistic renditions of cowboy songs and western ballads."
In 1945, the group had moved to the home of the National Barn Dance, WLS in Chicago,
Illinois. In November of that year, Dean married Penny West around the time Dean
entered the U. S. Army for World War II service. At that time, the group included in addition
to Penny, Pete Fall, George Arthur and Andy Anderson. Uncle Dan wrote in his Mountain Broadcast
and Prairie Recorder column that they joined WLS on July 30.
On November 23, 1945, Penny West married the then Sgt. Dean Maxedon at 6:30pm. The wedding
ceremony took place at the home of Robert Gardner (he was the "Bob" of Mac and Bob, the
famed duo at WLS in Chicago). Among the attendees helping them cur their wedding
cake were Ted "Otto" Morse, Rex Allen and Connie Linder.
Along about 1946, the group underwent more changes while at WLS. Viola Myers wrote
in her column in the same magazine that Dolph Hewitt was a part of the Blackhawk
Valley Boys before they left for KMOX in St. Louis, Missouri. But around that time,
Dean had rejoined the group and they moved from St. Louis back to WOWO in Fort Wayne, Indiana
and were said to be working with famed yodeler, Kenny Roberts. However, the June
1946 issue of National Hillbilly News in noting that the Blackhawk Valley Boys
had returned to WOWO and the Hoosier Hop, did not note that Penny West or Dean
Maxedon were a part of the group. The article mentions George Arthur, Don Blake,
Pete Fall and Red Bicknell as being part of the group then, who had a daily radio
show over WOWO.
By November 1946, Mary Jean Shurtz was reporting in her column in Mountain Broadcast
and Prairie Recorder that Dean, Penny and Andy Anderson had left WOWO and moved
to WLW to work on the WLW Midwestern Hayride as the Lucky Penny Trio. She tells us also that Dean
got his start over WJBL in Decatur, Illinois when he was just 12 years old, or around
1932 or so. He later appeared over WDZ in Tuscola, Illinois. Marion Lee of National
Hillbilly News mentioned the new group at WLW in her Talk of the Town column as well and
mentioned that included, "...Penny, Andy and Dean".
In November of 1946, Nicola and Rose Fantetti of National Hillbilly News were writing in their
"Behind the Scenes" column tha group was appearing each day on the "Top of the Morning"
show and the "Everybody's Farm" show. They also appeared on the Saturday night show,
Sohio Mid-Western Hayride that was aired at 6:30pm.
The March-April 1950 issue of National Hillbilly News tells us that the Lucky Penny Trio
had left WLW in Cincinnati and were working at KMOX in St. Louis.
Disc Jockey Tommy Sutton then of WHIO in Dayton, Ohio in 1957, wrote in Rustic Rhythm
that the Lucky Penny Trio had been renamed The Luck Pennies. They had moved from
St. Louis, Missouri and were hearing up the WLW Midwestern Hayride, where Dean
would be the emcee of the show. The members of the group at that time were
Penny West (his wife), Wally Proctor, Frankie Taylor and Tommy Watson.
Credits and Sources
- Rustic Rhythm; Vol. 1 No. 5; August 1957; Rustic Rhythm, Inc.;
Filosa Publication; New York, NY
- Mountain Broadcast and Prairie Recorder; September 1944;
New York, NY
- Mountain Broadcast and Prairie Recorder; September 1945;
New York, NY
- Mountain Broadcast and Prairie Recorder; June 1946;
New York, NY
- National Hillbilly News; June 1946; Orville and Jenny Via;
- Mountain Broadcast and Prairie Recorder; November 1946;
New York, NY
- National Hillbilly News; Novenber 1946; Orville and Jenny Via;
- National Hillbilly News; Decenber 1946; Orville and Jenny Via;
- National Hillbilly News; March-April 1950; Orville and Jenny Via;
- Blackhawk Valley Boys Folio of 20 Favorite Songs; 1942; Bell
Music Company; Chicago, Illinois