About the Song

Sudbury Star - December 15, 2012

by Laura Stradiotto

                               If there was one other instrument that Edward "Bert" Collins                                                               enjoyed as much as his accordion, it was his metal detector.

Collins, along with his wife Freda, delighted in the treasures they discovered buried in the beach sand at Bell Park.

A practical joker, Collins made sure he pulled a prank every April Fool's Day. He was a man who loved his gadgets, whether it was his ham radio or camera.

And if Collins wasn't searching for old cameras at yard sales, an obsessive hobby of his, says his daughter Julie Lamoureux, he was enjoying the outdoors with his wife or golden retriever Rusty. "Rusty and my dad were a lot alike," laughs Lamoureux. "The dog talked a lot -- I never heard a dog talk so much. And so did my dad."

Collins is most known for composing Little Skidoo, but to those who knew him well, he was much more than a one-hit wonder. Collins passed away Dec. 1, after a suspected heart attack while recovering from hip surgery.

"He was my hero," says Lamoureux.

Born in Strathroy, Ont., Collins met the love of his life, Feda, in 1957 while working and playing music with his band, The Collins Mixers, in Espanola. They married in 1958. Collins worked at the Ministry of Transportation for 35 years before retiring in 1988.

After retiring, Collins and his wife lived the good life, travelling with their motor home. "My dad was always playing music," says Lamoureux. "He was always in a band and always practising his accordion. He has quite a few songs that he wrote, but no one ever heard."

He wrote many wedding songs, including The Waltz for the Bride and Groom, which he played with his accordion.

Collins also played piano, guitar, ukulele and bass. Collins influenced the career path his daughter would take when he handed her a guitar for her 12th birthday.

Lamoureux and her siblings, Charlie and Ted, who passed away two years ago, often performed with their father. Lamoureux later went on the road with her husband, country musician Ricki Lamoureux. Accompanied by his wife, Collins toured with his daughter and son-in-law, playing bass for the duet.

But what Collins is most known for is composing Little Skidoo, which he actually wrote in 1967 for his children. When he met Ricki Lamoureux in 1976, a seasoned musician, "he came up to me and told me he composed music, and all I could think about at the time was, oh no, not another one," says Ricki.

"Almost nightly, I would get something someone wrote." It took nine years to record the song. Little Skidoo was released as a single in 1976, with his wife and children singing back up.

 

A university student recorded the song in his basement, recalls Lamoureux. A few years later, the family went to Tamarac Studios in North Bay to record the album Imaginary Friends, featuring the Little Skidoo, and other lesser-known favourites like Ethelbert the Elf, Hector the Spider and a duet with his wife, Imaginary Friends.

Collins released two subsequent albums, Imaginary Friends 2, and a country record, Good Morning Friends and Neighbours. "We did concerts all over the place -- in Sudbury and surrounding areas," says Lamoureux.

"It was neat to see my dad bombarded by fans. He just loved it."

 

"He was a big kid," adds her husband. Surprisingly the family never owned a skidoo.

Did you know?

- Arthur "Bert" Collins tried unsuccessfully to convince Bombardier Recreational Products, the company that manufactures ski-doos, to adopt and promote his song Little Skidoo;

- Collins was forced to change the spelling from ski-doo to skidoo, to avoid any association with the company.