Cecil A. Null

b. 26 April 1927, East War, McDowell County, West Virginia, USA, d. 26 August 2001, Bristol, Virginia, USA. Null played guitar and wrote songs as a boy but actually began his entertaining career in the…
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Artist Biography

b. 26 April 1927, East War, McDowell County, West Virginia, USA, d. 26 August 2001, Bristol, Virginia, USA. Null played guitar and wrote songs as a boy but actually began his entertaining career in the US Navy in World War II. After discharge, he played as a member of the Pioneer Pals on WOPI Bristol, Tennessee, gave guitar tuition and turned his attention to the autoharp. He moved to WCYB Bristol in 1948, as a member of Cousin Zeke’s Band, with whom he recorded. He began to teach autoharp, so effectively that the manufacturers contracted him to work as a consultant and demonstrate the instrument at shows. He also published an instruction book, Pickin’ Style Auto-Harp. Between 1950 and 1958, he was a member of the Tennessee Serenaders and from 1952, he made recordings. In 1958, he and Semie Moseley created an electrified autoharp that gained Null considerable television exposure as a folk-country crossover. In 1964, he began appearing as a duo with his wife Annette (b. 30 September 1939), who sang, yodelled, played autoharp and also guitar. They subsequently made recordings for Briar, Epic and a gospel instrumental album for Decca Records. They were very popular and worked on various major television shows including Bobby Lord TV Show (1965), Ralph Emery (1966-68) and from 1967, they appeared regularly on the Grand Ole Opry. They never achieved a chart hit, perhaps because, while the country fans liked their music, they were possibly unsure whether they were exactly country or folk. Null wrote numerous songs but his best-known was ‘I Forgot More Than You’ll Ever Know’ (a US country number 1 and pop number 18 for the Davis Sisters in 1953 and since recorded by countless artists, including Jeanne Pruett who charted it again in 1972). In 1964, he penned ‘Mother Maybelle’, a tribute to his autoharp inspiration, Maybelle Carter.