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About The Artist
James Lawrence Riddle—a native of Dyersburg, Tennessee—was a country music harmonica and piano player who spent the greater part of his career as a member of Roy Acuff's Smoky Mountain Boys. In earlier years he had worked and recorded with the Memphis-based western swing outfit, the Swift Jewel Cowboys, and then with various bands in the greater Houston area.
In March 1943 Roy Acuff offered him a job which he first turned down, but later changed his mind and joined the group in Lake Charles, Louisiana. He appeared in the Acuff motion picture Sing Neighbor Sing in 1944 and was later inducted into the U. S. Army in September. Much of his army career was spent as a POW guard.
Back with the Acuff band in June 1946, he first recorded with him in January 1947 and most sessions thereafter. Although the Acuff band did not travel as much after the mid-1960's they continued to play the Opry regularly. In later years, he switched to the piano when Onie Wheeler joined the band on harmonica. Sometime during the early 1950's, a number of the Acuff band went bear hunting and Riddle was the one who shot a large bear. A magazine article about it appeared in a men's hunting magazine.
While still a Smoky Mountain Boy, Riddle and another band member Jackie Phelps joined the cast of Hee! Haw! where they demonstrated the archaic musical arts of Eeephin' and Hambonin' with Riddle doing the Eeephin.' Jimmy even recorded a single of Eeephin on Decca.
In 1964 he recorded an LP Country Harmonica on Cumberland.
Over his long career, Riddle was married twice and had a son and a daughter, one with each wife.
Credits & Sources