Carl T. Sprague Biography

10 May 1895, near Houston, Texas, USA, d. 19 February 1979, Bryan, Texas, USA. Sprague, one of the first of the singing cowboys, was born on a ranch where he learned western songs around the camp fire. Although he attended college to study ranching, he accepted a coaching post in the college’s athletic department. In 1925, impressed by Vernon Dalhart’s success, he wrote to Victor Records and suggested that they record his cowboy songs. ‘When The Work’s All Done This Fall’, a story of a cowboy killed in a night stampede, sold nearly a million copies. Despite its success, he was unwilling to give up his college post, but he continued to make records, sometimes accompanied by two fiddle players from the college band. Among his recordings are ‘Following The Cow Trail’, ‘The Girl I Loved In Sunny Tennessee’, ‘Rounded Up In Glory’ and ‘Roll On Little Dogies’, as well as such familiar cowboy songs as ‘Home On The Range’ and ‘Red River Valley’. In 1937 he left his coaching post and ran a general store before being recalled to the army. During World War II, he was involved with recruitment in the Houston and Dallas areas and became a Major. After selling insurance and doing various other jobs, he retired to Bryan, Texas, but during the 60s he donned a working cowboy’s clothes for television appearances and university lectures. Between 1972 and 1974, he recorded 29 tracks, which have been released by Bear Family Records. Sprague’s his singing was a hobby but his knowledge has been an invaluable guideline for students of western music.

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