Monday, October 20, 2008

Playlist 10/19/2008 - Kenny Roberts: King of the Yodelers

Happy Birthday, Kenny Roberts!

We are very fortunate to have a music legend living nearby in New England. Kenny Roberts, King of the Yodelers, though born in Tennessee, grew up near Athol, Massachusetts, and got his start in music while a teen in New England working with Yodeling Slim Clark, and then the Down Homers.

WW2 interrupted things for a while in the 1940s, but along the way Kenny trained his wartime replacement, Bill Haley (yes, THAT Bill Haley), who relinquished the job when Kenny returned. Kenny then recorded a beautiful 78 RPM picture disc on the Vogue label, "Out Where The West Winds Blow," that introduced his future wife and songwriter, the beautiful Bettyanne, to his unbelievable singing voice.

A string of solo songs followed on the Coral label (a division of Decca) that included the huge hit "I Never See Maggie Alone" which reached the #9 position on the pop charts in 1949 and #4 on the country charts, followed by "Choc'late Ice Cream Cone."

Kenny won the World Championship Yodeling title at Madison Square Garden in 1964 singing the most amazing version of "She Taught Me To Yodel" that has ever been sung.

Kenny celebrated his 82nd birthday on October 14, so we celebrated on RRP by replaying an interview we had with Kenny two years ago after his 80th birthday, and then topped it off by having Kenny join us live at the end of the show.

If you missed it, you can go here to listen.

Kenny loves to get letters and frequently responds. You can write to Kenny and Bettyanne at:

Kenny Roberts
165 Allen Street
Athol, MA 01331

Kenny and Bettyanne also have e-mail which is not quite as reliable as snail mail:

kennybett (at) be sure to replace the (at) with "@"

Songs played during the interview:

Kenny Roberts' first recording...

Out Where The West Winds Blow (1946) / Kenny Roberts and the Down Homers / Vogue 78RPM Picture Disc

Kenny said he sold over a million of this next song which was also his biggest hit. It reached #9 on the pop charts and #4 on the country charts...

I Never See Maggie Alone (1949) / Kenny Roberts / Jumpin' & Yodelin' / Bear Family

This next song is probably the most amazing demonstration of yodeling you will ever hear...

She Taught Me To Yodel (1953) / Kenny Roberts / Jumpin' & Yodelin' / Bear Family

Kenny's wife, Bettyanne, is a fine songwriter and singer. She wrote and performed the following song about an adopted child...

Pretty (1988) / Bettyanne Roberts / The Singer - The Songwriter / self-released

The following song was nearly as popular as "Maggie." Kenny performed it regularly on his children's television shows...

Choc'late Ice Cream Cone (1950) / Kenny Roberts / Jumpin' & Yodelin' / Bear Family

Kenny still performs and records occasionally, and still retains his wonderful voice. The following song is one of his later country recordings...

Those Pretty Eyes (1988) / Kenny Roberts / Then and Now / Longhorn

Happy Birthday, Kenny Roberts!


Harry said...

Kenny Roberts: King of the yodelers, passed away 4/29/2012 after a long illness.

Jim Beaver said...

Yes, Harry. I posted a remembrance on May 2, 2012.