About The Artist
In an issue of Rural Radio, Lessie Bailey had a few words on Pop Eckler and his career up to that point. He was on WSB back then doing a show called "Cross Roads Follies". He got into singing and music after he got fired as a fireman for L&N railroad.
He started by playing the local hoe-downs around his native Dry Ridge, Kentucky home. After his railroad experience, he thought his talents were someplace else, so headed to Covington, Kentucky. There he got an outfit and with some of his hoe-down band members, entered an amateur contest on WCKY. And the Grant County Entertainers won the $100 first prize and a week's engagement at the Liberty Theatre. Then it stretched to five weeks, with broadcasts each Wednesday and Saturday nights. The Grant County Entertainers stayed at WCKY for two years.
Next, he went to WKRC in Cincinnati where he formed another group called the Mountain Rangers and performed at the Hotel Alms(?). From that stop, he went to perform on WLW as one-half of the group called the Yodeling Twins. His partner then was Roland Gaines. They got credit for inventing what is known as the harmony yodel. When they introduced their original type of yodel on a Tasty Yeast show (announcer Sidney Ten Eyck), the audience response was such that they got 36,700 pieces of fan mail. But, at that very time, Pop's vocal chords gave out on him and the Yodeling Twins had to retire immediately while Pop went back to his native Dry Ridge to rest and get his voice back.
It took him a couple of months before his voice came back. He came back to WLW and joined their artist bureau for personal appearance bookings. But his home station wanted him back and the Yodeling Twins were once again performing. They made their bow on NBC on WCKY's Happy Day's In Dixie show. One of the features of that show was Uncle Epham Jones' Auction Sale and Pop played the role of auctioneer. It must have been quite a thing to see and hear for they said that the sounds Pop and Roland Gaines did of the stock which '...poor Uncle Epham had to part with ... set a new high in barnyard imitations.'
When the Happy Days show ended they went East for about a year, broadcasting on stations in Massachusetts and New Jersey. When the Yodeling Twins came back to WCKY, they decided to part ways. From there, Pop Eckler's Barn Dance was created at the Covington, KY station and from there, went to WSB in Atlanta where they did the noontime show, Cross Roads Follies.
On top of that, there was Pop Eckler's Jamboree every Saturday night in Rome, Georgia and in Atlanta on Sunday afternoons. The popularity of these shows was such that Pop created a second 'unit' to handle the demand. Thus, they formed the Texas Wranglers, which were lead by Gene "Uncle Ned" Spripling. The Jamboree show featured Pop's group, the Texas Wranglers along with the Pine Ridge Boys, another act at WSB that Pop was said to be the 'guardian' of. It was quite a variety show that had buck dancing, tight-rope walking, comedy and we'll assume some good music.
All in all, Lessie Bailey wrote a nicely detailed account of Pop's career at that time.
Timeline and Trivia Notes
Group Members included:
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