Mudcat Café message #3836601 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #161381   Message #3836601
Posted By: Richie
04-Feb-17 - 01:06 AM
Thread Name: Origins: Died for Love: Sources: PART II
Subject: RE: Origins: Died for Love: Sources: PART II

Since we are talking about Blue-Eyed Boy and Nathan Hicks who built the dulcimer for my grandfather and was his informant. I'll tell you the story of Tom Dooley. The Kingston Trio's 1958 cover of "Tom Dooley" an NC folk song about the murder of Laura Foster, sold millions of copies, and eventually Frank Warner pointed out he got the song from Nathan Hick's son-in-law Frank Proffitt. Nathan actually had little to do with the song- Proffitt got it from his great-aunt Nancy Prather [all reports say Nancy is his "aunt", no]. Tom Dooley supposedly started the "folk craze" of the early 60s was credited to it.

In my grandmother's diary dated about 1937 (this is all from memory) they went over to Frank Warner's apartment in NY and my grandfather who has just published Beech Mountain Ballads and was president of the Southern Folklore Association received the invite from Frank and Anne Warner. My grandfather convinced Frank Warner to go down and get a dulcimer and meet Nathan Hicks. So Frank wrote Hicks and went down around 1939 and came back and did recordings in 1940, one of the recordings was Frank Proffit's Tom Dooley, which Warner had learned and was performing (guitar/vocal). Warner recorded Tom Dooley and Alan Lomax liked it so much he included it in his book Folk Song: USA. The Kingston Trio members were looking for new songs in Lomax's book and they selected Tom Dooley- and the rest is history. And...Nathan Hick's dulcimer, somehow, in some remote way had something to do with it!

So I was looking through my grandfather's MS and in his scribble on a MS sheet was Tom Dooley, but there was no attribution but it clearly was in the 1930s. This was quite a few years ago and I thought- wow this might be valuable-- did he get it from Proffitt before Frank Warner in 1940. There was only the chorus and some scribble which might have been a verse.

Fank Proffitt got it from his great Aunt, and I found out that Frank Warner had managed to get Frank Proffitt some of the royalties-- this was after the Kingston Trio had royalties for 5 million records!!!

I got my grandfather scribbled MS of Tom Dooley and wanted to find out if it was worth anything- it really didn't matter much Frank Proffitt was dead. So after digging into the song a little deeper. I found out-- the copyright probably wasn't valid anyway- Burnett and Rutherford recorded it in the late 20s!!! And no seemed to know it!!!

It's like the copyright Clayton Pappy McMichen of the Skillet Lickers had on the famous folksong "in the Pines". His daughter Juanita showed me his copyright and her royalty statement- she was make a thousand dollars a year of his copyright of "In the Pines" in the late 1920s. He didn't write it, he was prob the 5th to record it and he didn't even name it "In the Pines" -- yet she got his royalties for people using and recording "In the Pines."