Terry Carisse – The Story of the Year

Courtesy of Larry Delaney ( www.countrymusicnews.ca )

Terry Carisse was a six-time recipient of the Canadian Country Music Association’s Male Vocalist of the Year, dominating the category from 1980-1986, and still holding the record for the most ever wins as the CCMA’s Male Vocalist of the Year.

Terry Carisse & TRACKS Calaway Park - Calgary, AB- Oct. 1984 Band: Steve Piticco (lead)       Sam Henry (drums)       Terry Carisse (vocals/guitar)       Dusty King, Jr. (bass)

He also earned the CCMA’s Songwriter of the Year award in 1985 for his song Counting The I Love You’s. Carisse was also named Top Male Vocalist in the RPM ”Big Country Awards” in 1980-81 and 1987; and won several Big Country awards for Single and Album of the Year as well as Songwriter of the Year.

Terry Carisse was also the inaugural winner in 1982 of the Country Music News Fan’s Award for Top Male Artist. Carisse also had the honour of gracing the cover of the first-ever issue of Country Music News (formerly Capital Country News) when he was featured in April 1980 under the title ”The Story Of The Year” which reflected the title of one of his early career hits.

'The Downbeats' - circa 1959 (Terry Carisse 2nd left - Joe Pino at mic and Ernie Dunn at right) other two band members unidentifiedFirst Band - 'The Fairlanes' - circa-1956 Ottawa Terry Carisse (center)

Born Terrance (Terry) Victor Carisse, July 11, 1942, in Ottawa; Terry began paying his musical dues during the early 1960’s on local stages performing as a member of the rock’ n roll bands, The Fabulous Fairlanes and The Starlights. By 1964, he was heading his own band, Terry & The Sables, which quickly became one of the area’s hottest acts with extended bookings at Ottawa’s Riverside Hotel, and several of the popular night clubs on the Hull and Aylmer, Québec scene.

Teaming-up with high school friend Bruce Rawlins, the pair began an exciting journey that would soon make them one of Canada’s all-time great songwriting partners. During the late 60’s-early 70’s, they pitched many of their compositions to The Mercey Brothers, at the time Canada’s premier country band. The Mercey Brothers went on to record 22 Carisse-Rawlins songs, many of which became chart-topping hits, most notably Hello Mom, Who Wrote The Words, Old Loves Never Die, Kentucky Turn Your Back, etc.

Terry Carisse & Tenderfoot (1979)   Terry Carisse (center) with (L/R) Gilles 'Satch' Rheaume, Terry 'Chiefy' Morin. Al Bragg and Bob Boucher

The 1979 Mercey Brothers album ”Have Mercey”, featured all songs written by Carisse-Rawlins. Additionally, Terry Carisse-penned songs have been recorded by such Canadian notables as Carroll Baker, Marie Bottrell, Ralph Carlson, Bruce Golden, Colin Butler, Julie Lynn, Don Cochrane, Lucille Starr and many others.

Carisse-Rawlins songs were also featured in the soundtrack of the famed Canadian movie production ”The Rowdyman” (Gordon Pinsent); and their material would also eventually find its way into Nashville with recordings by Charlie Louvin (Silver Dish Café) and Bill Anderson (Your Eyes Don’t Lie To Me). Australian hitmaker Allen Hawking also covered several Carisse-Rawlins songs. The songwriting duo earned numerous PRO Canada (SOCAN) songwriting awards for their compositions.

Terry Carisse at Silver Dollar in Ottawa, with his favourite steel player...obviously playing 'All Her Letters'

By the late 1970’s, the Terry Carisse & Tenderfoot band had become of Canada’s top touring acts and won the Big Country (RPM) award for Outstanding Performance By A Country Group. The Tenderfoot band was also touring at the time as Carroll Baker’s full-time back-up band.

In 1979, Terry Carisse released his hit-filled ‘‘Story Of The Year” album (MBS Records) and followed that in 1980 with his equally popular ”We Could Make Beautiful Music Together” album (MBS Records). The pair of albums yielded such hits as Sparkle In Her Eyes, All Her Letters, Windship, We Could Make Beautiful Music Together, etc. all of which have earned status as Canadian country classics.

By the early 1980’s, the Tenderfoot band featuring over the years Al Bragg, Gilles ”Satch” Rhéaume, Terry ”Chiefy” Morin, Roger Damphousse and Bob Boucher, had ended their days as a road band.
Terry Carisse went on to establish a new back-up band, launched under the name Tracks featuring over the years Jack McCrae, Roger Leblanc, Duaine Forbes, Bob Taillefer, Gilles Charron, Dusty King Jr., Gil Glazier, Doug Deveaux, Doug Johnson, Réal Fagnon, Ken Post, Mike Wade, Steve Piticco, Peter Smith, Sam Henry, Skip Layton and Darren Lachance.

A 'Classic' Photo of two of Canadian Country's 'Classic Country' groups, FAMILY BROWN & TERRY CARISSE & TRACKS performing at THE PUMP in Regina (June, 1980) (L./R) Dusty King Jr.,  'Papa' Joe Brown, Barry Brown, Gil Glazier, Lawanda Brown, Duaine Forbes, Terry carisse, Tracey Brown, Gary 'Spike' Spicer, Rob Taillefer. Photo courtesy  COUNTRY MUSIC NEWS

In 1982, Terry Carisse created what he often referred to as his proudest recording accomplishment with the production of his album A Gospel Gathering, featuring the talents of many of his closest music associates.
The album was released on his own independent, Cara Records label.

In 1983, Terry Carisse moved on to Savannah Records under the management guidance of Brian Ferriman, where Carisse would release another three albums, and again charting numerous hit singles including such
notables as Counting the I Love You’s, Starting Forever Again, Two Broken Hearts, Love Proof Heart, and many more. The Savannah Records connection also saw Terry Carisse unite with labelmate Michelle Wright, and their 1987 duet recording None Of The Feeling Is Gone, ranked as one of the country’s top hits of the year.

Terry Carisse (1982)

The 1989 album ”That Was A Long Time Ago” brought about something of a departure for Terry Carisse. His long-time writing partner Bruce Rawlins had passed away in 1987, and Carisse spent time in Nashville collaborating with some of country’s top songwriters (Carl Jackson, Don Pfrimmer, Dickey Lee, Tommy Rocco, Jim Rushing), with the results of their work featured in the album which ironically would also mark an end to Terry Carisse’s recording career as a major artist on the Canadian music scene.

During his peak years as Canada’s top country male artist, Terry Carisse was often called upon to open shows and tour across Canada with some of country music’s top attractions of the day including superstar acts, Charley Pride, Conway Twitty, Dolly Parton, Kenny Rogers and Larry Gatlin & The Gatlin Brothers.

Terry & Aija Carisse with Gene Watson (circa 1996)

During the 1990’s, Terry Carisse let his music take more of a back seat in his life; and although he continued to make occasional guest appearances on the Ottawa Valley music scene, and continued to pursue his craft as a songwriter (most notably teaming with local songwriter Jim Cass); he also found a new interest as a dog breeder, working alongside his wife Aija in their very successful business, as well as participating in various capacities for the Ottawa Kennel Club Association.

CAPITAL COUNTRY NEWS - Cover Story April, 1980 - 'The Story Of The Year'   Significant in that this was the inaugural issue of Capital Country News, (April, 1980)  which became COUNTRY MUSIC NEWS (1982).   It was also Terry Carisse's first-ever 'cover story' in a magazine.

Terry Carisse’s remarkable career in Canadian country music was formally acknowledged in 1989 with his induction into the Ottawa Valley Country Music Hall Of Fame.

To honor Terry, Bow Park in Nepean was renamed Terry Carisse Park in
September 2006. Read
the full story.

Terry was inducted into the Canadian Country Music Hall Of Fame in

Terry Carisse, one of Canadian country music’s most award – decorated and popular singer-songwriters, died May 22, 2005 in Ottawa hospital, of cancer. Carisse was 62. Terry is survived by his wife Aija (Skadins) and sons Stephen, Chris and Sean and a brother, Stephen.