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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14 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.

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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.

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