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Ed McCurdy
Ed McCurdy
March 23, 2000
Age 81 
Congestive Heart Failure 
 
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  Prominent folksinger McCurdy dies at 81
By Stephen Pedersen / Arts Reporter
 
      American-born Canadian folksinger Ed McCurdy, a pioneer of the  
      folksinging movement going back to the late 1940s, died of congestive  
      heart failure in the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre in  
      Halifax Thursday morning. He was 81. 

      In failing health the last few years, McCurdy, who has lived in  
      Halifax since 1982, and became a Canadian citizen in 1986, will be  
      remembered for his rich, powerful baritone voice, and his many  
      recordings as one of the most recorded folk artists in North America.  
      His most famous song is "Last Night I Had The Strangest Dream", an  
      anthem of the folk era. 

      Copyright © 2000 The Halifax Herald Limited

 
NY TIMES
        
 Ed McCurdy, 81, Folk Music Figure of the 50's 
 
                By NEIL STRAUSS 

                     Ed McCurdy, a singer and songwriter who was a leading folk music 
                     figure in the 1950's, died on March 23.  

                He was 81 and lived in Halifax, Nova Scotia.  

                At the height of the Depression, Mr. McCurdy left his family farm in 
                Willow Hill, Pa., at 18 to become a gospel singer in Manhattan. He slept 
                on floors and went days without food but always managed to pay for 
                voice lessons. He left Manhattan and traveled across the nation, working 
                as a gospel singer and announcer on various radio stations.  

                Influenced by Frank Sinatra, he decided to leave gospel for the secular 
                pop world and try his luck as a nightclub singer. He headed north this 
                time, working in Niagara Falls and Toronto. At a show in Vancouver, he 
                met a dancer who was celebrating her 20th birthday with her fiancée. 
                Three years later, that dancer became Mr. McCurdy's wife, Beryl.  

                In addition to his wife, he is survived by a son, Jim; two daughters, Dana 
                and Maggie; and three grandchildren, all of New York.  

                Mr. McCurdy received his first break when Sally Rand, the burlesque 
                queen, hired him to sing romantic baritone songs in her act.  

                Mr. McCurdy anticipated the revival of folk music and turned to it in the 
                mid-1940's.  

                In 1950 he performed in a series of shows at the Village Vanguard in 
                New York and released his first folk album, "Ed McCurdy Sings Songs 
                of the Canadian Maritimes." That year he also wrote "(Last Night I Had) 
                the Strangest Dream," in which he fantasized about a worldwide peace 
                agreement.  

                In 1954 Mr. McCurdy, then living in Manhattan, cemented his reputation 
                through a recording deal with Elektra Records, collaborating with Oscar 
                Brand and Jack Elliott on "Bad Men and Heroes." At the same time he 
                maintained a side career as an actor and announcer on children's 
                television shows. His album series of bawdy English songs, "When 
                Dalliance Was in Flower and Maidens Lost Their Heads," became a 
                campus favorite in the late 50's. Simon and Garfunkel, Johnny Cash, Arlo 
                Guthrie, the Weavers, Pete Seeger and Joan Baez recorded his songs.  

                As new voices and ideas took over the folk movement, his career began 
                to wane, though he remained an elder statesmen. In 1984 he moved to 
                Halifax, where he continued to record albums and perform on the folk 
                circuit and made a new career for himself as a character actor on 
                Canadian television dramas. 

 
       
 

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All-Music Guide
 
     For a time during the late 1950s and early 1960s, Ed McCurdy was one of the most popular solo 
     singers of the folk revival. In addition to recording two extremely popular albums, When Dalliance 
     Was In Flower, Vols. 1 and 2, McCurdy was also the author of "Last Night I Had the Strangest 
     Dream," a song that was widely covered by other singers.  

     Ed McCurdy started his career as a gospel singer in Oklahoma City, performing on radio station 
     WKY, and later became a theatrical and nightclub performer. His deep, rich tenor, somewhat 
     reminiscent of Pete Seeger or the young Burl Ives, proved well suited to folk songs, however, and he 
     began this new phase of his career on Canadian radio in 1946. McCurdy cut his first album, Ed 
     McCurdy Sings Songs of the Canadian Maritimes, in the early 1950s for the Whitehall label. 
     Beginning in 1952, he wrote and performed children's songs and programs on radio and television, 
     and two years later he moved to New York. In 1955, he cut his second album, The Ballad Record, 
     which was successful enough to justify more recordings, including Bar Room Ballads and A Ballad 
     Singer's Choice, over the next two years. His music included cowboy songs as well as traditional 
     folk ballads such as "Barbara Allen" and "Pretty Saro," plus the children's songs that had initially 
     made him a favorite among New York folk singers.  

     It was McCurdy's recordings of more risque folk material, however, that did the most to establish his 
     popularity, especially on college campuses, where the folk audience was branching off into more 
     serious and adult directions. Sing Songs was the first, but the record that sold beyond anyone's 
     expectation was When Dalliance Was In Flower, a 1957 release that, with its songs dwelling on 
     carnal lust, proved a major hit. For a time in the late 1950s and early 1960s, along with Oscar 
     Brand's various collections of "bawdy songs," When Dalliance Was In Flower was an almost 
     obligatory part of any college-age folk listener's collection, especially if they wanted to impress the 
     opposite sex with something besides singing. A second volume followed in 1958, and a year after 
     that McCurdy recorded yet another release in this vein, Son of Dalliance. All the while, McCurdy 
     continued to play to younger listeners, and their parents as well, with albums of children's songs.  

     In 1959, he performed at the Newport Folk Festival, and four of his songs appeared on the third 
     volume of Vanguard Records' Folk Festival at Newport. During the years that followed, McCurdy 
     played the Newport Festival twice more, but after 1960 he was increasingly overshadowed -- as 
     was the case for many singers of his generation -- by the next wave of folk-based topical 
     singer/songwriters, including Bob Dylan. He remained visible as a songwriter, however, as his song 
     "Last Night I Had the Strangest Dream," written in 1950, was recorded by the Chad Mitchell Trio in 
     a live version from the Bitter End, and later by artists such as Simon & Garfunkel on their first album, 
     Wednesday Morning 3 A.M. (that Simon & Garfunkel album was not a success on its initial release, 
     but with their subsequent success has probably sold over a half million copies). That song became 
     McCurdy's trademark, and the title track of his final album of new material, released in 1967 when 
     he was 45 years old. That same year, Elektra released The Best of Ed McCurdy. -- Bruce Eder, 
     All Music Guide

 
 
  
 
 

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HEAR OR BUY THE MUSIC
 
 
    • It is possible to hear the following cd's/songs by choosing from the links listed below. 
    • You can also purchase discounted cd's, tapes, vynyl, and videos from the same secure site.
           
          SONGS
 
           
          1  Cowboy Songs 
          2  Naughty & Bawdy Songs of Olde England 
          3  Children's Song Greatset Hits 
          4  The Best of Ed McCurdy 
          5  The Ballad Record 
          6  Bar Room Ballads 
          7  Blood, Booze 'N Bones 
          8  Children's Songs 
          9  The Folk Singer 
          10  The Legend of Robin Hood 
          11  Sin Songs, Pro and Con 
          12  Songs of the Old West 
          13  When Dalliance Was in Flower 
          14  Ballad Singer's Choice 
          15  American Folk Songs 
          16  Child's Introduction to American Folk Songs 
          17  Cowboy Songs of the Old West 
          18  Songs & Stories for Children
 
 
 
 
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                     Children's Songs-Greatest Hit
 
 
 
                     Cowboy Songs