Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music



(b Clyde Julian Foley, 17 June '10, Blue Lick KY; d 19 Sep. '68, Fort Wayne IN) Country singer, guitarist, harmonica player, songwriter, entertainer: his smooth baritone and smooth personality won many fans outside the country charts. He won an amateur singing contest at age 17, started college but was invited to appear on WLS National Barn Dance in Chicago; he worked with the Cumberland Ridge Runners there '32 and first recorded with them. He headlined the Renfro Valley Barn Dance on WHAS Louisville '37 and also the Boone County Jamboree on WLW Cincinnati; he was one of the first country singers to have a network radio show (Avalon Time, with comic Red Skelton as his co-star); with the Hoosier Hotshots he made the trek to Hollywood in the '40s along with many others for 'B'-movie westerns in the heyday of the singing cowboy genre. He had an early hit with the wartime 'Smoke On The Water' and joined Grand Ole Opry's network Prince Albert Show '45; he was said to be the first country star to record in Nashville, at WSM studio in March that year. Later he was on the Ozark Jubilee radio and TV show from Springfield MO where many younger stars got a break; the show networked for six years in the '50s. He co-starred with Fess Parker in TV series Mr Smith Goes To Washington early '60s. Songwriting credits included 'Just A Closer Walk With Thee'; he co-wrote own '49 top ten hit 'Blues In My Heart' etc and had his own music publishing firm. Of his four daughters, Shirley Lee married Pat Boone and Betty had a singing career of her own, including a top ten hit 'Old Moon' '59. He died of a heart attack while on a Grand Ole Opry tour a year after he was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame.

He was already well-known for 'Old Shep' in the '40s (later covered by Elvis Presley) and highly regarded as a gospel singer ('Peace In The Valley', also covered by Presley); then he had 22 top ten hits in the country chart '48-54 of his own, plus nine top ten duets, all of which made him one of the top sellers of all time. His own no. 1 hits included 'Birmingham Bounce' '50, 'Midnight' '52; but 'Chattanoogie Shoe Shine Boy' early '50 was no. 1 in both the country and pop charts: the jaunty novelty recorded in Owen Bradley's converted garage had drummer Ferris Coursey slapping his thigh to simulate the snap of a shoeshine boy's rag; the story goes that by the time the song was rehearsed Coursey had to switch to his left thigh because the right was so sore. 'Sugarfoot Rag' on the other side was also a chart hit, featuring a famous guitar solo by young Hank Garland. Foley's hit duets included 'A Satisfied Mind' with Betty '55; 'One By One' '54 and 'You And Me' '56 with Kitty Wells (all top five); 'Tennessee Border No. 2' no. 2 '47, 'Goodnight Irene' no. 1 '50 with Ernest Tubb. He also recorded with Evelyn Knight, Roberta Lee, the Andrews Sisters and Lawrence Welk.

Walter 'Hank' Garland (d 27 Dec. 2004 in Orange Park FL aged 74) was one of Nashville's top musicians, able to lift a record from the humdrum to the dazzling. He was discovered at age 14 in a South Carolina music store where he had gone to buy a guitar string. According to his obituaries he jammed with Charlie Parker and George Shearing in NYC; he pioneered the electric guitar at the Grand Ole Opry. He worked with Elvis Presley 1957-61, playing famous solos on 'Little Sister' and 'Big Hunk Of Love'; he was working on the soundtrack for Presley's movie Follow That Dream when a car crash put him in a coma for months, after which he taught himself all over again to walk and talk and play the guitar.