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About The Artist
Smilie Sutter was one of two stage names for Anthony Slater, the other one being "Crazy Elmer."
While he was mostly a cast member of the World's Original Jamboree at WWVA Wheeling for the last four decades of his life, he did spend brief stints at such stations as KMOX St. Louis and WLS Chicago.
Radio listings in the Chicago Tribune show that Smiley had his own show on WLS at 8:00am in 1940.
Earlier he had spent longer periods at WCHS Charleston and WMMN Fairmont, West Virginia, often working in groups that included Buddy Starcher.
Exactly how a Connecticut native became a lifelong hillbilly singer and rube comedian cannot be determined. However, in 1936, he was an experienced member of Buddy Starcher's Mountaineers on radio in Charleston, West Virginia.
Later he went to WMMN Fairmont where he and Starcher worked both solo and as a duet. As a solo performer Smilie earned the sobriquet apparently in 1938 as "West Virginia's Champion Yodeler."
By 1940 or 1941, he had moved on to WWVA and had begun to develop his comic alter-ego Crazy Elmer (sometimes spelled as Krazy).
For roughly, the next two decades, Sutter continued to portray both of his stage persona on the Jamboree, but with the passing of time Elmer began to become dominant and Smilie receded into the background. Elmer did, however, play harmonica and sing humorous songs. On occasion, he also sang serious numbers. Ironically, he did not record extensively in the United States but did three albums of songs, yodeling and comedy in Canada. His American releases consisted of a single on the Wheeling label: the comedic "Swiss on Rye" and the serious "I Heard a Rainbow," and a four-cut comedy EP on Rural Rhythm, all recorded live on the Jamboree stage.
Credits & Sources
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