Willie Lamothe | The Canadian Encyclopedia

article

Willie Lamothe

Willie (William) Lamothe. Singer, songwriter, guitarist, harmonica player, b St-Hyacinthe, Que, 27 Jan 1920, d St-Hyacinthe, 19 Oct 1992. He began his career as a teacher of dance and then turned to singing, his act including imitations of Maurice Chevalier and Charles Trenet.

Lamothe, Willie

Willie (William) Lamothe. Singer, songwriter, guitarist, harmonica player, b St-Hyacinthe, Que, 27 Jan 1920, d St-Hyacinthe, 19 Oct 1992. He began his career as a teacher of dance and then turned to singing, his act including imitations of Maurice Chevalier and Charles Trenet.

Discovered by RCA in the mid-1940s, Lamothe recorded his own 'Je suis un cowboy canadien,' 'Allo, allo, petit Michel,' and 'Je chante à cheval,' which were all hits. Through these and subsequent recordings, some reissued in the collection Mes Premières Chansons (RCA Victor Gala CGP-286), he became the best representative of country music in Quebec. He performed on radio in Sorel (CJSO) and Montreal and appeared throughout the province in concerts during the 1950s, alone or headlined by such country stars as Gene Autry and Hank Snow. He performed also in the country music capital, Nashville, Tenn.

Lamothe was the host 1970-6 for Télé-Métropole's TV show 'Le Ranch à Willie,' and was the subject of the NFB documentary Je chante à cheval... avec Willie Lamothe (1970). He has appeared in dramatic roles in several feature films, including Death of a Lumberjack (1974) and Mustang (1974). Felled by a stroke in 1977, he only made a few rare appearances thereafter, among them in a series of five programs on country music televised by CBC in 1991 with such great western figures as Marcel Martel and Paul Brunelle. His recordings for RCA and, after 1960, London, include many of his more than 200 songs and translations of some 300 US country hits. He has made more than 100 78s, some 70 45s, and more than 20 LPs. Among his other popular recordings are 'Mon Voyage en Louisiane,' 'Le Long du Mississippi,' and 'Tu n'existes plus pour moi,' included on the LP 30 ans puis... Nashville (1975, Lon WL-100); 'Johnny' (from Mustang); and 'Les CB à Willie'.

His music was published by Éditions Maskoutaine. He was made a Member of the Order of Canada in 1979. His son Willie, Jr (b Michel), was bass guitarist in the groups Offenbach 1969-77 and Corbeau 1977-84.

Further Reading

Challenge yourself - take the CC Quiz!

The Canadian Encyclopedia is a project of Historica Canada, a non-profit, nonpartisan organization devoted to teaching Canadians more about our shared country.  We also produce the Heritage Minutes and other programs. If you believe all Canadians should have access to free, impartial, fact-checked, regularly updated information about Canada’s history and culture in both official languages, please consider donating today. All donations above $3 will receive a tax receipt.

Book a Speaker