|Birth name||Leon Jerry Guthrie|
|Also known as||Oke (to friends)|
November 13, 1915|
Olive, Oklahoma, U.S.
|Died||January 15, 1948
Livermore, California, U.S.
Leon Jerry "Jack" Guthrie (13 November 1915 – 15 January 1948) was a songwriter and performer whose rewritten version of the Woody Guthrie song "Oklahoma Hills" was a hit in 1945. The two musicians were cousins.
Born in Olive, Oklahoma, he was a cousin of Woody Guthrie. He grew up around horses and musical instruments before the family moved to California in the mid-1930s, where he took on the nicknames "Jack", "Oklahoma", and "Oke". He competed in rodeo as a bucking-horse rider and in 1937 traveled with Woody to Los Angeles where they landed on the Oke & Woody Show on KFVD radio in Hollywood.
Career in music
Guthrie's rewritten version of a Woody Guthrie song "Oklahoma Hills" (Capitol 201) reached No. 1 in 1945, staying on the charts for 19 weeks. The b side, "I'm A Brandin' My Darlin' With My Heart", reached No. 5 later that year. At the time the record became a hit Jack Guthrie was in the U.S. Army and stationed in the Pacific Theater. As soon as he got out of the service he wrote and recorded more songs, played live gigs up and down the West Coast. His version of "Oakie Boogie" (Capitol 341), a hit at No. 3 in 1947, is considered a candidate for the first rock and roll record. In July 1947 he was admitted to a hospital with tuberculosis. He died in 1948 in Livermore, California.
Guthrie's style was influenced by Jimmie Rodgers and adapted to fit his cowboy image. Although the labels listed Jack Guthrie and His Oklahomans as the artist, in reality Guthrie had no band. The studio brought in some of its better musicians to back Guthrie. Many of them, Porky Freeman, Red Murrell, Cliffie Stone, and Billy Hughes among them, were stars in their own right.
- Whitburn, Joel. The Billboard Book of Top 40 Country Hits. Billboard Books, 2006. ISBN 0-8230-8291-1