Shaun Stalzer

Listen to this group

SHELTON BROTHERS. The Shelton Brothers, a country group, consisted initially of Robert (Bob) Attlesey (b. July 4, 1909) and Joe Attlesey (b. January 27, 1911), but later other musicians joined, including a third brother Merle Attlesey (b. March 1917), in the late 1930s. All three brothers, part of a family of ten children, were born on a cotton farm in Reilly Springs, Texas. During the 1920s two brothers (Bob and Joe) played locally to help earn money for the family and styled themselves after such artists as Peg Moreland and Jimmie Rodgers, with Bob singing and playing guitar and fiddle, while Joe also sang and played mandolin and guitar. Bob, known as the “Hopkins County Firecracker,” often included comedy in his approach. The brothers sang in Longview in 1929 and performed for tips at local venues, including Clint Aycock’s café. They then relocated to Tyler, where they added another member, guitarist Leon Chappelear, who was with the group when it recorded under the name of the Lone Star Cowboys for the Bluebird label in 1933. The brothers also recorded with Jimmie Davis, who was elected governor of Louisiana in 1944, for RCA-Victor Records.

By the mid-1930s the group had relocated to New Orleans and played regularly on radio station WWL. In 1935 the Attlesey brothers began their prodigious recording career with Decca Records. They began calling themselves the Shelton Brothers (Shelton was their mother’s maiden name) at the behest of record producer Dave Kapp, who believed the group needed a more commercially recognizable name. The Decca label became successful because of its low-priced records and its aggressive recording efforts in the Southwest, and the Shelton Brothers soon became one of Decca’s most prolific Texas groups, recording some 150 sides for the label. The band recorded traditional country music generally reflective of hillbilly styles, but also incorporated blues and eventually some swing. With a wide-ranging repertoire which included such songs as “Just Because,” “Deep Elem Blues,” “Sitting On Top of the World,” “Matchbox Blues” and numerous others, the Shelton Brothers also represented the nascent honky-tonk sound that was developing at the time.

In addition to recording for Decca, the band also made regular appearances at radio stations in Shreveport and the Dallas-Fort Worth area. At the time the Shelton Brothers mostly played on KWKH Shreveport, where they also went by the name of the Sunshine Boys, and on WFAA in Dallas, which became a mainstay for the group after 1941 for nearly a decade. It was also during the late 1930s that the third brother, Merle, joined the band on guitar. For nearly a decade the group, which included Bob, Joe, Merle, Joe Molina, Preacher Harkness, and Bernie Harkness, remained popular with radio audiences. However, by the end of the 1940s the band’s popularity had waned, and it eventually stopped recording altogether, although Bob and Joe continued performing on KWKH in Shreveport (made famous by its association with the Louisiana Hayride). Bob later went into comedy, but both Joe and Merle continued to play music in the Dallas area. Bob died in November 1986 in Savoy, Texas. Joe passed away in December 1980 in Yantis, Texas, and Merle died in June 1997 in Dripping Springs, Texas.


All Music Guide (, accessed December 17, 2009. Alan B. Govenar and Jay F. Brakefield, Deep Ellum and Central Track: Where the Black and White Worlds of Dallas Converged (Denton: University of North Texas Press, 1998). Bill Malone, Country Music, U.S.A. (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1968; rev. ed., Austin: University of Texas Press, 1985; 2d rev. ed., Austin: University of Texas Press, 2002).

Image Use Disclaimer

All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.

For more information go to:

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


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

Handbook of Texas Online, Shaun Stalzer, "SHELTON BROTHERS," accessed January 27, 2020,

Uploaded on May 6, 2015. Modified on November 1, 2015. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
visit the mytsha forums to participate

View these posts and more when you register your free MyTSHA account.

Call for Papers: Texas Center for Working-Class Studies Events, Symposia, and Workshops
Hi all! You may be interested in this call for papers I received from the Texas Center for Working-Class Studies at Collin College...

Katy Jennings' Ride Scholarly Research Request
I'm doing research on Catherine Jennings Lockwood, specifically the incident known as "Katy Jennings' Ride." Her father was Gordon C. Jennings, the oldest man to die at the Alamo...

Texas Constitution of 1836 Co-Author- Elisha Pease? Ask a Historian
The TSHA profile of Elisha Marshall Pease states that he wrote part of the Texas Constitution although he was only a 24 year-old assistant secretary (not elected). I cannot find any other mention of this authorship work by Pease in other credible research about the credited Constution authors...