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About the Group
The Jacoby Brothers, Boy and Gene, were born and raised in San Antonio, Texas of a musical family. They played with their mother (Tommy) and their father (Levy) in the Jacoby's Mountain Rhythm Band and entertained audiences around the San Antonio area.
The group were also guests on a 30-minute noontime KONO radio broadcast which featured Ernest Tubb. This was probably around the mid to late 1930's.
Boy played about any instrument you stuck in front of him—guitar, fiddle, piano, bass, accordion—but later on his main instrument would become the mandolin, stripped down to four strings for speed (and later a prized Fender 4 string electric, which his son, Wade still has).
Gene was a masterful rhythm guitar player, and later on in his career became one of the most respected bass players around. Gene was in fact voted best bass player in the southwest region by Billboard magazine, but we haven't determined which year that was at this point.
Both of the Jacoby brothers of course sang very, very, well. Boy's son, Wade, notes that he can't say exactly who was their earliest influences, but recalls them being very fond of Johnnie and Jack, Homer and Jethro, and the great Blue Yodeler himself, Jimmie Rodgers. (Boy's cousin has an autographed picture of Jimmie Rodgers that he got from his dad, Gilbert, who also played in the Mountain Rhythm Band).
After Boy's short stint in the army at the end of World War II, Boy and Gene branched out on their own as the Jacoby Brothers. It was around 1949 when they won a talent contest hosted by Tex Ritter, held at the Texas Theatre. After they had played, Tex moved them to the side of the stage, but not off the stage—he had already found his winner before the contest was even over.
Tex invited them to come out to California and told them that he could help them. They didn't take him up on his offer, but they did cash the check signed by Tex (the amount was something like $10.00) at some place on West Avenue called Smitties, where Mr. Smittie (if that was his name) then framed the check and hung it up on the wall of his establishment.
From the late 1940s until about 1955, the Jacoby Brothers appeared all around San Antonio and across Texas. They appeared at places like Jowdy's, The Round Up, The Barn, The Outskirts, and the Circle B, to name a few.
In addition to the live performances at clubs and dancehalls, they were regular weekly guests on radio stations KMAC, WOAI (working with Smiley Whitley) and KONO.
They were also regular weekly guests on the Red River Dave TV Show on WOAI for a couple of years from 1952 to 1954.
They released about eight singles on the TNT label. Their recordings were played on all the local stations, and then some. The major labels got wind of them in late 1953 or early 1954. This was probably the result of a KMAC broadcast, which was simulcast across the nation. Soon, the brothers found representatives from Decca, Capital, and Columbia visiting them and offering a recording contract.
One guy from did not make a good impression on the family and was asked to leave their home. Another label representative left the home a bit perplexed that he didn't get them to sign with his label. Columbia Records' representative was the legendary Don Law. He was able to track them down through radio station WOAI. The Jacoby Brothers signed with Columbia in late 1953 or early 1954.
At that time, they were on the TNT label. Mr. Tanner graciously let them out of their contract with TNT without receiving a penny. He just wanted what was best for them—an uncommon occurrence in any era.
What happened next was the clash of a young ego with a seasoned record executive. The Jacoby Brothers recorded a couple of singles for Columbia in Dallas. On the last session, Don Law told them that Gene's material wasn't what he wanted them to be recording. He also told the brothers he would be bringing in session players which meant they wouldn't be recording with their band that had made the trip with them. He told the boys flatly that he hadn't signed them not to make money.
Since these were songs Gene had written, his pride got the better of him and he proceeded to tell Don in so many words that "...we came up here on our own money, and we can go home on our own money". Wade Jacoby relates that his Dad, Boy, figured Gene had blown it for them. But, in fact, Gene had not blown it. Don Law apparently forgave Gene his youthful outburst, but it wasn't known until many years later.
Real tragedy struck Boy and his wife Billie in 1955 when their 2-year old baby girl got sick and died. From all accounts, Boy dealt with it by burying himself in his work and raising a family. He went on to build a pretty good sized construction company. But after the death of their young daughter, his heart just wasn't in it for the music anymore.
Gene however, continued his musical interests. He played with local bands, notably Lee Harmon and the Harmoneers, who backed up a lot of artists who came to town, and he even did a tour in Germany with Charley Pride. His personal life was somewhat tumultuous, but he continued to play and write songs until the day he died. Gene never lost his love for music or songwriting.
Perhaps their career didn't take them to the heights of fame and fortune that their talents would seem to have indicated, but they did achieve a reputation from their efforts and leave an impression with fans and those who knew them. Wade Jacoby notes that there are so many people he has talked to who knew them and have nothing but love and respect for them.
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