About The Artist
Lonnie Clifford Wilson was a key member of Roy Acuff's Smoky Mountain Boys. In addition to being a long-time guitarist, he created the comic character of "Pap" who led a jug band. After his final parting from the Acuff organization, he created another humorous character as the "Playboy Farmer."
Wilson, like many of the early Acuff band members, was a native of the Knoxville area and had worked with the Crazy Tennesseeans of and on there. With the departure of Red Jones and Clell Summey, Roy called Wilson and asked him to get Beecher Kirby (Bashful Brother Oswald) and come to WSM to join the newly-named Smoky Mountain Boys. For Kirby, it turned out to be a lifetime job. For Wilson, not so much, but it was for most of the time (minus World War II service), a prime occupation until about 1961.
From January 1939, Wilson was a key member of the band except during his brief absences.
His longest absence took place when he entered the navy early in 1943, serving until early 1946 when he rejoined the band. Lonnie played lead guitar and sang baritone on vocals, did comedy as "Pap" with Oral Rhodes when he was in the band, and headed the jug band (which was led by Joe Zinkan during Lonnie's military service). Lonnie appeared with the Smoky Mountain Boys in six of the eight Acuff movies and was on all of his record sessions from 1939 through 1958, and probably his early efforts on Hickory, except those he missed in 1944 and 1945. Wilson usually dressed on stage in a false beard and as a "bucolic rustic" character. However, he missed most of Acuff's overseas tours as he thought Roy was too overbearing with band members when abroad (he may thought that at other times too, but seemingly endured it).
Lonnie left the Smoky Mountain Boys in 1961. He continued playing the "Pap" character for a time as an opening act on package shows. Then in 1962 he invented a new character, that of the "Playboy Farmer." As such, he recorded an album The Playboy Farmer (Starday SLP 217). Overall, it met with less success than his earlier character.
He may have participated as part of the jug band numbers on those Acuff Royal Crown Shows from 1952 that were released on compact disc in the 1999-2001. By the late '60's, he retired to Texas and passed on at age 80.
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