Harold Leake, Callaway County Radio Fiddler (1923-2014)

Harold LeakeBy Howard Marshall

Harold Leake, the long-time fiddler with Ron Lutz and the Rooster Creek Show on Fulton’s KFAL radio (900 AM), died June 3, 2014 at the age of 90.

Mr. Leake was born near Perry, Missouri, in 1923. After service in the Army during World War II, Harold became a lifelong livestock raiser and family farmer in the Millersburg community in Callaway County (just west of Fulton). He loved farming, long walks in the woods, old tractors, and talking about cattle.

Harold played violin in various dance bands and ensembles as well as becoming the house fiddler with The Rooster Creek Boys, replacing Seth Bradley in that crucial role. Although he was a modest, rather shy, and reticent gentleman, Leake was a fine entertainer on the air and a key member of The Rooster Creek Boys. While saying very little on the air, once the microphones were turned off he could tell many a good and long story.

His performance style was an older style of dance fiddling in Missouri, and he​ preferred straight, rhythmic playing that emphasized a clear melody and tasteful backup for singers and featured instrumental soloists. Over the years, Harold took numerous country and bluegrass tunes into his repertoire as a member of the popular radio show and dance band, but remained enthusiastic about keeping the old favorite breakdowns and moody waltzes alive and well.

I had the pleasure of fiddling with Harold and the gang on a number of Rooster Creek Shows and I enjoyed swapping versions of old standard fiddle tunes such as his signature piece, “Chicken Reel,” with which he always kicked off the live radio show.

Among his many descendants in central Missouri are several musicians, who, we hope, will endeavor to remember and carry on Harold Leake’s great fiddling tradition.​