Friday, February 03, 2012

AccuRadio Song Of The Day-Brown's Ferry Four

Artist:Brown's Ferry Four
Song:Will The Circle Be Unbroken
Album:Brown's Ferry Four

Today the term Supergroup is thrown around very casually. So when I call Brown's Ferry Four a Supergroup, that's not to be taken casually. These were four of the biggest stars in 1940s country music who got together and recorded country gospel tunes mainly for fun. They didn't tour. They performed on the radio and recorded for King Records. Brown's Ferry Four was formed at Cincinnati radio station WLW in 1943. Alton and Rabon Delmore, known as The Delmore Brothers, were big country music stars in the 30s known for their harmonies. By 1943, they had faded a bit. When The Drifting Pioneers left WLW, the station manager needed a replacement and he approached Alton Delmore. Alton brought in his brother Rabon along with banjo whiz Grandpa Jones and guitar virtuoso Merle Travis. Those two guys were stars but not necessarily known for singing. Of course most folks will know Jones from his days on the popular TV show Hee Haw. The name of the group is from an old Delmore Brothers song. So they had this weekly half hour radio show and they decided to perform strictly gospel songs. The unique thing was they took "Negro spirituals" and adapted them to their style. No one was doing this at the time. And the harmonies are tremendous. King Records owner Syd Nathan heard them and signed them up. The group split up because Alton Delmore, Jones and Travis all served in the military during WWII. But WLW owned the group name so they kept it going with other musicians. In 1946, the original group reunited by accident at a recording session in California. Jones and The Delmore Brothers were recording for King and Travis was playing on the sessions. He had moved to California. They recorded Will The Circle Be Unbroken with Alton singing lead. The song was a big hit. The group continued to record for King with Red Foley replacing Travis. Travis was under contract to Capitol. They continued to appear on WLW. Red Turner and then Clyde Moody replaced Foley in 1951. The end for Brown's Ferry Four cane when Rabon Delmore died in 1952. This CD from Gusto Records has all their hits. Attempts to revive the group were unsuccessful though Grandpa Jones recorded tributes over the years. Brown's Ferry Four were pioneers of gospel bluegrass and will appeal to fans of classic country harmonies. Here's a video for Will The Circle Be Unbroken by Brown's Ferry Four.

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