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Rapt attention

Monday, June 12, 2023

Hawk Larabee

I like to occasionally listen to old time radio on Sirius when I am in the car, good break from the pains and politics of the day. My favorite stuff is the Johnny Dollar detective stories but I also like Philip Marlowe, Richard Diamond and a bunch of others.

Some of the western stuff is pretty good too. Fort Laramie, Hopalong... Gunsmoke's William Conrad was a lot more fearless looking on the radio but, oh well...


I was listening to a new one for me today, Hawk Larabee. The episode was from 10/18/47 and it was called The California Kid. A brief note from Wicki:

In his book, On the Air: The Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio, radio historian John Dunning described Hawk Larabee as "radio's first half-hearted attempt at an adult western drama, a concept that was not fully realized until the arrival of Gunsmoke five years later."[1] Although adults listened to earlier radio westerns, such as The Lone Ranger and Red Ryder, the main audience for those programs was children.[2] Another radio historian, Jim Cox, wrote in his book, Say Goodnight, Gracie: The Last Years of Network Radio, that Hawk Larabee "fell short in providing the stark realism of a grown-up narrative."[3]

A summer replacement for The Adventures of Maisie,[2] the program began as Hawk Durango, with the main character having that name. Those episodes focused on the adventures of Durango and his partner, Brazos John. After six weeks, the program ended. On October 3, 1946, Hawk Larabee debuted,[2] with the title character being the owner of Black Mesa Ranch. Larabee and his partner, Somber Jones, encountered adventures in and around the town of Sundown Wells. Larabee often found himself accused of crimes that he had not committed and thus had to solve the crimes to save himself from misfortune.[4]

Not bad. But what I especially liked was the music, this episode had singing from Andy Parker and the Plainsmen. The original composer was Wilbur Hatch and the Texas Rangers.

I was not familiar with either group but absolutely love the country harmonies of the Louvin and Delmore Brothers and the gospel harmony of Hovie Lister and the Statesmen.

And Andy Parker's group sounded really good. 

b. 17 March 1913, Mangum, Oklahoma, USA, d. 1977. Little is known of Parker’s childhood, but he began a 12-year spell on local radio in the Midwest in 1926. Then, in 1938, after relocating to San Francisco, he began to appear as the Singing Cowboy in Death Valley Days on NBC radio. He also sang on KGO on Dude Martin’s Roundup, before moving to Los Angeles. Here in 1944, Parker, Charlie Morgan and Hank Caldwell became the Plainsmen, a vocal and swing instrumentalist trio. They made their film debut in Cowboy Blues with Ken Curtis and by 1946, they had record releases on the Coast label. They appeared regularly on the Hollywood Barn Dance on CBS radio and Sunrise Salute on KNX Los Angeles. When Caldwell departed, he was replaced by Paul ‘Clem’ Smith, and the act then became Andy Parker and The Plainsmen. They recorded for Capitol Records, including more than 200 radio transcription discs, and appeared in eight Eddie Dean B-westerns and many television shows.

Other artists who became band members over the years include George Bamby, Earl ‘Joaquin’ Murphey, Deuce Spriggens (who later became a member of the Sons of the Pioneers), and Noel Boggs. When Morgan decided to leave in 1956, Parker broke up the group. Parker wrote many songs, including the popular ‘Trail Dust’ and he and Morgan sang the theme song with Marilyn Monroe for the 1954 film River of No Return. They were inducted into the Western Music Association Hall of Fame in 1991.

Here is a clip from one of their songs on YouTube.


1 comment:

Diane O said...

Johnny Dollar! There's a name from the past. We used to listen to it every Sunday night in the car on the drive from my grandparents house in Glendale back home to Manhattan Beach after Sunday dinner (surface streets all the way, no freeways in 1951). I had to ask my folks what an "expense account" was. It was a fun hook to hang Johnny's stories on. ~ Diane O