Al Downing 1940-2005

Entertainer Big Al Downing Passes Away July 4

     Nashville, TN (July 5, 2005) -- Big Al Downing died Monday, July 4, at approximately 6:45 p.m. with his family at his side. The legendary country-soul entertainer, hospitalized last week with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, was 65. He leaves behind his wife of 27 years, Beverly; four step-sons, Michael Melanson of Hyannis, MA; Peter Melanson of Oakam, MA; Steven Melanson of New Hampshire; Jeffrey Melanson of Leicester, MA; five brothers, Donald Downing of Oxonhill, MD; Clay, Marvin and Sylvester Downing of Coffeeville, KS, and James Downing of Sand Springs, OK; five grandchildren, Kara Hazelton; David, Jacki, Lindsey and Alyssa Melanson. He is pre- deceased by six brothers and two sisters.

     A member of the Rockabilly Hall of Fame, Downing began his five-decade career as the keyboard player in Wanda Jackson's "Let's Have A Party" band. As a solo performer, he enjoyed success as a songwriter, musician and entertainer. His songs were recorded by Fats Domino, Bobby Blue Bland, Tom Jones and most currently, Webb Wilder. A recipient of Billboard's New Artist of the Year and Single of the Year in 1979, his lengthy career is a testament to his many talents. In 2003, he released the critically-acclaimed CD, ONE OF A KIND, and was recording tracks for an upcoming project when illness overcame him.

     Al's most recent public performance was on the Grand Ole Opry in May, where he performed one of his biggest hits, "Mr. Jones," for an appreciative crowd. Also known for his releases, "Down On The Farm," and "Touch Me," Downing's impact on the country genre is far-reaching, and his music - and big heart - touched millions. "The rewards," he once said of his career, "have been many."

Viewing: Friday, July 8, 5-8 p.m. at the J. Henri Morin & Son Funeral Home-- 23 Maple Terrace, Spencer, MA -- (508)885-3992

Funeral Service: Saturday, July 9, 10 a.m. at Our Lady of the Rosary Church -- 7 Church St., Spencer, MA -- (508)885-3806

Friends and Family will gather after the service at the Downing residence in Leicester.

Condolences can be sent to: 65 Watson Street, Leicester, MA 01524

Recent photos courtesy of the

Rhythm Riot Festival in the U.K

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