When JOE BABCOCK of Hee Haw originally made the move to Nashville several years ago to sing with MARTY ROBBINS and the GLASER BROTHERS, little did he dream that a long road awaited him that would culminate his singing with his own family, THE BABCOCKS. That long road started with Joe traveling with Marty, singing the gunfighter songs, playing in Marty's band and writing for him. Joe also sang with the Glaser Brothers, who had brought him to Nashville to take Chuck Glaser's place, who was being drafted into the army. Joe had been friends with the Glaser Brothers for several years due to the fact that they were from the same state of Nebraska. Joe was born and raised in the small town of North Loup, Nebraska and got to know the Glasers after seeing them at a local show. They became fast friends as they were about the only country pickers and singers in that area at that time. They kept in touch down through the years but lost track of each other as they all left home to pursue other things. Joe went to college at the University of Nebraska and Tom was drafted into the Army. After working his way through college for two years Joe became sick from the heavy schedule of working 35 hours a week in a restaurant and taking a full college course of 18 hours. As he could not carry that load he had to drop out of school and he was subsequently drafted into the US Army. This was at the time of the Korean War but Joe was lucky that the hostilities were ended before he was sent over for combat. After serving two years Joe went back to college and graduated with a BME. During the summers Joe went to various cities trying to break into music but was unsuccessful at each attempt. He tried Chicago but ended up working in a shoe factory to get enough money to get back to Nebraska. He also tried Los Angeles but starved out there also. After graduating Joe was working at his sister's ranch in Valley Co. Nebraska, trying to get his bearings when a cowboy preacher named Mynor Soper came out and won Joe to the Lord. Joe had been raised in a Christian home but had never really had a personal relationship with the Lord. It was at this time that Joe and the Glasers re-established their relationship. After a day of putting up hay, fencing, or any other of the myriad of chores and work around a Nebraska ranch Joe would many times hop into the old Ford and go over to the Glasers where they would play music far into the night. Then it was back to the ranch and up at 6a.m. for another day's work. At the end of the summer Joe decided to try his luck in Los Angeles one more time and enrolled at UCLA to pursue a degree in Theater Arts where he hoped to learn more about the business and possibly make some connections in the music business. After one year at UCLA though he decided to try to make it in music or die trying. In the ensuing 6 months Joe played a variety of jobs, many of them freebies and some paying, making just enough to stay alive. He played jobs such as 'super market openings' where he and his band played from the back of a flat bed truck for 3 hours. They made $5 apiece. At Christmas time of that year Joe was broke and living out of his car, bumming a room off of friends part of the time and drifting around the rest of the time. As he had become a Christian a year earlier and had quit some bad habits, especially that of drinking, which had become a problem in his life, he was very discouraged at his lack of success and finally prayed a simple prayer to the Lord. Essentially it was, 'Lord if you will help me to get into music I'll promise not to abuse it.' A week later a friend came running out to Joe from an old rooming house where they were staying for a while and said, 'Joe, you've got a call from Nashville, Tn.' He naturally took the call not having any idea who it was and heard the voice of Tompall Glaser. Tom said that Chuck Glaser was being drafted and that in searching for someone to take his place Joe's name just kept coming back to their minds. He said,'Joe, we know you're really doing great out there on the coast (he had traced Joe through his mother) but do you think you could come out here with us to sing for a couple of years. We auditioned for Marty Robbins when he came through Grand Island, he liked us and we're down here in Nashville singing with Marty on THE GRAND OLE OPRY and rubbing shoulders with all the big stars'. Naturally Joe accepted because he didn't have any job to quit. Actually all he had to do was go get in his car. However he had to sell his car in order to get enough money to get to Nashville and so came in a friends car. His name was Jacky Lee Cochran and he and Joe had played together some at a club called THE HORN, where they had played Friday and Saturday nights for all they could eat. Jacky Lee had a vintage cadilac that was built before the 2nd World War and they thought it would be better to arrive in a cadilac. So they took off, filling up with oil every time they filled up with gas and arrived in Nashville in a cloud of smoke. Joe had $60 when they arrived and Tom said they were playing the Friday Night Frolics and he had to have a suit. So they went down to Levi's in Nashville and got him a suit. It was $60. Broke again. However they started working the road with Marty and things started to look up. They didn't make a lot of money, as a matter of fact, Joe's income with Marty the first year totaled $2400. However, Marty started to cut some of Joe's songs and this was a big help. The first was a song called 'Prairie Fire' and was to be followed by many others. One cowboy song of Joe's that Marty cut was called 'Doggone Cowboy', and has been described by some as one of the all-time great cowboy songs. After Chuck came back from the Army Joe stayed and sang with Marty for 4 more years. During this time he sang with Marty on some famous cuts including 'The Return Of The Gunfighter, Devil Woman, El Paso City', and many others. However, with his marriage to his beautiful wife Carol and the birth of his little girl Lorrie, Joe tired of the long, hard, hours of the road and wanted to find a way to be home with his family more. A song that Joe wrote called 'I Washed My Hands in Muddy Water', was his ticket to get off the road and has since been cut by over 40 artists. It has sold several million records and is now considered to be one of the classic country songs. After quitting the road Joe started doing studio work with the Anita Kerr Singers and the famous Jordanaires quartet. Soon after, he co-founded The Nashville Edition and they quickly became a sought after vocal group. Joe eventually sang on more that l0,000 recorded songs which included scores of No.l hits such as ROSE GARDEN by Lynn Anderson, BEHIND CLOSED DOORS, by Charlie Rich, IF WE MAKE IT THROUGH DECEMBER, by Merle Haggard, KENTUCKY RAIN and SUSPICIOUS MINDS,by Elvis Presley, I WILL ALWAYS LOVE YOU, by Dolly Parton, and many others. Joe also wrote many songs that were cut by such artists as Elvis Presley, Dolly Parton, Porter Wagoner, Stonewall Jackson, Johnny Rivers, Marty Robbins, and Billy Walker. In l968 Joe joined the HEE HAW t.v. show and was an original cast member for 25 years doing the vocal backing with THE NASHVILLE EDITION, singing the lead vocal with the award winning HEE HAW GOSPEL QUARTET, and also doing the lead vocals with THE HEE HAW COWBOY QUARTET, a group created by Joe as a salute to the cowboy heroes he listened to while growing up in the hills of Nebraska. Joe also did a character part on the HEE HAW HONEYS t.v. series with KATHIE LEE GIFFORD, where he played the part of the 'SURVEY MAN'. But now back to THE BABCOCKS. Joe married a beautiful girl named Carol and as their five children grew up on their ranch south of Nashville, they being a musical family, started singing together. Lorrie, by now a stunning blonde, started singing with her dad on fair dates and church concerts when she was just 15 but it was when Carol added her mellow alto to the trio that they realized they had that magic blend usually attained only within a family group. Carol also has acting credits of her own, having appeared in COAL MINER'S DAUGHTER, THE HEE HAW HONEYS series, and the HEE HAW show itself with Joe and Lorrie. Carol was practically raised at the Grand Ole Opry where her mother was a country music fan and friend of some of the performers. Her early love for country and gospel music is evident in her singing and her commitment to the Lord. Lorrie, now the wife of Todd Hendrickson, is a songwriter in her own right and solos on many of the Babcock's songs. All the young people seem to flock to Lorrie for autographs and pictures after the show and after you've seen her you've seen her you'll understand why. However, Lorrie's unassuming attitude is a credit to her Christian commitment. Unaffected by the attention, she believes that the honor and glory belongs to the Lord. Now THE BABCOCKS are concentrating their efforts in the gospel field and their nationally released radio singles and albums are starting to get the attention they deserve. All three of their releases, 'HAVE YOU KNELT AT THE FOOT OF THE CROSS, BARNABAS, and TODAY I PRAYED FOR YOU', have hit the charts, the latter having stayed in the charts for 32 weeks. In l998 THE BABCOCKS were named the 'TRIO OF THE YEAR' by the Country Gospel Music Guild. In l999 they were nominated for several categories and Joe was elected into the Country Gospel Music Guild 'HALL OF FAME'. Their friendly manner and energetic performances make them favorites at churches, shows, fairs and gospel concerts all over the country. 'It is our hope', says Joe, 'that this will not only give us a chance to use the talent God has given us, but that we can, through music, sing the GOOD NEWS and touch many lives. Stay tuned for more of this talented group, as THE BABCOCKS continue to sing their way into the hearts of people everywhere.
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