January 26, 1900|
Allatoona, Georgia US
|Died||January 4, 1970(aged 69)|
|Genres||Old time, Country|
|Associated acts||Gid Tanner and His Skillet Lickers
Clayton McMichen and His Hometown Boys
Born in Allatoona, Georgia, McMichen learned to play the fiddle from his father and uncle. He moved to Atlanta with his family in 1913, working as an automobile mechanic. While there, he entered and won several competitions for fiddle. McMichen formed the Hometown Boys in 1918 and on September 18, 1922, they made their radio debut. In 1925, he began recording with the Skillet Lickers. They became one of the nation's most successful country acts of the 1920s and recorded widely. McMichen's first solo success was the 1927 hit "Sweet Bunch of Roses", which sold over 100,000 records. He also recorded crooner ballads under the name Bob Nichols, but only hit with the tune "My Carolina Home". One of his best-known tunes was "Peach Pickin' Time in Georgia", recorded by Jimmie Rodgers.
The Skillet Lickers split in 1931, and McMichen organized a new band called the Georgia Wildcats, playing old timey, pop and jazz. They worked around the South, Northeast and Midwest until 1939. The band included guitarist Slim Bryant and, for a time, fiddler Carl Cotner and guitarist Merle Travis. They recorded for Decca from 1935–38, settling in Louisville. When he decided to form a full-sized dance band, Bryant took the smaller group and departed with McMichen's blessing. McMichen continued performing in Louisville until retiring in 1955. He was asked to restart his career during the folk revival of the 1960s, but was initially reticent; however, his performances at the Bean Blossom festival and the Newport Folk Festival in 1964 were successes. He continued to perform almost up until his death in 1970.
Incidentally, McMichen is the great uncle of Trent Allen of the late 1980s and 90s Athens, Georgia rock band Dreams So Real.