Kenny Roberts career took a road that we will find as we go along
here. He was born in Lenox City, Tennessee. In mid-1949, Kenny signed a recording contract
with Coral Records, a division of the Decca record label.
His first release was an immediate smash,
a tune called "I Never See Maggie Alone". The song was actually
written in published back in 1926 and Kenny did a modern rendition
of it that obviously got the listeners attention. And he followed that hit
recording up with tunes such as "River of Tears", "I've
Got The Blues", "Yodel Polka" and "Hillbilly Style".
He started in music at an early age. When he was just eleven years
old, he organized a band that was made up entirely of young
harmonica players. Around that time, he started to take up
guitar playing. Later on, he learned the bass fiddle and violin, too.
From Tennessee, his childhood took him to the New England area where
we have few details. But, when he was just 16, he broke in to the
radio business. About a year later, he left home to work in a
lumber mill and then moving to a New Hampshire radio station. No sooner
had he gotten there did he win out over 38 other contestants for
the title of "Easter States Yodeling Champion". And yodeling would
become one of his trademarks.
Kenny was not only a good singer, who made good records, but
he was a good entertainer when he got in front of the audiences.
He was booked at shows at such venues as the amusement parks in
Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, Pennsylvania, the New England area,
Illinois, Missouri and many southern states. And from those
appearances, he would get many return engagements.
He not only yodeled but was a bit of a jumper while doing his tunes,
too. He was quite a hit with the younger kids with his yodeling, jumping
cowboy tunes. By 1953, he had returned to the Cincinnati area, and had
a television show that was on from 5:00 to 5:45pm over WKRC-TV, but the
show originated from WHIO-TV in Dayton. He first caught media attention
when he was at WLW-T.
As time went by after he left WLW-T, he kept on going and improving
as time went by. Folks who turned in to Arthur Godfrey's CBS network
programs would be able to hear that talent for themselves. He was
known as an 'exceedingly wholesome chap both on and off tv" and had
an easy going nature with children, perhaps as a result of being a father
to his three young sons back then.
The new Cincinnati show he was doing over WKRC had a mixture of entertainment.
There was a hayseed comedian, 'a singing, instrumental trio of clean-cut lads
in cowboy outfits', and a puppet named "Windy", who was a lovable character
that wore a Mexican sombrero.
Now they say that "Windy" was known to tell a little fib now and again. But
it seems everytime he did that, his nose would give him away as it would "balloon"
in size. Kenny would keep a tab on Windy's fibs and if it got to be about ten
fibs, why, wouldn't you think the nose would 'balloon' to such a size it would explode?
Kenny's career saw him make stops at such places as the Hoosier Hop that was
out of Fort Wayne, Indiana as well the WCOP Hayloft Jamboree. We'll be updating
this story as we go along.
Credits & Sources
- Cowboy Songs Magazine No. 25; March 1953; American Folk
Publications, Inc.; Derby, CT.
- Country Song Roundup No. 5; April 1950; Charlton Publishing Corp.;
|Appearance History This Month