PRE-INK SPOTS GROUPS - THE FOUR RIFF BROTHERS

 
 
 

MEMBERS:

Ivory "Deek" Watson

Orville "Hoppy" Jones

Miff Campbell

Oliver "Slim" Green

When Leonard Reed left the Three Peanut Boys, Deek Watson was recruited to replace him. At this time Slim Green was also added and the act became the Four Riff Brothers. It is not known when this change took place. What we do know is that the Three Peanut Boys performed on WFBE (Cincinnati) in May of 1931 and the first perfomance of the Four Riff Brothers that we have found is for a "Special Midnite Ramble" on New Year's Eve of 1932 at the Taylor theatre in Indianapolis. Interestingly, Slim Green is billed as a separate singing and dancing act for this show so he did double duty. They also appeared at a :Charity Ball and Bazaar" at the Walker Casino on the 12th and 13th of January/32 under the heading, "Your Favorite Radio Stars" so they prsumably were doing radio broadcasts at this time.

Nothing else has been found concerning their vaudeville activities. An article in the Pittsburgh Courier dated 1Apr/33 by Eileen Eckstein states, "Although their first opportunity on radio’s "big time" came little more than six weeks ago following a successful audition at WLW, the Riff Brothers are well known to theatre and night club patrons throughout the mid-west. Thus, there must have been many other vaudeville performances.


The Four Riff Brothers - Miff Campbell, Deek Watson, Hoppy Jones and Slim Green. Hoppy is using a tenor guitar as a bass and had a cut-off cane to support it!

We have found listings for over 60 radio shows from 9Feb/33 through 8Sep/33 on WLW(Cincinnati) and there are likely more. In addition, they appeared on other radio shows including The Rhythm Club and Plantation Days. The Rhythm Club was a 1/2 hour show on WLW and one fascinating short note includes the following:

THIS RHYTHM CLUB program of WLW is acclaimed in letter and editorial alike as being the most original and thoroughly entertaining half hour on the air. Thousands of listeneres have succumbed to its infestious gaiety and thousands follow the hilarious goings on of Brother Bones Hoppy, the undertaker who has given up his calling to devote himself to the "whimsicalities of Swish;" Elder Rippey, the Riff, and elder Johnson who sometimes builds small fires in the wrap-room.

THE RHYTHM Club was originated at WLW by Frank Williams, the script writer and is directed by Harry Holcombe, who also plays the part of the preacher. It features the famous Riff Brothers, who are becoming the foremost exponents of blistering blues; Slim Green, an elegant Harlem dandy, who does those inconceivable things to ordinary songs and the Charioteers, a quartet who make those spirituals things of real beauty."
[Pittsburgh Courier, 29Apr/33]

Tthe Riff Brothers may have been integral cast members for these skits. They also appeared in at least one Plantation Days show on WLW on 12Jun/33.

[Indianapolis Recorder, 31Dec/32, p. 2]

Revised 22May/02