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Rainbow Valley Gang
WHIZ Zanesville, OH
WVCH Chester, PA

About The Group

This group appears to have been popular in the mid to late 1940's in Zanesville, Ohio based on research to date. They had a show over radio station WHIZ in Zanesville.

Details of who was in the group are sparse, but an ad in February 1947 provides a picture and names of who they were. The group then consisted of The Embree Trio, Clancy Cole, Spike Spiker, Brother Buel Clark and Lloyd Farley.

Rainbow Valley Gang - November 11 1946

Rainbow Valley Gang - Park Terrace - December 1950 Rainbow Valley Gang - Lukes Musical Bar - July 1948

Rainbow Valley Gang WHIZ 1947

During our research we did find that perhaps band members did try other gigs and sometimes would take the "Rainbow Valley" name with them. In 1950, Spike Spiker was appearing at local clubs in Sandusky, Ohio using "His Rainbow Valley Boys", but no mention was made the members of the group.

Spike Spiker and his Rainbow Valley Boys - 1950 Spike Spiker and the Rainbow Valley Boys - 1950

Rainbow Valley Gang - November 11 1946 Rainbow Valley Gang - November 11 1946

An announcement was made on June 3, 1953 naming six individuals and groups that would perform on stage at the Liberty Theater in Zanesville for a new NBC series, "New Talent USA" that was to begin June 13, 1953. George Patrick would handle the announcer chores. The show would feature six acts from Zanesville competing against talent in four other cities - Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, Honolulu, Hawaii and Baltimore, Maryland.

One June 20, 1953, Zanesville would feature the talents of:

  • The Embree Trio (Bob, Ruth and Mary)
  • The Denny Taylor Trio
  • Jane McDonald, a singer
  • Charley Chorjel, a western singer
  • Chuck Wise, accordionist
  • Anita Mitchell, singer

Rainbow Valley Gang - November 11 1946 Rainbow Valley Gang - November 11 1946

The talents of each show would be evaluated by judges in New York City and one winner from the four cities in competition would be chosen. The inner would get to appear on the final program on September 12, 1953 in New York, including an all expenses paid trip. The grand national winner would get several prizes including a $500 defense bond.

It was reported that the six acts had begun rehearsing their numbers at the WHIZ studios on June 9.

Bob Harsh wrote in his "Up and Down the Main Stem" column on June 25, 1953 a story of how the Embree Trio began to sing together. They actually started about 1943, kind of informally. They grew up on a farm in Flint Ridge, Ohio. The home did not have modern day plumbing. One warm summer evening, the girls could be heard singing in the outdoor bathroom. Their brother, Bob, would be in line sometimes and join in the harmonizing.

On June 27, 1953, NBC announced that the Embree Trio and a baritone from Hawaii had tied for the first prize of June 20, 1953 broadcast. They were to each receive a $500 Defense Bond and $250 in matched luggage as well as the all-expense paid trip to New York for the finals in September. They sang "Celito Lindo" during the program.

The Hawaii portion of the broadcast was aired over radio station KGU in Honolulu. The show was taped and then sent to NBC in New York to avoid any distortion due to short wave. It was held at the Queen Theater. The contestants in Hawaii were Warren Thomas (co-winner with Embree Trio for June 20 broadcast), Ethel Chung, Virginia Rodrigues, Edward Bush and Marion Martin. Bill Whedbee and Gene Good handled announcer chores for KGU.

The Embree Trio gained more attention when the "TV and Movie Screen" national magazine contacted WHIZ and said they wanted to do a feature on the trio. The station sent them photos as well as an outline of their musical careers.

The local newspaper began to feature the trio as the days leading up to the New York trip approached. Making the trip to New York, where they would be staying a the Belmont Plaza hotel, with the trio were Betty Embree (Bob's wife), Martin Blackwood (husband of Mary) and Ora Johns (husband of Ruth). In addition, the entourage included Mr. and Mrs. George Patrick, he being the announcer at WHIZ, Mr. and Mrs. Glenn Sheridan (Ms. Sheridan was the local Zanesville pianist for the local portion of the June 20 show) and Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Scanlon, who was the manager of the Liberty Theater where the broadcast originated.

The group departed for New York on Lake Central Airlines at the Zanesville municipal airport on September 9, 1953 and would begin rehearsals upon arrival.

Howard Hartman, a 26 year-old baritone from Houston, Texas won the contest. His prizes included a $1,000 savings bond, a piano and an automobile. The three runners up in the contest each received a $500 savings bond and a television set. The three runners up were Lynn Hoyt a singer from Dallas, Texas, Lou Vogle, an impressionist from Orlando, Florida and Mary Repult, a soprano from Memphis, Tennessee.

The Embree Trio (Bob, Ruth and Mary) achieved a bit of fame by reaching the finals on an NBC program called "New Talent USA" in September 1953.

A 1948 personal appearance ad with the same group picture seen in 1946 listed different members of the band. Additional members listed included Red Smith, Dick Spung, Ed Fisher along with announcer George Patrick, formerly of WTNS (and later WHIZ). Holdover members were the Embree Trio, Lloyd Farley and Buel Clark.

Further research shows that Dick Spung was the step-father to Lloyd Farley. He had married Lloyd's mom, who was a widow as her husband Wayne F. Farley had passed away. Lloyd Farley married Carol Conrad in Fairborn, Ohio on January 30, 1954.

Pleasant Valley Gang

In 1955, Clancy Cole had begun working with a new group known as the Pleasant Valley Boys and had a program over WHIZ in Zanesville, Ohio. That band included Curly Handshy on steel guitar and bass; Handsome Hector, comedian; Cy Locke, Fiddle and emcee; Clancy Cole, vocalist and Al Atkins on lead guitar.

Brother Buel Clark Tragedy struck one of the members of the Gang in 1957. Brother Buel Clark, as he was known, died in an auto wreck on the evening of Saturday, August 3, 1957. He was on his way home after attending an employee picnic held by the Continental Can Co. His car took out a guard rail and crashed into a bridge around 11:30 pm that night.

A passerby, who's car was also wrecked avoiding the torn guard rail that had been knocked across the road, found Buel's car resting on a concrete bridge approach and his body about 25 feet away. The passerby immediately found a home near by to call the police and get help, but by the time they arrived, Buel had passed on from his injuries.

Mr. Clark served in the U.S. Army for three years as a sergeant and radio operator. He worked as a machinist at the Continental Can Company. He left behind his wife, the former Delores Worthington (they married in 1953), and his children, James Mark, Charlene Christa and Lesia Marie. He was born in Ramp, West Virginia.

Further internet research reveals that the Rainbow Valley Gang were charter members of the Muskingum County Music Hall of Fame.

Biographical Details of Members:

  • Ruth Alice (Embree) Johns
    Born: June 10, 1927
    Died: March 9, 2012
  • Mary (Embree) Blackwood
    Born: June 9, 1931
    Died: October 28, 1990
  • Bob Embree
    Born: November 25, 1925
    Died: February 28, 2003
  • Brother Buel Clark
    Born: August 8, 1928
    Died: August 3, 1957
  • Lloyd Farley
    Born: May 2, 1928
    Died: January 5, 2007
  • Clancy (Clarence) Cole
    Born: September 26, 1929
    Died: January 27, 2001
  • Chuck (Charles) Wise
    Born: October 15, 1927
    Died: February 10, 2004
  • Dick (Richard) Spung
    Born: February 13, 1916
    Died: November 1, 1987
  • Spike (Clarence) Spiker
    Born: February 10, 1901
    Died: March 28, 1990

Credits & Sources

  • Hillbilly-Music.com would like to thank C. C. Smith (a relative of Brother Buel Clark) for contacting us and providing photos and other information about the group via email exchanges.
  • The Times Recorder; November 7, 1947; Zanesville, OH
  • Delaware County Times; July 22, 1948; Chester, PA
  • Sandusky Register; January 13, 1950; Sandusky, OH
  • Sandusky Register; March 24, 1950; Sandusky, OH
  • Newark Advocate; December 1, 1950; Newark, OH
  • The Times Recorder; "Name Talent For NBC Broadcast"; June 3, 1953; Zanesville, OH
  • The Times Recorder; "WHIZ Rehearsal Session Open"; June 9, 1953; Zanesville, OH
  • The Times Recorder; "Up And Down The Main Stem"; June 25, 1953; Zanesville, OH
  • The Times Recorder; "Embree Trio Shares in NBC's Hunt for Talent"; June 27, 1953; Zanesville, OH
  • The Times Recorder; "Radio Roundup"; June 14, 1953; Honolulu, HI
  • The Times Recorder; "Talent Contest Winner"; June 29, 1953; Honolulu, HI
  • The Times Recorder; July 1, 1953; Zanesville, OH
  • The Times Recorder; "Up And Down The Main Stem"; August 15, 1953; Zanesville, OH
  • The Times Recorder; September 8, 1953; Zanesville, OH
  • The Times Recorder; September 9, 1953; Zanesville, OH
  • Orlando Sentinel; September 13, 1953; Orlando, FL
  • Dayton Daily News; "Conrad-Farley Vows Spoken"; February 12, 1954; Dayton, OH
  • The Times Recorder; March 5, 1955; Zanesville, OH
  • Newark Advocate; "Auto Hits Bridge; Driver Killed"; August 5, 1957; Newark, OH
  • The Times Recorder; "Son of Local Woman Dies in Crash"; August 5, 1957; Zanesville, OH
  • The Times Recorder; "Obituary: Richard Spung"; November 4, 1987; Zanesville, OH
  • The Times Recorder; "Obituary: Clarence (Clancy) Cole"; January 28, 2001; Zanesville, OH
  • The Times Recorder; "Obituary: Chuck Wise"; February 11, 2004; Zanesville, OH

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