Music history is filled with talented performers who somehow missed the boat on lasting fame. One who would certainly qualify is Carson Robison, a country music pioneer who crossed over into other types of music too; a multi-talented artist and composer who could play several instruments, sing, and yodel. In fact, he was so versatile that he actually began his recording career as a whistler!
Born in rural Kansas, Robison was the offspring of an accomplished musical couple — his father an award-winning fiddler and his mother a pianist and singer — and he wasted no time in joining the family profession. By his early teens he was appearing professionally as a guitarist and singer, and within a few years was gaining experience working the road show circuit in pre-World War I rural America. He continued to build his experience and expertise during the post-war years too, adding instruments to his skill-set and sharpening his whistling ability, and finding a lot of work in country music bands.
By the 1920s Robison was working alongside guys like Vernon Dalhart, Wendell Hall, Frank Luther, and a host of other stars of the era, not only on stage but also on radio and in the recording studio. As the 1930s began, he took the next step by forming his own country music band, the Pioneers (which he later renamed the Buckaroos) and began a period of more than a decade of building to stardom. In addition to becoming very popular among New Yorkers, his band periodically toured England and helped create a fan-base in the UK for country music.
During the war years Robison kept working hard, enjoying record hits with songs like “Turkey in the Straw” and a number of humorous and satirical records that poked fun at the enemy. In subsequent years things slowed down a little, although he again hit the charts a time or two. His last significant record was in 1956, when he made an attempt to keep up with the times by issuing “Rockin’ and Rollin’ With Grandmaw.” Unfortunately, he died the following year at age 66.