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Vandergrift Brothers
WWVA Original Jamboree

About The Group

The Vandergrift Brothers were a trio from Fairmont, West Virginia who are remembered for their quality harmony. They gained their major name as regulars on the WWVA Jamboree during the 1960s. The threesome was composed of:

  • Don Vandergrift (B: July 23, 1932 — D: August 7, 2004)
  • Darrell Vandergrift (B: January 1, 1935 — July 17, 2018)
  • Ronnie Vandergrift (B: March 3, 1937 — D: ----)

Vandergrift Brothers Portrait - Circa 1961 The Vandergrift Brothers started off as a duo. They started their musical efforts after Darrell was discharged from the Navy, serving October 1954 to October 1958. Don had already served time with the U.S. Army (August 1949 to December 1952). Music was in their blood and that lead to forming a small band and performing around the Fairmont, WV area. A couple years later, their younger brother Ronnie joined them and they became a trio. Ronnie learned to play bass.

After about performing as a trio for six months, a booking agent out of New York heard them and like them. She wanted to book them in her area. That led to bookings in the New Jersey area and commuting from Fairmont each weekend.

In addition to their work on the Jamboree, the Vandergrifts played numerous shows in the eastern states.

Promo Ad - Sonny's Countryside - Bridgewater, NJ - Vandergrift Brothers - April 1961 Promo Ad - The New Rendale's - Dunellen, NJ - Vandergrift Brothers - June 1961

Promo Ad - Himmelreichs Grove - Womelsdorf, PA - Vandergrift Brothers - Margie Singleton - August 1964 Promo Ad - Valley View Park - York, PA - Vandergrift Brothers - Crazy Elmer - Prof. Clyde Fogle - Sally Fincher - May 1964

Promo Ad - Bonneauville Fire Co. Carnival - Gettysburg, PA - Vandergrift Brothers - Bob and Dean McNett - Sonny George - July 1965 Promo Ad - Carnival - New Oxford Fire Company - Hanover, PA - Vandergrift Brotehrs - July 1967

Vandergrift Brothers - WWVA Jamboree - Circa 1965 The Vandergrift Brothers recordings are something of a mixed bag. Their first disc on the Cozy label from 1959 is a rare effort sought by rockabilly collectors.

It was while they were working in New Jersey that Nat Tannen of King Records had heard them and thought they "...had some good talent hidden that they had never used." He tried to get them a guest spot on the WWVA Jamboree. But coincidentally at the same time, Doc Williams had also heard them and the Jamboree was trying to get them a guest spot as well. On June 26, 1961 they did a country single on King followed by another four sides for that label in January 1962, only two of which were released.

That first appearance on the Jamboree went over well with the audience. They were asked to do another appearance the following weekend. One thing led to another and soon they became regular cast members of the WWVA Jamboree.

Later that same year they cut a single on the Emperor label — owned by WWVA fiddler Buddy Durham —

Promo Ad - Clear Spring American Legion Carnival - Vandergrift Brothers - Hagerstown, MD - July 1967 In 1964 they recorded a six-song EP for another local firm Essgee dominated by old PD-type numbers. Four of these songs also saw release on a mixed-artist long play album from Rural Rhythm, Country Greats (RRCG 155).

A final release came out on Santa Fe Records.

As the Vandergrifts grew older they eventually gave up music full-time and drifted into other occupations, playing only for local functions. As of 2021, only Ron Vandergrift survives as does Don's widow Jamboree veteran JoAnn Davis, who had previously been married to WWVA artist Jimmy Stephens.

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.
  • Our Album Of Country Song Folk; Country Song Roundup; Issue No. 80; May 1963; American Folk Publciations, Inc.; Derby, CT
  • Presenting The Vandergrift Brothers; Country Music Review; September 1965; Cal-Western Publications, Inc.; Anaheim, CA

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Recordings (78rpm/45rpm)

 
Cozy
Rec. No. Side Song Title
  447 A Sittin? Here A Crying
  448 B She?s Gone
 
Emperor
Rec. No. Side Song Title
  270 A Honky Tonk Woman
  270 B I Have No Right
 
Essgee
Rec. No. Side Song Title
  962 A New River Train
  962 A September
  962 A Birmingham Jail
  962 B Greenback Dollar
  962 B White Lightnin?
  962 B Salty Dog Blues
 
King
Rec. No. Side Song Title
  5533 A The Corner Of My Eye
  5533 B Tomorrow Never Comes
  5615 A Hello Again Sweet Lips
  5615 B Who Needs Your Cold Old Love
 
Santa Fe
Rec. No. Side Song Title
  4002 A Trouble with the Law
  4002 B I Have No Right


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