Grandpa Jones

Louis Marshall Jones (October 20, 1913 – February 19, 1998), known professionally as Grandpa Jones, was an American banjo player and “old time” country and gospel music singer. He is a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Jones was born in the small farming community of Niagara in Henderson County, Kentucky, the youngest of 10 children in a sharecropper’s family. His father was a fiddle player, and his mother was a ballad singer. Jones spent his teenage years in Akron, Ohio, where he began singing country music tunes on a radio show on WJW. In 1931, Jones joined the Pine Ridge String Band, which provided the musical accompaniment for the very popular Lum and Abner show. By 1935 his pursuit of a musical career took him to WBZ (AM) radio in Boston, Massachusetts, where he met musician/songwriter Bradley Kincaid, who gave him the nickname “Grandpa” because of his off-stage grumpiness at early-morning radio shows. Jones liked the name and decided to create a stage persona based around it. Later in life, he lived in Mountain View, Arkansas.

 Beginning in the 1920s, Grandpa Jones began attracting attention with his boisterous performing style, old-time banjo performing, and powerful singing, quickly receiving national attention. Jones was almost single-handedly responsible for keeping the banjo alive as a Country Music instrument during the 1930s and 1940s. He joined the Grand Ole Opry in 1946 and remained there throughout his career. Jones became a regular on Hee Haw since its inception, making him a TV celebrity.

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