|When a hillbilly sings ... what he is singing is the hopes and prayers and dreams of what some call the common people.|
From the book 'Stars of Country Music' - Hank Williams chapter by Roger Williams; Edited by Bill C. Malone and Judith McCulloh; 1975
What's New - Featured Articles
Big Slim (The Lone Cowboy) - He was Harry C. McAuliffe or Hamilton Christopher Aliff or Big Slim, the Lone Cowboy. However fans knew him, his career included over three decades on the WWVA Origianl Jamboree out of Wheeling, West Virginia. Future stars such as Toby Stroud, Quarantine (the comedian) were a part of his group. He may have been a singer/performer, but one gets the sense he was more at home with the horses he trained that were also a part of his act. Author Ivan Tribe spurred this research with his article that led to further research and details, including photos from our collection.Leizime Brusoe (Champion Fiddler 1926) - His story takes us back to lumberjack days in Wisconsin in the early 20th century. He lived in Rhinelander, WI for over 50 years. Of French Canadian descent, the town took up a collection for him to enter a Fiddlers' Contest in Chicago in March 1926. His story also led to some insight into the fiddlers contests that were popular in the 1920's.
Chisholm Brothers - The Chisholm Brothers were rooted in the Brockton, MA area and were lccal favorites. They helped get the Massachusetts Country Music Hall of Fame started. They backed many stars that came through the area such as Tex Ritter, Dick Curless and others. They were Korean War veterans. Charlie and his brother were one of the first honorees when Bridgewater began the "Hometown Heroes" project.
Harpo Kidwell - Enjoy another one by author Wayne W. Daniel who said of Harpo, "I called him the dean of the 'Barn Dance' hamronica players. Harpo got his career started in Atlanta. He became a part of the popular WSB Barn Dance. He journeyed into Ohio on WLW, Renfro Valley and but he and his wife missed their roots and eventually made it back to Atlanta. A couple of tunes he had a hand in writing also got recorded, "Boo-Hoo Blues" and "Moss Covered Mill."
Hot Cops - We begin to highlight a series of biographies based on Charles K. Wolfe's "A Good Natured Riot" where in his appendix he cited those who were on the Opry in the early years, but he had not found much about the acts. This one caught our eye. Red McConnell was perhaps associated with this 'act.' Or was it something else? We will leave it to you to read what we found.
Johnson City HS Orchestra - Charles K. Wolfe posed a question as to why this act appeared on the Grand Ole Opry in his book "A Good Natured Riot" in his Appendix of the early Opry Roster. We took up the challenge and decided to see what history's pages of time would tell us about this group and how it became part of the early Opry history. It centered around two talented sisters from Johnson City, Tennessee who taught music at Science Hill High School.
Hank Keene - His biography will take you back to the early days of country music. His personal appearances, usually during the summer, were tent shows. He had a large group of entertainers and they would tour various towns, setting up their tent which could hold nearly 2,000 people, and provide entertainment for audiences. In the fall and winter, he would hook up with a radio station for a time and have a smaller group that performed over the air. One of his golfing partners was Perry Como and that led to a story itself.
Fred Kirby - The early career of this native of Charolotte, North Carolina took him to places such as St. Louis, Cincinnati, Chicago, and, Philadephia. But in the end, he came back to his roots and became somewhat of a local legend. His most famous tune was "Atomic Power." But later, his talents turned to local television where he had a long running cowboy show that was aimed at "the little cowpokes." He became associated with Tweetsie Railroad later in his career. Author Ivan Tribe provided the seed for this biography of a man one newspaper reporter said, "You just can't feel bad when you're around him."
Marilyn Orlando - She was born and raised in what is now known as Silicon Valley of California. She got her start at a very young age and was one of the early stars of Dude Martin's Hoffman Hayride show. She was part of the Ina Ray Hutton Las Vegas show for a time. She turned away from Hollywood and music and devoted her time to her family. Later in life, she created a design concept that was something unique for her husband's business — car washes. There's more to her story - read on.
Wagon Wheel Orchestra - The Appendix of early Opry acts in a book called "A Good Natured Riot" by author Charles K. Wolfe surmised this was an act similar to other western groups. Our research found it was something quite different. It reveals another connection to one of country music's venerable stars, as well as a young female singer in San Jose California who was part of a Las Vegas act. An example of the variety of music offered during the Saturday night time slot of the Grand Ole Opry in its earliest days.
Driftwood on the River
Sleepy LaBeef - The story of this Rockabilly legend born in Smackover, Arkansas began with an email from a Nashville bass player who was influenced by this artist. He became known as the human jukebox and was said to have known over 6,000 songs. One reviewer noted he had "...windowshade eylids, a voice as massive as a train whistle in a cave, a playlist deeper than threescore jukeboxes..." He once told a reporter, "I don't have all the hit records in the world. But I was there."
Stusia Pennypacker - Our research of early acts that appeared on WSM's Grand Ole Opry as it became known led to some interesting finds. This appears to have been a comedy serial sponsored by the Alka Seltzer company in Elkhart, Indiana. Stusia was the star of this 'act.' One of the members of the 'act' was the comedian Pat Buttram. Who was Stusia? Remember, the early days of entertainment was to provide a little something for the family to enjoy, and comedy found its way into many acts.
Merv Shiner - Merv's biography has been updated on the site. The original one was written over a decade ago. Merv recently turned 99 years old and it seems appropriate to provide fans with more details of one of the nicest guys in the music business. A career that has spanned over 70 years. He is still performing today with his wife, Marilyn. Enjoy the video of him doing his Easter classic, "Peter Cottontail."
T. Texas Tyler - David Myrick was born in Mena, Arkansas. He originally promoted himself as Ozark Mountain Dave. But when he hooked up with Major Bowes, his stage name became a combination of a couple of his favorite cowboys; thus T. Texas Tyler's career began. The hit records began, but it took its toll on him to a point where alcohol had become a demon. His friend Carl (The Squeakin' Deacon) Moore saw what was happening and introduced him to a minister. He underwent a conversion experience in 1958 which turned his life and career around.
Billie Walker - She was born in Graves County, KY as Grace Alexander. But fans would get to know her as Billie Walker. During her career, she helped Doc Williams kick off his career when he was in Pittsburgh, PA. She had her own show on the local radio station in Jackson, TN. Her career took her to several other cities. She also did trancscription programs for various sponsors such as flour mills in the 1950's. She was also a minister, having helped form a church at one time.
Nathalie Trow Whiting - Her story begins with a guitar, a Larson Brothers Guitar made in 1933 with her initials. Her story takes research back to the times when lumber was the big business in the upper Wisconsin and Michigan areas. She travels with her husband to engineering projects such as the Panama Canal, gold mines in the west. Her trail takes her to Canada, to the west coast. Her two marriages ended in divorces that were covered in the media. But there is still something missing to her story. Maybe you can help fill in the missing pieces.
Stan Widney - Stan's biography will take you back to Des Moines, Iowa, to the 1930's when he was a part of radio station WHO's announcing staff and the producer of the Iowa Barn Dance Frolic . He was also a bit of a writer; he wrote two kids books. Later after a stroke, he worked in the publicity department of the Iowa State Conservation Commission where wrote an interesting press release about a Christmas tree.
Skeets Yaney - Born in southern Indiana, he went on to compete in the early Yodeling contests and won. He later became a fixture on St. Louis radio stations. Often called the Golden Voiced Yodeler or National Champion Yodeler. He was called the King of Midwest Country Radio. He crossed paths with many of the stars of the various eras he was a part of. He is a member of the Country Music DJ Hall of Fame.
Dusty Owens -
tells us about his career in his own words. He contacted us out of the blue years ago and became a good friend over the years. Work
has begun on Chapter 3 of his biography, where he often said "that's when it all halppened."
Chapter 1: Early Michigan & Iowa years
Chapter 2: WHO Iowa Barn Dance Frolic
Keep clicking around - there's always something new spopping up on Hillbilly-Music.com.
Texas Jim Lewis and his Lone Star Cowboys
Wine, Women And Song
Read More About The History
Who Is That?
We have quite a few pictures in our collection and most we have identified. But there are a few that we just have not been able to identify yet. Click on the picture above to get a better view and let us know if you can help us put a name to the picture.
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