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Skeets Yaney
Born:  June 16, 1909
Died:  January 22, 1978
Country Music DJ Hall of Fame (1980)
KMOX Old Fashioned Barn Dance
KMOX St. Louis, MO
KSTL St. Louis, MO
KXLW St. Louis, MO
WEW St. Louis, MO
WFBM Indianapolis, IN
WGBF Evansville, IN (1931)


About The Artist

Early Years — WGBF — Evansville, IN

On a winter day in December 1909, the population of Mitchell in Lawrence County, Indiana welcomed a new citizen. Clyde Alexander Yaney was born to parents Alexander (B: July 16, 1869 &mdash: D: January 7, 1922) and Anna (Weeks) (B: May 22, 1879 — D: May 16, 1948. Yaney. They were married on November 5, 1898. Around 1910, the town had a population of 3,438 according to Stats Indiana's web site. By 2020, the population was just 3,933.

His father was a Teamster, hauling logs. He died in January 1922 due to pulmonary tuberculosis. His mother, Anna, remarried, to Joe Parish (listed as a carpenter on the 1920 census), on August 31, 1923.

Promo Ad - Mitchell Music Store - June 1909 Promo Ad - Raymond City Egg Coal - June 1909 Promo Ad - Mitchell Tribune - New Linotype - June 1909

Seemingly a small town, in 1909, there were two newspapers, The Mitchell Tribune and The Mitchell Commercial. Headlines around the time of his birth included a "Sale of All Sales" at The Bee Hive Store on the front page on June 17. The newspaper also promoted a new Linotype in use at the newspaper as well.

Clyde inherited the nickname "Skeets" from an older brother. One year, his father gifted him with a shotgun. But Skeets traded it for his first guitar. He told Beulah Schacht in 1950 that he "got the dickens" when he got home; he was a harmonica player up to that point and did not know how to play the guitar. He said he was also too little (he was five foot two) to use a shotgun. He started to make some music as he learned the guitar and folks figured he had probably did the right thing getting that guitar. He was 14 at the time. Family lore has it that he started singing at an early age and they put him on a drumhead so he could be seen and he didn't even break the skin.

A band came to Mitchell on one occasion and Skeets was able to sing with them. He must have impressed them as they sent him a wire a few weeks later and asked him to join their group.

Early 1930's With Hobo Bill — Golden Yodeler

Portrait - Clyde (Skeets) Yaney - Circa 1930' In late 1931, news articles begin to mention Skeets as part of a group lead by Hobo Bill (Raymond Srygler). Hobo Bill and his band were said to do a program over WGBF in Evansville on Wednesday, December 9, 1931 that would begin at 12:30 pm. The group was to play requested tunes. Hobo Bill and his group had been appearing on the WGBF Farm and Home Hour for several weeks prior.

The group proved to be a popular act on WGBF as it had reportedly received 1,663 complimentary letters in care of WGBF. Other radio stations may have heard them. Radio station WLW in Cincinnati was to have them broadcast a program on January 10, 1932.

Howard Chitty reported that a local singer, Clyde (Skeets) Yaney "...has started all the kids yodeling." Hobo Bill's group had a program that featured singing, yodeling and old-time music that struck the right chords with the listening audience.

Skeets himself is said to have received as many as 60 letters for requests in one day; those letters were from Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky and other states. He also said that as a youngster, Skeets practically lived on the streets. He was known to have a cheerful disposition and would always be seen singing, whistling or blowing a French Harp. The local folks always looked forward to their program on the radio as they wanted to know how their local talent was doing.

Promo Ad - Von-Ritz Theatre - Bedford, IN - Skeets Yaney - The Golden Yodeler - July 1933 Towards the end of 1931, we get a sense of the growing popularity, not just of Hobo Bill's group, but in particular, "Skeets", the Golden Yodeler. While the group was 'working overtime' at WGBF, the management at the local Indiana Theatre agreed to an in-person on-stage performance of four shows on one Saturday. The group welcomed the opportunity as it would provide funds for a trip to Cincinnati where they were scheduled for a series of broadcasts.

The surge in popularity for the group was due in large part to Skeets. The radio station had received 1,567 appreciation letters; he was mentioned in everyone of them except four.

The theater was showing a Ken Maynard movie — The Pocatello Kid. The local Mickey Mouse Club was also holding an official election of officers that day at 1:00 pm.

One of their members had gotten ill, so they invited Skeets to join up with them in Louisville, Kentucky. In a short publicity biography, it was said the group then went to St. Louis and legend has it, he got a good offer from a radio station and remained there. That station was probably KMOX.

In the summer of 1933, the local Indiana paper indicated that Skeets was being heard daily on various programs over KMOX as a 'singer and yodeler.' In July, Skeets visited his brother J. W. Yaney and his family and brought along another KMOX artist, Viola Lindhorst with her mother. Viola played the Hawaiian guitar as noted in the promotional ad. There was a large dinner and several musical numbers entertained the family and guests afterward.

Promo Ad - Hobo Bill and his Gang - Indiana Theatre - Bedford, IN - July 1932 Promo Ad - Hobo Bill and His Gang - From WHAS and WFBM - Bedford, IN - May 1932
Promo Ad - Dance at Armory - Lazene Brusoe - April 1926 Promo Ad - Dance at Armory - Brusoe's Orchestra - January 1926

Clyde (Skeets) Yaney - Portait

KMOX Ozark Mountaineers - Skeets Yaney - Circa 1935

KMOX

Golden Voiced Yodeler — National Champion Yodeler

Portrait - Skeets Yaney with Guitar - KMOX - St. Louis, MO - 1935 Promo Ad - Skeets Yaney and Frankie Taylor - KMOX - St. Louis, MO - 1935

On Sunday afternoon and evening March 29, 1936, 14,000 people attended the National Fiddlers' Association "midwest hillbilly music tournament" at the Coliseum in St. Louis. Winners were announced in several categories. Pappy Cheshire's Hillbillies, from St. Louis, were named best band by the audience in attendance. A tie occurred in the fiddling contest; Natchee, a national champion fiddler and Guy Blakeman, of St. Louis, shared honors. Another local performer, Skeets Yaney ("a local hillbilly") won the yodeling contest.

Another St. Louis newspaper reported that 13,000 in total attended two sessions on March 29. As they described it:

"St. Louis "hillbillies" turned out yesterday afternoon and evening, perched on the steep slopes of the Coliseum and covered its spacious floor munching peanuts and drinking "pop" as professional "hillbillies" — yodelers, fiddlers, bands — made the building of steel rafters ring as they displayed their talents from a flag-draped platform erected at the south end of the building."

The National Fiddlers' Association had its headquarters in Cincinnati, Ohio. Lawrence (Larry) Sunbrock was president of the organization. Lawrence McDaniel, who was a former Circuit Attorney had the job of holding a handkerchief over each contestant's head to allow the audience to select the winner by its applause.

Souvenir Program - Page 1 - National Fidders Association's Band - Fiddlers' - Yodelers' Contests - October 1936 Souvenir Program - Page 3 - National Fidders Association's Band - Fiddlers' - Yodelers' Contests - October 1936

A wire story reported that over 200 performers from Missouri, Illinois, Arizona, Texas, Wisconsin, Indiana, Oklahoma and Arkansas took part. The winners were to next compete in the national finals that was scheduled for New York in September 1936. Some of the competitors, who were described in one article "as temperamental as a bunch of opera stars," were the Skillet Lickers of Louisville, KY; Hoosier Sod Busters of Indianapolis, IN; Kansas Clodhoppers of Kansas City, KS; the Doodlebugs of Joplin, MO; Jimmy's Saddle Pals of Fort Worth, TX and the River Ramblers of Shelbyville, IL.

A report on the evening finals indicated that "...women stood on their chairs and screamed and men stamped and whistled last night..." The Post-Dispatch also reported that Lawrence Sunbrock had discovered that cities that had a number of radio stations with their own "hillbilly bands", there was an audience willing to pay money to see and hear their hillbilly performers.

One can only imagine the atmosphere as reported:

"So enamored did the audience become with its pets that when a yodeler would reach a particularly high note and hold it or an accordion player get into the hot and fast part of a song the crowd would clap so loud that it was impossible to hear the rest of the song."

And a description of the performers:

"The few really amateur fiddlers and yodelers who were there were easy to recognize. They just had on ordinary pants and shirt. The professional hillbillies, many of whom were born and bred right here in St. Louis, had on gaudy cowboy costumes or nice milkmaid dresses."

The Post-Dispatch went on to say that when things got a little dull, other acts were thrown on stage to pep up the crowd. In one instance, there was a Negro band of 16 pieces. Some folks would tell "...a few shady (and old) jokes." Even a bull fiddle contest was held between two men from KMOX.

A few weeks after the contest, Skeets now known as the "Golden Voiced Yodeler" was seen with a new 1936 Chevrolet which he planned to drive to New York for the national championship finals in September at Madison Square Garden.

Research has not shown a contest in New York in September 1936. But Mr. Sunbrock did put together a contest at the Shrine Auditorium on Sunday, September 20, 1936. Contests were to be held in five "different radio-music sectors." Contests were to be held for Fiddling, yodeling, string band playing, accordion playing and banjo playing. Some 200 entrants were expected including Stuart Hamblen's gang, Jimmy and his Saddle Pals, Natchee and the Arizona Indiana, the Beverly Hill Billies, Lum and Abner's Pine Ridge Band, Don Freeland Revelers, the Gold Coast Rangers and Jack's Texas Outlaws.

Another contest was put on by the National Fiddler's Association at the Coliseum in St. Louis on Sunday, October 11, 1936. Winners included: Frank Krajcir (later known as Frankie Taylor) on accordion; Clyde (Skeets) Yaney for yodeling; Pappy Cheshire's Band of St. Louis for the bands category; "Gypsy Joe" Cline of Fort Worth, Texas for popular songs; Natchee Storer of San Carlos, Arizona won the fiddle contest - he had been national champion the past six years. Each winner received a cash award of an unknown amount.

Larry Sunbrock - Bailiff Sale - 1937 But troubles began to surface surrounding Mr. Sunbrock. Two sheriff's deputies were assigned to take over the ticket sales for the hill-billy show at the Akron Armory. The promoter of the show, Larry Sunbrock, was said to owe the state of Ohio $1,298 in amusement taxes. In a related suit, Theodore and James Gill and Ward Hill alleged that Sunbrock owed them $1,389 for a show he put on in California. The deputies took in $838 at the gate; a radio station paid $450 that was owed. In addition, the sheriff's took "Sunbrock's big shiny new auto away from him." But the story does not end there. Before the state of Ohio could collect, "Akron impresario" Jimmy Walker showed up. He stated he had bought all rights to the Akron show from Sunbrock at Sunday noon and that therefore, all the money was his. George Carson, an attorney, was representing Mr. Walker.

Radio Stars Jamboree - January 10, 1937

Larry Sunbrock told reporters or via press release that the "hillbilly industry" had 10,000 professional performers and some 40,000 amateurs who were "sawing fiddles and yodelin." Sunbrock perhaps revealed the contrived description of a hillbilly as some rural performer and perhaps in a sense belittling them. His quotes in this contest lead one wondering if he was killing his golden goose. Sunbrock was quoted,

"There's been many a hillbilly leave his still and come to town in quest of fame and fortune during the last 15 years. Some of them make the grade, but most of the hillbillies and lonesome cowboys heard over the radio never wore a pair of overalls until they decided to go in for a stage career."

He went on, "One of the greatest difficulties in conducting hillbilly contests is in keeping peace between the real hillbilly and the professional hillbilly. In a contest the real hillbilly forgets all about his allotment of time. He throws down his hat, kicks up his heels and hacks his washboard or fiddle with real gusto and he's never ready to leave the stage when his time is up. Consequently the master of ceremonies has to practically push him off. Then he claims we're favoring the professional. As a master of ceremonies, I've had to duck many swings from irate hillbillies who were just getting warmed up when their time was over.

Running a hillbilly contest is like running a slot machine, you never know what will turn up next. It's impossible for us to have rehearsals. We just take them on as they come. One night in Charleston, West Virginia, a quartet turned up that blew a group of jugs partly filled with real corn squeezings. When the show was over, they drank the squeezings.

ONe of the most unusual instruments to appear in a contest was a base drum in which a gut string had been inserted. The performer held the string up at shoulder height and played it like a bass fiddle. Every contest brings its share of washboards, cigar-box fiddles, bottle blowers, guitar players and bone rattlers."

Then he spoke of a situation he had encountered dealing with Skeets Yaney. "Skeets...was protesting bitterly over putting his title on the block against a crippled contestant. He claimed the crowd always sympathizes with the disabled performers. To settle the matter, I've agreed to put it to a vote of all the yodeling entries. But no matter what the outcome, there will always be somebody yodeling at my door because I promote local and national contests the year around."

Some 322 performers were scheduled to participate in the sixth annual national old fiddlers contest. Larry Sunbrock was on hand from the Cincinnati headquarters of the National Fiddlers' Association. The participants were competing for $1,000 in cash prizes. Defending their titles would be Natchee on fiddle, Skeets Yaney in yodeling. Sunbrock was quoted, "The audience is as picturesque as the contestant. Requests for reservations have come from practically unknown hamlets of the Ozarks regions and they are in blocks for entire families and communities rather than in single and double admissions."

The 23-year old Natchee, an Apache Indian from San Carlos, Arizona, was to defend his title against Fiddling Red, Curley Fox, Hugh Farr and Plumer Sharp who had won the Eastern, Southern, Western and Northern division titles. From the Grand Ole Opry, the 82-year old Dixie Dewdrop Uncle Dave Macon was a competitor. In the band competition, there was the Beverly Hill Billies, Curley Fox's Georgia Wildcats and Lum and Abner's Pine Ridge Cornet Band. Pappy Cheshire's band who won the Midwest contest in October 1936 was competing for the national title. Pappy had to of his band members competing as well Skeets Yaney and Frankie Taylor in the yodel and accordion contests. Other local entrants included Charley Stookey's Early Birds of KWK, Jimmy's Texas Cowboys of WTMV and Cowboy Jack, Gypsy Joe, Genevieve, the Accordion Queen, Sonny Polk and Ukulele Bill of WEW.

Promo Ad - Larry Sunbrock National Fiddlers Association - Fiddlers' Contest - WLS National Barn Dance - March 1937 - St. Louis

Promo Ad - Hill Billy Contests - January 1937 - St. Louis
Promo Ad - Radio Stars Jamboree - Larry Sunbrock - Skeets Yaney - April 1937 - St. Louis, MO

Radio Stars Jamboree - February 1938

Larry Sunbrock, president of the National Fiddlers' Association was promoting another event to be held at the Municipal Auditorium Convention Hall on February 13, 1938. It was reported that over 300 radio stars from 24 state championships would compete. Gene Autry was to appear with his own band. Natchee of San Carlos, Arizona would again compete in the fiddling contest which he had won for the past seven years. Pappy Cheshire's Hillbillies would also compete as well as Skeets Yaney defending the yodeling championship.

Promo Ad - Hill Billie Contests - Skeets and Frankie, Natchee, Pepper Martin, Pappy Cheshire - February 1938 - St. Louis The 1938 competition would feature some notable names. Uncle Dave Macon, the Dixie Dewdrop, would appear at the age of 82; he was touted as "impresario of the 'Grand Ole Operay Stars' troupe sponsored by a Nashville radio station." Another group was the Kansas Clodhoppers (the report was they were from Kansas, but Doc Williams of WWVA fame later in his career also had a group called the Kansas Clodhoppers. Lum and Abner's Pine Ridge Band was to be there as well as Curley Fox, Sarie and Sally, the Gully Jumpers and Susie the Gal From the Hills.

The 1938 event was a bit rowdy. Contests were held up more than half an hour by a wild demonstration of "10,000 enthusiastic hillbilly music fans."

"The demonstration interrupted and then followed the yodeling contest in which Clyde (Skeets) Yaney of Pappy Cheshire's Hillbillies triumphed over Loyce (Tex) Waterbury of the same group to retain his title by a hairline decision."

Reports indicate that the competition between the two was so fierce that the judges (Pepper Martin and Bill McGee of the St. Louis Cardinals baseball team, Excise Commissioner Larry McDaniel, Dave Morris and Bill Overbeck, require an encore before making their decision. Skeets won by a three to two vote which started "...the whistling, cheering, stamping, booing, seat-slamming and cowbell ringing was on in earnest." The judges were hoping the audience had no clubs as they made their exit from the stadium doors. The afternoon session was relatively peaceful with about 12,000 in attendance; Sunbrock stated that over 1,000 standing room only tickets were sold. Other winners were Banjo Murphy McClees; Ted Painer finishing second, both of Pappy Cheshire's band. The band contest was won by Pappy Cheshire's Hillbillies with Bill Haley's Rural Ramblers from Columbia, Missouri finishing second. Natchee won the fiddling contest with Curley Fox finishing in second. There was a fellow named "Bill Haley" from radio station KFRU out of Columbia, Missouri; but it was probably not the same Bill Haley that went on to rockabilly fame. Haley was born in 1925; in 1939, if he was on this show, he would have only been 14.

This particular contest had a special attraction: "...some of the judges, including Pepper Martin and William McGee of the Cardinals baseball club, rendered what was announced as a musical number."

Radio Stars Jamboree - November 1939

Promo Ad - Hillbilly COntests - Larry Sunbrock - Tex Waterbury vs Skeets Yaney - St. Louis, MO - November 1939 Another Hillbilly jamboree contest was staged in 1939, but unlike past spring events, this one was held in November. It was held at the Municipal Auditorium. The crowds seemed smaller than past events per the reporting - 7,000 people for the afternoon and night performances. Roy Shaffer's string band from radio station WEW won the band contest. Roy Shaffer won the cowboy singer's contest over Cowboy Jake Wigginston of Ardmore, Oklahoma who had won the previous year. The accordion champion (stomach Steinway), also a member of Shaffer's band was Al (Al, the Accordion King) Boulicault. Al played his $1,000 instrument; his family bought for him after mortgaging their home. Charles (Smoky) Smith, from Detroit, won the fiddling contest. Tex Waterbury, under the management of Promoter Larry Sunbrock, won the yodeling contest. Skeets Yaney was presumably the runner-up based on promotional ads seen.

Perhaps the only controversy occurred when selecting the winner of the singing contest between Roy Shaffer and Jake Wigginston. It was so close they had to sing additional choruses. The crowd shouted, clapped and whistled for their favorites.

Promo Ad - Lum and Abner - Hillbilly Contests - Tex Waterbury vs Skeets Yaney - November 1939 The judge was Excise Commissioner Larry McDaniel; he brooded over his wrist watch to judge the length of time of the applause for each. While he said the sustained applause for each was equal, the applause for Shaffer was louder. By 1940, Sunbrock appears to have changed the shows he put on; at least in St. Louis. Gone were the contests. In their place were circus, rodeo and thrill shows.

Food Show - Evansville, IN - Pappy Cheshire, Skeets and Frankie, Johnny Buffington, Wade Ray, Miccolis Sisters, Sally Foster, Shucks Austin, Eddie Genery, Banjo Murphy - January 1940

Radio Stars Jamboree - 1942

In 1942, Lawrence (Larry) Sunbrock held another one of his championships in St. Louis. A youngster by the name of Jackie Osborne heard of the contests in Ohio and won that state championship, beating out Yodeling Dan Kain. Sunbrock signed Jackie to a contract and put him on the road with Natchee the Indian and Cowboy Copas as "Barefooted Ozzie." The finals that year were held in the Municipal Auditorium in St. Louis. Jackie won in front of an audience of 25,000. Osborne won, beating out Little Jackie Hill from the Shady Valley Gang and Yodeling Les Gamblin' from Grandpappy Jones' Carson Cowboys, who had won out over Skeets that year in a preliminary contest.

KMOX Old Fashioned Barn Dance
KMOX Old Fashioned Barn Dance - February 1948
Rear Row (L—R) Jack Austin, Ray Periandri, Wally Proctor, Guy Blakeman, Roland Gaines, Billy Starr, Bob Hastings, Skeets Yaney, Frankie Taylor
Front Row (L—R) Lambert Kaiman, "Mose" (Al Bland), Naomi Crawford, Tommy Patson, "Banjo" Murphy McClees.

In March 1948, National Hillbilly News published a full cast photo of the artists on the "KMOX National Champion Hillbillies" show. However, the same cast photo was used by SOng and Picture Barn Dance magazine in its February 1948 issue and labelled "KMOX Old Fashioned Barn Dance."

Pappy Cheshire and the Gang
Pappy Cheshire and the Gang - KMOX - St. Louis, MO
Standing (L—R) Hal, the Smiling Cowboy, Johnny Buffington, Wade Ray, Pappy Cheshire, Shucks Austin, Eddie Gentry, Stuffy Austin
Top Step (L—R) Mary Miccolis, Sally Foster, Ruth Miccolis
Kneeling (L—R) Skeets Yaney, Frankie Taylor
Bottom Step (L—R) Patsy the Pest

KMOX Barn Yard Follies 1945
KMOX Barn Yard Follies - 1945
Standing Back Row (L—R): Lullaby Lester Mayberry, Brownie Reynolds, Eddie Gentry, Roy Fields, Stuffy Austin, Bob Hastings
Standing Front Row (L—R): Joe Periandri, Skeets Yaney, Wade Ray, Sally Foster, Linda Fields, Rusty Marion
Kneeling: Al Bland

Another of the shows that Skeets participated in on KMOX was The Barnyard Follies. In June 1945, Pappy Cheshire took leave for a time as the emcee of the program; Rusty Marion took over the reins. Pappy was off in Hollywood making a movie. Rusty had started on WDZ out of Tuscola, Illinois as have many others. At the time, Skeets was in his 13 th year at KMOX.

Portrait - Skeets (Yaney) and Frankie (Taylor) - KMOX - St. Louis, MO - Circa 1949

Promo Ad - Great Hillbilly Show - Skeets Yaney, Sally Foster, Wade Ray - Washinton, MO - January 1944 Promo Ad - Lulu Belle and Scotty, Pappy Cheshire, Skeets Yaney, Wade Ray, Sally Foster - Louisville, KY - January 1944

Portrait - KMOX - St. Louis, MO - Frankie Taylor and Skeets Yaney

Skeets Yaney - Cover - Yearbook of Hillbilly Artists of the Midwest - Circa 1949

Cowboy Songs told readers about one of their singers on their October 1955 cover, Skeets Yaney, had won seven national yodeling championships. He was also declared one of the best dressed performers due to his wardrobe. It was reported that Skeets and his band, the Grand Champions, often got the choicest fair dates and various events in the Missouri area.

Cowboy Music World ran a popularity poll in 1945. A total of 18 performers were listed as candidates for Top Yodeler. Roy Rogers finished first in this poll. Others in the top 7, in order, were Gene Autry, Jackie Osborne, Elton Britt, Wilf Carter, Skeets Yaney and Tumbleweed Ludy.

Beulah Schacht wrote a bit of a feature article on Skeets in July 1950. It appears she noted that Skeets looked like he was quite successful up to that point as she was impressed with what she saw when she met him. She wrote, "...he was wearing a blue and yellow gabardine cowboy outfit worth $450 and he was strumming a guitar valued at $450 which he carries in a case costing $200. On his wrist was a diamond-dialed watch and on his finger a sizable rock in a Masonic ring."

Clint Fisher and His Musical Buddies - Roy Honeycutt - Steel Guitar In the early days of radio, performers would entertain the listening audiences over the air waves for free. In return, they were able to plug their personal appearances where they might earn some income. In some cases, the artists took on other jobs. Skeets said he got himself on a construction job. He said it was not too far from the KMOX studios at 12 th and Spruce Streets in St. Louis. He began to show up at the station at 5:00 am and would sing and yodel voluntarily until around am. He then walked to his $18 a week job. Uncle Dick Slack was also an early riser and loved hillbilly music. He heard Skeets and had an inkling he might help him sell furniture.

In about three weeks, Skeets had a sponsored program, six days a week, two hours a day and was getting paid $15 a week. He soon gave up the construction job to focus on his radio entertainment. One might think he was on most of the day over KMOX. First, he was on am to am; then from 8:00 am to 8:30 am. He would come back and do two hours in the afternoon. He joined Al Roth for a half hour from 6:00 pm to 6:30 pm. On Saturday nights, the station had a barn dance. On Sunday mornings he had a show of hymn singing.

Skeets was quoted of those times:

"Didn't nobody know me much in the early days, but if you keep pushing yourself down people's throats for 19 years, they're bound to remember you."

And after those 19 years, he was almost an employee of Slack's. Skeets did public appearances at the stores, set up programs, produced them, took the barn dance to surrounding communities and did charity work. By this time, his air time was sponsored only by Slack.

It was around 1935 or so that Skeets met another performer who would become a musical partner. Frankie Taylor saw him at a local night club and asked if he could sit in with him the following night. Frankie played the piano that night. The next night, he brought his accordion and they began their long partnership.

When they held the first Midwest National Championship for Hillbillies at the old Coliseum in 1936, Skeets won the yodeling trophy and Frankie the accordion trophy. Their group also won as a whole. For a string of seven years they were undefeated. Thus, their band name, "National Champion Hillbillies."

Skeets could not read a note of music when he got his guitar. But over time, writing some 30 songs, he said of how he did it, "I learned to read music like a foreigner learns a language. You keep looking at it long enough and you learn to read it. I couldn't write any symphonies, but I can write the lead notes."

For over a decade Skeets had a loyal sponsor of his shows on KMOX. Uncle Dick Slack had a furniture business and he sponsored the shows. There was a "Slack's Barn Dance" show as well. The man was Richard A. Slack (B: September 9, 1879 — D: February 5, 1964) and he founded the Slack Furniture Store. He was usually called "Uncle Dick Slack, the Jolly Irishman."

1954 — KXLW

In October of 1954, Skeets took a position at another St. Louis radio station. He was to start on Tuesday, October 5 doing a daily program starting at 6:00 am over KXLW.

Radio Log - KXLW - St. Louis, MO - Skeets Yaney - October 1954

Uncle Dick Slack the Jolly Irishman - Skeets Yaney and the National Champions - March 1954

1955 — WEW

Promo Photo - Skeets Yaney - Radio Station WEW - St. Louis, MO - Circa mid-1950's Skeets would do personal appearances around the area and on occasion, he would perform at benefits. One such benefit was the fifteenth annual fish and chicken picnic for the benefit of the Pinetree, Patterson and Rawins Cemeteries. In August 1955, the benefit had its largest crowd. They served over 800 pounds of fish, 1,200 pounds of frying chickens and 40 baked chickens. They sold 881 dinner tickets and 1,219 supper tickets. There was a variety of entertainment. Organ music by Austin Wiley; Vocals by Sandra Taylor and Carole Bigham; the Green Valley Boys; Pantomine skits by Mr. and Mrs. John Russell; and a gospel quartet (Galen Tipps, Orols Dawdy, George Raffety and Kenyon Carter. Skeets and his band provided entertainment both in the afternoon and evening.

In October 1955, Skeets along with Dwight Gordon, joined the WEW staff. Skeets was to have a show, Monday through Saturday from 6:00 am to 9:00 am; he would also do a show from 1:00 pm to 2:30 pm on Mondays as well.

In June of 1955, WEW's owner, Bruce Barrington, changed the station's programming directions. A decision was made to switch from "all long hair music" to "all Country and Western Music."

Did the switch pay off? According to an article in a 1955 Country & Western Jamboree magazine, the station went from th place in the ratings in the St. Louis area to th.

The station operated then as a 1,000 watt clear channel station, 770 on the AM dial. At the time, it was the only St. Louis station playing all country. Mr. Barrington, who was a 20 year radio veteran was quoted that programming Country and Western music was the most "...effective selling medium I have encountered." He said the station was doing 10 times the volume of business before the switch.

Skeets Yaney Band Portrait - Circa 1956

Promo Ad - Skeets and Frankie Club - Skeets Yaney, Ray Perriandri, Tommy Watson, Ralph DeSusse - April 1950 Promo Ad - Skeets Yaney's - Sylvan Springs Park - St. Louis, MO - June 1955

Skeets told of a problem that he and Frankie ran into when they opened two clubs in the late 1940's. Their competitors would have probably have killed to have their problem - too much business. Skeets went on in a 1950 interview. "We'd open the doors, fill the place to capacity, lock the doors, then when a few left we'd let just that many more in. Three years of that was too much for us. We had to close."

1960 — KSTL

Radio Log - KSTL - St. Louis, MO - Skeets Yaney - March 1960

Around October of 1960, Skeets joined the staff of KSTL with an afternoon show. He remained with KSTL for some 19 years and up until his bout with cancer took him, remained on the station until his death in 1979.

Recordings

Promo Ad - Town and Country Records - Skeets Yaney - June 1947In the summer of 1949, National Jamboree magazine told readers in Johnny Sippell's "Talent Trail" column that Skeets had inked a contract with Columbia Records. Two of the sides he did for the label were duets with Evelyn Wilson. She would later become part of the famed Anita Kerr Singers. She passed away suddenly on February 13, 1954 from a cerebral hemorrhage.

In January 1951, Billboard reported that Columbia Records had made changes to its country and western roster. They added about eight new artists / groups. But also dropped several. Of those dropped were names such as Al Dexter (who then joined the King label), Bob Atcher (then joined Capitol), Ray Smith (moved to London label). Other names included Ted Daffan, Andy Andersen, the 101 Ranch Boys, The Old Hickory Singers, Buddy Starcher, the Seven Rowe Brothers, the Spear Family and Lonnie and Tomie Thompson. Skeets Yaney and Frankie Taylor were also dropped. Skeets signed with M-G-M in early 1951.

Mary Jean Shurtz provided details as to who was backing Skeets on his MGM recordings in 1952. He had Jerry Byrd, Chet Atkins, Tommy Jackson, Eddie Hill and Lloyd Conley backing him. In that same article, Ms. Shurtz told readers that his band, The National Champion Hillbillies consisted of Frankie Taylor on accordion; Ray Periandri on accordion; Tommy Watson as all around handy man, Howard Donahue on Hawaiian steel guitar.

Promo Ad - Disco Recording Co - December 1943 - St. Louis, MO Promo Ad - Town and Country Records, Disco Recording Co., Petrillo Recording Ban - December 23, 1947
Promo Ad - Skeets Yaney - Disco Recording Co - March 1943 Promo Ad - Pappy Cheshire's Disco Recording Co - St. Louis, MO - March 1942

In 1973, Skeets recorded a couple of tunes for the Golden Country label. Johnny Rion was co-writer with Skeets on both tunes; Pappy Cheshire was another writer listed on "Hit the Trail."

Skeets Yaney — Record Reviews From The Billboard and Cash Box
Date Label Rec No. Review
9/10/1949 (BB) Columbia 20402 I'm Sealing This Letter With Tears w/His National Championship Hillbillies — Fresh country warbling and orking of a likely sentimentalizer. (Rating Overall: 72)

Alone Again — This is a city side as tune and treatment go pop. Not strong. (Rating Overall: 59)
12/17/1949 (BB) Columbia 20649 Go On, Little Girl, Have A Cry w/His National Championship Hillbillies — Simple, sentimental waltz ballad gets an okay semi-pop vocal and string backing. (Rating Overall: 75)

Ozark Valley Waltz — Routine place-name waltz well-enough warbled. (Rating Overall: 68)
1/20/1951 (CB) MGM 10894 Forever And Always — "Skeets" Yaney joins up with Evelyn Wilson and together they offer a pleasant duet on a nice ballad. Getting help from some good guitar instrumental, they make this a pretty job.

I'm Not Alone — On the bottom end, "Skeets" goes it alone again offering a pleasing ballad. Both ends are right for ops.
7/5/1951 (CB) MGM 11011 Candy Coated Lies — A very infectious melody is sent our way on the upper half by "Skeets" Yaney. He does this in wonderful manner and makes it a disk which customers are gonna want to hear more than once.

Another World Ago — On the lower end, "Skeets" teams up with Evelyn Wilson for a ballad which also is good to hear. Ops will want to look into this.
9/1/1951 (CB) MGM 11037 Don't Tell A Lie About Me — "Skeets" Yaney has a real good ballad going for him on the upper deck. He delivers it in a very relaxing manner which makes for lots of listening pleasure.

Train Track Shuffle — The second level creates a train effect musically and then carriest it right into a boogie beat. This half should also get its share of play in the machines.
1/26/1952 (CB) MGM 11149 Who's Taking Over? — "Skeets" Yaney does some pretty warbling on the upper hlf and winds up with a strong level. The tune is slow and easy going and Skeets does a good job in bringing it in.

Time And Time Again — Flip offers the vocalist with another soft and soothing number that has a pleasant sound. We like the first lid.
8/16/1952 (CB) MGM 11298 So Disheartened — A sentimental number sung with tenderness and backed by the inviting sound of a guitar is interestingly delivered by "Skeets" Yaney. Tune is a pretty one. (Rating: C+)

I'm In Love With Someone — Some more slow romantic material is dished up by the vocal artist. Piano and strings offset the songster's vocal. (Rating: B)
11/22/1952 (CB) MGM 11367 Throwing Our Love To The Four Winds — “Skeets” Yaney sings a slow romantic lament softly and appealingly. Yaney’s light yodel helps put the pretty ballad over. (Rating: B)

Sweet Talk — Yaney delivers a smooth bit of vocaling as he tells the story of a smooth talking liar to a quick beat. (Rating: B)
7/30/1955 (CB) MGM 12043 I May Be Lonesome — A quick beat, sentimental tune gets treated to a neat vocal performance by the mellow-toned “Skeets” Yaney. Melody and lyrics blend in easy-on-the ears manner. (Rating: B)

Sweetheart Of My Best Friend — This end Yaney warmly spins a sad, slow moving lover’s tale. (Rating: C+)
6/16/1956 (CB) MGM 12268 Apple Of My Eye —Here’s a cute item that gets treated to a sparkling vocal performance by the smooth-toned Skeets Yaney. It’s a happy, little romantic ditty with a quick beat and an appealing set of lyrics. (Rating: B)

If It Was A Teardrop — On the bottom half Yaney sings with tender emotion as he softly waxes a moderate beat blues item that’s sure to bring out the crying towel. Subdued strings back the artist. (Rating: B)
11/10/1956 (CB) MGM 12361 If You Don't Love Me — Skeets Yaney comes through with a strong showing as he tastefully cruises over a rhythmic blues ballad. Inviting musical assist on a sleeper to watch closely.(Rating: B)

Play Me That Old Song Again — On the bottom half the warbler warmly spins a lovely, moderate paced filter with a “Tennessee Waltz” flavoring. (Rating: B)
1/19/1957 (CB) MGM 12406 Ordinary (w/Ruth Tally) — The refreshing voices of Skeets Yaney and Ruth Talley are a treat to the ear as they colorfully blend their vocal talents on a happy-go-lucky, fast paced love novelty. Dandy waffle that rides merrily along in gay style. (Rating: B)

Just What You Want Me To (w/Ruth Tally) — On the reverse portion of the pair sing with tender emotion as they deck out a pretty, moderate paced romantic piece (Rating: C+)

New Releases from MGM - September 1950 - Skeets Yaney
New Releases from MGM - November 1954 - Skeets Yaney

The Golden Voiced Yodeler — The King of Midwest Country Radio

In March 1940, KMOX awarded KMOX "oscars" during its Old Fashioned Barn Dance broadcast to several members of Pappy Cheshires Hillbilly troupe for meritorious performances. The winners were Skeets Yaney and Frankie Krajcir (Taylor), Shucks Austin and Sally Foster.

There was a time that Skeets would get about 50,000 fan letters a week at KMOX. It was reported that the old timers at the station swore the halls were lined with mailbags waiting for the yodeler's attention. He not only got fan letters, but presents. The band would kid about the size shirt one wore and the next day or so, shirts would show up in the mail. Skeets got a birthday cake in the shape of an "S".

But he lamented in a 1950 interview, "It ain't what it used to be" in terms of fan mail or presents but Beulah Schacht noted that Skeets would have been the first to admit, "it's quite an improvement over $15 a week for a two-hour daily sponsored show."

While Skeets died in 1978, he was not forgotten. At the fifth annual awards ceremonty put on by the Federation of International Country Air Personalities (FICAP) Skeets was inducted into the Disc Jockey Hall of Fame in October 1980. The ceremony was part of the annual Grand Ole Opry Birthday Celebration that was generally known as Dee Jay Week. It was noted that Skeets had been on KMOX for some 22 years as well as 16 years with KSTL.

Skeets married the former Alma Rose Stoll on January 28, 1939 in St. Louis, Missouri. She was born on December 16, 1912. She passed away on February 20, 1984. Skeets and Alma had one daughter, Jean.

An obituary for Skeets noted that his radio theme song was, "Back Home Again in Indiana."

Portrait - Clyde (Skeets) Yaney - June 16, 1909 - January 22, 1978

Credits & Sources

  • Hillbilly-Music.com wishes to express its gratitude to the family of Skeets Yaney for donating materials related to Skeets Yaney's career, as well as other pictures, sheet music, folios, magazines and other memorabilia that were passed on by Frank Absher.
  • Hillbilly-Music.com wishes to thank Frank Absher, author of KMOX: The Voice of St. Louis; founder of St. Louis Media History Foundation, and announcer at KMOX Radio from 1979 to 1983. He boxed and shipped the material provided by the Skeets Yaney family. Longtime friend of this site.
  • To Broadcast Over Air; December 7, 1931; The Times-Mail; Bedford, IN
  • Hobo Bill Band Bound for WLW; December 17, 1931; The Times-Mail; Bedford, IN
  • Bolts and Nuts; Howard Chitty; December 24, 1931; Mitchell Tribune; Mitchell, IN
  • Hobo Bill And Rag Time Boys; December 24, 1931; The Times-Mail; Bedford, IN
  • Clyde Yaney Wins Yodeling Contest At Auditorium; February 14, 1932; St. Louis Post-Dispatch; St. Louis, MO
  • Around The Town; July 6, 1933; Mitchell Tribune; Mitchell, IN
  • Hillbilly Music Fete Attended by 14,000; March 30, 1936; The St. Louis Star and Times; St. Louis, MO
  • Arizona Indian Is Prize Winner; March 31, 1936; Arizona Republic; Phoenix, AZ
  • Star Yodeler's Chevrolet; April 26, 1936; St. Louis Globe-Democrat; St. Louis, MO
  • 13,000 Applaud Two Sessions Of 'Hillbilly' Playing; March 30, 1936; Stl. Louis Globe-Democrat; St. Louis, MO
  • Hillbilly Music Contest At The Coliseum Today; March 29, 1936; St. Louis Post-Dispatch; St. Louis, MO
  • 6800 Hear "Hillbilly" Bands In Middle West Finals; March 30, 1936; St. Louis Post-Dispatch; St. Louis, MO
  • Radio Jamboree To Attract 200 Artists; September 16, 1936; Wilmington Daily Press Journal; Wilmington, CA
  • Hillbilly Musicians' Contest Held Here; Winners to Compete in New York Soon For National Honors; October 12, 1936; St. Louis Globe-Democrat; St. Louis, MO
  • Deputies Agree Show Goes On But They Don't Like It; October 26, 1936; The Akron Beacon Journal; Akron, OH
  • Skeets Yaney - The Golden Voiced Yodeler; Fan Club Newsletter Biography; Mary Lou Chapman; Utica, NY
  • Hillbilly Industry Has 50,000 Players, Says Authority Here; January 9, 1937; St. Louis Globe-Democrat; St. Louis, MO
  • Hillbilly Contest in Auditorium Today; January 10, 1937; St. Louis Post-Dispatch; St. Louis, MO
  • St. Louis To Hear Hillbilly Music; January 8, 1937; The Springfield News-Leader; Springfield, MO
  • Outbreaks Mark Hillbilly Contest; February 14, 1938; St. Louis Globe-Democrat; St. Louis, MO
  • 'Radio Stars Jamboree' at The Auditorium Sunday; February 9, 1938; St. Louis Star and Times; St. Louis, MO
  • Radio Stars' Jamboree To Be Next Sunday; February 6, 1938; St. Louis Globe-Democrat; St. Louis, MO
  • Yaney-Stoll; February 9, 1939; Mitchell Tribune; Mitchell, IN
  • Hillbillies Strum, Yodel and Cut Up For Full House; November 20, 1939; St. Louis Post-Dispatch; St. Louis, MO
  • Hillbilly Jamboree Program Pleases Crowd of 7000; November 20, 1939; St. Louis Globe-Democrat; St. Louis, MO
  • Here and There on the Air; March 24, 1940; St. Louis Post-Dispatch; St. Louis, MO
  • Life Story of Marty Licklider And The Missouri Fox Hunters; November/December 1944; Cowboy Music World; Frank Karpinksi; Long Island, NY
  • Cowboy Music World's Popularity Poll Winners for 1945 - Cowboy Yodelers; November/December 1945; Cowboy Music World; Frank Karpinksi; Long Island, NY
  • The Barnyard Follies; Dick C. Land; June 1945; The Mountain Broadcast and Prairie Recorder; Mountain Broadcast Pub. Co., Inc.; New York, NY
  • Talent Trail; Joe Sippell; August 1949; National Jamboree; Words To Songs, Inc.; New York, NY
  • Take It From the 'Golden-Voiced Yodeler,' the Early Bird Gets The Worm; Beulah Schacht; July 26, 1950; St. Louis Globe-Democrat; St. Louis, MO
  • Col. Shuffles C&W Roster; January 20, 1951; The Billboard; Cincinnati, OH
  • Between The Lines; Mary Jean Shurtz; November 1952; Cowboys Songs; American Folk Publications; Derby, CT
  • Como, Clooney On Radio; October 3, 1954; St. Louis Globe-Democrat; St. Louis, MO
  • Folk and Western Roundup; February 27, 1954; The Cash Box; New York, NY
  • On Our Cover; October 1955; Issue No. 43; Cowboy Songs; American Folk Publications; Derby, CT
  • Fifteenth Annual Picnic Draws Record Crowd; August 19, 1955; Jacksonville Daily Journal; Jacksonville, IL
  • On WEW Now; October 16, 1955; St. Louis Post-Dispatch; St. Louis, MO
  • WEW Shifted To C&W - Jumped To 4th; September 1957; Country & Western Jamboree; Maher Publications, Inc.; Chicago, IL
  • Richard A. Slack Dies; Founded Furniture Firm; February 6, 1964; St. Louis Post-Dispatch; St. Louis, MO
  • Country Entertainer "Skeets" Yaney Dies (UPI); January 24, 1978; The Tennessean; Nashville, TN
  • DJ Hall of Fame Honors Three; Laura Eipper; October 18, 1980; The Tennessean; Nashville, TN

Get The Music

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Recordings (78rpm/45rpm)

 
Columbia
Rec. No. Side Song Title
  20602 A Alone Again
  20602 B I'm Sealing This Letter With Tears
  20649 A Ozark Valley Waltz
  20649 B Go On Little Girl Have Cry
 
Disco
Rec. No. Side Song Title
  100 A We'll Keep 'Em Flying
  100 B Faded Cactus Blossoms
  101 A The End Of The World
  101 B Censored Mail (By Dolph Hewitt)
  D-60 A When My Blue Moon Turns To Gold Again
  D-61 B Under The Light Of Western Stars
 
Golden Country
Rec. No. Side Song Title
  16636 A Heaven At Five
  16636 B Hit The Trail
 
MGM
Rec. No. Side Song Title
  10773 A You Count All My Mistakes
  10773 B Feelin' Sorry (Won't Mend A Broken Heart)
  10894 A Forever And Always
  10894 B I'm Not Alone (I'm Just Lonesome)
  11011 A Why Should I Cry?
  11011 B If Tears Would Bring You Back
  11037 A Don't Tell A Lite About Me Dear (And I Won't Tell The Truth About You)
  11037 B Train Track Shuffle
  11149 A Who's Taking Over
  11149 B Time And Time Again
  11367 A Throwing Our Love To The Four Winds
  11367 B Sweet Talk
  11476 A Paper To Burn
  11476 B Miss Me Just A Little
  11788 A Candy Coated Lies
  11788 B Another World Ago
  11859 A The Flower Of My Heart
  11859 B Don't Bring Your Broken Heart To Me
  12043 A Sweetheart Of My Best Friend
  12043 B I May Be Lonesome
  12151 A Hello, Trouble
  12151 B Meet Me In The Chapel
  12268 A Apple Of My Eye
  12268 B If It Was A Teardrop
  12361 A Play Me That Old Song Again
  12361 B If You Don't Love Me (Pleae Leave Me Alone)
  12406 A Ordinary (w/Ruth Talley)
  12406 B Just What You Want Me To (w/Ruth Talley)
  12526 A I Saw You Cheain't Last Night
  12526 B Never Can Be
 
Three Star
Rec. No. Side Song Title
  1817 A Tear Drop
  1817 B I Still Love You
 
Town and Country
Rec. No. Side Song Title
  500 A When My Blue Moon Turns To Gold Again
  500 B Under The Light Of Western Stars
  504 A When I Lost You
  504 B I'll Get Along Somehow
  509 A The Love I Threw Away
  509 B Before You Break My Heart


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