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Oct. 14: The Country Music Hall of Fame added Pee Wee King, a trailblazer of the genre sometimes overlooked nowadays, to its ranks 35 years ago today. Here, from 1951, is his biggest hit — and one of the first records cut for the country market to also top the pop charts.

Wisconsin-born Julius Frank Anthony Kuczynski had become Frankie King then Pee Wee King by the time he formed the Golden West Cowboys and joined the Grand Ole Opry in 1937. Featuring his own accordion stylings, his dance band pioneered drums, trumpet and electric guitar on the Opry stage, and they were the first to wear sparkly Western-style suits.

“Slow Poke,” with vocals by Ashland City, Tenn., native Redd Stewart, was a true smash. But the song most identified with King today is his and Stewart’s composition “Tennessee Waltz.” The Golden West Cowboys’ version sold pretty well, but it was Patti Page’s interpretation that made the song a classic.

"Slow Poke" sheet music

King, left, and Stewart grace the cover of the "Slow Poke" sheet music.

Learn more about King from his Country Music Hall of Fame profile and his Allmusic.com biography. And check out this 2002 piece by Nick Clooney in which he talks to the actual composer of “Slow Poke,” Chilton Price of Louisville, Ky. Clooney tells where the song came from, and expresses surprise that Price gave up two-thirds of her writers’ credit to King and Stewart.

(Given Clooney’s ties to the music business through his sister Rosemary, I’m surprised that he’s surprised over that time-honored but now-seldom-followed practice. But, I digress I guess.)

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