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Sunday, 2 October 2016

Chubby Wise born 2 October 1915

Robert Russell "Chubby" Wise (October 2, 1915, Lake City, Florida - January 6, 1996) was an American bluegrass fiddler. Most closely associated with Western swing and early bluegrass, Chubby Wise was one of the greatest fiddlers in country music.  

Chubby Wise began a long, colorful, and varied career in show business backing his adoptive father, Robert Wise (a fiddler) on banjo and guitar in Lake City, Florida. After dropping out of school in the seventh grade, Chubby took up the fiddle himself at the age of 12 or 13 working locally in the Jacksonville area. At 18 he married Geneva Kirby, drove taxis in Jacksonville by day, and made music by night. It was here that he encountered the Rouse Brothers and Ervin Rouse's classic "Orange Blossom Special," which became one of Chubby's most-featured numbers.  

Wise broke into full-time work as a professional musician on WRUF-AM in Gainesville at the age of 22. With the Jubilee Hillbillies, who nicknamed him "Chubby," he played a mixture of
country, swing, blues, and pop music. These influences can be clearly heard in Chubby's distinctive fiddling.

He joined Bill Monroe's Blue Grass Boys in 1942, including dates at the Grand Ole Opry. Wise helped define the sound of bluegrass fiddling: a mixture of the drone double-stops of mountain music, the bent and sliding notes of rural blues and a speedy, swinging, daredevil virtuosity. He worked with Monroe through 1948, then played with Clyde Moody  with whom he co-wrote the "Shenandoah Waltz." He and Moody worked together until late 1949, when Wise returned to the Blue Grass Boys for another brief stint.
While with Monroe, Wise also recorded two sessions with Hank Williams in 1947, including "I Can't Get You Off Of My Mind," "My Sweet Love Ain't Around," and "A Mansion on the Hill." 

Wise freelanced for several years, appearing briefly with the York Brothers, Bill Monroe again, Flatt & Scruggs, with Elton Britt, and as a session musician in Nashville. He also played with the York Brothers, Flatt & Scruggs, and Connie B. Gay. 

In 1954 he joined Hank Snow & the Rainbow Ranch Boys on the Grand Ole Opry and RCA Victor records. He was a prominent member of that recording and touring band for the next 16 years. By 1954, Snow had made 200 recordings, scored 17 top-10 country hits, and was represented by Colonel Tom Parker, with whom he co-owned a booking agency. On personal appearances, Chubby Wise and Hank Snow often performed hot fiddle-guitar duets in the manner of Hugh and Karl Farr, best known for their work with the Sons of the Pioneers. 

Chubby’s first album, oddly titled “The Tennessee Fiddler,” was produced by Hank Snow at Snow’s home studio in 1961 for the Starday label. He made 17 more LPs for Stoneway between 1970 and 1979, and two CDs for Pinecastle in the mid-90s. 



After leaving the Rainbow Ranch Boys in 1970, Wise moved to Houston, where he recorded extensively with Stoneway Records in a variety of genres, and toured as a solo act at nightclubs and bluegrass festivals. In 1971, he was featured in the film Bluegrass: Country Soul, backing Jimmy Martin, playing in the fiddle jam session, and on "Orange Blossom Special" with Mac Wiseman and Sonny Osborne behind him. 

In 1984, his health in decline, Chubby Wise returned to his childhood home of Lake City, Florida. The bluegrass community produced several benefit concerts to help with his medical bills. Wise won the Florida Folk Heritage Award in 1989. He continued to tour and record occasionally, such as with the Bass Mountain Boys in 1992. 

He joined producers Randall Franks and Alan Autry for the In the Heat of the Night cast's CD Christmas Time's a Comin' performing "Christmas Time's a Comin'" with the cast on the CD released on Sonlite and MGM/UA for one of the most popular Christmas releases of 1991 and 1992 with Southern retailers. Franks occasionally joined Wise performing twin fiddle with him on his shows.

Chubby Wise died at the age of 80 in January 1996, while visiting his wife's relatives in the Washington, D.C. area, shortly after being hospitalized for double pneumonia. His last recordings, made in 1994, were released shortly after his death as "An American Original." 

In 1998 Chubby was inducted to the Bluegrass Hall of Fame and The National Fiddler Hall of Fame in 2011. (Info edited from various aources, mainly from The International Bluegrass Museum)

1 comment:

boppinbob said...

For “Chubby Wise at His Best” go here:

1 Gotta See Your Momma Every Night 2:21
2 Time Changes Everything 2:22
3 Deep Elm Blues 2:56
4 Georgian Moon 2:50
5 Blues On My Mind 2:42
6 It Makes No Difference 2:00
7 Spanish Two-Step 2:20
8 Shenandoah Waltz 2:43
9 Just Because 2:03
10 Westphalia Waltz 2:50
11 Detour 1:57
12 Bury Me Beneath The Willow 2:01

- Also-

For “Tennessee Fiddler - CHUBBY WISE and the Rainbow Ranch Boys” go here:

1. Opry Fiddler's Blues
2. Peacock Rag
3. New Sidewalk Waltz
4. Memphis Blues
5. Shenandoah Waltz
6. Rainbow Breakdown
7. Orange Blossom Fiddle
8. Smoky Mountain Waltz
9. Tennessee Blues
10. Cacklin' Hen
11. Georgiana Moon
12. Whistlin' Rufus

A big thank you to Lonesome Lefty’s Scratchy Attic for above album link.