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Ira and Eugene Yates
WBEJ Elizabethton, TN
WJHL Johnson City, TN

About The Artist

The Yates brothers, natives of Avery County, North Carolina, spent most of their lives in Carter County, Tennessee. They recorded for Columbia Records and occasionally worked on radio at stations such as WJHL and WBEJ Elizabethton which had a Saturday morning show called the Barrel o' Fun. The Yates brothers were:

  • Eugene Andre Yates (B: March 8, 1903 — D: December 11, 1961)
  • Ira Newton Yates (B: July 8, 1910 — D: November 13, 1946)
An older brother named Ancil Yates (B: October 14, 1895 — D: December 30, 1963) also made a record for Columbia with Sam Blalock, playing guitar while Blalock fiddled.

In adulthood Ira was a farmer; Eugene worked in the shipping department at Bemberg Textile Mills.

Although younger by seven years, Ira first recorded for Columbia at Johnson City in 1928. Local papers reported that Ira and Roy Isaac drove to Johnson City to do recordings for the Columbia record company. Research does not show Roy Isaac on any recordings. The next year both brothers journeyed to Johnson City and had better luck, having a single release. Ira sang and played guitar while Eugene assisted with the singing.

After their one session, both brothers married and each had two children.

A marriage license was granted on February 5, 1935 to Ira and Thelma Nealla Caraway in Newland, NC (Avery County). Eugene married Pauline (Margaret) Holsclaw also in Newland on August 2, 1936.

In later years, the Yates Brothers played some on local radio although probably not on a regular basis.

Sadly, Ira died tragically late in 1946 when he suffered a fall while tending his cattle on the farm. He was too far away for anyone to hear him and froze to death before being rescued.

Eugene lived on another fifteen years and died after a six month illness of lung cancer at 58.

Their October 1929 recording was not released until September 1930, but with the decreasing economy, it still managed to sell 1,355 copies.

Colubmia 15581 - Ira and Eugene Yates - Powder and Paint - Recorded October 24, 1929 - Johnson City, TN

Credits & Sources

  • Hillbilly-Music.com would like to express its thanks to Ivan M. Tribe, author of Mountaineer Jamboree — Country Music in West Virginia and other books that can be found on Amazon.com and numerous articles in other publications for providing us with information about this artist.
  • Laurel Fork; October 28, 1923; Johnson City Chronicle; Johnson City, TN

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Recordings (78rpm/45rpm)

Rec. No. Side Song Title
  15581 D A Sarah Jane
  15581 D B Powder And Paint

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