Born in 1922 near Charleston, WV, Homer Bailes, the last surviving member of The Bailes Brothers, passed away December 3, in Ruston, LA.
Along with his brothers Johnnie, Walter and Kyle, the family group played an important role in the development of early country music and were among the most popular and influential country music acts during the 1940s and 1950s. Early in their careers, the brothers worked in various combinations on radio stations throughout WV. In 1944, The Bailes Brothers became the first WV act to become regular performers on the Grand Ole Opry.
After moving to Nashville, the brothers began recording for Columbia Records where they recorded their hits “Dust on the Bible” and “Give Mother My Crown” and “Searching for a Soldier’s Grave.”
After leaving the Opry in 1946, they relocated to KWKH in Shreveport, LA, where they became charter performers on the Louisiana Hayride alongside Hank Williams.
In late 1949, the act broke up but various Bailes Brother combinations continued to play together well into the late 1980s. Their songs have been recorded by Kitty Wells, Hank Williams, Flatt & Scruggs, Webb Pierce, and others. In l983, the Bailes Brothers were inducted into The Walkway of Stars of the Country Music Hall Of Fame and Museum, in Nashville. In 2002, Germany’s Bear Family Records reissued all of the group’s Columbia material. With Homer accepting the award, The Bailes Brothers were inducted into the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame in 2009.
Homer, who worked as a preacher during the last decades of his life, will be buried in the Coulee Bethel Cemetery in Campti, LA. In lieu of flowers donations may be made to the Wounded Warriors Project.
Online condolences may be sent to the family.
For information about the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame.