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Johnny & Frankie Marvin

About The Artist

Johnny and Frankie Marvin grew up on a ranch in Butler, Oklahoma. Johnny Marvin couldn't say where he was actually born as its said he was born in a covered wagon on the Ozark Mountain Trail and it could have been in Oklahoma, Missouri, Arkansas or Kansas.

Johnny left home when he was twelve; he thought he would join the circus. Even earlier than that, he was musically inclined, playing the guitar while his dad played the fiddle as they entertained at square dances in the area. When he was all of 14, he came back home and started a barber shop. Later, he joined up with a group called the "Royal Hawaiians" - he took the place of a real Hawaiian, and learned to play the ukelele and steel guitar and was with them until World War II. When the war broke, he joined the US Navy and when he returned, went into vaudeville, where they said he started writing songs "...that appealed to the type of people he calls 'down home folks.' "

While Johnny was off in the US Navy, Frankie grew up and eventually was running the barber shop that Johnny had started.

Johnny began to record, and it was reported he had sold at least 18,000,000 or at least that many found their way into the homes throughout America. Frankie in the meantime, had gotten each of Johnny's records and had learned the tunes. On one of Johnny's trips back home, he talked Frankie into going back to New York with him and within six months or so, Frankie was also recording. And they began to write songs together, some of which we found in a song folio published by Southern Music in 1932. Some of the songs in that folio attributed to them were:

  • I'm Goin' To Yodel My Way To Heaven
  • Seven Come Eleven
  • True Blue Hill (by Autry, Raney and Marvin)
  • The Man With The Big Black Mustache
  • She's Old and Bent (But She Gets There Just The Same)
  • I'm Just A Gambler
  • Jack And Jill
  • Go Along Bum (ANd Keep On Bumming Along)
  • The Two Gun Cowboy
  • When You Hear Me Call
  • My Mammy's Yodel Song
  • Yodeling The Blues Away
  • I'm Ridin' The Blinds
  • Over At The Old Barn Dance
  • Oklahoma, Land of the Sunny West
  • Our Old Family Album
  • Bear Cat Papa Blues (by Gene Autry)
  • Riding On The Elevated Railroad
  • Makin' Little Ones Out Of Big Ones
  • Was I A Rooster
  • Stay Away From My Chicken House

Its easy to see some of the influence of Jimmie Rodgers in the material as he was a star during that time and also a songwriter with Southern Publishing. They included Jimmie's song, "Yodeling Cowboy" in that folio. You can also see a bit of Gene Autry's early career in this folio - Gene had recorded and written "Bear Cat Papa Blues" and also recorded Frankie Marvin's song, "Stay Away From My Chicken House".

Timeline and Trivia Notes

Group Members:

  • Johnny Marvin
  • Frankie Marvin

Credits & Sources

  • Frankie and Johnny Marvin Folio of Down Home Songs; Southern Music Publising Co., Inc.; 1619 Broadway, New York, NY; 1932.

Recordings (78rpm/45rpm)

Rec. No. Side Song Title
  5056 B Lazy Texas Longhorns
Montgomery Ward
Rec. No. Side Song Title
  8253 A Little Sweetheart Of The Mountains
  8253 B Little Sweetheart Of The Prairie