Cliffie Stone was an eclectic producer, performer and Pygmalion who gave the world such stars as Tennessee Ernie Ford and earned the nickname "Mr. Country Music."
His "Hometown Jamboree" country variety program, broadcast from the Huntington Hotel in Pasadena, introduced or widely promoted the careers of such country legends as Ford, Johnny Cash, Tex Ritter, Eddie Arnold and Merle Travis.
Stone produced more than 14,000 television and radio shows, including NBC's "The Tennessee Ernie Ford Show." But he wore many other country hats as well — bass player, singer, bandleader, comedian, radio disc jockey, songwriter, music publisher, manager for Ford and others, recording artist and executive, even author.
He worked as a bassist in the big bands of Anson Weeks and Freddie Slack, worked at the Pasadena Community Playhouse and did comedy sketches for Ken Murray's Hollywood Blackouts.
Gravitating to radio, he worked as a deejay, emcee and performer on KFUD's "Covered Wagon Jubilee" and KFWB's "Lucky Stars." He also had his own band and was a comedian for 18 years on the CBS radio show "Hollywood Barn Dance."
Stone is largely credited with popularizing country music in California after World War II, primarily through his show. It began on radio station KXLA in Pasadena as "Dinner Bell Roundup" and changed its name to "Hometown Jamboree" in 1944. The show was on KTLA Channel 5 television from 1949 to 1960.
Stone first won major prominence in 1946, when three songs he cowrote reached the top five on country and western charts — "No Vacancy" with Travis, "New Steel Guitar Rag" with Bill Boyd and the Cowboy Ramblers, and three versions of "Divorce Me C.O.D." with Travis, the King Sisters and Johnny Bond.
Stone had his own hit recordings over the years, fronting his band, playing bass and singing on songs such as "Silver Stars," "Purple Sage," "Peepin' Through the Keyhole," "When My Blue Moon Turns to Gold Again" and "Little Pink Mack."