When I was growing up, there was no one who could make my father laugh like Jerry Clower. The Mouth Of Mississippi hollered his way to the top and was always very proud of being “made in Mississippi”, Yazoo and Liberty, Mississippi to be specific.
Howard Gerald “Jerry” Clower (September 28, 1926 – August 24, 1998) was a popular country comedian best known for his stories of the rural South and nicknamed “The Mouth of Mississippi”.
Clower was born in Liberty, Mississippi, and began a 2-year stint in the Navy immediately after graduating from high school in 1944. Upon his discharge, in 1946, he was a Radioman Third Class (RMN3) and had earned the American Campaign Medal, the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal (with two bronze service stars), and the World War II Victory Medal.
He studied agriculture at Mississippi State University, where he played college football and was a member of Phi Kappa Tau Fraternity. After finishing school, in 1951, Clower worked as a county agent and later as a seed salesman. He became a fertilizer salesman for Mississippi Chemical in 1954.
By this time, he had developed a reputation for telling funny stories to boost his sales. Tapes of Clower’s speaking engagements wound up in the hands of Edwin “Big Ed” Wilkes and Bud Andrews in Lubbock, Texas, who had him make a better quality recording which they promoted. MCA Records later awarded “The Coon Hunt” a platinum album for sales in excess of $1 million at the retail level.
At first, Clower took orders at his speaking engagements, selling 8000 copies on the Lemon record label. In time, Wilkes sent a copy to Grant Turner at WSM radio in Nashville, and when Turner played it on the air, Clower said “that thing busted loose”. MCA was soon knocking on Clower’s door offering him a contract. Once MCA began distribution in 1971, Jerry Clower from Yazoo City, Mississippi Talkin’ retailed more than a million dollars over ten months and stayed in the Top 20 on the country charts for 30 weeks.
Clower made 27 full-length recordings in his 27-year career as a professional entertainer (not counting “best of” compilations). With one exception, all the recordings were released by MCA. The exception was Ain’t God Good which Clower recorded with MCA’s blessing at a worship service. Word Records promoted and distributed this title in 1977. Always a staunch Christian, this recording gave Clower an opportunity to present his personal testimony in a comfortable church setting. His stories often featured the Ledbetters, a quintessential Southern, agrarian clan.
To celebrate his 20th Anniversary, Jerry filmed a performance Nashville in front of a large audience where he told some of his best stories, explained how he got into show business and told of his deeply committed relationship with Christ. Enjoy![youtube]http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLMIedTeuBjku6eifzaY1d7K5yndSnx04f[/youtube]