Paperback / softback
May 25, 2015
9.00 Inches (US)
6.00 Inches (US)
0.50 Inches (US)
.79 Pounds (US)
$27.99 USD, £17.99 GBP
v2.1 Reference

Prairie Bohemian

Frank Gay's Life in Music

Gay never recorded an album, never won a Juno. His music existed in the moment, appreciated by the few who were lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time. For the rest of us, those late-night jam sessions in a shack in an alley on the bad side of Edmonton never happened. We never got to hear him play the Cole Porter songs he loved with Carlos Montoya, never got to watch the ashes build dangerously on the end of his menthol cigarette. And when Frank Gay died, only the guitar players gently wept.

— Shelley Youngblut

Until his death in 1982, Edmonton luthier and guitarist Frank Gay built guitars for several famous musicians, including country stars Johnny Cash, Don Gibson, Webb Pierce, and Hank Snow. He captivated listeners with his singular talent on guitar and other instruments, and was well known within the music industry. Trevor Harrison's detective work uncovers the story of this private, charming, and bohemian man, doing a tremendous service to Canadian culture and music history. Harrison pieces together Frank Gay's life through interviews with people who knew him and saw him play. Very few recordings of him playing exist, and the sparse accounts of Gay's life and work raise more questions than they answer. Musicians and instrument makers, as well as those interested in Canadian music or Edmonton's colourful past, will be fascinated by this biography of western Canadian luthier, musician, and guitar virtuoso Frank Gay.

About the Author

Trevor W. Harrison is a Professor in the Sociology Department, University of Lethbridge, and former Director of the Parkland Institute. His areas of specialization include Canadian society, political economy, and public policy.


"Persons interested in Canadian music will find this book on the life of Frank Gay well worth reading."—Alberta History

"A truly impressive body of research by Trevor W. Harrison...has resulted in an exceptionally well informed and informative biography of Frank Gay.... An extraordinary and enthusiastically recommended addition to community and academic library Canadian Biography and Canadian Music History reference collections..."—Paul T. Vogel, MBR Bookwatch

Trevor Harrison weaves multiple accounts of Frank Gay's life as a luthier, musician, and local character, together with his own personal memories.... Through Harrison's exploration of Gay's life, Prairie Bohemian also illuminated the social and musical history of the prairie towns and cities that Gay called home.... While documenting Gay's history, Prairie Bohemian also provides an account of the built and social history of Edmonton in the early to mid-twentieth century.... Harrison's account of Gay's life, awash with personal, emotional, and creative struggles, reminds us that speculation and subjective exploration of a life can be as valuable as the fact-finding mission that began it all." [DOI: 10.1353/gpq.2017.0024]—Justina Watt, Great Plains Quarterly
University of Alberta Press

9781772120479 : prairie-bohemian-harrison
Paperback / softback
248 Pages
$27.99 USD

Other Titles by Trevor W. Harrison

Contested Classrooms

edited by Trevor W. Harrison, Jerrold Kachur
Mar 1999 - University of Alberta Press
$21.99 USD - Paperback / softback


Mellencamp, updated edition

David Masciotra
May 2022 - University Press of Kentucky
$27.95 USD - Paperback / softback
$27.95 USD - Electronic book text
$27.95 USD - Electronic book text

Only Wanna Be with You

Tim Sommer
Apr 2022 - University of South Carolina Press
$26.99 USD - Hardback
$26.99 USD - Electronic book text

GI Jive

Frank F. Mathias
Dec 2021 - University Press of Kentucky
$25.00 USD - Paperback / softback
$29.95 USD - Electronic book text