Gadsden Melody Boys

Country Group Ernest Tubb

Lived in Gadsden, AL

Source: Alabama Music Hall of Fame

Far left, Vernon Reese (Troubadour), Johnny Tona (country western singer), Knowles Wilson (musician), Chester Studdard (Troubadour), Rovene McGlathery (vocal), Ray Head (Troubadour)and Fox Lightfoot. WJBY Radio Studio circ. 1942


Ex-Troubadour Dies At 87


May 22, 1999

Perhaps best known for his back-up band work with the late Ernest Tubb, 87-year-old Chester Alvin Studdard passed away recently in a Gadsden, Alabama, hospital of an undisclosed cause. A former band member of legendary Tubb, Studdard also performed with the Melody Boys of Gadsden and served as master of ceremonies for several Grand Ole Opry shows.





Birth: May 30, 1909 Gadsden, Etowah County, Alabama, USA

Death: Jun. 2, 1971 Gadsden, Etowah County, Alabama, USA

Country music singer and comedian. Career started with a local hometown band known as the Gadsden Melody Boys in Gadsden, Alabama. Reese was selected by Joe Frank and Ernest Tubb to become one of the first Texas Troubadors. Made debut with Tubb at the Grand Ol Opry in 1943 and performed on WSM Radio in Nashville.  (bio by: Charles Reese)




Rex Griffin recorded for Decca through 1939, after which time he was dropped due to slacking record sales. He rejoined the band of Billie Walker and Her Texas Cowboys in 1940, having previously played with them in the middle of the 1930s. He played with his own Melody Boys in Alabama not long after, which featured musicians, Vernon "Toby" Reese, Chester Studdard and Ray "Kemo" Head who later played with Ernest Tubb's Texas Troubadours. In 1941, his mother died, and he moved on to Dallas, working at radio station KRLD until 1943; from there he moved to Chicago. In 1944 he recorded again for Decca on a series of transcription discs, which were never commercially issued by Decca. His last recordings followed in 1946 on King Records out of Cincinnati. Griffin sold many of his songs with no credit or recognition and collaborated on many without recognition. One collaboration was, "I saw mommy Kissing Santa Claus."




Despite the success of "The Last Letter," Griffin's record sales were too poor overall to justify the label keeping him, and he was dropped by Decca after 1939. In the mid-'30s, he had played with Billie Walker and Her Texas Cowboys in New Orleans, and in 1940 he rejoined her band in Memphis. He later moved back to Alabama to spend more time with his ailing mother and appeared locally for the next few years. Among the places he played often was the notorious crime-ridden Alabama town of Phenix City, which would later become the subject of two feature films. In Gasden, he performed with a group called the Melody Boys, which included two future members of Tubb's Texas Troubadors.



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