Stuart Hamblen

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Stuart Hamblen
Stuart Hamblen.jpg
Background information
Birth nameCarl Stuart Hamblen
BornOctober 20, 1908
Kellyville, Texas
DiedMarch 8, 1989(1989-03-08) (aged 80)
Santa Monica, California
GenresCountry music
Cowboy music
Gospel music
Occupation(s)Singer-songwriter
Years active1926–1989
LabelsDecca Records
RCA Records
Four Star Records

Carl Stuart Hamblen (October 20, 1908 – March 8, 1989)[1] was an American entertainer who became one of radio's first singing cowboys in 1926, going on to become a singer, actor, radio show host, and songwriter. He underwent a Christian conversion and became a Temperance movement supporter and recurring candidate for political office. He is best known as the composer of the song "This Ole House" (1954), most notably recorded by Rosemary Clooney and Shakin' Stevens.

Early life[edit]

Hamblen was born into the family of an itinerant Methodist preacher on October 20, 1908 in Kellyville, Texas, United States.[1] He married Suzy Daniels and they had two children. Hamblen's father was Dr. J. H. Hamblen, a minister in the Methodist Church in Texas, who in 1946 founded the Evangelical Methodist Church denomination in Abilene, Texas.

Career[edit]

From 1931, Hamblen began hosting the popular radio program Family Album in California. He also composed music and acted in motion pictures with cowboy stars including Gene Autry, Roy Rogers, and John Wayne. In 1934, he became the first artist signed by the American subsidiary of Decca Records.[2]

Hamblen did not cope well with the pressures of his high-profile career and sought relief in alcohol. Many times his drinking landed him in jail for public brawling and other destructive behavior. The Texas State Historical Association reports that Hamblen identified himself as the "original juvenile delinquent."[3] Because Hamblen was hugely popular, his radio sponsors regularly bailed him out of jail and smoothed things over.[1] For a while, he ventured into horse-racing as an owner.[4] Inevitably, Hamblen's drinking and gambling problems severely affected his life and career. In 1949 after years of struggle with alcohol, Hamblen underwent a religious conversion at a Billy Graham crusade in Los Angeles, and was soon fired from his radio program after refusing to do beer commercials. He subsequently gave up gambling and horse racing, and entered Christian broadcasting with his radio show The Cowboy Church of the Air, which ran until 1952.[5]

Personal life[edit]

During a 1949crusade in Los Angeles, Graham called Hamblen's conversion "the turning point" in the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association's ministry, where before Hamblen accepted Christ the crowds were rather small. Graham said Hamblen was the No. 1 radio personality in Los Angeles, which drew in crowds. That evening, also Graham's first coast-to-coast television broadcast, Hamblen shared about his faith and sang/spoke his signature hymn "It Is No Secret (What God Can Do)" . Graham attributed Hamblen's hunting skills as instrumental in capturing a wild panther in the Los Angeles area prior to the crusade.[6][7]

Stuart Hamblen died March 8, 1989, in Santa Monica, California of brain cancer.[2]

Music[edit]

In his early career as a singing cowboy he composed his song "Texas Plains".[1] It was this song that Patsy Montana reworked into her million seller hit "I Want to Be a Cowboy's Sweetheart" (1935). Hamblen wrote the popular songs "This Ole House" (1954) (popularized by Rosemary Clooney, among others) and "Open Up Your Heart (And Let the Sunshine In)" (not to be confused with the song from the Broadway musical Hair). Other songs include "Hell Train", "It Is No Secret (What God Can Do)" and "Blood on Your Hands". Some of his post-conversion songs depict a rather wrathful version of the gospel, sung with such good-natured high spirits that they have an ironic appeal to the non-religious.

"It Is No Secret" was written following his acceptance of Christ and a spiritual conversation with John Wayne. After accepting the Lord, Hamblen was fired from his position as disc jockey because he refused to do alcohol commercials.[1] John Wayne offered him a drink shortly thereafter, Hamblen refused saying "It is no secret what the Lord can do."[1] John Wayne said, "You should write a song by that title." The song would go on to be sung by popular singers Rosemary Clooney, Kate Smith, Jim Reeves, Wayne Newton, Leslie Uggams, Jo Stafford & Gordon MacRae (duet), Anne Murray, Tom Netherton, Eddy Arnold, Pat Boone, Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, Hank Snow and Ernest Tubb.[8]

"This Ole House" was inspired while on a hunting trip in the High Sierras with John Wayne and guide Monte Wolfe.[9] The two men came upon what looked like an abandoned shack, wherein they found the body of an elderly man, apparently dead of natural causes.[1] Hamblen came up with the lyrics to the song while riding horseback down the mountain, and composed the melody within a week.[2] In addition to being a number one hit for Clooney, it was later recorded by Roberta Sherwood and The Statler Brothers, among many others. In 1981, a version performed by Welsh rock'n'roll singer Shakin' Stevens topped the UK Singles Chart.[1]

In 1955, Hamblen had a hit single with "Open Up Your Heart (And Let the Sunshine In)" b/w "The Lord is Counting on You", along with his family under the name The Cowboy Church Sunday School. Hamblen was accompanied by wife Suzy, daughters Veeva Suzanne and Obee Jane (Lisa), and two of the girls' friends. The song was recorded at the 33 RPM speed so that it sounds like children singing at the normal 7-inch single phonograph speed of 45 RPM. The tune hit No. 8 on the Billboard Hot 100 pop charts in 1955.[10] "Open Up Your Heart (And Let the Sunshine In)" was sung on an episode of the television cartoon series The Flintstones in the mid-1960s by characters Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm.

Hamblen wrote the lyrics to the Christmas cult favorite, "Hardrock, Coco and Joe". An animated Christmas cartoon based on the song was created in the mid-1950s. Its running time is about 2 minutes and 45 seconds. The full title is Hardrock, Coco and Joe - The Three Little Dwarfs, but is commonly called Hardrock, Coco and Joe, after the song title.

One of Hamblen's few secular songs to become popular was "(Remember Me) I'm the One Who Loves You," recorded by Ernest Tubb,[1] Jimmy Dean, Red Foley, and others, and made into a gold record by Dean Martin in a 1965 Reprise recording.

The Hamblen family participated in the Pasadena Rose Parade for many years riding Peruvian Paso horses.

At Mr. Hamblen's well-attended funeral in Los Angeles, a recording of Mr. Hamblen's was played; Billy Graham gave the eulogy. He is buried at Forest Lawn Memorial Park.[11]

The Stuart Hamblen Collection, which includes Hamblen's original sound recordings, resides at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill within the Southern Folklife Collection.[12]

Awards[edit]

Hamblen was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1970, was presented the ACM Pioneer Award 1972, received the Gene Autry Golden Boot Award 1988, and was inducted into Texas Country Music Hall of Fame 2001.[2] He later received a star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame. He was inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 1994 and the Western Music Hall of Fame in 1999.

Jefferson, Texas (near Hamblen's birth home of Kelleyville, Texas) celebrates "Stuart Hamblen Days" each year, with a bronze plaque dedication taking place in the city park in 1998, sponsored by a local opera house.[2]

Politics[edit]

Hamblen Presidential campaign button, 1952

Hamblen supported the American temperance movement and ran as the Prohibition Party's candidate for U.S. president in the 1952 presidential election. Hamblen garnered 72,949 recorded popular votes and no electoral votes in an election in which Republican Dwight D. Eisenhower was elected President for the first of two terms, defeating Democrat Adlai Stevenson.[13]

Previously, Hamblen ran for California's 20th congressional district seat as a Democrat, losing to Carl Hinshaw in the 1938 election cycle. The race ended with Hinshaw at 47 percent and Hamblen with 41 percent of the vote.

Discography[edit]

Albums[edit]

  • It's No Secret (RCA Victor, 1956)
  • The Grand Old Hymns (RCA Victor, 1957)
  • Hymns (Harmony, 1957)
  • A Visit With Stuart Hamblen (Sacred, 1958)
  • Immortal Treasures (Sacred, 1958)
  • Remember Me (Coral, 1958)
  • Beyond the Sun (RCA Camden, 1959)
  • The Spell of the Yukon (Columbia, 1961)
  • Of God I Sing (Columbia, 1962)
  • This Old House Has Got to Go (Kapp, 1966)
  • I Believe (Harmony, 1967)
  • The Cowboy Church (Word, 1973)
  • A Man and His Music (Lamb & Lion, 1974)
  • The Worlds of Stuart Hamblen Volume 1: The Shooting of Dan McGrew (Voss, 1978)
  • The Worlds of Stuart Hamblen Volume 2: The Legacy of Stuart Hamblen (Voss, 1978)
  • The Worlds of Stuart Hamblen Volume 3: So Dear to My Heart (Voss, 1978)
  • The Worlds of Stuart Hamblen Volume 4: Songs the Cowboy Sings (Voss, 1978)

Singles[edit]

Year Single Label Chart Positions
A-side B-side US Country US
1929 "When the Moon Shines Down Upon the Mountain" "The Boy in Blue" Victor
1930 "I Gotta Feelin'" "Wrong Keyhole"
"Standin' on the Pier in the Rain" "Hawaii"
"Sailor's Farewell" "By the Sleepy Rio Grande"
"The Big Rock Candy Mountains–No. 2" "Drifting Back to Dixie"
1932 "My Brown-Eyed Texas Rose" "My Mary"
1934 "Poor Unlucky Cowboy" (as Stuart Hamblen and His Covered Wagon Jubilee) "Texas Plains" (as Stuart Hamblen and His Covered Wagon Jubilee) Decca
1935 "Lola Lee" (as Stuart Hamblen and His Covered Wagon Jubilee) "Sunshine Alley" (as Stuart Hamblen and His Covered Wagon Jubilee)
"Be Just Like Your Daddy" (as Stuart Hamblen and His Covered Wagon Jubilee) "Poor Boy" (as Stuart Hamblen and His Covered Wagon Jubilee)
"Riding Old Paint" (as Stuart Hamblen and His Covered Wagon Jubilee) "Lopez the Bandit" (as Stuart Hamblen and His Covered Wagon Jubilee)
1940 "Golden River" (with Ted Dahl Orchestra) "Dream Book of Memories" (with Ted Dahl Orchestra) Bluebird
1945 "Whistling My Love Song to You" "They're Gonna Kill Ya" Ara
1947 "Ace in the Hole" (as Stuart Hamblen and His Lucky Stars) "My Old Hound Dog" (as Stuart Hamblen and His Lucky Stars) 4 Star
"Our Anniversary" (as Stuart Hamblen and His Lucky Stars) "Blue Bonnets for Her Golden Hair" (as Stuart Hamblen and His Lucky Stars)
1949 "(I Won't Go Huntin', Jake) But I'll Go Chasin' Women" "Let's See You Fix It" Columbia 3
"Blue Bonnets in Her Golden Hair" "Pony Express"
1950 "Sheepskin Corn and a Wrinkle on a Horn" "Condemnation"
"(Remember Me) I'm the One Who Loves You" "I'll Find You" 2
"It's No Secret" "Blood on Your Hands" 8
"Good Mornin' Yall" "I Whisper Your Name"
"Three Little Dwarfs" "You Can't Kiss Santa Goodnight"
1951 "My Life With You" "Old Glory"
"King of All Kings" "He Bought My Soul at Calvary"
"Our Old Captain (Ain't a Man)" (with Darol Rice and His Orchestra) "Don't Fool Around With Calico, When You Have Silk at Home" (with Darol Rice and His Orchestra)
"These Things Shall Pass" "I Believe"
"Just Let Me Love You" "You're Always Brand New"
1952 "This Ship of Mine" "Black Diamond"
"Lord, I Pray" "Got So Many Million Years (I Can't Count Them)"
"Known Only to Him" (with Darol Rice's Orchestra) "Is He Satisfied" (with Darol Rice's Orchestra)
"Our Love Affair (Will Always Smolder)" "I Get Lonesome"
"Grasshopper Mac Clain" (with Darol Rice's Orchestra) "Oklahoma Bill" (with Darol Rice's Orchestra)
1953 "My Mary" (with Darol Rice and His Orchestra) "A Million Wild Horses"
"Old Pappy's New Banjo" (with the Cowboy Church Prairie Choir) "Friends I Know" (with the Cowboy Church Prairie Choir)
"Daddy's Cutie Pie" (with Darol Rice and His Orchestra) "The Hidden You" (with Darol Rice and His Orchestra)
"Teach Me Lord to Wait" "I Believe"
"Partners With God" "You Must Be Born Again"
"He Made a Way" "My Religion's Not Old Fashioned"
1954 "The Workshop of the Lord" "Rose of Cavalry"
"This Ole House" "When My Lord Picks Up the 'Phone" RCA Victor 2 26
"Please Tell Me Why" "Beyond the Sun" Columbia
"Heavenly Cannonball" "I Am Persuaded" RCA Victor
"Ole Pappy Time (Is a-Pickin' My Pockets)" "The Toy Violin"
"My Brother" "If We All Said a Prayer"
"Open Up Your Heart (And Let the Sunshine In)" (as the Cowboy Church Sunday School) "The Lord Is Counting on You" (as the Cowboy Church Sunday School) Decca 8
1955 "Just a Man" "Go On By" RCA Victor
"Lord I'll Try" "Lonesome Valley"
"The Little Black Sheep" (as the Cowboy Church Sunday School) "Go on By" (as the Cowboy Church Sunday School) Decca
"Lord I Can't Come Now" (with Martha Carson) "Got So Many Million Years (I Can't Count Them)" (with Martha Carson) RCA Victor
"A Handful of Sunshine" "You'll Always Be Mine"
1956 "Those Bad Bad Kids" (as the Cowboy Church Sunday School featuring Little Miss Tomboy Janie) "A Handful of Sunshine" (as the Cowboy Church Sunday School featuring Little Miss Enry) Decca
"Hell Train" "A Few Things to Remember" RCA Victor
"Don't Send Those Kids to Sunday School (Get Out of Bed and Take Them)" (as Cowboy Church Sunday School) "It Is No Secret" (as Cowboy Church Sunday School) Decca
"The Rock" "This Book" RCA Victor
"Desert Sunrise" (as Stuart Hamblen's Orchestra) "The Whistlers Dream" (as Stuart Hamblen's Orchestra)
"God Is a Good God" "The Sweetest Story Ever Told"
"Beyond the Sun" (as Stuart Hamblen and His Family) "Dear Lord, Be My Shepherd" (as Stuart Hamblen and His Family)
1957 "My Father" (with Darol Rice's Orchestra) "The Lonesome Cowboy's Prayer" (with Darol Rice's Orchestra)
"Oh Miss Chicken" "The Baby Racoon in the Hollow Log"
"The Old Rugged Cross" "Old Time Religion"
"This Ole World" "Don't Fool Around With Calico"
1958 "You Can't Love Without Giving" "Someone" Coral
1959 "(Remember Me) I'm the One Who Loves You" "Indiana (Back Home Again in Indiana)"
1960 "Golden River" "The Foreman" Columbia
1961 "The Good Old Days" "What Can I Do for My Country"
1962 "My Home (It's Always Where You Are)" "Across the Great Divide"
1966 "Tho' Autumn's Coming On" "This Old House Has Got to Go" Kapp
1971 "When Earth's Last Picture Is Painted" "What Can I Do for My Country" RCA Victor
1973 "It's a Brand New Day" "The Last Cowboy" Voss
1974 "Rack Up the Balls" "Little Old Rag Doll" Lamb & Lion

Filmography[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1937 Springtime in the Rockies Truck Driver #1 Uncredited
1939 In Old Monterey Bugler
1939 The Arizona Kid Val McBride
1942 The Sombrero Kid Smoke Denton
1943 Carson City Cyclone Frank Garrett
1943 King of the Cowboys Duke Wilson Uncredited
1945 Flame of Barbary Coast Jud McCone Uncredited
1946 King of the Forest Rangers Carver Serial
1946 Plainsman and the Lady Matt
1950 The Savage Horde Stuart
1978 Mountain Lady Narrator (final film role)

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Colin Larkin, ed. (1993). The Guinness Who's Who of Country Music (First ed.). Guinness Publishing. pp. 177/8. ISBN 0-85112-726-6.
  2. ^ a b c d e "Stuart Hamblen". IMDb.com. Retrieved August 7, 2021.
  3. ^ "TSHA | Hamblen, Carl Stuart". Tshaonline.org. Retrieved August 7, 2021.
  4. ^ Time, Sept. 1, 1952
  5. ^ Hamblen, J.H.: "A Look Into Life," an Evangelical Methodist Church publication (c. 1970)
  6. ^ Personal recording, Billy Graham Crusade, Los Angeles: 1963 (exact date unknown)
  7. ^ "a visit with Stuart Hamblen Part 1 -10/10/1963-Jimmy Dean". YouTube. 2008-09-10. Archived from the original on 2021-12-21. Retrieved 2013-07-02.
  8. ^ "Creating a gospel classic, Songwriter Stuart Hamblem". Archived from the original on May 8, 2009. Retrieved August 7, 2021.
  9. ^ Letter from Camp Connell to Harry Schimke
  10. ^ Joel Whitburn, The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits. 7th edn, 2000
  11. ^ "Stuart Hamblen (1908-1989) - Find A Grave..." Findagrave.com. Retrieved August 7, 2021.
  12. ^ "Stuart Hamblen Collection, 1951-1984". finding-aids.lib.unc.edu. Retrieved 2017-11-06.
  13. ^ "Prohhibition Party History...1872 to 2009". Prohibitionists.org. Retrieved August 7, 2021.

External links[edit]