Dale Potter

The National Fiddler Hall of Fame



Dale Potter

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Dale Potter (April 28, 1930 - March 13, 1996)

Dale Potter is known in the fiddling world as “Mr. Double Stop”. He was born on April 28th, 1930 on a farm in Puxico, Missouri. He grew up as a child prodigy playing the family mandolin at age 4 and mastering the guitar by the age of 6. His father John Potter was his teacher and first musical influence. When Dale was just 9 years old he had a dream that he could play the fiddle. He was actually playing the fiddle in his dream. Anxious, his father had Dale’s uncle put new strings on a fiddle then placed it in Dale’s hands. Dale’s determination and passion to master this instrument came willingly. He learned about ten hoedowns in only two weeks not just through his father’s teaching but by listening to Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys performing each day at noon on the KVOO radio station out of Tulsa, Oklahoma. Hearing the fiddle captured Dale’s attention that led him on a mission to master that beautiful sound of the fiddle harmony. Unaware of Bob Wills having more than one fiddler, Dale worked and soon created that harmony with his one fiddle using double stops. This was unheard of. Dale was so far ahead of his time. The popular western swing style included twin and triple fiddles. Dale remarkably captured that sound with double stops taking fiddling to a new level. His sophisticated fiddling won him many fiddling contests. At 16 years old Dale got special permission to leave school early to play from 3:30-4:00 on the KWOC radio station with Slim Dortch and The Ozark Jamboree. He stayed busy playing his fiddle locally. Soon he landed another radio job playing with Donald Howard and The Smiling Hillbillies on KLCN. Dale’s first appearance on the Grand Ole Opry was January 29, 1948 when he was just 18 years old. He played “Cattle Call” for the captive audience. This was the beginning of his many appearances on the Grand Ole Opry.

In 1949 Dale landed his first professional recording session. It was with the country artist Hank Williams. Some of the recordings were “Lost High Way”, “Wedding Bells” and “Mind Your Own Business”. With Dale’s intangible western swing fiddle technique in no time he was the most sought after recording session fiddler. Over the years he would record with some of the greats including Kitty Wells, Little Jimmy Dickens, Ray Price, Bill Monroe and Johnny Paycheck to name a few. Dale wrote the song “Fiddle Patch” when he was 23 years old. Later he would cut two single hit songs played on the radio across the nation. They were “Fiddle Patch” and “Fiddle Sticks Boogie”. In 1952 he cut an album with Chet Atkins and The Country All Stars. Then came the army. After basic training he was sent to Korea. When he returned he was taken back by the change in music that had occurred. Rock and Roll had taken over and fiddles were not included. Over the years Dale stayed busy playing in Las Vegas, Nevada with The Judy Lynn Show, Honolulu, Hawaii with a band he formed and Dallas, Texas with The Sons Of The West. Later in life Dale realized he had played his fiddle in every state except Alaska.

Dale Potter was a major influence of many great fiddlers like Bobby Hicks, Vassar Clements and Buddy Spicher. Dale was known for his gentle attitude and kind heart. He never hesitated to show a fiddler anything they wanted to learn and he readily shared new ideas. Dale Potter died March 13, 1996.

Dale Potter was inducted into The National Fiddler Hall of Fame in 2014.