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Ray Guyce
and His Lonesome Valley Boys
Born:  June 17, 1921
Died:  September 30, 2004
WASK Lafayette, IN
WPCO Mt. Vernon, IN
WROI Carmi, IL
WSON Henderson, KY
WVMC Mount Carmel, IL


About The Artist

When he was born in 1921 in the town of Wadesville, IN, his parents named him Raymond Anthony Geuss. Anton and Bertha Mary (Rothlei) Geiss were married September 17, 1910 in Vanderburgh County, IN. The couple had ten children. His father was a baker for several years. The 1930 U. S. Census show his occupation as painter.

Research did take some effort as he spelled his name in a couple of ways and to search in ancestry, one needs the actual name. Early on, promotional ads would bill him as "Ray Geiss." Then later, the spelling changed to "Ray Guyce" perhaps as a way to ease the pronunciation of his last name.

It also appears he was married a couple of times. For a time, his wife was part of the show and was known as "Little Jo." Later in life, he had remarried and the act evolved to Bebe and Ray Guyce.

He was often billed as "Ray Guyce and his Lonesome Valley Boys and Girls." But it was rare to see any indication as to who was in that group. One ad notes "Smilin' Jimmie" on the steel guitar. "Little Jo" played bass. But others were not named.

Personal appearances seemed to be just local venues in the Evansville and surrounding towns in southern Indiana. Ads were seen noting he had radio shows, but radio logs were not perhaps published or perhaps the newspaper archives used did not include the papers where those may have been published.

A 1967 article provides some background on Ray's career. The Lonesome Valley Cowboys were formed in 1945. He had a recording studio for Brite Star in Smithville, IL.

When he was seven years old, he got his first music lesson from his mother - on the mandolin. Later, he would take up the fiddle and guitar.

In September 1948, Ray Guyce and the Lonesome Valley Cowboys were the first "live" television show to originate in Evansville, IN.

Perhaps his biggest break came in 1955 when he went on a 50,000 mile tour for McConkey Artists Corporation of Chicago. It took him to the East Coast, Midwest and Canada. Also on that tour was Lola Dee, Billy Holmes and Phyllis Brown of WLW's Midwestern Hayride as well as Moon Mullican from WSM's Grand Ole Opry.

The tour got him a contract with All-Star Records. He did release one record for the label.

Some ads or brief promotional articles called him "The Ole Coon Hunter."

In 1960, he signed a sophomore in high school — Glenna Dene to the Brite Star label. Ray was working at radio station WVMC in Mount Carmel, IL at the time. She sang "Thank You So Much" b/w "Broken Hearted." The youngster had her own fan club, appeared on the Bob Jennings Show in Nashville and was due to be on the Ernest Tubb Midnight Jamboree on June 11, 1960. Guyce heard a tape of her singing; liked what he heard and signed her. She also did a duet with him - "Slipping Around On Me."

1940's

Promo Ad - Barn Dance - Mackey, IN - May  1946 - Ray Geiss and his Lonesome Valley Cowboys and Singing Cowgirls
Promo Ad - Kissel's Hall - Hornville, IN - May 1946 - Ray Geiss and his Lonesome Valley Cowboys

Promo Ad - Masquerade Dance - Evansville, IN - WSON - Ray Geiss and his Lonesome Valley Cowboys and Singing Cowgirls
Promo Ad - The Cinna-Bar - Princeton, IN - April 1947 - Ray Geiss and his Lonesome Valley Cowboys - WSON

Promo Ad - Frenchies Drive-In - Newburgh, IN - September 1947 - Ray Geiss and his Lonesome Valley Cowboys
Promo Ad - Warrenton Dance Hall - Evansville, IN - Ray Geiss and his Lonesome Valley Cowboys

Promo Ad - LST Tavern - Evansville, IN - February 1949 - Ray Geiss and his Lonesome Valley Cowboys - Charles Lewis and his DUde Ranch Boys
Promo Ad - Pleasant Hour - Evansville, IN - July 1949 - Ray Geiss and his Oklahoma Cowboys - Duncan and his Serenaders - Ray Geiss and his Cowboys

Promo Ad - LST Tavern - Evansville, IN - September 1949 - Stokes Drifting Modernaires - Ray Geiss Lonesome Valley Cowboys
Promo Ad - New Princess Cafe - Evansville, IN - February 1949 - Ray Geiss and his Lonesome Valley Cowboys - Margaret Rutherford

1950's

Promo Ad - The Cinna Bar - Princeton, IN - May 1950 - Tommy Wood and Ruth SImpson - Ray Geiss and His Lonesome Valley Cowboys - Jeannie and Her Rhythm Aces
Promo Ad - Miners Inn - Linton, IN - January 1952 - Ray Geiss and his Lonesome Valley Cowboys - WSON - WROY


Promo Ad - Stone Front - Mount Carmel, IL - December 1959 - Little Joe and Ray Guyce and the Lonesome Valley Cowboys
Promo Ad - Miners Inn - Linton, IN - January 1952 - Ray Geiss and his Lonesome Valley Cowboys
Promo Ad - Katy's Cafe and Dancing - Linton, IN - May 1951 - Ray Geiss and his Lonesome Valley Cowboys and Singing Cowgirls

Promo Ad - Eagles Home - Linton, IN - March 1952 - Ray Geiss and his Lonesome Valley Cowboys - Sonny Van Cant - Little JOe - Ray Geiss
Promo Ad - Bank Bar - Sullivan, IN - March 1952 - Ray Geiss and his Lonesome Valley Cowboys and Singing Cowgirls

Promo Ad - The Shamrock - Lafayette, IN - August 1952 - Ray Geiss and his Lonesome Valley Cowboys and Singing Cowgirls
Promo Ad - The Shamrock - Lafayette, IN - August 1952 - Ray Geiss and his Lonesome Valley Cowboys and Singing Cowgirls - Earl Busch

Promo Ad - The Shamrock - Lafayette, IN - September 1952 - Ray Geiss and his Lonesome Valley Cowboys and Singing Cowgirls -  Bill Odden - Jean Hayden
Promo Ad - The Oakland Inn - Lafayette, IN - May 1953 - Ray Geiss and his Lonesome Valley Cowboys and Singing Cowgirls - Smiling Jimmie - Little Joe

Promo Ad - Bank Tavern - Monticello, IN - February 1954 - Ray Geiss and his Lonesome Valley Cowboys and Singing Cowgirls
Promo Ad - The Pine Bar - Lafayette, IN - April 1955 - Ray Geiss and his Lonesome Valley Cowboys

Promo Ad - Nu-Bar - Evansville, IN - February 1957 Ray Geiss and his Lonesome Valley Cowboys and Cowgirls
Promo Ad - Duffy's Tavern - Evansville, IN - March 1959 - Little Jo and Ray Geiss and his Lonesome Valley Boys

Promo Ad - Jack's - Evansville, IN - Ray Geiss and his Lonesome Valley Cowboys and Singing Cowgirls - Jimmy Payne
Promo Ad - Trophy Bar - Jackson, MI - Little Jo - Ray Guyce - Lonesome Valley Boys

Promo Ad - Trophy Room - May 1956 - Little Joe - Ray Guyce - Lonesome Valley Boys
Promo Ad - Duffy's Tavern - Evansville, IN - July 1959 - Little Joe - Ray Guyce - Lonesome Valley Boys

1960's

In August of 1966, the Ray Guyce National Fan Club held their ninth annual picnic. They hosted a large crowd at the Lion's Den Shelter in Cascades Park in Evansville.

In a 1967 article by Helen Fabregas came out around the time he had recorded a tune called "Only As Far As The Door." The opening lines went:

I'm knockin' on her door.
"Will she answer? (Will she answer)
I've been told once again to go on home
"Will she answer (will she answer)
Or will she pretend there's no one home? "

Readers learned the song by Ray had been recorded at his Brite Star studio located near Smithville, IN, a small unincorporated community in Clear Creek Township in Monroe County. The tune was seen at the 11th spot on radio playlists by disc jockeys in Indiana, Ohio and Michigan.

Ray was backed by two Bloomington, IN musicians on the record - Leon Flynn on drums and Jimmy Thomas on rhythm guitar.

He recounted his early career for her mentioned above then offered new details. He switched from the mandolin to the guitar and fiddle when he was nine years old. He got his first band together when he was just 15 years old and never stopped playing. The Lonesome Valley Boys were organized in 1945. He said the name of the band never changed, "...but I've seen a lot of musicians come and go in the group. There are times when the going's tough; I can remember feeling lucky to get $1.50 a night. Once, coming home from an engagement 100 miles away, I poured 26 quarts of oil through my car in one night."

For a time he did a 50,000 mile tour for the McConkey Artists' Corporation out of Chicago - working with WLW stars and Moon Mullican of the Grand Ole Opry. After he did one recording for the All Star label, he came back to Indiana where he had a radio show called "Western Jamboree" over WPCO out of Mount Vernon, IN. During that stint he met Floyd (Red) Wiseman. He helped him for the Brite Star Record Company. When he moved his radio show to WVMC in Mount Carmel, IL, the Brite Star label went with him.

He had a long term contract to appear at the Pigalle Club in Bloomington that allowed him to set up the recording studio there. Ms. Fabregas wrote "...Guyce is justly proud of the colorful trappings that are an important part of the country music tradition. When performing, he wears suits and western outfits embroidered with glittering beads. His several electric guitars and amplification equipment represent a substantial investment."

Readers learned that the president of his fan club was Blanche Hobson of New Harmony, IN. She did monthly newsletters and the club's roster included one member in France. Ray noted, "I'm not sure she understands all the words, but she must like the music."

Promo Ad - Moose Night - Mounta Carmel, IL - Ray Guyce
Promo Ad - Moose Lodge - Princeton, IN - February 1961 - The Old Coon Hunter - Ray Guyce

Promo Ad - The Oodle Inn - Linton, IN - Western Jamboree - Ray Guyce - Lonesome Valley BOys - March 1964
Promo Ad - Oodle Inn - Linton, IN - April 1965 - Ray Guyce and His Lonesome Valley Boys

Promo Ad - The Elbo Room - Linton, IN - June 1965 - Ray Guyce
Promo Ad - VFW Post 1257 - December 1968 - Ry Guyce and the Lonesome Valley Boys
Promo Ad - Stone Front - Mount Carmel, IL - December 1959 - Little Joe and Ray Guyce and the Lonesome Valley Boys

Promo Ad - Pigalle Tavern - Bloomington, IN - September 1962 - Ray Guyce - Lonesome Valley Boys
Promo Ad - VFW Dance - Princeton, IN - March 1961 - Ray Guyce and Lonesome Valley Boys

Promo Ad - The Sunset - Bloomington, IN - February 1966 - Ray Guyce and his Loneosme Valley Boys
Promo Ad - The Key Club - Bloomington, IN - November 1963 - Ray Guyce - Jimmy Kutche

1970's

Promo Ad - Windy Hollow Country Music - Owensboro, KY - March 1975 - Bebe and Ray Guyce - March 1975
Promo Ad - K of C Club - Mount Carmel, IL - March 1974 - Bebe and Ray Guyce Show

Promo Ad - Robby's Corner - Evansville, IN - May 1972 - Jake Oldham and the Rancheros - Ray Guyce and his Lonesome Valley Boys
Promo Ad - She Lounge - Evansville, IN - June 1977 - Bebe and Ray Guyce

Promo Ad - VFW Club - Princeton, IN - June 1974 - Bebe and Ray Guce
Promo Ad - Nativity School - Evansville, IN - December 31, 1971 - Ray Guyce - Lonesome Valley Boys

Promo Ad - VFW Club - Princeton, IN - June 1974 - Bebe and Ray Guce
Promo Ad - Ray Guyce and Little Jo - Circa 1959

1980's

Ray was a part of some unique events in Evansville. In 1983, reporter Debra Zimmerman wrote of a blind couple who were going to operate a restaurant. Alex and Betty Shepherd were going to open Bett's Cafe on May 13, 1983 (formerly Sam's Tavern). The menu would be simple - sandwiches with home cooking such as chicken and dumplings, ham and beans. There would be a game room, dance floor and musical entertainment on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. Alex ran a vending business. Betty would have two waitresses to help run the cafe. The cafe would also give Betty an outlet for one of her other talents - a country music singer. She did that for a couple of years when they lived in Indianapolis.

She said she would bring in her guitar and sing. She would welcome others to do that on Thursday nights, envisioning a jam session forming. On opening weekend, Ray Guyce would be there as the headline act that night.

Promo Ad - Annual Picnic - Knights of Columbus - June 1981 - Tell City, IN - Bebe and Ray Guyce - The Country Sweethearts
Promo Ad - American Legion - Western Jamboree - October 1969 - Ray Guyce

Obituary - Evansville, IN - Raymond Geiss - October 2, 2004
Obituary - Dayton, OH - Ruby Markland (Little Jo) - September 9, 2010

Ray's father, Anton C. Geiss was born on September 24, 1887 in Posey, IN. He passed away on September 15, 1963. His mother, Bertha, was born on June 13, 1883 in Indiana. She passed away on April 24, 1969. They are both buried in the Saint Joseph Catholic Cemetery in Evansville.

Ray passed away at the age of 75 in 1992 and was buried in Bradford County Memorial Park in Towanda, PA. One if his daughters is also buried in that cemetery.

Ray Guyce and His Lonesome Valley Boys
Record Reviews From The Billboard and The Cash Box
Date Label Rec No. Review
3/21/1959 (CB) Brite Star 747 Please Don't Set Me Free
Guyce’s first turn with the recently formed Brite Star label finds him softly piping a self-penned, slowpaced lament. (Rating: C+)

Lonesome Guitar
Flip side, Little Jo, Guyce’s wife, gets equal billing on a slow-moving part-duet item. The Lonesome Valley Boys back up on both ends. (Rating: C)
4/25/1960 (BB) Brite Star 766 Please Read My Letter
A weeper sung in the traditional stole. Ditto the arrangement. Authentic. (Rating: Two Star)

Slippin' Round On Me
With Glenna Dene Case. A boy girl duet handle a lyric built around a classic c.&w. theme. Traditional style. (Rating: Two Star)

Credits & Sources

  • Guyce Not Knocking Now, He's In; Helen Fabregas; February 26, 1967; Herald-Times; Bloomington, IN
  • Guyce Fan Club Has Session Here; August 8, 1966; Herald-Times; Bloomington, IN
  • Teen-Ager Has Favorite Record — Made It Herself; Suzanne Siems; May 21, 1960; Evansville Courier and Press; Evansville, IN
  • Club Has First Party Of Year; April 24, 1969; Brown County Democrat; Nashville, IN
  • Ray Guyce To Perform At Eagles; April 6, 1967; The Times Mail; Bedford, IN
  • Blind Couple To Operate Restaurant; Debra Zimmerman; May 4, 1983; Evansville Press; Evansville, IN
  • Guyces Like Their Crowds; Robert N. Hall; December 19, 1976; Evansville Courier and Press; Evansville, IN
  • Obituary: Ruby Markland (Little Jo);September 9, 2010; Dayton Daily News; Dayton, OH
  • Obituary: Raymond Geiss; October 2, 2004; Evansville Courier and Press; Evansville, IN

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Recordings (78rpm/45rpm)

 
Allstar
Rec. No. Side Song Title
  7150 A Double Crosser
  7150 B Faded Roses
 
Brite Star
Rec. No. Side Song Title
  747 A Please Don't Set Me Free
  747 B Lonesome Guitar (w/Little Jo)
  763 A Lonesome Music (vcl by Brenda Holly)
  763 B I Don't Know (vcl by Brenda Holly)
  765 A Yankee Can't Go Home (vcl by Brenda Holly)
  765 B A Wedding Band And A Broken Heart (vcl by Brenda Holly)
  766 A Please Read My Letter (w/Glenna Dean)
  766 B Slippin' Around On Me (w/Glenna Dean)
  767 A Thank You So Much (vcl by Glenna Dene Case)
  767 B Broken Hearted (vcl by Glenna Dene Case)
  769 A League Of Lost Men
  769 B When The Roses Are Blooming In The Lane
  771 A I'm Dark As A Raven
  771 B Rattle Your Rockets
  772 A I Love You (Vcl by Rebert Howell)
  772 B I Don't Want To Cry Over You (Vcl by Rebert Howell)
  773 A A Tribute To The Stars
  773 B You Must Be The Girl
  774 A One Broken Heart Ago (w/Red Simpson)
  774 B Rollin' River In My Heart (w/Red Simpson)
  775 B The Blues Don't Bother Me
  7755 A Only As Far As The Door


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