This & ThatGilliam Banmon 'G.B.' Grayson - a Johnson County fiddler

When it comes to old time fiddle playing, there have been many in the Johnson County Area who were talented with that instrument. But when there’s talk about old time music, the attention may turn to nearly blind fiddler Gilliam Banmon (G. B.) Grayson. Grayson, who was blinded as a child, teamed up with Henry Whitter to play and record some of the most famous songs coming out of the late ‘20s and early ‘30s. Grayson and Whitter recorded “Short Life of Trouble,” “Handsome Mollie,” Cluck Ole Hen,” “Rose Conley,” “Lee Highway Blues,” and others. But no doubt the most famous song recorded by Grayson and Whitter was “Tom Dooley.” That song was later picked up by The Kingston Trio during the folk revival of the 1960s. The song “Tom Dooley,” was written about a man from Wilkes County, North Carolina who fled Wilkes County after being wanted for the murder of Laura Foster. His name was Tom Dula but it became Dooley in the vernacular of that area.



Reportedly Dula crossed the North Carolina line into Tennessee and since his shoes were badly worn, took a job with an influential farmer named James W.M. Grayson. Grayson had attained the rank of Colonel in the Union Army. He worked for Grayson a few days, long enough to buy himself a pair of boots. After his departure, men from North Carolina came to the Grayson home. After finding out that Dula had been there, they along with Grayson, tracked him to a place at Pandora in Tennessee where he was resting after the long walk in his new boots. Dula was captured by Col. Grayson and brought back to Col. Grayson’s home before heading back to North Carolina the next day. This was said to have occurred around July 10, 1866. Dula was later tried and hanged for the crime. Former governor of North Carolina Zebulon B. Vance handled Dula’s defense free due to the governor’s belief he was innocent of the charge.  More...


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