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Don Peters hit #2 on the Country Charts in 1968, He's still looking for his first Number One hit.

Updated on January 9, 2016

Don Peters' "Two Timing to a Two Step"

Songwriter Don Peters of Caribou,Maine

Southern Comfort

Here Comes the Sunshine

Fancy Fur

It Ain't Over Till It's Over

by Bill Russo

James Patterson was rejected by over a dozen publishers before his first book finally was sold, for an advance of $8500.00

John Lindsey spent 16 years in baseball’s minor leagues before being called up to the majors by the L.A. Dodgers in 2010. He had 12 at bats and just one hit before being sent home after breaking his hand. He never got another shot at the big time.

Then there’s songwriter Don Peters of Caribou, Maine. He’s chased his dream of writing hit songs for well over 60 years and he’s still cranking out the tunes in search of his first “Number One”.

It all started in the middle of a frigid Aroostook County winter way back in the 1930s. With sub zero temperatures outside and snow that was often counted in feet instead of inches, young Don would seek out the most comfortable spot in the house.

“I’d lie under the woodstove where it was nice and warm and drag in a portable radio. I was four or five years old, and I’d Listen to Wilf Carter.”

Wilf Carter, aka Montana Slim, was an influential Country singer from Nova Scotia who had an immense following throughout Canada and The United States.

“I was crazy about country music from as early as I can remember, I never outgrew it“, Don told me in a recent interview.

He wrote his first song in 1956. It was the time of Elvis.

“The King” had the number one and two songs of the year, “Heartbreak Hotel” and “Don’t Be Cruel”. Carl Perkins also topped the charts with “Blue Suede Shoes”.

Don Peters avoided the new ‘rock’ and stuck with pure country music for his inaugural song. It was a tune about country’s greatest performer, Hank Williams.

Titled “Hank’s Song”, the composition was sent to New Jersey singer Johnny Restivo. Restivo’s “The Shape I’m In” went to number 80 on the Billboard charts in 1956. Restivo kept Don’s song but he never recorded it.

Ten years later a Don Peters tune entered the Country Music charts for the first time. Canadian Country star, Bob King recorded, “Working on the County Road” and rode it all the way to “Number Two” on the Canadian Country Tracks list. It was one of three top ten hits that King had in 1966.

Around 1968 it looked like “The County Road” was going to stretch all the way from Caribou to Nashville, when 20th Century Fox picked up the rights to the song. Legendary producer and CMA Hall of Famer, Steve Shoals had decided to promote it.

Shoals not only was the head of RCA Nashville - he started it! He signed Eddy Arnold to the label. He brought the great guitarist, Chet Atkins to RCA. And oh yes, he also signed a young Country/Rockabilly kid named Elvis Presley!

So with Shoals carrying around “County Road” in his briefcase, it looked like the young man from Northern Maine, was finally going to have a chance at a number one hit in the U.S.A.

Shoals was lugging the song in his briefcase when he died of a heart attack, at age 57, while driving across the Nashville Bridge. With Shoals passing, the song never made it to the Nashville recording studios.

The following year, Bob King recorded another Don Peters song. “The Revenuer’s Daughter” was a “Number 17” top hit on the Canadian charts in 1969.

In 1976, Bob King waxed six more of Don’s songs. Ann Murray, Ray Griff, and Ronnie Prophet were all charting that year in Canada and the U.S.; but by then Bob King was not. None of the songs made the Hit Parade.

Four years later, Don got another shot at the dream when Eddie Eastman recorded his song Southern Comfort. Eastman had more than two dozen entries onto the Country Tracks charts in Canada from the 1970s to the 90s; but Southern Comfort did not score.

Later, the song did make the hit list when recorded by Teddy Nelson of Norway - but it was a hit in Norway and it was sung in Norwegian!

Nelson actually did have some hits in the U.S. after he was discovered by Skeeter Davis. He is the only Norwegian ever to appear on the Grand Ol’ Opry.

Though ‘Southern Comfort’ did not climb up the charts, it was noticed by Newfoundland’s top selling country singer, Lloyd Snow. Lloyd liked the tune and he began using it in his shows.

Lloyd is known as “The King of the Malls” in Eastern Canada and parts of Northern New England. He’s so named because on days and nights when he’s not booked for a regular show, he packs up his guitar and loads up his trunk with his CDs (he’s cut 18 of ‘em over the last 30 years) and goes to a mall and sings. He will sing at the music counter, belt out the tunes by the courtesy booth, or warble where ever they will let him sing. And the people love him. Lloyd Snow can sell more CDs in an hour of impromptu singing than a store like “Target” will sell in a whole day.

Lloyd’s “Down East Boy” is the best selling song in Newfoundland, and has been for many years.

Luckily for Don Peters, his wife likes to shop - otherwise, he might never have met Lloyd Snow. His wife was on a shopping trip to Grand Falls, New Brunswick with her sister and her Mom. They happened to be within earshot of the King of the Malls.

They really liked the music of Lloyd Snow and bought a bunch of CDS which they later turned over to Don.

“I loved his music”, Don told me, “He was singing like I write”.

Don resolved to meet Lloyd and as soon as he could, he tracked him down at one of his solo gigs at a music store.

“I told him that Eddie Eastman had recorded some of my songs and I told him I wrote Southern Comfort”.

“I’ve been singing that for a while,” Lloyd responded. He further told him that he was wrapping up production of a new album and he needed a few more songs for it.

Don grabbed a master tape with about a hundred of his songs on it and on a Sunday morning he trucked it on over to Lloyd.

“A few days later he called me and said“

”Don. I am going to scrap my project and use all your songs.’’

“He used ten of them on the album titled ‘Return’, Don told me.

One of the catchiest tunes on the CD is called “Two Timing to a Two Step”. It got some airplay in Canada but was unable to break through in the United States in a Country Music market that is going more and more for an overproduced rock n roll style music.

Don was unable to get even his hometown radio station to play “Two Timing”. They said their music is preprogrammed from somewhere in California.
But the video of the song is available for everyone to see and hear on YouTube and if it gets enough views, perhaps Don’s dream will finally become a reality.

If it doesn’t happen, it will not change Don’s life one bit. At age 76, he still works pretty near a full week as a book keeper for a Car Dealership. He still writes songs on a regular basis. And with some pals, he plays occasional gigs in a group they call “The Good Old Boys”.

If Don gets his big hit, it won't change him and he's not going to leave Maine for Nashville.

As much as he loves pure country music, Music City has never been a magnet to him.

"I never wanted to head to Nashville", Don told me, "It’s a closed door and there would be no point in going. I would have gotten swallowed up down there".


Bob King sings Don Peters' "County Road"

'County Road becomes 'County Bank', sung by Dick Curless

One Dream Partly Fulfilled - "County Road"

One dream that Don had was for Dick Curless to record his song, “Working on the County Road”. Don saw Dick at a show in Aroostook County and wanted to present the song to Dick, but he did not have the confidence to approach him.

Later he did send the song to Curless’ management team, but they said they were flooded with submissions and they never really considered it.

Finally many years later, in 1978, the song was adapted into a commercial for a bank and Dick Curless did record it in Nashville. Instead of ‘Working on the County Road’, it was retitled ‘Working at the County Bank’.

It wasn’t fully a dream come true and it wasn’t a hit song, but the deep rich sound of Dick Curless on his song was a thrill for Don.

Now if he only can get a million or two views on “Two Timing”, that will be a dream come true.


"Two Timing" Words & Music by Don Peters

I tell myself each morning after, hoss you gotta change
You better change your cheating ways and fast
But when Im near a honky-tonk, or bump into an old flame
The promise that I made to me won't last

It's not that I dont know the difference between right & wrong
It's just that I cant help myself I guess
But when I hear the juke box playing some old two step song
The devil in my soul wont let me rest

I'm two timing to a two step, one more time tonight
I'll spend all my pay on warm red wine
Stumble up to my front door by morning light
Two timing to a two step one more time

I never really did get off on rock'n roll
Dixie land and blues dont mean a thing
Theres only one way you can move this cowboy's soul
Get a fiddle man to play some texas swing

I've got a woman back at home who waits for me
I've asked myself how can you be so blind
But put sawdust on a hardwood floor and that's where I'll be
Two timing to a two step one more time

I'm two timing to a two step one more time tonight
I'll spend all my pay on warm red wine
Lucky if I make it home by morning light
Two timing to a two step one more time

Lucky if I make it home at all tonight
Two timing to a two step one more time

Six Decades of Recordings

Don Peters became a member of the world's most exclusive Songwriter's Club in 2015. It's so exclusive that Don may be the only member. The milestone he reached was having commercial recordings of his music made in six different decades. Starting with his chart topping work in the 1960s with Bob King of Canada; Don's compositions have been pressed to vinyl, put on 8-tracks,casette tapes, and in digital format in every decade: from the 1960s on to the 70s, 80s, 90s, then the 2000s and even into the 2010s.

Don's fascinating story is included in a chapter of "Crossing the Musical Color Line and other Adventures of Singers and Players", by Bill Russo. In 134 pages, the reader gets to meet some of the greatest figures in music. Some are famous while others never achieved great commercial success but all have fascinating back stories. Some of the artists were friends of the author, such as the first man to break the color line in a big band in the 1940s. There are more than a dozen narratives in this quick read, which is just 99 cents. It's available in the Kindle Store for 99 cents. B00PJQQHSO

--------- credits ----------------

For help in research and with photos and songs, many thanks to:

Lorie Hudson, Aubrie Boyce, and Larry Adams.

And of course, to Don Peters for sharing his musical life and memories.


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    • Billrrrr profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Russo 

      4 years ago from Cape Cod

      He is an amazing guy. I got to know him through a piece I did on country singer Dick Curless. His "Tombstone Every Mile" trucking song was a giant hit in the 60s. Don loved the music of Dick Curless also, so we began chatting and eventually he told me about his long quest to have a number one hit. I wrote his story, which has received a pretty good amount of publicity. It was also reprinted in the Caribou, Maine newspaper. Don's not even 80 yet, so I am pretty sure sometime in the next decade or so, he will get his 'Number One'.

    • fpherj48 profile image


      4 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      This settles it! Don Peters has to be the Patron Saint of Tenacity and stamina! Bless his Heart! He's actually more of a success than he may believe!!..............Up+++


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