Friday, October 9, 2009

Clayton McMichen Story- Cont'd


For all you music triva buffs: Who was Clayton McMichen's first fiddle teacher? If you look on the web you'll probably see that his father and several uncles who played fiddle taught the youngster fiddle tunes.

The photo (click to enlarge) is a PR photo for WLS in 1933. From left to right, Bert Layne, Clayton McMichen, Jack Dunnigan and Slim Bryant.

When Clayton was a young boy he did learn to play the fiddle from his uncles and his father, a trained violinist. His father Mitchell played Viennese waltzes at the uptown hotel "crinoline" dances. But his father wasn't his first teacher!

According to Juanita McMichen Lynch. "Mitchell was a concert violinist and wouldn't let my dad touch his violin. So Mitchell hid the fiddle under his bed so no one could mess with it. When he would go out my Dad would take it out from under the bed and sneak out to Mitchell's saw mill."

Clayton befriended an old black gentleman who the family fondly called, "Uncle." Clayton loved Uncle and spent as much time as he could with him. Whenever Clayton disappeared, they knew to go to Uncle's house first. Uncle encouraged Clayton to play the fiddle and taught him his first song, Sally Goodin. Young Clayton played it "over and over" until he almost drove his sisters and mother crazy "see-sawing back and forth." [The McMichen Family by Joann T. Allen]

Clayton took his father's fiddle everyday when he went to work and put it back when he heard him coming home. One day his father came home and heard young Clayton playing by accident. When asked what he thought he was doing the 6 year old Clayton replied "Trying to play this durn thing." When Bertha, his oldest sister, asked if he could play Sally Goodin, he tuned his fiddle and rendered the tune perfectly. Grandpa was so amazed at how well the boy could play he got him his own fiddle and told him he'd help him any way he could." [Unpublished Manuscript on her father by Juanita McMichen Lynch]

That's all for now,


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