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Deuce Spriggens (1914 - 1965)

George R Braunsdorf

by Sharon Marie

 


Regarding the spelling of Deuce's last name:

I've seen his last name spelled both ways.  The earliest references I have are spelled Spriggens. Also when he autographed his photo in both the Spade Cooley band and his own group, he signed it Spriggens.  But there are folks who insist the spelling is Spriggins, as this was the way it was spelled by some record labels, etc. Even they couldn't agree.  Did he decide to spell his name differently later in his career? Methinks either way is acceptable.
Sharon (Carolina Cotton's daughter)


 

MOVIES

RECORDINGS

RADIO

SOUNDIES

SPADE COOLEY'S BAND

DEUCE SPRIGGENS' BAND

SONS OF THE PIONEERS 1943

SONS OF THE PIONEERS 1954-55

Bob Nolan and the Sons of the Pioneers Work Chronology

 

George R. Braunsdorf, known as Deuce Spriggens, was born on July 15, 1914, in Kansas and died May 30, 1965, in Los Angeles, California. Deuce took Pat Brady's place in the Sons of the Pioneers when Pat was drafted in 1943. Shug Fisher took his place later that year. From the pictures, it is obvious that Deuce filled in for Shug at times.

 

1943

Back: Ken Carson and Karl Farr

Front: Hugh Farr, Bob Nolan, Deuce Spriggens and Tim Spencer

(courtesy of John Fullerton)

 

1943

(Private Collection)

 

About 1944 or 1945

Back: Bob Nolan, Hugh and Karl Farr, Deuce Spriggens

Front: Tim Spencer, Roy Rogers and Ken Carson

(Courtesy of Fred Sopher)

 

 

 

 

The mike on the right says Mutual so this would be from the Roy Rogers Show which was on Mutual from November 21, 1944 thru May 15, 1945. The female vocalist on the series was Pat Friday who also did a lot of dubbing in film musicals. Also notice that Deuce Spriggens is in the group instead of Shug Fisher. For reasons I've never understood Deuce played on the radio show while Shug played every other appearance the Pioneers made during those years.  According to my info that was the last day of shooting on the film and the day of Roy's radio broadcast. Roy sang "Roll Along Prairie Moon", Roy & Pioneers sang "My Saddle Pals and I" and the Pioneers sang "Welcome to the Spring" and "Yodel Your Troubles Away". Pat Friday sang "More and More"  written by , Jerome Kern and E. Y. Harburg (he wrote the songs for the Wizard of Oz.  (Laurence Zwisohn)

 

Calin Coburn photo

 

 

Deuce was working as bassist with Spade Cooley's band when Carolina Cotton joined the group in 1944.

 

Left to right: Tex Williams, Deuce Spriggens, Spade Cooley and Carolina Cotton

(Sharon Marie photo)

 

The Spade Cooley Band

(Sharon Marie photo)

 

Spade Cooley Dly Snd Nw Corp

(Sharon Marie photo)

 

1944

(Sharon Marie photo)

 

(Sharon Marie photo)

 

(Sharon Marie photo)

 

        While in Spade Cooley's band, the working relationship between Carolina and bassist Deuce Spriggens blossomed into a romantic one. By the summer of 1945, they secretly married in June. The two left Cooley and took a few band members with them including Eddie Bennett, Rex Call, Frank Buckley and Gibby Gibson. They formed their own band, the Deuce Spriggens Orchestra. The new group also recruited the well-known Plainsmen Trio (with Andy Parker), and fiddle player Tex Atchison. Needless to say, it was a very talented outfit. (Soon afterward, Tex Williams and the rest of the Cooley Orchestra left Spade, to form the Western Caravan. Deuce would later join them).
        "The Spriggens Orchestra played nightly at the Western Palisades Ballroom, on Santa Monica Pier...then known as the largest ballroom on the West Coast. The music was broadcast as a radio show, The Cavalcade of Western Music, on station KFI. They also appeared on the Melody Roundup radio program.

 

(Sharon Marie photo)

 

Deuce Spriggens Band, Santa Monica

(Sharon Marie photo)

 

Deuce Spriggens Band, Santa Monica Pier

(Sharon Marie photo)

 

The Deuce Spriggens band appeared in 4 films: "Song of the Prairie", "That Texas Jamboree", "Cowboy Blues" and "Singing on the Trail".

 

Song of the Prairie 1945

(Sharon Marie photo)

 

That Texas Jamboree 1946

(Sharon Marie photo)


 

MOVIES

with Spade Cooley and Deuce: Starring: Bob Crosby, Fay McKenzie, Fuzzy Night
2. The Singing Sheriff (1944,Universal).....herself, with Spade Cooley Orch.
songs: Ida Red (8 bar yodel)

3. I'm from Arkansas (1944, PRC)................Abby Alden. Starring: Slim Summerville, Bruce Bennett, Jimmy Wakely
songs: I Love to Yodel

4. Outlaws of the Rockies (1945, Columbia) (aka A Roving Rogue)--UK. Carolina w/Spade Cooley Orch. Starring: Charles Starrett (The Durango Kid), Tex Harding, Dub Taylor, Carole Matthews
songs: Happy on the Prairie, Do Ya or Don't Ya

with Deuce Spriggens Orchestra: Starring: Ken Curtis, June Storey, Andy Clyde, Big Boy Williams, Hoosier Hotshots
6. Song of the Prairie (1945, Columbia) (aka Sentiment and Song)--UK Carolina w/ Deuce Spriggens Orch.
songs: Fireball Mail

7. That Texas Jamboree (1946, Columbia) (aka Medicine Man) Carolina w/Deuce Spriggens Orch. Starring: Ken Curtis, Jeff Donnell, Big Boy Williams, Hoosier Hotshots, The Dinning Sisters
songs: When Payday Rolls Around, I'd Love to Be a Cowgirl (But I'm Afraid of Cows), Down the Trail to San Antone

8. Cowboy Blues (1946, Columbia) (aka Beneath the Starry Skies) Caroina w/ Deuce Spriggens Orchestra. Starring: Ken Curtis, Jeff Donnell, Bib Boy Williams, Guy Kibbee, Hoosier Hotshots, The Town Criers
songs: I'm Thinking Tonight of my Blue Eyes, I Been Down in Texas

9. Singing on the Trail (1946, Columbia) (aka Lookin' For Someone)--UK Carolina w/ Deuce Spriggens Orch. Starring: Ken Curtis, Jeff Donnell, Guy Kibbee, Dusty Anderson, Big Boy Williams, Hoosier Hotshots
songs: What's the Matter With You, Wabash Cannonball, Singing on the Trail (yodels)

___________________________________________________

RADIO:
HOLLYWOOD BARN DANCE (CBS, KNX Los Angeles, ca. 1944-45, and 5/12/48)...w/ Spade Cooley, from Riverside Rancho; w/ Deuce Spriggens, from Western Palisades Ballroom

CHICAGO BARN DANCE (?)

RANCHO ROUNDUP (KECA, 1945)

CAVALCADE OF WESTERN MUSIC (broadcast from Palisades Ballroom)

MELODY ROUNDUP (from Western Palisades Ballroom, KNX, ca. 1945-46)...w/ Deuce Spriggens

DINNER BELL ROUNDUP TIME 3/26/1946 Deuce Spriggins (Spriggens) guest

___________________________________________________
 

Spriggens' group made a few soundies.

SOUNDIES:
with Spade Cooley and Deuce:
1. I Love to Yodel (1944, Soundies Dist Co of America #644-1-4).....w/ Spade Cooley and His Western Dance Gang
 

2. Take Me Back to Tulsa (6/1944, Soundies Dist Co of America #17501).....w/ Spade Cooley & His Western Dance Gang (Cooley & Tiny Hunt/fiddle, Tex Williams/vocal, Smokey Rogers/gtr, Pedro DePaul/accordion, Johnny Weiss/ld gtr, Deuce Spriggens & Carolina/bass, Bob Morrison/drums).

3. My Wubba Dolly (aka The Rubber Dolly Song) (1944)....................................w/ Spade Cooley and His Western Dance Gang

7. Wabash Cannonball (1946)..................................w/ Deuce Spriggens and His Band

8. Sioux City Sue (1946).............................................w/ Deuce Spriggens and His Band

9. Missouri's Calling Me (1945-46)...........................w/ Deuce Spriggens and His Band (Hank Penny, vocal)

10. Down the Trail to San Antone (1946, RCM Prod/Soundies Dist Corp of America #23405)................w/Deuce Spriggens and His Band

11. I'd Love to Be a Cowgirl (But I'm Afraid of Cows) (6/1946, RCM Prod, Soundies Dist Corp of America #23801) w/ Deuce Spriggens and His Band

12. If You Ever Come to Texas (1946)..............................w/ Deuce Spriggens and His Band

13. When Pay Day Rolls Around(1946)..............................w/ Deuce Spriggens and His Band


 

Deuce Spriggens Soundie

(Sharon Marie photo)


RECORDINGS:
Carolina Cotton and Deuce Spriggins
[sic]:
What's the Matter With You.........................................Mercury 6010.........................1945
I Been Down in Texas..................................................Mercury 6010.........................1945
(the Mercury session was recorded with Deuce Spriggins [sic] and His Orchestra)
 

Unfortunately, Carolina and Deuce's marriage ended in divorce by July 1946, and The Spriggens Orchestra disbanded. Carolina went on to join up with Hank Penny at the Riverside Rancho that same year, while Deuce reunited with ex Cooley bandmate Tex Williams, in the Western Caravan. Incidentally, Bobbie Bennet managed both the Cooley and Spriggens bands, and I believe the Western Caravan. She managed Carolina for years as well.

 

1954 touring & Coral

        The Sons of the Pioneers made a decision to spend more time making personal appearances. Because Shug and Ken were not eager to start touring again, they retired from the Sons of the Pioneers and Ken become host of the Lucky U Ranch program, changing the name to "Lucky U". The search for replacements for these popular members began. Dale Warren was hired to replace Ken Curtis and Deuce Spriggens came in once more. Shortly after this, Lloyd took leave of the Pioneers, leaving Hugh as MC. About the same time the Pioneers parted company with RCA because they couldn't agree on contract terms although they did sign Bob Nolan alone.

        Lloyd returned to the group in February of 1954 and they signed with Decca, recording eight beautiful sides on the Coral label including Montana before Decca lost interest. The Sons of the Pioneers who began recording for Decca (Coral) Records on January 4, 1954, were Lloyd Perryman, Tommy Doss, Dale Warren, Hugh and Karl Farr and Deuce Spriggens. The last recording date for Coral was December 7, 1954. "If You Would Only Be Mine", "Sierra Nevada", "The River of No Return", The Lilies Grow High", "Lonely Little Room" and "Montana". They recorded two more that were not released: "Somebody Bigger than You and I" and Bob Nolan's "The Mystery of His Way".

        After a year with Coral Records the Pioneers returned to RCA Victor without Deuce. Pat Brady had taken his place.

 

1954-5 Transcriptions

The trio of Lloyd, Tommy and Dale (plus The Farr Brothers, Deuce Spriggens and Shug Fisher) were also making transcriptions for different government departments - "Country Music Time" for the Dept. of the Navy and "Smokey the Bear" for the Dept. of Agriculture. Many of these songs were never commercially recorded and the only place we can hear them is from these transcriptions. Celebrities would appear on the Smokey the Bear programs - stars like Hugh O'Brien (Wyatt Earp), Jim Arness (Gunsmoke), Richard Boone (Have Gun Will Travel), James Garner (Maverick), George Burns, Danny Thomas, Lawrence Welk, Raymond Burr (Perry Mason), George Montgomery, Ozzie Nelson and even Ronald Reagan.

 

1955

In February 1955, the Sons of the Pioneers returned to the Victor label - with conditions. The conditions were unacceptable to the group as a whole, but Victor was adamant. They wanted the original trio of Spencer, Nolan and Perryman, excluding Doss and Warren of the current trio. The Pioneers reluctantly signed because recording contracts were becoming rare. Tim's voice gave out once more and Ken Curtis agreed to return for the recording sessions. Bob was back and Pat came, too, replacing Shug who had replaced Deuce Spriggens. The original, classic Sons of the Pioneers were together again for their last recording sessions from 1955-57. Some of the pop and rock'n'roll songs Victor had them sing startled their fans.