About The Artist
Clyde Joy, known as the Granddaddy of New England Country Music, was born in Manchester, New Hampshire on Dec. 9, 1916. The early 1930's radio shows of Wilf "Montana Slim" Carter influenced many singers and yodelers, and Clyde was greatly influenced by him.
In 1938, he began broadcasting on WFEA in Manchester as a soloist and perfecting his own style of yodeling. When Baron West moved from Pennsylvania and opened the Lone Star Ranch in Reeds Ferry, New Hampshire that year, Clyde was hired to work with his band, the Lone Star Texans. He earned $20 a week. Just about every entertainer around in those days worked that ranch until it closed in 1983. Clyde also worked with Jerry & Sky and Buck Nation also. Buck was working on WCOU in Lewiston, Maine back then.
When he returned to New Hampshire later that year, Clyde formed his first band, The Sunset Rangers and played fairs and dances throughout the northeast. He met and married his first wife, playing as Clyde & Dot extensively throughout New England on the RKO Theater Circuit.
He spent 3 years in the Armed Forces, 1942-1945. Richard H. Keeler wrote in his regular "News From Old New England" column back in June of 1945 that Clyde was a PFC and stationed in Clinton, Mississippi. While on leave one week, Clyde came back to visit folks in New Hampshire and did a few tunes on some early morning programs on WMUR as well, mentioning also that Clyde apparently had picked up a few new tunes while down south. In a subsequent issue, Mr. Keeler mentions that Clyde was served as a guard at a POW camp in Mississippi. While Clyde was stationed down south, he met a gal named Willie Mae, a native of Mississippi. They later married and played for many years as Clyde & Willie Mae Joy and the Country Folk.
When discharged, he and Willie May moved back to New Hampshire and again were on WFEA, teamed up with Dusty Cal (Witham). A June 1946 article by Dusty Cal himself included a picture of the group. Along with Clyde and Dusty, other members of the group were Bonnie Louise, Harvey and his electric mandolin, and Screwey Louie. Dusty reported in his next column that they were doing two shows a day over WFEA - at 6:35am and 10:45am. Mr. Keeler reported that Clyde and Dusty had broken up their act in the fall of 1946. Clyde joined the Ed Parsley group of entertainers. Ed's troupe had just left WKXL in Concord, New Hampshire at that time. The group included Slimmy Wimmy and The Saddle Pals, The Rio Grande Trio was added, which consisted of three female singers (who also yodeled) Terry, Yvonne and Pauline. Another singer named Jerry was also added to that group. They entertained the audiences over WFEA.
Moving along to early 1947 and Mr. Keeler let the fans know that Clyde was perhaps taking some time off, enjoying hunting pheasants, noting that he got 17 of them in his first eight trips out. He was still doing appearances with Ed Parsley's group at the time.
Apparently, Clyde was in the mood to form his own band, but apparently had convinced some friends he had made while down in Mississippi to come up north to work with him. Mr. Keeler tells us that the group was known as the Melody Boys. The act included Clyde working as the comedian and emcee; Tex Girouard on guitar; Slim on the bass; Shorty and Bob, vocals and guitars. The plan was to work at a New Hampshire radio station but nothing was known at that time.
Columnist Claude Dugay wrote that Clyde (known as the Dixie Yodeler then) and Willy Mae were entertaining fans with their daily show over WLAW in Lawrence, Massachusetts at bright and early time of 6:00am
The Country Folk were regularly featured on the Poland Springs, Maine TV station and appeared at the Lone Star Ranch almost every year for seven years in addition to their radio, TV and concert appearances.
Country and Western Jamboree had a regular feature called "Checkin' The Records" where they would review both sides of the new country music releases. In 1957, they gave Clyde and Willie Mae mixed reviews. On the one hand, they congratulated Event Records for "...trying to keep alive real country music in the New England states, has a fine side by the Joy brothers in the old Bob Nolan standard, Echoes From the Hills". However, they weren't as enthusiastic about the flip side, a tune that Clyde had wrote called "Beautiful Heaven Up There". Also notable is that the label billed them as Clyde and Willie Joy rather than Clyde and Willie Mae, perhaps confusing the magazine's reviewer.
In April 1966, after much encouragement for his fans, Clyde converted an old barn in Epson, New Hampshire into the Circle 9 Ranch (the 9 standing for Channel 9 in Manchester, NH) and it became one of the best spots for country music in the Northeast.
Tragedy put a damper on his career in 1969 when his oldest son, Billie was killed in Vietnam on his last mission there. Billie had played drums in his dad's band and was looking forward to coming home to resume his career.
Then in 1971, the Circle 9 Ranch burned and Clyde was forced to relocate. These were tough years but he bounced back and continued to entertain his fans for many more years.
In his senior years, his playing was basically limited to an annual Old Timer's Night at the Deerfield Fair, Deerfield, NH but as age and health has caught up with him, he is retired from entertaining. He was inducted into the New Hampshire Country Music Hall of Fame in 1989, shortly after it began so honoring its pioneers.
Credits & Sources
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