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About the Group
About The Group
The Tennessee Ramblers came together along about 1928 or so. They appeared on numberous radio stations including:
In August of 1936, the Tennessee Ramblers made a movie with Republic Pictures called "Ride Ranger, Ride". They returned the following May and made another picture, "Yodelin' Kid From Pine Ridge". They also recorded on the Blue Bird label for RCA Victor.
A song folio put out by the group in 1940 provided us with some information about the group members. "Horse Thief" Harry Blair was one of the original members of the Tennessee Ramblers. He was born in New Martinsville, West Virginia around 1913. He worked at other jobs such as steel works, glass works and in road construction. They wrote he liked to tinker with radios and could usually be found at the radio station or by the radio at home. They mentioned that as to how he got his name, they could not divulge that in definite details.
"Montana Jack" Gillette played the violin and "...many queer musical novelties" they wrote, listing instruments such as the saw, balloon, musical bass drum, bicycle pump, hot trumpet and even an instrument he created himself, a slip horn which Montana Jack called a "poobaphone". That instrument, he created when he was with Louis Prima's band in 1928. Montana Jack looks to have started with the group around 1934 or so. His career started when he left his home town of Providence, Rhode Island when he was 18 and went with a vaudeville act known as the "Rodeo Boys". Then he was with a CBS road show that included other stars such as Jack Little, Stoopnagle and Budd, Tony Wons and Vaughn De Leath. He also got to play at Teddy Roosevelt's first inauguration. They don't give a date of birth, but if the folio was published in 1940 and he was 32 then, then he was born back about 1908.
"Curly" Campbell started with the group around 1932. He was known for the many stringed instruments he played for the band, including the Hawaiian guitar, straight guitar, banjo and mandolin. He also sang baritone in the trio songs. He was 28 then, born in Belew's Creek, North Carolina about 1912. He spent his youth working in the tobacco farms there. It stuck with him, for even after he grew up, he still had a tobacco farm in North Carolina.
"Tex" Martin played the bass fiddle and hot guitar for the Tennessee Ramblers. He had traveled with many other bands around the country and was also featured with a Spanish orchestra for some time. He was born in Chenoa, Illinois along about 1915.
Author Wayne W. Daniel mentions in his chapter on the "Cross Roads Follies" that the Tennessee Ramblers were a part of that show for a brief while in September of 1939. Mr. Daniel mentions that Cecil "Curly" Campbell had assumed the leadership of the group after the retirement of Dick Hartman, who had been on WSB in the early 1930s.
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