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George McCormick
Born:  June 16, 1933
Died:  February 5, 2018
WSM Grand Ole Opry
WLAC Nashville, TN
WSM Nashville, TN

About The Artist

George Washington McCormick had a lengthy musical career. A native of Smith County, Tennessee, young George moved to Nashville at age fourteen and soon landed work at WLAC. By 1949, he began a three-year stint as one of Big Jeff's Radio Playboys and even lived much of the time with Jeff and Tootsie. George made some his first recordings supporting Jeff's vocals on Dot including his version of "Step It Up and Go." Looking back in later years, McCormick said "I learned a lot from Big Jeff."

George McCormick - Earl Aycock - George and Earl - September 1955 From there he went on to a solo contract with MGM Records with his first session in August 1953, subsequently recording a dozen numbers, none of which became hits, but were good honky-tonk country.

Taking on Earl Aycock (B: November 1, 1930 — D: October 18, 2001) as a duet partner, he moved to Mercury in 1955. The same thing repeated itself-a dozen numbers and no hits, although the songs included fine covers of Jimmy Martin and the Osborne Brothers' "Save It, Save It" and Ray Price's "Sweet Little Miss Blue Eyes."

George's work with bigger names in the business seems to have begun with Martha Carson. But the best remembered ones seem to have been his work with Wilma Lee and Stoney Cooper where he replaced Carolee Cooper in 1959 and 1960, singing the third part on their trio numbers such as "There's a Big Wheel," their biggest hit.

The Wagonmasters - Mack Magaha - George McCormick - Buck Trent - Don Warden However, he probably became best known for his work as a long-time cast member on the syndicated television Porter Wagoner Show through much of the 1960's. Exactly when McCormick joined Wagoner is uncertain, but he appears on all (including those of Porter and Dolly) of his RCA Victor record sessions from 1965 through 1971.

George also did some more recording under his own name in this era. About 1963, he recorded one side of an album on the budget label Somerset which consisted of covers of Hank Williams songs (the other side featured another vocalist doing covers of Ernest Tubb numbers).

In the late sixties, while working with Wagoner, he cut three singles for the Nashville firm, Stop. At some point, McCormick also worked with other Nashville stars including the Louvin Brothers, Jim Reeves, and Dolly Parton (perhaps apart from the above mentioned Porter and Dolly recordings).

Promo Ad - J. Fred Johnson Stadium - Kingsport, TN - Martha Carson - George McCormick - Del Wood - Little Jimmy Dickens - July 1954
Promo Ad - Armory - Jackson, TN - Louvin Brothers - Porter Wagoner - Bill Carlisle - The Wilsons - George McCormick - April 1957

In later years George worked a great deal with Grandpa Jones as virtually his only touring band member. Since George was a Scottish Rite member and Grandpa was having problems memorizing proficiency of the ritual, the younger man taught him what he needed to learn traveling on the road with him (this was about 1973). When Jones appeared at the Ohio State Fair in 1982, George was prominently featured in a photo my wife Deanna Tribe took that later appeared in my book Country: A Regional Exploration (2006) on page 7.

While still working with Grandpa, McCormick had moved away from Nashville and bought a small farm near Cookeville, closer to his Smith County birthplace to which he eventually retired. While his days with Wagoner's Wagon Masters may have made him more famous, he probably worked longer with Grandpa Jones more than anyone else.

He died in Cookeville at age 84. He was survived by wife Betty and four daughters. In all, his obituary credited him with working with Opry acts for 47 years. His burial took place in Crest Lawn Cemetery.

George McCormick - Portrait - Porter Wagoner Television Show Hits The Road

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.
  • Branded For Stardom; March 1954; Vol. 1 No. 7; Hillbilly & Western Hoedown; Hoedown, Inc.; 124 Government Place; Cincinnati, OH
  • Headin' Up; September 1955; Country & Western Jamboree; Maher Publications, Inc.; Chicago, IL

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Recordings (78rpm/45rpm)

Rec. No. Side Song Title
  11598 A Fifty-Fifty Honky Tonkin?
  11598 B Don?t Add an Ex to Your Name
  11656 A I Guess You Don?t Care
  11656 B Hi There Sweet Thing
  11748 A Sundown Train
  11748 B Flutter Bug
  11877 A Gold Wedding Band
  11877 B Don't Fix Up the Dog House
  12504 A The Blues Moved in This Morning
  12504 B After All We?ve Been Through
  12592 A Doubt
  12592 B I'll Keep Your Name on File
Rec. No. Side Song Title
  199 A The Room of the Unknown Shoulder
  199 B Too Busy to Hoe
  261 A Big Wind
  261 B What I?d Give to Hear a Baby Cry
  363 A Walk on Fool
  363 B It Might as Well be Me

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