Song:There's A Big Wheel
Album:The Very Best of Wilma Lee and Stoney Cooper and The Clinch Mountain Clan
The husband wife duo of Wilma Lee and Dale "Stoney" Cooper were bluegrass artists who had success on the country music charts in the 50s. There's A Big Wheel was their biggest hit in 1959. Dale Cooper was born Oct. 16, 1918 in Harman, WV. As a teen he was a member of the bluegrass group The Leary Family Singers. And that's where he met Wilma Lee Leary born Feb. 7, 1921 in Valley Head, WV. She performed with her parents and Cooper played fiddle. They started performing as a duo and got married on 1941. They performed as Wilma Lee and Stoney Cooper and the Clinch Mountain Gang. For ten years they were on WWVA radio in Wheeling, WVA on the show WWVA Jamboree. They left in 1957, joined the Grand Ole Opry and signed with Hickory Records which was owned by Acuff-Rose Music. They had success on the country charts with the 1959 single There's A Big Wheel. It reached #3 on the Country Singles chart. The song was written by country music legend Don Gibson and his brother Dave Gibson. Other hits included Come Walk With Me and Big Midnight Special. They also continued to perform with her family group The Leary Family Singers. This kind of bluegrass sound didn't usually make the country charts. But Wilma is a fantastic singer and I'm sure that was the big reason for their success. They recorded for Decca and for Rounder in 1976 before Cooper's death on Mar. 22, 1977 at age 58. He had been in failing health for several years. This Varese comp covers their 50s recordings. Wilma recorded a couple of albums for Rounder in the 80s and she continued to appear on the Grand Ole Opry. Wilma suffered a stroke in 2001 and died on Sept. 13, 2011 at age 90. Her daughter Carol sang at the Grand Ole Opry until her 2012 retirement. Here's Wilma Lee and Stoney Cooper performing There's A Big Wheel in the 1965 film Country Music On Broadway.