|Country Music "Remembers" by Gary Hayes
One my fellow Kentucky boys
Louis Marshall "Grandpa" Jones
Born in the farming community of Niagara in Henderson County, Kentucky, Jones spent his teenage years in Akron, Ohio, where
he began singing country music tunes on a local radio show. By 1935 his pursuit of a musical career took him to WBZ (AM) radio
in Boston, Massachusetts where he met musician/songwriter Bradley Kincaid, who gave him the nickname "Grandpa" because
of his off-stage grumpiness at early-morning radio shows. Jones liked the name and decided to create a stage persona based
around it.He began at an early age to wear a fake moustache and thin wire glasses,later in his carrer he really wore real glasses
and his moustache was indeed real.
Performing as "Grandpa Jones," he played the banjo, yodeled, and sang mostly old-time ballads. The vaudevillian humor was a
bridge to television entertainment. Jones used the old fashioned style of banjo playing called frailing, which gave a rough
backwoods flavor to his performances. Some of his more famous songs include, "T for Texas", "Night Train to Memphis" and
"Mountain Dew." He also wrote the song "Eight More Miles to Louisville". Moving to Nashville, Tennessee, he became part of the
Grand Ole Opry and was a regular cast member on the popular TV show, Hee Haw.
Jones was one of the most popular cast members of the long-running Hee Haw. A favorite skit had off-camera cast members
asking "Hey Grandpa, what's for supper?", to which he'd describe either a delicious, country-style meal ("Buttermilk biscuits
smothered in chicken gravy, home-fried potatoes, collard greens and Grandmother's fresh-baked blueberry pie à la mode!" and
the cast would reply, "Yum, yum!") or, more often than not, something terrible ("Because you were bad, thawed out TV dinners!" at
which the cast would scoff, "Yuck!"). A running gag was that the window he was pretending to polish in this skit had no glass, and
that Jones would slip his fingers through the empty panes. Jones also joined castmates Buck Owens, Roy Clark and Kenny
Price with a gospel segment at the end of each show.Grandpa alos sat in his rocker and told stories along with Stringbean and
other fellow cast members
A resident of rural Ridgetop, Tennessee outside of Nashville, he was a neighbor and friend of fellow musician David "Stringbean"
Akeman. On the morning of November 11, 1973, Jones discovered the bodies of Akeman and his wife who had been murdered
during the night by robbers.
In 1978 Grandpa Jones was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. His autobiography, Everybody's Grandpa: Fifty Years
Behind The Mike was published in 1984 (written with assistance from Charles K. Wolfe).
In January 1998, Jones suffered a stroke after his second show performance at the Grand Ole Opry. He died on February 19,
1998. Jones was buried in the Luton Memorial Methodist Church cemetery in Nashville.
|Grandpa Jones with his book, with the Hagar Twins, and at the Grand Ole Opry
Pictures by TennesseeConcerts photographer Joanne Adams
|Grandpa Jones "Night Train To Memphis"
|Little Liza Jane - (short clip) 1970's