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The Bailes Brothers

From the mid-'40s through the '50s the Bailes Brothers were among the most popular close-harmony duets. There were actually four brothers -- Kyle, Johnnie, Walter, and Homer -- but they seldom worked together as an entire group, instead pairing off for performances. The Bailes were born and raised in West Virginia, near Charleston. Their father, a minister, died when they were young and their impoverished mother had to struggle to keep them together. (Years later, Walter paid tribute to her trials with his song "Give Mother My Crown.") While working a variety of odd jobs during the Depression, the brothers were inspired to pursue music by the songs of such performers as Billy Cox and Buddy Starcher. They started out on a variety of radio programs, but didn't earn much recognition until 1942, when Johnnie and Walter began working as a duo at WSAZ Huntington. All four brothers played string instruments; after they became popular, they added other members to their group, among them Fiddlin' Arthur Smith.

It was Roy Acuff who got the Bailes their big break when he suggested to WSM Nashville executives that the brothers appear on The Grand Ole Opry. They made their debut on the show in 1944 and stayed in Nashville for two years. They made their recording debut in early 1945 for Columbia; among their first singles were their original songs "Dust on the Bible" and "The Drunkard's Grave." As they continued recording the brothers added more and more original songs, such as "Broken Marriage Vows." In 1947, Walter left to become a minister and Homer became the singing partner of their friend Dean Upson. They made their last recordings for Columbia at the end of the year, later becoming co-founders of the famous Louisiana Hayride show.

The original Bailes Brothers went their separate ways in 1949. Over the next decade, different combinations of Bailes Brothers appeared. In the early '50s Homer and Kyle teamed up to work at a Little Rock, Arkansas station. They also recorded a single. Later Johnnie and Walter reunited and began singing gospel in Texas. In 1953, they recorded three singles for King; Johnnie also cut a few solo records. During the 1960s, they continued the pattern, with Walter teaming up with Kyle and Homer at different times. Johnnie and Homer reunited during the early '70s, and from the mid-'70s through the '80s Walter, Kyle, and former bandmember Ernest Ferguson frequently played at churches and sometimes at festivals. Homer was busy working as a pastor while Johnnie ran three radio stations. Walter was also an evangelical preacher. In 1976 Walter and Kyle made an album; in 1977, all four reunited for a record, joined by their sister Minnie on a few cuts. Later, Walter recorded on his Starlit and White Dove labels, while Homer also recorded solo. Much of the Bailes Brothers' early works are available on anthologies, and some of their records have been reissued. ~ Sandra Brennan
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Remember Me

1. Building On The Sand

2. What Will You Be Doing Then

3. Romans Ten And Nine

4. We're Living In The Last Days Now

5. No One To Open The Door

6. Somebody's Praying For You

7. He'll Strike You Down

8. Ashamed To Own The Blessed Savior

9. Broken Marriage Vows

10. Discontented Are You Darling

11. Down The Valley Of The Shadow

12. Laughing Through The Tears

13. It's Hard To Leave Somebody That You Love

14. Everybody Knew The Truth But Me

15. Should I Let You Go

16. Crying Over You

17. Remember Me

18. The Future Holds Nothing

19. She Has Forgotten

20. All The World Is Lonely Now

21. Something Got A Hold Of Me

22. An Empty Mansion

23. Daniel Prayed

24. Jesus Is The One

x

Track List: Oh So Many Years

1. The Drunkard's Grave

2. Searching For Soldier's Grave

3. As Long As I Live

4. Dust On The Bible

5. There's Tears In My Eyes All The Time

6. Fare Thee Well

7. I've Got My One Way Ticket To The Sky

8. I Want To Be Loved (But Only By You)

9. Down Where The River Bends

10. I Guess I'll Go On Dreaming

11. Whiskey Is The Devil (In Liquid Form)

12. Broken Marriage Vows

14. We're Living In The Last Days Now

15. You'll Always Be The Only One

16. Oh So Many Years

17. If You Have Retreated From God

18. Ashamed To Own The Blessed Savior

19. Do You Expect A Reward From God

20. Read Romans Ten And Nine

21. Come To The Savior

22. Remember Me

23. Has The Devil Got A Mortgage On You

24. My Heart Echoes

27. Sinner Kneel Down And Pray

28. Will Angels Have A Sweetheart

Comments

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Walter was like a dad to me . we traveled many miles together. I helped lay him to rest. Miss him every day. I sing many of his songs.
Report as inappropriate
Miracle worker work one for me!
Report as inappropriate
My previous generation has mentioned these performers long as I can remember.

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