Tom Warlick of WBT Briarhoppers suffers kidney failure

Here’s distressing news for fans of The Legendary Briarhoppers in Charlotte, NC. Bandleader Tom Warlick is on dialysis and awaiting a kidney transplant.

The band has been performing without interruption for 84 years, with new members coming in as others age out and retire. Originally associated with radio station WBT in Charlotte, they formed on an emergency basis when an advertiser contacted station manager Charles Crutchfield in 1934 to see if he had a hillbilly band who could help promote their products. The customer always being right, Crutch told him that he did, and set about forming one right away.

That first group consisted of Johnny McAllister, Big Bill Davis, Don White, Thorpe Westerfield, Clarence Etters, and Jane Bartlett. They became quite popular, owing to the strong WBT signal, which could be picked up in adjoining states and beyond.

WBT remains a broadcast leader in Charlotte, and the Briarhoppers maintain their status as a continually performing band all this time. The current group still plays the song recorded by the original band, and even performs the scripted commercials from the old days for Peruna, Kolor-Bak, Zymole Trokeys, and Radio Girl Perfume.

Warlick is actively seeking a kidney donor (Type O), and anyone who is interested in considering it is asked to contact Atrium Health at 704-355-6649.

The Briarhoppers are planning on returning to the recording studio for the first time in decades when Tom’s condition is stabilized.

Get well soon, Tom!

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.