Don was born in Liverpool, England, before relocating to Rhodesia with his parents as a nine month old. He grew up in Salisbury and spent most of his junior school years at Courtney Selous School in Greendale. When he was 12, the family moved to Bulawayo where Don spent one term at Henry Low, followed by a term at Milton Junior School. He completed his high schooling at Milton.
In an interesting and amusing article Don wrote for the Welland Tribune in Canada in 2008, he recalls how, as a 12 year old, he saw an “Elvis Presley guitar” in a toy shop window and begged his Dad to buy it for him as a present. When Christmas Day arrived, however, he was hugely disappointed to find that his Dad had bought an “ordinary guitar”! The guitar, he says, didn’t have the magical feel of the Elvis Presley guitar and, when he banged on it, the nice music he expected to come out of it never emerged. Losing interest he turned his back on the instrument. His father, however, picked it up and started to learn how to play.
A few years later Don saw one of his brother’s friends playing the guitar so closely studied the picking and finger formations, deciding to give it a bash himself. With great perseverance, he developed his playing skills with his father showing him everything that he had learnt from a book. After practicing for about 3 hours a day for 3 months he had successfully mastered all the major chords.
The next step it took along his path to music was when his brother, Gilbert, told him that there was a singing competition at a local hotel in 1964. The resident band were the BATS with Eddie Eksteen prominent amongst their number. As far as the talent contest went, the best news of all was that every entrant would receive a crate of Coke as an incentive! Without further ado, Don participated in the contest and, whilst he didn’t win it, he did walk away with his case of Coke. Mission accomplished!
Not long after, whilst on a rugby tour to Salisbury, an uncle of Don’s, after taping him whilst singing, organised for him to perform at the local agricultural show. At his first performance he recalls commencing his act to about a “hundred empty seats”, however, people soon started to filter in and, before long, the venue was full. This led to him performing three times a day to full houses.
Such was the impact that Don had made that he was then invited to sing during the interval of Rock Band contest which was to be staged over the last four nights of the show. He duly launched himself into this role and sang, to what is believed to have been, a crowd of about 10 000 on the final night. As Don himself acknowledges, it was a “big step for a schoolboy with no formal musical training”.
The year after leaving school, Don established himself as a country singer in productions broadcast from Rhodesia Television’s Bulawayo studios in 1965. The “Tonight Show” is one of those shows in which he appeared on a weekly basis, opening and closing the show with his singing. After making a number of appearances over a period of about nine months, he was approached by an evangelist who was on the show who asked him why he didn’t “sing for Jesus?” This approach affected him greatly and he decided to stop his television appearances and concentrate on Gospel singing.
Don completed his military service in the Air Force in 1966 after which he formed the band, The BELIEVERS. He performed with the band until 1970 at which time he moved to South Africa, continuing to perform as a Gospel vocalist. His backdrop at many of his shows was a painting on canvas he had done of the Victoria Falls.
In 1972 he recorded a long playing album in Johannesburg.
Don went on to perform Gospel music throughout southern Africa. It was when an American preacher heard him and invited him to visit America – which he duly did. Don travelled extensively throughout America performing his Gospel songs and eventually settled in Canada where he now lives.
Don is a prolific songwriter and has posted over sixty of his compositions on YouTube. He has also compiled a couple of books of the Bible in pictures, some of which appear on his websites. Today, Don is retired and living in Canada.
Don’s English website: http://favourite-love-songs.com/
Don’s American website: http://favorite-love-songs.com/
Don’s Gospel site: http://countrygospelandbible.com/