Country Vocals Country Boy Eddie

Born: July 3, 1906 Mule Shoe, TX

Died:  Oct. 12, 2000

Lived in Birmingham, AL

Source: Alabama Music Hall of Fame

April, 2006: more info from music researcher and author Kevin Coffey. Kevin writes:

Hal Byrnes became better known as Hal Burns. Happy Hal Burns. A longtime country music performer mostly active in Memphis and Birmingham - very popular regionally. Born in 1908 and only died a few years ago. The movies with Byrnes/Burns appear to have been made about 1933 or so. This is from an article about Burns by music historian Wayne W. Daniel, published in Bluegrass Unlimited, November, 1989:

"The movies in which Hal Burns appeared were made in San Antonio. They were part of a series of six western one-reel musical shorts made by National Pictures. A San Antonio newspaper at the time reported that the production would be known as 'Songs Of The Plains', and would feature 'the old, home-made tunes which once lulled Longhorn steers to placidity on their last bedding grounds'. According to another newspaper story, the movies in which Burns appeared were titled Songs Of The Plains, My Gypsy Sweetheart and My Cowboy Romeo. Appearing with Burns in these movies was one-time well known cowboy singer Jules Verne Allen."


happy hal burns

Happy day: New exhibits pay homage to country-Western legend

Terry Pace

Published: Sunday, January 13, 2002 at 3:30 a.m.

Last Modified: Saturday, January 12, 2002 at 11:00 p.m.

TUSCUMBIA - Happy Hal Burns always lived up to his name.

"He was a happy man," recalled popular Birmingham morning-show host Country Boy Eddy Burns, whose long, influential career in country music and broadcasting began on Happy Hal’s popular radio show.

"Happy Hal portrayed happiness everywhere he went," Burns remembered. "When you saw Happy and you were sad, you came away mighty glad. He was so happy that I used to call him the Cowboy Evangelist."

A new set of exhibits at the Alabama Music Hall of Fame pays tribute to Happy Hal, a Birmingham native whose wide-ranging career in country-and-Western music encompassed movies and live concerts as well as national radio shows in the 1930s and ’40s.

"Happy was one of the original cowboys," Burns said during Saturday’s public unveiling of the exhibits. "He made a couple of Western movies, even before Gene Autry and Roy Rogers. He was always a great one. He was a good yodeler, a good singer, a great promoter and a great personality."

The centerpiece of the Happy Hal exhibit is a stretch-length, silver-laden, cowboy-themed "Golden Country Western Car" that carried the smiling, positive-preaching singer to music jamborees across the country. The eye-catching antique is valued at more than $150,000.

"It’s a 1961, custom-made Pontiac Bonneville convertible that’s over 19 feet long," said David Johnson, the hall of fame’s executive director. "It’s decorated with 1,000 pounds of silver from bumper to bumper."The vehicle is inlaid with 250 silver dollars. Thirteen silver-plated, hand-engraved pistols were installed in place of door handles, gearshift levers, the emergency-brake lever and the directional-light lever.

"Three silver rifles are mounted on the back and on both sides of the car," Johnson said. "Two Colt 45s with pearl handles and silver bullets were mementos from cowboy legends Roy Rogers and Gene Autry. They adorn the back of the hand-tooled leather seats."

Texas longhorns mounted on the front of the car came from the Texas ranch of the "Father of Country Music," Alabama native Jimmie Rodgers. The convertible was customized by Nudie’s Rodeo Tailors of Van Nuys, Calif., a company famous for designing sparkling rhinestone costumes for Western stars.

"There were two cars similarly designed, and both were originally owned by the late country-music legend Webb Pierce," Johnson added. "Webb Pierce donated this car to Happy Hal Burns years ago as a gift. Mr. Burns used the car to travel all over the country with his wife and their country-Western jamboree shows."

The new additions to the museum also include a Happy Hal stage outfit, vintage career photos and the performer’s Gibson guitar, given to him by "Singing Brakeman" Rodgers.

"Happy Hal would be so proud of this," according to his widow, Connie "Miss Happy" Burns, who donated the items to the hall of fame. "As he would say, ’You can’t sprinkle the perfume of happiness on others without spilling a few drops on yourself.’ "

During Saturday’s ceremony, Miss Happy and Country Boy Eddy performed a pair of classic country standards, "I’ll Never Grow Tired of Loving You" and "Have I Told You Lately That I Love You?" Both songs were musical favorites associated with Happy Hal, who died in October 2000.

"He really taught happiness and good will to everybody," Country Boy Eddy told the crowd, "and I really think he was one of the finest showmen that ever lived. We really miss and love Happy."

Happy Hal Burns began his radio career at Birmingham’s WBRC Radio in the 1930s. He later moved to WMC in Memphis, Tenn., where the "Garrett Snuff Variety Show" featured Happy Hal, a cast of musical regulars, top-name guests and a little dog named Sissy.

"It became one of the leading country-music shows of the day," Johnson explained. "It was carried by major stations in Nashville, Louisville, Cincinnati, New Orleans and Atlanta. Mr. Burns always told a happy thought, a happy story or a joke. His closing remark and signature signoff was always, ’Beeeeeeee happy!’ "

After his service in World War II, Happy Hal returned to his native Birmingham and started another crowd-pleasing musical variety show on WBRC Radio.

"He helped many people succeed in their music careers as a music promoter and variety-show host," Johnson said. "Not only did he perform all over the country with his Country Jubilee Shows, he also wrote more than 100 songs. One in particular was ’Cow Town,’ which he co-wrote with Tex Ritter. More recently, it was recorded by country great George Strait."

Happy Hal was hosting the WBRC program and managing Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys when 14-year-old Eddy Burns (no relation) decided that he wanted to meet the prominent radio performer.

"I listened to Happy Hal every morning, along about 8 o’clock," Country Boy Eddy recalled. "So one day I said, ’I want to meet this guy. I want to get me a job playing for him.’ "The hopeful teen-ager carried his fiddle to WBRC and asked Happy Hal for an audition.

"He said, ’What can you do?’ " Country Boy Eddy remembered. "I said, ’Well, I can bray like a mule, and I play this fiddle.’ So I went, ’Eeee-yahhh,’ and I played that fiddle for him. He said, ’That’s just what I need!’ We played music together and remained friends for more than 50 years."

In addition to Country Boy Eddy, Happy Hal’s famous friends over the years included country singers Rodgers, Pierce, Wills and Hank Williams and the screen’s top singing cowboys, Autry and Rogers.

"Happy was a man of great principle, and I can attest to the fact that he touched everyone’s life that he ever met in an indelible way," Johnson told the crowd.


More Info:

That's All Rite Mama: "Happy" Hal Burns on Gold Arrow

Video:   Happy Hal Burns - You'll Never Find Another Daddy Like Me


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