Legendary WBT Briarhopper and Tennessee Rambler Dies

We just learned of Martin Schopp's death on November 20, 2009, in Chenoa, Illinois. He was 90.
As Tex Martin, he was a member of the WBT Briarhoppers and the Tennessee Ramblers in the late 1930s until WWII. After the war, Tex came back to become "Marty Roberts," a popular radio DJ in the Illinois area. During the rockabilly music craze, he and his group, The Night Riders, recorded the hit, "Baby, Baby, Baby." Tex continued to perform in his hometown of Chenoa up until his death.

Martin was interviewed for the WBT Briarhopper book and we appreciate the information he shared. Thankfully, we still have from the radio show Billie Burton Daniel (in the group from 1936-1941), Eleanor Fields (1942-1943), Newell Hathcock (1941), and Whitey Grant (1942-2009) to share all of those memories from radio's Golden Age.

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!