Maple Ridge country music pioneer dies at 89

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An icon of the British Columbia country music scene has died.

Elmer Tippe, 89, the patriarch of the Tippe family of musicians, died just before noon on Wednesday, September 7.

“There was just something about my dad. He wasn’t just a regular guy, you know,” said his son Rick Tippe, who broke the news online.

He described his father as an incredible human being. Someone people could trust and someone people listened to.

He had a way of handling things that everyone admired, Rick said.

Rick explained that life was easier not only for himself, but also for his brother and sister, since their last name was Tippe.

“And it was just because everyone respected my mom and dad with that name,” he said, also referring to his mother Alice.

According to the BC Entertainment Hall of Fame, Elmer was born in Saskatchewan in January 1933 and began playing the banjo and fiddle at age eight in Alberta, just before moving to British Columbia.

By age 15, he was entertaining professionally with his two older brothers in a band, Ray’s Harmony Five. They played together until 1955, when her brother Clarence was killed by a drunk driver.

Two years later, Elmer formed The Pine Mountain Boys with his other brother and began performing with the Royal Canadian tours.

Although Elmer dropped out of school at the age of eight, he would eventually become a broadcaster, reading his own news.

“He learned to read on his own and become the person he was,” Rick said.

Elmer began his broadcasting career at CJJC, British Columbia’s first full-time country music station in Langley, before moving to CKWX SuperCountry radio in 1975. It was there that he helped give many young local musicians promising their real start in country music, playing their songs on the air.

He too recorded several albums and recorded three singles in the 1970s. Some of his hits include: Closed for repairs / Nothing ventured, nothing gained; never look back; and think back.

Rick noted that life wouldn’t be the same without his father.

“Not having that rock there for you anymore is what you’re going to miss, you know. That person you could always turn to for advice or whatever, in any situation you found difficult,” he noted.

“He was so loved by so many people, but rightfully so,” Rick said. “He was the most humble guy,” which helped put Haney and Maple Ridge on the map.

“How can you be such a good person, such a smart person, such a humble person, such a generous and caring person, like all those things, and be so talented,” asked his son, who noted that the talents of ‘Elmer propelled him into the BC Country Music Hall of Fame.

When Elmer took violin lessons as a child, the teacher often stopped and asked where they were on the music page. But he learned to play by ear.

“He just learned about life his way. He was just a treasure to everyone who got to know him,” Rick noted of his father who taught all of his children that their family was no better than anyone else, but not less either. Elmer lived by the motto that you treat people the way you want to be treated.

“When you were talking to my dad, you were on the same level as him. It didn’t matter that he was on the radio, that he recorded music, that he had a few television appearances and that he was on stage, ”he said.

His father rose to fame despite the fact that there was no one in his day who could take his talent and promote it to the world.

This did not prevent Elmer from becoming a member of the Western Swing Society Hall of Fame in Sacramento, California, the Western Swing Society Hall of Fame in Washington State, the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame and the British Columbia Country Music Hall. of Glory in 1988.

In 1977, his inaugural year, the BCCMA presented his father with awards for Disc Jockey of the Year and Male Vocalist of the Year, Rick recounted.

“Word has been slowly getting out throughout his 50+ year career as a professional musician,” Rick said.

“If he had a Brian Epstein, who knows what dad might have done,” Rick said of the man who marketed The Beatles.

Nicole Hyette knew Elmer when she was Executive Director of the BC Country Music Association. Together they led the resurrection of the BC Country Music Hall of Fame in 2002.

“He was adamant that there were people who needed to be in the hall of fame,” Hyette said.

Elmer, she said, instilled a love of music in her family, from her son Rick to her grandsons, who played together as Johnson Brothers.

“He had so much passion,” she said. “His love of music was contagious.”

“He really wanted to keep alive the tradition of country music and where it all came from. And it was so inspiring,” Hyette added.

Former Maple Ridge Mayor Ernie Daykin said he remembers listening to Elmer on the radio more than 50 years ago.

And, when he ran Windsor Plywood, Daykin recalled how Elmer would go there for their Saturday sales (with the local radio station), and four or five times during the hour, Elmer would announce, “Come to Windsor Plywood, they have doors for sale,” or whatever the market is.

“We’ve never been busier, but I’d say half the people came to see Elmer,” laughed Daykin. “Don’t buy anything. »

Later, they met in the city. Daykin described Tippe as an old-time country gentleman, a classy guy, who passed on his community spirit to his children and grandchildren.

He remembered running into Elmer, Rick and the Johnson Brothers, performing at a conference at the ACT Arts Center, and admired the family having three generations on stage.

“When they made Elmer, they threw the mold away,” Daykin added, describing him as someone who always took the time to say hello to someone and shake their hand.

Maple Ridge country music star Tom McKillip said Elmer was a legend in BC’s country music scene.

“When he got close to a microphone, he lit up the room,” McKillip said. “He was one of BC’s country music pioneers.”

Rick said online that sharing the stage with his dad was always an honor.

“Rest in Peace Dad, you will be forever missed but not forgotten. I look forward to the day when I will be in your presence again,” he wrote.

Elmer died at Ridge Meadows Hospital of complications from pneumonia.


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Elmer Tippe passed away. Born in 1933, he had a huge impact on country music, both as a radio DJ and as a musician. He was photographed here in 2011 with his son, Rick, who is also a musician. (Black Press Media files)

Elmer Tippe performed one of the first songs he learned at the Hall of Fame awards in 2004. (Special for Black Press Media)

Elmer Tippe performed one of the first songs he learned at the Hall of Fame awards in 2004. (Special for Black Press Media)

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