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Red Foley

Red Foley was one of the biggest stars in country during the post-war era, a silky-voiced singer who sold some 25 million records between 1944 and 1965 and whose popularity went far in making country music a viable mainstream commodity. Born Clyde Julian Foley on June 17, 1910, in Blue Lick, KY, he began playing guitar and harmonica at a young age, and by the time he was 17 had taken first prize in a statewide talent competition. While attending college in 1930, he was spotted by a talent scout from Chicago's WLS radio and was tapped to sing with producer John Lair's Cumberland Ridge Runners, the house band on the program National Barn Dance.

After seven years with the Ridge Runners, Lair created a new show, Renfro Valley Barn Dance, especially to showcase Foley's talents. The singer remained with the program until late 1939, performing everything from ballads to boogie to blues. At the same time, he became the first country artist to host his own network radio program, Avalon Time (co-hosted by comedian Red Skelton), and performed extensively in theaters and clubs and at fairs. After exiting the Renfro Valley Barn Dance, Foley returned for another seven-year stint at the National Barn Dance show. In 1941, the same year he made his film debut with Tex Ritter in the Western The Pioneers, he signed a lifetime contract with Decca Records. His first chart single, 1944's "Smoke on the Water," topped the charts for 13 consecutive weeks; in 1945, he was the first major performer to record in Nashville.

In 1946, Foley signed on to emcee and perform on The Prince Albert Show, a segment of the Grand Ole Opry program broadcast on NBC; his popularity with listeners is often credited with establishing the Opry as country's pre-eminent radio show. Beginning in 1947, he began recording with his backing band, the Cumberland Valley Boys, earning another number one single with "New Jolie Blonde (New Pretty Blonde)." With the group, he recorded seven Top Five hits between 1947 and 1949, including "Tennessee Saturday Night," a chart-topper in 1948. Again recording solo in 1950, he issued the song that would become his trademark tune, "Chattanoogie Shoe Shine Boy," which stayed in the number one position for 13 weeks.

In 1951, Foley's second wife, Judy Martin (born Eva Overstake), committed suicide, reportedly over the singer's affair with another woman. In order to devote the majority of his time to raising a family, he cut back considerably on his performing commitments, although he continued to release hit after hit in a variety of musical styles, including rockabilly and R&B; "(There'll Be) Peace in the Valley (For Me)," a 1951 smash, was the first record ever to sell one million copies on the gospel charts. In the same year, he also released his first LP, Red Foley Souvenir Album. After several years spent in virtual retirement, in 1954 Foley was named to host The Ozark Jubilee, a country showcase for ABC television; the show was a hit, and ran through 1960. Also in 1954, he recorded the chart-topping "One By One," the first of many duets with Kitty Wells.

After The Ozark Jubilee went off the air, he spent one season co-starring with Fess Parker in the program Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. Although Foley continued recording throughout most of the 1960s, his hit-making days were largely behind him. In 1967, he was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame. After a performance in Fort Wayne, IN, on September 19, 1968, Foley died of a heart attack. Among the survivors were his daughter Betty, a popular country vocalist in her own right, and another daughter Shirley, the wife of pop crooner Pat Boone. ~ Jason Ankeny
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Hillbilly Fever

Disc 1

1. Single Life Is Good Enough For Me

2. Lone Cowboy

3. Echoes Of My Old Plantation Home

4. I Don't Care Anymore

5. Is It True

6. Pals Of The Saddle

7. Be Honest With Me

8. Someday Somewhere Sweetheart

9. Hang Your Head In Shame

10. Smoke On The Water

11. There's A Blue Star Shining Bright (In A Window Tonight)

12. At Mail Call Today

13. I'll Never Let You Worry My Mind

14. Shame Shame On You

15. Harriet

16. Have I Told You Lately That I Love You

17. Old Shep

18. My Poor Little Heart Is Broken

19. Never Trust A Woman

20. A Smile Will Chase Away A Tear

21. I'll Be True To You My Darling (Till The End Of Time)

22. Rye Whiskey

23. That's How Much I Love You

24. Freight Train Boogie

25. New Jolie Blonde

Disc 2

1. Tennessee Saturday Night

2. Too Many Blues

3. Blues In My Heart

4. I'm Picking Up Pieces Of A Broken Heart

5. I'm Waltzing With A Broken Heart

6. Just A Man And His Dog

7. Ruby Red Lips

8. Television

9. Tit For Tat

10. Two Cents Three Eggs And A Postcard

11. The Last Thing I Want Is Your Pity

12. Don't Be Ashamed Of Your Age

13. I Wish I Had A Nickel

14. Candy Kisses

15. Careless Kisses

16. I'm Throwing Rice

17. Steal Away

18. Tennessee Polka

19. Tennessee Border

20. When God Dips His Love In My Heart

21. I Gotta Have My Baby Back

22. Sunday Down In Tennessee

23. Tennessee Border #2

24. Goodnight Irene

25. Choc'late Ice Cream Cone

Disc 3

1. Birmingham Bounce

2. Chattanooga Shoe Shine Boy

3. Hillbilly Fever #2

4. Just A Closer Walk With Thee

5. Love Bug Itch

6. Somebody's Cryin'

7. Sugarfoot Rag

8. Cincinnati Dancin' Pig

9. M-I-S-S-I-S-S-I-P-P-I

10. Old Kentucky Fox Chase

11. Texas Vs Kentucky

12. Sugarfoot Rag Square Dance

13. The Strange Little Girl

14. Tater Pie

15. Alabama Jubilee

16. Hobo Boogie

17. I Want To Be With You Always

18. Hot Rod Race

19. (There'll Be) Peace In The Valley

20. My Heart Cries For You

21. Night Train To Memphis

22. Dixie

23. Milk Bucket Boogie

24. I Gotta Have You

25. Midnight

Disc 4

1. Salty Dog Rag

2. Don't Let The Stars Get In Your Eyes

3. Too Old To Cut The Mustard

4. Deep Blues

5. Shake A Hand

6. No Help Wanted

7. Hot Dog Rag

8. Hot Toddy

9. Double Datin'

10. You're A Real Good Friend

11. Playin' Dominoes And Shootin' Dice

12. It's The Mileage That's Slowin' Us Down

13. One By One

14. Skinnie Minnie Fishtail

15. My Window Faces South

16. Hearts Of Stone

17. As Far As I'm Concerned

18. Pinball Boogie

19. As Long As I Live

20. Hominy Grits

21. (A) Satisfied Mind

22. Plantation Boogie

23. Crawdad Song

25. Frosty The Snowman

x

Track List: The Country Music Hall Of Fame Series

1. Hang Your Head In Shame

2. Old Shep

3. Tennessee Saturday Night

4. Tennessee Border

5. Careless Kisses

6. Just A Closer Walk With Thee

7. Chattanoogie Shoe Shine Boy

8. When God Dips His Love In My Heart

9. Don't Be Ashamed Of Your Age

10. Peace In The Valley

11. Alabama Jubilee

12. Midnight

13. One By One

14. Deep Blues

15. As Far As I'm Concerned

16. Sugarfoot Rag

Comments

Report as inappropriate
I'd love to be kin to someone like Red Foley. He had a great voice & I love his music. Besides he hails from my home state - makes me biased!!!
Report as inappropriate
Im related to red foley my names justin foley i love his music
Report as inappropriate
HE IS A GREAT MUSICIAN
Report as inappropriate
hes great!
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hustonlarry
In this age of rancor it is refreshing to find only positive comments about one of my heroes. This sadly a great surprise to me. Sam
Report as inappropriate
conditb7
I remember the TV shows of the 50's, I loved them. He always ended with a gospel song, God how I miss those times. I love Pandora, I would listen 24 hrs a day If I could....... . . . . .
Report as inappropriate
wgspicer
I remember Him as Red Foley from the early fifties liked him than and still love to hear him sing. One of the greats.
Report as inappropriate
When I was a little boy in the early forties, we listened to the National Barn Dance Show. My brother and I would would beg mom to let us listen to the dunnal stuff. Sixty years later, I still look for the dunnal stuff.
Report as inappropriate
harry8675
They just don't make like him any more.
Report as inappropriate
Sorry that e=-mail is

kennycan22@a o l . c o m
Report as inappropriate
Can anyone send me Steal Away by Red foley? Or if you have any old Grand Old Oprhy recordings with minnie Pearl waould be really nice

kenncan22@ao l . c o m
Report as inappropriate
We had several 78's of Red Foley when I was a small boy..I learned to spell Mississippi from his record of the same name when I was five. I also like the "Chattanooga shoeshine boy" and "The tennessee Border".
Report as inappropriate
sassyjan
This song and this singer was the first one I remember hearing on the radio when I was little. I always loved this song.
Report as inappropriate
Red Foley is great...
Report as inappropriate
Red Foley was one of the family artists that I enjoyed with my parents in the 50's. His gospel songs that ended his program were well worth the entire program to hear. He always reminded me of my grandfather.

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