Carson Robison Biography

4 August 1890, Oswego, near Chetopa, Labette County, Kansas, USA, d. 24 March 1957, Pleasant Valley, New York, USA. Robison’s father was a champion fiddle player and his mother a pianist and singer, and by the age of 14, Robison was competent enough to play the guitar professionally. He left home and worked with various dance bands and radio stations, developing into a multi-instrumentalist. Victor Records were impressed when he made his first recording as a backing musician for Wendell Hall and employed him on a regular basis. They particularly liked his two-tone whistle, which was used to good effect on Felix Arnolt’s piano novelty, ‘Nola’. Between 1924 and 1928, Robison was associated with Vernon Dalhart, singing tenor harmony and playing guitar. They recorded ‘The Wreck Of The Number 9’, ‘Little Green Valley’, ‘My Blue Ridge Mountain Home’, ‘Golden Slippers’ and many topical songs. Robison recorded with Frank Luther (b. Frank Luther Crow, 5 August 1905, near Hutchinson, Kansas, USA, d. 16 November 1980, New York City, New York, USA) as Bud And Joe Billings and released ‘Will The Angels Play Their Harps For Me?’ and ‘The Wanderer’s Warning’, both of which became popular in Britain in 1929, and ‘Barnacle Bill’. In 1932 Carson Robison And The Buckeroos became the first country band to tour the UK, returning in 1936 and 1939. Proud of his success, Robison changed his band’s name to the Pioneers and, following a commercial series on Radio Luxembourg, they became Carson Robison And The Oxydol Pioneers. During World War II, Robison maintained his popularity by writing topical songs that ridiculed Hitler, Mussolini and Hirohito, such as ‘We’re Gonna Have To Slap That Dirty Little Jap (And Uncle Sam’s The Man That Can Do It)’. ‘Turkey In the Straw’ was rated the most popular song of 1942, and his songbooks included ‘The Runaway Train’, ‘Carry Me Back To The Lone Prairie’, ‘Take Me Back To My Boots And Saddle’ and ‘Empty Saddles’. In 1947, Robison recorded his narration ‘Life Gets Tee-Jus, Don’t It’, which was also successful for Peter Lind Hayes. Robison recorded square dance music for MGM Records in the 50s as well as bringing himself up to date with ‘Rockin’ And Rollin’ With Granmaw’. He died in New York on 24 March 1957. Vernon Dalhart was elected to the Country Music Hall Of Fame in 1981 and although Robison played a crucial part in his success, he has yet to be elected himself.

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

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