Maurice Bolyer the “King of the Banjo”

Maurice Bolyer Album Cover

Maurice Bolyer the “King of the Banjo”

Maurice Bolyer, an acclaimed banjoist and composer, was born in Edmundston to Acadian parents. In his later teenage years, Bolyer, who would eventually be honoured as the ‘King of the Banjo’, initiated his banjo career with a local country band in Edmundston, having previously mastered various string instruments and the piano.

Maurice Boyer Album Cover "Country Banjo"

In the early 1940s, he appeared on the CKCW radio station in Moncton, where he performed alongside Hank Snow, and by the late 1940s, he was a regular feature on ‘CKNX Barn Dance’ broadcasting from Wingham, Ontario. His career expanded to include performances on ‘Main Street Jamboree’ (CHML radio, Hamilton, Ontario) and several American TV shows, before he became a regular performer on CBC’s ‘The Tommy Hunter Show’, first on radio from 1963 to 1965, then on television from 1965 until his demise.

An accomplished banjo maestro, Maurice Bolyer spent his later years trying to broaden the banjo’s stylistic horizons. One of his interests was utilizing the banjo as a solo instrument in jazz, as opposed to its traditional role in rhythm. 

Maurice Bolyer’s original compositions can be found on his albums including King of the Banjo (Arc 252), Country Banjo (Banff SBS 5324), Golden Banjo Classics (Cachet 1005), and Pure Gold Banjo Favourites (RCA KNL-0108). Additionally, his music can be heard on albums by other artists such as Hunter, Graham Townsend, and more. Bolyer’s significant contributions to music were recognized with a posthumous induction into the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame in 1989.

Maurice Bolyer’s life came to an end in Toronto on August 18, 1978.

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