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About The Artist
He was born William Vernon Stovall in Altus, Oklahoma. Vern, as he became known from coast to coast was the only child in his family. His father, J.D. Stovall lived in Vian, a town near Muskogee, Oklahoma. At the age of one, Vern's family moved to El Reno, where he lived on the banks of the south Canadian River until he was ten years old. They moved to Vian, which Vern always called home. Vern was proud to let folks know he grew up on a farm.
Vern's musical career started at an early age. He sang at church and at gatherings close to home. He finished school in 1947, then moved to Sacramento, California where he worked in a slaughter house for several years, becoming a butcher. During this time, Vern was also doing some pickin' and singing at various clubs in the area.
In 1958, he moved to Pomona, California near Los Angeles and went to work for Fred Maddox of the legendary Maddox Brothers and Rose. He worked with Fred as front man, vocalist and rhythm guitar for abut three years. It was during this time that he met his now good friend, Bobby George, with whom he wrote many songs. Vern considered Bobby George one of the finest song writers and artists in the business at that time.
Vern and Bobby wrote hits such as "The Long Black Limousine", a tune recorded first by Vern, then by Bobby Bare, George Hamilton IV, Rose Maddox, Glen Campbell and Gordon Terry. Then they wrote, "Who'll Be The First," which was recorded by Ray Price and "One More Memory," recorded by Wynn Stewart just to name a few.
Vern decided to go out on his own in 1961. He formed his own band. It included such greats as Phil Baugh, Bobby George and Freddy Rose. He worked with this group in and around the Los Angeles area for about four years where he built up a terrific following.
His stage presence seemed to be natural. In fact, Tex Ritter once remarked that Vern looked as much at ease on the stage as a duck in a pond.
During this time, Vern met two people that later became good friends, Claude and Janet McBride. Little did Vern know at the time that this meeting would later be a turning point in his career. Claude, being a promoter, saw great possibilities in Vern as a songwriter and artist and teamed him up with Phil Baugh as vocalist on the big hit record of "Country Guitar," originally recorded on Claude's own label. The record was an instant hit and was also apparent that it was too big for him to handle.
Claude leased the record to Longhorn Records of Dallas, Texas. After that hit, Vern did the vocal of another big hit, "One Man Band," also with Phil on Longhorn. Dewey Groom, owner of Longhorn Record Company, aware of the great potential in Vern, signed him to a long term management contract and Vern moved to Dallas. "Break Time" b/w "Wreck of the Olds 88," was his first single on the Longhorn Label.
Then he teamed with Janet McBride to cut the big hit, "I'm Wild Bill Tonight," which really started the ball rolling. The two of them did another release, "Where Did The Other Dollar Go" b/w "Tell Me Again".
Marve Hoerner reported in 1966 when their tune, "Where Did The Other Dollar Go" became a hit, Vern and Janet were being booked by the Bob Neal agency to take advantage of the record's popularity.
Janet's husband Claude partnered with Dewey Groom to form a booking agency they called "Longhorn Attractions". When they started, they booked Vern and Janet for 30 days in California and Oregon along with Steve Stebbins for the month of May 1966. In June of that year, they were booked on the Louisiana Hayride, Panther Hall in Fort Worth as well as two weeks in Kansas and Nebraska.
In 1966, Vern and Janet participated in a large country music show (telethon) that was put together by Hap Peebles to help victims of a tornado in Kansas. Also appearing were Wilma Lee and Stoney Cooper, Ferlin Husky, Orlo and Marvis Thompson, Cindy and Roy Cantrell, Stringbean, The Three Taylor Sisters and Leon Douglas. The show helped raise $54,000 in pledges. The show took place in Topeka. The artists were scheduled to appear at a local venue in Topeka, but it was devastated by the tornado. WIBW-TV helped arrange the telethon and it aired over the Kansas State network. The proceeds from the telethon went to the Red Cross and the Salvation Army. The artists donated their time.
In early 1967, Marve Hoerner again mentioned the duo and indicating that Janet had told him that they were asking disc jockeys to pick the next single from their Longhorn album "Country Dozen". They were being booked all across the country and beyond at that time. In one news item, we saw that they were booked at the Edison Hotel for a week's worth of personal appearances in Ontario, Canada.
In late 1967, we see that their recordings were being produced by not only Dewey Groom, but also legendary steel guitar player, Lloyd Green.
In July/August 1968, Vern was on Country Music Life's ballot for "Most Promising Male" vocalist.
Credits & Sources