The Mercey Brothers

The Mercey Brothers. One of Canada's most popular country groups, active 1958-89. It comprised three brothers from Hanover, south of Owen Sound, Ont.

The Mercey Brothers

The Mercey Brothers. One of Canada's most popular country groups, active 1958-89. It comprised three brothers from Hanover, south of Owen Sound, Ont. Larry Mercey (lead singer, guitarist, b 12 Dec 1939) began singing in 1956 on the 'CKNX Barn Dance' from nearby Wingham and was joined in 1958 by Ray Mercey (singer, bass guitarist, b 21 Nov 1940). Patterning themselves after the popular US close-harmony duo, the Everly Brothers, they appeared on CBC TV (placing second on 'Talent Caravan' in 1960) and recorded for Chateau.

Lloyd Mercey (singer, drummer, b 12 Dec 1945) joined his brothers in 1965. The trio had their first hit in 1966 with 'Whistling on the River,' followed by 'Uncle Tom' (1967), 'Who Drinks My Beer When I'm Gone' and 'Ordinary Peeping Tom' (1969), 'My Song for You' and 'Pickin' Up the Pieces' (1970), and 'Old Bill Jones' (1971), all for Columbia. Its singles 1971-7 for RCA included the hits 'Hello Mom,' 'Who Wrote the Words,' 'Kentucky Turn Your Back,' 'It's So Easy to Please Me,' Our Loving Times,' and 'Did You Hear My Song'. Wrote Roy MacGregor at this time, the Mercey Brothers 'shy away from the traditional stomping grounds of country and western music - drinking, driving, brawling and adultery - and stick to their own trademarks of simple sentimentality and lasting love'.

In a career characterized by shrewd business judgment, the brothers operated a recording studio at Elmira, Ont, 1973-80, and established their own label, MBS(Mercey Brothers Sound), in 1978. Several hits followed for MBS, including 'Comin' on Stronger' (1978), 'Stranger' (1979), 'Maybe It's Love This Time' (1982), 'Leader of the Band' and 'Love at Last Sight' (1984), 'Love Is the Reason' (1985), 'Take a Little Chance on Love' and 'Pretty Diamond Ring' (1986), and 'Heroes' and 'Raised on Radio' (1987). The MBS roster also has included Lee Bach, Marie Bottrell, Terry Carisse, Nicole Hart, and Joan Kennedy. Bach and Carisse (the latter collaborating with Bruce Rawlins) were among several Canadian songwriters to supply the brothers with material. A total of 17 Mercey Brothers albums have been issued by Columbia (or its reissue line, Harmony), RCA, MBS and Quality Special Products, including several compilations - eg, two volumes of Latest and Greatest by MBS in 1984 and 1988.

The trio toured extensively in Canada and appeared on major CBC, CTV, and syndicated country music TV series. It performed early in its career at the Grand Ol' Opry in Nashville, and toured on occasion in the late 1970s in England and Germany and once in the mid-1980s in Holland and Scandanavia. Ray Mercey left the group in 1980; Larry and Lloyd continued with a succession of bass guitarists and guitarists until 1989. Larry subsequently undertook a solo career, enjoying success in 1990 with 'She Feels Like a New Man Tonight'. The trio received the Juno Award as country group of the year in 1976 and the CCMA and Big Country Awards as group of the year in 1985 and 1986 respectively. The brothers were inducted into the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame in 1989.


Further Reading

  • Martin, Robert. 'Mercey Brothers run things their way now,' Toronto Globe and Mail, 3 Feb 1976

    MacGregor, Roy. 'Clean cut country,' Canadian Magazine, 1 May 1976

    Gallo, Nancy. 'The Mercey Brothers: comin' on stronger than ever,' RPM, 15 Apr 1978

    Lorimer, Cliff. 'Versatility is key to Mercey Brothers' success,' MSc, 311, Jan-Feb 1980

    Kennedy, Ted. Country Canada (Kelowna, BC, 1989)