Two rodeo heroes of the 1950s and ’60s, who have passed into the realm of legend, are being memorialized in song by Red Deer cowboy singer Ivan Daines.
This has been a tough year, says Daines, with the loss of two larger-than-life saddle bronc riders: Deb Copenhaver and Marty Wood.
Both were idols of Daines, who grew up to be a saddle bronc champ himself.
“They were also my friends,” he adds.
The Innisfail native plans to perform original tunes he wrote about the famed exploits of Copenhaver and Wood at Murph’s Pub and Grill on Saturday from 4 to 7 p.m. during the Canadian Finals Rodeo.
Daines says it’s his way of paying tribute to two men who helped shape the sport and inspired countless rodeo cowboys.
Copenhaver, who died at the age of 94 in February, is considered one of the greatest bronc riders to come from the Pacific Northwest.
After his career was temporarily sidelined by the Second World War, Copenhaver went on to win all the “big ones,” including the Calgary Stampede in 1953, 1955 and 1958.
The pinnacle of his career was clinching the world saddle bronc title in 1955 and 1956.
Copenhaver is also known for being the first to cut off his saddle horn, so it wouldn’t get torn off on the rails. Daines said he started a trend that carries on today.
“We all used to pretend we were Deb Copenhaver when we were out rockin’ on a saddle on the lawn…”
His other hero, Wood, began as a bareback rider and bull rider, but made his mark in saddle bronc riding.
Wood won three world titles (1958, 1964 and 1966), three Canadian Professional Rodeo Association championships, and in 1974, was saddle bronc riding’s biggest money winner.
The King of Rodeo, who died at age 86 in August, had incredible balance and could anticipate the horses’ moves.
Born in Bowness before it became part of Calgary, Wood was also known for his charisma and style, said Daines.
He sings about Wood always wearing a pressed, white shirt in competition.
Daines said he will miss visiting Wood, and singing along with Copenhaver at the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas. “He had a good voice.”
The Red Deer cowboy singer had an illustrious career himself, as a saddle bronc riding Canadian champion in 1965 and 1966. Fives times between 1968 to 1980, Daines attained a top 15 world standing as a bronc rider.
Now, Daines pays homage to rodeo through his cowboy songs, which can be heard on YouTube. They are on CDs available in the trade show section of the Canadian Finals Rodeo, in the Canadian Cowboy Magazine booth.