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Singer F.X. McDonald dead at 84
LAS VEGAS • A popular folk singer who sang the praises of Hesperia, and who once appeared on stage with Lawrence Welk and Betty White, has died.
F.X. McDonald, known for his “Headin’ For Hesperia” tune, died at age 84, according to his friend and local historian Gary “Old Town Griz” Drylie, who was reached by phone on Friday.
“He died in Sun City, Arizona on January 28 due to blood disorder complications,” said Drylie, who wrote extensively about McDonald in the book “Images of America: Hesperia.”
McDonald became a real estate salesman in the mid-1950s and recorded his Hesperia tune when he discovered that land in Hesperia was selling like hot cakes.
The singing salesman put Hesperia into the national limelight when McDonald pitched the small desert town of 200 on the Arthur Godfrey television show in New York City.
McDonald wrote about his days in Hesperia on his web site.
“Four thousand copies were made and one copy was distributed to each new land purchaser,” wrote McDonald, who was invited to perform at the Hesperia Chamber of Commerce’s 50th anniversary dinner in 2004.
Paula Martinez, executive assistant at the chamber, said that McDonald would mail the organization Christmas cards every year and would occasionally drop by unexpectedly.
“One day, a lady came in wanting to know more about McDonald,” Martinez said. “Two minutes later, F.X. walked in with his guitar and played his Hesperia song.”
The chamber continues to give out thousands of free CDs each year to fans across the country, Martinez said.
In 1954, before his musical success, McDonald and his brother, Chad, lived in a small shack with no electricity or running water on the west end of Hesperia.
“We rejoiced when they saw that water truck coming down the dirt road, or anyone else for that matter, because it was a lonely life,” wrote McDonald. “The Coleman lantern and pot-bellied stove provided what comforts we had.”
Red Hat leader Roxanne Walker, who invited McDonald to perform for her “Roxie’s Red Hat Rebels” in 2005, found McDonald to be quite the entertainer.
“He wanted to perform for a group of ladies while he was in town,” said Walker, a former spokeswoman for the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department.
During a group photo, Walker said the woman erupted in laughter after McDonald knelt beside a lady who was on her knee and proposed to her.
“It was all in fun, but it was hilarious.” Walker said. “It was an honor to meet someone who played a part in the development of Hesperia.”
McDonald’s CD can be purchased at the Hesperia Chamber or Commerce 14321 Main Street or downloaded online at www.fxmcdonald.com.
Rene De La Cruz may be reached at (760) 951-6227 or at RDeLaCruz@VVDailyPress.com.