One of the most important of the early groups to appear regularly on the WLS National Barn Dance in Chicago. The singers and musicians (mainly from Mount Vernon and Berea, Kentucky) were brought to WLS in 1930 by their leader John Lair (b. 1 July 1894, on a farm near Livingston, Kentucky, USA, d. 13 November 1985, Lexington, Kentucky, USA). During the time they played WLS, members of the group included Red Foley (b. Clyde Julian Foley, 17 June 1910, in a log cabin between Blue Lick and Berea, Kentucky, USA, d. 19 September 1968, Fort Wayne, Indiana, USA), Karl (b. Karl Davis, 17 December 1905, Mount Vernon, Kentucky, USA, d. 30 May 1979) And Harty (b. Hartford Connecticut Taylor, 11 April 1905, Mount Vernon, Kentucky, USA, d. 18 October 1963), Hugh Cross (b. Hugh Ballard Cross, 19 October 1904, Oliver Springs, Tennessee, USA, d. 1970), and Slim Miller (b. Homer Miller, 8 March 1898, Lisbon, Indiana, USA, d. 27 August 1962) an accomplished fiddler by the age of 12 and also the group’s comedian. Also included was Doc Hopkins (b. Howard Hopkins, 26 January 1900, Harlan County, Kentucky, USA, d. 3 January 1988, Chicago, Illinois, USA), an old-time singer, who played guitar and banjo, had recorded for Broadway, ARC and Decca Records and became noted as a teacher of the banjo during the 50s, and also Linda Parker (b. 18 January 1912, Covington, Kentucky, USA - but grew up in Indiana, d. 12 August 1935), who, originally well-known on the Chicago popular music scene, was really the star of the group. Known as the Sunbonnet Girl, Parker played banjo and guitar and sang authentic folk ballads, and was mourned by many when she met an untimely death in 1935. The group presented the first sponsored half-hour programme on theNational Barn Dance (theAladdin Mantle Show) and were one of the first to feature square-dancers as part of their act. When Lair left WLS in 1937, the Ridge Runners basically folded; some followed Lair and others went on to pursue their own careers. Most members recorded as solo artists.
Share this page