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Larry Mercey of The Mercey Brothers fame releasing autobiography

Larry Mercey has stacks of scrapbooks and datebooks that help to tell the story of his remarkable 60-plus years in the Canadian music industry – from his early days as a budding musician in Hanover to his 31 years with The Mercey Brothers and, most recently, his solo career.

The Hanover native’s mother, Cecilia, began keeping a scrapbook after his first appearance on the CKNX Travelling Barn Dance in 1955. Mercey took up the torch in the late ’50s, filling 22 scrapbooks with photographs, newspaper clippings, notes and other mementos over the next six decades.

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He said he relied heavily on that information while writing his autobiography over a two-year span. The book, Have Mercey: My First 60 Years Making Music, is set to be released Jan. 15.

“I had all the information to write the book. And, really, it was more, I think, for family and so my great-grandchildren – I now have a couple of those – would know a little bit about me and so my children would have a pretty good record,” Mercey, 81, said in an interview.

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“A lot of it was taken from my scrapbooks and I have almost all of my datebooks, which told where we played and even how much we got paid for some of those jobs. So rather than looking through all of these 22 scrapbooks or something, I can give them a glimpse of everything by writing a book.”

The autobiography will also provide fans of Mercey and The Mercey Brothers with more information about their careers.

“I hope it will give people an opportunity to get to know me better,” he said. “People think they know me, but they really don’t know what I did over those 60 years.”

Mercey, who now lives in Ilderton, Ont., north of London, said he began writing the book on Feb. 8, 2018, and finished in February 2020, just before the COVID-19 pandemic took hold in Ontario.

Have Mercey, published by Woodstock-based T.A. Ryerson & Son Publishing, includes a lot of information about the formation and success of The Mercey Brothers, which released 18 albums, had multiple singles – including several that topped the Canadian country music charts – and were inducted into the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame.

It also contains information about the country music industry, interesting and funny road stories and anecdotes of the places and people Mercey and The Mercey Brothers encountered over the years.

Born in Hanover on Dec. 12, 1939, Mercey was the first child of Leonard and Cecilia Mercey. His brother Raymond was born 11 months later and youngest brother Lloyd was born Dec. 12, 1945.

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Mercey’s interest in music began around age 13. He recalls his father gathering the three brothers in the living room to sing songs and later performing at the Hanover fall fair talent show.

But it was performing as a Saturday night regular on the CKNX Travelling Barn Dance Show in the mid-’50s that really launched Mercey’s musical career. The singer and guitarist performed for years on the show in various communities in southwestern Ontario.

Ray later began playing with Mercey and the duo, as The Mercey Brothers, finished second on the CBC Talent Caravan – a national show similar to what American Idol is today – in 1960. Mercey said Hanover residents rallied behind the duo, voting by postcard, to help the boys clinch second place.

In his book, Mercey said it was that show that catapulted The Mercey Brothers from being local performers to national artists.

The pair signed a recording contract that year with Chateau Records.

Lloyd joined the band in 1966 and the trio later signed with Columbia Records, releasing the singles Uncle Tom and Whistle on the River from their self-titled album The Mercey Brothers.

They signed with RCA Records in 1970 and had more singles, like Hello Mom and Who Wrote the Words?

By 1976, The Mercey Brothers had won seven Juno Awards for top country group. They still rank at No. 50 on the list of acts with the most Juno awards and nominations, earning 15 nods in all.

Ray Mercey left the band in 1980 and the brothers also closed their seven-year-old The Mercey Brothers Recording Studio in Elmira that year.

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But The Mercey Brothers continued performing, with several lineup changes, until disbanding in 1989.

That same year, the band was inducted into the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame.

Larry Mercey went on to have a successful solo career, releasing three albums and earning his own Juno nomination.

He’s still performing with the Larry Mercey Trio, although the COVID-19 pandemic has put their schedule on hold. He marked 65 years in the music industry on Dec. 10.

He said his brothers live in Kitchener.

Mercey said he has always appreciated the support shown to him and his band from Grey-Bruce residents over the years. The Mercey Brothers were inducted into Hanover’s Labyrinth of Distinction on July 1, 2014, and the Bruce Grey Music Hall of Fame on June 26, 2016.

To order a print copy of Have Mercey, email larrymercey40@gmail.com. E-copies of the book will be available through Kindle at Amazon.ca or by emailing Thom at thom@mouton-music-canada.com.

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