MICHAEL O’REILLY (1996 Inductee)

Michael O’Reilly’s country roots go back to his dad’s wind-up victrola and the 78 records by Roy Acuff, Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper, and the late great Hank Williams. When Elvis and other rockabillies came along in the 50’s, Michael’s musical interests changed for a while but, in his early teens, he heard Lester Flatt & Earl Scruggs for the first time and, through them, the "high lonesome sound" of Bill Monroe & The Bluegrass Boys. The flame has never diminished.

Mike taught himself guitar, five-string banjo and mandolin and plays all three to a standstill. His bluegrass band, Cody, became the premiere bluegrass band in Canada, releasing two highly acclaimed LPs, one of which contained a hilarious comedy routine called "Bill Monroe & The Belmonts", a bluegrass-meets-rock and do-wop scenario. Although Cody no longer plays regularly, Michael can and has put the group together at a moment’s notice, and the listener would think that they had rehearsed for days when, in reality, they may not have even seen one another for two years.

Michael has been voted Entertainer of the Year eight times by the Canadian Bluegrass Society, was DJ of the Year five times and Composer of the Year four times. A sensitive songwriter, his songs have been recorded by American bluegrass great, Del McCoury.

Michael still occasionally reinvents "Cecil Wiggins" of the "Delmer and Cecil" comedy team, and he is a popular host at many Canadian and American bluegrass festivals. For several years, he hosted "Rural Roots" on CJET Country Classics radio and appeared regularly on CJOH’s Midday Newsline. A firm believer in entertaining his audience, Michael’s most recent persona has been "Melody Mike Cantrell", the host and leader of "The Radio Kings", mixing the sound of classic country and comedy.

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