The York Brothers Biography

A popular harmony duo comprising George York (17 February 1910, Louisa, Lawrence County, Kentucky, USA, d. July 1974; guitar, harmonica, vocals) and Leslie York (b. 23 August 1917, Louisa, Lawrence County, Kentucky, USA, d. 21 February 1984; guitar, vocals). George first worked in the coalmines before moving to Denver, where he played on local radio. In the late 30s, somewhat influenced by the Delmores, the brothers began their career in Portsmouth, Ohio, and made their first recordings for the Universal label in 1939. Their version of ‘Little White Washed Chimney’ (recorded as ‘Going Home’) sold well enough to gain them a contract with Decca Records. After recording for that label in 1941, and at a time when their popularity was spreading nationally, America’s involvement in World War II saw both brothers drafted for service with the US Navy. After their discharge, they settled in Nashville where, until 1950, they played the Grand Ole Opry. They then relocated to Detroit until 1953, when they moved to Dallas, becoming regulars on theBig D Jamboree and theSaturday Night Shindig. Between 1947 and 1956, they recorded for King Records, and later for their own label. In the latter half of their career, their music changed from the old-time style of the usual brother harmony acts to anticipate the popular mix of nostalgia and sentimental ballads later popularized by such artists as Red Foley, even introducing a piano to add a honky tonk effect on some numbers. Leslie sang solo on some of their later recordings, owing to the fact that George at times suffered throat problems. They eventually retired from the music but remained in Dallas where George owned a nightclub.

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

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