George, and Eddie and Pearl

Eddie and Pearl Stephens
(From; originally from Country Song Roundup, February 1952, No. 16))

Guest Post by Steve Bartlett

Back in the late 1940s—I was either in 5th or 6th grade—I discovered Eddie and Pearl, a married hillbilly duo on local radio station KRIC. Eddie had a 15-minute show about 1 PM 6 days a week.  He played a beautiful D18 with a harmonica clamped on top, that had left its mark on the guitar.  Pearl played bass.  After we got acquainted (I had shown that I would be QUIET), he let me sit in the studio during his broadcasts.  I was in Hillbilly Heaven. . .  Eddie sang old songs, including some Monroe tunes—it was not “bluegrass” then, just Bill Monroe hillbilly songs. He sang most of the new and old songs of that time.

That big guitar, played with a heavy thumb pick, and Eddie’s voice like a much richer and deeper Jimmie Skinner, made a solid sound.

Pearl was a tiny woman, played a big stand-up bass.  Her 1 chords were on target, but her 4 chords always sounded a bit sharp to me.  She would not lift her elbow out of the base of the neck of her bass, so her hand did not quite reach up to the required point on the neck.

During one broadcast, the station engineer, Karl Von Leeuwen, cut an acetate of one of Eddie’s programs—before tape or wire recorders.  I would love to hear it; it probably is long since lost to history.

Anyway, making a short story long, by the time I was in high school, I had less time for Eddie and the Saturday, Republic Western movie that had always followed.  I still listened occasionally, and he had somebody  with him whom he called “Georgie Boy,” who did an awesome and wild, rapid-fire flatpicking.  A high school buddy, Jerry Fox, who was a virtuoso steel player, told me it was George Jones.  I don’t think George kept that up, unless he might have done some on his stage shows, but I think he just quit the hot picking.  Jerry said George was all over the first three frets—that was where he did the work.

Jerry also told me that when George was married to his first wife, he cut some records for 4 Star, a well-known and well-distributed country label of the time, financed by his then father-in-law.  George got divorced and the financing disappeared, along with the 4-Star masters.

I never got to see George live, although I ran into him backstage at a Houston Jamboree while I was in a conversation with Billie Jo Speers one night.

George’s book tells of working with Eddie, and of Eddie having had too much to drink and driving them into the river on their way home one night.  I guess it is possible, but at his radio programs, Eddie always was sober, in control, friendly and professional.  He never messed up his program, and treated me like an honored guest.

Eddie gave me a few of his old harmonicas—he actually wore them out, at least as far as using them professionally was concerned.  They were Phil-Monets, well made in the US, and could be disassembled for cleaning (which I did).

—Steve Bartlett

Copyright © Stephen Bartlett 2013.  All rights reserved.

UPDATE (belated): I wrote to for permission to use the picture of Eddie and Pearl, and received a nice note back from Dave Sichak, which I then promptly forgot to acknowledge; my apologies.  Here’s his note:

Hi Lynn,

Yes, you may use that picture. It’s actually from the February 1952 issue of Country Song Roundup (Issue No. 16).

Thanks for the email. I’m familiar with your show – so best of luck and continued audience interest!


Dave Sichak
Attn: Dave
P.O. Box 576245
Modesto, CA 95357-6245
The People. The music. The history.
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42 Responses to George, and Eddie and Pearl

  1. Judy Butler says:

    Thanks so much for the wonderful post and compliments – Eddie & Pearl were my grandparents. They had a hard life at times but I loved them dearly.

    • Kevin Coffey says:

      Judy Butler — What became of your grandparents? I can’t find out what happened to them after about 1957. What were their full names, where were they from originally, when did they pass away?

      • Judy Butler says:

        Kevin, their full names were Eddie and Pearl Stephens. He was originally from Missouri & she was born in Mississippi. They met up in St. Louis during the early 1930s and formed a little band. They played honkytonks all over the southern states dragging my mother (who was a young teenager) along with them. They finally settled in Beaumont in the mid-40s. Eddie had to have his right leg amputated in the late 50s due to an accident and they moved back to Missouri to live with his parents. He died in 1962 from ruptured esophageal varices due to his history of heavy drinking. I never ever saw him drunk – he was really a great grandpa. Nanny Pearl moved back to Beaumont after he died to be near Mama. She died at age 82 in 1983 of complications from a fractured hip. She was the most independent woman I’ve ever known. I’m proud they were my grandparents.

  2. Kevin Coffey says:

    Thank you very much for that. DId your mother pursue music at all? How old was your grandfather when he died? Do you have any photos from Eddie & Pearl’s playing days? I’ve only got one of them, a postcard of a Beaumont hillbilly variety show on KFDM called the Piney Woods Folks. I can send it to you if you don’t have it — let me know and I can send it. My e-mail address is

    • Kevin Coffey says:

      Judy Butler — Can you tell me if your grandmother co-wrote the song “The Good Old Bible” that George Jones recorded? Do you know?

    • Judy Butler says:

      I would be thrilled to see that photo, Kevin! I will reply to your personal email address and send you some pictures. Mama never pursued music although she loved to sing and could harmonize perfectly. She had a beautiful alto voice but never went further than singing in the church choir. My mother was as beautiful as a movie star. Eddie was not her father. Pearl left Oscar White, her real father, and took up with Eddie for a more exciting life. I can’t judge her because life was awfully tough back then. Mama told me that she stood in many a soup line and would have starved if it hadn’t been for the Salvation Army.

  3. Steve Bartlett says:

    Some of Eddie and Pearl’s repertoire
    What I can remember of it, in the order that they come to mind:

    Revised 9/13/15, removing some titles that may have been my imagination and adding one more.

    I am sure the following were on their list.

    Footprints In The Snow
    I Would Send Roses (But They Cost too Much)
    Warm Red Wine
    Mother Guide Us
    Aunt Dinah’s Quilting Party
    Unfaithful One
    I Love You Because
    The Hole In The Bottom Of The Sea
    Walkin’ and Hummin’ (Ferlin Husky/Terry Preston song)
    Will The Circle Be Unbroken
    Dust On The Bible
    Life’s Railway To Heaven
    Filipino Baby
    Strawberry Roan
    Skyball Paint
    Rainbow At Midnight

    • Judy Butler says:

      thanks for posting these, Steve – we have some old reel-to-reel tapes that we need to have transferred to CD but I don’t think we have any of these tunes.

  4. Steve Bartlett says:

    If you could post the pictures you have of Eddie and Pearl here, I would love to see them.

  5. Kevin Coffey says:

    Hi Steve — I don’t know how to attach a photo to the replies here, If you’ll write me at, I’ll send you the photo I have and you can post it — it’s a group shot from about 1942 with a troupe from KFDM called the Piney Woods Folks. On another note, I was intrigued by the mention that George had recorded for Four Star but that the results were never issued. I’ve never heard that. I can tell, however, that one of George’s songs did wind up on Four Star in 1951. He’s not singing, just one of the composers. The song is “I Lost My Little Darling,” recorded by Slim Watts, who worked at KFDM, had a western swing band, and co-owned the Blue Jean Club . The Four Star discs lists Slim Watts & George Jones as composers. “I Lost My Little Darling” was a few years later resurrected by George under the title “My Sweet Imogene.” Same melody and some of the same lyrics.

    • You can display images in the Comments if they are hosted somewhere on the Internet with a URL (http://. . . ), like Flickr or PhotoBucket, etc. You put the URL on a separate line; it must end with an acceptable file type, e.g. .jpg, .gif, .png, etc.

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      Kevin: If you want, email me a scan of the photo and I’ll add it as an update to this post. Hillbilly AT WHRB DOT org will work./CL

  6. Steve Bartlett says:


    Thank you…

    By the time I got acquainted with E&P, they were on KRIC, an independent Beaumont station. KFDM was part of the “Blue Network” as it was called then, later an ABC affiliate, so they had mostly network programming at night, with a mix of local and net material during the day.

    Slim Watts was on KTRM, another independent station, in the 1950’s, doing an evening DJ country slot, ending at 9 PM. At 9, JP Richardson (Big Bopper before he developed that persona) had “Club 990,” an easy listening pop show until 11. JP was a very soft-spoken individual, who also worked as Program Director. There was at that time no indication of the Big Bopper character that came later.

    Slim had another recording, “Blue Monday.” The copy he played on KTRM, a 78 RPM disk, had another hole punched just off-center. He put that hole on the spindle when he played the record, giving it an awful, sharp – and – flat wow. It was quite an effect.

    I think it was 1982 when I was in Beaumont, and asked Ken Ritter, a former KFDM DJ, what had happened to Eddie and Pearl. He said he thought Eddie had been killed when, on a trip back home to the Ozarks, a car he was working on slipped off a jack and crushed him. That may have been the injury referred to earlier, that ultimately cost him the leg.

  7. Kathy Smith says:

    Would love to know more about George Jones, Eddie and Pearl Stephens. They played at two taverns here in De Soto Missouri. One H&H Tavern the other The Wagon Wheel, with Ed and Pearl. I do have some pictures. Thank You!!

  8. Kathy Smith says:

    Will do!!

    • Catherine Sullivan says:

      Kathy, I don’t suppose you still have those photos of George Jones and Eddie and Pearl Stephens playing in De Soto, Mo? I just went by an old tavern off old Hwy 110 in De Soto today with my 86 year old dad who is from De Soto who said George Jones played there. I’d love to see them and show my dad. You can email them to me at cate_sulli AT Yahoo DOT com. Or maybe they are posted elsewhere? I realize your post is a couple of years old…just hoping!

      • Kathy never emailed me those photos. I don’t know if she’ll see your request or not. If you don’t hear from her, post here again and I’ll try to contact her (I can see commenters’ email addresses, but can’t share them). /CL

  9. Elton Brindley says:

    I was a kid fiddle player in the early 50’s and Eddy took a liking to me. He let me set in on many a times-free of chorus. George Jones did play with them out at “Son Hicks” in Silsbee. Just before Eddy lost his leg I played with them in a bar across from Ohmstede Machine Works on Friday evenings. I kept in touch with Eddy after he lost his leg–wish I would have saved his mail. Eddy was a kind man to all of us players growing up back then.

  10. Robert Hodgkinson says:

    Wow,, I was just looking to see if I could find anything about Slim Watts and up popped Eddie and Pearl. They were friends of my mom and dad. My brother and I along with some friend’s would sit in the studio when they played . And then there is George Jones,,,My dad had a laundry on Gulf St in Beaumont and down the street was MuliMax housing.. George and his family lived there and would do their washing at the laundry. George’s dad would hang out with my dad in the laundry and would get a bottle of whiskey from the liquor store next door. They would swap stories and when it was time for supper George would come down and get his dad. I had a guitar and George would go in the back and play while waiting on his dad. Back to Eddie and Pearl, I remember when Willie Nelson was starting out and touring Texas and ever so often he would be a guest on Eddie’s show…Then there was JP Richardson show on the radio station KTRM. All us kids would go to the studio and watch the broadcast. Got to toss in Boyd Whitney. Boy, I could go on and on..


  11. Howdy Robert— Did you hear the show last Saturday (Februrary 3rd), when Steve Bartlett came with some of his singles? Sounds like you and he might have known each other. /CL

  12. Stephen Bartlett says:

    These new posts are resurrecting a great thread and a lot of memories. Mention of Slim Watts’ recording of “I Lost My Little Darling” prompted me to see if a copy might be available. I found it on ebay, No 361264092850. I don’t feel like spending $20.00 + for a 78 disk, but there it is. And the flip side, “Secret Love,” is credited to Boyd Whitney, mentioned in Robert Hodgkinson’s post of a year plus back. Boyd was another KTRM DJ when I was listening to the radio back in the early 1950’s.
    This is pretty certainly not the “Secret Love” recorded by Doris Day, Slim Whitman, and many others.

    • Elton Brindley says:

      If you ever find a recording of Eddie and Pearl let me know. I played fiddle with them when a teen- ager.

      • Stephen Bartlett says:

        I had no contact with Eddie and Pearl outside of the KRIC studios, although I did spend some time talking to him a few years later, in the KPBX studios, not during a broadcast.

        Point is, the only recording I ever knew of was the one made by the KRIC station engineer of one of his broadcasts. I do not think he had any musicians sitting in for that broadcast. The only two guests I ever saw and heard were a man, “Cowboy Carl,” who sang with a very soft voice, and a young woman who played steel.

        A few years ago someone, maybe E&P’s granddaughter, mentioned in this discussion having some tape recordings.

      • Elton Brindley says:

        A young woman by the name of Dixie played the steel with Eddie and Pearl. Also The Carl spoken about was probably Carl Rainwater from DeQuincy LA.

      • Stephen Bartlett says:

        I once saw a young lady who played steel on one of Eddie & Pearl’s radio programs. I do not remember her name — might have been Dixie.

        Eddie referred to “Cowboy Carl,” who I saw there once, He was a tall, thin, almost gaunt man who sang in a very soft, moderately high voice. I only saw him once.

        Some time after that I saw a newspaper article that referred to a Cowboy Carl Callennius, so I have always associated the names but I never had any evidence that they were the same person, so his last name may well have been Rainwater.

      • As Steve mentions in his response, Eddie and Pearl’s granddaughter, Judy Butler, above says she has reel-to-reel tapes. I hope if she does get them digitized, she will let us know and send us the digital files. /CL

  13. Judy Butler says:

    Stephen Bartlett – my sister finally found those reel-to-reel tapes of what we hope are Eddie & Pearl and perhaps George Jones. If you will contact me at [email removed—will send to Steve], I’ll be happy to send them to you to see if you can tell who’s on them. I’ve always lamented not knowing who is really on the recordings.

  14. Wayder says:

    You may already know about this, but the podcast Cocaine & Rhinestones latest episode on George Jones talks about Eddie and Pearl in some detail, it brought me here to read more about them. His podcast tells some amazing stories and I hope his telling is not offensive to the memory of Eddie & Pearl. They seemed like good people to have given a 16 year old boy that can sing and play lead guitar a chance to play a regular gig. E&P enter the story about 1hr 07mins into the episode.

    • Thanks Wayder. I had never heard of Cocaine & Rhinstones before, but I found it and after some searching, the story of the early life of George Glenn Jones. It is proceeded by a long dissertation on the role of the rose in mythology, folklore, and literature, which is eminently worth reading. But for our purposes here, the account of George Jones’s early life and origins, including his brief sojurn with Eddie and Pearl, is essential. Go here:
      You can either read, or listen to the podcast. The author is Tyler Mahan Coe, a literate and interesting writer. I intend to go back for more of his stories, and so should you. /CL

      • Steve Bartlett says:

        Great reading. I saved a the two text transcriptions I had time to read last night. I would love to hear Eddie and Pearl again. My time sitting in the studio during their radio broadcasts was before the time George was there, even though George was four years older than me. Re the comment attributed to Jerry Fox about George cutting some songs for Four Star records. I went to high school with Jerry and heard that same thing from him back at that time. His father in law was funding the recordings and when George and his wife split up, so ended the financial support. Jerry was an extremely good steel player and a heck of a nice guy. I can post a picture of Jerry at his steel if there is any interest. I found a reference to Jerry some years ago. He was working with an amplifier manufacturer, and had received a heart transplant. He apparently later needed another an was unable to get it.

      • Wayder says:

        I’m glad you like it. I love Coe’s style, well-researched, insightful and there’s poetry in the way he draws connections between the music and the larger world in unexpected ways. He always has me researching more with his extended diversions. This last episode got me researching “floriography”, and as usual some of the acts he mentions, like Eddie and Pearl.

        I appreciate that he’s unflinching in the details of lives that sometimes went off the rails. It’s nice to hear un-sanitized stories. The artists themselves were human, and as artists potentially more flawed than most, I would argue that their life-challenges and flaws may have contributed to their art. I didn’t think anything about Eddie and Pearl was truly offensive, they seemed like good folks, but you never know how some may be defensive about their memories of people.

        I didn’t know he published transcripts, but I like to listen when I’m doing mindless labor. I’ve never really even considered myself a country music fan, outside being a kid in the 70s when it was unavoidable, you just absorbed at least some country through osmosis back then. But honestly, what’s not to love about “three chords and the truth”. Tom T. Hall was among the first record albums I owned as a kid, alongside Kiss and other rock bands. I’d count myself more of a fan of early country and love the stories they tell in song, as much as the music. The recent Ken Burns documentary reminded me of that whole world I’d neglected or forgotten about in my older middle-age, so I’ve been exploring roots country online lately. As an armchair history buff, I love reading the stories of the artists themselves, which is what drew me to your blog. Thanks for putting in the work to create this. I do enjoy sampling the archaic sounds in scratchy recordings from the early days of what became a genre. It lets us hear voices of a distant past echoing even more ancient times. Some of the music and themes date back at least to the 17th century ballads and in the folk music style, I can imagine I’m hearing something akin to what many of our ancestors would have used as entertainment after a workday.

        Thanks again for your work keeping Eddie and Pearl’s story around, it deserves to be read.

  15. Steve Bartlett says:

    Does anyone remember the George Jones TV bio with Michael J. Pollard as George? I remember seeing it at the time but cannot remember the title or find any references on line.

  16. Steve Bartlett says:

    I don’t think what was said about Eddie in the podcast was offensive. George told the same story in his autobiography _I_Lived_To_Tell_It_All_. That said, I never saw Eddie exhibit any signs of inebriation in the radio studio. Not that I was familiar with such, but he was always cheerful and pleasant, never missed a program or messed up a song, was always on key, always remembered the words, totally in control of his program.

  17. Elton Brindley says:

    I played with Eddie and Pearl when I was 16 here in Starks, LA at the Pine grove. Also later right before he lost his legs.

  18. glynn revere says:

    I listened to Eddie and Pearl in the ‘50’s. They played at my aunts bar. The Family Bar at 1348 Park street in Beaumont, Texas. George Jones would set in occasionally. The bar was owned by Gertrude and Clyde Davis.

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