About The Artist
Richard Fayne Hart, was born to Norma Rose and Clyde Frederick Hart in Forbing, Louisiana, a town about 12 miles from Shreveport, was known to country music fans as Dick Hart. In fact, Floy Case notes, he came into the world bright and early around 7:00am that day in 1923 on August 31. She noted that Dick was of French and Indian heritage.
When he was a teenager around 1936, he was working quite a bit in the cotton fields. But that work soon led to his discovery that he had a love for music. Often at the end of the day, when the other workers in the cotton fields, usually African Americans, would bring in their sacks to be weighed, they would often be singing old tunes or spirituals that caught Dick's attention. It wasn't too long that Dick found himself singing or whistling to himself as he picked the cotton in those fields.
As fate would have it, one of his friends brought his phonograph and a few records for Dick to listen to. Those records included tunes by the legendary Blue Yodeler himself, Jimmie Rodgers. Once Dick heard those records, he began to dream of being a singer someday himself.
He soon got his first guitar, costing all of $7.50, but in those days it was quite a steep price if you consider the low wages he probably made in those cotton fields. He didn't even know how to tune that guitar, but luckily, he found a cousin who had some knowledge of music and helped him get it right. Music was simply an itch he had to scratch.
He attended high school for a couple of years, but found that music was more to his liking. His family disapproved, but he decided to strike out on his own. He was bold enough to audition at a local 50,000 watt radio station, probably KWKH in Shreveport. He did an on the air audition and his nervousness must have gotten the better of him that first time. The station manager told him to go back home and practice some more and then come back.
But instead of going home, it wasn't but two days later that he did his first personal appearance at a little school house in Central Heights, Texas. The folks enjoyed his singing and kept asking for more. He seemed to have then joined another group, but Floy didn't mention who this was. This group then went to WSVA in Harrisonburg, West Virginia. After about six months at that station, he had his own spot on the air. It was then that he became first known as the "Lone Texan".
When he came back home to visit the family, he met a gal named Mary Ellen Green. About the time he met her, he thought he was to be inducted into the military service to serve his country. Later, when he was working at radio station KMA in Shenandoah, Iowa, he married Ms. Green on June 19, 1944, who became known as "Cookie". In June of 1945, they became the proud parents of a daughter named Sylvia Jean. We learn that Dick was not able to serve in the military due to a childhood injury. But, when he wasn't entertaining audiences, he found work as a bus driver as well as a shipyard worker. It seems Cookie got her name for her liking of Oatmeal cookies or being an expert in making them.
Cookie had her talents, too. She was an artist and often could be found doing sketches of portraits and other pictures.
When he was at KMA in Shenandoah, Iowa in 1944, he learned he could yodel again. He had been tepid about trying it after having to deal with a bout of strep throat in the early 1940s.
Buddy Starcher reported in 1945 that Dick was a member of his "All-Star Roundup" cast when they were based in Harrionsburg, West Virginia.
In one 1946 letter to the editor, Dick himself shed some life on his nomadic wanderings. Again, he mentioned being with a group in West Virginia, but did not name that group for some reason. He didn't find the winters in West Virginia to his liking, thus, he looked for work back in the warmer climates he grew up in. He later decided to give St. Louis a try. He lived in Beaumont, Texas for a couple of years and worked for a couple of radio stations there. He wrote in February 1946 for Buddy Starcher's fan club newsletter, Starchers Buddies, that he had just left KWKH in Shreveport and would be starting at KRLD in Dallas around March of 1946. He was also getting ready to do a string of personal appearances with Wild Bill Elliott and Bill Boyd.
When he was in St. Louis, he was working with Salt and Peanuts. Then he later hooked up with the popular "Carson Cowboys" show headed by Grandpappy Jones over WEW in St. Louis.
But his friend Buddy Starcher, who became his manager, contacted him and asked Dick to join him at KMA in Shenandoah, Iowa. Dick left Iowa with Buddy and headed back to West Virginia. But Dick found his way back to Shreveport before going to Little Rock.
That same November 1946 issue contained more tidbits about Dick in a column by Gertrude Carson in her "Mid-West Microphone" feature. She notes that Dick joined Salt and Peanuts when he was just 14 years old and left them around 1943 and joined KMA in 1944.
By 1947, Dick had been quite the nomad that many country music artists were in that era, traveling from radio station to radio station to entertain the audiences. He went from West Virginia to a station in Cumberland, Maryland. Then made his way to the St. Louis, Missouri area before heading back to Shreveport.
More evidence of his songwriting appeared in Floy's 1947 column. Dick wrote a couple more tunes by then, "Down The Rainbow Trail I'll Search For You" and "All Because of You". Around this time also, he was signed by the Four Star Record company. But Buddy Starcher wrote a month later that the label he was recording for was the Dixie Recording company and that his first recording was "Mississippi Basin Lullaby" b/w "Why Not Confess". In January 1947, Buddy wrote that Dick had recorded four tunes.
Around 1947, a good friend of his and fellow entertainer, Buddy Starcher, became his manager. His fan club back then was headed by Jesse Nichols of Craig, Missouri. Arlie Kinkade wrote in August of 1947 that Buddy was a 'talent scout' for a label, which we will assume was this Dixie label.
An interesting tidbit about Dick in the 1940s was that he took it upon himself to take a course in taxidermy by mail. It went along with the hunting hobby he had taken up at an early age and was said to have quite a few animals in his home as a result of those expeditions.
Floy Case wrote of "The Lone Texan" as he was known back then that he had recently returned to KWKH in April of 1945 with his own radio program at 6:15am. He was also regularly heard over Hal Burns' radio show "Hillbilly Hayride" that was similar to Hal Horton's "Hillbilly Hit Parade" on KRLD in Dallas, Texas. One nice thing about reading Floy's early columns is the amount of detail one can find. She notes in one mention that Dick had written several tunes including, "Mississippi Basin Lullaby", "Nine Simple Questions" and "I Was Crying Then, But You're Crying Now."
Back in the 1940s, artists were often judged by the mail they brought into the station. Dick was no exception. One article we saw mentioned he had gotten over 200,000 letters from his listening audience.
Floy must have enjoyed listening to Dick on the radio, for a couple years later, she notes that if the conditions were right, she could catch Dick's 7:30am show over KARK in Little Rock, Arkansas.
Dick continued his songwriting efforts through the years. His biggest hit was a tune that Hank Thompson had a hit with, "Six Pack To Go" on the Dot record label. That tune was co-written by Hank Thompson, Dick Hart and Johnny Lowe back in 1959. Another hit tune he co-wrote with Hank Thompson was the classic, "On Tap, In the Can Or In The Bottle" that reached number 7 on the Billboard charts in 1968.
Dick succumbed to an illness and passed away at Charity Hospital in Shreveport, Louisiana in November of 1980, surrounded by his brothers. When Claude King heard of his passing, he drove all the way from Redding, California where he was appearing to attend and sing at Dick's funeral.
Credits & Sources
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