RIP Kate Drye Mangum

The Briarhopper members give condolences to the family of Kate Drye Mangum, sister to WBT radio star and BHopper member Homer Drye (Homer A. Briarhopper) and who, in her own right, was a legendary NC musician.

From her obituary:

She was the daughter of Benton and Lunora Drye, mother of Saundra M. Little of New Salem and Larry Mangum of Jacksonville, Florida (wife Christy), and grandmother of Brad Little, Tess Mangum Ocana, Tyra Little Harmon, Jesse Mangum, and Caitlin Mangum. She also was blessed with two great-grandchildren:  Yago and Nicolas Ocana.

Mrs. Mangum was born on the banks of Richardson Creek, near New Salem, in 1926, and lived within a quarter mile of her birthplace until the day of her death.  She and her 7 brothers and sisters were all taught by their father to play stringed instruments, and at age 9, she and her older siblings were offered an opportunity to join a traveling road show.  At their father's request, they chose to come back home and remain loyal to their land and family, although her brother Homer became a founding member of the well-known band called the "Briarhoppers," a rendition of which survives to this very day.

Her love of music lives on through the many students she taught, including her son Larry, her grandson Brad, and country music star Randy Travis.

To her son Larry Briarhopper and his family, we are sad for your loss;  Homer must be a happy soul right now.

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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!