Although Maine isn’t the first state that comes to mind when you think about country music, it was nevertheless the birthplace of one of the best of several guys who specialized in a certain type of song — truckin’ tunes. Dick Curless was a special favorite of truckers and anyone else who enjoyed his highway story-songs, but he performed his share of standard country fare too, and along the way became known as the Baron of Country Music.
Curless first broke into music as a teenager in the post-war years, performing on local radio in Massachusetts and touring with his band, the Trail Blazers. Within a few years he had to put his musical career on hold because he’d been drafted, but while serving during the Korean War he did manage to utilize his background to do radio work for the Army.
After his discharge in the early 1950s, Curless moved back to Maine and again began to build his career, appearing in area clubs and looking for opportunities. He found one when he won on Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts, and he was soon able to get a record contract and jobs in big-time venues, but he also became plagued with periods of illness and fatigue — something that would be an ongoing problem for him.
During the 1960s, Curless often worked alongside stars like Buck Owens, and finally broke into the Top Ten on his own with trucking songs like “A Tombstone Every Mile,” and country tear-jerkers like “Six Times A Day.” One of his best — “The Baron” — also earned him his title as the Baron of Country Music, but it was just one of his many hits as he continued to sell a lot of records through the years. His health continued to be a problem and he even lost an eye at one point, but he kept working whenever he could and eventually spent his final performing years in Branson. He died in 1995 at age 63.