Skeets McDonald Biography

Enos William McDonald, 1 October 1915, Greenway, Arkansas, USA, d. 31 March 1968. The youngest of seven children of a poor cotton picking family, influenced by Jimmie Rodgers’ recordings, he taught himself to play guitar at the age of 12. (He gained his nickname as a boy, because of trouble with mosquitoes, which he always called ‘skeets’). By 1935, he was in Detroit singing with the Lonesome Cowboys, before organizing his own band, which played local clubs and on radio at Flint and Pontiac. He saw military service in North Africa and the Far East during World War II but, on discharge, he returned to radio and television work in Dearborn, Michigan. He made his first recordings for Fortune in 1950 and followed with further ones for London and for Mercury Records as Skeets Saunders. In 1951, he relocated to California, where he soon became a long time regular on Cliffie Stone’sHometown Jamboree. He was signed by Capitol Records, who viewed him as their answer to Columbia Records’ Lefty Frizzell and, between 1951 and 1958, he recorded over 80 sides for the label. In 1952, he scored a country number 1 with ‘Don’t Let The Stars Get In Your Eyes’. (Goldie Hill also gained number 1 status with her ‘answer’ version, ‘I Let The Stars Get In My Eyes’, for Decca Records). In 1959, he moved to Columbia and recorded for that label until 1966, gaining a Top 10 with ‘Call Me Mr Brown’, in 1963. He recorded in Nashville in the 60s, made appearances on the Grand Ole Opry and also on theBig “D” Jamboree in Dallas. He also made several film appearances includingSaddle Pals (with Johnny Mack Brown), Ma And Pa Kettle Go To Town (1950), The Glenn Miller Story (1954) andHud (1963). McDonald was singer and writer of honky tonk songs but, in his later years, he did to some degree move his style for odd numbers slightly towards rock ‘n’ roll, as may be heard on his later Capitol recordings. However, he always refused to move far from the tear jerking songs with which he had made his name. Even when told by reviewers he ‘belonged to another age’, he took the remark as a compliment to his dedicated music. He continued to sing until he suffered a heart attack and died in March 1968. His own songs include ‘I’ll Make Believe’, ‘Big Family Trouble’, ‘I Need Your Love’ and ‘The Echo Of Your Footsteps’. During the late 80s, some of his recordings were reissued by German record labels

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

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