Grand Ole Opry's Lonzo and Wife
was on a farm on Spring Creek in the Rickman area of Overton County,
Tennessee, that Clarence Ogletree and his wife, Hallie (Hastings) Ogletree
raised a family of two daughters, Clyda and Etheleen. Clarence farmed for
a living, did some work drilling wells too, and eventually moved his
family to Michigan where he worked for a while. Life in the north did not
agree with the Ogletrees, and after living there twice, it was decided
that they would return to Tennessee for good.
The Ogletree sisters, Clyda and Etheleen, both graduated from Rickman High School. While attending high school, Clyda, along with Virginia Hastings, and Verla Hinds, formed a trio, and were invited to sing on WHUB radio station in Cookeville on several occasions. I doubt that Clyda had any idea then her interest in music would later involve the bright lights of the Grand Ole Opry stage.
After graduation from Rickman High School, Clyda got a job in Detroit where she worked for a while, but it wasn’t long until she heard of employment closer to home, and she was able to get a job with Vultee in Nashville, a manufacturer of airplane parts. While living in Nashville, Clyda and a cousin decided to attend the Grand Ole Opry one Saturday night, and it was there, in 1944, she met the man she would marry just a year or so later. It is uncertain how the two got together, since Clyda was in the audience, and the man she eventually became the wife of was performing on stage.
The original Lonzo and Oscar of the Grand Ole Opry. Rollin Sullivan, the first Oscar, resides in Cave City, Kentucky.
|Lloyd George, a
native of Haleyille, Alabama, performed for the very first time at the age
of 14 when he sang on a radio station in Sheffield, Alabama. He began
working at WSM in Nashville in 1942 with head liners Eddy Arnold, Roy
Acuff, and others. Eventually he formed a comedy team that became a
fixture of the Grand Ole Opry known as none other than "Lonzo and Oscar."
Lloyd George played the part of the very first Lonzo, with Rollin Sullivan
was Oscar. Since then, there have been two additional Lonzos. During 1945,
Lloyd and Rollin worked as what was referred to as "sidemen" for Eddy
Arnold, and in 1947, the two left Arnold to become a Grand Ole Opry act on
their own. The following year they scored their biggest hit with "I’m My
Own Grandpa". In 1950, Lloyd George left for a solo career and changed his
name to Ken Marvin. Just a few of the songs he recorded were "You Can’t
Pick All The Roses", "Afraid," "I’m Waiting Just For You".
After Lloyd and Clyda were married, they made their home in Nashville. Clyda chose not to work outside the home, and in 1952, their daughter, Claudia, was born. During Lloyd’s career as Lonzo, the Ritz Theater in Livingston was one of the places his group performed. Before driving on into Livingston for their performance, the group had supper at the Clarence and Hallie Ogletree home on Spring Creek in Rickman. Another very loved Grand Ole Opry character, Stringbean, was with those who shared the meal at the Ogletree home.
career in country music ended, he and his family moved to Cookeville.
After settling in, it was not uncommon for him to accompany several of the
local men around the Spring Creek area, including his brother-in-law, Rob
Richardson, on fishing trips, something he loved to do. A couple of times
a year, he sold fireworks from a stand on old Highway 42.
Cecil Allen, formerly of Livingston, who has made downtown Algood his home for many years now, made friends with Lloyd, and had this to say about their friendship: "I met Lloyd on Highway 70 West while he was selling fireworks beside the road, which he did twice a year. I was working with the Tennessee Department of Revenue. I stopped to check to see if he had paid sales tax on the items he was selling. When I introduced myself to him, he told me his name was Lloyd George. After that, he told me he had been on the stage at the Grand Ole Opry as Lonzo of the Lonzo and Oscar show. We talked a long while and become friends right there. He told me that he was married to the former Clyda Ogletree, a lady I knew. They had one daughter. Lloyd told me he was born in Alabama and met Clyda in Nashville. Clyda was also a great singer that appeared some on the Grand Ole Opry. She was a first cousin to the late Boots Smith’s wife, a former sheriff of Overton County. I told him I knew his wife and her parents, also her sister, who was married to Rob Richardson. He also told me later that he left the team and remained on the Grand Ole Opry as Ken Marvin, his stage name.
Lloyd George changed his name to Ken Marvin after he no longer played the part of Lonzo on the Grand Ole Opry.
Lloyd George, better known as the original Lonzo, and his wife, Clyda Kathleen Ogletree George, lived in the Cookeville area following Lloyd's retirement from country music.
|He gave me one
of his records that he made as Ken Marvin. I saw him several times after
the first time I met him. After being on the stage as Ken, he became a
booking agent for I believe Eddy Arnold. While as a booking agent, he was
in a serious accident and was never able to work any more. After he had to
retire, he moved to Cookeville, and lived there until he death. Lloyd
George enjoyed the country and meeting people. We were together very
often. Every time he was in this area, he would make it a point to see me.
The last time I saw him was just a little while before his death. He found
out where I was working, and came to see me at my work place. Lloyd was a
very likeable person and really could talk to anyone and was not above
Clyda’s sister, Etheleen Richardson, still lives on the old Ogletree home place on Spring Creek in Rickman, and can see the former home of her grandparents from her front porch. Etheleen described her brother-in-law as being a very down to earth type fellow who never let the fact that he rubbed elbows with some of country music’s biggest names go to his head.
Some additional information I obtained about the Lonzo and Oscar act had this to say: When they began their act on stage with the Eddy Arnold Show, their routine would something go like this:
Oscar: "Welcome to the Eddy Arnold Show. He’s Lonzo and I’m Oscar. You know what, Lonzo?"
Lonzo: "No, what, Oscar."
Oscar: "I sure do think a lot of you."
Lonzo: I like you too, Oscar."
Oscar: "Lonzo, there ain’t nothing I wouldn’t do for you."
Lonzo: "Well, Oscar, there ain’t nothing I wouldn’t do you."
Oscar: That’s the way we go through life ... doing nothing for each other."
It seemed strange to me when I was made aware of the fact that the original Lonzo was buried in Overton County, having never heard that he married someone from this area, and thus my search began. My sources turned up Mrs. Richardson who made me very welcome in her home on a beautiful spring day. She and her sons, Michael and Tim, along with Lloyd and Clyda’s daughter, Claudia, who lives in East Tennessee, are the only links now left connecting the stage of the Grand Ole Opry to their family. Both Clyda and Lloyd died of cancer just about a year apart. Clyda died on June 6, 1990, at the age of 66 . Lloyd died the following year on October 18, 1991, at age 67. They are both buried in the Netherland cemetery in Rickman near Clyda’s parents. These words are engraved on the back of Lloyd’s monument: "Mr. George was a member of the Grand Ole Opry - Was the original Lonzo of the Lonzo and Oscar duet." Those words on his monument bear testimony to the career of a well loved character who, along with his comedian partner, brought lots of laughs to hundreds of people for many years. Perhaps his grave should now be included in the list of historic places to see in Overton County.