About The Artist
Harold Morrison had a musical career that included being part of a significant duet, being a noted comedian, and finally being part of a duet act with his daughter.
As a vocalist, he is perhaps best known for his comic songs, "I'm a Bluebird" and "The Bicycle Wreck," the latter a was a parody of "Wreck of the Old 97."
For some years, he was also noted for his work on the Wilburn Brothers syndicated television program. Primarily a banjo picker, Harold also was adept on Dobro and steel guitar.
A native of the Ozark region of Southwest Missouri, Morrison began his musical career at the small station in Springfield KGBX in 1950. But when the chance came, he switched to the larger KWTO where he met another aspiring musician, Jimmy Gateley. They formed a duet and soon went to KSJB Jamestown, North Dakota.
After a year, they moved up the ladder of fame by going to the famed WWVA Jamboree where they played in a unit led by Dusty Owens. With the 1955 start of the nationally televised Ozark Jubilee, they worked there as a duet where they remained for some time except for a brief period when Harold went to Nashville to work with Johnny and Jack as a replacement for Shot Jackson.
During the Ozark Jubilee/Jubilee USA, Harold and Jimmy recorded a single for Starday that was released on their Nashville subsidiary.
After that Harold went to Nashville where he worked with the Wilburn Brothers while Jimmy became the front man for Bill Anderson. Harold was a regular on the Wilburn's syndicated TV show. During that period, Harold recorded an album for Decca Hoss, He's the Boss (Decca 74680) which contained most of his best-known songs. As the Wilburn's popularity began to fade, Harold went to work with George Jones and Tammy Wynette where he spent several years, during which time he cut a single on Epic.
From 1975, Harold had a bluegrass band called Smoking Bluegrass that worked at such venues at Mountain View, Arkansas and the Silver Dollar City amusement park. Some years before, Harold with the aid of Mac Wiseman, Curly Seckler, Benny Martin, and Joe Zinkan, collectively known as the Maple Hill Boys, recorded for Reader's Digest, late re-released on Old Homestead The key figures in Smoking Bluegrass included Harold, former Blue Grass Boy Benny Williams on guitar, and Harold's daughter Karla on electric bass. About 1978, they did an album Harold Morrison & the Smoking Bluegrass (Autumn NR 9357) which contained an original by Benny, "The Legend of Bill Monroe," and a pleasant variety of old and new songs. In 1993, Harold had two strokes and passed away shortly after the second one.
In September 1983, there was a reunion show of cast members of the Ozark Jubilee at the Swiss VIlla Amphitheater in Lampe, MO. The show included folks such as Jimmy Gately, SHorty Moyer, Karen and Onie Wheeler, Porter Wagoner &madsh; all Ozarks natives. In fact, Harold's parents still lived in Springfield. He said, "I started at KWTO (radio) when there were 37 live people on staff. We did live shows with the Carter family and Les Paul and Mary Ford. It's like old home week here tonight. I'll bet I hadn't seen Slim (Wilson) in 15 years."
In early 1989, Ferlin Husky opened the Ferlin Husky Jubilee and Wings of a Dove Museum just out side the Myrtle Beach Air Force Base in South Carolina. But it seemed it had problems from the outset. Harold Morrison was part of the entertainment at Ferlin's place. His wife had to have cancer surgery. Hurricane Hugo destroyed the rental home they were living in. They moved nine different times in a year. But the writing was on the wall and the place closed in early 1990. Harold Morrison had moved to what is called "The Strand" with Ferlin. He enjoyed living there and tried to make a go of it himself by opening the Country Music Opry House on U.S. 501. It opened in late July 1990 at the Plantation Square Mall. Harold was the featured artist Wednesday night through Saturday each week with a two-hour concert starting at 9:00pm.
Upon his passing, news accounts detailed some of his other entertainment endeavors. For a time he was in Branson, performing on the Mac Wiseman morning show at the Ozark Theatre in 1992. He led his own band at Silver Dollar City in 1985. While many knew he was a banjo player, he also played the steel guitar and dobro, including on several Decca recordings with Kitty Wells and Johnny Wright. He played the banjo on Loretta Lynn's hit, "Blue Kentucky Girl."
On a personal note, he married the former Eva Lou Ash on July 3, 1951. They had three daughters, Georgia, Karla and Gina.
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