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William Harris
and The Ramblers
KFTV Red River Jamboree

In 1957, the group was on the Red River Jamboree show on KFTV radio in Paris, Texas. One of the members of that show, Johnny Case, of the Cases wrote and told us a bit about this group.

The Ramblers were the most popular rockabilly act in Northeast Texas back in the mid-to-late 1950s. William Harris did vocals, his brother Otis did lead guitar. Another set of brothers, Dean and Ray Martin played guitar and bass. Ray would slap/play the upright bass, much in the way Bill Black would play it according to Johnny.

The Ramblers were from the Talco-Mt. Pleasant, Texas area. At the time they were on the Red River Jamboree show, Williams was only 18 years old and his brother Ottis was only 14. The Harris brothers had been singing together since about 1952 or so, based on a newspaper article in 1956. For the first two years of their 'career' up to then, they performed by themselves. Then they met up with the Martin brothers and decided to combine their talents.

They appeared at one time on radio stations KIMP in Mt. Pleasant, TX and KCAR in Clarkesville, TX and many of the other stations in East Texas.

The group won many a talent show and shared the same show and stage with such major acts as Johnny Cash, Johnny Horton, Roy Orbison and Patt Cupp.

They also did guest shots on KCMC-TV in Texarkana, Texas as well as in Tyler, Texas.

Around October, 1956, they were backing up Riley Crabtree on many of his personal appearances.

Trivia / Timeline Notes

Group members included:

  • William Harris, vocals
  • Ottis Harris, lead guitar
  • Dean Martin, rhythm guitar
  • Ray Martin, bass fiddle

Credits & Sources

  • Cowboy Songs Vol. 6, No. 54, December 1957; Americn Folk Publications.
  • The Paris News; October 17, 1956; Paris, Texas; article courtesy of Johnny Case.

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