Dick Stacey, famed for his "Country Music Jamboree," which aired for more than a decade on WVII, died on Oct. 10 at age 85. Credit: John Clarke Russ / BDN

Richard “Dick” Stacey, a Bangor businessman who for decades was synonymous with Maine country music thanks to his long-running local TV show “Dick Stacey’s Country Jamboree,” died in Bangor on Monday at age 85, according to an obituary published Wednesday in the Bangor Daily News.

Stacey rose to fame in Maine and Atlantic Canada thanks to that program, which he began sponsoring in 1973 via his Brewer business, Stacey’s Fuel Mart, and which aired on WVII until 1984. He became nearly as well known as the local country musicians showcased on the “Jamboree” due to the high-energy, colorful commercials he made to air during the show.

Phrases like “See these hands? They pump gas! And by golly, they stink!” and “No charge!” made Stacey a pop cultural icon in Maine and in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, where the show also aired. Stacey said he ad-libbed most of his dialogue.

“It was five seconds to air, and I didn’t know what I was going to say, so when we went live I just threw up my hands and there you go,” Stacey told the BDN in 2018. “I just thought up all the ads, on the spot. I guess people just liked the way I talked.”

Stacey was born in Brewer on Christmas Day in 1936, the youngest of four children. He went to high school in Bangor, and proudly played baseball for the Rams and also managed the varsity basketball team. As a young man, he worked odd jobs until starting at Cole’s Express, the Bangor trucking company run by Galen Cole. He worked there for nearly 10 years before buying the gas station in Brewer in 1969 — which then turned into two more gas stations in Ellsworth and Harrington.

On a whim, he signed up to sponsor the “Jamboree” on WVII, which had already aired for about 10 years under other names — equal parts talent show, gong show, and country and bluegrass showcase.

“I thought, ‘What the hell, why not?’ They’ll probably forget I said I’d do it anyway,” Stacey  told the BDN, in a 2018 profile. “I always liked country music anyway.”

Performing on the Nov. 15, 1975 edition of the Dick Stacey’s Country Jamboree were, left to right: Charlie Tenan, Harry Stockley, John Mailman, Jeff Simon and Wanda Harris. Credit: BDN File Photo

It was Stacey’s flair for promotion and winning personality that helped attract fans to the show. Throughout the 1970s it became popular late Saturday night viewing — if not only to see talented musicians, including longtime host Charlie Tenan, then also to see the oddballs that might pop on screen to warble a tune. It was viral content, before there was such a word.

The show became so popular that it outgrew WVII’s studios. To accommodate the growth, in 1976 Stacey purchased a motel on Wilson Street in Brewer and dubbed it Stacey’s Plaza Motel. A live taping of the show in the motel’s lively bar and lounge was an attractive form of entertainment for the Canadian tourists who came to town to shop at the then-new Bangor Mall.

Stacey and his “Jamboree” were featured on “Good Morning America,” and he was asked to appear on both “The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson” and “Late Night with David Letterman,” though he turned them down because he said he didn’t want to be made fun of. In 1984, with sponsorship costs rising, the show was canceled.

Dick Stacey, photographed in September 2018, with his dog, in front of his Bangor home. Credit: Emily Burnham / BDN

In the later 1980s and 1990s, Stacey booked country concerts in the Bangor area, featuring luminaries such as Porter Waggoner, Hank Snow, Johnny Paycheck, the Charlie Daniels Band and Bangor’s own Dick Curless. By 1997, he’d sold the gas stations and the motel, and was largely retired. He and his wife, Sue, spent winters in Florida but always returned to Bangor in the summer, and participated in three “Jamboree” reunion shows in 2009, 2010 and 2011.

Stacey received the Greater Bangor Convention and Visitor Bureaus Eagle Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2017, and was inducted into the Maine Country Music Hall of Fame in 2021.

Stacey is survived by his wife of 50 years, Sue, as well as six children, 12 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. A public memorial will be held from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 30 at Jeff’s Catering in Brewer.

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Emily Burnham

Emily Burnham is a Maine native and proud Bangorian, covering business, the arts, restaurants and the culture and history of the Bangor region.