Captain Stubby's Buccaneers were a group of five country boys were
in the United States Navy together and when they got out of the service,
they had some ideas about entertainment. They appeared on WLS around
the early 1950s and were known to do good music and some great comedy
effects. They also did well in more serious tunes as noted by their
"Hymn Time" program.
They were know for some hilarious comedy routines and the versatility
they showed with the fifteen different musical instruments to go along
with their vocal harmonizing.
Captain Stubby started his first musical group when he was just
in high school. Later, when attending at Indiana State College,
he met Jerry Richards and persuaded him to change from "long hair"
to novelty tunes. As a team, they won their college theatre's contest.
That summer, "Tiny" Stokes joined them to make it a trio.
A Cowboy Songs article in 1952 shed some more details about how the group
came about. Captain Stubby was a freshman at Indiana Central College
and happened to hear a sound of clarinet that captivated him. It was being
played by Jerry Richards. Stubby at the time was playing a variety of
instruments, including a 'gizmo' that was basically a washboard. They began
tinkering with some of the classical tunes. Eventually three others joined
Stubby and Jerry, and they became the talk of the campus.
World War II came along and all three of them joined the Navy. There,
they met Tony Walberg and then they had a foursome. It wasn't too long
before they met Sonny fleming and he became the fifth member. The group
appeared on the "Meet Your Navy" radio program. They toured the USA and overseas,
and got a lot of laughs wherever they went and brought a great deal of cheer
to the folks at the hospitals they visited.
Tiny Stokes joined the group after the other fellows had seen him in action at a
personal appearance in Frankfort, Indiana. He was singing 'Freight Train
Blues' at the time and got their immediate attention. Later, he accepted their
offer to join the group.
Later on, they were sponsored by a midwestern livestock feed company and
did personal appearances at various business functions in the sales territory
of the company. It wasn't too long before the company got them a gig on
radio station WDAN in Danville, Illinois and that gave them their start in
They spent about 18 months at WDAN, then moved to the powerhouse WLW station
in Cincinnati, Ohio. They stayed there until World War II broke out and rather
than wait, they enlisted as a group. But only three of them were accepted by
the U.S. Navy.
When they got their discharge from the Navy, they returned to WLW for a time,
but due to the following they had gained while in the Navy, they wanted to
try other venues. They moved to New York City for a time and started appearing
at the Village Barn in New York. While seemingly enjoying the popularity on the
east coast, their hearts were evidently still in the Midwest. In 1949, they
moved back to Chicago and became a part of the WLS National Barn Dance. They
also had a few other shows over WLS during the week in addition to their
popular appearances on the Barn Dance each week.
Captain Stubby had a gimmick with his singing and was known as "...the
lad with many voices." Even as far back as the age of ten, he had learned
how to go from falsetto to foghorn range, a gimmick he used to great
advantage and entertainment of the audiences in the tunes they did.
Timeline and Trivia Notes
Group Members included:
- Captain Stubby (real name Tom Fouts)
- Tiny (Dwight) Stokes
- John (Sonny) Fleming
- Tony Walberg
- Jerry Richards
Credits & Sources
- Cowboy Songs No. 18; January 1952; American Folk Publications, Inc.;
Charlton Building; Derby, CT