Chick Stripling: The buck dancer stops here

Comedian, old-time fiddle and bass player, and dancer James “Chick” Stripling traveled in and out of Detroit, Michigan, with extended stays, from the late 1940s through the 1960s.

Detroit guitarist Fran Mitchell, who worked with Eveline Haire and her Swingtime Cowgirls when she first met Stripling in 1947 at the Masonic Temple, recalled his opening line to her: “There’s the girl I want to meet!” At the time, Stripling was working with Bill Monroe’s Bluegrass Boys. Mitchell claimed he was the funniest man she ever saw. [1]

For several weeks in 1950, Stripling worked with Jimmy and Whitey Franklin, Dimples Darlene, and Chuck Carroll as the Georgia Cotton Pickers at the Roosevelt Lounge on Mack Avenue. At the end of the engagement, the group moved to CKUA radio Edmonton, Alberta. [2]

Stripling returned to Detroit several times, sometimes on tour with well-known acts, sometimes working with Detroit-based groups and living in town. Casey Clark told local historian Don McCatty that he spotted Stripling sitting alone in a doorway along Michigan Avenue’s “Skid Row,” an area that existed between downtown and Corktown before the city demolished it in the early 1960s. When he recognized Stripling, Clark stopped his vehicle and picked him up. Clark purchased new clothes for Stripling, and hired him to appear in his shows. Stripling worked for Clark for a short while before heading south again. [3]

Here’s a video of 1960s television footage featuring the brilliance of Chick Stripling combined with the Stanley Brothers. Besides Bill Monroe, and the Stanley Brothers, Stripling worked with groups such as Jim and Jesse, Flatt and Scruggs, and Ernest Tubb. He died in Virginia, in 1970.

 

Notes

  1. Fran Mitchell interviewed by Keith Cady in 2003.
  2. Johnny Sippel “Folk Talent and Tunes” Billboard (June 9, 1951. Vol. 63, No. 23) 30.
  3. Don McCatty conversation with Craig Maki in 2013.

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