Hillbilly-Music.comThe People. The Music. The History.
About The Artist
Dean Maxedon was better known to his fans as Dean Richards. Although in looking through our database of articles and information, we only found one entry under his stage name of Dean Richards - most entries were for Dean Maxedon. He was married for 52 years to another singer, Penny West.
Dean Maxedon's career was similar to many hillbilly music acts in the 1940s and later. A bit of a nomadic life, taking them from one radio station to another. Along about 1940, Dean was a part of the group the Blackhawk Valley Boys.
A 1942 song folio of the Blackhawk Valley boys tells us that Dean was the 'baby' of the group back then and was born in Sullivan, Illinois, a town about midway between Decatur and Mattoon, Illinois. Along about that time, he was doing a bit of a comedy routine using the character name of "Grandpappy Cuddlecush". The group took its name from a valley in Northern Illinois and got their start at radio station WROK in Rockford, Illinois where they first appeared on the barn dance show the station had in 1934. They moved to WOWO in Fort Wayne, Indiana in 1939 and were also being heard on the "Red" and "Blue" networks. In that folio, Dean was listed as songwriter for the tunes "Tumbledown Shack" and "Baby Boy".
The Blackhawk Valley Boys in 1942 included Don (Ike) Lake, Red Bicknell, Pete Fall and Dean. By September 1944 however, it appears Dean had entered the military service while the group was at WOWO. An article in the Mountain Broadcast and Prairie Recorder mentions the group being a part of the famed WOWO Hoosier Hop and the group then included Andy Anderson on the accordion, Pete Fall, and George Arthur. A picture accompanying that article seems to also include Red Bicknell, though he wasn't mentioned. The group was said to then be nationally known for its "...realistic renditions of cowboy songs and western ballads."
In 1945, the group had moved to the home of the National Barn Dance, WLS in Chicago, Illinois. In November of that year, Dean married Penny West around the time Dean entered the U. S. Army for World War II service. At that time, the group included in addition to Penny, Pete Fall, George Arthur and Andy Anderson. Uncle Dan wrote in his Mountain Broadcast and Prairie Recorder column that they joined WLS on July 30.
On November 23, 1945, Penny West married the then Sgt. Dean Maxedon at 6:30pm. The wedding ceremony took place at the home of Robert Gardner (he was the "Bob" of Mac and Bob, the famed duo at WLS in Chicago). Among the attendees helping them cur their wedding cake were Ted "Otto" Morse, Rex Allen and Connie Linder.
Along about 1946, the group underwent more changes while at WLS. Viola Myers wrote in her column in the same magazine that Dolph Hewitt was a part of the Blackhawk Valley Boys before they left for KMOX in St. Louis, Missouri. But around that time, Dean had rejoined the group and they moved from St. Louis back to WOWO in Fort Wayne, Indiana and were said to be working with famed yodeler, Kenny Roberts. However, the June 1946 issue of National Hillbilly News in noting that the Blackhawk Valley Boys had returned to WOWO and the Hoosier Hop, did not note that Penny West or Dean Maxedon were a part of the group. The article mentions George Arthur, Don Blake, Pete Fall and Red Bicknell as being part of the group then, who had a daily radio show over WOWO.
By November 1946, Mary Jean Shurtz was reporting in her column in Mountain Broadcast and Prairie Recorder that Dean, Penny and Andy Anderson had left WOWO and moved to WLW to work on the WLW Midwestern Hayride as the Lucky Penny Trio. She tells us also that Dean got his start over WJBL in Decatur, Illinois when he was just 12 years old, or around 1932 or so. He later appeared over WDZ in Tuscola, Illinois. Marion Lee of National Hillbilly News mentioned the new group at WLW in her Talk of the Town column as well and mentioned that included, "...Penny, Andy and Dean".
In November of 1946, Nicola and Rose Fantetti of National Hillbilly News were writing in their "Behind the Scenes" column tha group was appearing each day on the "Top of the Morning" show and the "Everybody's Farm" show. They also appeared on the Saturday night show, Sohio Mid-Western Hayride that was aired at 6:30pm.
The March-April 1950 issue of National Hillbilly News tells us that the Lucky Penny Trio had left WLW in Cincinnati and were working at KMOX in St. Louis.
Disc Jockey Tommy Sutton then of WHIO in Dayton, Ohio in 1957, wrote in Rustic Rhythm that the Lucky Penny Trio had been renamed The Luck Pennies. They had moved from St. Louis, Missouri and were hearing up the WLW Midwestern Hayride, where Dean would be the emcee of the show. The members of the group at that time were Penny West (his wife), Wally Proctor, Frankie Taylor and Tommy Watson.
Credits and Sources