Happy Birthday Charlie Poole


Charlie Poole, banjo
b. Randolph City, NC, USA. 
Charlie Poole (March 22, 1892 - May 21, 1931) was an American old time banjo player and country musician and the leader of the North Carolina Ramblers, an American old-time string band that recorded many popular songs between 1925 to 1930.


Charlie was born in Spray, now part of Eden, Rockingham County, in the northern Piedmont region of North Carolina, near the Virginia border.
He learned banjo as a youth. Poole also played baseball, and his three-fingered playing technique was the result of a baseball accident. He bet that he could catch a baseball without a glove. Poole closed his hand too soon, the ball broke his thumb, and resulted in a permanent arch in his right hand.

Poole bought his first good banjo, an Orpheum No. 3 Special, with profits from his moonshine still. Later, he appeared in the 1929 catalog of the Gibson Company, promoting their banjo. He spent much of his adult life working in textile mills.

Charlie Poole & the North Carolina Ramblers
The North Carolina Ramblers
Charlie Poole and his brother-in-law, fiddler Posey Rorer - whom he had met in West Virginia in 1917 and whose sister he married - formed a trio with guitarist Norman Woodlief called the North Carolina Ramblers. The group auditioned in New York for Columbia Records. After landing a contract, they recorded the highly successful "Don't Let Your Deal Go Down Blues" on July 27, 1925. This song sold over 102,000 copies at a time when there were estimated to be only 600,000 phonographs in the Southern United States, according to Poole’s biographer and great nephew, Kinney Rorer. The band was paid $75 for the session, which would be approximately $1,012.68 in 2014 dollars (Consumer Price Index).

Poole played the banjo. The guitar was played by Norman Woodlief, and later by former railroad engineer Roy Harvey from West Virginia. Fiddlers in various recording sessions were Posey Rorer, Lonnie Austin and Odell Smith.

The North Carolina Ramblers, a banjo-guitar-fiddle trio with Poole's plain-spoken tenor voice in the lead, in great part created the musical templates for two giants: the bluegrass of Bill Monroe and, by extension, the lyrical aspects of the modern country music of Hank Williams. Bill C. Malone, in his important history of country music, "Country Music, U.S.A." says, "The Rambler sound was predictable: a bluesy fiddle lead, backed up by long, flowing, melodic guitar runs and the finger-style banjo picking of Poole. Predictable as it may be, it was nonetheless outstanding. No string band in early country music equaled the Ramblers' controlled, clean, well-patterned sound."

For the next five years, Poole and the Ramblers were a very popular band. The band's distinctive sound remained consistent though several members came and left, including Posey Rorer and Norm Woodlief. In all, the band recorded over 60 songs for Columbia Records during the 1920s. These hits included: "Sweet Sunny South", "White House Blues", “He Rambled”, and “Take a Drink on Me”.

Poole was essentially a cover artist, who composed few, if any, of his recordings. Nevertheless, his dynamic renditions were popular with a broad audience in the Southeast. He is considered a primary source for old-time music revivalists and aficionados. Songs like "Bill Morgan And His Gal", "Milwaukee Blues", and "Leavin' Home", have been resurrected by banjo players. Poole developed a unique fingerpicking style, a blend of melody, arpeggio, and rhythm (as distinct from clawhammer/frailing and Scruggs' variations).

In addition to being a talented musician, Poole was a fast living and hard drinking man. He packed several lifetimes of hard and fast living into his 39 years. Textile mill worker, semi-pro ballplayer, and hell-raiser supreme, Poole won his place among the giants of American roots music with his pathfinding work on the banjo, and for heading the innovative North Carolina Ramblers. The original Ramblers played around Spray and Leaksville, North Carolina beginning in 1917. In 1925, the recordings they made for Columbia allowed them to escape life in the textile mills.

Poole's life ended after a 13-week drinking bender. He had been invited to Hollywood to play background music for a film. According to some reports, he was disheartened by the slump in record sales due to the Depression. Poole never made it to Hollywood. He died of a heart attack in May 1931.

The ultimate cause of Poole's death is unknown. He suffered heart failure after excessive drinking. After his last bout with drinking, Poole was examined by a local doctor in Eden, who administered an injection of some kind -possibly to bring him down from the alcohol. Poole died after the injection on the table, and there is speculation that the injection may have been a factor in his death.

Charlie Poole - Wikipedia

Sonny Burke
b. Scranton, PA, USA
d. May 31, 1980, Santa Monica, CA, USA.
né: Joseph Francis Burke.
Unlike keyboardist Reginald "Sonny" Burke, who played modern jazz with Stanley Turrentine, Dizzy Gillespie and John Handy, this Burke was an accomplished big band arranger. He studied violin and piano as a child, then played in various bands while studying at Duke in the late '30s. After moving to New York in 1938, Burke assumed leadership of Sam Donahue's band and made several recordings. He wrote arrangements for the bands of Charlie Spivak and Jimmy Dorsey in the '40s, then from the late '40s into the '70s he directed recording sessions for Decca, Reprise, Warner Bros. and his own company, Daybreak. His orchestra accompanied such musicians as Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong, and he remained active as an arranger.
~ Ron Wynn

Cecil Campbell
steel guitarist
b. Danbury NC, USA.
Cecil Campbell was most famed as a steel guitarist for the Tennessee Ramblers during the 1930s and '40s, although he also played tenor banjo. Born March 22, 1911, in North Carolina, Campbell worked on his father's tobacco farm and played occasionally on WSJS in Winston-Salem. While visiting his brother in Pittsburgh in the early '30s, he met Dick Hartman and was asked to join Hartman's Tennessee Ramblers, a large group that played both Western swing and old-time string music. Campbell played on radio broadcasts and Bluebird sessions with the band throughout the '30s, taking over the leadership of the Ramblers' by-then skeleton crew in 1945, when the only original member left was guitarist Harry Blair.
Cecil Campbell & the Tennessee Ramblers gained a contract with RCA Victor in 1946 and recorded throughout the late '40s. Campbell's steel guitar wizardry was emphasized, and the Ramblers gradually became more Campbell's backing group than an original entity themselves. During his RCA tenure, "Steel Guitar Ramble" became Campbell's only hit when it reached the country Top Ten in May 1949. Campbell also recorded for Disc and Palmetto Records during the early '50s, but signed with MGM in 1955, mixing some rockabilly material in with his traditional swing. He recorded in the '60s for Starday, and Campbell later founded his own label in North Carolina, occasionally playing shows and recording. He also appeared often at the Western Film Fair (held in Raleigh, NC) until his death in 1989.
~ John Bush

Murl Johnson, drums

Chico Marx, actor/pianist
b. New York, NY, USA.
Comedian: Member: Marx Brothers
Leonard "Chico" Marx (March 22, 1887 – October 11, 1961) was the eldest of the Marx Brothers.
He was originally nicknamed Chicko for his reputation as a ladies' man, or a "chicken chaser" in the popular slang of the day. A typesetter accidentally dropped the "k" in his name and it became Chico. It was still pronounced "Chick-oh" although those who were unaware of its origin tended to pronounce it "Cheek-oh".
Chico Marx playing cards with himself. Taken at Rockaway Beach, New York circa 1909.
Radio recordings from the 1940s exist where announcers and fellow actors mispronounce the nickname, but Chico apparently felt it was unnecessary to correct them. As late as the 1950s, even Groucho used the wrong pronunciation for comedic effect. A guest on You Bet Your Life told the quizmaster she came from Chico, California and Groucho responded that he had a brother named "Cheek-oh." (Chico can sometimes be spotted in cutaways to the studio audience, out of character and costume.)

Hoyle Nix
(Western Swing)
b. Azel, TX, USA.

George Wyle, bandleader
b. New York, NY, USA.
d. May 2, 2003.
Worked on Jerry Lewis Show, Flip Wilson Show, and others He is credited with having had a hand in the writing of more than 400 songs. In 1946, Whye relocated to Los Angeles, CA,, where he worded as composer and musical director for "The Alan Young Radio Show." In the years that followed, he found work as choral director for such TV shows as "The Andy Williams Show", "The Dinah Shore Show," and "The Jerry Lewis Show".
In 1964, the TV show "Gilligan's Island" debut-ed and ran until 1967. Wyle, togehter with the show's creator and producer, Sherwood Schwartz, co-composed the show's theme "The Ballad of Gilligan's Island". Over his career, he also worked on music for specials by magician David Copperfield and actress/singer Carol Channing, aa well as for the 'People's Choice Awards' presentations. His composition "The Most Wonderful Time of the Year" has become a Christmas classic.
Notable Events Occurring 
On This Date Include:

The Noel Coward musical
"This Year of Grace,"
premiered in London, England.

"Yank" Porter, drums
died in New York, NY, USA.
Age: 49

"Uncle" Dave Macon, banjo
died in Murfreesboro, TN, USA.
Age: 82

"Big" Mike Mckendrick
died in Chicago, IL, USA.
Age: 64

Paul Francis Webster, songwriter
died in New York, NY, USA.
Age: 77

Songs Recorded/Released
On This Date Include:


Ethel Waters' Jazz Masters - Oh Daddy
Ethel Waters accompanied by Albury's Blue and Jazz Seven The New York Glide

  • At The Jump Steady Ball


The Virginians - Memphis Blues


Original Memphis Five - Who's Sorry Now?

Bennie Krueger and his Orchestra
  • Apple Sauce


The Dixie Stompers - Hard To Get Gertie


The Washingtonians - Hop Head

Phil Napoleon and his Orchestra - Clarinet Marmalade

Waring's Pennsylvanians - Nesting Time - Vocal refrain by Tom Waring


Ted Lewis and his Band - A Good Man Is Hard To Find
Ted Lewis and his Band Hello Montreal!


Paul Whiteman and his Orchestra - A Bench in the Park


Waring's Pennsylvanians
  • Tell Me While We're Dancing
  • You're The One (You Beautiful Son-of-a-Gun)


Fletcher Henderson Orchestra - Back in Your Own Back Yard


Quintette of the Hot Club of France


Oh, Daddy
~Ethel Waters

Just like a flower, why, I'm fading away,
The doctor calls to see me 'most every day,
But he don't do me no good.
Because I'm lonesome for you.
And if you care for me,
Then you will listen to my plea.

Oh, Daddy! Look what you're doing!
Look what you're doing!
Oh, Daddy! You with your foolin',
Think what you're losin',
All the little love I gave you,
Is going to make you feel so awfully blue,
When you miss me and long to kiss me,
You'll curse the day that you ever quit me.
Oh, Daddy, think when you're all alone;
You'll just want me, just wait and see,
But there will be someone else making love to me!
Then Daddy, Daddy, you won't have no mama at all.

Oh, Daddy! Look what you're doing!
Look what you're doing!
Oh, Daddy! You and your foolin',
Think what you're losin',
All the little love I gave you.
Is going to make me feel so awfully blue,
When you miss me and long to kiss me,
You'll curse the day that you ever quit me.
Oh, Daddy, think when you're all alone,
You know that you are getting old,
You'll miss the way I baked your jellyroll!
Then, Daddy! Daddy! You won't have no mama at all.

brought to you by... 
Special Thanks To:
The Red Hot Jazz Archives,
The Big Band Database, Scott Yanow,
and all those who have provided content,
images and sound files for this site.

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