Friday, July 15, 2011

Cowboy Copas

It was on July 15, 1913, that Lloyd Estel Copas, otherwise known as Cowboy Copas, was born in Jefferson Township. located in Adams County, Ohio. Cowboy started out performing locally in the Cincinnati, Ohio area before moving to Knoxville, Tennessee in 1940.

In 1943, his career really stared to take off on a national level when he was picked by Pee Wee King to replace Eddy Arnold in his Golden West Cowboys. His first big career solo records was "Fillipino Baby", which was released in 1946. He continued to have hit records through out the 1940's. He also appeared on the "Ozark Jubilee".

While the 1950's saw the decline of his recording career, in 1960 he achieved the biggest song of his career, "Alabam", which was #1 for 12 weeks. Signed to Starday Records, his career surged forward as "Flat Top" was the follow up to "Alabam".

Cowboy Copas first came to the Opry with Pee Wee King in 1943, when he was part of the Golden West Cowboys. After he left the group and embarked on his solo career, he continued as part of the Opry. His final Opry show was on Saturday March 2, 1963. The following day, Sunday March 3, he performed as part of a benefit concert in Kansas City. On March 5, after being delayed in Kansas City, Cowboy Copas, along with Patsy Cline, Hawkshaw Hawkins and Randy Hughes left by plane for Nashville. The evening, after being caught up in a storm, the plan crashed near Camden, Tennessee, killing all aboard.

In memory of Cowboy Copas, here is the running order from his final Grand Ole Opry show, which was on Saturday March 2, 1963. In most cases, I was able to verify the songs that were sang by the artists. This was also the final show for Hawshaw Hawkins. The interesting thing in looking at the line up, is that Cowboy Copas actually hosted the final segment that night and did the final song.

7:30: Kelloggs
George Morgan(host)-Little Dutch Girl
Carter Family-14 Carat Nothing
Jimmy C Newman-Bayou Talk
Willis Brothers-Eat A Little More
George Morgan-Untie The Knot
Harold Morrison-Pretty Little Pink
June Carter-Comedy
Jimmy C Newman-Fallen Star
George Morgan-Down Memory Lane

8:00: Martha White
Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper(host)-Come Walk With Me
Billy Walker-I've Got A New Heartache
Wilburn Brothers-Roll Muddy River
Stringbean-Pretty Little Widow
Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper-There's A Higher Power
Del Wood-Are You From Dixie
Margie Bowes-Think It Over
Crook Brothers-Black Mountain Rag
Wilburn Brothers-Trouble's Back In Town
Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper-Philadelphia Lawyer

8:30: Stephens
Hawkshaw Hawkins(host)-Darkness In The Face Of The Earth
Lonzo & Oscar-There's A Hole In The Bottom Of The Sea
Bobby Lord-Out Behind The Barn
Archie Campbell-Comedy
Hawkshaw Hawkins-I Don't Apologize
Glaser Brothers-Lover's Farewell
Curly Fox
Hawkshaw Hawkins-Silver Thread & Golden Needles

9:00: Jefferson Island Salt
Cowboy Copas(host)-You Don't Have To Be A Baby To Cry
Bill Monroe
Roy Drusky-Second Hand Rose
Minnie Pearl-Comedy
Cowboy Copas-Alabam
Fruit Jar Drinkers-Bill Cheatham
Bill Carlisle-Shutter & Boards
Bill Monroe
Cowboy Copas-The Man Upstairs

9:30: Pet Milk
Roy Acuff(host)-Plastic Heart
Marion Worth-Shake Me, I Rattle
Cousin Jody-Lady Cop
Roy Acuff-The Wreck On The Highway
Brother Oswald-Roll On Buddy, Roll On
Justin Tubb
Jimmy Riddle-Fox Chase
Roy Acuff-I'll Fly Away

10:00: Gates Rubber
George Morgan(host)-Roly Poly
Curley Fox
Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper-Satisfied
Del Wood-Bill Bailey
George Morgan-Who's Jealous Now

10:15: Luzianne
Wilburn Brothers(host)-Day After Day
Bill Carlisle-Leave That Liar Alone
Margie Bowes-Within Your Crowd
Harold Morrison-The Cat Came Back
Wilburn Brothers-Not That I Care

10:30: Harveys
Jimmy C Newman(host)
Carter Family
Billy Walker-Thank You For Calling
Jimmy C Newman

10:45: Ford
Hawkshaw Hawkins(host)-Big Old Heartache
Stringbean-There'll Be Moonshine In Them Old Kentucky Hills
Crook Brothers-Sally Goodin
Hawkshaw Hawkins-Lonesome 7-7203

11:00: Coca-Cola
Roy Acuff(host)-Little Pal
Marion Worth-Tennessee Teardrops
Lonzo & Oscar-I'm My Own Grandpa
Brother Oswald & Roy Acuff-Stuck Up Blues
Sam & Kirk McGee-While I'm Away
Justin Tubb
Brother Oswald-John Hardy
Fruit Jar Drinkers-Nubbin Ridge
Roy Acuff-Shake My Mother's Hand For Me

11:30: SSS Tonic
Cowboy Copas(host)-Down In Nashville Tennessee
Bill Monroe
Roy Drusky-It Worries Me
Cousin Jody-Mockingbird
Archie Campbell-A Fools Side Of Town
Glaser Brothers-Odds & Ends
Bobby Lord-So Doggone Lonesome
Bill Monroe
Cowboy Copas-Flat Top

There you have it as we take a moment and remember Cowboy Copas


  1. Thanks, Byron. Fred in Bismarck here. What richness! What variety! Country music in all its manifestations!

    I note that Hawk's last appearance introduced his brand-new single, which went on to become his own career record.

    I'll never forget sitting up with the radio all night (Opry Star Spotlight, Ralph Emery) as first the plane was reported missing, then down. Just heartbreaking.

  2. Fred in Bismarck again.

    I also remember how Cope really owed the success of 'Alabam' to Ralph Emery. I was a nightly listener to 'Opry Star Spotlight' in those days, and remember that 'Alabam' was only a cut in a new album by Cope.

    But Emery really liked it and played the dickens out of it ... nightly. Cope was even on with him one night, and Emery said, "This needs to be a single."

    Cope kind of demurred, said Starday had chosen another cut from the album for the first 45. But Emery kept playing 'Alabam,' and eventually Starday saw the light and brought it out.

    I was disappointed when Emery didn't tell this story -- and many others he could have told from those days -- in his autobiographical books. He seemed to favor stories of his association with newer and bigger stars that might be more recognizable to his readers. Or he just didn't remember some of the old ones.

    Too bad! He had some wild and crazy nights on the air 50 years ago with people like Ferlin Husky and Roger Miller.

  3. Fred, I agree. Ralph could have done a lot more with that, although I detected that he seemed not to want to demonstrate how powerful he was--and he was stronger, as his friend Jimmy C. Newman would say, than a garlic milkshake. I believe he also buried a couple of careers, too, by not playing some records because he didn't like them or didn't like the artist. That isn't to knock Ralph--he's entitled to his opinions! But I remember him saying in his book that some celebrities clearly liked him for his time slot and power, but two who stood out as true friends were Ferlin Husky and Marty Robbins.

  4. Agree on Ralph. His all night show was great, but I think like any person, he had his favorites and made sure that they were taken care of. I think it was in Skeeter Davis's book, "Bus Fare To Kentucky", that she made very critical statements about Ralph and how he decided to play different records. God rest her soul, but that account might not be the most accurate

    Ralph has done a lot for country music and deserves his place in the Hall of Fame.

  5. Fred again. Skeeter was a true screwball whose inane prattle was about the only thing that could make me turn Ralph off at night. Little did I realize that one of the reasons for those endless conversations was a budding romance!