Lonnie (Marvin) Elonzo Glosson (born 14 February 1908, Judsonia, Arkansas - died 2 March 2001, Searcy, Arkansas), popularized the harmonica nationwide and had a hand in several hit songs during a time when radio stations employed harmonica orchestras.
From a young age, Glosson’s ability and versatility on the harmonica stood out. He was sometimes billed as "The Best Harmonica Player in the World". Whilst many would disagree with this judgement, he undoubtedly had an influence on the growth in popularity of his instrument and ranks alongside DeFord Bailey and Wayne Raney as one of the finest hillbilly harmonica wizards. There are recordings and broadcasts spread across seven decades; and Glosson sold harmonicas and instruction books to hundreds of thousands of mail-order customers, through radio shows with his fellow harmonica-player Wayne Raney, syndicated all over North America.
Lonnie Marvin Glosson was born the seventh of eleven children on February 14, 1908, in Judsonia (White County) to Cora Busby Glosson and George H. Glosson. He later changed his middle name to Elonzo because he did not like the uncle after whom he was named. Glosson’s mother taught him the harmonica after he earned money to buy the instrument by picking cotton: “She showed me how to play ‘Home Sweet Home,’ and I took it from there.” His father owned a boat dock and bait shop and picked mussel shells for a button factory in Newport (Jackson County). George Glosson’s parents had come to Prospect Bluff (later renamed Judsonia) from North Carolina in the 1850s.
Hoboing around the United States, Lonnie Glosson earned a living playing harmonica in barber shops, on street corners, and on radio stations. From KMOX in St. Louis, Missouri, Glosson went to WLS’s National Barn Dance in Chicago, Illinois, where he was paired with Gene Autry. Glosson recorded for Paramount’s Broadway label in the early 1930s and also recorded for the Decca and Mercury labels.
Glosson’s early records were of the hillbilly boogie variety, but to survive as a performer, Glosson had to be versatile; he could just as easily sing and play a blues, gospel, or pop song. He also played guitar. The Country Music Hall of Fame cites his 1936 song, “Arkansas Hard Luck Blues,” as “an early example of the talking blues popularized by Woody Guthrie and Bob Dylan.”
In 1930, Glosson married Ruth Moore of Providence (White County); they soon divorced but remarried again in 1931 and eventually had six children. His partnership with harmonica player Wayne Raney of Wolf Bayou (Cleburne County) also lasted decades. By 1938, they had a program on KARK radio in Little Rock (Pulaski County), later hosting a national show on WCKY in Cincinnati, Ohio. Glosson and Raney also sold millions of mail-order harmonicas over the airwaves. In 1949, their “Why Don’t You Haul Off and Love Me,” with Raney on vocals and Hot Springs (Garland County) native Henry Glover producing, reached number one on the charts. They recorded several songs with the Delmore Brothers, including the Delmores’ massive hit, “Blues Stay Away From Me,” co-written and produced by Glover, the same year.
Glosson delved more into gospel as the years wore on, self-issuing songs such as “For Christmas Give Jesus Your Soul.” Nicknamed “the Talking Harmonica Man,” he toured mainly in schools. He continued performing into his nineties.
Glosson died at home of congestive heart failure on March 2, 2001, in Searcy (White County) weeks after his ninety-third birthday and is buried in Kensett (White County).
He received the Ozark Pioneer Music Award in 1999 and was inducted into the George D. Hay Country Music Hall of Fame in 2000. Charlie Pride named Glosson as one of the prime influences on his decision to go into country music, based on listening to him on the radio, as a child.
(Info edited mainly from encyclopediaofarkansas.net)