Salty Holmes

Floyd Holmes (March 6, 1910 – January 1, 1970), better known as Salty Holmes, was an American country musician and Western B-movie actor.

Holmes was born of Cherokee lineage in Glasgow, Kentucky. He became a virtuoso on the harmonica, specializing in the style known as "talking harp" which imitated the human voice (much like Sonny Terry). He also played the jug and guitar. He formed the group The Kentucky Ramblers in 1930, who changed their name to The Prairie Ramblers in 1933 and began broadcasting on Chicago radio station WLS-AM with new vocalist Patsy Montana. They continued performing and recording under this name until 1952, playing country, hillbilly music, gospel, and pop songs. They were the backing group on Montana's platinum hit "I Want to Be a Cowboy's Sweetheart". Group members included Jack Taylor on bass, Chick Hurt on mandolin, and Alan Crocket and, later, Tex Atchison on fiddle. They made over 100 recordings between 1933 and 1940, including as session musicians.

The Prairie Ramblers have been called a "hot string band" and "a hot fiddler band". Both their "aggressive rhythms" and Chick Hurt's mandolin playing inspired Bill Monroe, the "Godfather of bluegrass", and a mandolin virtuoso.

While a member of the Prairie Ramblers, Holmes befriended Gene Autry, who invited him to Hollywood to star in Westerns in 1936 and 1944; among the films Holmes appeared in are Arizona Days and Saddle Leather Law. In a scene of Arizona Days, Holmes played two harmonicas using his mouth and nose. The Prairie Ramblers also backed Autry on some of his recordings in the 1930s.

He collaborated with Jean Chapel as Mattie & Salty, playing regularly on the Grand Ole Opry; the two married in 1947 and divorced in 1956 and had a daughter named Lana (Chapel) who was part of their act as a young child.

Birth and Death Data: Born March 6, 1909, Died January 1, 1970

Date Range of DAHR Recordings: 1933 - 1954

Roles Represented in DAHR: vocalist, harmonica

= Recordings are available for online listening.
= Recordings were issued from this master. No recordings issued from other masters.

Recordings

Company Matrix No. Size First Recording Date Title Primary Performer Description Role Audio
Victor BS-77242 10-in. 12/6/1933 I want my mama Salty Holmes ; Prairie Ramblers Harmonica solo, with instrumental trio instrumentalist, harmonica  
Victor BS-77243 10-in. 12/6/1933 Kentucky blues Salty Holmes ; Prairie Ramblers Harmonica solo, with instrumental trio instrumentalist, harmonica  
Decca 74261 12/12/1947 Mama blues Salty Holmes vocalist, instrumentalist, harmonica  
Decca 74262 12/12/1947 John Henry Salty Holmes vocalist, instrumentalist, harmonica  
Decca 74711 1/21/1949 Blue eyes crying in the rain Salty Holmes vocalist, instrumentalist, harmonica  
Decca 74712 1/21/1949 Just a farm for sale Salty Holmes vocalist, instrumentalist, harmonica  
Decca 75105 8/1/1949 Cannon ball special Salty Holmes vocalist  
Decca 75106 1/8/1949 Harmonica boogie Salty Holmes vocalist  
Decca 75107 8/1/1949 Virginia on a Saturday night Salty Holmes vocalist  
Decca 75108 8/1/1949 Nine times out of ten Salty Holmes vocalist  
Decca NA 3373 10/6/1954 The Mama doll song Salty Holmes vocalist  
Decca NA 3374 10/6/1954 The ghost song Salty Holmes vocalist  
Decca NA 3375 10/6/1954 [Unknown title(s)] Salty Holmes vocalist  

Citation

Discography of American Historical Recordings, s.v. "Holmes, Salty," accessed May 24, 2022, https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/204647.

Holmes, Salty. (2022). In Discography of American Historical Recordings. Retrieved May 24, 2022, from https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/204647.

"Holmes, Salty." Discography of American Historical Recordings. UC Santa Barbara Library, 2022. Web. 24 May 2022.

DAHR Persistent Identifier

URI: https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/204647

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