enerally regarded as the godfather of Celtic pop, John Allan was born in Inverness County, Cape Breton Island on Dec 16, 1938 He grew up in a musical household, and his mother Katine Anne MacDonald was the only sibling of renowned east coast fiddler and composer Dan Rory MacDonald.
In 1957, Cameron moved to Otawa, where he studied to be a Roman Catholic priest. Seven years in and only a few months before being ordaned, he left to pursue studies at St Francis Xavier University instead. It was while there that he began appearing on CBC’s Singalong Jubilee.
He released two albums in the ’60s through Apex, HERE COMES JOHN ALLAN CAMERON and THE MINSTREL OF CRANBERRY LANE. No singles came from either one, but by the beginning of the ’70s, his popularity had crossed over to the US market enough that he appeared at the Grand Ol’ Opry appearance.
Now with Columbia, GET THERE BY DAWN in ’72 and his breakthrough album LORD OF THE DANCE a year later got him over to the masses. Singles during this period included “Streets of London,” “Sit Down Mr Music Man,” and “I Can’t Tell You.”
From ’75 to ’78 he branched out and hosted TV variety shows that bore his name – first with CTV Montreal, and then again for another three years starting in ’79 for the CBC in Halifax, Guests included
The Good Brothers, Colleen Peterson, Adam Mitchell, Shirley Eikhard, and Stan Rogers, among others.
His forays into television didn’t interfere with his recording career, and His next single was “Tie Me Down” from 1976’s WEDDINGS WAKES & OTHER THINGS. FIDDLE in ’78 and FREEBORN MAN a year later were also released.
His last charting single was 1980’s “Overnight Success,” which charted on several lists across North America and in Europe. That same year, he showed up on the children’s album, ICE CREAM SNEAKERS, along with
Mavis McCauley, Connie Kaldor, and Paul Hann. Another side project to start the decade off saw him record his production of “Peter & The Wolf” with the Nova Scotia Youth Orchestra.
Taking a few years off from recording, he reappeared in ’87 with the album GOOD TIMES, followd by WIND WILLOW in ’91. The two volume set CLASSIC JOHN ALLAN was released in time for the Christmas rush a year later.
In 2003, he became a member of the Order of Canada, and was also a recipient of the East Coast Music Award’s Lifetime Achievement Award. Over his career hie was a regular at Highlands festivals around the world, and throughout the ’90s he remained active, although performing live considerably less.
In January 2005, Cameron was diagnosed with cancer, which led to several benefit projects such as concerts and a tribute CD were produced to help offset his costs. He died in a Toronto hospital on November 22, 2006.
MINSTREL OF CRANBERRY LANE was remastered and re-released in 2015. The same year, a collection of Cameron’s more popular cross-over hits, along with a few unreleased tracks were released in SONG FOR THE MIRA.