James Clarence Wakeley, better known as Jimmy Wakely, was an American country-Western singer and actor, one of the last crooning cowpokes following World War II. During the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s, he released records, appeared in several B-Western movies with most of the major studios, appeared on radio and television and even had his own series of comic books.
His duet singles with Margaret Whiting from 1949–51 produced a string of top seven hits, including 1949’s number one hit on the US country and pop music charts, “Slippin’ Around.” Wakely owned two music publishing companies in later years and performed at the Grand Ole Opry until shortly before his death.
James Clarence Wakeley was born in Mineola, Howard County, Arkansas on February 16, 1914 to Major Anderson Wakeley and Caroline “Cali” Wakeley. His family moved to Rosedale, Oklahoma by 1920. As a teenager, he changed James to Jimmy and his last name to Wakely, dropping the second “e”.
In Oklahoma City, Oklahoma in 1937, Wakely formed The Bell Boys, a country Western singing group named after their Bell Clothing sponsor. The group performed locally, made some recordings, and did frequent radio broadcasts over Oklahoma City’s WKY. Johnny Bond, Dick Reinhart, Scotty Harrell and Jack Cheney were members of the Bell Boys and later groups. Over time, Wakely’s groups were known as The Jimmy Wakely Trio, Jimmy Wakely and His Saddle Pals, Jimmy Wakely Trio and James Wakely.