Born in Frenchburg in eastern Kentucky, Delbert Barker came to Middletown in 1943. He appeared in amateur contests and by 1951 was appearing on WCPO-TV on a noon- time show, which also included the Davis Sisters. Because of this TV exposure, Carl Burkhardt hired him to record cover or soundalike records on his Rite Record labels which included Kentucky, Gateway, Big 4, Big 6, and others. He recorded under various names, covering the hits of the day by Carl Smith, Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, and other artists. Collectors from overseas became fascinated with his prolific output and dubbed him “King of the Covers.” After his days with Rite, he made one record for a New York City label, Garnett Folk Records, in1954. In 1956, he signed with King Records in Cincinnati and had four records released which were mainstream country rather than covers. One of these became a darling of rockabilly collectors and, at one time, was commanding big money. In 1958, he worked for Shorty and Smokey Warren in New Jersey. In 1959, he came back to Middletown and, in 1960, he left the music business and went into law enforcement in Middletown, rising to the rank of lieutenant in charge of detectives. He continued to play music in his spare time, singing and playing both guitar and steel guitar. He wrote a song, “You Almost Slipped My Mind”, originally recorded by Kenny Price but later picked up by Charley Pride, who took it to #1 on the country charts. After his retirement from the police department, he became a partner in Central Recording Studio in Middletown and started the Central record label which issued custom records by local country, bluegrass, and gospel artists. In the mid 2000s, he was performing on the Midwest Opry in New Paris. Later, he was making guest appearances at various small opry-type shows in the local area.

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