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Monkton man is Maryland Country Music hall of famer

High SchoolsSchoolsPerry ComoAmerican LegionBing Crosby

He's been in bands named "The Astronauts," "The Versatiles," "The Village Band," "The Sunrise Band," "Rock 'n' Horse," "Smokin' Guns" and "Robin and the Rhythmix."

He has sung and played piano at the Inner Harbor and at the Dundalk Heritage Fair for 20 years. He has also performed in bars and nightclubs, yacht clubs, American Legion posts and senior centers.

On June 26, Dennis Hoover, 80, of Monkton, was honored for his lifelong love of music with an induction into the Maryland Country Music Legends Hall of Fame.

"It was an honor to be considered worthy to be inducted with musicians I've admired over the years," Hoover said. "There were 10 of us inducted, and I've played with four of them over the years."

He had his own cheering section — 21 friends and relatives, including his three children, watched him perform arock 'n' roll medley on stage at the UAW Hall in Baltimore.

"I've known Dennis since the 1960s, and he deserved a spot in the Hall of Fame," said Buddy Love, a singer and music promoter who began the Hall of Fame last year. "He is one great entertainer."

Hoover had a few piano lessons as a youngster but never learned to read music. He simply hears a song once and then picks the tune out on a piano.

He has been entertaining people since high school. His first public appearances were playing "Boogie Woogie" while a senior at Towson High School and as a freshman at then Maryland State Teachers College at Towson.

"Both times, I tore the house down," he said. "I loved performing."

After serving in the Army during the Korean War as a telegraph interceptor, Hoover returned to Maryland and started a 30-year career teaching junior high school science.

He married Dolores Clayton in 1952, built a house in Monkton, and raised two sons and a daughter there.

In 1956, Hoover formed "The Astronauts," a band that played country music at the Suburban Inn, in Aberdeen. Their pay was $5 a person and free beer.

Hoover's bands changed names and players several times over the next 50 years. Early on, he formed the bands. These days, he performs with other bands, or as a one-man show.

He has already sung at the Jacksonville Senior Center, where he is a member, several times this year, said director Barbara Franke.

"People just love to listen to his music," she said. "He plays all their favorites." Hoover volunteers his time to teach music history classes at the center, too.

He said his favorite singers are Mario Lanza, Jerry Lee Lewis, George Jones, Bing Crosby, Perry Como andDean Martin.

Several years ago, Hoover wrote a song about Lewis and posted a video on YouTube of him singing it and playing on his keyboard.

It wasn't long before Phoebe Lewis, Jerry Lee's daughter, e-mailed Hoover.

"Great song and you played the heck out of that piano," she wrote. "My daddy said, 'Take a look at him, he's rockin'."

Hoover's laptop computer contains 2,300 songs. He can program them into his electric keyboard so they play background music while he plays piano and sings.

"I'm going to keep playing as long as I can," Hoover said. "My wife used to say they'll probably have to bury me with my piano. I think that's about right."

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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