DCS: gene maclellan

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Gene MacLellan grew up in Toronto, raised in a traditional Presbyterian household. As a child, he contracted polio. Despite his illness, he was a determined singer and songwriter, using his music to overcome his physical ailments. As a teenager, he formed a band called The Consuls. They evolved into Little Caesar and the Consuls, a fairly successful Canadian group, but by that time, Gene had left the band, forming The Suedes with future Band guitarist Robbie Robertson.

In 1963, Gene was in a serious car accident that took the life of his father and left the singer badly injured with facial scars and irreparable damage to his left eye. He wore an eye patch or dark glasses for the rest of his life.

While living on Prince Edward Island, Gene was inspired by a flock of snow buntings to write Snowbird. He performed the song on several Canadian music showcase programs, including the popular Singalong Jubilee. He became a regular on the show, along with another up-and-coming Canadian singer named Anne Murray. Murray included her own version of Snowbird on her 1969 debut album and it became a Top Ten international hit.

In 1971, Gene hit big again when the Canadian group Ocean recorded his gospel-tinged composition “Put Your Hand in the Hand.” Gene’s songs were performed and recorded by many top acts, including Elvis Presley, Joan Baez, and even Bing Crosby. Gene, himself, toured Canada and released albums with a decidedly religious leaning. He became very involved with the inspirational music community, playing intimate venues and gaining a small, but devoted, following.

Although he had success in the music business, Gene suffered from depression for his entire life. His condition worsened as he grew older. He sought medical help often and was in and out of hospitals on a regular basis. Just after being discharged from the hospital in January 1995, Gene committed suicide at his PEI home. He was 56.

In 2017, Gene’s daughter Catherine produced a tribute show based on her father’s music, as well as his struggle with mental illness.



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