Reflecting on Thorpe Westerfield

According to Billie Burton Daniel and Billy Ann Newman Carson, Thorpe was a brilliant musician and a really nice guy. A relative of actress Arlene Dahl, Thorpe was a consummate musician who could play almost any instrument. Carson said his guitar playing reminded her of famous jazz guitarist Django Rinehardt. Daniels remembered Thorpe playing his guitar or banjo along with his harmonica. According to Thorpe's daughter, Terry Marshall, Thorpe met his wife whilst performing at WBT as a member of the Briarhoppers. He was called to duty in WWII and eventually joined the military band, putting on musicals and other events for the troops. His return to Charlotte did not include re-joining WBT or the Briarhoppers; Thorpe started work with his family's building supply company in Charlotte. Thorpe remained a member of the Musician's Union, and played at holiday events. He remained at his family's building supply store until he died in 1972.

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The Legendary Briarhoppers!

In 1934, a potential advertiser called WBT's Charles Crutchfield to ask if the station had a hillbilly band to help advertise its products. Telling a fib, Crutch said "Yes," which led to the birth of the Briarhoppers. The name comes from WBT announcer Bill Bivens who, during a hunting trip with Crutch, was startled by a rabbit jumping out of a thicket, and Bill yelled, "Look at that briarhopper!" At that moment, Crutch found the name for his hillbilly band.

The original band members were Johnny McAllister, Big Bill Davis, Don White, Thorpe Westerfield, Clarence Etters, and Jane Bartlett. The last original 1934 Briarhopper, Don White, died in 2003. Billie Burton Daniel, who joined the group in 1936, is happy and well in Wilmington, NC. Since that time, The Briarhoppers' fans are/were Bill Monroe, Doc Watson, Earl Scruggs (who filled in on banjo a few times), Curly Seckler, Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, and many other entertainment stars.

In keeping with the tradition, the band kept going through the years by adding new musicians to those who left the station or who died. Today, Alana Flowers and Tom Warlick head the band with their stage show including the old Briarhopper songs, new songs, and the original scripted commercials of Peruna, Kolor-Bak, Zymole Trokeys, and Radio Girl Perfume! Enjoy this site and learn about the Briarhoppers' storied past and the bright future that is ahead. Don't turn that dial...Hit's Briarhopper Time!