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Pee Wee Moultrie, 1922-2012, Hank William’s accordion player

February 9, 2012

I just learned that Hank Williams had an accordion player.

Cois “Pee Wee” Moultrie met Williams when they were both getting started, and played accordion for his original Drifting Cowboys in the late 1930s.  Later World War II took him away to be an Air Force mechanic.  A few recently uncovered recordings came out just before Moultrie died in January. 

Pee Wee Moultrie, older white man in a cowboy hat playing accordion at an outdoor stage

Here’s a nice little video from his local paper right before he died last month.

Until his death he played festivals and such with other members of Hank’s groups.

Quoting from an article by By Gerald Hodges at the Hank Williams Festival.

Pee Wee Moultrie, who [lived] near Ft. Walton Beach, Florida, was one of the earliest band members. His father bought him a guitar and it didn’t take him long to learn how to play it. After hearing Pee Wee King and the Golden West Cowboys on the Grand Ole Opry, he fell in love with the accordion.

“I was working with a small band in 1939 and we had gone to Montgomery to play on the radio (WCOA),” said Moultrie. “While we were in there I noticed a couple fellows watching me.

“It turned out they were Hank Williams and Hezzie Adair, and they were looking for a couple musicians.

“It wasn’t too long after that, the name was changed to Hank Williams and The Drifting Cowboys. Hezzie continued to play with us, but his name was dropped. I’m not sure, but I think he had another job, and it had something to do with that.

“We hardly survived. If it hadn’t been for Hank’s mother putting us up in her boarding house in Montgomery and feeding us, we couldn’t have made it. We didn’t make enough money to buy toothpaste.

“We played schools, churches, and theaters. I’ll bet we played every school in the state. We even played in cow pastures. Once, we played at Camp Kilby, the prison outside Montgomery.”

Here’s a promo vid for the Bear Family compilation (unfortunately I don’t think the vid mentions the two early recordings of Moultrie with Williams).

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