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Happy Johnny
Born:  December 8, 1909
Died:  May 1, 1990
KXEL Waterloo, IA
WBAL Baltimore, MD
WFMD Frederick, MD
WORK York, PA
WWVA Wheeling, WV

About The Artist

John "Happy Johnny" Zufall was a Pennsylvania-born country fiddler and disc jockey, well-known in Pennsylvania and Maryland from the 1930s into the 1970s.

He led a family band which included his wife Yvonne, who he always referred to as "The Gal," and daughters Cynthia and Nancy and son, Tommy.

He also promoted country shows, some of which were quite successful.

In the 1930s, he played on such stations as WAIU in Columbus, Ohio and WWVA in Wheeling.

The Car Wreck - March 29 1937 In our collection are several picture postcards of Happy Johnny and his gang. But one picture was of the wreck of his 1936 Chevy. That prompted some research.

Newspapers reported that a car carrying four people crashed into a bridge on the National Highway near Indian Springs, Maryland. The group had reportedly left Columbus, Ohio at 10:00pm the previous night and were on their way to their home in York, Pennsylvania.

Reports indicated that Johnny Zufall had internal injuries while his wife had cuts. The other two passengers, (not family members - one from York, the other from Columbus) sufferend minor injuries. The police investigating the accident indicated that Johnny had probably fallen asleep. reports indicated the car struck the side of the bridge headon and was split lengthwise.

The accompanying picture postcard was found in our collection. All were taken to the Washington County hospital for treatment; the condition of Mr. and Mrs. Zufall was said to be fair. A small news article the next day indicated that the couple were given good chances for recovery from the accident.

As a fiddler and band leader, he was probably best known at WFMD in Frederick, Maryland and as a deejay at WSIG in Mt Jackson, Virginia and WBAL in Baltimore.

In early 1947, Viola M. Myers wroter in her "Corn Belt Comments" column that Happy Johnny and his family had moved from Maryland to Waterloo, Iowa. The family had a show at 11:30am and again at 1:00pm on KXEL. She told readers that Happy Johnny played the fiddle and banjo; Dan Martin did solos, trios and played bass; Lefty Buchar played guitar and did solo vocals and the trio numbers; Lloyd Carter sang, yodeled and was in the trios; and Kip (Flash) Hoover played the accordion. And on the 11:30 time slot, Happy Haines joined the group.

Happy Johnny (Zufall) and Handsome Bob (Bouch) Happy Johnny (Zufall) and Handsome Bob (Bouch) Comedy

Handsome Bob and the Ohioans - Bob Bouch

Happy Johnny and Vonnie (John and Yvonne Zufall) Happy Johnny and Vonnie (John and Yvonne Zufall w/Cindy

The Zufalls - Cindy, Tommy, Vonnie, Nancy, Happy Johnny - Circa 1954 Cowboy Songs reported in December 1954 that Happy Johnny was doing a 5:30am - 8:00am "Gettin' Up Time" radio broadcast over WFMD in Frederick.

The whole family joined him for a half-hour at 7:00am on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. and a quarter hour at 6:45am on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

Happy Johnny and Family recorded sparingly, His output was limited to four sides on Joe Bussard's Fonotone label, all cut in 1963. The numbers consisted of three fiddle tunes and the old time comedy song "Father, Put the Cow Away."

His wife, Yvonne was born to parents Jennie and Ellis (Ed) Hasson of Columbus Ohio on March 9, 1914. She passed away at the age of 99 on April 20, 2013. She and Johnny were married 56 years. They are both buried in the Resthaven Memorial Gardens in Frederick, MD.

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.
  • Four Hurt In Auto Mishap; March 29, 1937; The Daily Mail; Hagerstown, MD
  • Four Persons Hurt Near Indian Springs; March 29, 1937; Cumberland Evening Times; Cumberland, MD
  • Auto Hits Bridge; 4 Hurt, 2 Badly; March 29, 1937; The Evening Star; Baltimore, MD
  • May Recover; March 30, 1937; The Daily Mail; Hagerstown, MD
  • I've Been Listenin'; Mary Jean Shurtz; November 1946; Mountain Broadcast and Prairie Recorder; Mountain Broadcast Pub. Co., Inc.; 45 Astor Place; New York, NY
  • Corn Belt Comments; Viola M. Myers; January - March 1947; Mountain Broadcast and Prairie Recorder; Mountain Broadcast Pub. Co., Inc.; 45 Astor Place; New York, NY
  • Floy Case Reports; Floy Case; February - March 1947; Mountain Broadcast and Prairie Recorder; Mountain Broadcast Pub. Co., Inc.; 45 Astor Place; New York, NY

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Recordings (78rpm/45rpm)

 
Fonotone
Rec. No. Side Song Title
  6375 A Leather Breeches
  6375 B Father, Put the Cow Away
  6376 A Sugar Babe
  6376 B Soldier's Joy


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