About Louis Marshall Jones
Louis Marshall Jones (October 20, 1913–February 19, 1998), known professionally as Grandpa Jones, was an American banjo player and "old time" country and gospel music singer. He is a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame.
Born in the farming community of Niagra in Henderson County, Kentucky, Jones spent his teenage years in Akron, Ohio, where he began singing country music tunes on a local radio show. By 1935 his pursuit of a musical career took him to WBZ (AM) radio in Boston, Massachusetts where he met musician/songwriter Bradley Kincaid, who gave him the nickname "Grandpa" because of his off-stage grumpiness at early-morning radio shows. Jones liked the name and decided to create a stage persona based around it.
Performing as Grandpa Jones, he played the banjo, yodeled, and sang mostly old-time ballads. The vaudevillian humor was a bridge to television entertainment. Jones used the old fashioned style of banjo playing called clawhammer, which gave a rough backwoods flavor to his performances. Some of his more famous songs include, "T For Texas", "Are You From Dixie", "Night Train To Memphis" and "Mountain Dew". He also wrote the song "Eight More Miles To Louisville". Moving to Nashville, Tennessee, he became a member of the Grand Ole Opry.
Jones later became a regular cast member on the long-running television show Hee Haw, often responding to the show's skits with his trademark phrase "Outrageous". He also played banjo, either by himself or with fellow banjo player David "Stringbean" Akeman. Another musical segment featured in the early years of Hee Haw had Grandpa and "His lovely wife, Ramona" accompanying a song while ringing bells held in their hands and on Grandpa's feet. A favorite skit had off-camera cast members asking "Hey Grandpa, what's for supper?", to which he would describe either a delicious, country-style meal ("Buttermilk biscuits smothered in chicken gravy, home-fried potatoes, collard greens and Grandmother's fresh-baked blueberry pie à la mode!" and the cast would reply, "Yum, yum!"); or, occasionally, he would tell about something not so good, ("Because you were bad, thawed out TV dinners!" at which the cast would scoff, "Yuck!"); on one occasion, he said "I ain't got nothing", he was booed. A running gag was that the window he pretended to polish had no glass, and Jones would slip his fingers through the empty frame. He also joined cast mates Buck Owens, Roy Clark and Kenny Price in a gospel segment at the end of some shows.
A resident of rural Ridgetop, Tennessee outside of Nashville, he was a neighbor and friend of fellow musician David "Stringbean" Akeman. On the morning of November 11, 1973, Jones discovered the bodies of Akeman and his wife who had been murdered during the night by robbers. Jones later testified at the trial of the killers and his testimony helped to secure a conviction. He identified a gun found in their possession as one he had given to Akeman as a gift.
In 1978, Jones was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. His autobiography, Everybody's Grandpa: Fifty Years Behind The Mike was published in 1984 (written with assistance from Charles K. Wolfe).
In January 1998, Jones suffered a stroke after his second show performance at the Grand Ole Opry. He died on February 19, 1998, aged 84. Jones was buried in the Luton Memorial Methodist Church cemetery in Nashville.