Otto Gray and his Oklahoma Cowboys were the first nationally famous cowboy western music band in the United States, and the first cowboy band to appear on the cover of Billboard (June 6, 1931).
Formed in Ripley, Oklahoma in the early 1920s, the band was first known as McGinty's Oklahoma Cowboy Band, for the leader, Billy McGinty, a well-known cowboy, former Rough Rider, and world champion rider with Buffalo Bill's show.
The band members were authentic cowboys from ranches in and around Ripley. Their first promoter, George Youngblood, introduced them saying, "I wish to say of this bunch of cowboys that they are not only good fiddlers, but can ride or rope anything that has horns, hide or hair." After McGinty left to become the postmaster of Ripley, Otto Gray (1884–1967), took over as bandleader as well as manager. With the extensive traveling generated from their popularity, the original band members dropped out to stay with their jobs and families. Gray filled their places with professional musicians willing to spend most of their time on the road.
Playing on the vaudeville circuits in the Midwest and Northeast, and nationwide over some 130 radio stations, they played the first cowboy music most Americans outside of the West had ever heard.
One of their most popular tunes was "Midnight Special", performed by member Dave "Pistol Pete" Cutrell; Cutrell's "Pistol Pete's Midnight Special" with McGinty's band was also the first version of "Midnight Special" ever recorded.
The band lasted until the early 1930s when economic situations led them to disband.
Date Range of DAHR Recordings: 1926 - 1936
Roles Represented in DAHR: Musical group
Notes: Listing for Jack Pierce and the Oklahoma Cowboys.
Recordings (Results 26-33 of 33 records)
|Company||Matrix No.||Size||First Recording Date||Title||Primary Performer||Description||Role||Audio|
|Victor||BS-0525||10-in.||9/9/1936||Dust pan blues||Rex Mitchell||Instrumental ensemble, with male vocal solo||Musical group|
|Victor||BS-0526||10-in.||9/9/1936||Wabash blues||Slim Mays ; Oklahoma Cowboys ; Jack Pierce||Instrumental ensemble, with male vocal duet||Musical group|
|Victor||BS-0527||10-in.||9/9/1936||Wang wang blues||Slim Mays ; Oklahoma Cowboys ; Jack Pierce||Instrumental ensemble, with male vocal duet||Musical group|
|Victor||BS-0528||10-in.||9/9/1936||Has anybody seen my gal||Slim Mays ; Oklahoma Cowboys ; Jack Pierce||Instrumental ensemble, with male vocal solo and talk||Musical group|
|Victor||BS-0529||10-in.||9/9/1936||If I had my way||Slim Mays ; Oklahoma Cowboys ; Jack Pierce||Instrumental ensemble, with male vocal duet||Musical group|
|OKeh||9647||Not documented||Mar. 1926||[Unknown title(s)]||McGinty's Oklahoma Cow Boy Band||Band||Musical group|
|OKeh||9648||10-in.||May 1926||Cow boy's dream||McGinty's Oklahoma Cow Boy Band||Instrumental ensemble||Musical group|
|OKeh||9649||10-in.||Mar. 1926||[Unknown title(s)]||McGinty's Oklahoma Cow Boy Band||Instrumental ensemble||Musical group|
Discography of American Historical Recordings, s.v. "Oklahoma Cowboys," accessed March 7, 2021, https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/111934.
Oklahoma Cowboys. (2021). In Discography of American Historical Recordings. Retrieved March 7, 2021, from https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/111934.
"Oklahoma Cowboys." Discography of American Historical Recordings. UC Santa Barbara Library, 2021. Web. 7 March 2021.
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