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Roy Hall
and his Blue Ridge Entertainers
Born:  January 6, 1907
Died:  May 16, 1943
WAIR Winston-Salem, NC
WDBJ Roanoke, VA
WSPA Spartansburg, SC
WWNC Asheville, NC

About The Artist

1940s - Roy Hall and his Blue Ridge Entertainers Until a fatal auto crash ended his life at the age of thirty-six, Roy Davis Hall appeared on the way to becoming a major figure in the country music scene in southern Appalachia.

As it was, Roy and his Blue Ridge Entertainers still made a notable mark in what music historians now term pre-bluegrass. Songs that he recorded such as "Don't Let Your Sweet Love Die," "Can You Forgive," and "I Wonder Where You are Tonight" have all become bluegrass classics.

Hall was born near Waynesville in Haywood County, North Carolina, a region only one county removed from the Smoky Mountain National Park. The family had another member with a country music career, Jay Hugh Hall (1910-1972), who recorded some with Roy and some with Wade Mainer and Clyde Moody.

The Halls and other groups such as those of J. E. Mainer, Wade Mainer, the Morris Brothers, and others played on various radio stations in the Carolina Piedmont from the mid-1930s although the chronology is a bit confusing as they formed, disbanded, reformed, and relocated frequently.

Bluebird Label - Hall Brothers - Little Mohee - Circa 1937 Conqueror Label - Roy Hall and his Blue Ridge Entertainers - Circa 1938

Roy and Jay Hugh as the Hall Brothers made their first recordings for Bluebird on February 16, 1937. At the time, they worked in a textile mill, but soon landed a regular daily radio show at WSPA Spartanburg, South Carolina.

Folio Cover - Roy Hall and his Blue Ridge Entertainers - WDBJ They did a second and third session in Janurary and September 1938. In all, their nineteen sides ranged from old traditional ballads like "The Little Mohee" to comic novelties typified by "Whistle Honey Whistle."

Meanwhile Roy formed a new group called the Blue Ridge Entertainers. They had a radio program at WAIR sponsored by Dr. Pepper soft drink at Winston-Salem. They found modest success and recorded several songs for the Vocalion label on November 7, 1938. Eight numbers were subsequently released. Decades later a ninth number featuring Tommy Magness on fiddle, came out on a CD because it was the first recording of the classic fiddle tune "Orange Blossom Special." Several other cuts were never released.

His band at WAIR included Magness, Bill Brown on steel guitar, Clato Buchanan on banjo, Wayne Watson on bass fiddle, and Talton Aldridge presumably on second guitar. Aldridge, Talton, and Magness soon departed, and Saford and Clayton (the Hall Twins, not related to Roy,) replaced them. Magness later returned two or three times.

The Blue Ridge Entertainers made another move to WDBJ Roanoke, Virginia in April 1940 where their popularity reached new record heights for a regional hillbilly band. Dr. Pepper sales boomed and crowds flocked to their almost nightly shows.

Numerous small articles were seen in old newspapers while doing research on Roy. But once in a while, the description of the appearance / booking catches one's eyes. On Saturday July 6, 1940, Roy and his Blue Ridge Entertainers were booked to play at the Franklin High School in the Mount Airy area, sponsored by the local 4-H Club. Readers were promised "...a good clean show." Part of the fun for the evening would be the award of two prizes. The prettiest girl would be awarded a bed spread. The ugliest man would be gifted with a bar of soap.

Clayton Hall regaled audiences for years (including me via telephone) about being able to buy a new car with a week's earnings, paying cash for it.

For a time they even had two bands (the other led by Jay Hugh Hall) to satisfy the demand for their shows.

They had another record session-this time in Atlanta-where they recorded a dozen more numbers including their two sided hit, "Don't Let Your Sweet Love Die" b/w "Can You Forgive."

The coming of World War II through 1941 and into 1942 curtailed and eventually ended the good times. Military service soon reduced available band members. The two bands merged into one. In October 1941 they cut another Bluebird session of eight more songs including "I Wonder Where You Are Tonight" and some fiddle tunes by the returning Magness. By late 1942, enlistments and conscription had virtually decimated the Blue Ridge Entertainers.

Portrait - Roy Hall and his Blue Ridge Entertainers - WDBJ Promo Ad - Roy Hall and his Blue Ridge Entertainers - Pulaski VA - 1942

Roy, newly married with one child, was not immediately drafted and all looked forward to regrouping after the war, but it was not to be.

In May 1943, his life ended in an auto crash. A news report indicated that a passenger in the vehicle had seen Roy's head slump forward and she tried to grab the steering wheel but the car crashed into a tree. Posthumously, he had a second daughter. In the postwar era some members including Magness and the Hall Twins continued playing music off and on.

Decades later, a grandson of Clayton Hall wrote a book about the Twins, If Trouble Don't Kill Me (2010), which related many colorful details concerning the Blue Ridge Entertainers.

Portrait - Roy Hall and his Blue Ridge Entertainers

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.
  • Blue Ridge Entertainers; July 4, 1940; Mount Airy News; Mount Airy, NC
  • Accident Fatal To Roanoke Man; May 19, 1943; Richmond Times-Dispatch; Richmond, VA
  • Roy Hall Dies In Auto Crash; May 23, 1943; Asheville Citizen; Asheville, NC

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Recordings (78rpm/45rpm)

 
Bluebird
Rec. No. Side Song Title
  6843 A Little Mohee
  6843 B Way Out There
  6925 A When It Gets Dark
  6925 B Whistle Honey Whistle
  7103 A My Gal Has Gone and Left Me
  7103 B Little Gal, You?ve Done Me Wrong
  7363 A McDowell Blues
  7363 B Spartanburg Jail
  7462 A It Was Only a Dream
  7462 B Alcatraz Prisoner
  7728 A The Wrong Road
  7728 B Your Love Was Not True
  7801 A Never Alone
  7801 B Hitch Hike Blues
  8561 A New San Antonio Rose
  8561 B I'd Die Before I'd Cry Over You
  8617 A Bye Bye Baby Bye Bye
  8617 B Rubber Dolly
  8656 A Can You Forgive?
  8656 B Don't Let Your Sweet Love Die
  8676 A I Played My Heart & Lost
  8676 B Loving You Too Well
  8702 A Your Heart Should Belong To Me
  8702 B She's Winking At Me
  8703 A You Don't Love Me (w/The Happy Valley Boys)
  8703 B Weeping Willow Valley (w/The Happy Valley Boys)
  8794 A Neath The Bridge At The Foot Of The Hill
  8794 B Little Sweetheart, Come Kiss Me
  8863 A Polecat Blues (w/The Happy Valley Boys)
  8863 B Natural Bridge Blues (w/The Happy Valley Boys)
  8906 A My Sweet Mountain Rose (w/The Happy Valley Boys)
  8906 B Until I Return To You (w/The Happy Valley Boys)
  8923 A An Old Man?s Story
  8923 B The Elevated Railroad in the City
  8959 A I Wonder If The Moon Shines (w/The Happy Valley Boys)
  8959 B I Wonder Where You Are Tonight (w/The Happy Valley Boys)
 
Conqueror
Rec. No. Side Song Title
  9184 A Where The Roses Never Fade
  9184 B Answer To Great Speckled Bird
  9230 A Wabash Cannon Ball
  9230 B The Lonesome Dove
 
Montgomery Ward
Rec. No. Side Song Title
  7241 A I'll Remember You Love In My Prayers
  7241 B Kingdom Land
  8718 A Happy Go Lucky Breakdown (as Happy Go Lucky Boys)
  8718 B Whatcha Gonna Don With The Baby (as Happy Go Lucky Boys)
  8719 A No Letter In The Mail Today (w/Happy Go Lucky Boys)
  8719 B Darling, I'm Still In Love With You (w/Happy Go Lucky Boys)
  8720 A I Hope She's Satisfied (w/Happy Go Lucky Boys)
  8720 B Come Back Sweetheart (w/Happy Go Lucky Boys)
 
Vocalion
Rec. No. Side Song Title
  04627 A Good For Nothing Gal
  04627 B The Lonely Blues
  04717 A Lonesome Dove
  04717 B Wabash Cannonball
  04771 A Answer To Great Speckled Bird
  04771 B Where The Roses Never Fade
  04842 A Come Back Little Pal
  04842 B Sunny Tennessee


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