LifeNotes: Canadian Country Star Hal Willis Passes

Hal Willis at the 2010 Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame induction.

Hal Willis at the 2010 Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame induction. Photo: Grant Martin Photography/Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame

Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame member Hal Willis died in Nashville on Friday, Sept. 4, at age 82.

Willis scored his biggest U.S. hit with “The Lumberjack,” which reached No. 5 on the charts in 1964. He charted again on the Billboard country chart with “Doggin’ in the U.S. Male” in 1966.

Born Leonard Gauthier in Rouyn, Quebec, he formed a duet with his wife Ginger in the 1950s. Hal & Ginger Willis toured with fellow Canadian Hank Snow on a package with Elvis Presley in 1956. The couple moved to Nashville in the early 1960s.

Hal and Ginger Willis. Photo: Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame.

Hal and Ginger Willis. Photo: Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame.

As songwriters, Hal & Ginger Willis had cuts by George Jones, Kitty Wells, Jim Reeves, Ernest Tubb, Bobby Helms, Charlie Walker, Rosie Flores, Hot Rize and The Wilburn Brothers, among others. Flatt & Scruggs scored a 1962 hit with the couple’s song “Just Ain’t.” Patsy Cline recorded their song “Walkin’ Dream.” They also co-wrote both of the Hal Willis hits.

Ginger Willis passed away in 2003. Hal & Ginger Willis were inducted into the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame in 2010.

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Category: Artist, Featured, Obituary

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Robert K. Oermann is a longtime contributor to MusicRow. He is a respected music critic, author and historian.

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