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Curley Collins collection

Identifier: M190

Scope and Content of the Collection

The Curley Collins collection documents the musician's career with ephemera including news clippings, programs, and advertisements; photographs; periodical articles and book excerpts; correspondence; legal documents; and writings. The material dates 1928-1956, 1964-1969, 1975-2002, though all items in the collection are in photocopied form. The collection contains correspondence with music historian Wayne Daniel including a questionnaire Collins completed, as well as copies of several published pieces by Daniel that discuss Collins and the musicians with whom he worked.


  • Creation: 1928-1956, 1964-1969, 1975-2002


Restrictions on Access

Collection is open for research use.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

Georgia State University is the owner of the physical collection and makes reproductions available for research, subject to the copyright law of the United States and item condition. Georgia State University may or may not own the rights to materials in the collection. It is the researcher's responsibility to verify copyright ownership and obtain permission from the copyright holder before publication, reproduction, or display of the materials beyond what is reasonable under copyright law. Researchers may quote selections from the collection under the fair use provision of copyright law.

Biography of Curley Collins

Ruey Culbertson (Curley) Collins (1915-1986) played the fiddle, guitar, and banjo in country and western bands of the 1930s-1980s. Born near Catlettsburg in eastern Kentucky, Curley Collins was the son of Neal (Pop) Collins, well-known locally as a musician, and Maggie McKnight Collins. He learned to play the banjo from his father and joined the family band. At age 14, Collins joined a professional group called the Mountain Melody Boys, and later formed a second group, the Prairie Pals, with a brother and friends. The bands performed on radio stations in Huntington, West Virginia and Ashland, Kentucky. Popular bandleader Garner "Pop" Eckler invited the Prairie Pals to join his group, which he renamed Pop Eckler and His Young'uns. Eckler's Covington, Kentucky-based band appeared on WLW in Cincinnati, and, in 1936, relocated to Atlanta to become featured performers on WSB Radio's "Cross Roads Follies." Pop Eckler and His Young'uns received national exposure through the NBC network and performed variety shows throughout the Southeast, in which Curley Collins sang and danced as well as playing the guitar, banjo, and fiddle. In 1938, Collins won the National Fiddlers' Contest, held at Municipal Auditorium in Atlanta. Eckler and his band relocated to Wheeling, West Virginia in about 1942 and then broke up.

Following Army service during World War II, Collins joined Jack Gillette's Tennessee Ramblers, a group that included musicians with whom he had worked on WSB, among them singer/yodeler Benny Kissinger. The band performed on radio in Wheeling and Richmond, Virginia. After the Tennessee Ramblers split up in 1946, Collins and Kissinger formed a duo act. As "Benny and Curley" they were featured for years on the "Old Dominion Barn Dance" show on WRVA Radio (Richmond, Virginia), heard nationally on the CBS network. After "Barn Dance" went off the air in the mid-1950s, Collins worked full-time as a warehouse foreman, though he performed occasionally. After retiring from his non-music job in 1979, Collins renewed his career with Kissinger. Finding an appreciative regional audience for their old-time music, the pair appeared at "Old Dominion Barn Dance" reunions, festivals, and at "Lil' Ole Opry" shows in Hudgins, Virginia. In 1981, the duo recorded an album in Nashville. Collins also played fiddle with the band Shades of Country.

Collins received a number of honors, including being named a Kentucky Colonel (1983) and election to the Atlanta Country Music Hall of Fame (1984). Posthumously, he was elected to the Old Dominion Barn Dance Hall of Fame (1991) and received the Founders Award from the Atlanta Country Music Hall of Fame (2006). Curley Collins was married four times and had six children. He remained an active performer until he passed away in 1986.


0.25 Linear Feet (in 13 folders)

Language of Materials



Ruey Culbertson ("Curley") Collins (1915-1986) played the fiddle, guitar, and banjo in country and western bands of the 1930s-1980s, in his native Kentucky, Atlanta, Georgia, and Richmond, Virginia. The collection documents his career with ephemera including clippings, programs, and advertisements; photographs; periodical articles and book excerpts; correspondence; legal documents; and writings. The material dates 1928-1956, 1964-1969, 1975-2002, and is in photocopied form.

Off-Site Storage

Collection is stored offsite. Allow at least 2 working days for retrieval.

Acquisition Information

Donated by Phillip G. Collins, September 2003.

Related Archival Materials

Related Materials in Other Repositories

  1. Curley Collins Collection, 1928-2009 (ACC# 40983). Library of Virginia, Richmond.
  2. WRVA Radio Collection, 1925-2000 (ACC# 38210). Library of Virginia, Richmond
  3. Guide to the Curley Collins Collection, 1928-2002 (SAA 119). Special Collections and Archives, Berea College, Berea, Kentucky


Further information on Curley Collins can be found in:
  • Daniel, Wayne. Pickin' on Peachtree, (Chicago and Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1990).

Processing Information

Processed by William Hardesty at the file level, December 2007. With the exception of the first folder, Phillip G. Collins organized the collection and assigned folder titles.

Curley Collins:
A Guide to His Collection at Georgia State University Library
Georgia State University Library
19 December 2007
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Repository

100 Decatur St., S.E.
Atlanta, Georgia 30303
404-413-2881 (Fax)