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Home: Surnames: Delmore Family Genealogy Forum

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Alton and Raybon Delmore
Posted by: Debrah Lovell Durham Date: September 21, 2001 at 18:15:39
  of 49

Researching the following family:


Descendants of Charles Edward Delmore


Generation No. 1

1. CHARLES EDWARD1 DELMORE was born January 14, 1874 in New York, and died August 18, 1957 in Limestone County, Alabama. He married MARY ANN WILLIAMS, daughter of JAMES WILLIAMS and HARRIETT COMPTON. She was born August 05, 1878 in Lincoln County, Tennessee, and died February 09, 1958 in Limestone County, Alabama.
       
Children of CHARLES DELMORE and MARY WILLIAMS are:
       i.       HASSIE2 DELMORE, m. FLOYD COWAN.
       ii.       KATE DELMORE, m. JOE BROWN.
       iii.       J MAX DELMORE.
       iv.       LEONARD DELMORE.
2.       v.       WILLIAM ALTON DELMORE, b. December 25, 1908; d. June 09, 1962.
       vi.       JAMES THOMAS DELMORE, b. March 14, 1914; d. December 04, 1952.
       vii.       RABON DELMORE, b. December 03, 1916; d. December 04, 1952; m. NOLA KING.


Generation No. 2

2. WILLIAM ALTON2 DELMORE (CHARLES EDWARD1) was born December 25, 1908, and died June 09, 1962. He married THELMA SUSAN NEELY. She was born 1916, and died February 18, 1971.

Notes for WILLIAM ALTON DELMORE:
Taken from "The Heritage of Limestone County, Alabama"-Volume 42. Submission by: Book Committee. Source: Alabama Heritage Magazine article courtesy Limestone County Archives. Pages 141-2.

Delmore Brothers–Alton Delmore Part 1

The Delmore Brothers were a favorite of Grand Ole Opry listeners during the 1930's, receiving more fan mail than any other members of the cast. The eighth and tenth children of tenant farmers, Charlie and Mary Williams Delmore, Alton was born 25 December 1908 and Rabon was born 3 December 1916 in Elkmont, Alabama. The family moved frequently around Limestone County and Alton often stayed in the home of his uncle Will Williams, a hymn writer and music teacher.

In his uncle's classes, Alton learned to sing four-part harmony by reading shape-notes, a method of singing still used in some rural churches today. When he was seventeen years old in 1926, he teamed with his nine-year-old brother Rabon to form the Delmore Brothers. Rabon was already accomplished on the tenor guitar. Their debut twas made on the stage of Clements High School, and four years later the Delmore Brothers won a fiddling contest at Athens Agricultural High School.

In 1931, the Delmores signed a recording contract with Columbia Records, Alton married Thelma Neely, and they cut two original songs: "Alabama Lullaby" and "Got the Kansas City Blues." Alton used their Columbia recordings to acquire an audition with radio station WSM in Nashville. Two excited country boys, carrying their guitars in cotton pick sacks with "The Delmore Brothers" written in pokeberry juice on them, headed north to Nashville in 1932. The Grand Ole Opry paid Alton and Rabon five dollars a week for performing on the show.

Their melody was simple, but keen listeners noted that the brothers switched melody and harmony in midsong. Their compositions were technically demanding. The Delmore's multi-note guitar runs are considered difficult to play even by today's standards, and they set the standard for musicianship at the Opry which weeded out the amateurs from the professionals. While they were at the Opry, the Delmores made more records than any other members of the cast. Among the nearly 100 songs, recorded on the Bluebird label between 1933 and 1938, were "Brown's Ferry Blues" (1933), "There's More Pretty Girls Than One" (1937), both of which crossed over to the pop charts.

Alton said later that the Delmores were just green, ignorant country boys who wanted to play music. The Delmore's chose matching checkered shirts or jackets for their performances, emphasizing good music, rather than the demeaning hillbilly image portrayed by other Grand Ole Opry performers. They were not experienced in business practices and, as a result, neglected to protect many of their songs with copyrights, and failed to ensure proper credit when they backed up other performers. The Delmores recorded songs with Uncle Dave Macon and Arthur Smith Trio but their names do not appear on these records.

Taken from "The Heritage of Limestone County, Alabama"-Volume 42. Submission by: Book Committee. Source: Alabama Heritage Magazine article courtesy Limestone County Archives. Pages 141-2.

Delmore Brothers–Rabon Delmore–Part II

The Delmores quit the Grand Ole Opry in 1938, and with Rabon's new bride Nola King, traveled with a string band. In 1940 they accepted a job with WAPI in Birmingham. In 1942 they moved to Cincinnati and stayed at WLW for four years. While at WLW, Alton, Rabon, Merle Travis, and Grandpa Jones began singing traditional four-part harmonies and the Brown's Ferry Four began-the most famous gospel quartet in country music history. Alton named the group after the road he had grown up on in limestone County and wrote original hymns for the quartet to sing, including "Will the Circle be Unbroken." After Merle Travis moved to California, the Delmores and Grandpa Jones, with either Red Foley or Clyde Moody at bass, continued to record as the Brown's Ferry Four until 1952. Their manager was Robert "Bob" Dunnavant, Sr., the founder of WJMW (WZYP) radio.

During World War II, the Delmore Brothers did not benefit from country music's expanding popularity. Alton, who had three children and a blood sugar level so high he could not get life insurance, was drafted in 1944 at the age of thirty-six. Rabon, eight years younger, was exempted from military service because of poor eyesight.

Beginning in 1946 they recorded "Hillbilly Boogie" which introduced the boogie sound to country music. "Freight Train Boogie" a national hit in 1948 was followed by "Blues Stay Away From Me"in 1949 which crossed over to become their biggest hit ever.

On December 4, 1952 Rabon died, one day after his thirty-sixth birthday. He is buried in Athens Cemetery and in his tombstone photograph he is singing into a microphone with the station call letters G-O-D.

Alton moved to Huntsville later where he worked for the post office and taught music. He died 9 June 1962. The Brothers were inducted into the International Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1971.



       
Children of WILLIAM DELMORE and THELMA NEELY are:
       i.       BILLIE ANN3 DELMORE.
       ii.       NORMA GAIL DELMORE.
       iii.       DEBBIE DELMORE.
       iv.       LIONEL DELMORE.
       v.       SUSAN NAYINE DELMORE, b. December 03, 1948, Jackson, Hinds, Mississippi; d. March 07, 1952, Houston, Texas.





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