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Red Foley
Born:  June 17, 1910
Died:  September 19, 1968
Country Music Hall of Fame (1968)
Kentucky Music Hall of Fame (2002)
KWTO Ozark Jubilee
WLS National Barn Dance
WSM Grand Ole Opry
WCKY Cincinnati, OH
WLS Chicago, IL (1930)

Clyde Julian Foley, later to be known to the world of music as Red Foley was born in Berea, Kentucky. Or was it somewhere in New Mexico? Ah, but that is part of the fun of doing research on an artist to see how their career evolves over time as you walk through the dusty pages of history. Come along with us as we try to document one of the legends and pioneers of hillbilly music.

Red's musical journey began as a youngster almost by accident when he was at his dad's general store. A 1935 article indicates that it was a common practice for customers to pay their debts with produce instead of cash. But one day, one of his customers tried a different tack. It seems he could not spare any of his crop that fall, corn. But instead, he offered up a guitar. Now Red's dad was wondering what he would do with that, but Red was in the store when that transaction occurred and told his dad to accept it as he wanted to learn to play the guitar.

As you might expect, as he learned to play the guitar, he began to entertain the customers at the store by singing the old songs "...of the southern hill country."

Red's interest in music was not a passing thing. He enrolled in the alma mater of another Kentucky legend, Bradley Kincaid, Berea College. He took up the study of "classical music and voice culture."

His smooth baritone vocal style began to get noticed. He won an Atwater Kent audition that led to a stint with WCKY in Covington, Kentucky. An article infers he may have started singing classical tunes but the listening audience and he were more comfortable when he did the simple old-time songs.

After a few months, Red made the decision to travel to Chicago to get an audition with John Lair and the Cumberland Ridge Runners. Mr. Lair liked what he heard and signed Red to the group.

He was a cowboy in the rodeo, and in "Saddle Pals", he did movies, he hosted one of the first country shows on TV, the popular "Ozark Jubilee" from Springfield, Missouri. He was a Kentucky mountain boy from the '...edge of the hills just beyond the blue grass country.' Red could also do comedy. On the WLS National Barn Dance, he was 'Nep' of "Nep and Lige" (see the accompanying photos). He also did some comedy recordings with Ernest Tubb, such as "Too Old To Cut the Mustard" or "Tennessee Border No. 2".

Around 1940, Red tried to get on the cowboy singing star wagon. This was around the time Gene Autry, another former WLS alumni was making his mark in movies in Hollywood. Those who were promoting Red went so far as to alter history and try to make folks believe he was born in a more 'western' locale. A 1940 Radio Varieties feature on Red tries to tell readers Red was born in Tucumcari, New Mexico and the Foley family then later moved to a farm in Berea, Kentucky. This tale was repeated in a song folio published by the M. M. Cole Publishing Company in 1941. The basic facts of his raising were the same in these stories after the family 'moved' to Berea.

When Red first joined WLS in 1930, he was with Karl and Harty as the Cumberland Ridge Runners.

Along the way, Red was associated with another group that backed him up known as the Cumberland Valley Boys and were heard on the Opry's Prince Albert portion. That group included quite a few names that fans will recognize.

Back about 1942 or 1943, he and his wife bought a farm somewhere in Illinois that was reportedly going to be made into a 'dude ranch.'

Timeline & Trivia Notes

Cumberland Valley Boys Group Members:

  • Red Foley
  • Red Bennett
  • Louis Innis
  • Zeb Turner
  • Zeke Turner
  • Roy Wiggins
  • Gabe Tucker

  • Born Clyde Julian Foley
  • Married in 1934 to the former Eva Overstake of the Three Little Maids fame; had 3 daughters named Shirley Lee, Julie Ann and Jenny Lou.
  • Son in law was Pat Boone, who married Shirley

Credits & Sources

  • WLS Stand-By; April 20, 1935; Prairie Farmer; Chicago, IL
  • Radio Varieties; June 1940; Vol. 3 No. 6; F. L. Rosenthal; 1056 Van Buren Street; Chicago, Illinois
  • Deluxe Edition of Famous Original Red Foley's Cowboy Songs Mountain Ballads; 1941; M. M. Cole Publishing Co.; Chicago, IL

Sound Sample—(RealAudio Format)
How About Me (w/Betty Foley)

Appearance History This Month
 
June 21, 1936
Silver Lake Park
Manitowoc, WI
 
June 28, 1936
Jackson County Fair Grounds
Jackson, MI
WLS Barn Dance
 
June 6, 1937
Roxy Theatre
Peru, IN
WLS National Barn Dance (1937 Edition)
 
June 27, 1937
The Elm Grove
Des Plaines, IL

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Recordings
 
Conqueror
Rec. No. Side Song Title
  8163 A The Lone Cowboy
  8163 B Single Life Is Good Enough For Me
  8198 A The Dying Rustler
  8198 B Blonde Headed Girl
  8285 A Freight Train Blues
  8285 B Echoes Of My Old Plantation Home
  8316 A Going Out West This Fall
  8316 B Hi Rinktum Inktum Doodee
  8659 A Yodeling Radio Joe
  8659 B Headin' Back To Texas
  8676 A The 1936 Floods
  8676 B The Mailman's Warning
 
Decca
Rec. No. Side Song Title
  14573 A Where Could I Go But To The Lord
  14573 B Peace In The Valley
  27378 A Tater Pie
  27609 B Satin And Lace
  27763 A Night Train To Memphis
  27929 A Whistle While You Work
  27929 B Who's Afraid Of The Big Bad Wolf
  28147 A I'd Rather Have Jesus (w/The Jordanaires)
  28147 B I'm Bound For The Kingdom (w/The Jordanaires)
  28163 B Where Is Your Wandering Mother Tonight (w/Andrews Sisters)
  28252 A Somebody Bigger Than You And I
  28252 B God's Little Candle
  28288 A Are You Trying To Tell Me Goodbye
  28288 B Kisses On Paper
  28343 A I Gotta Have You (w/Roberta Lee)
  28343 B Don't Believe Everything You Dream (w/Roberta Lee)
  28420 A Midnight
  28420 B Deep Blues
  28447 A My God Is Real
  28447 B The Mocking Bird
  28460 A Don't Let The Stars Get In Your Eye
  28460 B Sally
  28567 A Blue Letter
  28567 B Slaves Of A Hopeless Affair
  28587 A Hot Toddy
  28587 B Playin' Dominoes And Shootin' Dice
  28694 A I Believe
  28694 B The Mansion Over The Hilltop
  28695 A I'm Sorry We Met
  28695 B Treasures Untold
  28759 A That Old River Line
  28759 B Hot Dog Rag
  28767 A Baby Blues (w/Patty Andrew)
  28767 B Unless You're Free (w/Patty Andrew)
  28796 A The Last Mile Of The Way
  28796 B The Keys To The Kingdom
  28839 A Stranded In Deep Water
  28839 B Shake A Hand
  28940 A Put Christ Back Into Christmas
  28940 B The Gentle Carpenter Of Bethlehem
  28944 A Goodbye,Bobby Boy
  28944 B Peace Of Mind
  29000 A As Far As I'm Concerned (w/Betty Foley)
  29000 B Tennessee Whistling Man
  29044 A The Robe Of Calvary (w/The Foggy River Boys)
  29044 B Consideration (w/The Foggy River Boys)
  29059 A My Window Faces South (w/Grady Martin)
  29059 B Pork Chop Stomp (w/Grady Martin)
  29065 A One By One (w/Kitty Wells)
  29065 B I'm A Stranger In My Home (w/Kitty Wells)
  29100 A Jilted
  29100 B Pin Ball Boogie
  29159 A My Friend
  29159 B Lady Of Guadalupe
  29222 A She'll Never Know (w/Andrews Sisters)
  29222 B Bury Me Beneath The Willow (w/Andrews Sisters)
  29228 A Skinnie Minnie
  29228 B Thank You For Calling
  29339 A Lookin' Glass
  29339 B Walkin' In The Cold, Cold Rain
  29375 A Hearts Of Stone
  29375 B Never
  29390 A Make Believe (w/Kitty Wells)
  29390 B As Long As I Live (w/Kitty Wells)
  29419 A Making Believe (w/Kitty Wells)
  29419 B Whose Shoulder Will You Cry On? (w/Kitty Wells)
  29494 A Hominy Grits
  29494 B Nobody
  29505 A Have A Little Talk With Jesus (w/Rosetta Tharpe)
  29505 B Strange Things Happening Every Day (w/Rosetta Tharpe)
  29517 A Plantation Boogie
  29517 B You Little So And So
  29526 A How About Me (w/Betty Foley)
  29526 B A Satisfied Mind (w/Betty Foley)
  29626 A Just Call Me Lonesome
  29626 B Blue Guitar
  29667 A When You Come To The End Of The Day
  29667 B The Night Watch
  29704 A Sweet Kentucky Rose
  29704 A Croce Di Oro (Cross Of Gold) (w/Betty Foley)
  29704 B Croce Di Oro
  29704 B Sweet Kentucky Rose (w/Betty Foley)
  29740 A You And Me (w/Kitty Wells)
  29740 B No One But You (w/Kitty Wells)
  29775 A I See God
  29775 B Someone To Care
  29894 A The Hoot Owl Boogie
  29894 B A Handful Of Rice
  30080 A There'll Be Peace In The Valley For Me
  30080 B A Servant In The House Of The Lord
  30249 A One Life, Two Loves
  30249 B Come A Little Closer
  30334 A Sweet Innocence
  30334 B Why Ask For The Moon
  30452 A Strike While The Iron Is Hot
  30452 B This Could Very Well Be It
  31194 A The End Of The World
  31194 B Georgia Town Blues
  31302 A Dear Young Lovers
  31302 B South
  31437 A Hang Your Head In shame
  31437 B That's What's Wrong With Me
  32044 A How's The World Treating You
  32044 B How's The World Treating you?
  32063 A Is There Really a Santa Claus
  46014 A Atomic Power (w/Roy Ross)
  46014 B Have I Told You Lately That I Love You? (w/Roy Ross)
  46024 A Foggy River (w/Roy Ross and His Ramblers)
  46024 B Lay Down Your Soul (w/Roy Ross and His Ramblers)
  46028 A Rye Whiskey (w/Cumberland Valley Boys)
  46028 B That's How Much I Love You (w/Cumberland Valley Boys)
  46034 A A Pillow Of Sighs And Tears
  46034 B New Jolie Blonde (w/Cumberland Valley Boys)
  46052 A Old Shep (w/Ray Ross and His Ramblers)
  46052 B Honey, Be My Honey Bee (w/Ray Ross and His Ramblers)
  46058 A I'll Be True To You, My Darlin' (w/Roy Ross)
  46058 B Too Many Blues (w/Cumberland Valley Boys)
  46068 B Open That Door
  46074 A A Smile Will Chase Away A Tear
  46074 B Never Trust A Woman
  46081 A Back To Tennessee (w/Cumberland Valley Boys)
  46081 B Easy To Please (w/Cumberland Valley Boys)
  46115 A Ride On, King Jesus
  46115 B Everybody's Gonna Have A Wonderful Time
  46123 A The Last Thing I Want Is Your Pity
  46123 B I'm Picking Up The Pieces Of A Broken Heart
  46124 A Television
  46124 B Ruby Red Lips
  46126 A Stranded In Deep Water
  46126 B I'm Waltzing With A Broken Heart
  46136 A Tennessee Saturday Night
  46136 B Blues In My Heart
  46143 A Just A Man And His Dog
  46143 B Tit For Tat
  46151 A Candy Kisses
  46151 B Tennessee Border
  46158 A There's A Light Guidin' Me
  46158 B Cleanse Me
  46165 A Two Cents, Three Eggs And A Postcard
  46165 B I Wish I Had A Nickel
  46170 A Tennessee Polka
  46170 B I'm Throwing Rice (At The Girl I Love)
  46185 A Here Comes Santa Claus (w/Judy Martin)
  46185 B Our Christmas Waltz (w/Judy Martin)
  46197 A Every Step Of The Way
  46197 B Sunday Down In Tennessee
  46201 A Gotta Have My Baby Back
  46201 B Careless Kisses
  46205 A Chattanooga Shoe Shine Boy
  46205 B Sugarfoot Rag
  46206 A Have I Told You Lately That I Love You (w/Judy Martin)
  46206 B Church Music (w/Judy Martin)
  46234 A Birmingham Bounce
  46234 B Choc'late Ice Cream Cone
  46235 A Remember Me (When The Candlights Are Gleaming) (w/Judy Martin)
  46235 B Let's Go To Church (w/Judy Martin)
  46241 A M-I-S-S-I-S-S-I-P-P-I (w/The Dixie Dons)
  46241 B Old Kentucky Fox Chase
  46261 A Somebody's Cryin'
  46261 B Cincinnati Dancing Pig
  46286 A Hot Rod Race
  46286 B Smoke On The Water No.2
  46294 A That Little Boy Of Mine
  46294 B Don't Make Me Go To Bed
  46304 A Hobo Boogie
  46304 B Heska - Holka (w/The Sunshine Trio)
  46319 A (There Will Be) Peace In The Valley
  46319 B Old Soldiers Never Die
  46357 A Weapon Of Prayer
  46357 B Jesus And The Atheist
  5932 A Montana Moon
  5932 B It Makes No Never Mind
  5936 A Riding On A Rainbow
  5936 B Be Honest With Me
  5937 A I'll Be Back In A Year
  5937 B Where The Mountains Meet The Moon
  5944 A I Dont Care Anymore
  5944 B Old Shep
  5962 A A Rose And A Prayer
  5962 B I Ain't Lazy
  5981 A Riding Home
  5981 B Nobody
  6010 A Will You Wait For Me, Little Darling
  6010 B Chiquita
  6048 A I'm Looking For A Sweetheart
  6048 B Is It True
  6069 A Pals Of The Saddle
  6069 B Someday, Somewhere Sweetheart
  6102 A Smoke On The Water
  6102 B Th Blue Star Shining Brigh
  6108 A Hang Your Head In Shame
  6108 B I'll Never Let You Worry M
  9003 A Harriet (w/Ray Ross and His Ramblers)
  9003 B My Poor Heart Is Broken (w/Ray Ross and His Ramblers)
 
Romeo
Rec. No. Side Song Title
  5237 A Single Life Is Good Enough For Me
  5237 B The Lone Cowboy
 
Vocalion
Rec. No. Side Song Title
  05501 A Single Life Is Good Enough For Me
  05501 B Lone Cowboy


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