Cliff Carlisle

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Cliff Carlisle
Background information
Birth nameClifford Carlisle
BornMay 6, 1903
OriginTaylorsville, Kentucky, U.S.
DiedApril 5, 1983(1983-04-05) (aged 79)
Lexington, Kentucky
Instrument(s)Steel guitar
Years active1920s–1950s

Cliff Carlisle (May 6, 1903[1] – April 5, 1983) was an American country and blues musician, singer and songwriter. Carlisle was a yodeler and was a pioneer in the use of the Hawaiian steel guitar in country music. He was a brother of country music star Bill Carlisle.



Carlisle was born in Taylorsville, Kentucky and began performing locally with cousin Lillian Truax at age 16. Truax's marriage put an end to the group, and Carlisle began playing with Wilber Ball, a guitarist and tenor harmonizer. The two toured frequently around the U.S. playing vaudeville and circus venues in the 1920s.

Cliff and Ball first played at Louisville, Kentucky radio station WHAS-AM in 1930, which made them local stars, and later that year they recorded for Gennett Records and Champion Records. In 1931, they recorded with Jimmie Rodgers. Toward the end of 1931, Carlisle signed with ARC and was offered performance slots on several radio stations, including WBT-AM in Charlotte, North Carolina, WLS-AM in Chicago and WLW-AM in Cincinnati, Ohio. Cliff's brother Bill Carlisle became his guitarist after Ball left in 1934. During the 1930s Carlisle, who recorded a large amount of material despite a hiatus from 1934 to 1936, frequently released songs with sexual connotations including barnyard metaphors (which became something of a hallmark).

Carlisle toured with his son, "Sonny Boy Tommy," to occasional consternation from authorities in areas where this contravened local child labor laws. He continued to perform on WMPS-AM in Memphis, Tennessee for several years in the 1940s, but by the 1950s had retired from music.

In the 1960s, The Rooftop Singers covered his tune "Tom Cat Blues"; in its wake, Carlisle and Ball did a few reunion shows together and recorded for Rem Records. On April 2, 1983, Carlisle died at the age of 79 in Lexington, Kentucky.


Carlisle's 1933 song "Goin' Down The Road Feelin' Bad" is featured in the 2017 video game Getting Over It with Bennett Foddy.[2]


Columbus Stockade Blues


Year Title Notes
Gennett Records
1930 My Carolina Sunshine Girl / Down In Jail On My Knees
1930 Desert Blues / Blue Yodel No.6 with Bill Carlisle
1930 (?) I'm Lonely and Blue / I'm On My Way To Lonesome Valley
Champion Records
1930 Just A Lonely Hobo / Virginia Blues
1930 Crazy Blues / Hobo Blues B-side with Bill Carlisle
1930 No Daddy Blues / Brakeman's Blues Brakeman's Blues by Jimmie Rodgers
1931 Box Car Blues / The Brakeman's Reply under the pseudonym J. Boone
1931 High Steppin' Mama / Alone and Lonesome
1931 Hobo Jack's Last Ride / The Written Letter with Bill Carlisle as The Carlisle Brothers
1931 Nobody Wants Me / The Plea Of A Mother with Bill Carlisle as The Carlisle Brothers
1931 Come Back Sweetheart / Memories That Haunt Me with Bill Carlisle as The Carlisle Brothers
1931 She's Waiting For Me / The Cowboy's Song with Bill Carlisle as The Carlisle Brothers
1931 The Fatal Run / Memories That Make Me Cry with Bill Carlisle as The Carlisle Brothers
Conqueror Records
1931 Shanghai Rooster Yodel / Going Back To Alabama
1931 Memories That Make Me Cry / Dear Old Daddy
1931 Alone and Lonesome / Where Southern Roses Climb
1931 Box Car Yodel / Modern Mama
1931 Birmingham Jail No.2 / Just A Lonely Hobo
1931 The Written Letter / I Don't Mind
1931 My Rocky Mountain Sweetheart / Lonely Valley
1931 Guitar Blues / I Want A Good Woman
1932 Memories That Haunt Me / Seven Years With The Wrong Woman
1932 (?) Childhood Dreams / Memories That Make Me Cry
1932 The Brakeman's Reply / Hobo Jack's Last Ride
1932 Roll In Blue Moon / When It's Roundup Time In Texas
1933 The Rustler's Fate / The Little Dobie Shack with Bill Carlisle as The Carlisle Brothers
1933 Goin' Down The Road Feelin' Bad / Dang My Rowdy Soul
1933 Don't Marry The Wrong Woman / The Vacant Cabin Door
1933 Rambling Jack / Wreck Of Freight No. 52
1933 Blue Eyes / On The Banks Of The Rio Grande
1933 I'm Glad I'm A Hobo / Gambling Dan
1933 That Ramshackle Shack On The Hill / End Of Memory Lane with Bill Carlisle as The Carlisle Brothers
1933 Looking For Tomorrow / Where Romance Calls
1933 Louisiana Blues / Fussin' Mama A-side with Bill Carlisle
1933 I'm Traveling Live Along / Sunshine and Daisies
1934 Hen Pecked Man / Chicken Roost Blues
Montgomery Ward
1936 Rambling Yodeler / Cowboy Johnnie's Last Ride
1936 A Wild Cat Woman and A Tom Cat Man / Look Out, I'm Shifting Gears
1936 A Stretch Of 28 Years / My Lovin' Cathleen
1936 Handsome Blues / In A Box Car Around The World B-side with Bill Carlisle
1936 (?) When The Cactus Is In Bloom / My Lonely Boyhood Days B-side under the pseudonym Lallaby Larkers
1936 You'll Miss Me When I'm Gone / When The Evening Sun Goes Down
1936 Flower Of The Valley / A Little White Rose with Sonny Boy Tommy (Tommy Carlisle)
1936 I'm Saving Saturday Night For You / Waiting For A Ride
1936 It Takes An Old Hen To Deliver The Goods / When I Feel Froggie I'm Gonna Hop
1936 The Nasty Swing / It Ain't No Fault Of Mine
1937 Ridin' That Lonesome Trail / They Say It's The end Of The Trail
1937 There's A Lamp In The Window Tonight / New Memories Of You That Haunt Me
1937 Sweet As The Roses Of Spring / Just A Little Bit Of Loving From You
1937 Rocky Road / Pay Day Fight
1937 Cowboy's Dying Dream / Pan American Dream
1937 Waiting For A Ride / Your Saddle Is Empty Tonight
1937 When My Memory Lies / Lonely
1937 Rooster Blues / Troubled Minded Blues
1937 Blue Dreams / Hobo's Fate
Bluebird Records
1937 Pan American Man / ?
1937 Riding The Blinds / New Memories Of You That Haunt Me
1937 Your Saddle Is Empty Tonight / Cowboy's Dying Dream
1938 Why Did The Blue Sky Turn Gray / The Shack By The Side Of The Road
RCA Records
? A Mean Mama Don't Worry Me / Why Did It Have To Be Me?
? Devil's Train / Scars Upon My Heart
? Death By The Roadside / You Just Wait and See
? I Didn't Have Time / You Couldn't Be True If You Tried
? You Can't Erase A Memory / All The World Is Lonely
Decca Records with Bill Carlisle
1938 Over By The Chrystal Sea / The Great Judgement Day
1938 Are You Going To Leave Me / The Girl I Left So Blues
1938 Wreck Of The Happy Valley / Weary Traveller with Sonny Boy Tommy
1938 Moonlight Blues / Big At The Little Bottom A
1938 Two Eyes In The Tennessee / Lonely Little Orphan Girl
1938 Trouble On My Mind / Nevada Johnnie
1938 No Drunkard Can Enter / I'm On My Way To The Promised Land
1938 When The Angels Carry Me Home / Home Of The Soul with Sonny Boy Tommy
1938 No Letter In The Mail Today / Drifting
1938 I'm Just A Rambling Man / Blue Dreams
1938 My Old Home Place / Flower Of My Dream
1938 Where Are The Pals Of Long Ago / When We Meet Again
1938 I'm Heading For Some Home, Sweet Home / If Jesus Should Come
1938 Wabash Cannonball / Sparkling Blue Eyes as Carlisle's Kentucky Boys
1939 Unclouded Sky / Far Beyond The Starry Sky
1939 Mouse Been Messin' Around / Ditty Wah Ditty
1939 Footprints In The Snow / My Little Sadie
1939 Roll On Old Troubles / I Dreamed I Searched Heaven
1939 Black Jack David / Makes No Differences What Live Will Bring B-side as Carlisle Buckle Busters
1939 Sally Let Your Bangs Hang / Little Pal


  • 1963: A Country Kind Of Songs and Hymns
  • 1964: Maple On The Hill
  • 1965: Cliff Carlisle
  • 1965: Carlisle Family Album - Old Time Great Hymns (The Carlisle Family)
  • 1965: Cliff Carlisle Vol. 1+2


  1. ^ Social Security Death Index Interactive Search
  2. ^ Wood, Austin (2017-09-27). "Getting Over It is a brutal new game from the maker of QWOP". PC Gamer. Retrieved 2019-04-22. And I thought the irony of the smooth jazz was bad. With this fall, the music changes again. To what? "Goin' Down the Road Feelin' Bad" by Cliff Carlisle.

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