In a career that spanned 40 years, Anne Murray has sold more than 55 million records. Billboard ranks her 10th on their list of the biggest-seeling adult contemporary artists ever.
The Nova Scotia native was such a force on television in Canada in the ’80s she set records for viewership in terms of entertainment specials that stand to this day.
As is shown in “Anne Murray: Full Circle,” a new documentary from directors Morgan Elliott and Adrian Buitenhuis premiering Friday night on CBC and CBC Gem, it all started way back on a wholesome little CBC show called Singalong Jubilee. Her post-Expo ’67 ascent was noted by music historian Larry LeBlanc, who wrote in a 1974 Maclean’s article that Murray “arrived just when Canada was turning on to its own worth.”
I write more about Murray and the two-hour documentary in this article at Zoomer Everywhere. That story starts with a look at a famous photo op featuring Murray and four bad boy rockers shot in 1973 at the Troubador in Los Angeles. Their names: John Lennon and Harry Nilsson (then fully into their “lost weekend” phase), Alice Cooper and surviving Monkee Micky Dolenz. It was a shot seen ’round the world, a real career booster at the time for Murray in the US market.
It also provoked Mr. Mee to write her a fan letter. Mr. Mee (that’s all anyone ever called him) was an elderly fisherman who lived in a humble little cabin on the Bruce peninsula. just five or six places down from our family cottage on the shores of Lake Huron looking out over Lonely Island.
Dark and early every morning, rain or shine, Mr. Mee would pull on his hip waders, get into his small fishing boat, fire up the 7 hp Evinrude and drop anchor on a deep, rocky, “secret” spot off Whitefish Island. That is where he would catch his supper of bass, perch or pike. I was in his cottage one time and remember it as a very austere place, the only cheery thing being a framed 8×10 on a plain wooden desk of Anne Murray.
Written in marker on the black and white photo was her signature plus an inscription. Murray was evidentally responding to Mr. Mee’s letter, where the eighty-something was chastizing her for the Troubador photograph. I never saw his letter, but the gist of it was for her to stop hanging around with all those long-haired freaky people who needn’t outta ‘ply.
Murray, who “took no guff,” as my mom used to say, took the time to write back and let Mr. Mee know that he should not judge people by the length of their hair.
Murray laughed when I told her that story when I interviewed her a few weeks ago. She remembers her brother coming back from St. Francis Xavier university with “hair down to his shoulders.”
“And my father says, ‘But it’s just hair, right?’ She also remembers that, back when other parents were “booing on Elvis or The Beatles,” her dad was quick to get it. “So I never made any comment, because it’s… it’s just hair.”
Murray, 76, still remembers the hullabaloo that errupted among some of her country and adult contemporary fans when she spiked up her own ‘do during ther techno-pop era.
“A lot of the fans went ballistic,” said Murray, “and I thought, well, you don’t think I look like this when I come out of the shower, do you?”
I’m not sure if Mr. Mee ever thought about it that way. There were a lot of lonely hours out on that boat.
“Anne Murray: Full Circle” premieres Friday at 8 p.m. on CBC and can also be streamed on CBC Gem.