Guitarist and singer Roy “Whitey” Grant died on September 17 in Charlotte, North Carolina, at the age of 94. A native of Shelby and Rutherfordton, North Carolina, Grant was a member of the WBT Briarhoppers, and half of the duet Whitey and Hogan. Grant and Arval Hogan began playing together when they were both mill hands in Gastonia. They became known regionally through church and school performances in the Carolinas and Georgia, and radio appearances from Spartanburg, South Carolina, and Gastonia, North Carolina. In 1939 they recorded 16 songs for Decca. In 1941 Whitey and Hogan joined WBT in Charlotte, the radio home that would make them famous, as members of the Briarhoppers.
The Briarhoppers could be heard on the airwaves up and down the entire East Coast, and during World War II CBS broadcast their show to the American forces serving around the world. In a 1991 interview with the Charlotte Observer, Grant said, “In those days and in this part of the country, we were as popular as the Beatles. We’d get 12,000 cards and letters a week—some just addressed to Whitey and Hogan.
The Briarhoppers show ended in 1951, but Whitey and Hogan stayed together, both as next-door neighbors, and working together at a post office in Charlotte. The retired Briarhoppers regrouped in the early 1970s, and began touring again, both regionally and abroad. Grant, Hogan, and bandmate Don White were recipients of the 2003 North Carolina Heritage Award, presented by the North Carolina Arts Council. When Arval Hogan died later that year, Whitey Grant said, “He was closer than a brother. We sang with one voice.” Whitey and Hogan were recognized by the Country Music Foundation as the longest-running country duet, having performed together for 66 years