About The Artist
Pie Plant Pete, whose real name was Claude Moye, was an Illinois native who spent virtually all of his country music career in northern states. A native of Shawneetown, he learned to sing and accompany himself on guitar and harmonica, which often was termed a two-cylinder cob crusher.
At age twenty-one he auditioned for the National Barn Dance at WLS in Chicago and was accepted and took the radio name of Pie Plant Pete, a term used for rhubarb which was often used for pies and was, he thought, easy to remember but hard to pronounce (a tongue-twister).
After two years, he moved to WTAM Cleveland where in 1936 he added a partner Joe Troyan who was known on stage as "Bashful Harmonica Joe." They worked together into the 1950's at radio locales in Rochester, Boston, and Detroit. As live country music on radio began to phase out, Pete worked in children's television.
Like many artists associated with WLS, Pie Plant Pete began his recording career with Gennett and many of his numbers were released on the Sears Roebuck related Supertone label, often under the pseudonym "Asparagus Joe."
He later moved to Decca and the American Record Corporation. While some of his songs were similar to other artists, others concentrated on either nonsensical songs typified by "Did You Ever Hear a Goldfish Sing" or about farmers such as "Farming By the Fire," "Stay on the Farm." "Prairie Home", and "You Wouldn't Know the Whitewashed Stable Now."
Later in 1947, he and Joe recorded twenty numbers for the Process label.
Around 1965, Claude had moved to Illinois. There he had a 15-minute television program over WSIL-TV (Channel 3) in Harrisburg, IL. The logs reviewed indicate that this show began sometime at the end of March 1962. It appears to have run its course by mid-June 1965. He had a 15-minute radio 'personal monolog' on WEBQ in Harrisburg. He finally retired from WEBQ radio and TV on December 31, 1984.
He enjoyed some bit of celebrity in the town of Ridgway in the latter part of 1965. He was to be the goodwill ambassador during their annual Popcorn Festival held during September 10-11, 1965. He was the guest of the local newspaper and radio station WVMC.
Columnist John F. Hurlbut tells readers of Claude's visit to radio station WVMC in 1965 as part of the Popcorn Festival events. He sang one of the songs that made him famous — "Eleven More Months And Ten More Days." Mr. Hurlbut thought the song could be reissued and become a hit all of over again.
Pete retired to Ridgeway, Illinois were he ran a little company that created custom jingles.
In 1975, he attended old-timer events at Fan Fair in Nashville.
At the end of 1984, Claude announced he would retired and officially end his long association with radio stations WEBQ and WEBQ-FM in Harrisburg. In addition to his on air program, he also served as an account executive for the station. Prior to that, he had a program on WSIL-TV in Harrisburg, IL. Dave Bard, WEBQ station manager noted at the time, "...Claude Moye has been an asset to WEBQ and can retire in the knowledge he has been a credit to the radio and TV industry and has been afforded the rare opportunity to start his radio career almost at the outset of commercial radio and to see it develop to the advanced point it has attained."
He died several weeks before his 82nd birthday.
Pie Plant Pete and Bashful Harmonica Joe
Credits & Sources
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