About The Artist
He was born Dewey Hubbard Aderhold. But one may wonder how this steel guitar player got to be known as "Slim Idaho." When he began working in radio, one day an announcer told listeners over the air that his name was "Idaho", a mispronunciation of his last name; Dewey let it go. Later, someone began calling him "Idaho Slim" in the vein of another popular radio name at the time, "Montana Slim." Dewey like the combination, but reversed it and thus, "Slim Idaho" was his stage name after that.
The Richmond News Leader reported in a small article about the new steel player on the WRVA Old Dominion Barn Dance in 1947 that he was born on April 28, 1925 in Greenville, SC, which is the same date he wrote down on his World War II draft registration card. He could play more than his rare triple-necked steel guitar. He also played the trumpet, guitar and bass fiddle.
The first mention of his being a performer was in a small "personal ad" in a Greenwood, SC newspaper in 1943. It was for a dance, "Round and square with all-radio talent band." The group was made up of Dynamite Jim, Jack Thompson, Eddie Doolittle, Slim Idaho, and Curly Mulligan. The gig was at the Log Cabin on the Fair Grounds at Phoenix Street presumably in Greenwood, SC. Admission price was men, 75 cents; ladies, free.
An article that was highlighting the radio programs for a day the Atlanta Journal provided information not only as to the artists on the WSB Barn Dance broadcast that night, but the tunes they would play. These listings also tend to indicate the time that Slim spent with WSB. The following is a list of tunes he was scheduled to play on the dates indicated:
Research has uncovered a promotional ad featuring Paul Howard and His Arkansas Cotton Pickers for an appearance in Brewton, AL in December 1944. Each band member had their own picture. There was someone named D. H. Adderholt as "steel guitar expert." A rare instance seen of Dewey's last name being used.
Paul Howard hired him to play with his group, the Arkansas Cottonpickers. His name would show up in promo ads or articles promoting an upcoming appearance by Howard's group. In Howard's first appearance in Florida in 1948, the article mentioned him this way, "Also, from the Opry will be Little Judy Dean, Slim Idaho, the Wizard of the steel guitar and many, many more."
In January 1947, Paul Howard and his band were appearing in Alabama. The group only had one female person, Judy Dean, who had been with the group about three years. Slim was mentioned as being the steel guitar player. Similar 'article' (or more likely a standard press release template) mentions the same for an appearance in Selma, AL in early February 1947. The tour then took them to Butler, Alabama in the middle of the month. March saw the group playing dates in Ohio, using the same promo article. Howard's troupe appears to have then gone to Pennsylvania and Connecticut during May, but the promotional ads were featuring the Duke of Paducah and the only other person mentioned in Howard's group in the ads was Judy Dean.
WRVA announced the "steel guitar specialist" was joining their cast on Saturday night, June 21, 1947. In that articles they state he began playing professionally at the age of 14 (around 1939). The article reported that Slim had it 'pretty rugged' at times when he started out. He claimed he could always sing for his supper. Slim said, "Sometimes it took a heap of singin' to get up a mighty little bit of supper."
The show came up with a way to 'spotlight' Slim's entrance on the WRVA Old Dominion Barn Dance that night. A special gag routine was written up which would feature Slim as a Hawaiian hillbilly, complete with a grass skirt pieced together with cellophane tape.
Around 1941, research shows that Tommy Sosebee (18 years old) and Slim (already a known steel guitar player) decided to form a band of their own. They got Curly Mullikin, a piano player, to join them. Tommy and Curly continued to play together, but it appears Slim moved on.
Marion Lee Hall wrote in her "Marian's Airings" column in April 1947 that Slim had recorded eight sides for the Columbia record label. She noted, "... Slim can give out with some weird arrangements on that there guitar."
The introductory article indicated he had worked with Warner Brothers studios in Hollywood in movies, played the WSM Grand Ole Opry
In 1964, Ginger Willis wrote an article about the "Nashville Sound" that focused on the steel guitar, including a visit to Shot Jackson, himself a steel guitar manufacturer. She wrote of the history of the steel in country music. The instrument evolved from the Hawaiian guitar which was similar to a regular guitar, but had the strings raised. "The first electric (steel) guitar (Hawaiian) had six strings, same as the original, but the box itself was smaller and the amplifier gave it the different sound that was soon picked up by recording stars. For instance, all Hank Williams' records featured a solo by this new instrument now called the steel guitar. Jerry Byrd, Slim Idaho, Shot Jackson, Little Roy Wiggins and Don Helms were some of the early pioneers of this new sound."
Tragedy struck the WRVA Old Dominion Barn Dance Family on October 17, 1948. Slim was riding a motorcycle and riding with him was Charles Hughes Wiltshire. Slim collided with an automobile at the intersection of Route 1 and Route 51 at Four Mile Fork in Stafford (Spotsylvania?) County, Virginia.
Slim died instantly from the crash. Mr. Wiltshire, a brother of Arleen and Bill Wiltshire, also performers on the barn dance. Charles was taken to a Fredericksburg hospital but died on the morning of October 18.
His actual date of birth could be in question. His obituary and his gravestone indicate his date of birth was April 28, 1925. However, the 1930 U. S. Census records for the Aderhold family show that he was three years old, indicating he may have been born in 1927. The 1940 census records indicate an "estimated birth year" of 1926. His World War II draft card shows his birth date as April 28, 1925 and was signed on April 28, 1943.
It is possible he listed an earlier date of birth to qualify to serve in the armed forces. To confuse matters even more, the Certificate of Death issued by the Commonwealth of Virginia listed his date of birth as April 20, 1924.
On Monday, November 22, 1948, the entire cast of the WRVA Old Dominion Barn Dance along with Eddie Weaver (The Grace Street Hillbilly, appearing courtesy of Loews Theatre) and the original Tobacco Tags gave a benefit show for Slim Idaho. Dallas Ketcham, who was a bit of a student of Slim's was to feature several of Slim's original tunes and arrangements for the steel guitar. Crazy Joe Maphis and Red Murphy were to provide a few of the comedy skits that were favorites of Slim. The services of the musicians, theater, ushers and stage hands were donated and the proceeds from the performance were to be presented to Idaho's wife, Mary. All seats were reserved for this 2:00 pm show at $1.25.
He was survived by his wife, Mary Wade Aderhold. They had no children.
Credits & Sources
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