by Ted Rowe
1924 – 2009
Don Randell was a fixture on the country music scene in Newfoundland for close to 60 years. Born (1924) and raised in Port Rexton, where as a boy he took piano lessons and taught himself to play fiddle, Don moved to St.John’s in 1941. Before long he joined The Reveliers, an early country band that played on VOCM, then teamed up with Ralph Bishop for the Ralph and Don radio show on VONF. Later, with brother Mac Randell, Eric Dicks and Cec Lawrence, Don formed the Happy Valley Gang, who did a Friday-night show on VOCM and personal appearances around Newfoundland.
Ted Blanchard replaced Mac Randell and he and Don becamee Newfoundland’s best-known fiddlers in the 1950s and ‘60s, through the Dipsydoodlers, CBN’s Saturday Nite Jamboree and All Around the Circle on CBC-TV.
Don took part in numerous other radio and TV shows and also found time to play in the Hal LaFosse Orchestra, a popular dance band. He and Ted Blanchard were part of The Shamrocks who made the first commercial recording of fiddle music from Newfoundland in 1957. Don was a member of the bluegrass band Crooked Stovepipe from 1976 to 2001 and did studio work for other artists. He is a recipient of the Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council Honour Award and the Stompin’ Tom Connors Award from the East Coast Music Association.