Cliffie Stone, born Clifford Gilpin Snyder, was an American country singer, musician, record producer, music publisher, and radio and TV personality who was pivotal in the development of California?s thriving country music scene after World War II during a career that lasted six decades. He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1989.
Born in Stockton, California, Stone’s father was country musician Herman the Hermit. The family moved to Burbank, and early in his life, he played bass in the big bands of Freddie Slack and Anson Weeks in Southern California, as well as working at local radio stations KXLA, KFVD and KFWB. Starting in 1935, Stone appeared on the Los Angeles-based radio shows Covered Wagon Jubilee, Hollywood Barn Dance, Dinner Bell Roundup, and Lucky Stars, singing as well as performing comedy routines and acting as host and DJ in the mid-1940s. In 1939, he married his first wife, Dorothy, and they had four children.
Stone began working at Capitol Records in 1946, and became an A&R man there; among the talents he discovered were Tennessee Ernie Ford, Molly Bee, and Hank Thompson. He was instrumental in helping various young musicians get their start in television, such as guitarist Zane Ashton who would also write songs for Stone’s Central Songs publishing firm. His Hometown Jamboree premiered as a weekly TV broadcast in December 1949 over KCOP-TV in Pasadena; in 1953 it moved to KTLA-TV, where it ran until its cancellation in 1959.
Stone’s career at Capitol was successful, but he was ultimately better known for his successes in radio. He recorded six albums with a backing band which went under various names, including Cliffie Stone & His Orchestra, Cliffie Stone & His Barn Dance Band, and Cliffie Stone’s Country Hombres. His 1955 hit, “The Popcorn Song”, peaked at No. 14 on the just-launched Billboard magazine’s singles charts in 1955.