Wednesday, January 13, 2016

DJ Ray Myers

Raymond Robert Myers was born in 1911 in Lancaster, PA. He was steel guitar player who performed on radio around the region. He was the fifth in a family of nine children and started in music in high school with the trombone then harmonica, only later transitioning to a Hawaiian steel guitar.

He began playing it at local events in churches and amateur contests. With the toes of his left foot he held a steel bar to note the frets and with his right foot he held a custom pick to strum the strings. Did I mention he had no arms?

Playing guitar with your feet has a certain way of attracting attention and though his mother had avoided putting him on a side show,  in 1933 he contacted Robert L. Ripley and in short order Ray was performing at the World's Fair in Chicago, IL. More here.

He returned home to where his family now lived in Paradise, PA. Local radio station in Lancaster, WGAL-AM gave him a slot where he continued to do programs remotely for Ripley which were nationally syndicated on NBC. At the time Ripley was the host of The Baker's Broadcast from 1935 to 1937. A performer from the WWVA-AM Jamboree named Cowboy Loye Pack heard Myers and wrote him a letter. Two weeks later Ray sang his first song on WWVA in Wheeling, VA.

His performances on WWVA spread his fame as a novelty musician in ways that the side-show Ripley program couldn't.  Next year, 1938 found Ray playing on WEEU-AM in Reading, PA with Uncle Jack Nelson into 1940. In 1939 he had a short stint at WHAS-AM in Louisville, KY but returned to Reading within months. But he went on to perform on WSVA-AM in Harrisonburg, VA, WKBN-AM in Youngstown, Ohio and WCHS-AM in Charleston , WV. Some of those dates he played with Radio Dot and Smokey. IN 1943 he had his own show again, this time on WHIS in Bluefield, WV. He remained there less than a year before returning to Pennsylvania. His own mother gave an account of his touring and is the primary source for that information here.

The trail goes cold for almost a decade but Myers had a daily show over radio station WPDX-AM  in Clarksburg, WV as a trio with the Mays Brothers and Cindy Coy. It is probably the same group known as the "Cindy Coy Trio" on WILE-AM in Cambridge, OH in 1949. They signed to Donnett Hit Records that year and were never heard from again. Myers is known to have been playing on WLAC in Nashville as late as 1963. He died in Gordonville, PA, in May 1986.

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