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Claude Casey
Born:  September 13, 1912
Died:  June 24, 1999
WBT Carolina Hayride
WGAC Barn Dance
WBT Charlotte, NC
WFTC Kinston, NC
WJES Johnston, SC
WKTC Charlotte, NC
WBTM Danville, VA (1934)
WGAC Augusta, GA (1951)

About The Artist

Claude Casey was one of the major purveyors of western swing music in the southeastern states as leader and vocalist with his Pine State Playboys. He then spent some time as a member of the Briarhoppers and Tennessee Ramblers, and appeared in a couple of motion pictures.

After World War II, he moved to a straight country style, was featured and eventually became owner of his own radio station. Throughout, Casey exhibited one of the more pleasing personalities of anyone in the music.

Claude grew up in the Carolina Piedmont and later Danville, Virginia where he managed to make the acquaintance of musical figures ranging from North Carolina Rambler leader Charlie Poole to minstrel legend Emmett Miller. In July 1937, his Claude Casey Trio cut six numbers for the American Record Corporation but none were released.

Promo Ad - Shorty and His Alabama Cotton Pickers 1938 Promo Ad - Shorty and His Alabama Cotton Pickers - Rawhide - Sally - 1939

Promo Ad - Shorty and His Alabama Cotton Pickers 1938 Promo Ad - Shorty and His Alabama Cotton Pickers - Rawhide - Sally - 1939

Promo Ad - Shorty and His Alabama Cotton Pickers 1938 Promo Ad - Shorty and His Alabama Cotton Pickers - Rawhide - Sally - 1939

Promo Ad - Shorty and His Alabama Cotton Pickers 1938 Promo Ad - Shorty and His Alabama Cotton Pickers - Rawhide - Sally - 1939

Forming a swing band, the Pine State Playboys, that included Willie Coates and Jimmy Rouse, they did much better with ten numbers for Bluebird in January 1938 and worked radio in Kinston, North Carolina. The band broke up in 1939, but he soon assembled a new group of Pine State Playboys and recorded again.

In 1941, Claude was hired by radio powerhouse WBT Charlotte and spent the war years working alternately with the Briarhoppers and the Tennessee Ramblers, the two best-known WBT acts. With the latter, he appeared in the motion picture Swing Your Partner that starred Dale Evans, and WLS National Barn Dance Favorites, Lulubelle and Scotty Wiseman. In the film, the Ramblers played cheese factory workers who were getting their musical instruments out at every opportunity. It could best be described as silly but fun.

When the war ended, Casey organized a new band called the Sagedusters, went to Augusta, Georgia, for a time, and signed with RCA Victor cutting several numbers including the tear jerker, "Two Little Girls with Golden Curls" about two children who perished in a fire.

In 1953, he moved over to MGM records. He also made another film appearance in Lippert's production of Square Dance Jubilee that starred Don "Red" Barry accompanied by his unlikely sidekick, "Brooklynese" comic Wally Vernon.

In 1958, Robert Mitchum came back east and caused a stir. He was filming a movie around Asheville, NC. Claude Casey was reported to be in the movie by the local press and playing a gangster. The movie story line is about Mitchum playing the part of a bootlegger in the Carolina Mountains. The movie ended up being called Thunder Road. Another unique aspect of the movie was that Mitchum sang the theme song for the movie, "Whippoorwill", which was the working title of the film when they started filming.

During this time, he and his wife bought some land in the Ellenboro, NC area and called it Capri Park. It was 15 acres that included rustic buildings and a skating rink. On Thursday and Saturday nights, folks could attend square dancing entertainment.

By the end of the 1950's, the music situation had changed and Claude left music for radio work, coming to Johnston, South Carolina where he eventually became station owner. In the 1980's Claude would get together annually with old WBT buddies like Whitey & Hogan, Cecil Campbell, and Don White and they would entertain old and new fans at the Charlotte Film Festival.

He was still not done with movies. In 1965 he was cast as Uncle Foxy Calhoun in the movie Forty Acre Feud, which featured several country music stars. Others that were named with roles were Ferlin Husky, Minnie Pearl, Del Reeves, Sam Tarpley, Bob Corley, and, Jan Moore. Other country music favorites in the movie were George Jones, Ray Price, Bill Anderson, Loretta Lynn, Roy Drusky, Skeeter Davis, The Willis Brothers and Hugh X. Lewis.

Note To Recording Listing: The recordings listed under the Bluebird and Montgomery Ward labels were as Claude Casey and the Pine State Playboys. The remaining listings did not list any band but only 'string band accompaniment' on the label.

Lonesome Valley Sallie - Shorty Fincher's Prairie Pals

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.
  • Claude Casey Is Gangster In New Mitchum Movie; September 22, 1957; The Greenville News; Greenville, SC
  • Whatever Happend To...?; January 27,1957; The Greenville News; Greenville, SC

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Recordings (78rpm/45rpm)

 
Bluebird
Rec. No. Side Song Title
  B-7451 A I Took It
  B-7451 B Down with Gin
  B-7535 A A Boy from North Carolina
  B-7535 B Don?t Say Goodbye if You Love Me
  B-7704 A The Installment Song
  B-7704 B Why Don?t You Come Back to Me
  B-7863 A My Memory Lane
  B-7863 B You?re the Only Star in My Blue Heaven
  B-7883 A All I Do Is Dream of You
  B-7883 B Pine State Honky Tonk
  B-8056 A Kinston Blues
  B-8056 B My Heart Is Stamped with Your Name
  B-8073 A Keep Praying
  B-8073 B Apparently not Claude Casey
  B-8127 A Road Weary Hobo
  B-8127 B Happy Cowboy
  B-8153 A I?m So Lonesome Tonight
  B-8153 B Old Missouri Moon
  B-8608 A You're Gonna Be Sorry
  B-8608 B I'll Always Love You
  B-8668 A My Heart's In The Heart Of Blueridge
  B-8668 B Lonesome As Can Be
  B-8697 A It Doesn't Matter
  B-8697 B What's Wrong With Me Now
  B-8730 A Little Girl Go Ask Your Mother
  B-8730 B When I First Met You
  B-8849 A Hottest Little Baby In Town
  B-8849 B Swinging With Gilbert
  B-8958 A Let Me Hear You Say "I Love You"
  B-8958 B Why Do Things Happen This Way?
 
MGM
Rec. No. Side Song Title
  10279 A Juke Box Gal
  10279 B I'm Living In Dreams
  10435 A Carolina Waltz
  10435 B Lonesome Blues
  10586 A I'm Having My Blue Day Today
  10586 B Road Of Love
  11611 A You'll Have To Talk It Over With My Heart
  11611 B Looking At The Moon Through A Teardrop
  11708 A I Bet My Heart
  11708 B Me, Myself And I
 
Montgomery Ward
Rec. No. Side Song Title
  M-7658 A You're The Only Star In My Blue Heaven
  M-7658 B My Heart Is Stamped With Your Name
 
RCA Victor
Rec. No. Side Song Title
  20-1802 A Family Reunion In Heaven
  20-1802 B Two Little Girls With Golden Curls
  20-1955 A My Little Tootsie
  20-1955 B I Wish I'd Never Met You
  20-2059 A Journey's End
  20-2059 B Look In The Looking Glass
  20-2230 A Days Are Long, Nights Are Lonely
  20-2230 B I Wish I Had Kissed You Goodbye


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