Hillbilly-Music.com - Keeping Country Music History Alive
Hillbilly-Music Folio Display

Byrd Moore
and His Hotshots
Born:  June 18, 1898
Died:  October 22, 1949

About The Artist

Radio Log - WOPI - Bristol TN - Byrd Moore - May 1930 Howard Byrd Moore is best known as a quality old-time guitarist and for the four sides he made with his string band, the Hot Shots, released on Columbia following his October 1929 session in Johnson City, Tennessee. Moore actually made more recordings for Gennett and their subsidiary labels during a four-year association with that Richmond, Indiana firm, many released under pseudonyms.

According to his death certificate, Moore was a native of Harlan, Kentucky, but spent most of his adult life in Wise County, Virginia where he worked mostly at the barbering trade although he also roamed about a bit.

Moore's first recordings came about as a band member with Georgia fiddler Earl Johnson (B: August 24, 1886 — D: May 31, 1965), cutting a dozen sides with him for the OKeh label in early 1927. The following year, he began a four-year association in 1928 which included some sideman work with John D. Foster (B: June 23, 1896 — D: February 10, 1984) and Leonard Rutherford (B: March 22, 1898 — D: June 30, 1951) in addition to the 25 issued sides released (many more were unreleased) either under his own name or as a partner with Wise County fiddle ace, Melvin Robinette (B: April 10, 1905 — D: January 10, 1999). One of the Moore and Robinette sides "Birmingham Jail," released on pseudonym as by "Ezra Hill and Henry Johnson," sold over 30,000 copies on Gennett's Champion subsidiary, a high number for that label.

Byrd Moore's Columbia recordings with the Hot Shots comprised of fiddler Clarence Greene (B: June 26, 1894 — D: October 22, 1961) and much-traveled guitarist Clarence (Tom) Ashley (B: September 29, 1895 — June 2, 1967) probably represented the apex of his career, based on the string-band classic "Three Men Went a Hunting" an updated-Americanized rendition of a 17th century British lyric. Through the inclusion of this number in the New Lost City Ramblers song book and on a Folkways recording by the same group it reached a whole new audience.

Promo Ad - COlumbia Records - Bristol, TN - Byrd Moore - January 1930
Promo Ad - Walker's Latest Records - Knoxville, TN - Byrd Moore - January 1930

A Dr. S. E. Reynolds of the Elizbethton Bark(b)ers Union spoke at a banquet one night in June 1929. The attendees were entertained by the music of Byrd Moore and Clarence Green (violin and guitar, respectively). While John Fair, an ex-barber, "furnished the spice of the program by handing several "wise cracks."

An old-time fiddlers' convention was held at Jonesboro, TN in August 1931. Byrd Moore won first prize for guitar, banjo and band. Clarence Greene took first prize on fiddle and second place on guitar. Tom Ashley won first prize for band. The trio was said to represent the talent from Elizabethton. It was reported that contestants came from Elizabethon, Boone, Jonesbor, Johnson City, Boone's Creek, Bluff City, Blountville and Kingsport.

In September 1936, news reports indicated the Cox string band would provide entertainment for the Young Republican club of Kingsport, Tennessee. Hagan Richmond, the Scott County (Virginia) District Attorney was the scheduled speaker at the weekly meting. The Cox string band included Byrd Moore on guitar; Sam Tribmle on ukelele and S. E. Cox on violin.

Sadly, this did Moore little good as he fell into poverty, lost everything he owned, suffered from chronic alcoholism, and was admitted to the Wise County poorhouse. His actual death was attributed to diabetes and he passed away as a result of or during a leg amputation at a Coeburn, Virginia hospital.

He was buried on the cemetery at the Wise County Poor Farm. Hank Edenborn, a dedicated researcher, recently obtained a copy of his death certificate which he generously shared.

Credits & Sources

  • Hillbilly-Music.com would like to express its thanks to Ivan M. Tribe, author of Mountaineer Jamboree — Country Music in West Virginia and other books that can be found on Amazon.com and numerous articles in other publications for providing us with information about this artist.
  • Dr. Reynolds Gives Talk To Barbers; June 27, 1929; Elizabethton Star; Elizabethton, TN
  • Town Topics - Local Fiddlers Win; August 17, 1931; Elizabethton Star; Elizabethton, TN
  • String Band Will Play At Meeting; September 29, 1936; Kingsport Times; Kingsport, TN

Printer Friendly Version

Recordings (78rpm/45rpm)

Rec. No. Side Song Title
  16357 A Cincinnati Rag (w/Clarence Greene)
  16357 B Pig Angle [sic] (w/Clarence Greene)
  16469 A Killin? Blues (w/Jess Johnson)
  16469 B My Trouble Blues (w/Jess Johnson)
Rec. No. Side Song Title
  15496 D A Three Men Went A-Hunting
  15496 D B Careless Love
  15536 D A Frankie Silvers
  15536 D B The Hills Of Tennessee
  15536-D A Frankie Silvers
  15536-D B The Hills Of Tennessee
Rec. No. Side Song Title
  6549 A Harvey Logan
  6549 B Hobo?s Paradise
  6586 A Bed Bugs Makin? their Last Go Round
  6586 B Mama Toot Your Whistle
  6686 A All Night Long
  6686 B Back Water Blues
  6763 A Bully of the Town
  6763 B Snatch ?em Back Blues
  6841 A Birmingham Jail (with Melvin Robinette)
  6841 B When the Snowflakes Fall Again(with Melvin Robinette)
  6884 A Last Days in Georgia
  6884 B Flop Eared Mule(with Melvin Robinette)
  6957 A Favorite Two-Step(with Melvin Robinette)
  6957 B That Old Tiger Rag(with Melvin Robinette)
  6991 A Mama Don?t Allow No Low-Down Hangin? Around(with Melvin Robinette)
  6991 B Careless Lover
  7068 A Goodbye Sweetheart(with Melvin Robinette)
  7068 B Down on the Farm (not Byrd Moore. But Asa Martin & Doc Roberts)
Rec. No. Side Song Title
  2559 A Got the Guitar Blues (as Bert Moss)
  2559 B Jake Leg Blues (as Bert Moss)

Artist Lists


Yes, Hillbilly Music. You may perhaps wonder why. You may even snicker. But trust us, soon your feet will start tappin' and before you know it, you'll be comin' back for more...Hillbilly Music.

Hillbilly-music.com ...
It's about the people, the music, the history.