About The Artist
Silvey Dale Norman, Jr. hailed from Morgan County, Ohio, where he quickly became known as Junior or "Catfish" for much of his life. He grew up as part of a tri-racial community which he described poetically by saying "I'm a little bit Indian, a little bit Dutch, a little bit Colored, but not too much." According to his stepmother he sang almost from infancy and could play guitar a little bit before he started school.
For him, school was Malta-McConnellsvile from which he was graduated about 1951 and then joined the U. S. Navy.
After concluding his military service, Norman went to work at a factory in Malta until it closed in the late 1970s and then worked for Highway Department. He also increasingly dabbled in country music at the local level. Sometimes Junior worked as a solo artist and at other times played in a band called The Fugitives.
By the late sixties, he was playing in various country parks, especially Ponderosa Park in Salem, Ohio. About 1969, he first played at the WWVA Jamboree, becoming a regular when it moved back to the Capitol Theater and became Jamboree U S A. This provided him with opportunities to work more in Pennsylvania and sometimes more distant spots to the East. Since Charley Pride's rise to prominence took place just a little earlier, many people viewed Junior as the Jamboree's answer to the new Nashville star.
Norman had a brief but sporadic recording career which totaled only three singles. The first took place in the mid-1970s via the small Nashville-based Artist of America Records. About 1979, he did another single on Jam U S A, which was owned by WWVA. His last 45 rpm effort came out in 1982 on Norman Kelley's Pennsylvania-based Country Star Records. The A side was a western-flavored number Kelley had co-written back in the forties b/w a cover of the Charley Pride hit "Crystal Chandelier" which may have been his best release. (Note: The record label seems to list the songwriter credit for "Crystal Chandelier" to a David Fox. Ted Harris wrote the version that Charley is noted for.)
In later years, he would be part of the Jamboree shows when a headline act would make an appearance. He was on Jamboree USA when Dan Seals appeared on August 4, 1990. On February 27, 1988, Doc and Chickie Williams made an appearance. By then DOc was known as "West Virginia's Official Country Music Ambassador of Country Music", "Distinguished West Virginian" and part of a select group inducted into the Wheeling Hall of Fame. That show included Doc's daughters as well as Junior and other Jamboree stars. Another show was when Razzy Bailey appeared on August 15, 1981.
By the 1990s, Norman was increasingly troubled by health problems. He had been diagnosed with Addison's disease back in the 1970s. By the time he reached his sixties it became increasingly serious. Then lymphoma, a rare form of leukemia, struck and he passed away several days after reaching age 65 in a Columbus hospital. He was survived by seven children, one of whom sang and sounded exactly like Junior. He perished in a truck wreck. Part of the information herein was extracted from a research paper concerning Norman by Rick Shriver.
At the time of his passing, he was married to Phyllis Stanley Norman whom he married on November 2, 1990. His previous marriaged to Mary H. Norman ended in divorce in April 1986. He was living in McConnelsville at the time of his passing.
Credits & Sources
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