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Les (Carrot Top) Anderson
Born:  February 20, 1921
Died:  October 4, 2001
Western Swing Society Hall of Fame (1990)
Town Hall Party

"Carrot Top" was one of the featured acts on the Town Hall Party that originated in Compton, California. He was also a star performer with many top name bands in the Western field for many years and was on many radio and television shows.

Les was set to make an appearance on KFVD in Los Angeles, California back in 1948 or so on the "Spade Cooley Time" show. A magazine took a different approach to writing an article about him. They chose to instead show up on the date Les was to appear on the show, introduced himself to the emcee of Spade's show, George Sanders and told him all he wanted to do was observer Les Anderson at work - but Les wasn't to know he was being observed.

At the time, the Spade Cooley Time show aired from 10:00pm to 2:00am. Les was due to perform at 12:00midnight. The author of the article mentioned that he had seen many artists that like to 'arrange an entrance' and considered it 'their sacred duty to hold up the show for several minutes', even if all they were doing was sitting outside the studio in a car and just wait until they were due on the air. Les on the other hand got his guitar and was in the studio well over an hour before his scheduled time.

Now the author of the article mentions that he got holed up in Studio "B" with Les, and Ernie Howard and they proceeded to have a bit of a picking session among themselves with that guitar Les had. They were having almost too good of a time as the show's emcee, George Sanders started giving them frantic gestures and Les hurriedly picked up his guitar and made it to the microphone with about a couple seconds to spare.

Les' interview with Spade Cooley lasted about 20 minutes, during which Les did four solo numbers. Since most late radio shows were usually short of help, the article author (probably the publisher of the magazine, Wm. T. Allen) got assigned to handle the switchboard during Les' appearance. Well, he said he must have answered about 75 phone calls during that appearance. Les had related how he had to live in a housing project in Wilmington, CA as he hadn't been able to find a house for his family. Well, within five minutes, the author said he had taken several offers for Les for housing.

After the interview, Les, the writer and Ernie went back to their jam session until the show ended at 2:00am. Afterwards, Les, George Sanders, Mr. & Mrs. Ernie Howard and the writer went across the street to an all-night coffee shop and stayed until 3:30am drinking loads of coffee and enjoying themselves.

It sounds like Les had a charm as such they couldn't get him to talk about himself much, but they managed to tell him about them instead. But they did learn that Les' real name was "Clelland", which was his grandfather's name. He was also called "Red" Anderson throughout his career up to when he joined Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys. It seems that Bob Wills had a pet peeve of sorts that no one knew why about anyone using the name 'Red' and so "Red" Anderson became known as "Les" Anderson on the steel guitar. But when "Les" left Bob Wills' group in 1946, the name stuck with him.

Back around that time, Stuart Hamblen had a horse named "El Lobo". The author of the article we found discovered that Les was the one that had broken the colt for Stuart.

Many times you'll hear the "show must go on" in the entertainment business. Les seemed to follow that credo too. The story we found related an incident where his two year old son, David, had been run over by a car just a couple hours before his appearance on KFVD on Spade Cooley Time. The child was uninjured thankfully. And even more, Les got pulled over in a police blockade on the way to the show and was nearly booked because he was a 'suspicious character'.

In late 1948, early 1949, Les was appearing as a featured soloist and steel guitarist in Spade Cooley's Western Varieties Show. He was also signed by EXCLUSIVE records at the time who purchased sevearl masters made by Les a few years earlier and released a couple of them - "And I Shook" with "This Is Southland". They said an upcomning release would be "Together Forever" with "What A Wreck".

Credits & Sources

  • Jenks "Tex" Carman's All Star Western Song Collection"; M.M. Cole Publishing Co.; Chicago, IL; 1955.
  • Jamboree Magazine; January 1949; Ventura, CA.

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