Clayton McMichen was a talented and excellent fiddler, first playing with Gid Tanner's Skillet Lickers and later developing his own style with the Georgia Wildcats. He mixed up old mountain music and dixieland jazz creating a sound that was with no doubt early western swing.
He was born in 1900 in Georgia and first worked as an auto mechanic. In 1919, he set up his own band called the "Lick the Skillet Band", which was later re-named the Hometown Boys. By then, he performed on WSB in Atlanta, Georgia, regularly and cut his first sides in 1925 for OKeh. Around that time, he got to know Jimmie Rodgers and soon they became friends. McMichen penned together with Rodgers the song "Peach Pickin' In Georgia" before McMichen joined Gid Tanner's Skillet Lickers, with whom he played until 1931. The 1930s saw McMichen recording for Decca and Crown his more jazz-influenced style and touring the country. He also appeared on the famed National Barn Dance and later on the Boone County Jamboree. He was always accompained by his band, the Wildcats, which included Hoyt "Slim" Bryant and also brother-in-law Bert Layne. After 1939, he gave up recording but performed well into the 1950s. In the sixties, he found a new audience in the young folk community. McMichen died in 1970.
Here are some of his tunes. Go also to the Western Swing blog to get more of him!
1. Bully of the Town
2. Old Molly Hare (with Riley Puckett)
3. Sally Goodwin (with Riley Puckett)