About The Artist
The husband-wife team of Radio Dot and Smokey, comprised of Dorothy Maxine Henderson and Louis W. Swan, spent eighteen years as a radio team prior to their split in 1956. Swan, who was known to radio listeners as Smokey, was born in East Liverpool, Ohio around midnight on January 6 or 7, 1906. He spent much of his early adulthood roaming around and indulging in v arious aspects of show business. Swan married a woman named Mabel Cumberledge and had at least one son named Jack. Later the couple divorced.
In January 1938, he appeared at WMMN radio in Fairmont, West Virginia where he met radio veteran Dorothy Henderson known as "Radio Dot."
Dot was nearly a decade younger and had been born in Hundred, West Virginia on August 27, 1916. There were other members of her family who had music careers. Dot completed high school in Waynesburg, Pennsylvania and briefly attended Eastern Nazarene College, but she was apparently distracted by interest in a radio career and joined forces with Cowboy Loye and his Bluebonnet Troupe by January 1937. She moved with Loye to WMMN Fairmont a few months later, but soon went on her own.
By October, she formed an outfit which she called her Jubilee Boys. The band consisted of Dot on vocals, Big John Stockdale on fiddle, Little John Graham on guitar, and Fred Wells on tenor banjo. Graham left after several months over a salary dispute and went to work with Murrell Poor's Trading Post Gang.
Soon Dot's band included her brothers Jack and Ted Henderson, and Smokey Swan whom she soon married. Ted and Jack shortly went on their own as the "Sunshine Brothers; later band members came and went.
Radio Dot and Smokey traveled around to other stations including those in Huntington (where they also operated a park), Charleston, Topeka, and Shreveport, and back in Fairmont. Eventually they settled in Nashville where they worked as an opening act for Ernest Tubb. In 1947 they were featured in the Tubb motion picture Hollywood Barn Dance.
Billboard magazine reported that Radio Dot & Smokey appeared as guests on the Grand Ole Opry on Saturday, February 23, 1946.
Over the years they published several songbooks and Dot wrote a few songs which were recorded by others such as "Don't Judge Your Neighbor" (Roy Acuff) and "Let the Light Shine Down" (Bill Monroe).
On December 3, 1955, Radio Dot & Smokey were part of a show that "broke the house record" at the Circle Theater Jamboree in Cleveland. The headliner was Hawkshaw Hawkins. Also on the show were Jean Shepard and Del Wood. The group of performers played before 2,600 in two performances, breaking a record previously held by Mac Wiseman and Slim Whitman.
However, the Swans never recorded themselves until 1954 when they did four songs for MGM as Dot and Smokey. Not long afterward in 1956, the couple divorced. In February 1955, Billboard implied that the duo were to record several tunes written by Dot for the MGM label.
Smokey went back to Pennsylvania where he worked in a clothing store and as an auctioneer until he died on January 29, 1980.
Dot continued in music, recorded a few singles, went back to WWVA for a time as Dottie Swan, and then ran a "private club for entertainers" until her death on December 1, 1972.
Her daughter Dottie who was born in Topeka in 1939 subsequently married Jimmie Rodgers Snow and then Glenn Douglas Tubb (nephew of Ernest).
Credits & Sources
Appearance History This Month
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