The Singing Compton Brothers


By Martha DeClue
Published by the LEAD BELT NEWS, Flat River, St. Francois Co. MO, Wed. May 5, 1965.

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An agent now makes the bookings for stage appearances of the Compton Brothers of Alexandria, Va., who started their singing career as youngsters in the Missouri Lead Belt. Tom, eldest of the trio, composed the words and music of "Still Away" which the boys recently recorded on a Columbia label. On the other side of the record is their rendition of "Jailer Bring Me Water." The brothers, who all play guitar, are billed primarily as singers of Country and Western music.

It all started when the Comptons lived at Leadwood and 12 year old Tom got a guitar for Christmas. He learned to play by studying the instructions which came with the instrument. He mastered the chords readily and before long he and Bill, aged 11, worked out song routines which proved popular with local audiences. Harry first joined his brothers on stage when he was 7 -- and audiences loved the straight-faced little comic whose role was that of an act-crasher. As shown in the picture above, Tommy and Bill were nattily attired in western clothes, which their mother made for them, while Harry appeared barefooted, wearing a battered hat and ragged pants.

With repeated appearances around the county, the Compton Brothers' act steadily improved in quality and popularity. Their first opportunity to appear on television came in 1957 when they were asked to appear in St. Louis on a TV show Charlotte Peters put on for the benefit of victims of the Desloge area tornado. This was followed with appearances on the Russ David TV show and with Red Foley's Ozark Jubilee.

The two older boys graduated from high school in Desloge and at the age of 17 both enlisted in the army. Tom served most of his enlistment in Germany and Bill was in Korea. While in Germany, Tom organized a band of G.I.'s who often entertained overseas. He also learned to play drums and is now proficient in practically all types of band instruments. Tom, now almost 23, returned to this country with a beautiful German bride. They have two small boys, Mark and Brad.

Harry, who will be 18 in May, now lives with Tom and his family in Alexandria, Va., and is a high school senior. Bill, aged 21, also lives in Alexandria. The two older boys have employment as Volkswagen mechanics. They practice their stage routines faithfully and hope eventually to become full-time entertainers.

A big step in the direction of their goal was made when the Compton Brothers won a talent contest in the east last year. Their prize was an expense-paid trip to Nashville, Tenn. (home of Grand Ole' Opry) and the opportunity to cut a record for a big-time recording company.

The record has been ordered by the Marler Music Store in Flat River and it is hoped that it will soon be available locally. In the meantime, the platter of "Still Away" and "Jailer Bring Me Water" has been getting favorable attention from a number of radio disc jockeys. This is important, for the record spinners on radio have a tremendous influence on the success or failure of a performer's efforts.

A rather special person in Desloge has a copy of the boys' recording. She is their mother, Mrs. Doris Compton, who has always been a source of help and encouragement. She works as a psychiatric nurse assistant at the State Hospital in Farmington. Still at home are four other children who are also musically inclined. The only daughter, Barbara, is 15; and the boys ranging in age from 13 to 7 are Dick, John and Jimmy.

If the record clicks there is good reason to believe that the Compton Brothers will be put under contract for future recordings and road tours. This would represent fulfillment for the talented brothers, who, without any professional training, have worked long and hard to reach their goal.

Published by the LEAD BELT NEWS, Flat River, St. Francois County. MO,
Wed. May 5, 1965.

Thee following information on the Compton Brothers is borrowed
from the Century of Country website:


Group Info:  Tom Compton Bill Compton Harry Compton Other member: Dave Murray
Place of Birth:  Tom: Desloge, Missouri; Bill: Desloge, Missouri; Harry: Desloge, Missouri

Marital Status:  Tom: Liz Harry: Susan
Musical Syle:  Pop-Country
Talents:  Tom: Vocals, Lead Guitar Bill: Vocals, Guitar Harry: Vocals, 12-String Guitar, Drums Other member: Dave Murray: Bass Guitar

Recommend Record Albums:
"On Top of the Compton Brothers" (Dot)(1968)
"Haunted House / Charlie Brown" (Dot)(1970)
"Yellow River" (Dot)(1970).

These three brothers started as professionals when Tom was 12, Bill 11 and Harry 7. They entered a talent contest in Rangely, Colorado and won first prize. Colorado was just one of many homes for this young trio. Their father, a pipeline construction worker, traveled with the family in a house trailer to most of the western states and as far afield as Moose Jaw in Saskatchewan in Canada. Shortly after winning the contest, they moved back to Missouri and won some 100 first prizes in contests. Their reputation spread and soon they were booked on the prestigious Ozark Jubilee. However, as they got older, school and especially military service intervened. Tom and Bill both served in the Signals Corps, with Tom stationed in Germany and Bill stationed in Korea. They continued their music, playing NCO clubs. Tom was writing most of the songs at this stage and it was at this time that they met Dave Murray, who joined the brothers. In August 1964, they entered a five-state Country music talent contest that was held in Baltimore, Maryland. They won the first prize of $500.00 and a Columbia recording contract. They released only one single, Still Away, on Columbia the following March. The song had been co-written by Tom while stationed in Germany. The group decided early on to incorporate comedy and impressions in the act, with Harry, in a battered old hat with a bolt through it, as the group’s comedian. In October 1965, they signed for management with Omac, the Buck Owens/Jack McFadden organization. They became regulars on the WWVA Wheeling Jamboree. As their career got underway, they appeared with stars such as Owens and Roger Miller and did syndicated TV appearances with Jim & Jesse. In 1966, the group moved over to Dot and had their first chart entry at the end of that year with Pickin’ Up the Mail. It was over a year until they charted again, this time with Honey. Both of these entries were in the 60's, but it was not until 1969 that the group made a major mark with their reworking of the Gene Simmons’ Pop hit Haunted House, which reached the Top 15. They followed this with another cover, Charlie Brown. This novelty song had been a major Pop success for the Coasters over a decade earlier. The Comptons’ version reached the Top 20. Despite several more releases, the best they could manage between 1970 and 1975 were a pair of Top 50 singles, Yellow River and Claudette in 1972. Their final chart record was in 1975, when their ABC/Dot single Cat’s In The Cradle just scraped into the Top 100.