Hillbilly-Music.com—The People. The Music. The History.
Hoosier Sod Busters
WLS National Barn Dance

About the Group

About The Group

It was reckoned that the Hoosier Sod Busters played the largest and the smallest harmonicas in the world back then. One was said to be the size of your little finger. And the other one, both had to carry. They wrote back then it only proves if you work hard enough at something, you'll get somewhere with it. They were quite adept with the harmonicas and would sometimes change instruments as many as three times in a single tune! Later on they kept at it and sometimes you'd see them use four or five harmonicas during a song.

The boys were well travelled around the midwest, making many personal appearances.

The group was also a part of Chicago television history. Back on March 30, 1939, Howard, Reggie and Rusty appeared on the first television broadcast in Chicago. They said the experimental telecast was received all of 18 miles from the television transmitter.

Both of the boys were Hoosier natives. But then, we kinda figured that.

Around 1939, they added two members to the group. One, Rusty Gill, later became a solo artist in his own right. With the addition of those two, they said the group could make a few harmonicas sound like a '15-piece orchestra'.

Sometime between 1939 and 1941, Jack McCoy left the group. Reggie was said to have one of the 'largest harmonica collections in the world.' And once in a while, he'd play one that was nearly four feet long!

Timeline and Trivia Notes

Group Members included:

Members of this group:

  • Reginald Cross
  • Howard Black
  • Jack McCoy - joined around 1939
  • Rusty Gill - joined around 1939
  • Gene Colin, around 1947

Other notes:

  • Howard got married around 1936-37 to Billie Flannery, one of the Flannery Sisters.