Thursday, January 13, 2011

Bob Tucker and his Sky Riders on State 4002

Bob Tucker and his Sky Riders (vocal by Virgil Hume) - Quit Draggin' Your Feet / My Tears Are Dry (State 4002)

"Quit Draggin' Your Feet"

"My Tears Are Dry"

Little information has survived on Bob Tucker: it is known that he played a custom made Bigsby steel guitar and worked the West Texas / New Mexico circuit from the 1940s to at least the 1960s. And that's about it. "Quit Draggin' Your Feet," featuring lead vocals from Virgil Hume and some nice steel breaks (but still is relegated to the "B" side), probably dates from around 1951-52. It is Tucker's only record from this period. This was "rediscovered" and introduced to a wider audience (i.e., 500 people) during the 1990s on the Boppin' Hillbilly LP series, but miscredited to Gabe Tucker.

At a certain point, Tucker decided that Clovis, New Mexico, needed two recording studios, and operated one out of his garage there. I don't think Norman Petty lost much sleep about this potential threat to his business. Tucker is apparently the person who owned the Caron label, which gave us some OK early '60s rock and roll from The Sparkles and Murle Richardson.

Tucker's Bigsby sold for $16,000 last year, which I think is one of the highest prices ever paid for a steel guitar.

Bob Tucker and his Sky Riders in the 1950s, with Lonnie Campbell (drums), Paul Stambaugh (piano), and Truman Welch (guitar - far right). Click any photo to enlarge. All photos courtesy Kevin Coffey Collection.

Virgil Hume with Lefty Frizzell in Amarillo, probably December, 1950.

Dance poster.

Virgil Hume in Amarillo, c. 1953.

Bob Tucker's Bigsby steel guitar (made in 1950).


  1. All time fave... on the prowl for a copy, folks.

  2. Hi -- The first I know of Tucker is that he was a member of the rodeo rider Bob Crosby's band in New Mexico just after the war, along with Troy Jordan and others. If my memory serves me correctly, Crosby died soon after and Tucker took over the band, first in Clovis, then -- I believe -- in Odessa. There are a few radio transcriptions of that band in Odessa. Soon after, Tucker left and Jordan took over the band. Tucker seems to have regrouped back in New Mexico. I seem to recall that Virgil said the band was working in Tucumcari when they did this, but I'd need to confirm that. According to Hume and Truman Welch, the band on this record included Hume on rhythm guitar, Welch on lead guitar and electric mandolin (mandolin on the A side), Stambaugh on piano, future Texas Playboy Lloyd Wheeler on fiddle. Not sure about the rest. I like both sides of this one.

  3. PS -- In the Tucker band photos, believe that the bass player is Joe Ward & the guitarist is Pete Newman. The woman was Tucker's wife. There is a surviving acetate of this lineup.

  4. Thank you for this post! I am going through hundreds of country 78s that I bought about 10 years ago and came across this gem. Stamped "New" "9 Cents" (actually the 'cents' symbol, which I cannot find on my keyboard). "4-" written in grease pencil on the dead wax run out. The flip side is "My Tears Are Dry". Superb early 1950's western swing!