Brown's Ferry Four Biography

The original group was founded at WLW Cincinnati in June 1943, and went on to achieve legendary status as one of the finest quartets to have recorded country gospel music. The founding members, all active performers and following other careers as well as singing with the group, were Grandpa Jones, Merle Travis and the Delmore Brothers (Alton and Rabon). They took their name from the Delmores’ hit song of the time, ‘Brown’s Ferry Blues’. They commenced a regular half-hour daily spot, with Alton singing lead, Rabon tenor, Jones baritone and Travis bass, and their fine harmonies quickly established them with the station’s listeners. Unfortunately, military service for Travis, Jones and Alton Delmore saw the break-up of the original four. The station kept the name and the programme, entering the early 50s with other singers. In March 1946, the four original members had resumed their careers but with Travis in California, the Delmores in Memphis and Jones in Nashville, they never resumed their WLW appearances. However, when all were in California for recordings, Sydney Nathan of King Records decided to record some of the gospel numbers that they had popularized, the first two being ‘Will The Circle Be Unbroken’ and ‘Just A Little Talk With Jesus’. The recordings proved popular and the following year, Nathan flew all four to Hollywood for further recordings. A change in line-up was enforced when Travis became a Capitol recording artist and Red Foley replaced him on 1947 recordings, which produced their noted ‘I’ll See You In The Morning’. In 1948, the national ban on all recordings saw the Delmores incorporate a version of the group within their stage act, with Wayne Raney and Lonnie Glosson replacing Jones and Foley. In the early 50s, Red Turner and Clyde Moody also sang with the Delmores. In 1956, Alton Delmore organized a group to record for Acme. In 1965, Grandpa Jones recordedGrandpa Jones Remembers The Brown’s Ferry Four for Monument, which featured himself, Merle Travis, Red Rector and Ramona Jones. In the early 80s, Jones with Roy Clark, Buck Owens and Kenny Price recreated the sound of the original group, recording an album as the Hee Haw Gospel Quartet, for the label owned by the popular Hee Haw television programme, on which they also appeared. The original four’s recordings enjoyed several reissues, going from 78s to 45s, a series of three EPs in 1957 and eventually to albums with reissues on Starday and Pine Mountain.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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