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About The Artist
Betty Ann Amos was a Virginia-born country girl who carved out a quarter-century career in the music field that included significant radio work at two of the leading barn dance programs, a number of notable recordings, and several compositions to her credit. She came from a country music background having a musical father and brother with whom she played on local radio from the age of eight. Perhaps most significant, Betty was a female pioneer in leading her own band.
Born near Roanoke, Virginia, Betty was one several children of Lonny and Annie Amos. About 1942, she first sang on radio with her father's group (probably on WDBJ). About 1950 they went to the smaller brand new WBLT in Bedford, probably with a regular program. Presumably the Amos band, the Buck Mountain Ramblers, was a part-time group.
When she was about to finish school in the spring of 1952, her older brother Ed suggested to Bill Carlisle that she might be the person who could fit his need for a girl singer with the Carlisles. They were then based at KWKH and the Louisiana Hayride. Betty was hired and played on several of the Carlisles' hit recordings in the 1952-1954 era including the girl voice on his comedy hits "No Help Wanted," a number one, and "Is Zat you Myrtle," which peaked at number five on the charts. She later referred to Bill Carlisle as her "hero," for the protection he provided in some rough spots.
Betty aspired to go on her own and secured a solo contract with Mercury although she continued recording with the Carlisles through September 1954. During her solo career, she led a band called the Lump Boys and did about 20 numbers with Mercury which featured a strong Kitty Wells sound with good numbers including "Yesterday's Sweetheart" and "The Girl Who Went Wrong." She also did an answer to the Cajun classic "Jolie Blon" titled "Jolie John." She remained with Mercury and the Hayride through September 1957. Whether the Lump Boys were a regular touring band or just backed her on recordings is hard to determine, but her Mercury releases only list her name on the artist credits.
After taking some time off from music, Betty resurfaced with a girl band called the Rhythm Queens. By this time Betty had become proficient on five string banjo and part of their shows included several bluegrass numbers. Other band members included Betty's sister Jean and Alice Schreiber who took the stage name Judy Lee. By 1964, when they signed with Starday Records, they were credited as Betty Amos with Judy and Jean. Their first release was an original truck driving bluegrass number "Eighteen Wheels a Rolling" b/w the country "More than Your Money." They spent much of the decade at the WWVA Jamboree and turned out nine singles on Starday.
Later she recorded on the Stop (signed recording contract May/June 1968) and Candy labels. Betty also wrote many songs in this period including "Second Fiddle to an Old Guitar" which became a major hit for Jean Shepard. At times, she carried other band members such as Gloria Belle (Flickinger) who played mandolin and acquired some notice for her work with Charlie Monroe and Jimmy Martin as well as on her own. Bobbi Sills, another Carlisles alumna, also worked with Betty.
Songs written by Betty Amos:
In 1974, Billboard reported that the Betty Amos show played to a crowd of over 12,000 at the C B Jamboree show in Addison, NY.
Betty Amos pretty much stopped touring in 1977, but continued to write songs and sometimes appeared with another girl group called the Nashville Kit-Kats. She also wrote a novel titled Wayward and Searching.
In retirement, she lived in Hendersonville, Tennessee as did Judy and Jean where Judy served as an officer in a women's softball association. When Betty passed on, she was buried in a family burying ground in Boone's Camp, Virginia.
In addition to Bill Carlisle's autobiography, Betty was featured in a chapter in Murphy Henry's book on women in bluegrass, Pretty Good for a Girl (2013).
The BACM label in Great Britain released a compact disc containing most of her Mercury singles.
Credits & Sources