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George (Sleepy) Jeffers
Born:  February 15, 1922
Died:  November 25, 1992
WMMN Sagebrush Roundup
WWVA Original Jamboree
KTBS Shreveport, LA
WDBJ Roanoke, VA
WMMN Fairmont, WV
WTIP Charleston, WV
WWVA Wheeling, WV

About The Artist

Mack Jeffers Fiddlin' Farmers Souvenir Book 1940 George (Sleepy) Jeffers was a native of East Tennessee who entered into a show business career at the age of ten when his father William M. "Mack" Jeffers formed a group called the Fiddling Farmers that worked on WKRC radio in Cincinnati, Ohio and in 1939 moved to WWVA in Wheeling and its popular Saturday night "Jamboree." By that time the group consisted of Mack who played banjo, "Sleepy" and his brother "Slick" (William Jeffers, Jr.) who played guitars, and William H."Shorty" Godwin, a former vaudeville performer and member of Otto Gray's Oklahoma Cowboys who played fiddle and did comedy. Later the group moved to WMMN Fairmont. As World War II intervened and military service began to threaten personnel, Mack added Celia "Cricket" Mauri to the group, but the war soon caused the Fiddling Farmers to disband.

Sleepy joined the Marines in November 1942 and served in the Pacific from November 1944 including the invasion of Okinawa and the occupation of Japan. After the war Mack and Slick retired from entertainment, but Sleepy returned to WWVA and worked with the Davis Twins, marrying Honey Davis. The careers of Jeffers and the Davis Twins thereafter work as a threesome. This seems to be the period when Sleepy developed his comic alter-ego "Little Willie," an overgrown child in a sailor cap and short pants. As Little Willie aged he eventually became "Uncle Willie." Jeffers left Wheeling in late 1947; he went to WPDX Clarksburg, WTIP Charleston and KWKH and KTBS Shreveport.

George Sleepy Jeffers aka Little Willie 1940 By 1950, Jeffers and the Davis Twins were back in Charleston where they became entrenched at WTIP. Sleepy did deejay work and also entertained, After 1960, he appeared often as a guest on Buddy Starcher's morning TV show and was a regular from 1963.

After Starcher left the program it became the Sleepy Jeffers Show until 1973. As Uncle Willie, he had a children's afternoon TV program to attract the after-school audience. He sang children's songs and showed cartoons and old Little Rascals films, signing off with the word "bicycle."

Country Song Roundup gave Webb Pierce a series of questions in its "Witness Box" column in their December 1953 issue. They asked him - who was his favorite comedian. He responded - Little Willie (alias Sleepy Jeffers).

After his live show ended, Sleepy worked a night shift at WCHS radio until 1984 where his job consisted mostly of changing tapes on prerecorded programs. He still played occasional programs in the Charleston area, mostly for children. Jeffers died at seventy, the same week as Roy Acuff.

Credits & Sources

  • Hillbilly-Music.com would like to express its thanks to Ivan M. Tribe, author of Mountaineer Jamboree — Country Music in West Virginia and other books that can be found on Amazon.com and numerous articles in other publications for providing us with information about this artist.
  • The Witness Box; Country Song Roundup; December 1953; Issue No. 27; American Folk Publications; Charlton Building; Derby, CT

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Recordings (78rpm/45rpm)

 
Bicycle
Rec. No. Side Song Title
  1176 A Jimbo Jambo Town
  1176 B Chocolate Ice Cream Cone
 
Pacemaker
Rec. No. Side Song Title
  1007 A I Used To Love You
  1007 B You Turned A Good Man Down
 
Starday
Rec. No. Side Song Title
  319 A My Blackbirds Are Bluebirds Now
  319 B Pretending Is A Game


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