b. Rodney Leon Brasfield, 22 August 1910, Smithville, near Tupelo, Mississippi, USA, d. 12 September 1958, Nashville, Tennessee, USA. In 1926, Brasfield left home and joined his brother Lawrence ‘Boob’ Brasfield, who was working with a touring tent show. Here he played bit parts and ran errands for the other members. After a while the brothers left the show and became a comedy act with Bisbee’s Comedians, a more prestigious touring show. Rod acted as the straight man for his brother until one day, when Lawrence was late, Rod found himself playing the main comedy act. He proved so successful that he never did anything but comedy again. He worked with the show until World War II, when he was called up for service in the US Army Air Corps. In 1943, owing to a back injury suffered when he was a child, he was given a medical discharge and immediately rejoined Bisbee. He was auditioned for the Grand Ole Opry and made his debut there in July 1944. In 1948, he replaced comedian Whitey Ford (Duke Of Paducah) on the NBC-networked Prince Albert Show. Here his cross-patter and rapport with Minnie Pearl saw them both become major stars of theOpry. The two comedians toured with theOpry roadshows and visited Europe with Hank Williams, Marty Robbins and Little Jimmy Dickens. In 1955, Brasfield was a television regular, appearing on the Ozark Jubilee as well as the sponsoredOpry shows, and worked with Red Foley, who acted as straight man for the two comedians. In 1956, he was hired by director Elia Kazan to play a serious role in his filmA Face In The Crowd. He played opposite Andy Griffiths and his performance drew praise from the critics.
It is generally accepted that on stage Brasfield never had a serious moment in his life, but behind the scenes he suffered from a drink problem. Few serious interviews were obtained as he greatly disliked being questioned, and on occasions when he had to talk to the media, the answers were invariably of a humorous nature. Brasfield continued to work with Minnie Pearl and to play theOpry right up to his death. He suffered a heart attack in September 1958, in his caravan home in Nashville, and was dead on arrival at hospital. Rod Brasfield received country music’s highest accolade in 1987, when he was inducted into the Country Music Hall Of Fame in Nashville.