About The Artist
Dorris Paul Warren was a highly regarded professional fiddler who spent virtually his entire career with two groups. First, the Tennessee Mountain Boys led by Johnnie Wright and Jack Anglin. Second, the Foggy Mountain Boys led by Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs. Recording extensively with both groups meant that he also did the fiddle work on Kitty Wells recordings in her early years of stardom and also with Lester Flatt after he and Earl split in 1969.
Warren was a native of Lyles, Tennessee in Hickman County which was also the home of another famous fiddler Howard "Howdy" Forrester, who was younger. Paul learned the tricks of the trade first from his father and then from Fiddlin' Arthur Smith, a Dickson County fiddler who was gaining fame at the Grand Ole Opry and Bluebird Records.
After high school, Warren met Johnnie Wright, an aspiring country musician who was forming a band called the Tennessee Hillbillies on Nashville's smaller WSIX. This group eventually morphed into the Tennessee Mountain Boys. Going full-time in music at the end of 1940, they did radio work in Greensboro North Carolina, WHIS Bluefield, West Virginia, WCHS Charleston, West Virginia (twice), and WHLN, Harlan, Kentucky, spending more time at WCHS than elsewhere. Paul worked with them from 1936 until 1954 with only a brief departure.
They had just moved to WNOX Knoxville when Paul began World War II service in August 1942. Sadly, he spent most of the conflict as a war prisoner. His only pleasant moments came from playing "Under the Double Eagle" (originally a German Hapsburg tune) on fiddle for prison guards. Otherwise it was rough. Finally released, he rejoined Johnnie & Jack at WPTF Raleigh.
Over the next few years the band moved to WSM, KWKH and then back to WSM. The band recorded for Apollo, briefly for King as the King Sacred Quartet (minus Paul), RCA Victor, and when Kitty Wells' career took off, her early Decca offerings. In all, he did fiddle on 76 titles with the Tennessee Mountain Boys and 37 titles with Kitty Wells. He left Johnnie and Jack in early February 1954 and joined the Flatt and Scruggs band that February 16. 1954 and played his last show with Flatt on January 23, 1977. He died almost a year later on January 12, 1978.
Despite Warren's wide knowledge and fiddle skills and recording as a sideman, he never recorded on his own. Other bluegrass fiddlers had done albums on their own-Kenny Baker, Curly Ray Cline, Tater Tate, etc.-Flatt a nd Scruggs did not permit band members to record on their own. However, after his death an album America's Greatest Breakdown Fiddle Player (CMH 6237) was compiled from Flatt's Martha White radio shows. Son Johnny Warren carries on his dad's fiddling tradition.
Credits & Sources
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