One of the hitmakers of hillbilly music had a long distinguished
career. In fact, he had an interesting record of some sorts at the time
that we've not heard of anyone else topping it. By 1948, they said
that in the 15 years previous to that, he had appeared on a total of
204 radio stations in the United States, Canada and Mexico. This
was on top of his being a member of WSM's Grand Ole Opry in Nashville,
How folks got their start is always something worth learning about.
For Cowboy Copas, he made his first appearance on stage on a dare.
When he first started out, he actually did not sing that much. He
depended solely on his tricky guitar playing to entertain folks and
Along the way, he met a little Indian boy by the name of Natchee.
Cowboy it turns out is also one-quarter Indian. Cowboy Copas and
Natchee became good friends and it was Natchee who dared him to
enter an amateur contest with him in Cincinnati. Cowboy Copas didn't
have much confidence in either of them, but agreed to go along. He
played the guitar, Natchee played the fiddle. And wouldn't you know it,
they won first prize in that competition.
From their, they began to play other entertainment gigs at fairs,
night clubs or any other venue that came along, a trail of one night
stands. While on the road, they began conducting fiddlin' contests
of their own. To help increase the attendance at their personal
apppearances, Copas would make a point to stop by the local radio
stations and plug their engagements. It was how he got exposed to the
Along about 1940, he and Natchee went their separate ways. Cowboy Copas
moved to Knoxville and started entertaining the folks on the radio there.
Later on, he returned to Cincinnati and appeared on several shows there, too.
It wasn't until January 1946 that his career began to take off. He appeared
on WSM's Grand Ole Opry at that time and in just the first week after
that appearance, he got more than 3,000 fan letters! Around October 1948,
he signed a recording contract with the King Records label.
Think Hillbilly music didn't draw crowds? Consider this. Cowboy Copas
and his group drew over 22,800 folks on August 22, 1948 with their
appearance at Buck Lake Ranch in Angola, Indiana.
Credits & Sources
- Jamboree Magazine; October 1948; Western Song Club; Ventura, CA
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