About The Group
Glenn Watkins was born near the town of Kite, Georgia. Glenn found an early interest in music. When he was around ten or eleven years old, he picked up an instrument or two, usually the fiddle, and taugh himself to play by listening to the music he heard over the radio. By the time he was 16, he was entertaining audiences with the local area musicians at functions such as parties and dances.
In 1943, at the age of 17, he graduated from high school. Around this time, he got his first radio job by playing fiddle with a group called The Hi Neighbor Boys at radio station WFBC in Greenville, South Carolina. Glenn recalls they were doing two programs a day over the Blue Ridge Network, a local network that included radio stations in Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee and North Carolina.
During this early stint in his career, he got to do personal appearances with many of the major acts from WSM's Grand Ole Opry at the time, including Eddy Arnold, Roy Acuff, Ernest Tubb, Pee Wee King, Cowboy Copas, Rod Brasfield, Minnie Pearl and many others. The folks from the Opry would do the local radio programs on the Blue Ridge Network, then, would tour the areas using the local bands such as The Hi Neighbor Boys as opening acts.
While at WFBC, he started to learn several more instruments (eventually he learned to play a total of 17 instruments), including the electric steel guitar, which was a relatively new instrument at that time.
After about two years at WFBC, a new radio station in Dublin, Georgia was going on the air in 1945 - WMLT. The new station contacted Glenn and asked him to come to their station and organize a country band.
In 1945, Glenn formed The Dixie Playboys and they entertained the listeners for five years and was the most successful band in the entire broadcast area. The talent of The Dixie Playboys of this time was such that three of them were inducted into the Atlanta Country Music Hall of Fame and Glenn hopes the fourth one would be inducted soon.
In reviewing those who were part of the Dixie Playboys, some notes should be added to the listing below. Tommy (Skeeter) Harralson who played the guitar and fiddle was inducted as a member of the Atlanta Country Music Hall of Fame. Another, A.J. (Smitty) Pope, who was later known as Fargo Pope, gained popularity with the fans with his guitar and "fabulous vocals" as Gleen described him. Mr. Pope was also inducted into the Atlanta Country Music Hall of Fame. John Olin (Jodie) Joiner worked with the Dixie Playboys as a fiddler and did vocals. His fiddle playing was perhaps the "most outstanding" in South Georgia at the time. He went on to become the staff fiddle player for the Peach State Jamboree that originated from Swainsboro, Georgia.
Comedy was also featured in their act as many of the acts did in that day. For the Dixie Playboys, that role was filled by Glenn, too - he took on the role of a 'rube comedian' that used the stage moniker of "Uncle Puney P. Stumpwater". For a time, Glenn's wife Mary, was part of the group, doing harmony duets with her husband and known as the Dixie Sweethearts.
"The Dixie Sweethearts Radio Song Book" tells us that Mary Helen Sammons went through grammar and high school with Glenn, graduating in 1943 and marrying in 1945. Mary made her debut in radio in early 1945. Their folio notes that they were "...classed as the South's favorite Duet".
The made personal appearances throughout the WMLT broadcasting region - school houses, theaters during the week, then playing the dances on weekends. Hollywood's cowboy movies were popular then and many of the stars would tour the theaters. The Dixie Playboys opened the shows for such Western stars as Tex Ritter, Jimmy Wakely, Lash LaRue, Charles Starrett and others.
Glenn decided to leave the Dixie Playboys in 1949. Taking Glenn's place on steel guitar was Bill (Lefty) Joiner, Jodie's brother. The Dixie Playboys later left Dublin, Georgia and moved to Florida, but broke up shortly afterwards.
Timeline & Trivia Notes
Group Members - 1945
Group Members - together for over four years - circa late 1940s
Credits & Sources
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