Jerry Doucette was growing tired of having to support his music career by playing in night clubs, so he went into his basement and penned his breakthrough album Mama Let Him Play.
“(The album’s title track)’s a catchy song,” he said. “People can identify with it. Lots of good hook lines. They loved it, what can I say.”
Following its release in 1977, the album went platinum in Canada (over 100,000 copies sold) and won Doucette a Juno Award.
“They put Mama Let Him Play out and it just took off, and so did we. It went through the roof – we found ourselves touring with Meatloaf, Toto, the Beach Boys. We toured across Canada for some time, it was quite the rise.”
At the time, Doucette said he was surprised that Mama Let Him Play found the most success off the album.
“I thought Down the Road would be the big hit.”
He said he always shares with each audience the hits from Mama Let Him Play, as well as tunes from the follow-up album Douce is Loose.
“We mix it all in together and we throw the blues in there too,” he said. “What do I love about the blues? The feel, the magic, the soul. It’s incredible.”
In the nearly 40 years since his breakthrough album, Doucette said he hasn’t had to make any adjustments as a musician, despite the significant evolution of the industry.
“It’s been a great ride for me,” he said. “I’ve raised five kids and they’re all doing really well. My wife and I are still very much in love, my little Maggie. I’ve had some ups and downs but in general, I still go out and play for people. The people come and they listen and they love it. We get standing ovations and encores – it’s a great ride.”
The release of Mama Let Him Play grabbed the attention of Shelly Siegel, the creative director for Mushroom Records, and a key figure in helping the band Heart achieve commercial success. But unfortunately, the support Doucette had from Siegel didn’t last long.
“When he passed away (in 1979) things went haywire,” he said. “Bad deals were made between (Siegel’s replacement) and these other guys and the whole thing just fell apart. So that was that.”
Mushroom Records was no longer in business by the end of 1980. Nonetheless, Doucette’s career lived on.
“When we go out and do festivals, it’s people from 10 years old to 90. Everybody’s there. Even the kids and teens and early 20s crowd are singing the lyrics. I count my blessings, believe me.”
Doucette will be making his first-ever appearance at the Dream Café on Dec. 12.
“I’ve never played this place but I’ve heard a lot about it and I’m looking forward to being there. We’re not starchy. We get out there with the crowd. It’s going to be an intimate night come Saturday.”
Joining Doucette on stage will be guitarist Brent Shindell, who was part of the recording for Mama Let Him Play, as well as bass player Trevor Newman and drummer Marco Ibarra.
Tickets cost $37 at the Dream Café.