b. 13 June 1931, Clearfield, Pennsylvania, USA. One of the 13 children of a coalminer, Vokes owned his first guitar by the time he was eight. At the age of 15, influenced by the recordings he heard of Roy Acuff and Jimmie Rodgers and by radio broadcasts of the Grand Ole Opry, he played on local radio and at rowdy venues in nearby mining towns. Two years later, he was shot in the ankle in a hunting accident and during his long convalescence, he took to writing songs. When he recovered, he formed the Country Boys and toured with and managed other artists, including Hank King and Denver Duke and Jeffrey Null (the latter duo found success with two Hank Williams tribute songs that Vokes had written). His first recording success came with his version of Doc Williams’ ‘Willie Roy, The Crippled Boy’. Vokes also had success with his recordings of ‘Mountain Guitar’ and ‘A Plastic Heart’, both of which were also recorded by Roy Acuff. Other artists have recorded Vokes’ songs, including Wanda Jackson, who enjoyed great success with her recording of ‘Tears At The Grand Ole Opry’. Vokes visited Nashville and recorded an album of downbeat songs for Starday. Apart from his own appearances, Vokes, a staunch traditionalist whose own recordings have been released in many countries, has worked tirelessly over the years promoting traditional country music and working to help young artists in his native state. In 1995, still very active in the business, Vokes was honoured for his services to country music by the Governor of Kentucky, who commissioned him a ‘Kentucky Colonel’. Highly respected in the country music world, and having started his career with the nickname of ‘Cowboy’, Vokes is now known internationally as ‘Pennsylvania’s King Of Country Music’.
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