COMEDIAN PROVIDES A "SONNY" SIDE

by Jimmy Lancaster
TN Staff Writer

Picture of Roy Lanham on stage Roy Lanham, from Corbin, Kentucky, not only plays lead guitar for the Sons of the Pioneers, but he provides some of the comedy on the show at the Foggy River Boys Theater.

"I provide the comedy relief on the show since the Sons of the Pioneers have always had a comedian on their show," Lanham said. "Pat Brady who replaced Roy Rogers was the first one to do comedy with the Sons of the Pioneers. After Pat left, Shug Fisher did the comedy, followed by Deuce Springins, then Pat came back. I came into the group in 1960, strictly as a guitar player. When Pat Brady left about ten years later, I took over the comedy."

Lanham did comedy before that time with a group called the Whippoorwills in 1949. "We were up at KWTO Radio in Springfield and I did some comedy with them. More or less, I started out with Archie Campbell and I've done comedy since I left him. I sort of styled my comedy from him. When I joined his group, I was 16 years old. 'therefore, comedy comes natural to me."

Lanham started playing guitar when he was five years old. "I kept up my guitar work and I was 16 when Archie Campbell came to Corbin, Kentucky," Lanham said. "I said 'Archie, you got to listen to me play the guitar.' He liked it and went to my parent's home. If you let Roy come with me, we will put him on the radio and will pay him two dollars a day. They let me go, and I stayed with Archie about six months. We went to WNOX in Knoxville, Tennessee which at that time had groups such as Homer and Jethro, the Carliles, Cowboy Copas and lots of other people.

"I stayed with Campbell six months and then Doug Dalton who was a musician with Archie and myself formed a group called the Whippqorwills," Lanham said. "We were playing in Chattanooga, Tennessee and Gene Austin came through. He heard us and then hired us. He gave us the name Whippoorwills which is from the line of his song that he wrote called 'My Blue Heaven'. I later left the group and went to WLW in Cincinnati in 1943. Chet Atkins took my place in the whippoorwills. When I started in Cincinnati there was Joe Maphis, Grandpa Jones, Merle Travis, the Trailblazers, Doris Day and Rosemary Clooney and her sister. Later, Homer and Jethro and Chet Atkins came to the station. I was at WLW which was a high point in my career until around 1947."

The Whippoorwills were reorganized, and Lanham and the group were on their way to Hollywood in 1948 when they made a stop at KWTO in Springfield. "They asked us to stay and we went on staff at KWTO for a year," Lanham said. "In the meantime, Homer and Jethro and Chet Atkins came to KWTO in 1949. We all did the show 'Corns a Crackin' on the ABC Network."

Picture of Roy Lanham on stage Lanham and his group went on to Hollywood in 1950 to do a Smiley Burnett Show. "We went back and forth from Hollywood to Springfield because in Springfield we would record with George Morgan," Lanham added. "Finally, I left the Whippoorwills in 1955 and went to CBS on Cliffie Stone's 'Hometown 'Jamboree Show'. I joined the Pioneers in 1960 and have been with them ever since that time. I was associated with Roy Rogers off and on for three or four years in the early fifties. When Karl Farr passed away, I was the first one they asked to join the group."

Lanham does some songwriting and arranging. "One of my arrangements of-'Arkansas Traveler' was used by Chet Atkins. I also worked with Jim Reeves on "Bimbo" and "Mexican Joe'." "I really like the area here in Branson and the lakes," Lanham said. "It is a lot like Kentucky where I was raised. I think this is a coming area for entertainment."

Lanham enjoys carpentry and woodworking. "My wife, Marianne is the fisherman for us," Lanham said, "We have five children and three grandchildren."

Picture of Roy Lanham on stage from the original news paper that ran this article
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