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Frank Hutchison (March 20, 1897-November 9, 1945) was an early country musician whose songs and style reflected African-American blues influence. Born in Raleigh County, the white Hutchison moved to Logan County in childhood and later worked around the mines. He developed a slide guitar sound akin to the ‘‘bottleneck’’ style and also played harmonica to augment his singing. Hutchison made his living in the coalfields in the 1920s but left for Ohio in 1932, during the Great Depression.

Between 1926 and 1929, Hutchison recorded some 32 numbers for the Okeh Record Company, a few of them featuring fiddling by Sherman Lawson. In 1927, playing with Arnold and Irving Williamson, he made one of the earliest recorded versions of ‘‘John Henry,’’ under the title, ‘‘Gonna Die with my Hammer in my Hand.’’ Hutchison’s best-known numbers included ‘‘Worried Blues,’’ ‘‘The Train that Carried My Girl from Town,’’ and ‘‘Coney Isle.’’ Readapted as ‘‘Alabam,’’ the latter became a major country hit for Cowboy Copas in 1960. Hutchison helped to instill a blues strain in modern country music, and was influential among coalfield musicians. His Logan County musical circle included banjoist Virginia Myrtle ‘‘Aunt Jennie’’ Wilson, who recalled that he and she were once engaged to marry. Eventually nearly all of his recordings were reissued on vinyl album and compact disk. Frank Hutchison, who died in Dayton, Ohio, did not live to see the revival of interest in his music.

In 2018 Frank Hutchison was inducted into the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame.

This Article was written by Ivan M. Tribe

Last Revised on February 12, 2018

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Sources

Tribe, Ivan M. Mountaineer Jamboree: Country Music in West Virginia. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1984.

A Real Fine Looking Man. Goldenseal, (Spring 1984).

Cite This Article

Tribe, Ivan M. "Frank Hutchison." e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia. 12 February 2018. Web. 10 December 2018.

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