Thursday, March 1, 2012

March 2, 1963-Final Opry Show for Hawkshaw Hawkins & Cowboy Copas

It was on Saturday March 2, 1963, that Hawkshaw Hawkins and Cowboy Copas performed on the Grand Ole Opry for the final time before passing away in a plane crash on March 5, 1963. It was the same crash that claimed the lives of Patsy Cline and Randy Hughes. Let's take a look back at their careers:

Harold Franklin "Hawkshaw" Hawkins has been unfairly relegated to the status of a footnote: one of the stars killed in the plane crash that took the lives of Patsy Cline, Cowboy Copas and Randy Hughes. But his contributions to country music go deeper than that. Hawkins was born on December 22, 1921 in Huntington, West Virginia. He began playing and singing early in life, and by his late teens landed a $15 a week job at WSAZ in Huntington. He worked at various stations before being drafted in 1942. Discharged in 1945, he finally make it to WWVA. In July 1946 he made his first recordings for King Records and in 1947 had modest success with "Sunny Side of the Mountain." His first hit record was a cover of Hank Williams' train song, "Pan American" which charted in 1948, followed by "Dog House Boogie." Though Hawkins' recording career was fitful, he was a star via radio and personal appearances. Records were only beginning to define an artist's success. In 1949 Hawkins had a minor hit with "I Wasted a Nickle" but returned to the Top 10 with a 1951 cover of Lefty Frizzell's hit "I Love You A Thousand Ways", followed by "I'm Waiting Just for You" and another cover version of the Pee Wee Kig hit, "Slow Poke." In 1955 he joined the Grand Ole Opry and signed with RCA Victor, where he had no success. In 1959, briefly singed to Columbia, he found success with "Soldier's Joy" a Revolutionary War song in the style of Johnny Horton's hit, "Battle of New Orleans." He married singer Jean Shepard, also an Opry cast member in 1960 and in 1962 he re-signed with King. His biggest hit, "Lonesome 7-7203" an upbeat honky tonk shuffle was climbing the charts in early 1963. After his death, it remained at Number One for four weeks.

Nearly every biography on Lloyd "Cowboy" Copas mentions his death in the plain crash that claimed Patsy Cline, Hawkshaw Hawkins and Randy Hughes. Most biographies note that Copas was an authentic Oklahoma-born cowboy. Actually, he was born on July 15, 1913 in Adams County, Ohio and was raised on an Ohio farm and started music has a 14 year old guitarist with The Hen Cacklers, a string band. In 1929 he began working with Midwest promoter Larry Sunbrock's stage show. Copas later worked in West Virginia before moving to WLW's Boone County Jamboree in the late 30s. Pee Wee King discovered him in 1940. At that point, Copas concocted the Oklahoma cowboy story. In 1944 he briefly replaced Eddy Arnold as vocalist with King's Golden West Cowboys. He signed with King Records in 1945, and his first hits were "Filipino Baby" and "Tragic Romance," the latter reaching #4 on the Billboard charts in 1946. Copas soon joined the Grand Ole Opry cast and in early 1948 had hits with "Signed, Sealed and Delivered" and Pee Wee King's "Tennessee Waltz." His 1949 hits included "Tennessee Moon." "Breeze" and "I'm Waltzing with Tears in My Eyes," George Morgan's "Candy Kisses" and "Hangman's Boogie." His 1951 duet with daughter Cathy, "The Strange Little Girl" also did well. He even had a pop hit with "Don't Leave My Poor Heart Breaking," a duet with pop singer Rosalind Patton, back by Elliot Lawrence's orchestra. In 1952 he had one hit with "Tis Sweet to Be Remembered." After leaving King he briefly joined Dot in 1956. After signing with Starday in 1960, "Alabam," a reworking of an old Frank Hutchison number titled "Coney Isle", remained #1 on the country charts for 12 weeks. He repeated the success in 1961 with the singles, "Flat Top" and "Sunny Tennessee." At Christmas of 1962 he returned to the Evergreen Baptist Church near his birthplace and sang the song "Goodbye Kisses" which Starday planned to issue that spring. After his death in 1963, the song broke into the Top 20. My final thought on Cowboy Copas is that he should be a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame. He had a solid career.

To remember Hawkshaw Hawkins and Cowboy Copas, here is the Grand Ole Opry line up from Saturday March 2, 1963, when they made their final Opry appearances.

7:30: Kelloggs
George Morgan (host): Little Dutch Girl
Carter Family: 14 Carat Nothing
Jimmy Newman: Bayou Talk
Willis Brothers: Eat A Little More
George Morgan: Untie the Knot
Harold Morrison: Pretty Little Pink
June Carter: Comedy
Jimmy Newman: A 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: Troubles Back In Town
Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper: Philadelphia Lawyer

8:30: Stephens
HAWKSHAW HAWKINS (host): Darkness on the Face of the Earth
Lonzo & Oscar: There'sA Hole In the Bottom of the Sea
Bobby Lord: Out Behind the Barn
Archie Campbell: Comedy
Glasser Brothers: Lover's Farewell
Curley Fox: Instrumental
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 Monore (?)
Roy Drusky: Second Hand Rose
Minnie Pearl: Comedy
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
Jordanaires (?)
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 Newman (host) (?)
Carter Family (?)
Billy Walker: Thank You For Calling
Jimmy Newman (?)

10:45: Ford
HAWKSHAW HAWKINS (host): Big Old Heartache
Willis Brothers: I Still Do
Stringbean: There'll Be Moonshine in them Old Kentucky Hills
Crook Brothers: Sally Goodin
HAWKSHAW HAWKINS: Lonesome 7-7203 (Final Song)

11:00: Coca-Cola
Roy Acuff (host): Little Pal
Jordanaires (?)
Marion Worth: Tennessee Teardrops
Lonzo & Oscar: I'm My Own Grandpa
Roy Acuff & Brother Oswald: Suck 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: Fool's Side of Town
Glasser Brothers: Odds & Ends
Bobby Lord: So Doggone Lonesome
Bill Monroe (?)
COWBOY COPAS: Flat Top (Final Song)


  1. I count 29 members, and how ironic that Cowboy Copas got the final song on his final show. Thanks for sharing this.

  2. Good job! I know Patsy Cline is lionized by many, but to me she was the footnote in the plane crash. Hawkshaw and Copas are still part of my rotation.

    I was lucky enough to catch Copas in '60 or '61, right after he became huge again from "Alabam." That must have been so gratifying to him, after his long eclipse. He really owed his resurgence to Ralph Emery, who played the shellack out of "Alabam," a mere album cut, on his Opry Star Spotlight and nagged Starday -- and nagged Copas to nag Starday -- until it finally got released as a single.

    Emery did have an ear on him.

  3. Who was Harold Morrison from the lineup? I'm having trouble placing him.

  4. Harold Morrison was on the Ozark Jubilee in the 1950s and Wilburn Brothers in 1960s .Died in 1993.

  5. Harold Morrison born in Missouri in 1931,first appeared on radio in 1950,worked with a lot of people on radio and tv from 1950-1993.Played banjo,guitat and was a fine comedian.

  6. Anon, Ralph "broke" a lot of records and really had make-or-break power on some careers. He talked about fighting management over "Under Your Spell Again." WSM wanted him to play Ray Price's cover but he thought the first release by Buck Owens was better, and Buck always credited him for getting his career really going. As Ralph said, Ray didn't appear to suffer too much for it.

  7. Harold Morrison was born on January 31, 1931 and passed away on December 21, 1993. He was from the Ozark area of Missouri and was known as a comedian and musician. He grew up in that area of Missouri and played local radio stations in the area. In the early 1950s, he teamed up with Jimmy Gatley and they performed as a duo and even recorded an album together in 1954.

    When the Ozark Jubilee started in 1955, Harold and Jimmy became cast members and worked personal appearances with Red Foley. They also did session work for the Browns and Porter Wagoner.

    In 1957, Harold moved to Nashville where he replaced Shot Jackson as the steel guitar player for the Kitty Wells-Johnny & Jack Show. He also did some session work. From there he joined up with the Wilburn Brothers, gaining a wide audience through their syndicated television show as well as personal appearances.

    In the early 1960s, he recorded several albums for Decca records, which featured comedy and instrumental music. in 1969, he joined George Jones & Tammy Wynettte's show, staying with them until their divorce, after which he spent a year in Tammy's band.

    In 1975, Harold organized the Smoking Bluegrass Band and spent time on the bluegrass festival circuit. From 1985-1987 he had a band at Silver Dollar City in Branson, and then left to work with Ferlin Husky in Myrtle Beach. After that theater closed in September 1989, he worked at the Grandpa and Ramona Jones Dinner Theater in Mountain View, Arkansas. He stayed their just for a few months and then he was back to Myrtle Beach. In 1992, he returned to Branson working in various theaters until 1993, when he suffered a series of strokes, after which he passed away.

    Harold was a fine comedian and he appeared on the Opry numerous times in the 1960s and 1970s.

  8. Byron:

    Totally off subject - this morning I heard on Bill Cody's show on WSM, that was being broadcast from the Ford Theater at the Country Music Hall of Fame, that the 2012 Country Music Hall of Fame inductees will be announced this coming Tuesday, March 6th. I am keeping my fingers crossed to hear Connie Smith's name be announced. However, should her name not be on the list, I will be happy for the ones going in. It is my understanding that the newest inductees are called several days in advance of the official announcement, so I'm sure the newest inductees are now aware that they will be going in, unless of course, they have already passed. I almost didn't say this, but it is necessary ... could this be Don Rich, Jerry Reed or June Carter Cash's year?

    There was no mention of the Hall of Fame announcement being streamed live online as it was last year. It was great to watch something so awesome happening that we would normally never be a part of before the age of computers & the internet.

    Have a good weekend all ...


  9. Jeanene:

    Thanks so much for the confirmation. I don't get a chance to listen to WSM in the morning, so it is appreciated that you passed it along. I also hope that they do a live webcast of the announcement like last year.

    You are correct that they notify the inductees several days ahead so that those living can, or close relatives of those deceased can make it in for the announcement.

    The only thing I can tell you, and it probably means nothing, is that I am friends with one of those who has been mentioned and that person does not live in the Nashville area. As of late this afternoon, there was no mention of that person traveling to Nashville next week.

    Like everyone else, we both have our favorites, so we shall see.

  10. Good morning Byron:

    I fully agree, whether or not our personal favorites go in, I am still very happy for those who do because more won't than will.

    I went to the CMA's website – They are planning on streaming the announcement live & I have copied & pasted all information below for those interested in watching.


    Event to be Shown Live Online on

    NASHVILLE - The Country Music Association will reveal the three 2012 Inductees into the Country Music Hall of Fame at a private event on Tuesday, March 6, at 9:30 AM/CT. Fans can watch this live announcement of Country Music's most prestigious honor online as it happens at

    While viewing the announcement, fans can utilize the LiveStream chat box to interact and discuss the event. Fans should login using a Facebook or Twitter login to participate. The official Twitter hashtag is #CMHOF.

    On a personal note: My thoughts & prayers go out to those families who lost loved ones in the tornadoes of the last two days. I am also thinking of those who lost their homes in these storms. There is one couple that went through a tornado last year with their house being totally leveled. They rebuilt on the same spot only for their new house to be leveled in one of the tornadoes yesterday. I don’t know how one lives through one tornado much less two in one year. Unbelievable strength.

    Have a good day.