Friends and Admirers of Ken Carson
Ken Carson was a cheerful, charming, humorous, respectful, humble, energetic, and beloved man. Though he is little known in this modern age, there are still those who remember him with affection and fond memories. Some have been kind enough to write their stories and thoughts down for us to share here.
If you have something to share about Ken Carson or his career buddies, email me and I’ll be happy to add it to the page!
I have been a Sons of the Pioneers fan since 1956. I saw them only once in September, 1958, at Madison Square Garden when they were there with Roy Rogers.
It was always a fantasy of mine to meet them personally. I didn’t meet them then but I was given a second chance about 20 years later. Thanks to Barton Clark and his newsletter I found out that Ken Carson lived in New Rochelle.
I have written about that special day when I met him in my earlier Reflections piece. It was such a thrill to spend a Fall afternoon with Gretchen and him! Laurence Zwisohn’s description of him is absolutely true. I treasured our friendship over the next 15 years.
I have always been a great admirer of the wartime trio of Ken, Bob and Tim. Ken’s beautiful high tenor was as good a replacement for Lloyd as one could ever hope for. And his solos, especially on those beautiful Teleways transcriptions made after WW2, are unforgettable. You can’t be a Sons of the Pioneers fan without having heard his gorgeous versions of “Song of the San Joaquin” or “The Yellow Rose of Texas“, among others. And then there’s the whistling that he introduced into the Pioneer sound. Ranger Doug in his great book “Singing in the Saddle” talks about Melody Time offering us a “defining moment” in the history of the singing cowboy. In that glorious piece Roy and the Pioneers do, “Blue Shadows on the Trail,” in the context of lovely desert imagery, both real and imagined. In the long middle portion of the song Ken does some of his most exquisite whistling overlayed upon the melody. His whistling may be heard on many other songs of the period, including his own “New Moon Over Nevada“. The classic Sons of the Pioneers recordings of 1946-7 were enhanced by having both Lloyd and Ken joining Bob and Tim on so many of them.
Ken and his music have greatly enriched my life. I will never say “no” to any opportunity to celebrate him as a person and as a western artist. I shall always cherish his generous friendship and I will be enjoying his voice until the end of my days.
Mary Moody Garrison
Every nice thing you could say about Kennie is bound to be true. I knew him when I was a teenager and sent a “sort of” fan letter when I recognized that terrific voice from the Lustre Creme commercials (live) was the same one on a summer replacement radio show. He not only responded but he and his wife, Kitsy, became friends and they met me at the bus depot when I came to Hollywood on vacation as a graduation gift. Ken and Kitsy (who had two small children) treated me like family later introduced me on the Garry Moore Show where I landed a job working for the writing team. When the show moved to New York, Ken and my ex-boss shared an apartment until their families could relocate. (Before the families moved to New York, their son, Scott, had a crush on a schoolmate who was Gordon McRae’s daughter). Eventually, we lost touch but I never forgot Ken Carson the singer nor Kennie & Kitsy Carson, the lovely, warm and caring couple!