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The Hillbilly Playboys
Big E Jamboree
WEBQ Harrisburg, IL
WFTW Fort Wayne, IN
WKGS Fort Wayne, IN
WVLN Olney, IL

About The Group

The Hillbilly Playboys were a brother act in the Midwest. Billy was 14 back then (around 1953) and already had been playing the twin-neck steel guitar for five years. He also learned to play the Spanish guitar. For a time, he was heard over WKGS and WFTW in Fort Wayne, Indiana, with the Indiana Ramblers group. Billy was also a songwriter and already had three tunes to his credit. His brother, Sherman, was said to sound a bit like Hank Williams, had been singing for a couple years and was known especially for his blues numbers; so much so that they called him the "Blues Boy".

About 1952, the Hillbilly Playboys had their own radio program over WVLN out of Olney, Illinois. Later on, they moved to WEBQ in Harrisburg, Illinois where they were doing a weekly show in 1953.

One of their notable achievements in their early career was winning a $100 war bond on October 17, 1952 along with a huge trophy after winning a street festival in Evansville, Illinois - winning out over 42 other contestants.

Their radio program also created some demand for them to do personal appearances and they would appear at round and square dances, private clubs, parties and church functions. They also appeared once on the same show as Roy Acuff and the Smokey Mountain Boys.

The Hillbilly Boys were managed by their mother, Thelma Smith, who handled all their bookings.

Timeline and Trivia Notes

Group members included:

  • Billy Smith, steel guitar, Spanish guitar
  • Sherman Smith, vocals, guitar

Credits & Sources

  • Cowboy Songs No.28; September 1953, American Folk Publications, Inc.; Derby, CT.

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