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Arizona Wranglers,
Range Riders,
Radio Buckaroos,
Texas Cow Town Boys and Girls,
the Singing Riders
and possibly other name variations

Mike Hunter, Paul Albertson, Frank Underwood, Kam Bayens: your old e-mail addresses are no longer valid. Would you please shoot an e-mail to the Old Corral webmaster.

Herb Stokes: in October, 2014, a researcher e-mailed asking for more info on that photo of yours of the 1929 Triple XXX Root beer band in Arizona ... and if you have any details on the group. Would you please shoot an e-mail to the Old Corral webmaster.

Special thanks to Les Adams, Jack Jones, Scott Jones, Kevin Coffey, Belinda Kirkhuff, Mike Hunter, Frank Underwood, Herb Stokes, Garry & Peggy Peterson, Ed Phillips, Larry Blanchard, Jerry Clayton, Paul Albertson and Kam Bayens for photos, clippings and info ... and for help in identifying the members of the singing group(s) which called themselves the Arizona Wranglers and the Range Riders and the Radio Buckaroos, et al.

Why are the Arizona Wranglers and the various permutations important to the B-western? There's several answers ... or at least some conjecture for you to ponder:

Personal appearances and radio performances helped fuel the popularity of western music.

They were among the first groups to appear in the early years of the sound western.

They did lots of touring, often doing theater performances which were tied to a showing of a B western (and there's a 1934 ad below for the Arizona Wranglers paired up with a Ken Maynard film).

There were many future B-western performers and regulars who worked with the group(s) such as cousins Glenn Strange and "Cactus Mack" McPeters as well as Arkansas Johnny Luther, Jack Kirk, Jack Jones, Chuck Baldra, Oscar Gahan and Hugh Farr (who would become a member of the Sons of the Pioneers).

Lastly, I am not suggesting that the Wranglers and permutations were the cause of the later singin' western, nor did they create that unique piece of the genre. But their western movie work, personal appearances and radio shows - along with music and songs in westerns from a few other groups - had some impact on the development of the singing western - i.e., "Let's try somethin' new - along with the guys singing around the campfire - let's get the hero to sing!".

(Courtesy of Garry & Peggy Peterson)

In April, 2005, Garry and Peggy Peterson e-mailed ye Old Corral webmaster with the above poster image and info on where they found it: "We were tearing down an old shed and found this poster for Loyal Underwood and the Arizona Wranglers show at the Granada Theater in The Dalles, Oregon ... it is in pretty bad shape as it was placed between the inside wall and outside siding. It has water stains and nail holes."

In the lower right corner, the poster references Ken Maynard in STRAWBERRY ROAN (Universal, 1933). A quick check on the Internet reveals that the Monday, March 12 performance advertised in this poster occurred on March 12, 1934.

(Courtesy of Mike Hunter)

Above - the tour bus used by the Arizona Wranglers for their public appearances.

(Courtesy of Herb Stokes)

The group began singing together when they worked at the XXX Rootbeer Drive-in in Phoenix, Arizona. Above are the members of the XXX Rootbeer Band in a 1929 photo.

From L-to-R in the back row (standing): unidentified man, and unidentified member with a nickname of "Hossfly".

In the front row (seated) are: Joe Ivins (nickname: "Hungry"), Charles Hunter (nickname: "Iron Tail"), J. E. Patterson (nickname: "Nubbins").

(Courtesy of Herb Stokes)

Above are the initial members of Arizona Wranglers ... or at least the initial three members that formed the Arizona Wranglers. The photo is dated 1930 and has a Phoenix photo studio name in the lower right.

From L-to-R: unidentified member with a nickname of "Hossfly", J. E. Patterson (nickname: "Nubbins") and Charles Hunter (nickname: "Iron Tail").

(Courtesy of Herb Stokes)

Above left is Charles Hunter (nickname: "Iron Tail") and an unidentified woman in a 1931 photo. Note the tire/wheel cover with reference to radio station K.N.X., the Arizona Wranglers, and Hunter's nickname of "Iron Tail" (two words). K.N.X. was a Hollywood radio station.

(Courtesy of Karen Darling)

Karen Darling's mother Florence and Aunt Ruth attended an Arizona Wranglers performance in the early 1930s in Medford or Jacksonville, Oregon. Above is a business card from 'Iron Tail' Hunter which he gave to Karen's Mom. Note the radio station "KNX Hollywood" in the upper left.

(Courtesy of Paul Albertson)

The Arizona Wranglers circa early 1930s.

From L-to-R in the back row: Laverne F. Costello (nickname: "Slicker"), Calvin Short (or Shorts) (nickname: "Sleepy"), J. E. Patterson (nickname: "Nubbins").

From L-to-R in the front row: Loyal Underwood (nickname: "The Sheriff"), Charles Hunter (nickname: "Iron Tail"), Joe Ivins (nickname: "Hungry"), "Shorty" Wells.

Paul Albertson writes: "Going through my mother's photo collection, I found this one of the Arizona Wranglers. Her childhood was in Rupert, Idaho and she would have been 16 during their 1933 tour. The front is autographed as "Best Wishes Arizona Wranglers" and in the corner is an initial or ?"

(Courtesy of Herb Stokes)

The Arizona Wranglers circa early 1930s, and this photo includes the Radio K.N.X. identification. Salutation reads: "Best Regards from The Arizona Wranglers and The Sheriff".

From L-to-R in the back row: Calvin Short (or Shorts) (nickname: "Sleepy"), Laverne F. Costello (nickname: "Slicker"), Joe Ivins (nickname: "Hungry"), Leonard "Len" Dossey (nickname: "Dynamite").

From L-to-R in the front row: J. E. Patterson (nickname: "Nubbins"), Charles Hunter (nickname: "Iron Tail"), Loyal Underwood (nickname: "The Sheriff").

Thanks to Kam Bayens for confirmation on Dossey. Got an e-mail from Kam in March, 2007: "I can confirm that is indeed Leonard Dossey (my great-grandfather). I believe he also worked with Tex Ritter in some capacity, as I have letters from Tex to Len discussing recording some demos, as well as some sheet music that they might have worked on ..."

(Courtesy of Belinda Kirkhuff)

Date unknown, but probably circa 1933-34, and this is the Range Riders (see newspaper clippings/ads further down this webpage). Has to be 1935 or earlier as Jack Jones' movie career ended when he suffered a severe leg injury during the filming of a wagon chase in THE DAWN RIDER (Lone Star/Monogram, 1935), which starred John Wayne.

L-R in the back row - Jack Kirk, unknown (white shirt, standing, possibly Ace Spriggins), Hilo Pete McKinney (white shirt w/ guitar, sitting), Oscar Gahan (w/ fiddle), unknown, Jack Jones.

L-R in the front row - Glenn 'Pee Wee' Strange (kneeling & whittling), Curtis 'Cactus Mack' McPeters (kneeling w/ guitar), Sheriff Loyal Underwood.

Jack Jones also has a copy of the above still from his father's collection, and on the back of his photo are names of most of the faces along with the following nicknames: Jack Jones (Pocatello Kid), Jack Kirk (Pecos) and Pete McKinney (Hilo Pete).

The July 11, 1933 Variety tradepaper carried news about the Arizona Wranglers and the creation of the Range Riders. Excerpts from that article: "In an argument over commission for stage appearances, Arizona Wranglers have split with their organizer, Loyal Underwood, and are now on their own at KFI. Cow yippers had been a KNX act for three years. Since splitting, Underwood has organized another group of cowhand singers and stringers and goes KNX with them under title of 'Range Riders'."

(Courtesy of Herb Stokes)

The Arizona Wranglers plus others in a still from STORMY (Universal, 1935).

From L-to-R in the backrow (standing) are: Johnny Luther (nickname: 'Arkansas' Johnny), unidentified man (in suit), unidentified woman, Calvin Short (or Shorts) playing harmonica (nickname: 'Sleepy'), James Burtis, and leading lady Jean Rogers.

From L-to-R in the front row (seated): Glenn Strange (nickname: 'Pee Wee'), Charles Hunter (nickname: 'Iron Tail'), John Jackson (nickname: 'Stony' or 'Stoney'), Laverne F. Costello (nickname: 'Slicker'), Curtis McPeters (nickname: 'Cactus Mack').

(Courtesy of Jack Jones)

The July 29, 1935 Call Bureau cast listing for STORMY (Universal, 1935) included the names of the Arizona Wranglers members (note the incorrect spellings on several names).

(Courtesy of Ed Phillips)

From left to right are Charlie/Charley Sargent, Jack Kirk, John Wayne, Cactus Mack McPeters, Chuck Baldra and Glenn Strange in a scene from Wayne's WESTWARD HO (Republic, 1935). On the far right is the non-singing Tex Palmer. In the film's opening titles, Glenn Strange is credited and "the Singing Riders" is listed under Strange's name. These "guys in black shirts" did double duty as singers as well as members of the "Singing Riders" who rode white horses and assisted Wayne. Below are crops/blowups showing the faces in more detail.

Below: Charlie/Charley Sargent, Jack Kirk, John Wayne, Cactus Mack McPeters.

Above: Chuck Baldra, Glenn Strange, and non-singing Tex Palmer.

(Courtesy of Larry Blanchard)

Above is a photo of the Texas Cow Town Boys and Girls which includes Glenn "Pee Wee" Strange (far right, sitting and wearing chaps) and "Cactus Mack" McPeters (center, sitting). Both were members of the Arizona Wranglers, Range Riders, et al.

Larry Blanchard writes: "My grandfather, William Roy (Ned) Wilemon was in several bands and had his own band in the 20's and 30's. He passed away in 1942. One of the pictures I have is of the Texas Cow Town Boys and Girls. It's from around 1937? Someone has written the names of the players on the old photo. A couple that caught my eye were Cactus Mack and Peewee Strange. My Grandfather is also in the photo - he is listed as "Ned". Also in the photo is "Speck", who is my great uncle Jackie Wilemon. You will also notice that my grandfather and another gentleman are in blackface. On the bottom right corner are the words, "Murphy Poto" (probably Murphy Photo). Who Murphy is I'm not sure. I can tell you the photo was taken well before 1942, that's when my grandfather died."

I asked Kevin Coffey about the photo and he writes: (other than Glenn Strange) "... the only guy I know is "Panhandle Slim". Unfortunately, that's the only name I know him by. He worked for a number of years (off and on ca. 1935-41) with Jimmie Lefevre's Saddle Pals in Los Angeles. My efforts to get his real name have so far been in vain."

(Courtesy of Jerry Clayton)

Above is another variation of the Arizona Wranglers, 1938. Radio station KVCV is (was) in Redding, California.

From L-to-R above are Ray Waomack (nickname: "Missouri" (guitar)), Joe Irwin (nickname: "Little Joe" (Banjo)), Thomas Drake Wheeler (nickname: "Barbwire" (Bass)) and Calvin Short (or Shorts) (nickname: "Sleepy" (harmonica)).

Thanks to Jerry Clayton for the above and below photos. Jerry's grandfather was bass fiddle player Thomas Drake Wheeler (nickname: "Barbwire").

Note that the only member from the early 1930s Arizona Wranglers group is Calvin 'Sleepy' Short (or Shorts).

(Courtesy of Jerry Clayton)

Another Arizona Wranglers, Redding, California photo, probably circa 1938. Includes the quartet in the photo above plus two additional members.

Above from L-to-R are Joe Irwin (nickname: "Little Joe" (banjo)), "Shorty" Wells (with fiddle, kneeling), Thomas Drake Wheeler (nickname: "Barbwire" (bass)), Bob Friend (nickname: "New York Bob" (accordion)), Calvin Short (or Shorts) (nickname: "Sleepy" (harmonica)), and Ray Waomack (nickname: "Missouri" (guitar)).

(Courtesy of Les Adams)

(Courtesy of Les Adams)

The Call Bureau cast listing above for STORMY (1935) includes the names of the Arizona Wranglers members circa 1935 (note the incorrect spellings on several names).

(Courtesy of Mike Hunter)

Above is Charles "Iron Tail" Hunter.

Above is Glenn 'Pee Wee' Strange, one of the premier heavies during the B western days, and later 'Sam the Bartender' on TV's GUNSMOKE.

(Courtesy of Belinda Kirkhuff)

Above is Jack Kirk, another of the prolific B western heavies and supporting players.

Courtesy of Jack Jones

Above from L-to-R are Jack Jones, Jack 'Pappy' Kirk and Chuck Baldra and the photo is dated September 29, 1932.  Les Adams adds that these three, or any combination of two of them, worked together in at least five dozen oaters.

(Courtesy of Jack Jones)

Jack Jones provided a newspaper article related to the above 1933 ad which lists the members of the 'Range Riders':

'Sheriff' Loyal Underwood
Cactus McPeters
J. Harvey Gahan
Jack Kirk
Jack Jones
Pete McKinney
Hugh Farr
Ace Spriggins
Glenn Strange

In the mid 1930s, Thomas Hubert 'Hugh' Farr and his brother Karl would sign on with the Sons of the Pioneers.

(Courtesy of Jack Jones)

Above is a tannish herald/flyer used to announce the band's performances. Wednesday, September 20 occurred in 1933.

More Info

Jack Jones appeared in films as part of a singing group and did some doubling/stunt work as well as supporting roles and bit parts in early to mid 1930s westerns.  Jones was seriously injured during the filming of THE DAWN RIDER (Lone Star/Monogram, 1935), which starred John Wayne.

Chuck Baldra was a mainstay third-or-fourth henchie in the late 30's and early 40's. Baldra and Jones started out as part of a singing group that (under various names) also featured Jack Kirk, Glenn Strange and Curtis 'Cactus Mack' McPeters, or some combination thereof. And sometimes the singin' group didn't even have a name ... just cowhands or part of the outlaw gang doing tunes around the ol' campfire.

There were many permutations of the western singing groups called the Arizona Wranglers and the Range Riders, and members during the 1930s included Underwood, Strange, McPeters, Baldra, Kirk, Jones, Charles 'Iron Tail' Hunter, Ace Spriggins, J. Harvey 'Oscar' Gahan, Hilo Pete McKinney, Hugh Farr (of the Sons of the Pioneers), Johnny (Arkansas Johnny) Luther, L. F. 'Slicker' Costello, Cal 'Sleepy' Shorts and John 'Stoney' Jackson.

Examples: in FIVE BAD MEN (Sunset, 1935), Baldra, Kirk, Jones, Strange and, possibly, one or two others, are identified as The Radio Buckaroos. In the John Wayne LAWLESS RANGE (Republic, 1935), Strange, Kirk, Baldra, and Charles (Charlie/Charley) Sargent are just plain Wranglers. And doing tunes in the Wayne WESTWARD HO (Republic, 1935) are Strange, McPeters, Kirk, Baldra, and Sargent, and the opening title credits list "the Singing Riders".

Some of the other members might be: Rudy Sooter and 'Hi Pockets' Busse.

Lots of personal appearances by the Arizona Wranglers

1931 - 1934 was a busy period for the Arizona Wranglers who were performing on radio stations KNX and KFI as well as doing extensive personal appearances at theaters and outdoor events in the U. S. and Canada. Newspaper websites have several hundred articles and ads for the group during those years, and I've clipped a couple large articles for your viewing pleasure:
August, 1933 personal appearance of the Arizona Wranglers in Helena, Montana:
December, 1932 personal appearance of Loyal Underwood and the Arizona Wranglers in Provo, Utah:

In the Villains & Supporting Players section on the Old Corral, you'll find more info and photos on Glenn Strange and Jack Kirk.  And under "The Henchies", there's info on Jack Jones, Chuck Baldra, Oscar Gahan and Cactus Mack McPeters.

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