Clinch Mountain Echo

Donald Lee 'Chubby' Anthony

1935 - 1980


Chubby Anthony

Ralph described Chubby Anthony as: "...one of the best (fiddlers) and it's a shame he ain't better remembered. His 'Black Mountain Blues' was every bit as good as Leslie Keith's, and some will tell you it's better".[1]

Chubby was born on 20th Dec 1935 in Lincolnton, Nc. and was raised near Cherryville / Shelby, Nc. He started playing at about the age of 6 helped by his father, Woodrow Anthony, B.L. Lindsey and a fiddler called Roy Husky from Brison, Nc.[2]

In an interview with Don Rhodes in 'Bluegrass Unlimited' Chubby described his upbringing:-[3]

"I grew up near Cherryville, North Carolina (not far from the area where Earl Scruggs was raised), and I lived there until about 1951. It was more or less a cotton mill part of the world. I worked in a cotton mill for a year-and-a-half, but I wanted to play music for a living. My father, Woodrow Anthony, was a back porch picker. He played what I call a violin and had a habit of playing (that) I got from him. In the old days, a fiddler would tuck his instrument under his arm when he played, but a violinist tucked it under his chin. My dad called what he played a fiddle, though. He started teaching me the fiddle when I was five or six."

"My dad worked in the spinning room of the cotton mill as a doffer. That's a person who takes the empty bobbins off the frames and puts full ones on. My mother (Edith Anthony) worked in the winding room keeping the frames running. She wasn't a musician, but she just loved to hear music. She was the one who pushed me to practice when I didn't really want to practice. She'd tell me it was for my benefit. Generally, though she didn't have to hunt for me to get me to play. I would most often be out in the yard with a guitar or a fiddle."

"I learned early in life it was easier to get a job playing a fiddle than a guitar. Every time I started looking for a job. I found people wanted a fiddle player. My daddy had a band made up of people who lived in our area. Back then, we used to compete with other bands a lot, and we often won first prize. Many times that was $100, and in those days that was a lot of money."

"The first big thing I went to was an old-time fiddler's convention. I went to local fiddle contests at Morganton, Mooresville and Shelby, but I never went to Union Grove. At the age of 13, I won the North Carolina State Fiddling Championship. The award was presented to me by Jim Shumate, a fiddler who worked with Lester and Earl. That meant a lot because I used to listen to Bill Monroe on Saturday night over the Grand Ole Opry and to Lester and Earl weekdays over radio stations in Raleigh, North Carolina and Bristol, Virginia/Tennessee. I also listened to The Stanley Brothers over the Bristol station every day at 12:15."

Chubby Anthony

In 1953, sixteen year old Chubby was introduced to The Stanley Brothers by John Shuffler and Lester Woody.[4][5]

"I stayed with them three months until I realized I had to go back home and learn more. I knew breaks, but I didn't know how to do background music - fill in music when the singers take breaths. So I went back home and got a job sweeping the spinning room of the cotton mill. Naturally that got old. It wasn't what I wanted to do. I worked night times, slept part of the day and listened to all the records I could find."

Here the story gets a bit fuzzy, as according to Charlie Moore, Chubby worked in Cousin Wilbur (Westbrook)'s band on his daily lunchtime WLOS-TV show in Asheville, Nc. Wilbur, who was an early Blue Grass Boy, heard Charlie Moore jamming with his band and subsquently recruited him.[5]

According to Chubby however:- "Carter Stanley called me in 1955 and asked me if I was still fiddling and if I had practiced. He then asked me if I'd meet them in Danville, Virginia that night, which was about 360 miles away."

"I went to Danville, and they took me behind a building prior to the show to see what I know. As soon as they would call out a tune, we'd let it ride. When we got ready to leave after the show that night, Carter said, 'You're hired if you want the job.' They wanted me to go out on the road with them from that night on, but I told them I had to get some stuff back home."

"Carter said, 'As insurance you will be joing us, we'll take your fiddle.' So I went home, loaded my stuff and caught a bus to Bristol where they were doing the Fun 'N' Farm (sic) show over WYCB. It was there - the announcer for the show said it took too much to call me Donald Lee Anthony - that Carter said on the air 'We'll call you Chubby'. At the time I weighed about 215 pounds. I haven't weighed since 1961, because my weight never bothered me."

Chubby Anthony with The Stanley Brothers

Chubby's first recording to surface with The Stanley Brothers was in June 1956, and can also be heard on several live recordings between then and July 1957, as well as two sessions for Mercury on 16th July 1956 and 27th Feb 1957.

Chubby:- "I was with The Stanleys on and off for about 11 years. I'd take a vacation once in awhile and would later go back with them. Somebody would get their feelings hurt. Maybe I'd get my feelings hurt. With me, it's tension."

In late 1958 or early 1959, Chubby helped record five tracks for Mike Seeger's Mountain Music Bluegrass Style compilation LP. Around the same time, Chubby also cut at least one session with Ken Clark, with three tunes appearing on the Starday V/A - Fiddlin Country Style LP and another on 'V/A - Country Express'.

At the end of 1958, The Stanley Brothers had moved to Florida and started performing on the 'Suwannee River Jamboree' radio show. Carter, returned home over Christmas and had a chance meeting with Chubby. Paul Mullins, who was on fiddle at the time recalled: "Carter had come back home to see his family and ran into Chubby Anthony in Bristol. He was hungry and broke and didn't have a job, and Carter knew I could play the bass. I didn't want to play the bass, but I worked until January of '59".[6]

Further Stanley Brother sessions followed for King on 10th - 11th Feb 1959 and Starday circa March 1959 and July 1959, plus one for Blue Ridge sometime in the summer.[7] At the July 1959 session, The Stanley's recorded one of Chubby's songs, Highway Of Regret.

Live recordings in this period include eight tracks from the Newport Folk Festival from 12th July and several Radio show transcriptions that were later released as 'On Radio'.

At the next King sessions on 14-15th Sept. 1959, studio boss Syd Nathan refused to let the band use a fiddle, so Chubby found himself restricted to keeping time by taping on his fiddle.[8] The following month he married Daisy Pearl Allen on the 18th October 1959.[9]

By May 1960, Bill Napier and Chubby had left The Stanley Brothers, as Charlie Moore recalled:- "We had worked a date with the Stanley Brothers in Swainsboro, Georgia and Bill called me the next week and said he wanted to leave Ralph and Carter. How Far To Little Rock had just been released and it was the hottest thing going at the time. They (Stanley Brothers) had Bill Napier and Chubby Anthony with them then and we were carrying four or five members. But when Bill called me, I told him to come on up and we would work him in someway. When he got there he had Chubby Anthony with him too but we couldn't use both of them. Chubby went on to Boston and worked with the Lilly Brothers and Don Stover. This was around 1959 or 1960 I guess."[5]

As Chubby isn't present on the Lilly Brothers 1961 recordings for Folkways ('Folk Songs From The Southern Mountains'), he presumably must have moved on fairly quickly... He did rejoin The Stanley Brothers, playing on sessions for King on 20th July 1961 and 22nd Sept 1961, but is absent from a live recording in August.[10]

Chubby Anthony & Charlie Moore

Around 1965/66, after Moore & Napier took over a TV show in spartanburg from Don Reno, Chubby joined Charlie Moore and Bill Napier, and stayed with them until they split up c1967.[5] As far as I can tell, Chubby didn't get to record with Moore & Napier at the time, although there is a live recording from December 1966 at Zebelean's Lounge, Baltimore, Md. which included Chubby Anthony and Henry Dockery.[11]

When Moore & Napier split, it looks like Chubby dropped out of the music business. He'd settled in Willborn, Fl. in 1962 and gave up music until a friend, Johnny Norris of Lake City, Fl. encouraged him to start performing again.[2]

Chubby:- "I got disgruntled with it for awhile. There wasn't a lot of bookings, and I felt like things weren't going as they should. I was kind of at a standstill and wasn't getting anywhere. From 1969 through 1974, I was out of the business. I had a job driving a laundry truck."

By the mid seventies he'd moved to Gainesville, Fl. In 1974, some of his friends persuaded Chubby to start playing again at a jam at White Springs festival in Florida.

"I got it back in my blood, and I went to another Florida festival with a group. We won the second spot in the band contest, and I won the top fiddle spot. I decided right then to go back to music professionally."

Chubby Anthony

Between 1974 and 1978, Chubby led Tall Timber Bluegrass, who released one album The Best Of Bluegrass in 1976. In 1975 he also reunited with Charlie Moore to play on one cut from the Charlie Moore & Bill Napier - Collectors Edition LP, and in 1976 on Charlie Moore's Wheeling album.

Also in July 1976, Chubby got to record his splendid Fiddlin' Chubby Anthony album, which was eventually released in 1978, credited to 'Chubby Anthony with Big Timber Blue Grass'.

In November 1978, Chubby and Big Timber recorded Love And Life, which shows off Chubby's songwriting and lead guitar work. While professionally things were picking up for Chubby, his personal life was perhaps another story. Shortly after Love And Life was recorded, Chubby and his wife of 18 years were divorced on 1st Dec. 1978.

Shortly afterwards, Chubby married Linda Ann Miller on 12 Dec. 1978, but was divorced again by the 12th Oct 1979.

At the end of the seventies his health began to fail, and in 1979 was forced into taking kidney dialysis treatments with three days a week in hospital.[12] In June 1979 he was hospitalised due to kidney and eventual liver failure. He died on 5th February 1980, aged just 44.[13] He is buried in Cherryville, Gaston County, Nc.


Recordings featuring Chubby Anthony:

Stanley Brothers Sessions:

# Title/Session Label/Cat No Year Recorded
1
  • The Cry From The Cross
  • Who Will Call You Sweetheart
  • I'm Lost, I'll Never Find The Way
  • Let Me Walk, Lord By Your Side
  • A Lonesome Night
  • Carter Stanley - guitar, vocal
  • Ralph Stanley - banjo, vocal
  • Curley Lambert - mandolin, vocal
  • Chubby Anthony - fiddle
  • Ralph Mayo - fiddle
  • Doug Morris - bass
16th July 1956
(Nashville)
2
  • The Flood
  • Carter Stanley - guitar, vocal
  • Ralph Stanley - banjo, vocal
  • George Shuffler - mandolin
  • Chubby Anthony - fiddle, vocal
  • Red Malone - bass
27th Feb. 1957
(WCYB Radio Station, Bristol Va.)
3
  • Fling Ding
  • I'll Never Grow Tired Of You
  • Loving You Too Well
  • Carter Stanley - guitar, vocal
  • Ralph Stanley - banjo, vocal
  • Pee Wee Lambert - mandolin
  • Chubby Anthony - fiddle
  • George Shuffler - bass, vocal
27th Feb. 1957
(Nashville)
4
  • Old Daniel Prayed
  • He Said If I Be Lifted Up
  • This Wicked Path Of Sin
  • I'll Meet You In Church Sunday Morning
  • Are You Afraid To Die
  • The White Dove
  • How Can We Thank Him For What He Has Done
  • Mother's Footsteps Guide Me On
  • Carter Stanley - guitar, vocal
  • Ralph Stanley - banjo, vocal
  • Al Elliot - mandolin
  • Chubby Anthony - fiddle
  • George Shuffler - bass, vocal
10th Feb. 1959
(King Studio, Cincinnati, Oh.)
5
  • That Home Far Away
  • My Lord's Gonna Set Me Free
  • The Angel Of Death
  • Wings Of Angels
  • Suwannee River Hoedown
  • Carter Stanley - guitar, vocal
  • Ralph Stanley - banjo, vocal
  • Al Elliot - mandolin
  • Chubby Anthony - fiddle
  • George Shuffler - bass, vocal
11th Feb. 1959
(King Studio, Cincinnati, Oh.)
6
  • Choo Choo Comin'
  • Carolina Mountain Home
  • Trust Each Other
  • Beneath The Maple
  • Carter Stanley - guitar, vocal
  • Ralph Stanley - banjo, vocal
  • Bill Napier - mandolin
  • Chubby Anthony - fiddle
  • Al Elliot - bass
c. Mar. 1959
(WNER, Live Oak, Fl.)
7
  • Highway Of Regret
  • A Little At A Time
  • Another Night
  • Ridin' That Midnight Train
  • Carter Stanley - guitar, vocal
  • Ralph Stanley - banjo, vocal
  • Bill Napier - mandolin
  • Chubby Anthony - fiddle
  • Al Elliot - bass
c. Jul. 1959
(WNER, Live Oak, Fl.)
8
  • Meet Me Tonight
  • Nobody's Business
  • Carter Stanley - guitar, vocal
  • Ralph Stanley - banjo, vocal
  • Bill Napier - mandolin
  • Chubby Anthony - fiddle
  • Johnnie Bonds(?) - bass
Summer 1959
(WNER, Live Oak, Fl.)
9
  • There Is A Trap
  • I See Through You
  • Thy Burdens Are Greater Than Mine
  • Fast Express
  • Carter Stanley - guitar, vocal
  • Ralph Stanley - banjo, vocal
  • Al Eliott - mandolin
  • Chubby Anthony - fiddle
  • George Shuffler - lead guitar / bass
20th Jul 1961
(King Studio, Cincinnati, Oh.)
10
  • I'm Only Human
  • String, Eraser, And Blotter
  • Keep Them Cold, Icy Fingers Off Of Me
  • Still Trying To Get To Little Rock
  • Carter Stanley - guitar, vocal
  • Ralph Stanley - banjo, vocal
  • George Shuffler - lead guitar
  • Chubby Anthony - fiddle / bass
22nd Sept. 1961
(King Studio, Cincinnati, Oh.)
(4) Al Elliot plays guitar on How Can We Thank Him For What He Has Done.
NB: Sessions (1), (2) and (3) are on 'The Stanley Brothers - The Complete Mercury Recordings' 2xCD set (Mercury B0000534-02) 2003.
Sessions (4), (5), (6) and (7) are on 'The Stanley Brothers - The Early Starday King Years 1958-61' 4xCD set (King Starday KBSCD-7000) 2003.
Session (8) can be found on 'The Stanley Brothers - The Definitive Collection (1947-1966)' 3xCD set (Time Life M9303DIGI / B0007883-02) 2007 and 'The Stanley Brothers - 1953-58 & 1959' CD (Bear BCD-15681) 1993.
Sessions (9) and (10) are on 'The Stanley Brothers - The King Years 1961-65' 4xCD set (King Starday KG-0950-2) 2003.

Stanley Brothers Live Recordings:

# Title Label/Cat No Year
1
The Stanley Brothers - Legendary Stanley Brothers Recorded Live Vol. 1
(Rebel SLP 1487)
1970
2
The Stanley Brothers - Legendary Stanley Brothers Recorded Live Vol. 2
(Rebel SLP 1495)
1970
3
The Stanley Brothers - Together For The Last Time
(Joy 10329)
1971
4
The Stanley Brothers - Stanley Series, Vol. 2 No. 1
(Copper Creek CCSS-5505)
1984
5
The Stanley Brothers - On Radio Vol. 1
(County 780)
1984
6
The Stanley Brothers - On Radio Vol. 2
(County 781)
1984
7
The Stanley Brothers - Stanley Series, Vol. 2 No. 3
(Copper Creek CCSS-V2N3)
1986
8
The Stanley Brothers - On Radio
(Rebel CD-1115)
1991
9
The Stanley Brothers - Clinch Mountain Bluegrass
(Vanguard VCD-77018-2)
1994
10
The Stanley Brothers - Stanley Series, Vol. 4 No. 1
(Copper Creek CCCD-5513)
1996
11
The Stanley Brothers - Stanley Series, Vol. 3 No. 1
(Copper Creek CCSS-V3N1)
1996
12
The Stanley Brothers - Shadows Of The Past
(Copper Creek CCLP-0101)
1996
(1) includes Roving Gambler from Shipps Park, Morrisville, VA 8th July 1956 (also included on (7)) and Drifting Too Far From The Shore from an unknown venue.
(2) includes Are You Waiting Just For Me from Shipps Park, Morrisville, VA 8th July 1956 (also on (7)) and Rabbit In The Log from Shenandoah Valley Bowl, Edinburg,VA 3rd June 1956 (also on (4)).
(3) Includes two tracks (I Believe In You Darling and Meet Me By The Moonlight) from Shenandoah Valley Bowl, Edinburg,VA 3rd June 1956. Both tracks are also included in (4). Also includes four tracks (Rovin' Gambler, I Just Got Wise, Who'll Call You Sweetheart and Wait A Little Longer) from Shipps Park, Morrisville, VA 8th July 1956. All four are included in (7). (3) was later reissued with slightly different track order and better pressing quality (Rebel REB-1512) 1972.
(4) Shenandoah Valley Bowl, Edinburg,VA 3rd June 1956.
(5) and (6) Radio transcription discs from WNER Live Oak, Fl 1960. Most tracks feature Chubby Anthony.
(7) Shipps Park, Morrisville, VA 8th July 1956.
(8) CD reissue of (5) and (6).
(9) Includes eight tracks from the 1959 Newport folk festival with Chubby Anthony.
(10) New River Ranch, Rising Sun, MD 29th July 1956.
(11) Silver Creek Ranch, Paris, VA 5th Aug 1956.
(12) Lonesome Road Blues from Melody Ranch, Glen Burnie, Ma. 18th April 1957; Here Today And Gone Tomorrow and Thinking Of The Old Days Valley View Park, Hellam, Pa. 12th May 1957; I Hope You Have Learned and White House Blues New River Ranch, Rising Sun, Ma. 1st June 1957; Just Another Broken Heart Melody Ranch, Glen Burnie, Ma. 11th July 1957.

Other Recordings:

# Title Label/Cat No Year
1
V/A - Mountain Music Bluegrass Style
(Folkways FA-2318)
1959
2
V/A - Fiddlin' Country Style
(Starday SLP-114)
1959
3
Charlie Moore & Bill Napier - Collectors Edition
(Old Homestead OHCS-121)
1975
4
Charlie Moore - Wheeling
(Old Homestead OHS-90075)
1976
5
Tall Timber Bluegrass - The Best Of Bluegrass
(Eagle EB-TT-BG-500)
1976
6
Chubby Anthony - Fiddlin' Chubby Anthony
(Old Homestead OHS-90085)
1978
7
Fiddlin' Chubby Anthony With Big Timber Bluegrass - Love And Life
(Old Homestead OHS-90121)
1979
8
Chubby Anthony & Big Timber - The Best Of Bluegrass: Big Timber Bluegrass
(Old Homestead OHS-90116)
1980
9
The Bluegrass Cardinals - Live & On Stage, With Special Guests
(CMH CMH-9023)
1980
10
Chubby Anthony's Last Tribute
(A&O Productions AO-900)
1982
11
Ken Clark & The Merry Mountain Boys - S/T
(BACM BACM-CD-D-523)
2016
(1) is a compilation with three tracks featuring Don Stover, Mitchell 'Bea' Lilly and Don 'Chubby' Anthony and one by Chubby Anthony and Don Stover. Later reissued on CD (Smithsonian Folkways CD-SF-40038) 1991.
(2) is a compilation which contains three tracks by Ken Clark with Don Anthony. The tracks are also included on (11).
(8) is a re-packaged reissue of (5)
(9) is a double album with four live tracks by Chubby Anthony and Big Timber.


Go To Top Of Page [1] Eddie Dean and Ralph Stanley's book 'Man Of Constant Sorrow' (p. 191)
[2] John Morris' liner notes to Chubby Anthony - 'Fiddlin Chubby Anthony.
[3] 'Making That Fiddle Sing! Chubby Anthony' interview by Don Rhodes, 'Bluegrass Unlimited' Feb. 1979 (p. 30-33)
[4] Mike Seeger's liner notes to Mountain Music Bluegrass Style
[5] Pete Kuykendall's interview with Charlie Moore in Jan. 1973 issue of 'Bluegrass Unlimited' (p. 5).
[2] Mike Seeger's liner notes to Mountain Music Bluegrass Style and Gary B Reid's book 'The Music Of The Stanley Brothers' (p. 58)
[6] Bluegrass Unlimited, Dec. 1975 'Paul Mullins: Musician, Disc Jockey And Bluegrass Influence' by Frank and Marty Godbey. (p.20-25)
[7] Gary B. Reid's liner notes to 'The Early Starday King Years 1958-61' 4xCD box set (Starday King KBSCD-7000) 2003 and Gary B. Reid's 'The Music Of The Stanley Brothers' book (p. 98-99)
[8] Gary B. Reid's liner notes to 'The Early Starday King Years 1958-61' 4xCD box set (Starday King KBSCD-7000) 2003.
[9] searches on www.ancestry.co.uk
[10] No fiddler is present on the live recording from New River Ranch, Rising Sun, Ma. 26th August 1961, released by Ralph as 'Ridin That Midnight Train' (Stanleytone ST-5002) 2001.
[11] See https://youtu.be/CYiBctm0j3s
[12] Obituary in 'Bluegrass Unlimited' Mar. 1980 (p. 7)
[13] Liner notes to 'Love And Life'.