Dale Brooks, One Armed One Man Band

On Thursday July 11, 2013 we got message from his family that Dale had passed away that morning. He was an excellent musician and a great friend, he will always be remembered. R.I.P. Dale ...

Dale Brooks & The Country Caravan, first generation, 1957

Dale Brooks, born April 10, 1933, into a musical family, both parents were musicians, his father played fiddle in a band. All 3 of the boys were playing guitar before starting school, all three became professionals. The strange thing was the three never played together but once in their entire lives... they performed in different areas of the world!

Dale inherited the first band he played in at 16 years old when the leader suffered a heart attack. He led the band, did the bookings and all, until he finished school. Dale got into radio as a deejay as a result of his regular radio programs with his band, and stayed in broadcasting and entertaining for 30 years. During those years he worked on several stations in West Virginia, Maryland and North Carolina, having a band everywhere he went. In 1957 he applied for a job as announcer at WBOY TV in Clarksburg, West Virginia, and wound up with his own 60 minute live show with his band. He produced the show and starred in it for two years. The day the show first aired was typically busy. They did the first broadcast at 5 to 6 pm November 23, 1957. The night before Dale's brother "Shorty" became a father, and at the end of the show, Dale headed for the hospital for the birth of his first son, Rick. The two wives shared a room at the hospital. After the baby was born, he hopped in his car and drove 15 miles to play a club date... all this the same day!

Dale's band was called the "Country Caravan" because it traveled a lot. While there were 18 entertainers on the TV show cast, 6 were the traveling band, sometimes more. The band had a unique sound for two reasons. At that time only two known bands used an accordian, Dale and Jimmy Dean, and at times both bands were playing the same show together. The second factor was Dale always used twin lead guitars in his bands. Hardly any bands did that in those days.The years of the TV shows he had Boogie Bill Boggs and Bill Huffman on guitars, both literly legends in West Virginia and surrounding states. On fiddle was Johnny Lane who had won many championships with his fiddle. In an interview once the host commented, "wherever you go you always put together a really good band. How do you do it?" Dale's answer was, "It's simple, if they aren't better than me, I don't hire them!"

During the years folowing his TV show breakup, the result of his going into station ownership and building a new radio station, he formed another Country Caravan. This time he started cutting records for Cozy records. The first one "Ambridge Boogie" broke the ice.Others included Sleepless Night, The Sage and the Sand, You'll want me back, and others. He also did cuts for Skyline and Stirling, and is currently recording for NBT Records. At this writing NBT is to release a new CD album entitled "Ambridge Boogie". This one has 18 cuts including the first and second cutings of the title song. Also on the albume are 6 cuts of singing commercials Dale recorded for Homelite Chainsaws, which he wrote and recorded. Dale did all of Homelite's singing commercials for two years that were used on radio stations all over the United States and Canada.

Dale performed on the "World's Original WWVA Jamboree" in Wheeling with several top acts. The Sunshine Boys, Skeeter Bonn, Rusty and Doug Kershaw, Abbie Neal and her all girl band, Wilma Lee and Stoney Cooper and others. He worked quite some time with Hank the Cowhand, another Cozy Records artist and head of the Sagebrush Roundup in Fairmont, West Virginia, a rival of the Wheeling Jamboree. In later years Dale was also performing on another TV show, the Big Red Jubilee in Parkersburg, West Virginia. Of all the entertainers on the WWVA Jamboree, only four went into ownership of radio stastions; Dale, Doc Williams and Bud Messner. The 4th one, Joe Barker, was a partner with Dale in one station.

In 1979 Dale was severely injured in a motorcycle accident in North Carolins, costing him his left arm. He thought his music career was over. A club owner where he was playing when he was injured urged him to come back and play. He experimented and found he could still play keyboards and trumpet, just two of the dozen instruments he played before. He was back in entertaining again. He sold his radio station in North Carolina, retired from broadcasting and moved to Orange City, Florida. There he started entertaining again, took up with old friends Jack Blanchard and Misty Morgan (Tennessee Birdwalk, Humphrey the Camel and other million seller records) who helped and encouraged him. Thanks to these friends and neighbors, Dale is still entertaining in the Orlando-Daytona Beach area, and travels as far as Ft. Lauderdale to play dates.

Aged 68 in 2001 Dale still plays in a 5 piece band, Dale does a lot of entertaining by himself. With a special built, state of the art electronic keyboard that lets him do much of the music with his feet, he still does a solo act. On this special keyboard he can fiddle the Orange Blossom Special, do Rockytop on the 5 string banjo, and most any song you can name. No tapes or recordings... all live with one hand and his 2 feet. I guess this makes the "World's only One Arm - One Man Band!"

Dale Brooks, 2001

By Red Watkins, provided by Dale Brooks
Used with Permission, April 2001

On Thursday July 11, 2013 we got message from his family that Dale had passed away that morning. He was an excellent musician and a great friend, he will always be remembered. R.I.P. Dale ...