50 Years on the Road with Bill and Sue-On Hillman



Headliners on the Roger Miller Show, coming to the Auditorium Nov. 16, are the Everly Brothers, Don and Phil, (above) of Bye Bye Love fame. Sharing the billing are the Newbeats and the Chug-A-Lug Band. The Everly Brothers rendition of Bye Bye Love sold one and one-half million records.

by Richie Cage
Winnipeg Free Press ~ November 16, 1964

The Everly Brothers, Roger Miller and the Newbeats headed the CKY Fall Festival of Stars at the Winnipeg Auditorium on Monday night.

Don and Phil Everly, the original long-hair boys, sang their hearts out to the near capacity audience. Harmony and perfect tune was made for these two brilliant young performers. Bye Bye Love, Wake Up Little Susie were some of their great hits on the record charts not long ago.

The Everly Brothers haven't been heard from in a long time. Teen-agers thought they had died out, but their performance left a solid impression on the audience. They still have appeal.

The audience, for the first time this season, sang along with the performers. Never before has the audience sung for performers of the Rock and Roll era.

Roger Miller, a relatively new singer on the teen scene, was another wonderful performer. He combined wit, and a sparkling, friendly personality.

Mr. Miller has showmanship and a rare talent. Chug-a-lug and Dang Me are two of his current hits.

He was behind the scenes for many years as a successful song writer and only recently has he made his debut as a singer. If Mr. Miller were not a success as a singer he could quite easily become a top comedian. He has a mind like a bear trap that snaps decisively on things of humor. On stage he clowned with the members of his group and made the crowd roar with his antics.

The Newbeats, three slick-looking gentlemen in powder-blue suits, sang their hit tunes Bread and Butter and Pink Delarus. Dean, Mark and Larry supplement their good looks with great hits, such as Tell Him No. Larry Henley, the lead singer, has tremendous range to his voice. This strange quality has brought the Newbeats recognition in the recording world.

Rounding out the performance was the Dover Men from Brandon, a group of three guitarists and a drummer. This group backed the Newbeats after only 15 minute's playing and turned in a great performance.

The surprise of the night was the audience participation which, at such performances is usually apathetic. The chorus could be heard along the avenue for some time after the show was over.

YOUTHSCENE by Andy Mellen
Winnipeg Free Press ~ March 28, 1973
THE READERS WRITE: Dear Andy: I noticed an item in your column some time ago about the past appearance of the Everly Brothers in Winnipeg. I can add one more to your list. On Monday, November 16, 1964, my band, The Dovermen, appeared on a Fall Festival of Stars in the Winnipeg Auditorium. We opened the show with half a dozen numbers and then backed the Newbeats. The Everly Brothers were the hit of the show, and their performance was stopped numerous times while fans who were packed around the stage were ordered back to their seats. It is with great enthusiasm that my wife and I await their appearance this week. Best regards, Bill Hillman, Strathclair, Manitoba.

The Everlys along with warm-up act Sam Neely will be at the concert hall tomorrow and Friday for 8:30 p.m. shows.

It All Started At Austin Threshermen Meet
John Skinner (North Brandon) ~ Russ Gurr (Brandon) ~ Sue-On & Bill Hillman (Strathclair) ~ Barry Forman (Rivers)
John Skinner (North Brandon) ~ Russ Gurr (Brandon) ~ Sue-On & Bill Hillman (Strathclair) ~ Barry Forman (Rivers)
Russ Gurr and the Western Union group sign a contract for the NFB use of
the Gurr song, The Threshermen's Ball at Expo's Labyrinth.
Our first studio publicity shot: Bill - Russ - Barry - Jake - Sue-On
Farmer-Entertainer Gurr and 
Western Union Group Busy
by Kaye Rowe ~ Sun Feature Writer
Brandon Sun ~ 1967
Minus instruments, Russ and four of his five-man group assembled in a local legal office last week to sign contracts relative to National Film Board's use of their song, The Threshermen's Ball. Recently they roped and tied contracts with Federal Grain for personal appearances at fairs, rodeos and stampedes ranging from Provincial Exhibition at Brandon commencing July 3, and on to some dozen other points in Saskatchewan and the north country Swan River rodeo."

The National Film Board action began back in July of '65 when Russ Gurr and the gang were filmed and taped as part of the whoopee at Austin's Threshermen's Reunion.  Labyrinth -- one of the "must-see" exhibits at Expo according to everyone on more than a cursory look around -- planned to use a segment of their Austin, Manitoba footage and the Gurr song, Threshermen's Ball.

The group includes two high school teachers -- Barry Forman of Rivers on fiddle and Bill Hillman of Strathclair on lead guitar, Jake Kroeger of Rivers on rhythm guitar, and John Skinner, drummer of North Brandon. An added feature is a Chinese doll -- Sue-On Hillman -- Bill's wife, who does lively songs and dances.

The company will perform on a modern-style open-air stage created a la Centennial Caravans using caravan truck that doubles as a parade float, and features a movable stage complete with sets and furnishings. They will play several shows a day as a free feature, and aid in calling the crowd into the grandstand.

41 Valleybrook Drive, Don Mills, Ontario  M3B 2S6
Telex 06-966634 ~ Cable: Canmus Toronto, Telephone (416) 445-8700

September 5, 1973

Mr. Bill Hillman
Box 280, Strathclair, Manitoba

Dear Bill:

I have been playing your recent album and single today and must say, I'm very impressed!

I especially liked your own compositions, and of the four my favourite is most certainly "In Sadness," Sue-on has, indeed, a lovely voice, and this she does to perfection!

I wonder if you'd be kind enough to forward a glossy photo of the two of you for use in our magazine, THE MUSIC SCENE,  we'd like to publish a brief item in the November/December issue.

(Mrs.) Nancy Gyokeres
Editor, The Music Scene

January-February 1976

BILL and his wife SUE-ON HILLMAN are high-school teachers in Strathclair, Manitoba, but they're heavily into music when not teaching. As well as performing as a duo, they are members of The Western Union and Free Spirit. Others in Free Spirit are AL JONES, KEN BLAIR, IAN HUNTER and TERRY FLEETWOOD.

Bill wrote all the material on the Maple Grove album "Bill and Sue-On Hillman". Free Spirit's initial album for Maple Grove Records is titled simply "Free Spirit" and contains all-original material by the group. The tune "You Must Remember" from the album, written by Al Jones, has been released by Maple Grove as a single.

Last summer Bill and Sue-On toured parts of the United States and northern Manitoba and last fall Bill began developing a course for the Manitoba Department of Education called Entertainment Arts. Included was an examination of the various areas of the entertainment industry.


Bill Hillman and his wife Sue-On have been known to Canadian audiences for years through their group Western Union. Their recent album and single whould go a long way toward making them popular with radio listeners as well. The album is a combination of country-rock and MOR tunes, with four penned by Bill. The four have been released as a mini-album single. "In Sadness" sung by Sue-On is outstanding both as a song and as an example of the artist's talent.

Bill and Sue-On are high school teachers and live in Strathclair, Manitoba. Sue-On was born in China and came to Manitoba at 10. The album and single were recorded at Century 21 Studios in Winnipeg.

BMI - THE MUSIC SCENE ~ Jan-Feb 1976
BMIC announces winners in American Song Fest
BMIC Canada reports seven of their members were awarded prizes in the 1976 American Song Festival. The list is toopped by Calgary songwriter Ron Mahonin, who was a semifinalist in the annual competition's Top 40 category.

Other BMIC winners, given honourable mention prizes of 100 dollars each, are Ottawa region writers Michael Belanger, Terry Carisse and Bruce Rawlins, S.B. "Whitey" Hains of Toronto, Bill Hillman of Strathclair, Manitoba, and Tim Daniels, who won awards for two of his songs.

THE WINNIPEG TRIBUNE, Saturday, February 21, 1976

DISC DATA: Because so many timely records reach this desk, it is virtually impossible to mention all of them. But I think it's time the record-buying public knew more about a Manitoba recording artistic team of Bill and Sue-On Hillman. They have several albums on the market on the Maple Grove Label, some of the newest are On Stage, Bill and Sue-On Hillman, The Western Union; Free Spirit, and the Hillmans with 14 of their original songs. Bill and Sue-On have been playing around the province for quite awhile, they receive convention bookings, and in the U.S. they have won acclaim at the big audience  attended fairs in various states. Their albums have been given good plugs in music publications, but too often they've been ignored right in their home province. Bill Hillman and Sue-On are man and wife, they are high school teachers and live in Strathclair, Manitoba. Sue-On was born in China, came to Manitoba at the age of 10 and has lived happily ever after. I hope more people will give a listen to their albums, it will be quite a revelation and most of the recording has been done at the very professional Century 21 Studios in Winnipeg. You can reach this dynamic duo through Maple Grove Music, Box 280, Strathclair, Man.

Winnipeg Tribune ~ 1977
Today's column is mostly about records, a subject I haven't covered for some time.

Bill and Sue-On Hillman, Manitoba recording artists, did two albums while on tour in England. The name of one album is easy to remember -- it's called Bill and Sue-On Hillman, featuring Sue-On, or The Hillman Express on Maple Grove label.

Said Bill Hillman, "Seventeen of the tracks were recorded during our tours of England. We did 30 one-night stands on each tour and found a great market for Canadian-style country. The rest of the tracks were put down at Winnipeg's ultra-modern Century 21 studios where we have done the majority of our sessions over the years."

Maple Grove Records is headquartered at Strathclair, Man., and RPM Magazine's review said in part, "Clever lyrics by Bill Hillman put him in a class by himself. Nice blend of vocals and instrument backup.

Guide to Brandon Magazine
Nov. - Dec. 1977
BILL AND SUE-ON HILLMAN hail from Strathclair, Manitoba and have just cut their seventh album, recorded while on tour in England. The attractive record cover was printed locally by Leech Printing Ltd., and hand-glued at ARM industries. Watch for it at record outlets around Christmas time.
Gene Telpner ~ Entertainment Editor
TribLifeStyle ~ Winnipeg Tribune ~ Monday, December 17, 1979

NAME DROPPING: When Burton Cummings goes to Moscow in April to headline a CBC-TV 90-minute variety special, drummer Gary Peterson of Winnipeg will be with him. Cummings is a very busy young man. In March he will once more act as host of the annual Juno Awards to be telecast live from Toronto. By the way, Burton's Moscow trip was announced exclusively in an Entertainers page in this newspaper long before it was announced by CBC in Toronto. 

Bill and Sue-On Hillman, the Manitoba artists who record on the Maple Grove label, continue to turn out an amazing amount of product. Their latest on the market called The Hillman Express on the Road features mostly Bill Hillman originals. And the couple's new 45 with Why Me, Lord? on one side backed by One Night Stand (written by Hillman) is from their album On Tour in England. Bill and wife Sue-On now have six albums. They are both high school teachers who handle two careers simultaneously. A third member of the Hillman Express is keyboard man Kevin Pahl, who also lives in the same town, Strathclair, Man. He's a commercial pilot and pilots the group to more distant musical engagements when they add fiddle champ Barry Forman to the entourage.

Stage West at the Regina Inn is currently featuring Tab Hunter in a show called 6 RMS RIV VU, running through Jan. 19. That was a popular Broadway production, and the title is short for 6 Rooms River View.

Through the '70s and '80s we performed on many Opry North and CBC/CTV shows taped in Winnipeg's Playhouse Theatre and Centennial Concert Hall for national TV and radio broadcast.


Bevy of fine entertainers at Opry North
REVIEW: Opry North, Playhouse Theatre, Dec. 2, 1979
Winnipeg Free Press, Monday, December 3, 1979

Radio station CHMM lined up a cavalcade of top-flight Canadian country performers for their Opry North production yesterday evening.

A large, congenial audience was on hand fo rthe taping of the two, one-hour shows and judging from the pile of albums and tapes fans went home with, they enjoyed the music immensely.

Bill and Sue-On Hillman from Strathclair, Man., returned from their second tour of England to serve up their rocking brand of country. Sue-On's dynamic throaty vocals on Why Me, Lord made for a high point


CHMM Presents...
Country Music
Live at the
Playhouse Theatre
Sunday; December2 / 79  7:30 p.m.
Canada's Top Vocal Group
The Family Brown
Champion Fiddler Reg Bouvette
Bill and Sue-On Hillman
George Brothers of Old Blue
Ralph Carlson and Country Mile
and featuring
Harvey Henry and the Downs Show Band
Tickets $5.00 and $6.00 plus tax - All Seats Reserved
Tickets at ATO, CBO, and Country Music Centre

Winnipeg Tribune ~ November 29, 1979
One of Canada's top country vocal groups, The Family Brown headlines the second fund-raising concert by the Winnipeg Big Country Convention Committee. Other performers appearing are Ralph Carlson and his group Country Mile, Harvey Henry and the Downs Showband, champion fiddler Reg Bouvette, Manitoba recording artists Bill and Sue-On Hillman and Manitoba's talent winner Ron Karlowsky.

by Tracy Young ~ Brandon
"The Hillman Express on the Road" is the latest of  6 albums recorded by Bill and Sue-On Hillman, of Strathclair, featuring mostly Bill Hillman originals. A new 45 is from their album "On Tour in England", featuring "Why Me, Lord?" backed up by Bill Hillman's song, "One Night Stand."

Bill and Sue-On are school teachers (having two careers), the son of Mr. & Mrs. Jerry Hillman of Newdale and the daughter of Mr. & Mrs. Soo Choy, former cafe operator of Newdale and now operating a well known restaurant in Brandon. Kevin Pahl, another Strathclair resident is the third member and keyboard man. Kevin, a commercial pilot, pilots the group to their more distant engagements.

Reprinted in the Strathclair Review from the Winnipeg Tribune, Dec. 17, 1979
Bill and Sue-On Hillman, the Manitoba artists who record on the Maple Grove label, continue to turn out an amazing amount of product. Their latest on the market, called The Hillman Express on the Road, features mostly Bill Hillman originals. And the couple's new 45 with Why Me, Lord? on side one backed by One Night Stand (written by Hillman) is from their album On Tour In England. Bill and wife Sue-On now have six albums. They are both high school teachers who handle two careers simultaneously. A third member of the Hillman Express is keyboard man Kevin Paul, who also lives in the same town, Strathclair, Man. He's a commercial pilot and pilots the group to more distant musical engagements when they add fiddle champ Barry Forman of Rivers to the entourage.

December 17, 1979

Dear Bill & Sue-On: 
Please accept this letter of appreciation for the fantastic job you did on our recent "Opry North" show at the Playhouse Theatre, December 2, 1979.

Your enthusiasm and on stage performance helped to make this show one of the highlights of the entertainment season here in Winnipeg. I know that the rest of Canada will join in our praises once the show is aired on the Opry North Network.

Once again, thank you for your help and co-operation in our second fund raising venture in preparation for the 1980 Big Country Convention here in Winnipeg. All of us on the committee appreciate it very much.
Peter Grant ~ Chairman ~ Big Country Convention Committee, 1980.


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1. Gig Notes: 1-10
2. Album Notes
3. Guitar Tales
4. Prairie Saga
5. Roots
6. Photos
7. Media
8. 100 Songs

.Bill and Sue-On Hillman Eclectic Studio