Lonnie Glosson prided himself on being a professional harmonica player and hobo. Born Feb. 14, 1908, in Judsonia, Glosson got into music at early age, by his mother, Cora.
Glosson, in an interview about seven months before his death at age 93, recalled: “I was about 10 years old. She played the harmonica, see. We lived in Newport then, picking cotton. She said, ‘If you pick 200 pounds today, I’ll give you a quarter so you can go to town and get a harmonica.’ I picked 200 pounds by 2 o’clock ... She showed me how to play ‘Home Sweet Home;’ I learned that, and picked it up from there.”
Glosson traveled around the United States by train and earned a living playing harmonica in barber shops, street corners and radio stations. From KMOX in St. Louis, the White County native went to WLS’s “National Barn Dance” in Chicago. He recorded for Paramount’s Broadway label in 1932.
Glosson recorded “Arkansas Hard Luck Blues” in 1936, which the Country Music Hall of Fame called “an early example of the talking blues popularized by Woody Guthrie and Bob Dylan.”
The same year, he established a musical partnership with Wayne Raney, a harmonica player from Wolf Bayou, who was a Glosson disciple; in 1938, the harmonica players had a program on KARK radio in Little Rock. They stayed together for decades and, in 1949, wrote “Why Don’t You Haul Off and Love Me,” with Raney on vocals. Released by King Records, with Hot Springs native Henry Glover at the helm, it hit No. 1.
Glosson said he missed out on the writing of the song because he wanted to nap, but played on the recording session: “They was all drunk, you know. I just stayed asleep. It went over big, that and ‘Blues Stay Away From Me.’ ”
Besides the success of “Why Don’t You Haul Off and Love Me,” which also became an R&B hit, Glosson recorded for Decca and Mercury and, with Raney, had a national show on WCKY in Cincinnati and began writing and recording with the Delmore Brothers, including their massive hit, “Blues Stay Away From Me,” covered by countless artists and co-written and again recorded with Glover.
Glosson and Raney sold harmonicas by mail order, eventually selling millions. Later, with the nickname “The Talking Harmonica Man,” Glosson toured schools and played concerts all over, traveling in a van decorated with a variety of inspirational slogans and witticisms on the outside, from “God Is Love” to “Enjoy a Healthy Sexual Relationship.” Glosson, also a talented vocalist and guitarist, delved more into gospel music as the years wore on.
After having traveled the country with his harmonica, Glosson died in his native White County, in Searcy, on March 2, 2001.
Hear more about Lonnie Glosson on this week’s “Arkansongs,” heard Fridays at 6:40 a.m. and 6:20 p.m. on KUAR-FM, 89.1, in Little Rock. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Shuggie Otis and his three-piece band drew a near-full house at Stickyz Wednesday night — a mixed crowd of those who could recall when Otis was being heralded as America’s next top guitarist and those who likely heard him first through his being sampled by the likes of Beyonce and J Dilla.
Readers and experts suggest ways to change Arkansas for the better.
by Ellie Wheeler, Leslie Newell Peacock, Leslie Newell Peacock, Jonathan Wilkins, Jane English, Eric Wilson, Benjamin Hardy, Chris Hancock, Meredith Martin-Moats, Carlton Saffa, Mara Leveritt, Catherine Crisp, Dan Rahn, Walter Manger, Special Sanders, Jack Wagoner, Nate Bell, Jacob Pesicek, Lilyan Kauffman, Tara DeJohn, Max Farrell, Jeff Short, Mike Steeley, Phil Beuth, Omaya Jones, Tobin Williamson, Stephen Koch, Lucy Holifield, Randy C. Forst, Stephanie Smittle, David Sanders, Mark Christ and Stephanie Spencer
Also, Red Octopus at the Public Theater, Alcee Chriss III at First Presbyterian Church, Harvestfest in Hillcrest, the Arkansas Times Hog Roast, Wildflower Revue at South on Main and Made By Few in Bentonville.