Carol Neel

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FARR, THOMAS HUBERT [HUGH] (1903–1980). Hugh Farr, fiddle player, was born Thomas Hubert Farr in Llano, Texas, on December 6, 1903. He was the son of Thomas B. and Hattie Carolyn (Wheatley) Farr. Farr was raised in a musical family, and his parents performed at local venues. At the age of seven he was already playing guitar with his father, and he played the fiddle by age nine with his brothers Karl and Glen. In 1925 the family moved to Encino, California. Hugh and his brother Karl played with Len Nash and His Country Boys in Long Beach from 1929 to 1933. The Farr brothers formed the Haywire Trio with Ira McCullough in 1933 and then joined Jimmie LeFevre and His Texas Outlaws. In 1934 Hugh Farr joined the popular singing group, the Sons of the Pioneers, when it was still called the Pioneer Trio. His brother Karl joined the band the following year. As part of the Sons of the Pioneers, the Farr brothers enjoyed a very successful recording career and appeared in such films as Bells of San Angelo (1947), Two-Fisted Rangers (1939), and Riders of Black River (1939) with Gene Autry, Bing Crosby, Roy Rogers, and other movie stars of the 1930s and 1940s.

One of the most enduring groups in country music, the Sons of the Pioneers, active from the early 1930s into the twenty-first century, sang not only traditional folk and country tunes but also wrote new material of their own. The Sons of the Pioneers were known for having extraordinary three and four-part harmonies and arrangements that reflect a jazz influence. Hugh Farr’s first-rate fiddle playing certainly helped bolster this sound, particularly on such jazz numbers as Jelly Roll Morton’s “Milenburg Joys” or W. C. Handy’s “St. Louis Blues.” In addition, his bass voice added to their vocal harmonies.

In 1958 Hugh Farr left the Sons of the Pioneers and formed his own version of the Sons of the Pioneers, but the group eventually disbanded. He played in various bands for the rest of his life. In 1980 he was inducted in the Country Music Hall of Fame as a member of the Sons of the Pioneers. As a member of the famed Sons of the Pioneers, he won numerous other awards that the group garnered throughout its illustrious career. He died in Casper, Wyoming, on March 17, 1980, and was buried in Mountain View Cemetery in Fremont County, Wyoming. Hugh Farr was inducted into the Hall of Great Western Performers of the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in 1995.


Don Cusic, It’s the Cowboy Way!: The Amazing True Adventures of Riders in the Sky (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2003). Hugh Farr (1903–1980) (http://www.bobnolan-sop.net/Biographies/The%20Story%20of%20SOP/Hugh%20Farr/Hugh%20Farr.htm), accessed October 5, 2015. Colin Larkin, ed., The Guinness Encyclopedia of Popular Music (Chester, Connecticut: New England Publishing Associates, 1992; 2d ed., New York: Stockton Press, 1995). James Robert Parish and Michael R. Pitts, eds., Hollywood Songsters: Singers Who Act and Actors Who Sing (New York: Routledge, 2003). Irwin Stambler and Grelun Landon, Country Music: The Encyclopedia (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2000). Peter Stanfield, Horse Opera: The Strange History of the 1930s Singing Cowboy (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2002).

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The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, Carol Neel, "FARR, THOMAS HUBERT [HUGH]," accessed July 17, 2019, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/ffakj.

Uploaded on June 30, 2014. Modified on October 24, 2015. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

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