Here are Tommy Hunter’s answers to 15 of your questions!
Q: Why did you stop your TV show? I thought it was good, and entertaining!
A: The decision to cancel “The Tommy Hunter Show” was made by the CBC in 1992. The cancellation of the show came as a complete shock to me as well as to our many viewers. I am very grateful for the opportunity I had to do my show for 27 years.
Q: When are you coming back to television? We miss your show. They just don’t make them like that any more. I have asked CBC several times if they will ever one day have a special or repeat of your show and never got a response.
A: I have no specific plans to return to television at this time, and I am sorry that CBC did not respond to your inquiries.
Not being on TV for the past few years has given me a chance to concentrate more on our personal appearance shows all over Canada and beyond. I enjoy meeting the fans in person, and now that I don’t have the heavy demands of the television show, I have more time to enjoy our grand children, boating and snowmobiling. These are things I didn’t have much time for in the past.
Q: With all the many guests that appeared on your T.V. program, could you name at least 5 people that really stand out the most for you and why.
A: This question is a tough one because there were so many people who were special to me in so many different ways. ROY ACUFF was my inspiration to become a Country Music performer, and it was very rewarding to have Roy as a guest. He was not only a great friend, but also a big fan of our TV show. ERNEST TUBB was also very special. For many years he refused to come into Canada due to a misunderstanding that took place at the border one time. Because of a friendship between he and I that went back many years, he consented to come and do the TV show. It turned out to be his last national television appearance before he passed away. I’ve always been a fan of BLUEGRASS music, and always thought it needed more exposure on national television. I was happy to have groups on including SELDOM SCENE, JIM AND JESSE, THE OSBORNE BROTHERS and BILL MONROE. I was also proud to feature ROY ROGERS, GEORGE JONES, WAYLON JENNINGS, SONNY JAMES, HANK SNOW, and KITTY WELLS, just to name a few. When I was a youngster, I knew who Captain Marvel, Superman, and Amos & Andy were, but my boyhood idols were the pillars of country music. Then, as an adult, I had the best seat in the house for 27 years to watch my idols perform in person.
It was also very gratifying to see some newcomers grace our stage like GARTH BROOKS, REBA MCINTYRE, ALAN JACKSON, VINCE GILL, LORI MORGAN, BARBARA MANDRELL, TRISHA YEARWOOD, DIAMOND RIO, MARY CHAPIN CARPENTER and SHANIA TWAIN. I hope we played some small part in giving these people some network exposure, and it is particularly gratifying to see the success that Shania has had. She has handled this success so well, and it makes me proud that she got her start on our show.
I’ve always believed very strongly in helping the new performers, and in particular the young Canadians. At the same time I never wanted to forget the established artists. If you watched the show closely you would always see a mix of the “old” and the “new”. I think the combination worked well.
Q: Is it ever possible that I could have my picture taken with Tommy Hunter?
A: Since the very first day I started in this business I have always made it a policy to sign autographs and pose for pictures to show my appreciation to the fans. So if we happen to be in your town, be sure to bring your camera, and we’ll certainly take a picture together.
Q: Have you still got the western boots you wore at the Kingston penitentiary concert in 1967? I was your guard and escort that day.
A: I certainly do remember appearing at Kingston Penitentiary in 1967. I am sure I still have those boots around someplace.
Q: I see you have recorded at least two songs by Judd Strunk, “Daisy a Day” and “Bill Jones General Store”. Did you know Judd before he passed away? I am from the town where he is buried.
A: Yes, Judd Strunk was a very good friend of mine. Shirley and I and the children visited him and his wife Marnie on a number of occasions when he lived in Farmington Maine. Judd called me from Los Angeles one time when he was working with Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In. He told me that he had just written a song for me to record. He sang a few lines, and I loved it. I told him to send it up, as I was recording another album in two weeks. Before he could get the song to me, his own producer insisted that he record it himself. I was really pleased that he had so much success with the song. I finally got a chance to record it, and it is one that I never get tired of singing. That song is “Daisy a Day”.
Another song of Judd’s that was a big hit for me was “Bill Jones’ General Store”. The story behind that song was absolutely true, and I actually met some of the characters that he wrote about in the song, like Herky Wright and Whitey.
Q: Did Red Sovine ever appear on your television show? If not, have you ever performed with him.
A: No, unfortunately Red Sovine never was able to appear on The Tommy Hunter Show, but I always enjoyed his music very much.
Q: Please advise why your new Christmas CD can not be obtained from any music stores here in Toronto. I tried all of them. I have enjoyed your music for many years.
A: My record company, “Edith Records” (named after my mother) was primarily put together to fulfill the needs of the fans when we go on tour. Most of the major record companies and the stores seem to want to concentrate on the newer artists. It is easy to get any of my CD’s by contacting “Rocklands Promotions” at 1-800-465-7829. They look after everything for me. You can also check out everything that we have available in the store of our web site.
Q: Where can I get a copy of your book of poems you used to read at the end of your TV program.
A: There never actually was a book of those “Readings” published. What I read from on television was a personal collection that I had put together over the years. What I did for the fans was record ten of the most popular complete on Cassette Tape or CD. It has been very popular. It is simply titled “Tommy Hunter – Readings”, and is available from Rocklands Promotions at 1-800-465-7829.
Q: What is the name of your fiddle player?
A: I have worked with many great fiddle players over the years. Wally Trougott was one of the first I had the chance to work with, from Capitol Records in Los Angeles. He now lives in Las Vegas. After Wally, Al Cherney was with me throughout my television career until his sad and untimely death a couple of years before our show was canceled. He was a dear friend, who was like the brother I never had.
Another fiddle player who worked with us is a very talented lady who first appeared on our TV show when she was 9 years old. Her name is April Verch, and we were really happy to have her with us on that tour. Currently Steve Petrie is the fiddle player in the band and he does a great job.
Q: A friend of mine wants to write to you. Do you have a fax number or address that I can give her.
A: I still receive a lot of mail from folks who have come out to our live shows, or like to reminisce about the television show days. The best place to write to me is at P.O. Box 158, Peterborough Ontario. K9J 7H5, or through our e-mail address. I personally read all of the letters that come in, and always enjoy hearing from the fans.
Q: Would you ever consider retiring from public life?
A: No doubt someday I’ll hang up the guitar for good as far as public appearances are concerned, but as long as I have my health and enjoy traveling as much as I do, I’ll continue to do some shows.
Q: My brother was on your show back in the sixties, and I would love to get a copy of the show for him. Is that a possibility?
A: The CBC in Toronto and Ottawa seem to be very reluctant to hand out tapes. Since leaving the network, I have lost contact with most of the people there.
Q: We notice that there are no Maritime tour dates on your schedule. When are you coming back to New Brunswick?
A: We toured in the Maritimes with our friends from Tim Hortons and Canadian Regional Airlines in both 1995 and 1997, and had a wonderful trip both times. I am hoping that we can include the Maritime Provinces in our plans in the very near future.