Louise Massey & Her Westerners

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A popular US country group, best remembered for their fine version of ‘My Adobe Haçienda’.
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b. Victoria Louise Massey, 10 August 1902, Hart County, Texas, USA, d. 20 June 1983, San Angelo, Texas, USA. The Massey family relocated first to Midland and then to the K Bar Ranch, near Roswell, Lincoln County, New Mexico, to an area still influenced by the legacy of Billy the Kid. They became a very popular vocal and instrumental family band of the 30s and 40s and one of the first to adopt elaborate cowboy outfits as their stage attire. The band originally comprised Henry ‘Dad’ Massey and three of his eight children, namely Louise and brothers Curt (b. 3 May 1910, d. 20 October 1991) and Allen (b. 12 December 1907, Texas, USA, d. 3 March 1983, Texas, USA). ‘Dad’ taught his children to play various instruments, although Curt usually played fiddle, but in later years, he also played trumpet and piano. When Louise was 15, she married Milton Mabie (b. 1900, d. 1973) who then became the fifth member of the group.

The Massey Five’s career began in the 20s, when they played and sang at local shows and church socials. This led to a two-year tour of the USA and Canada, as well as a radio show on KMBC Kansas City. In 1930, ‘Dad’ retired to his ranch and a Californian, accordionist Larry Wellington, replaced him. In 1933, they became regulars on the National Barn Dance on WLS Chicago, before moving to New York in 1935, where they featured on the NBC-networked Show Boat, and the following year, they gained their own networkedLog Cabin Dude Ranch on NBC-WJZ. They had, by this time, first become the Westerners but when Louise, with her flamboyant Spanish-style costumes, became more and more the focal point of the act, she received lead billing. They made popular personal appearances over a wide area and even returned to WLS to star onPlantation Party and other shows. In 1938, they made a film appearance in Tex Ritter’s Monogram B-westernWhere The Buffalo Roam.

They recorded for several labels including Vocalion Records, OKeh Records and Conqueror and are best remembered for their fine version of ‘My Adobe Haçienda’. Louise wrote the song, based on a house that she and Milt were building in 1941. She needed the music properly transcribed for publication before it could be used on NBC and this was done by a family friend, Lee Penny. He had no professional connection with the band or with the writing of the song but Louise credited him as co-writer for his work. After the group disbanded in the late 40s, Curt became the musical director and theme songwriter for the television showsBeverly Hillbillies andPetticoat Junction (which he actually sang).