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Slim Dossey
Born:  November 4, 1918
Died:  October 23, 2012
Western Swing Society Hall of Fame (1994)
Town Hall Party
KPQ Wenatchee, WA
KRKL Kirkland, WA
WHAS Louisville, KY

About The Artist

Slim was born in Brownsville, Kentucky. Slim Dossey started his entertainment career when he was just about 16 years of age. A 2002 interview with Slim by the Spokesman-Review provide a bit more details about how it all began than those early country music magazine articles.

It seems Slim had an older cousin who thought Slim was good enough to sing on the radio. So, one day, his cousin got him to go out seemingly on a trip to shop for some clothes. They drove to Louisville, but once there, they drove instead to radio station WHAS where Bob Atcher had a program at the time. The cousin boldly asked Mr. Atcher if Slim could sing on the radio.

Bob tried to politely tell them that it just doesn't happen that way. But perhaps not wanting to brush them off entirely, allowed them to sing a tune. He only got halfway through one verse of "The Wreck of the Old 97" before Atcher and WHAS decided that he could be on the air.

He graduated from high school in 1937. He had some athletic talent as well - he had earned a basketball scholarship to attend college. But, after a year of college education, he decided he was going to pursue music as a career. He had a band back then, The Green River Boys, and they went as many musicians back then from station to station trying to find work and be heard.

As it did for many a singer back then, World War II interrupted Slim's musical endeavors. He was a chief petty officer in the U. S. Navy and served as noted in the 2002 article, "...three years, 14 days and 7 hours." His recruit training took place at Farragut in Idaho, which made an impression on him for it is where he would later live in life. After his training, he served in the South Pacific. He noted for Robin Heflin, "The moment I got out my guitar for happy hour, I had a job on the ship."

Upon discharge, he returned to the northwest and Washington. He found work on channel 5, KING-TV as part of the "Texas Jim Lewis and His Lonestar Cowboys" show.

Later, he moved to the Wenatchee, Washington area where he had his own show over KPQ for a couple of years.

In perhaps late 1952 he had moved to Kirkland, Washington and was doing a daily broadcast over KRKL. At that time he was also doing personal appearances in the evening at a Tacoma night spot.

Slim Dossey made his way to California from the Seattle, Washington area in January of 1953. When he arrived, he contacted promoter Bill Wagnon, who got Slim a guest spot on the famed "Town Hall Party" that originated from Compton, California.

While in Los Angeles, Slim found work on various shows such as the "Jimmy Wakely Sunday Night TV Show", the "Spade Cooley Show".

He eventually became a band leader at the Town Hall Park. It seems Eddie Kirk, the band leader at the venue back then had heard Slim perform and asked if he could impose on Slim to do a few numbers. Slim didn't say no and that led to Eddie asking him to join his band. But, after seven weeks into his new engagement, Eddie had a disagreement with the management there and Slim took over the leadership of the band. The Town Hall Party would go on to be broadcast nationwide on the NBC radio network.

In recalling his career and such moments in that 2002 article, he noted, "I've been able to be persuasive with people, " he said, "I've been told by people, by band leaders, I have a talent for making something happen when I go on stage."

But it wasn't long before Slim set his sights on the next step in his career. He auditioned to become a part of Smokey Rogers outfit down in San Diego. Smokey was impressed with the '...strong, baritone voice and ballad songs' Slim did and made him an offer. Slim became a 'guest star' member of Smokey's "Caravan" that aired over KFMB-TV five days a week from 2:00 to 5:00pm. He also appeared on Smokey's "General Store" program that aired on Friday and Saturday nights.

The work didn't stop there for Slim was also being heard by fans at Smokey's Bostonian Ballroom.

Around 1954, Slim Dossey was hoping to gain a recording contract as he had over 500 songs in his repertoire and had penned over 100 tunes himself.

Somewhere around the middle 1950's, and it's not clear whether it was after his tenure with Smokey Rogers in San Diego, Slim Dossey was touring with the Grand Ole Opry. He worked with such stars as Eddy Arnold, Marty Robbins and George Morgan. He would usually be the opening act and act as the emcee or on occasion playing bass for Eddy Arnold.

Now it seems one day Eddy heard Slim humming a tune he was penning on their tour bus. Eddy like what he heard at that point and told Slim to finish it. Eventually that led to Slim playing the tune for Eddy's record producers and wouldn't you like to have seen Eddy playing the bass for Slim on that demo? But the tune, "Sweetie Pie" was not recorded by Eddy - the producers wanted him to go in a different direction.

Slim was described as someone with a Tex Williams 'look' - he was six feet four inches tall and only 190 pounds back in 1954.

Slim Dossey's fan club was headed up in 1954 by one Janet Lee Kelly who lived in Tacoma, Washington.

Credits & Sources

  • Country Song Roundup; No. 6; June 1950; American Folk Publications, Inc.; Derby, CT
  • Country Song Roundup; No. 22; February 1953; American Folk Publications, Inc.; Derby, CT
  • Cowboy Songs; No. 31; January-February 1954; American Folk Publications, Inc.; Derby, CT
  • "To Slim Dossey, Singing Is Life"; Robin Heflin; Spokesman Review; December 14, 2002; Spokane, WA

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Recordings (78rpm/45rpm)

 
Landmark
Rec. No. Side Song Title
  Unknown A Gotta Roll, Gotta Ramble
  Unknown B Wish I Knew


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