Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

HOMER and JETHRO

(Homer b Henry D. Haynes, 29 July '17, Knoxville TN, d 7 Aug. '71; Jethro b Kenneth C. Burns, 10 March '23, Knoxville; d 4 Feb. '89) Country comedy team and noted Nashville session musicians. Began in early teens on local radio; to Renfro Valley Barn Dance (TN) '38. Split up during WWII, Homer serving in Europe, Jethro in Pacific ('I was the unsung hero. They wouldn't let me sing'). Regrouped upon discharge; joined Spike Jones touring show briefly, then Chicago's National Barn Dance through '50s; also regulars on popular Don McNeil Breakfast Club morning radio show: made Chicago area home base. Recorded for King '46--8, then signed by Steve Sholes to RCA from '48. Their dead-pan send-ups of country and pop songs were backed up by solid musicianship (Homer on rhythm guitar, Jethro's excellent mandolin and banjo); first hit was 'Baby It's Cold Outside' with June Carter '49; '(How Much Is) That Hound Dog In The Winder' no. 2 country chart '53; other entries incl. 'Hernando's Hideaway' '54, 'The Battle Of Kookamonga' '59 (no. 14 pop chart; parody of Johnny Horton hit 'The Battle Of New Orleans'), Beatle take-off 'I Want To Hold Your Hand'; other discs got juke-box and airplay even when they didn't chart: 'Don't Let The Stars Get In Your Eyeballs', 'The Ballad Of Davy Crew-Cut'. Many TV spots incl. Tonight show; when Johnny Carson asked Homer why he chewed chewing gum he replied, 'What the hell else you gonna do with it?' Did popular adverts for Kellogg's Corn Flakes on radio, TV '60s. Nominees to Country Music Hall of Fame '85; asked what the irreverent Homer would have said about that, Jethro speculated: 'It's about time ... It couldn't happen to nicer people. We certainly deserve it.' Album Ooh! That's Corny '63 after gag catchphrase; others incl. Musical Madness '56, Barefoot Ballads '58, The Worst Of Homer And Jethro '58, Songs My Mother Never Sang '61, Songs For The 'Out' Crowd '67, Nothing Like An Old Hippie '68, many others. Jethro played sessions, clubs, festivals all over North America and toured for eleven years with Steve Goodman; his solo mandolin album was Tea For One on Kaleidoscope; also Jethro Burns and Live on Flying Fish, and Swing Low, Sweet Mandolin on Acoustic Disc.