Hank Warren, on Briarhopper shows, was the clown known as "Elmer" or "Fiddlin' Hank." In later years he was the Company's photographer and darkroom expert.





History | Briarhoppers' Official Recognition

The Briarhoppers - About 1938

On June 28, 2007, the North Carolina General Assembly passed a Joint Resolution honoring the Briarhoppers musical group and its founder, Charles H. Crutchfield. The Assembly expressed its appreciation and gratitude for the Briarhoppers' contribution to the State's cultural and musical heritage.

Read the full text of the resolution.


In the House, Cullie M. Tarleton, who represents Ashe and Watauga counties, delivered these comments:

Rep. Cullie M. TarletonThank you, Mr. Speaker. If I were to break into a stanza of "Wait 'til the Sun Shines Nelly" before the chamber cleared due to my singing, some of you might recognize the song as the theme song of the Briarhoppers, who for years on WBT entertained listeners with their antics and music. At the specified time, the announcer, who for the first several years was Charlie "Briarhopper" Crutchfield, would say "does anyone know what time it is?" and one of the group would say "hit's (not it's) Briarhopper Time" and then the theme song [would begin]. And of course this was all live, not recorded.

We are talking years ago in the 30's and 40's. But the Briarhoppers as a group continued to entertain through live stage shows as they traveled up and down the east coast and into the mid-west. You have to understand that in the early days of radio, programs such as The Briarhoppers were what listeners depended on for entertainment, some information, along with the latest cure such as Dixie Water Crystals.

WBT, the second oldest radio station in the country (KDKA the first) first signed on the air as 4XD in Fred Laxton's chicken house in 1921 and on April 10, 1922 was officially licensed as WBT, a 50,000 watt class one B clear channel station that at night can still be heard from Newfoundland to Cuba.

It was my great pleasure to run WBT during the 70's and that same Charlie "Briarhopper" Crutchfield became Charles Crutchfield, President of Jefferson Pilot Broadcasting Company—or Mr. Crutchfield to those of us who worked for him. He also became my mentor and gave me wonderful opportunities with the company. I also had the pleasure of knowing and working with many of the original Briarhoppers as well as some of those who joined the group later. Names like Fred Kirby, "Fiddling" Hank Warren, Don White—whose real name was Don Whysell, who along with his wife Mary were our next door neighbors for many years, Whitey Grant, Arval Hogan, Shannon Grayson, and Dwight Moody.

The point of all this Mr. Speaker and ladies and gentlemen of the House, is that we think it is important to honor both the memory of those who have passed on as well as those who survive, for the years of entertainment and service they provided tens of thousands of North Carolinians and others over the years just as we did the other day with the Don Gibson and Earl Scruggs Resolution, both of whom I'm sure were guests on the Briarhoppers program.

Early radio was different, it was all live, focused on the communities they served and featured people who were and who became major early stars in the entertainment world. Many of the early Briarhoppers joined other entertainment groups, for instance Don White, along with country western star Cecil Campbell, became a part of the Tennessee Ramblers, and were in the movie "Swing Your Partner" starring Lula Bell and Scottie. This was also the first movie in which Dale Evans, wife of Roy Rogers, appeared. Don White also appeared in several other western movies with the Durango Kid and Jimmy Wakely. Then in 1946, Don moved back to WLS in Chicago where he and his band, the WLS Sage Riders, had a 15 minute radio show and were regulars on the WLS National Barn Dance. Fiddling Hank Warren, who was a professional musician before joining the Briarhoppers as a young fiddle player, formed Warren's Four Aces and then was a member of the Blue Ridge Mountaineers and the Tennessee Ramblers. Hank recorded with the Ramblers and appeared with them in the 1936 film "Ride Ranger Ride" with Gene Autry. After he joined the Briarhoppers, he was not only their fiddler but also their baggy-pants comedian.

Dwight Moody replaced Hank with the Briarhoppers. Dwight started his radio career in 1947 and at one time was on WPTF here in Raleigh. Fred Kirby, North Carolina's own singing cowboy and who many of you, I suspect, as well as your children, had an opportunity to see Fred as the official marshal at Tweetsie Railroad for a number of years. Early in his career, Fred helped the war effort by selling war bonds in St. Louis. He was the Victory Cowboy who sold over a couple million dollars worth of war bonds. Fred was also the composer and singer of the 40's hit "Atomic Power" which he wrote after President Truman made the decision to use the atomic bomb to bring an end to the war with Japan. Because of the popularity of the song and his own popularity, Fred was invited to ride in the 1949 inauguration parade of President Truman. Fred was a long time colleague of mine at WBTV, as was fiddling Hank Warren.

I'm proud to have known, first as a listener and later as a colleague, many of the Briarhoppers, and to have had the privilege of working with and for one of broadcasting's real pioneers, Charles Crutchfield.

May we never forget those who blazed the trail for others and provided years of entertainment to thousands of listeners across our state and across the nation. I commend the Resolution to you.