Jerry Irby

b. Gerald Irby, 20 October 1917, New Braunfels, Texas, USA, d. 2 December 1983. Irby was raised by his wealthy grandmother, a fact that contradicted his claim to have struggled ‘with just a cheap guitar…
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Artist Biography

b. Gerald Irby, 20 October 1917, New Braunfels, Texas, USA, d. 2 December 1983. Irby was raised by his wealthy grandmother, a fact that contradicted his claim to have struggled ‘with just a cheap guitar and a few songs’. In 1933, he moved to Houston playing honky tonks, and in 1936 formed a duo with Ted Daffan. In 1938, they split when Daffan joined the Bar X Cowboys and Irby briefly fronted his Serenaders in Beaumont. In 1940, owing to grandmother’s finances, he opened Jerry’s Country Palace, but in June 1941, it closed and he became the vocalist with the Bar X Cowboys (Daffan had by this time left to form his Texans). In 1945, although still with the Cowboys, Irby made solo recordings for Gulf, achieving local state success with his song ‘Drivin’ Nails In My Coffin’. He also made recordings with the Cowboys but when further solo recordings for Globe caused disagreements, he left the Cowboys to form his Texas Ranchers. He later recorded for Mercury Records, Imperial Records and 4 Star, before joining MGM Records in 1948. He achieved success with ‘Roses Have Thorns’ and his songs were recorded by Bob Wills and Bill Boyd. In 1948, he opened his Texas Corral Nite Club (with grandmother’s backing) and played there until the early 50s, when, plagued by a drink problem and almost broke, he sold the club to go into farming. He was equally unsuccessful in this area and by 1955, he was back in Houston. In December 1955, his old friend Daffan recorded him singing ‘Tangled Mind’, for his Daffan label. It proved a hit and he formed a band and made further recordings, including ‘A Man Is A Slave’. Sadly, he failed to make a return to the good times and left music for a time during the 60s, helping his wife to run a beauty salon. After they divorced, he returned to singing around 1971, even opening a club. He remarried and, in 1973, became an evangelist. He recorded albums of gospel music and even gave some of his old songs new religious lyrics. He was quoted as saying, ‘I’m still in the country music business; it just has a different message’. In 1977, he had a popular television programme in Houston. His recordings for the Daffan label were included on Bear Family Records’ 2-CD setThe Daffan Records, released in 1995, but few others are available.