"New England Radio Favorites":" |
DUKE & The Swingbillies
(Jukka Joutsi, Finland * started: 2005/October ~ up-dated: 14.11.2012)
Yodelin' Kenny Roberts and Paul "Hank" Preston gave the basic idea for this website back in 2003, when they both wrote their memoirs of 'Duke & The Swingbillies'-band in our correspondence.
As I didn't know much of that band beforehand, I wanted to gather their valuable knowledge and spread it also for other country music fans, who might like to read of 'Duke & The Swingbillies'.
During the years many other persons have contacted and now our website for 'Duke' is quite large package of information, which would have obviously gone lost without the basic help of Kenny Roberts and Paul 'Hank' Preston.
"Duke & The Swingbillies"-band in radio station "WLAW" (Lawrence, Massachusetts).
Kenny Roberts ( 17th March 2003):
Hello Again, Jukka. Yes, I would listen to Duke and the Swingbillies on radio when I was a
teenager growing up in Athol, Mass, before TV came into existence so I never
saw Duke on TV in Burlington. I believe he was on radio in Portsmouth. I listened
to all of them, Bud Bailey & DownEasters with Rusty Rogers and his great
yodeling, Smiling Bill Waters, Shirley & Sue and dreamed of singing on the radio
someday myself. I think Duke died, as a friend lives in Belmont, where Duke lived
and I'm sure he has passed on now. There were some great acts on radio in the
good old days of Country Music, but I think the Down Homers were the best
of course - Ha
My best to you.
Paul "Hank" Preston (March, 2003): * * * * * * *
Hi Jukka, I thought you would find this interesting. I was checking Kenny's site
and was going though his guest book listing. I saw the name of a musician
that I knew in New Hampshire back around 1979. He was a piano player
and played in a band for my friend Duke. I e-mailed him and he and I
discussed different musicians we both knew. He is still playing. He plays
summer jobs with Sleepy Willet. Sleepy used to play fiddle for Hal "Lone
Pine' in the 1950's.
It is a small world web-wise. I saw your site mentioning Kenny Roberts.
I contact Kenny and check out his site and now I locate Ronnie through
Kenny's site. It is so amazing.
In June of 1964, the All Star Jamboree show began in Hartland, Vermont at the Hartland Fairgrounds.
This was an outdoor country show presenting big-name acts touring the area as well as local bands. WVTR radio disc jockey, "Uncle John" Brunnel managed this show and also played fiddle in his band known as "Uncle John's Country All-Stars", which also included Buddy Jones along with Bob and Gracie French, well-known bluegrass musicians.
Uncle John asked that Hank's band serve as the opening act for those shows.
Also appearing there was "Duke and his Swingbillies", who had a television show over WMTW-TV, Poland Springs, Maine.
JUDIE "Lee" FIZER - Duke's basist (15th January, 2004),
Hi there, Jukka. How delighted to find your site.
Out of curiosity I did a search for "Duke and The Swingbillies', found so much!!
I was one of his last bass players before he left WMTW in the early 60's, Judie Lee or Lea as he wanted me to spell it (just to be different).
It was Duke (Michael J. Pelillo), Good ole' Pete Ross, Billy Brown and Judie Lea - we also had Kurt Dilly for a while and folks like Jimmy Rogers and Big Slim "The Lone Cowboy" would do a whip act whenever he played with us.
Rusty Wellington also would visit along with Bob Elston who now lives in Clinton or Fairfield Maine.
Yes. Duke has passed on to the "Hillbilly Heaven" he used to sing about, but anyone wanting to know more about him is welcome to contact me.
Dukes widow still lives in Belmont.
Warmly, Judie 'Lee' Fizer.
HI again Jukka (20th January, 2004),
When things slow down for me a bit I'll email a snapshot of "Big Slim The Lone Cowboy" with Pete Ross in one of Slim`s whip acts.
As far as recordings for Duke, I know of none, however I'll make a few phone calls later this week and see what I can find.
I can also scan some snap shots and a couple posed shots of Duke and His Swingbillies at various places. Someone may be able to recognize people who's names I've forgotten.
Regarding Dukes music:
Duke pretty much moved with the popular drifts in the country genre, all the way from pure grassroots Blue Grass to Western Swing, some folk such as Peter, Paul and Mary and Kingston Trio, as well as pop songs such as Anytime.
He loved to use 3 part harmony as much as possible.
Duke, or Michael J. Pelillo as his name was, usually sang Country or Gospel and he liked having band members who could cover the gamut of styles accepted within the country/western/early rock music, and even ethnic polkas with Pete on accordion.
It was a true variety show in the early 60's when I was with him, always maintaining a country or western flavor.
Swingbillies was a good name as it was indicative of the styles... Hillbilly/Western Swing.
Most requested ran between up to date country songs made famous by popular artists and the very old time 'from the heart' songs such as Hank Williams wrote or performed.
Beverly Dodge, or Beverly "The Prairie Sweetheart" made regular appearances with us and was one of the booking agents. She had a radio show at the time on a NH radio station where she would promote our appearances.
Lee Moore, the "Coffee Drinking Night Hawk" of WWVA would also promote our appearances especially when the Wheeling Acts were with us, and many nights returning home from playing at a dance or appearance we'd hear Lee wish us safe arrival and mention where we had been or where we'd be next.
I'm going to contact WMTW where our show last was and see if they have any video tape in their archives, as we would tape when we had to travel...wouldn't that be fun!!
Warmly, Judie Lee
* * * *
Paul "Hank" Preston (21st January, 2004): * * * *
Hi Jukka. Thank you very much for the e-mail stating that you had heard from Judy Lee.
Duke was a personal friend of mine and I also had met Judy in the summer of 1964.
(If my memory serves me correctly, it was 1964).
Duke, Judy Lee and the Swing-
billies were playing on an outdoor Sunday music show held at the Hartland, Vermont
Fair grounds, in Hartland, Vt.
Duke and the Swingbillies appeared there every Sunday.
My band, "Hank Preston and The Stony Mountain Drifters" were the opening act
there for several weeks when the show first started up. My wife, Doris played the
upright bass (bluegrass style bass) in the band and one day Judy asked Doris if
she would like to play her Fender Electric bass as it would be easier on her fingers.
Doris was very pleased that Judy asked her, but at that time, Doris hadn't learned
to play electric bass, so she declined the offer. It is odd, just recently, she and I
were talking about those shows and she mentioned about the electric bass and how
she didn't know how to play it.
About a year after this show, I worked several playing engagements with Pete
Ross, Duke's accordian player. We played at the Marconi Club in White River Jct.,
Vt. Pete was an amazing player.
I am so pleased to hear that Judy found your site and my e-mail. When Duke
had his lounge in Belmont, New Hampshire, I played steel guitar for him there one
afternoon and backed up Bob Alston. He is another great entertainer from Maine.
I have a 8x10 photo of Duke, Judy and The Swingbillies that was their promotional
photo at that time and will mail you a copy. Judy was a very good singer and bass
Again, thank you and keep up the good work with your website.
Your musicial friend in the U.S.A. * Paul "Hank" Preston
(Paul "Hank" Preston * 23rd January, 2004):
Thank you so much for forwarding the letters to
me. It was very thoughtful of you.
I am so pleased that a number of our new England entertainers or their
families are discovering your GREAT SITE.
I will try to get in touch with Judy Lea. I remember her so well. I was
surprised that she said the Kurt Dilly played for Duke. Kirk was a very good
lead guitar player in the 60's played for Doc Williams and "the Border Riders".
* * * *
Our friend Hank Preston wrote about Pete Ross (who was playing accordion in "Duke & The Swingbillies"-band):
Hi Jukka (16th February, 2004):
Thank you very much for forwarding the messages to me. I still have
trouble getting your site sometimes. This way I don't miss these very interesting
I know Duke and the Swingbillies played many dances throughout the
New England area and also in New York state and Canada. The letter mentioned
Pete Ross on the accordian.
Pete was a fabulous accordian player. I first saw
Pete Ross play and do a comedy act in 1955 or 1956. At that time he was playing
for "Ernie Lindell and The Rhythm Ranch Gang." This band had come from New
Yorks state where they had been very popular and they were doing a TV show
over MWTW-TV- Poland Springs, Maine. Also known as the Mt. Washington
TV as the station transmitter was a top of Mt. Washington, New Hampshire. It
is the tallest mountain in the area so they used this mountain for the transmitter
After Duke gave up his TV band work, he got me a job playing bass
for Pete Ross at the Marconi Club in White River Jct., Vt. We had a nice trio
and played all types of music. We only played there a few weeks and then Pete
had to give up the job as he lost his accordian and other equipment in a fire at
a club in Augusta, Maine called "Jack's Place". I was very honored to have the
opportunity to work with Pete.
Keep up the great work,
Paul "Hank" Preston
(28.10.2005) ~ I found the following photo with connections to "Duke and The Swingbillies"-band:
"Lorna Perkins (sang with Don Fields in 1950`s)
and Lee Jollota ("Duke & The Swingbillies"), producer".
(28.10.2005) ~ I found the following piece of information from Internet:
Square Dancers Entertain the Members at the 1962 Annual Meeting:
Duke and the Swingbillies entertained members at the 1962 Annual Meeting. Organized in 1938, the Swingbillies entertained thousands of people and performed over Mt. Washington TV.
Also with the gang were Pete Ross, one of the top North Country accordionists, and lead vocalist Rusty Wellington, who recorded for MGM and Arcade Records.
(28.10.2005) "EBAY" was selling the following photo of 'Duke' for $40.00!
DUKE & HIS SWINGBILLIES, 1940s * RPPC - WHEB & WLAW Radio.
RARE EARLY 1940s REAL PHOTO POSTCARD OF NEW HAMPSHIRE AND MASSACHUSETTS COUNTRY SINGER "DUKE " - Leader of "Duke & His Swingbillies".
Printed caption reads, "Your Old Pal - Duke, WHEB, Portsmouth, NH."
Duke also performed regularly for WLAW Radio in Massachusetts. The photograph above is the image we are selling. Divided back, unused, one lightly bent corner, very good condition. Writing on back reads "Jan. 20 WLAW at 11:45." 1941 from Auburn, Maine.
(28.10.2005) ~ Guitarist Dougie TRINEER had joined "Duke and the Swingbillies"-band back in 1956, when he was only 16 years old ~ information from Internet:
Dougal E Trineer (Dougie) :
Born Jan.19 1940, Calumet,Quebec #3 of 5 brothers,4 of who became musicians. First musical performances at age 7. Played piano for square dances and sang. At age 14,joined a 4 piece country band as Guitarist and lead vocalist.
At age 16,moved to U.S.to perform with "Duke and the Swingbillies" on Chanel 3,Burlington Vt. 5 half hour T.V.shows per week + 1 hour on saturdays. (1956) Also played club dates at night with the band.Vermont-New
Hampshire-Maine-Up-State New York,Quebec,and Ontario.
At age 18, moved to Bangor Maine to work with Dick Curless .Stayed 3 years.Returned to Montreal via Nashville,to a career in Studio Produc-tion as A & R Director;Artist;Band leader;producer etc. Has produced thousands of recordings both in Country and Pop fields. Dougie is credited with having performed (musically)on over 70,000 different recordings as a "studio musician"-has written over 600
songs-and has 26 albums,as an artist,to his credit.
Today, Dougie resides in Saint Jerome, Quebec, Canada.
(28.10.2005) ~ Obituary of EMMA E. L'ECUYER was also featuring a piece of information of Duke's band:
WINOOSKI -- Emma E. L'Ecuyer, 83, a 21-year resident of the Courtyard Apts. in Winooski, died at the Northwestern Medical Center in St. Albans on Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2005.
In 1956, Emma was a cashier/driver for Duke and the Swingbillies. As a driver she acquired the name "Barney O'Field."
It was during this time when she met her best friend Vye Weeman and husband Ollie of Contoocook, N.H.
(28.10.2005) ~ Canada's "EBAY" was selling these two fan photos of Duke for $7,99.
(28.10.2005) ~ They were selling this photo of Duke's band for $19,99 in EBay with following text:
Duke Swingbillies - Hank Decato - Jimmy Maynard - WMTW:
Framed shot of Duke Pelillo (Center) Lee and Vi on each side of Duke. Beside Lee is Fiddlin' Harold (not Carter). Next to Vi is an unknown female singer guest from Portsmouth.
Beside her is Jimmy Maynard and next to Jimmy is Hank Decato. This shot was taken in the studio and was printed from the negative Framing well done and a great addition ready to hang for you fans out there.
Anyone with any info on these folks feel free to email me. I will be listing others as I get to them.
Paul "Hank" Preston sent (3.11.2005) the following photo :
"Duke and The Swingbillies": (name-list now corrected by Judie Lea herself):
Left to Right: Judie Lea, Kurt Dilly, Duke (Mike Pelillo) (center), Jumpin` Billy Brown and Pete Ross.
("WMTW-TV", Poland Springs, Maine - 1964)
Judie Lea sent on 22nd February, 2006 the following message, where she corrected the name-list for the above picture:
Was just brought back to your FUN site on a web search and saw Hank Preston`s entry of the last "Swingbilly Band" on WMTW.
Jack Paar bought the station just after this photo was taken.
The names are in mixed order currently on your sitee.
They go from left to right: Judie Lea; Kurt Dilly; Duke (Mike Pelillo); Jumpin' Billy Brown and Pete Ross.. good ole' faithful Pete.
Billy and I were dating long before the Duke show and we left the show to head for Reno, Nevada where our sagas continue to this day.
I miss those days and I will get those other personal photos of Pete, Billy, Big Slim and others out to you as I now have a good scanner which will do the job!
My computer was stolen...
HUGS TO ALL!!! What fun this is!
Judie Lea (Fizer) ~ 2.3.2006 :
Lee... I met her a couple times, she was a kind, giving lovely person.
When I joined the show I had no 'western wear' and Duke asked Lee if I could use what she had used on the show.
All the outfits I wore came from Lee and I was ever so grateful.
I lost track of her address and last name during those times and when I left the state of Maine was unable to return the costumes. I feel badly about that to this day.
I saw the photo of Lee on your site and thought she was the same Lee who's things I fit into so well.
If it was not Lee who loaned them to me my names are mixed up.
I know "Little Vi" was the bass player with Duke before I. She was very good.
We had video taped many shows at WMTW but when I e-mailed the person in charge of the archives she said much was destroyed in the fire they had. However, I've not given up trying!!
I'm still in contact with Billy but since my computer was stolen I don't have his email address, I'll have to give him a call, but when I get his e-mail again I'll forward these emails to him.
Warmly, Judie Lee.
Hi, We just brought up the pictures of Dad's band and enjoyed seeing them. e-mail us if you get this.
Mike and Sally Pelillo (13.3.2006)
I'm delighted to come across this page, as Duke (Michael) Pelillo was my grandfather. I havent seen some of these pictures in many years. He passed away in late 1998, and we miss him very much. Just thought I would drop a line and let you know his family is out here. My father is his name sake Michael Pelillo Jr. We mostly reside in NH.
Thanks for the memories.
Sara Pelillo Douglas (19.3.2006)
I can try and gather some information for you. My father (Duke's son) may have some items you haven't come across yet.
I used to have a tape recording of his music, I'll have to search around for it. My father will be just so happy to hear that you wrote back to me.
Duke's widow, my step-grandmother has been ill in the recent months. She lives in Belmont still and misses him dearly.
Ill see what I can find for you and let you know. Thanks for keeping his memory alive!!
Sara Pelillo Douglas (20.3.2006)
Hello - I was browsing and found your site.
Duke was my former father-in-law. I was married to his son Michael J. Pelillo, Jr.
Duke died a few years ago, but, I love the pictures you have of him. What a wonderful website. It brought back many memories.
Wonderful site ~ Ms. Noelle Pelillo (14.7.2006)
my name is Bill Hainer formally Jumping Billy Brown who is in the picture with Duke & the swingbillies.
I was in touch with Judy Lee a while back & she told me about your site , it truly brought back a lot of memories it is great that you are keeping his memory alive.
Working with Duke was a great experience for me & helped teach me how to be a showmen.
To this day I am still playing music in a very fine band that plays a great variety & plays a lot of gigs. I hope that I haven't waited too long to get in touch with you folks & that you will let me know if you received my e-mail.
Keep up the good work & maybe I will be able to give you some info sometimes on some of the fun our group ( the Swingbillies) had.
God bless you,
Billy Brown (26.6.2007)
(Judie Fizer, 26.6.2007):
So exciting to hear from you.
I'll go now to your website to see what Billy wrote! Thanks so much for the email!!
One day when things slow down I'll send a long email about Duke, it was an interesting and fun time, just like you might see on the old "Singing Cowboy Western" movies.
(Paul 'Hank' Preston, 15.7.2007):
Judy Lea Fizer forwarded me your articles. It was good to hear that Billy is
still doing music. I didn't know him personally, but saw his perform many times.
He was very good.
Hope you and your family are doing well.
I am still playing country music here in Florida.
As Always,Your Friend in the U.S.A,
Paul "Hank" Preston
'BIG COUNTRY'-band (2007) ~ 'Billy Brown' 2nd from the right.
('Billy Brown' alias William Hainer, e-mail ~ 13.8.2007):
Just thought I would drop a note to say HI again.
It was a lot of fun in those days & it is too bad we have to grow old but it was a great time to be involved with music.
I can remember all of us packed into a car going down the road to a booking & singing new songs & getting 3&4 part harmony's together.
After Judy & I left Duke to work in Reno Nevada our lives began to get a little hectic & in about a couple of years we split up & went different directions. I believe she got married & started a family & I stayed on the road for years but I believe she was always involved with her music. Judy grew into an accomplished bass player.
I got married in 1970 to a girl I met while playing in Miles City, Montana & am still happily married to her. We just celebrated our 37th anniversary. Her name is Dolores ( Christensen ) Hainer. We now live in Billings Montana.
I am inclosing a picture of the band I play in now. We play country-rock -blues -western swing- country classics & we all sing.
I am the one with the short sleeve orange shirt second from the right playing lead guitar.
Will try to keep in touch in the future .
your friend ,
William Hainer--AKA Billy Brown.
('Billy Brown' alias William Hainer, e-mail ~ 14.8.2007):
Still - Hi from Montana,
Boy you don't wait long to reply that is great.
I did forget to tell you the name of the band it is 'Big Country': fiddle-steel guitar-keyboard-drums-lead guitar-bass.
Even though our group can play the new music we are catering to the western swing & western classics.
It seems there are a lot of people who don't care for the new country & go out of their way to hire a band that can play the older standard music like Ray Rrice-Buck Owens-Johnny Cash-Hank Williams-Bob Wills ect.
But we are capable of playing Jazz too.
Keep in touch ~ Bill Hainer -AKA Billy Brown
Cindy (Gauthier) Christman (e-mail, 9.10.2007):
I just Googled "Duke and His Swingbillies" as he was my God-Father and Vye is my God-Mother. With today's technology I thought I would give it a try.
My Mom and Dad Joyce and Gilbert Gauthier followed his shows in Canada and got to know him in Montreal. They later moved to Winooski as my Dad drove truck for Robinson Fuel in Essex while Mom worked for Mike in his restaurant, Lee's Luncheonette.
Duke (Uncle Mike) to me, eventually moved in with Mom and Dad before I was born. He had me on his TV show when I was two weeks old so that the rest of our family living in the Montreal area could see me for the first time. Mom and Dad have copies of all the pictures posted on this site. It was a joy to see them. We still keep in touch with his widow Dottie who is living in Belmont N.H.
We visited him and his wife Dot a lot when he had his restaurant/Bar in Belmont, fun was had by all. Later he played at another Bar/Buffet owned by a Wally's somebody.
In 1979 Mike brought his band including Ronnie on piano, Ricky on drums with a few other players to my Mom and Dad's 25th wedding anniversary party in Rawdon, Quebec. Ronnie played the old piano until his fingers bled. It was another great experience.
For their 40th Anniversay we all went to Las Vegas to celebrate and found Buzz Evans playing in a Country show called (Country Tonight) at the Aladin. He played the Steal Guitar with Duke and His Swingbillies in Burlington. He treated us like Royalty with tickets to his show then we had a lot of laughs over drinks after the show. We were there again in May of this year and could not find him anywhere.
Thanks for having all this information on line.
Keep up the good work and let's keep the "old timers" from disappearing.
Cindy (Gauthier) Christman
Cindy (Gauthier) Christman (e-mail, 4.11.2007):
My folks have some of his later music on tapes. Unfortunately everything is in storage at the moment and we are not sure how long it will stay there. My parents Joyce and Gilbert Gauthier have retired and spend their summers with me in Edmonton, Alberta Canada and spend six months of winter with my older brother Terry Gauthier in Clearwater, Florida, pretty tough life isn't it?? ha ha.
As soon as I can get my hands on any of Uncle Mikes' things I will send you copies.
I feel very strong about keeping his life alive. He was a very special man and we loved him very much.
Thank you for the great work you are doing.
Keep well, Cindy Christman (Gauthier).
Red Moore (e-mail 14.11.2007):
Hi Jukka, l didn't know of Duke & the Swingbillies but it was interesting to read
the letters and the contact you created between the ones who did...
l've seen an old friend in one of the pic's that l didn't know was involved
with Duke. Hank Decato, a Gene Autry impersonator and entertainer who l
hear from every once in awhile... Keep up your good work...
Paul 'Hank' Preston (e-mail 15.11.2007):
Thanks for sending me your site. I was fun going through the
seeing the old photos.
I do have one memory I don't this I mentioned before.
After Duke gave up the "Swingbillies" band and retied from TV
had a band with Ronnie Chase on piano. Duke played bass and he had a
drummer. Ms. Gauthier mentioned this group in her letter. This band was
"Duke and The Country Cousins."
I used to play steel guitar on occasion
Friday nights with this band at the Mt. Whittaker Inn located in Center
New Hampshire. It was a typical old New England inn that skiers would
while in the area to enjoy the great skiing conditions there. We played
to a packed
lounge there every time. Duke's band also played there on Saturday
I also saw that Buzz Evans played for Duke on WCAX, Channel 3,
Vermont. Buzz was a young man at that time. I think this was in the mid
Not sure of the exact date. Buzz was a fine pedal steel player.
I think Duke also had a rhythm guitar player and vocalist called
Jimmy Maynard. I think Jimmy worked in the band when they were on
I remember seeing him at personal appearances and on TV.
I also recall
DeCato" from New Hampshire appearing on TV with Duke on WMTW-TV in
Poland Springs, Maine. Hank DeCato was billed as "The Gene Autry of New
as he sang and yodled like Gene Autry. He even looked a lot like Gene.
Keep up the good work!!!
Your friend in Florida, U.S.A.
Paul "Hank" Preston
('America's Got Talent', 5.6.2007): Much of Hank DeCato's life has been dedicated to emulating, befriending and documenting the lives and legends of the singing cowboys, especially the one he considers the greatest of them all.
“Gene Autry was my idol,” Decato said.
He so admired Autry that he became a singing cowboy himself — not the kind who herds cattle on America’s rangelands, but the tamer breed formed in Hollywood westerns and early television serials designed to slake the public’s thirst for uncomplicated heroes in an ever more complicated world.
At this stage in his life, Decato would like nothing more than to give Americans — especially America’s youth — a taste of the ideals he believes the singing cowboys personified: personal honor, courage, love of country and other virtues that he says are reflected in the music and attitudes of old-fashioned heroes like Autry.
“Young people today, they don’t have no heroes anymore,” he said. “They don’t know what side of the fence to stand on.”
MORE INFO of HANK DeCATO from INTERNET (15.11.2007):
Hank DeCato is known far & wide as the Gene Autry of this era because of his resemblance of voice & looks to his idol.
In 1974 Hank made a record in
Nashville Tenn. "A Salute to Gene Autry" featuring four of Gene Autry's top songs, "Back in the
Saddle Again", "Silver Haired Daddy of Mine", "Little Kid Sister", & "Riding down the Canyon".
Hank DeCato - 'Gene Autry Of New England'.
(Hank DeCato, e-mail 8.6.2012): HI JUKKA - THANK YOU FOR THE GREAT MEMORIES OF THE GREAT DUKE AND HIS SWINGBILLIES SHOW, AS I TOURED WITH THEM IN THE EARLY DAYS, WHEN MUSIC WAS GREAT TO LISTEN TO AND ARTISTS KNEW HOW TO DRESS AND RESPECTED THE FANS.
I KNEW THEM ALL FOR OVER 50 YEARS. I LOST TRACK OF 'LEE' BUT LITTLE VYE MOODY STILL LIVES IN DEERFIELD N. H. AND I SAW HER 2 YEARS AGO AND SHE IS FINE, BUT WE ALL ARE LITTLE OLDER.
I WAS 82 LAST SEPT 14 BUT IN STILL GREAT SHAPE. I HAVE BEEN HERE IN BAKERSFIELD CA. FOR OVER 25 YRS. AND I AM A BROKER IN MY OWN REALESTE CO. (WHITE HAT REALTY).
I STILL DO MY TRIBUTE TO GENE AUTRY SHOW ALL OVER. I FLY TO SEE THE FAMILY ABOUT EVERY YEAR AT FOLIAGE TIME. I MET GENE IN 1945 AND ROY IN 1950 AND WE WERE TOGETHER AT DIFFERENT PARTYS WHERE WE WOULD ALL SING AND HAVE A BALL. WE WERE FRIENDS TILL THEY BOTH DIED IN 1998 AND I WENT TO THEIR FURNARAL. I DID SHOWS WITH DALE TILL SHE DIED AND I MISS THEM ALL VERY MUCH.
I'M IN GODS COUNTRY AND HE HAS GIVEN ME GREAT HEALTH - I COULD NEVER LIVE IN N.H. AGAIN.
I HAVE A NICE 3 BEDROOM HOME AND VERY HAPPY TO BE SINGLE - THANK GOD. I TALK TO JIMMY MAYNARD OFTEN AND HE IS STILL IN ATTALBORROW MASS.
I'D LIKE TO HEAR FROM THE OLD GANGS - WILL PLEASE PASS THIS INFO ON. CONTACT ME VIA JUKKA.
GOD BLESS YOU ALL AND THANKS FOR THE MEMORIES. I HAVE MOST OF THE PICTURES YOU SHOWED ON LINE.
LINK: WATCH (YouTube 'on stage' VIDEO): Hank DeCato ~ Back In The Saddle Again.
(Merle BURKE, e-mail 1.1.2008):
My name is Merle Burke and I live in Bartlett, NH, USA.
I love your website. I was looking online at the Burlington Free Press on December 26, 2007 and I ran across the obituary of "Yodeling Audrey." It said that she sang with Duke and his Swingbillies. I believe that Audrey is one of the ladies in the picture you have of Duke and the gang - the 'unknown lady' who someone said may have been a local singer from Portsmouth, NH on WHEB.
Audrey's full name was Audrey Senical. Born Nov 18, 1922 died Jan 4, 2007.
I believe that my cousin is married to one of Duke's stepdaughters.
(J.Trepanier, e-mail 6.4.2008):
Hi - My husband Lou Trepanier played with this group in the mid 50's. Have you seen his name mentioned at all? He play the guitar and sang.
Thanks , J. Trepanier.
(Judie Fizer, 28.4.2008):
I have recent photos, not the best ones but ok.
I still have some photos to post to you from the Duke and Swingbillies days but was held up because I had no scanner, now I do have one! YAHOO
I"ll get them off to you in a week or so.
(Mark Greenberg, e-mail 8.10.2008):
Hi. I thought you'd want to know that former Swingbilly Lee Jollota has just released (at age 78) her first recording -- "It's About Time: Classic Country Music," on the Multicultural Media/Rootstock label.
Lee is one of the women in the photo you have posted on 28-10-05. That photo is from the CD release party for "Don Fields & His Pony Boys -- Historic WDEV Broadcasts & Last Sessions," also on Rootstock, a very popular Vermont band that preceded the Swingbillies. -- Mark Greenberg, Montpelier VT.
('Upstreet Productions' ~ Website, 21.10.2008):
'Lee Jollota ~ It's About Time, Classic Country Music' (Multicultural Media's Rootstock Records MCM 4009):
Satin Sheets * Via Con Dios * Snowbird * Out Behind the Barn * A Daisy a Day
Old Flames * Jambalaya * My Happiness * Born to Lose * Could I Have this Dance
Love Bug * The Key’s in the Mailbox * Hey Good Lookin’ * Crazy * Tennessee Waltz
I Wish That I Could Fall in Love Today * Blue Moon of Kentucky.
At age 77, Lee Jollota, of Marshfield, VT, has made her first recording. “It’s About Time: Classic Country Music” features 18 songs drawn from a career that began when 45 rpm records were hot and that ended at the dawn of the CD era.
Born Doris M. Waite, in Mexico, Maine, to a musical family, Lee first sang locally with her sister. In 1956, the Vermont-based Duke and the Swingbillies came to Mexico for a show, and a friend persuaded the Waite sisters to sing for Duke after the performance. According to Lee, Duke “went ape,” and soon she was traveling all night to sing with the Swingbillies the next day on the first of their two daily TV shows on WCAX in Burlington. Because the other Swingbilly singer was named Vi, Duke asked Doris to change her name to Lee, so they’d be the Lee-Vi Girls.
For Jollota, who had never been farther from home than Portland, ME, coming to Vermont was an adventure. She recalls eating breakfast in the Miss Burlington diner. “I was in awe,” she says. “Burlington seemed like a huge city to me.”
In addition to the TV shows, the band, which always wore Western outfits, played stage shows and dances — in town halls, schools, American Legions, and often barns — six and seven nights a week. Traveling in a 7-passenger DeSoto with the bass tied on the top, the Swingbillies covered a territory that stretched deep into Canada but always returned for the TV show.
Along with singing and calling square dances, Lee put up posters in the early morning, handled the band’s mail, and sold souvenir pictures. “It was fun,” she says, although that much close traveling sometimes strained relationships in the band. The pay was also marginal. For Lee, however, the big payoff was the enthusiasm and appreciation of the fans. “The people with nothing were the one’s who’d say, ‘please stop at the house for lunch,’” she recalls. “They just wanted to give you everything they had..”
When Duke relocated the band to Maine in 1962, Lee, who had begun raising a family, stayed behind. After settling in central Vermont, she began singing with local bands. Eventually, she started her own band, The Dawn Breakers. She called her next band Pot Luck, since it had a revolving roster of players.
Although Lee stopped playing professionally in 1986, she has not stopped singing and sharing her music with others. Since 1996, she has entertained residents regularly as a volunteer at several local nursing homes, sometimes joined by friends but often singing alone.
Lee is joined on “It’s About Time” by producer and multi-instrumentalist Mark Greenberg and by harmony vocalists Coco Kallis and Paul Miller. Lee's daughter, Karin Martin, sings lead on Anne Murray’s “Snowbird,” with her mom providing the harmony.
Despite her life-long love of country music and singing, Lee never aspired to be a star. “I just play the guitar and sing songs,” she says. “I just enjoy what I do. And it rubs off. The people enjoy it. And I guess this is the important thing to me.”
Here's Lee Jollota pictured with four country stars: (left) Loretta Lynn, Ernest Tubb, Dick Curless and Kitty Wells.
(Mark Greenberg, e-mail 21.10.2008):
Jukka -- Here's a link address to http://www.upstreetproductions.com/Lee.htm .
As for the 'Duke & The Swingbillies': I have never heard them and only know about them from what Lee has told me. If I do locate any recordings, I'll let you know. Best -- Mark Greenberg.
77-year-old Marshfield country singer releases first CD (October 17, 2008 by Art Edelstein Arts Correspondent ~ The Barre Montpelier, TIMES ARGUS):
Lee Jollota doesn't do things spur of the moment: At age 77 she is releasing her first CD. The record is "It's About Time," and it contains 18 country music classics.
The album, produced, recorded and instrumentally supported by Mark Greenberg of Montpelier, is a collection of popular music from an earlier era. Fans of the traditional Nashville sound from the 1950s through the 1970s will enjoy this ride back in time. Titles include "Satin Sheets," "The Tennessee Waltz," the Hank Williams classic "Hey, Good Lookin'" and "Blue Moon of Kentucky." They are representative of the years when Jollota was performing first in Maine and then Vermont as a singer with a number of country music bands.
As music, this is a good album. Jollota herself agrees that her voice is not what it used to be. "It's not the voice of a 35-year-old but not bad for a 77-year-old," she said in an interview.
Yet, this is a good voice, and one that is very true to the material she is singing. These songs, representing a different era in country music, are sung with great sincerity. The album, which has electric guitar, bass, some mandolin and banjo, does not include drums. Drums were not part of the original country ensemble, and for years drummers were not permitted on the stage at the original Grand Ole Opry.
Greenberg does a fine job in his role as multi-instrumentalist and captures the sound and inflection of country guitar from the 1950s and 1960s. His is the more mellow sound of a hollow-body electric, one you might hear Chet Atkins playing rather than the more modern, thinner sound of a Fender Stratocaster which current lead guitarists favor.
Greenberg was a member of Jollota's band in the early 1980s and seems to have not forgotten a note from more than 20 years ago.
I asked Jollota how country music in her performing days differed from today's style. She was blunt.
"I don't call it country today. It's so loud," she explained. "The girls scream."
Jollota, who got her start with Duke and the Swingbillies in 1956 when she was called Doris M. Waite, said she "was brought up on pretty country music."
She does like country heartthrobs Allen Jackson and George Strait but said "in my time Tammy Wynette, Patsy Cline and Loretta Lynn … sang right from the heart … they felt what they were singing and felt it was part of real life."
From those legendary performers Jollota, learned to sing and "put my whole heart and soul into it. I feel the songs."
Although she stopped performing nearly 25 years ago, and has no desire to return to active performance, Jollota said being on the stage was a special experience.
"You get a little nervous, hope you will do a good job and please the people. As long as the people enjoyed it you didn't feel as nervous any more."
As an early "star" in the Vermont country music scene, Jollota said "most of the country groups pretty much liked the same kind of music." She pointed to Don Fields and the Pony Boys, Dick Curliss, Dick Sicely and the Sicely Brothers Band and Coco and the Lonesome Road Band as several of the really good local bands from an earlier era. Of today's crop of similar bands she likes the Starline Rhythm Boys, Sherry Lamberton and Jubilee and Cold Country Bluegrass.
Jollota enlisted Coco Kallis, who now lives in California, and Paul Miller, Kallis' former husband and bandmate from the Lonesome Road Band, to sing harmony on her album. She also has duets with Kallis on "Via Con Dios." Jollata's daughter Karin Martin sings lead on "Snowbird."
The appeal of country music in this state is a simple one, said Jollota.
"We're plain folk." Even the younger generation of Vermonters, while liking rock, also likes country, she observes.
Why would a senior citizen with no plans to perform do an album at this late date?
"I did it mainly because of my family. I'm getting older," said Jollota. "My intentions were to do a CD to give some to my family."
At Mark Greenberg's insistence, Jolatta agreed to a wider distribution through Multicultural Media, because he said "it was unusual to do a first recording at age 77."
Jollota said she wouldn't go on stage to promote her album.
"Playing was a rough life."
She also said this is a one-CD deal and she doesn't intend to make another one. "I'm not competing with the stars," she quipped.
For those who like their country music authentic, "It's About Time," is the real thing. For those who were fans of Jollota and wondered what had become of her, here's the chance of a lifetime. I suspect a lot of her fans and "old-timers" will be saying "It's About Time."
('RT', 20.10.2011): Jukka, here's something more of Lee Jollota and Duke & The Swingbillies:
Born Doris M. Waite, in Mexico, Maine,
to a musical family, Lee first sang locally
with her sister. In 1956, the Vermont-based
Duke and the Swingbillies came to Mexico
for a show, and a friend persuaded the
Waite sisters to sing for Duke after the performance.
According to Lee, Duke “went
ape,” and soon she was traveling all night to
sing with the Swingbillies the next day on
the first of their two daily TV shows on
WCAX in Burlington. Because the other
Swingbilly singer was named Vi, Duke
asked Doris to change her name to Lee, so
they’d be the Lee-Vi Girls.
For Jollota, who had never been farther
from home than Portland, Maine, coming
to Vermont was an adventure. She recalls
eating breakfast in the Miss Burlington
diner. “I was in awe,” she says. “Burlington
seemed like a huge city to me.”
In addition to the TV shows, the band,
which always wore Western outfits, played
stage shows and dances—in town halls,
schools, American Legions, and often barns
—six and seven nights a week. Traveling in
a seven-passenger DeSoto with the bass tied
on the top, the Swingbillies covered a territory
that stretched deep into Canada but always
returned for the TV show.
Along with singing and calling square
dances, Lee put up posters in the early morning,
handled the band’s mail, and sold souvenir
pictures. “It was fun,” she says. “Although
that much close traveling sometimes
strained relationships in the band. The pay
was also marginal.” For Lee, however, the
big payoff was the enthusiasm and appreciation
of the fans. “The people with nothing
were the one’s who’d say, ‘Please stop at the
house for lunch,’” she recalls. “They just
wanted to give you everything they had.”
When Duke relocated the band to Maine
in 1962, Lee, who had begun raising a family,
stayed behind. After settling in central
Vermont, she began singing with local
bands. Eventually, she started her own
band, The Dawn Breakers. She called her
next band Pot Luck, since it had a revolving
roster of players.
Although Lee stopped playing professionally
in 1986, she has not stopped singing
and sharing her music with others. Since
1996, she has entertained residents regularly
as a volunteer at several local nursing
homes, sometimes joined by friends but
often singing alone.
(Paul 'Hank' Preston, e-mail 21.10.2008):
I just finished reading the entire articles you have posted
on Duke and the Swingbillies. Thank you so much for all
the work you have put into this site.
It was so nice to see pictures and articles on "Vi" and
"Lee". I remember when they were on TV with Duke and
also saw them in person at his shows. They were very
Please keep up the GREAT JOB you are doing.
It is so nice to see interest being shown in bands like
"Duke and The Swingbillies".
I am currently playing rhythm guitar, vocals and
dobro steel guitar in a local band known as "The
Florida keys Band." We are basically country, but
play a variety of music. It is hard to believe I am now
71 years old and still playing good old country music.
In April I also made a CD with a bluegrass friend of
mine. We are known as "Ramblin" River" and the CD
is titled "Ramblin' River Live at Hidden River".
One of the songs on this cd is a bluegrass song
I wrote entitled "Grandpaw's Still". It was nice to
finally made a professional recording after all these
years in the music business.
Keep up the good work.
Your friend in the U.S.A.
Paul "Hank" Preston.
This photo was for sale in EBay (22.10.2008) for a 'buy it now'-price of $35,00USA with text:
"DUKE & SWINGBILLIES & LITTLE VYE MOODY - Maine Photo"
Who can tell us more about this Little Vye Moody?
(Hank DeCato, e-mail 8.6.2012): I KNEW THEM ALL FOR OVER 50 YEARS. I LOST TRACK OF 'LEE' BUT LITTLE VYE MOODY STILL LIVES IN DEERFIELD N. H. AND I SAW HER 2 YEARS AGO AND SHE IS FINE, BUT WE ALL ARE LITTLE OLDER.
This following short piece of information (22.10.2008) comes from the website of" The early North Country rock and roll scene":
Tuesday, September 4, 1962: Roy Acuff & The Smokey Mountain Boys at Montpelier City Hall. Also appearing were Duke & His Swingbillies (with future Raven Bobby Lavigne).
The following very interesting songbook was for sale (22.10.2008) in website of "Old Time Country and Western Music Souvenirs and Song Books" (IAACF Ltd):
Duke and his Swingbillies' Roundup of Song Hits (Radio and Recording) Book No. 2. 1942:
Dear God, Be Kind to Our Captain, Don't Spoil Your Pretty Eyes with Tears, Don't You Want to Be Ready?, Floating Down the Mississippi, The Gospel Ship, Hee Haw, Hallelujah!, He's a Half-Pint Puncher in a Ten Gallon Hat, If I Should Wander Back to-Night, We Didn't Invite Them Over (But We're Gonna Repay the Call), When it's Time to Say "Good-Bye," When There's Tears in the Eyes of a Potato, When this Cruel War is Over, When You Sang a Song at Twilight (and I Played My Old Guitar.)
Cover soiled, spine rubbed. (005cm0820e) $25.00 .
The following information is from Rusty Wellington's website in 'Maine Academy of Country Music' (22.10.2008):
Rusty Wellington (“Mr. Versatile”):
Rusty toured the US and Canada in Country Concerts for 40 years.
He worked throughout New England and then, in the 1960’s, hooked up with Bill Haley and the Comets for a time. He was lured back to New England by Duke Pelillo and the Swingbillies.
In the early 1960’s, Rusty was a guest on the Ernest Tubb Show, he wrote for Bill Haley and the Comets, and was lead vocalist for the Down Homers.
After the breakup of the Swingbillies and a near death experience of one of his children, he dedicated himself to God.
(Bob Elston, e-mail 20.12.2008): I have been both a country music artist and dj since 1956, I have done 9 CDs to date. REAL country music is the only music I listen to, not any of this stuff that they call todays country . It`s just rock and roll with a cowboy hat ( in my opinion). It`s still Buck Owens , George Jones , Faron Young , Ray Price and Johnny Paycheck - not to forget Merle Haggard, thats my kind of country,
I just read your story on Duke and the Swingbillies, I worked with Duke for over 5 years both on the road and at his lounge in Belmont N.H., Pete Ross and Rusty Wellington were with him when I worked with him on the road, and Bill and Judy joined the show when I went in the army in 1962. We did work all over New England, and were on channel 8 in Poland Spring Maine. Some of the best times I can remember in the country music business , were with Duke we had a lot of fun and he was great to work with, and he was one of the best MCs I ever saw. A good part of what I do today I learned from Duke .
I`m still in touch with his wife Dottie and she is a fantastic person , and is still living in Belmont N.H.
Pete Ross was one of the finest accordian players I ever worked with, and was also a good comedian. Rusty Wellington was one of the best entertainers I ever saw, he could write, sing do harmony, do impersonations, bird calls and pick a flattop just like Hank Snow. He was truly MR VERSATILE. You mentioned a show in Montpelier, Vt, I was also on that show and Saturday night of the same week we did a show with Tex Ritter at the Burlington , Vt city hall. They were both great shows. I`m very glad someone would take the time to keep those wonderful memories alive.
Thanks again . Bob Elston President Of the Maine Academy of Country Music.
Lot of 37 Postcards & 2 Letters, Duke and His Swingbillies, Early 1940's.
Thirty-seven real photo postcards from the early career of Duke and His Swingbillies, a New Hampshire based country band. These and the two letters came from the estate of one George Auld, an early member, I am assuming, of the group.
Thirty-four of the postcards are unused, unmarked, and are in excellent condition. Three of the postcards Auld apprently intended as New Year Greeting cards, but they never were mailed.
One of the letters, August 9, 1942, was sent by a Richard H. Keeler (Booker) to George Auld in Williamstown, Vermont. Auld had apparently left the band, and Keeler was writing to see how he was and expressed the sentiments of the band and himself hoping that Auld would come back. He also gives dates for gigs in Concord and Franklin, New Hampshire. This is on letterhead of Duke and the Swingbillies with a picture of Duke and his accomplishments. Headquarters were at 1 Knoll St. Concord NH; tel: 634-M.
The second letter is dated January 13, 1943, and World War II had scattered the members of the band. The letter was again from Richard Keeler and was addressed to PFC George Auld at Ft. Bliss, Texas. Keeler writes that Duke, with his wife and Judy, are at Camp Maxey in Paris, Texas. He also talks about several women who were apparently associated with the group. He writes about how the war was impacting everday living, and that he had to run or walk to fires (he was a reporter for the Concord Daily Monitor) as he wasn't allowed to drive.
Both letters have creases. Otherwise they are in very nice and clean condition. Starting bid: US $49.99.
(Hank Preston, 8.1.2010): Hi Jukka:
Thank you for the e-mail. I am pleased Judie is doing music again.
I want to thank you for the great job you have done with the articles
about Duke and The Swingbillies. Duke spent many years entertaining
throughout New England and Canada.
Duke told me one time that he had the opportunity to join tthe WWVA
World's Original Jamboree broadcast every Saturday night the same as the
Grand Ole Opry. He said he decided he perferred to stay in New England
and was very successful with his shows.
Your friend in the U.S.A. - Paul "Hank" Preston.
(Randy Christman, USA, 3.2.2011): Hi Jukka. Just a few lines to let you know how much I love your site. The young man in the picture of 'Duke and the band' named Kurt Dilly was only 17 years old at the picture taking. He just celebrated his 64 th birthday and still plays lead guitar for a western Pennsylvania band called laurel mountain country. I sent him the picture and he was sure surprised I found it in Finland. Thanks again you site is wonderful. Randy Christman, band leader.
(James Brigham, USA, 4.4.2011): I remember 'Duke & Swingbillies' in Burlington, Vt. I used to go to WCAX and watch them live. Jimmy Maynard lived on Colchester Avenue in Burlington and was going out with a girl from The Big Block in Winooski, Vt. He use to come to my house to play and sing for my Dad before he died in 1960. There was "Rocking Jimmy Maynard", Vi, and maybe I'll be able to remember the rest of the band members later. Duke use to let me ride with them to some local gigs. Long time ago.....
Can anyone help Robert Findlay to get some information of Norman 'Curly' Miller?
(Robert Findlay, e-mail, 16.10.2011): My name is Robert Findlay from Trois Rivieres, Que and I don't know where to start and I could only tell you what I know.
I was born in Asbestos,Que on Sept 14th 1949 and according to my Mom, Peggy Findlay whom I met for the first time in 1994, I was conceived in Danville,Quebec one night by Norman "Curly" Miller who was touring with Duke and his Swingbillies. From what I heard he was playing guitar and singing "Bouquet of Roses" and my mother said she never saw him again afterwards.
Made some research but did not get very far all I know he died many years ago.He was from Pittsfield, N.H
I know my time is running out since I'm 62 yrs old but If anyone would know more about him I would be so grateful.
Thank you so much, Robert Findlay.
(RT, 16.10.2011): Here's some information of 'Curley Miller', but I don't know if he's the same person as the mentioned Norman 'Curly' Miller. This information is from
website of 'WWVA Jamboree', renamed Jamboree U.S.A. in the 1960s:
- "On October 8, 1942, WWVA increased its power and became a 50,000-watt station. Because of the World War II, the WWVA Jamboree discontinued live-audience broadcasts between December 12, 1942 and July 13, 1946. The Jamboree, however, continued as a daytime show without a live audience. Many of the artists of the show like Doc Williams, Joe Barker, Curley Miller, Monte Blake, and Lloyd Carter got drafted and had to leave.
(J.Joutsi, 16.10.2011) The 'Curley Miller', who was part of WWWA (Wheeling) Jamboree in 1940's was actually Calvin 'Curley' Miller, so he isn't the same person as the mentioned Norman 'Curly' Miller.
This photo of 'Curley Miller & His Ploughboys' is from 'Elena17' (16.10.2011):
Given to me by my grandfather. I don't know anything about this Curley Miller, however.
This is an old black and white picture of 'Curley Miller and his Ploughboys' in 'The Economy Rodeo on Diamond Street'.
(RT, 20.10.2011): Here's a 'new' photo of Duke for you, Jukka. Also some 'new' information following:
ALL STAR JAMBOREE - Hank Preston - Hartland, Vermont:
In June of 1964, the All Star Jamboree show began in Hartland, Vermont at the Hartland Fairgrounds. This was an outdoor country show presenting big-name acts touring the area as well as local bands. WVTR radio disc jockey, "Uncle John" Brunnel managed this show and also played fiddle in his band known as "Uncle John's Country All-Stars" which also included Buddy Jones along with Bob and Gracie French, well-known bluegrass musicians.
Uncle John asked that Hank Preston's band serve as the opening act for those shows. Also appearing there was "Duke and his Swingbillies", who had a television show over WMTW-TV, Poland Springs, Maine.
(RT, 20.10.2011): I found also the following book available in Amazon for $55.00 ~ Duke And His Swingbillies: New England Radio Favorites [Pamphlet] - author: Duke (Michael) Pelillo.
(Maine Academy of Country Music, 20.10.2011): Mike Pelillo:
Mike Pelillo was born in Vermont,
and at a very early age began a country music career.
in fact in the begining his mom used to drive him and the bandto jobs
and she also ran the box office. Mikes brother also played accordionin the band.
The two things that always stood out about Mike were his hosting ability.
He was a great entertainer,
with the ability to make you laugh and also make you cry.
He played all over New England and spent a long time in Maine, hosting
a long running morning show on channel 8.
Mike worked with many stars over the years, performing at grange halls,
town halls, schools, and clubs. Cooking was the other thing that Mike loved,
and of course since he was Italian, he owned and operated an Italian restaurant
and lounge in Belmont, New Hampshire, were he cooked days and played in
the lounge at night. He was a joy to be around and everyone loved Duke.
In the music business he was known as Duke and the Swingbillies.
(Red Sky Books, 20.10.2011): Duke and His Swingbillies: Roundup of Song Hits Book 1 [Songbook, SIGNED]:
Duke and His Swingbillies -
Publisher: Dixie Music Publishing,
Date Published: 1942.
Description: 32 pp, 11 ¼" x 8", copy is in average condition. This very scarce vintage C&W songbook contains piano/vocal/guitar arrangements for 17 songs performed by Duke and His Swingbillies including Take Me Out To The Barn Dance, Terrible Terry The Termite, Beautiful Morning Glory, and others, scarce.
Binding: Soft Cover, Condition: Fair, Book Id: 040669 - Price: $20.00.
(1960's Garage Bands, 2011): Tuesday, September 4, 1962: Roy Acuff & The Smokey Mountain Boys at Montpelier City Hall. Also appearing were Duke & His Swingbillies (with future Raven ~ Bobby Lavigne).
To make a long story short, guitarist Bobby Lavigne of Duke & His Swingbillies entered The Ravens. Shortly after, Lavigne suggested drummer Marc Chapman of The Darts and Jim Ricker as well. The Crater bassist jumped ship. There were no hard feelings, though. Moorby frequently caught his old crony at Burlington ’s newest nightclub, The Cave.
('Jay', USA, 26.5,.2012) : Hi Jukka, I am from Burlington, Vermont and I remember Duke and the Levi Girls. Do you remember Yodeling Audrey? My mom had autographed photos of them and when she passed i could never find them. Do you have any photos of the girls. We loved the music. I remember Cowboy's Sweetheart as a big hit around here, Jay.
'Donna' mailed this photo (14.11.2012). On the back side of this photo, there's some written information: Rocky, Speedy, Duke (Michael J. Pelillo) & Little Ralphie. Does anybody know full names of the band members?
(Donna, e-mail 14.11.2012): I found this photo. The back says 'Duke and the swingbillies'. The guy on the Bass Guitar is Duke. I don't know who the others are or the date they played at WMUR in Manchester, NH. Please let me know if you know this info.
(Donna, e-mail 15.11.2012): Hi Jukka, I got the photo (actually I have 2 of the same) at an auction. The lot was for a Radio Station and a radio host named Paprisi. It was amoung other photos and pencil art. In researching this photo I came upon your sight so that's how come I emailed it to you. - How can I find out who the other 3 guys are?