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Band Member Bios


Below is a list of Cowboys that I'm aware of. It is by no means complete. I'm sure that there are musicans that worked with Hank (especially toward the end of his life or were Cowboys after his death) that may not be here. If you can add to this list, please let me know.

This is a list of Cowboys that I'm aware of:

Smith "Hezzy" Adair (Bass/Guitar/Harmonica): Born: 4/29/15 Died: 9/15/70 Montgomery, AL.
Bio:Originally from Birmingham, AL. Moved from Sylacauga to Montgomery, AL. when he was 16.
He met Braxton Schuffert on his way to the station (WSFA). Brax & Hezzy begain working with Hank in 1937/38.

Freddy Beach (Fiddle): Born: 1/16/16 Leakesville, Miss. Died: 5/31/94 Mobile, AL.
Bio:Before Joining the Cowboys Freddy had toured with Curly Fox & Texas Ruby and worked as a traveling evangelist.
He met Hank in Montgomery, AL. Freddy & Dad Crysel organized a talent show that Hank appeared on in '37 or '38. Freddy became a member of the Cowboys in 1938.

Obituary

Daniel Jack "Beanpole" Boling (Rhythm Guitar): Born: 7/19/23 Died: 5/24/92.
Bio: Worked with Hank in the late 30's.

Mr. Boling was working a Montgomery cab company in Dec. 1952 when Hank came and asked him if he would drive him to a show in Canton, Ohio. Mr. Boling was unable to get leave from his job. He later heard that Hank had died in route to that show.

George Brown (Fiddle): Born: ??/??/?? Died: ??/??/??.
Bio: Information Coming.

Louis Brown (Guitar): Born: ??/??/?? Died: ??/??/??.
Bio: Information Coming.

Hillous Buel "Bew" Butrum (Bass): Born: 4/21/28 Lafayette, TN. Died: 4/27/02 Nashville, TN.
Bio: Started as a Grand Ole Opry staff musician at the age of sixteen. Butrum joined The Cowboys in 1949 and remained with the band until July 1950. On Dec. 21, 1950 he joined Hank Snow's Rainbow Ranch Boys. Where he remained for 4 years. Around 1956 He and Marty Robbins formed the music publishing house of BE-ARE Music. It was also around this time that he joined Marty's Band. He remained there for 4 1/2 years. In the 1960's Mr. Butrum formed his own record label called Look Records. One of the artists he recorded was Don Wayne. In 1977 Butrum joined a reformed Cowboys. Which also included Don Helms, Jerry Rivers, & Bob McNett.

Also in 1977, the movie "That's Country" was released. In which the Drifting Cowboys appeared in and Mr. Butrum took an Assistant Director's credit. Also in the film, where Lorne Greene, Kitty Wells, Faron Young, Ferlin Husky, eyc.

In 1984, Butrum & McNett retire from The Cowboys once again. Mr. Butrum ran H. Butrum Ent. out of Nashville, TN up until his death. The company marketed Country Music videos.

On April 12, 2002 his wife of many years, Phyllis passed away. Fifteen days later (April 27) Hillous himself passed on. They will be greatly missed!

Autograph Scan * CMT Obituary

"Lefty" Clark (Saxophone): Born: ??/??/?? Died: ??/??/??.
Bio: Worked as a Drifting Cowboy for a short time in the Summer of 1946. Clark along with E.B. Fulmer, Lum York, a drummer & a steel-guitar player played dance music.

Paul Compton (Guitar): Born: 1/??/11 (?) Died: 7/29/79 (?).
Bio: Information Coming.

"Curly" Corbin (Lead Guitar?): Born: ??/??/?? Died: ??/??/??.
Bio:

Information Coming.

Clyde "Chris" Criswell (Guitar): Born: 2/20/29 Penn.Died: 9/23/71 Tampa, FL.
Bio: from Tampa Bay area of Florida.
Left the Cowboys in the Mid 40's (c. 1946) and was replaced by Joe Penny.

After leaving the Cowboys, Clyde played in bars around Tampa, FL. In the 60's he played on a Tampa area TV morning show called Ernie Lee Show (Ch. 13 now Fox 13).

Clyde was laid to rest in Lakeland, FL in 1971. Thanks go out to Nancy Criswell for all the GREAT info on her Dad!

Zeke Crittenden (Guitar): Birth: ??/??/?? Died: ??/??/??
Bio: Worked with Hank at an engagement in Hayneville, AL on or around April 4, 1941.

Richard Paul Dennis, Jr (Rhythm Guitar/Bass/Singer): Born: 11/11/25. Death: 6/28/02
Bio: Mr. Dennis worked off and on with Hank & The Cowboys for most of the 1940's. He played with the band on WSFA and also a short trip to Shreveport, LA (Summer 1948) to be on KWKH's Louisiana Hayride. He returned to Alabama a short time (weeks) later, because they couldn't find enough shows to support them.

After leaving the Cowboys, he was offered a one year recording contract with the Roy Record Co., but turned it down. Dona Dennis-Brooks (Paul's Daughter) said, "My grandfather did not believe Dad could support his family with singing. He thought it was nonsense." Mr. Dennis left the music scene to get a "real job". He eventually went into the building trade. For a time he was a Building Inspector with the City of Montgomery (AL.). Photo donated by Dona Dennis-Brooks. Thanks!

Autograph Scan

Allen M. Dunkin (Guitar/Bass/Mandolin/Fiddle): Born: 1/14/20 Perry County, AL.
Bio: Mr. Dunkin comes from a musical family. His father was a farmer and a part-time music teacher who played the organ in church. His brothers all played instruments and were local musicians.

Allen got his professional start in 1937 when he began playing with the Dixie Merry Makers on station WHBB in Selma, AL. He remained there until his High School graduation in 1939. In 1940 he moved to Montgomery, AL to continue his schooling and to find work. He then joined another band, Golden West Ranch Boys, that was playing on WCOV in Montgomery.

Allen first met Hank Williams around 1938, but he didn't become a Drifting Cowboy until 1941. That year Hank's bass player (Shorty Seales ?) visited Allen and told him Hank wanted to see him. When they met Hank offered him a job with the Cowboys. His obligation was to be available five days a week for Hank's WSFA radio show and show dates on Friday and Saturday nights. Hank paid room and board at his mother's boarding house and some money along the way. Allen remained in the band until 1942 when he was called by Uncle Sam. Due to a medical problem he was unable to go into the military. He instead served his Country by doing defense work.

In 1945 Allen got a job working with Sears. He retired in 1983. He was Hardware Manager for most of his time with the company. He now lives in Selma and attends some of the Hank events in Alabama.

Thanks to Allen Dunkin for the info, autographs and photos!!

Autograph Scan * "80th Birthday" Article

Tony Francini (Fiddle): Born: ??/??/?? Died: ??/??/??.
Bio: Originally trained as a classical violin player. At the time he joined the Cowboys he was already 50 years old. Francini worked with Hank out of Shreveport, La and the Louisiana Hayride (1948-49). After leaving the Cowboys Francini joined Paul Howard's Arkansas Cottenchoppers.

Eulon "E.B." Fulmer (Piano): Born: 10/6/09 Died: 12/25/1993.
Bio: Worked as a Drifting Cowboy for a short time in the Summer of 1946. Fulmer along with "Lefty" Clark, Lum York, a drummer & a steel-guitar player played dance music.

Clyde "Boots" Harris (Steel Guitar): Born: 10/20/23 Henderson, Al. Died: 10/22/03 Jackson, Ms.
Bio:Boots was reared in Opp, Al. He later moved to Montgomery, AL in order to find employment. He was a veteran of the US Navy. He got his start in the music business when he and his brothers started their own band. He worked on WCOV and then on WSFA. It was WSFA where he met Hank and became a member of the Drifting Cowboys (1941). Boots left the Cowboys in 1942 to join Curly Williams and The Georgia Peach Pickers. In 1944 Boots wrote "Georgia Steel Guitar Rag". He recorded it with the Peach Pickers and it became the band's theme song. He was a member of the Grand Ole Opry from 1942 to 1945. He moved to Mississippi in 1954. He began performing at the Club Catherine with his own band, The Boots Harris Band. He worked there for 18 years. In 1976 Boots opened Boots Hat & Cane Club in Jackson, Ms. He retired in 1997.

Obituary

"Indian" Joe Hatcher (Lead Guitar): Born: ??/??/?? Died: ??/??/1942?.
Bio: Trying to confirm this info: Real Name: Homer H. Haatchett. Joe married Hank's Mother, Lillie, one week after her divorce from Lon in July 1942. Their marriage was short lived. Joe apparently died of a appendicitis and Lillie went on to marry James C. Bozard by Sept. 10, 1942.

Jimmy Heap, Jr. (Drums): Born: ??/??/?? Death: ??/??/??
Bio: A later member of the Cowboys (1980's). He did not tour or record with Hank Williams.

Donald "Shag" Hugh "Don" Helms (Steel Guitar): Born: 2/28/27 New Brockton, AL. Died: 8/11/08 TN.
Bio: Don is a legendary steel guitar player. He has recorded with many legends in Country Music, including Lefty Frizzell, Jim Reeves, Ray Price and Hank Williams. While in New Brockton he formed a band called the Alabama Rhythm Boys that was made up of two cousins and two friends (Of which one was Sammy Pruett). His musical relationship with Hank & The Cowboys was off and on. He first became a member of the Cowboys in 1944, but left in 1945 when he was Drafted. Don rejoined the band in 1947/48, but only remained a few months. In 1949 he joined the most famous version of the band. In 1952 he left the band once again.

After leaving Hank, Don became a member of Ray Price's band. In 1957 he joined the Wilburn Brothers' band, became partners with them in Wil-Helm Talent Agency, and appeared on their TV show ("The Wilburn Brother's Show"). Don left the band in 1967. In January 1968 Don became a member of Hank Williams Jr's band (The Cheating Hearts). Don stayed with Hank Jr. until 1972. In 1974 Don started a short stint with the great Ernest Tubb. In 1977 Don joined a reformed Drifting Cowboys along with Bob McNett, Hillous Butrum, & Jerry Rivers. In '77 he also appeared in the movie "That's Country" along with the other Cowboys. In 1989 Don and the Drifting Cowboys, minus McNett and Butrum, became the touring band for Jett Williams.

He was voted to The Steel Guitar Hall of Fame in 1984. In Nov. 2004 he was honored with a monument and "Don Helms Day" in his hometown of New Brockton, AL.

Don was interviewed and appeared in an episode of the PBS documentary series "American Masters", entitled "Hank Williams: Honky Tonk Blues" (2004), discussing Hank and his time with the Drifting Cowboys. Don continued to play his steel guitar up until his death in 2008.


Autograph Scan * Webpage 1


Charles "Charlie" Hill (Dobro, Steel Guitar): Born: ??/??/26 Crenshaw County AL.
Bio: Charlie got his musical start when his father bought he and his brothers a guitar, mandolin and fiddle. He was only 15 years old.

In 1943 Charlie heard Hank Williams advertise for a Hawaiian Guitar player on WSFA. He had to work on his father some time before he was able to get approval to see Hank for an audition. Eventually, he was able to get it. Hank hired him that year, but after only 6 weeks Charlie left the band to go back to High School.

In 1944 Charlie entered the Army. In 1945 he got out of the service and went into Business College for 2 years. He later organized his own band the Moonshiners and played around central Alabama. In later years he retired from music and went into the Moving Business. He would eventually become President of Swanner Transfer & Storage in Montgomery, AL. He retired from this position in 1999.

Charlie is alive & well and living in Montgomery, AL.

Thanks to Charlie Hill for the info, autographs and photos!!
Autograph Scan

Clent Holmes (Guitar): Born: 7/17/17 Columbus, Miss.
Bio: Clent first met Hank in Houston,TX when he was working with Hank Locklin on KLEE. He joined the Cowboys in 1948 and worked with them, on the Louisiana Hayride, until 1949. After Hank disbanded this group of Cowboys Clent remained at the Hayride. He continued to work with Hank on and off when he came back in the area. He is currently playing in a band called Hank's Drifters with Pee Wee Moultrie and Mayme Holmes (his wife).

Clent was interviewed and appeared in an episode of the PBS documentary series "American Masters", entitled "Hank Williams: Honky Tonk Blues" (2004), discussing Hank and his time with the Drifting Cowboys.

Business Card * Autograph Scan * Store * "Hank's Drifters" Website

Millard "M.C." Jarrett (Steel Guitar): Born: 3/13/25 Died: 12/22/91.
Bio: Met Hank in 1939 at WSFA when one of his friends went to see Hank for a audition. Mr. Jarrett was not a full time musician. He worked full-time and played music on the side. He never considered himself a full Cowboy. He played with Hank off and on (for 6 years) while he worked out of Montgomery, AL.

Ernest Carl "Wimpy" Jones (Steel, Guitar, Bass, Piano, Banjo, Drums, etc): Born: 4/4/22 Died:3/30/71
Bio:

Information Coming


Weldon Edwin "Big Bill" Lister (Guitar/Vocals/Song-Writer): Born: 1/5/23 Kennedy, TX. Died: 12/1/9
Bio: Bill made his radio debut on KNEL (Brady, TX) in 1938. In July 1941 he married Lila Mayfield in Medina, TX. By late 1941 they had moved to San Antonio, TX. Bill worked for a short time on WOAI then moved to KMAC. He was enlist into the military because of his height. At the close of World War II Lister was on station KTSA. Around this time he added another musician, Tommy Hill (Guitar). When Tommy’s brother, Kenny, got out of the Navy they formed Bill Lister and The Texas Hillbillies. By the Summer of 1946 Bill had a morning show (6.45am) and a noon time show on KABC. At this time he was still billed as “Radio’s Tallest Singing Cowboy”. He has yet to get the title of “Big Bill”. In 1951 He appeared on Hank Williams' "Mother's Best" Show (Show 11-B2). He sang "Foolish Questions".

Performed on the Big D Jamboree. Recorded with the Everstate label (1949-1950) and Capital records (1951-1953).

Big Bill was interviewed and appeared in an episode of the PBS documentary series "American Masters", entitled "Hank Williams: Honky Tonk Blues" (2004), discussing Hank and his time with the Drifting Cowboys.

Photo/Autograph Scan. * Store * Big Bill Lister - A Country Music Pioneer.

Dale Lohman (Guitar): Born: ??/??/?? Died: ??/??/??.
Bio: Information Coming.

Waymon D. Masters (?): Born: 11/11/18 Died: 10/16/94
Bio:

"Mexican" Charlie Mays (Fiddle/Guitar): Born: ??/??/?? Died: ??/??/?? Car Accident, TX (?).
Bio: Charlie Mayes was a former member of the Radio Rangers along with Pee Wee Moultrie. Both of them joined Hank & Hezzy's band in 1939.

Rupert Robert "Bob" McNett (Lead Guitar): Born: 10/16/25 Roaring Branch, PA. Died: 6/21/95 Prostate Cancer Montgomery, PA.
Bio: Bob met Hank in Shreveport, LA. He had originally came to the area as a member of Patsy Montana's band. The job with the Cowboys came along just as Patsy was disbanding her group. He joined the cowboys in 1948 and worked with Hank through his time at the Hayride. He went with Hank to the Opry. McNett left the Cowboys in May 1950.

After the Cowboys he returned to his home state and went back to preforming with his brother, Dean.

In 1977 he joined a reformed Cowboys. In '77 he also appeared in the movie "That's Country" along with the other Cowboys. He retired from the band in 1984. Bob passed way in 1995.

Bob's daughter, Robin, is also in music. She is the lead vocalist in a band called Neon Cactus.

Autograph Scan * "McNett Country (Great Site!)

Bill Merritt (Bass): Born: ??/??/?? Death: ??/??/90?
Bio: A later member of the Cowboys (Late 70's/Early 80's). He did not tour or record with Hank Williams.


Cois "Pee Wee" Elmo Moultrie (Accordian): Born: 5/24/22 Sand Mnt, Alabama. Died: 1/15/12
Bio: Pee Wee worked with a band called the Radio Rangers on WBHP (Hintsville) and WCOV (Montgomery). Also in this band Was Charlie Mayes, both joined Hezzy and Hank in 1939. Pee Wee left in 1940. After retiring form the US Air Force (29 yrs), he moved to Ft. Walton Beach, FL. He currently performs with Clint & Mayme Holmes in a band called Hank's Drifters.

Pee Wee was interviewed and appeared in an episode of the PBS documentary series "American Masters", entitled "Hank Williams: Honky Tonk Blues" (2004), discussing Hank and his time with the Drifting Cowboys.

Business Card * Autograph Scan * Store.

Bubba "Cannonball" Nichols (?): Born: ??/??/?? Died: ??/??/??
Bio:

Robert D. "Sonny" Norred (Steel Guitar): Born: 1/16/19 Sylacauga, AL. Died: 10/25/09
Bio: Sonny was a member of the Cowboys from late 1947 to early 1948. Worked with Hank on WSFA, along with Joe Penny, Lum York, and Winston "Red" Todd. After the Cowboys, Sonny worked in the Cotton Mills of Talladega, AL for 7 years. He played music in his free time. He later joined Hal Howard and the Pearl River Boys. He stayed in this band for 10 years. He went on to work in Mac Sanders Troubadores (Sammy Pruett was also a member) and he could be heard on WRBL Radio (Burmingham, AL). He opened his own TV Sales/Service business, called Norred TV.

Sonny was interviewed and appeared in an episode of the PBS documentary series "American Masters", entitled "Hank Williams: Honky Tonk Blues" (2004), discussing Hank and his time with the Drifting Cowboys.

"Sonny" passed away on on October 25, 2009 with his wife of 32 years, Margaret White Norred, by his side.

Autograph Scan.

Carolyn "Little Caroline" Parker (Allen)(Singer): Born: 6/21/28 Brewton, AL Died: 1/12/09 Hanceville Nursing Home, Hanceville, AL
Bio: Worked with Hank and the Drifting Cowboys only for a short time in the late 1930's when the band needed a female singer. She was only 8 years old when she started signing with the band.

Carolyn Parker passed away at the age of 80 in 2009.

Obituary

"Little" Joe "Penny" Pennington (Lead Guitar): Born: 1/15/28 Plant City, FL
Bio: Joe Penny joined the Cowboys in late 1947, taking over for Clyde Criswell. He remained in the band until 1948. Upon leaving the band he enlisted in the US Navy (1949) and was stationed at California Naval Air Station, North Island, San Diago. He was released in early 1950 and moved to West Texas. It was there that he met Lefty Frizzell and joined his band. In late 1950 he left the band to take a job at the State Line Club in Hobbs, New Mexico. In in the Fall of 1951 he toured with Little Jimmy Dickens.

Joe has had a long career in the radio business. In 1954 he started working at the radio station WILD in Birmingham, AL. During the 1960's he worked as a DJ for WBRO in Waynesboro, Georgia.

In 1958 he recorded/released a couple of sides for the Federal label, including "Mercy, Mercy Percy"

In 1990 he recorded a gospel tape ("Growing Old With God") and began touring in support of it. Joe had a mild Stroke in the Fall of 1998. In 1999 he released a CD/Tape ("A Tribute to Hank Williams") and a published a book ("Lookin' Back on Hank"). In 2001 Joe was inducted to the Rockabilly Hall of Fame (Burns, TN) in recognition of the Rockabilly recordings he made for the Federal label.

Joe now lives in Plant City, FL with his wife Frankie. They have been married for 40+ years. He is often a honored guest & performer at The Hank Williams Festival in Georgiana, AL.

Autograph Scan * Store * Web-site 1 * Web-site 2.

James "Jimmy" Ervin Porter (Steel Guitar): Born: 3/11/28 Died: 12/15/07 Hoover, AL.
Bio: Jimmy was the youngest (13 yrs. old) member of the Drifting Cowboys when he was hired by Hank in early 1941 (replacing Boot Harris). He played in the band mostly on weekends. Jimmy left Hank in mid 1944.

After leaving the band he joined "Dad" Crysel & The Royal Hillbillies and stayed until 1947. After graduation from high school, he immediately went to Nashville where he began working with Curly Fox & Texas Ruby (May 1947). In 1948 he enlisted into the Army Air Force and stayed for two years.

Mr. Porter is a unassuming man who has never used his position as a former Cowboys to get fame. He never longed for the limelight. He is the proud grandfather of five. He currently volunteers at the Hank Williams Museum in Montgomery, AL. In 2002 he wrote and published a book about his career called "My Life as a Musician".

Autograph Scan * Store * Ask Jimmy * Obituary.

Felton Pruett (Steel Guitar): Birth: ??/??/?? Sabine Parrish, LA.
Bio: Felton was 18 when he became a member Louisiana Hayride staff band. Prior to this he played on the morning KWKH show with Harmie Smith. This is where he met Hank. He joined the Cowboys in 1948 and worked with the band until 1949 (when Hank went to the Opry). After leaving the band Felton got a steady gig with the Texas and Pacific Railroad.

Felton was interviewed and appeared in an episode of the PBS documentary series "American Masters", entitled "Hank Williams: Honky Tonk Blues" (2004), discussing Hank and his time with the Drifting Cowboys.

Autograph Scan.

Samuel K. "Sammy" Pruett (Guitar): Born: 11/27/26 Died: 3/17/88 Birmingham, AL.
Bio: Sammy joined the Cowboys for the first time in 1944, but left a short time later. He played on Hank's 8/4/47 recording session at Castle Studio in Nashville, TN. In May 1950 he rejoined the band replacing Bob McNett.
He was also a member of Mac Sanders Troubadores with R.D. "Sonny" Norred.

After leaving the Cowboys, Sammy joined Carl Smith's band (The Tunesmiths) in 1952.


"Little" Ed Rawlings (?): Born: ??/??/?? Died: ??/??/??
Bio:

Gerald McEwen "Jerry" Rivers - AKA "Burrhead"(Fiddle): Born: 9/25/28 Miami, FL. Died: 10/4/96 Cancer Nashville, TN.
Bio: Born in Miami, FL, but grew up in Nashville. Jerry started playing professionally in 1945. In 1948 he left his job as a electrical parts salesman and took a job with The Short Brothers. Later he left this group and returned to Nashville. He began working with Big Jeff Bess (Husband of Tootsie, owner of Tootsie’s bar in Nashville). Rivers became a member of The Drifting Cowboys around July 14, 1949 (a date given by Jerry).

In 1964 his book, Hank Williams-From Life to Legend, was published. He released two solo albums. He later formed his own band, The Homesteaders.

In 1977 Jerry joined a reformed Drifting Cowboys along with Bob McNett, Hillous Butrum, & Don Helms. In '77 he also appeared in the movie "That's Country" along with the other COwboys. In 1989 Jerry and the Drifting Cowboys, minus McNett and Butrum, became the touring band for Jett Williams. He was touring with Jett and The Drifting Cowboys until his death in 1996.

Jerry recorded and performed with many of the Legends of Country Music, including Lefty Frizzell, over his career. He was a great entertainer and he is greatly missed.

Autograph Scan * Jerry's Grave Site (Pictures) * Jerry's Wikipedia Bio

Braxton Schuffert (Guitar): Born: 2/22/16 Shelby County, AL.
Bio: Braxton moved to Montgomery, AL in 1921. In 1932 he got a early morning (6-6:30 AM) radio show on WSFA. After the War he worked at Hormel Meats in Montgomery driving a delivery truck. He performed solo spots on WSFA & WCOV sponsered by Hormel.

Braxton met Hank in '38 and helped to him form his band. Hank later assisted him in getting a recording session with MGM Records (2/8/1950). The recordings were released under the name Braxton "Schooford". One of the songs recorded was co-wrote by Braxton & Hank, "Rockin' Chair Daddy".

Braxton acted as a pall-bearer in Hank's funeral(1//53).

Braxton was interviewed and appeared in an episode of the PBS documentary series "American Masters", entitled "Hank Williams: Honky Tonk Blues" (2004), discussing Hank and his time with the Drifting Cowboys.

Autograph Scan.

"Shorty" Seals (Bass/Comedy):Born: ??/??/?? Died: ??/??/?? Heart Attack.
Bio: Before joining the Cowboys Shorty worked as a member of Neal McCormick's Band. It was through his membership in this band that he met Hank. Seals joind the Cowboys in 1941. Seals died in Freddy Beach's arms. He was moving to Mobile, AL when he had a heart attack.

William Elon Smith (Bass/Rythm Guitar): Born: 8/31/23 Died: 5/5/76
Bio: Elon worked with Hank and the Drifting Cowboys from time to time filling in when they needed a bass or guitar player.

He was in the Navy during World War II. After leaving the service (1944) he went to work in the Cotton Mill in Boylston, AL. Where he met and became friends with fellow Drifting Cowboy Jimmy Porter.

Elon passed away in 1976 and is buried next to his father and mother in Elmore County, AL.


Big Thanks go out to Jimmy Porter for doing the research for this bio!!

Rufus "Puddin" Taylor (Bass): Born: 9/1/24 Died: 5/22/99
Bio: Mr. Taylor went to work with Hank and the Cowboys in late 1940 or early 1941. He replaced Shorty Seals. Puddin' stayed with Hank until he went in the Navy in 1942. He was discharged in late 1945 or early 1946. After he came back from the service, he left the music business. He went on to work with his father.

Thank to Jimmy Porter for this information.

Sue Williams Taylor (Vocals): Born: ??/??/?? Death: ??/??/??
Bio: Ms. Taylor (aka "Sweet Sue") played a short tour with Hank & the Cowboys in the late 30's, including a date at the GA-ANA Theater in Georgiana, AL (11/5/39).

Winston "Red" Todd (Rhythm Guitar): Born: 11/14/23. Died: 11/18/88.
Bio: Coming Soon!!!

Bernice Hilburn Turner (Guitar): Born: 1/13/27 Black Rock, AR
Bio: Ms. Turner and her husband, Doyle (Steel Guitar), met Hank through Don Helms. Don left The Cowboys when he was drafted into the Army (1945). He gave their phone number to Hank. Hank later hired them. They worked with him from early 1945 to December 1946. When Doyle too was drafted.

Bernice & Doyle were married in 1944. They had five children together. Robby Turner, Bernice & Doyle's son, is a producer and performer. They were divorced in 1980. In 1994 Mrs. Turner broke three vertebrae in a car accident.

1977 Bernice formed the Silver Eagle Bus Service, Inc.

Autograph Scan.

Doyle Turner (Steel Guitar): Born: 2/1/22 Died: 8/3/91 Panama City, FL.
Bio: See Above Entry.

Howard Staton "Cedric Rainwater" Watts (Bass/Comedy): Birth: 2/19/13 Monticello, FL Death: 1/21/70 Nashville, TN.
Bio: 1934 enlisted in the Army. He was discharged a few months later because of a serious illness. In 1937 he joined Jim Boyd And The Melody Boys. He left this band in 1938. It was around this time that he took stage name "Arizona Slim" and formed a band called Tex and Slim and the Sunset Ramblers. This band did not stay together long and by 1939 he was appearing on WPAX (Jacksonville, FL) with another called Dock Williams and the Santa Fe Trailriders. In 1941 he and his family moved to Nashville, TN and began to play with Paul Howard and his Arkansas Cottan Pickers. In 1944 fiddler Chubby Wise helped get Howard into Bill Monroe's Blue Grass Boys. He would be in this band off and on for many years (1944-48, 1951).

Watts joined the Cowboys in July 1950 (replacing Hillous Butrum) and remained with Hank until he "disbanded" the group in December 1951. He went on to record with Ray Price.

Blue Grass Boys - Howard Watts

Jimmy Webster (Steel Guitar): Born: ??/??/29 Died: ??/??/46
Bio: Jimmy started playing steel for Hank in 1946 (replacing Jimmy Porter). After leaving the band in 1946 Mr. Webster went on to play in Jimmy Wakely's band. He died in a car/train accident in Texas a short time after he left Montgomery, AL (c.1946).

Jimmy Wilkinson (Bass): Born: 2/2/24 Died: 2/28/92
Bio: Was a member of Hank Williams' Drifting Cowboys from 1939 to 1941.

Upon leaving the Cowboys, Jimmy took a job playing bass for Pee Wee King. He was with King's band from 1944 until 1947. After leaving this band, he went back to Montgomery, AL and played with a series of local bands. He was picking until shortly before his passing in 1992.

His wife JoAnne currently works at the Hank Williams Museum in Montgomery.

Jack "Juan Lobo" Wolf (?): Born: ??/??/?? Died: ??/??/??
Bio: Hank and the Drifting Cowboys (Hezzy Adair, Braxton Schuffert, & Fred Beach) went out on a short tour with Wolf in 1938.

Wolf claimed to have been in Western Movies with Ken Maynard. He sold western items and did tricks with the lariat and whips.

"Uncle" William Herbert "Lum" York (Bass/Comedian): Born:11/16/18 Elmore, AL. Died: 8/15/04 Baton Rouge, LA
Bio: Lum is one of the musicains that was with the Cowboys the longest (1944, 1945-1949). By all accounts, he was very close with Hank. Lum may have played bass on Hank's 8/4/47 recording session at Castle Studio in Nashville, TN. After leaving the Cowboys, he started touring and recording with Lefty Frizzell (1952). He left Frizzell in 1953. In 1955 started working with The East Baton Rouge School Board. He retired from this position in 1983. In later years, he moved from playing the bass to playing spoons. Lum and his wife Nita were regulars at all the Hank related events.

Lum was interviewed and appeared in an episode of the PBS documentary series "American Masters", entitled "Hank Williams: Honky Tonk Blues" (2004), discussing Hank and his time with the Drifting Cowboys. He was still playing spoons and making fans laugh up until his passing.

Autograph Scan. * Store * Obituary * Wikipedia Bio.


This is a list of musicians that played with Hank, but were not official Cowboys:

Chester Burton "Chet" Atkins (Guitar): Born: 6/20/24 Luttrell,TN. Death: 6/30/01
Bio: Legendary guitar player and record producer for RCA records. Chet played guitar on Hank's June 13, 1952 session at Castle Studio in Nashville, TN.

Official Site * Fan Site * Obituary

Clyde Baum (Mandolin): Born: ??/??/?? Death ??/??/??
Bio: Mr. Baum played mandolin on many of Hank Williams' recording sessions, including 12/22/48 (E.T. Herzog Studio, Cincinatti, OH), 3/1/49 (Castle Studio, Nashville, TN).

Ernest Milton Beasley (Mandoline): Born: ??/??/?? Died: ??/??/??
Bio: As part of the "Southern Serenaders", "Pedro" backed Hank when he appeared on the "Farmer Jim Show" (WSLI - Jackson, MS) on February 21, 1950.

Owen Bradley (Piano/Producer): Born: 10/21/15 Westmoreland, TN. Died: 1/7/98
Bio:
Owen is a legendary producer in Nashville. He is best known for his work producing Patsy Cline's famous Decca recordings. He may have also played piano on Hank's 11/6-7/47 at Castle Studio in Nashville, Tn. Inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1974.

CMHF Site

Harold Bradley (Guitar): Born: 1/2/26
Bio: Harold has been a very busy session guitar player over his long career. He has played with many of the Legends in music, inluding Elvis Presley, Patsy Cline, & Johnny Horton. He played on Hank Williams' June 1, 1951 session, in which "Ramblin' Man" was produced. Harold is the brother of the Legendary Producer, Owen Bradley.

Web-Site

William Lewis "Billy" Byrd (Lead Guitar): Born: 2/17/20 Williamson County, TN. Death: 8/7/01
Bio: Billy was a legendary guitar player who worked many years in Ernest Tubb's Texas Troubadors. He also worked with Curley Kinsey and the Four Deacons and Curley Williams' Georgia Peach Pickers. In 1948 Hank Williams bought (took over the loan) on a Packard limousine from Billy. This took place in Shreveport, LA. On March 26,1952 Billy, along with Jack Drake (bass), Grady Martin (Fiddle), and Don Helms (steel guitar), backed Hank Williams on The Kate Smith Evening Hour (NBC).

Tribute

Jerry Byrd (Steel Guitar): Born: 9/9/20 Limo, OH Death: 4/11/05 Honolulu, HI
Bio: Another legendary steel guitarist that recorded and toured with some of the greats of Country Music, including Marty Robbins, Hank Snow, Red Foley, Ernest Tubb, Hank Williams and many more. He played on Hank's 11/6-7/47 (Castle Studio, Nashville, TN), 12/22/48 (E.T. Herzog Studio, Cincinnati, OH) & 8/30/49 (Castle Studio, Nashville, TN) recording sessions. Jerry was inducted into The Steel Guitar Hall of Fame in 1978.

Jerry Byrd passed away on April 11, 2005 in Hawaii. He was 85 years old.

Floyd Taylor "Lightnin'" Chance (Bass): Born: 12/21/25 Como, Miss. Died: 4/11/05 Nashville, TN.
Bio: Floyd "Lightnin'" Chance is a legendary bass player. Over his long career he had backed many of the Big Names in Country Music, including Stanley Brothers, Jimmy Martin, Roy Acuff, Hank Williams, Patsy Cline, Bill Monroe, Marty Robbins just to name a few.

Floyd played on Hank's last session (Sept. 23, 1952), which produced "Your Cheatin' Heart", "Kaw-Liga" and "Take These Chains From My Heart". He would also play at Hank's funeral on Jan. ??, 1953.

"Lightnin'" Chance died on Monday, April 11, 2005. He was 79 years old. He had been battling Alzheimer's Disease and cancer.

On-Line Bio (BlackCat Rockabilly Europe) * Obituary (CMT.com)

Farris Coursey (Drums): Born: ??/??/12 (?) Death: 1/13/68 (?)
Bio: The first drummer to work with Hank on a recording session (9/23/52). He was called to ad a “Indian drum-beat” to “Kaw-Liga”. At the time he was a member of WSM’s dance band.

L.C. Crysel (Fiddle): Born: ??/??/?? Died: ??/??/??
Bio: Played on Hank's 8/4/47 session at Castle Studio, Nashville, TN.

Donald S. "Don" Davis (Steel Guitar): Born: 12/22/28 Calvert, AL.
Bio: Don played steel guitar for Hank Williams' recording ssessions on 3/1/49 (7:30-10:30pm), 3/1-2/49 (11:00pm-2:00am), & 3/20/49 (7:30-10:30pm) at Castle Studio in Nashville, TN.

Don played steel guitar with Pee Wee King.

Hillbilly-Music.com Bio

James Clayton "Jimmy" Day (Steel Guitar): Born: 1/9/34 Tuscaloosa, AL. Died: 1/22/99 Heart Failure.
Bio: Day played with many great performers during his career, including Ray Price, Willie Nelson, Charlie Parker, and a long stint in Jim Reeves' band. Voted to The Steel Guitar Hall of Fame in 1982.

Day worked with Hank in the last months of his life (Fall/Winter 1952). At this time Hank was unable to reassemble his old band. When he needed a band he would sometimes use Red Sovine's which included Day, Tommy Bishop (Guitar) & Floyd Cramer (Piano). One of the engagements Day worked with Hank was at the Skyline Club (Austin, TX) on Friday, December 19, 1952.

It has been written in some works that Hank asked Jimmy to become a Drifting Cowboy in late 1952, but died before he could follow up on offer.

Online Obit/Bio

Bill Drake (Rhythm Guitar): Born: ??/??/?? Died: ??/??/??
Bio: COMING!!!

Ray Edenton (Rhythm Guitar): Born: 11/3/26 Mineral Springs, Va.
Bio: In Colin Escott's Biography of Hank he states that Ray toured with Hank in late November and early December 1952 through the Southeast and Florida. Ray has told me that it was in December only.

Web-Page * Autograph Scan

Rusty Gabbard (Rhythm Guitar): Born: ??/??/?? Died: ??/??/??
Bio: Rusty played on Hank's 6/14/50 (12:00-1:30) recording session at Castle Studio, Nashville, TN.

Herman Herron (Steel Guitar): Born:??/??/?? Died: ??/??/??
Bio: Mr. Herron played steel guitar on Hank Williams' 8/4/47 MGM recording session at Castle Studio (Nashville, TN).

Tommy Hill (Guitar): Born: 4/27/29 Coy City, TX Died: 3/21/02
Bio: Worked with Hank in the last months of his life, both as an opening act and a backup picker. He played with Hank at the Skyline Club (Austin, TX) on Friday, December 19, 1952.

Tommy became a member of Big Bill Lister's band, the Texas Hillbillies, in 1945. He is the brother of singer Goldie Hill.

Louis Innis (Bass/Rythm Guitar): Born: ??/??/?? Died: ??/??/??
Bio: Mr. Innis played on many of Hank Williams' recording sessions, including 2/13/47 (MGM Studios, Nashville, TN), 4/21/47 & 11/6-7/47 (Castle Studio, Nashville, TN), 12/22/48 (E.T. Herzog Studio, Cincinatti, OH).

Thomas Lee "Tommy" Jackson (Fiddle): Born: 3/31/26 Burmingham, AL. Died: 12/9/79.
Bio: Played the fiddle professionally since childhood. He became one of Nashville's first studio musicians. He was a member of Red Foley's Cumberland Valley Boys.

Tommy played on Hank's 4/21/47 & 8/4/47(Castle Studio, Nashville, TN), 12/22/48 (E.T. Herzog Studio, Cincinnati, OH), & 8/30/49 (Castle Studio, Nashville, TN) recording sessions.

Dale "Smokey" Lohman (Steel Guitar): Born: ??/??/?? Died: ??/??/??
Bio: Played on Hank's 2/13/47 (WSM Studios, Nashville, TN), 4/21/47 (Castle Studio, Nashville, TN).

David Miller "Bird Legs" Louther (Steel Guitar): Born: ??/??/?? Died: ??/??/??
Bio: As part of the "Southern Serenaders", "Bird Legs" backed Hank when he appeared on the "Farmer Jim Show" (WSLI - Jackson, MS) on February 21, 1950.

"Pappy" Neal McCormick (Steel Guitar): Born: 10/3/09 Wing, AL. Died: 2/27/98 Flu complications FL.
Bio: COMING!!!

Encyclopedia of Alabama (GREAT - Video Interview with "Pappy", includes Hank's Commercial for Pappy!!)
Baltimore Sun Obituary (Short)

Thomas Grady Martin (Guitar): Born: 1/17/29 Chapel Hill, TN. Died: 12/3/01 Congestive Heart Failure TN.
Bio: COMING!!!

Nashville Sound - Grady Martin * Grady Martin Fan-Site * Wikipedia Bio

Ernest "Ernie" Newton (Bass): Born: ??/??/?? Died: ??/??/??
Bio: Played on Hank's 8/30/49 (E.T. Herzon Studio, Cincinnati, OH).

Red Pleasant (Rhythm Guitar): Born: ??/??/?? Died: ??/??/??
Bio: As part of the "Southern Serenaders", Red backed Hank when he appeared on the "Farmer Jim Show" (WSLI - Jackson, MS) on February 21, 1950.

Dale Potter (Fiddle): Born: 4/28/29 Puxico, MO. Death: 3/14/96 Puxico, MO.
Bio: Mr. Potter played on Hank's 3/1/49 & 3/20/49 (Castle Studio, Nashville, TN) recording session.

Dale Potter - "Mr. Double Stop"

Bronson "Brownie" Reynolds (Bass): Born: ??/??/?? Died: ??/??/??
Bio: "Brownie" played bass on Hank's 4/21/49 (Castle Studio, Nashville, TN) recording session.

J.W. "Jay" Riley (steel guitar): Born: 5/6/31 Texarkana, TX
Bio: In 1952-53 Jay worked the Louisiana Hayride with Tommy & Goldie Hill's Band, the Texas Hillbillies.

Jay writes about his time with Hank:
"We backed Hank Williams on several jobs in late 1952. I also played at his wedding (on both shows). I remember going to Del Rio with Hank & Tommy to play Paul Kallinger's radio show. The jobs that Jimmy Day could not make I played. We were the only two steel players that would travel in those days. Felton Pruitt just didn't want to travel."

In the mid-50's Jay moved to California where he plays only on the week-ends. He was the 1st to be inducted into the Western Swing Society Hall of Fame in 1982. He was also inducted into the Pioneers of Western Swing in Seattle in 2001. He now only plays Western Swing music.

Western Swing Music Society Profile

Billy Robinson (Steel Guitar): Born: 8/6/31 Nashville, TN.
Bio: Legendary Steel player that toured & recorded with some greats in Country Music, including Red Foley, Carl Smith, Webb Pierce, Hank Williams, and many more. He was inducted into The Steel Guitar Hall of Fame in 1996.

Billy Robinson's Website

Fred Rose (Piano): Born: 8/24/1897 Evansville, IN. Died:12/1/54 Nashville, TN.
Bio: Fred may have also played piano on Hank's 11/6-7/47 recording sessions at Castle Studio in Nashville, TN.

Jimmy Selph (Guitar?): Born: ??/??/?? Died: ??/??/??
Bio: COMING!!!

Loren Otis "Jack" Shook (Rhythn Guitar): Born: 9/11/10 (?). Died: 9/??/86 (?).
Bio: Played on Hank's 3/1-2/49 & 3/20/49 (Castle Studio, Nashville, TN) recording sessions.

Lewis M. "Junior" Stanley (Lead Guitar): Born: ??/??/?? Died: ??/??/??
Bio: As part of the "Southern Serenaders", Junior backed Hank when he appeared on the "Farmer Jim Show" (WSLI - Jackson, MS) on February 21, 1950.

Wayne E. "Pedro" Sterling (Bass): Born: ??/??/?? Died: ??/??/??
Bio: As part of the "Southern Serenaders", "Pedro" backed Hank when he appeared on the "Farmer Jim Show" (WSLI - Jackson, MS) on February 21, 1950.

Willie Thawl (Bass Fiddle): Born: ??/??/?? Died:??/??/??
Bio: Mr. Thawl played bass on many of Hank Williams' recording sessions, including 12/22/48 (E.T. Herzog Studio, Cincinatti, OH).

"Slim" Thomas (Rhythm Guitar): Born: ??/??/?? Died: ??/??/??
Bio: Slim played on Hank's 8/4/47 session at Castle Studio in Nashville, TN.

"Zeb Turner" Edward Grishaw (Lead Guitar): Born: 6/23/15 Lynchburg, VA. Died:1/10/78
Bio: Played on Hank's 3/1-2/49 & 3/20/49 (Castle Studio, Nashville, TN).

"Zeke Turner" James Cecil Grishaw (Lead Guitar): Born: 6/18/23 (SC?) Died: 4/13/03 Florida
Bio: As a member of Red Foley's Cumberland Valley Boys, Zeke recorded with many of the legends of Country Music. He played on Hank's 2/13/47 (MGM Studios, Nashville, TN), 4/21/47 & 11/6-7/47 (Castle Studio, Nashville, TN), 12/22/48 (E.T. Herzog Studio, Cincinnati, OH), 8/30/49 (Castle Studio, Nashville, TN) sessions. He did not tour with Hank.

Velma Williams (Bass): Born: ??/??/?? Died: ??/??/??
Bio: Played on Hank's 3/20/49 (Castle Studio, Nashville, TN).

James U. "Guy" Willis (Guitar): Born: 7/5/15 Alex, AR Died: 4/13/81.
Bio: A member of The Oklahoma Wranglers with his brothers. They played on Hank's first Sterling recording session (12/11/46 WSM Studios, Nashville).

Charles Ray "Skeeter" Willis (Fiddle): Born: 12/20/17 Coaton, OK Died: ?/?/76.
Bio: A member of The Oklahoma Wranglers with his brothers. They played on Hank's first Sterling recording session (12/11/46 WSM Studios, Nashville).

John Victor "Vic" Willis (Accordian): Born: 5/31/22 OK. Died: 1/15/95 Hohenwald, TN Car Crash.
Bio: A member of The Oklahoma Wranglers with his brothers. They played on Hank's first Sterling recording session (12/11/46 WSM Studios, Nashville).

Robert Russel "Chubby" Wise (Fiddle): Born: 10/2/15 Lake City, FL Died: 1/6/96 Bowie, MD Heart Failure.
Bio: Chubby toured and recorded with many legends over his long career in Country Music, including Jubilee Hillbillies (1938-19??), Bill Monroe and his Blue Grass Boys (1942-1948), Hank Snow and the Rainbow Ranch Boys (1954-1970). He played on Hank's 11/6-7/47 recording session at Castle Studio in Nashville, TN. He co-wrote "Orange Blossom Special". 1998 to International Bluegrass Association's Hall of Honor.

New York Times Obituary * Blue Grass Boy Bio * International Bluegrass Music Museum Bio

Charles "Indian" Wright (Bass): Born: ??/??/?? Died: ??/??/??
Bio: Played on Hank's first Sterling recording session (12/11/46 WSM Studios, Nashville, TN).


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