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Bill Long
and the Ranch Girls
CHML Main Street Jamboree
WLS National Barn Dance
WWVA Original Jamboree

About The Artist

Bill Long was a native of Albuquerque, New Mexico, born on his parents 2,000 acre ranch. They said when he was ten, he would sit on the corral fence with his guitar and sing. But his career saw him go north to Canada as we will see.

When he was 18 years old, he decided to try his hand at the rodeo circuit in the USA and Canada and was said to have established himself as a decent if not 'ace' rider. But even then, music was always a part of him, though just a hobby then, and he took his guitar with him as he traveled the circuit.

He appeared in many of the legendary rodeos of the day, the annual Keystone event in South Dakota, the Cheyenne, Wyoming show. And he was on the verge of fulfilling one of his aims as a tournament cowhand - entering the chuckwagon race at the Calgary (Alberta) Stampede. But a friend of Bill's injured himself in that same show. Bill looked inward a bit and saw that fate might be waiting for him, too, so he quit the rodeo circuit and turned to his other love of entertainment, music and singing.

He decided to make singing his career and took his first radio job at KMOX in St. Louis. This was around 1942. He formed a trio act that was known as Bill Long and his Ranchboys. From there, he went to radio station WHAS in Louisville, Kentucky, where he met up with Clayton McMichen. It wasn't too long though before he found himself in Chicago, appearing on the famed WLS National Barn Dance show. While there, he worked with Red Foley for two years then he formed his own band. The chain of events are unclear from our research, but he also became part of the Curley Bradley shows on WGN in Chicago.

Once he had his own band, he started doing his own road tours. He and the band played in such places as the Village Barn in New York; the Antler Hotel in Colorado Springs, Colorado; the Ole Hudelburg in Chicago as well as the Helsings Vaudeville Lounge where he also appeared with Al Morgan on television.

Some time after his Chicago days, he met up with a couple of gals that would become known as the "Ranch Girls" and with Bill Long, they performed as the "Bill Long Trio". One of the girls was Madeline Bonin of Denver, Colorado who sang and played the bass and fiddle, too. The other was Dorothy Miller, who was a Texas rodeo rider but also sang and played the steel guitar.

They continued to tour the USA and Canada. And each time they always found a good reception from the audiences in Canada and they also found some good luck. It was while they were in Canada that he signed his first recording contract with the London label and did all "Canadian" songs in that first session that gained them a following. One was "Blue Canadian Rockies" and the other was "Relax, Relax, Relax." Bill stayed with that good luck charm as they said he continued to record Canadian music on his subsequent recordings that included the London and Capitol labels.

Bill Long and The Ranch Girls were said to be one of the first American acts to guest star on the CHML Main Street Jamboree and would "stop the show" so to speak. The producers took note of that and asked them to become regular performers on the show.

In 1956, he had his own television show on channel 11, CHCH-TV in Hamilton, Ontario. That show was called the Bar 11 Ranch and was on five days a week. If he wasn't busy enough with that show, he was also the producer of the CHML Main Street Jamboree show which was also on television, too that aired on Saturday nights for two hours.

On Sunday, he found the time to do a show called Fireside on CHCH-TV which was a children's religious show.

As a result of those tours mentioned, he was signed to a recording contract with the Capitol label and later would also record for the King label. Later, while in Canada, he was recording for the Sparton label. We also found that he had recorded on the London label, too. Around 1955, his latest release on the King label was titled, "What A Waste of Good Corn Liker".

He was still single in 1956. He had a horse, a Palomino stallion that he named "Golden Pride" that he taught to do many tricks and helped entertain many a kid at his shows.

Credits & Sources

  • CHML Songs and Stars Of Main Street Jamboree Book No. 1; circa 1953; BMI Canada Limited; Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
  • Country Song Roundup No. 36; January 1955; American Folk Publications, Inc.; Derby, CT
  • Cowboy Songs No. 47; July 1956; American Folk Publications, Inc.; Derby, CT

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Recordings (78rpm/45rpm)

 
Sparton
Rec. No. Side Song Title
  172 A Blow The Whistle (w/Madeline Bonin)
  172 B You've Got The Love (w/Madeline Bonin)
  174 A Across The Wires
  174 B You Are My Sunshine
  193 A Sixteen Tons
  193 B Relax Relax Relax
  273 A Ranch of the Golden Rule
  273 B Blue Canadian Rockies


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