Snake River Outlaws: No 'Imitation' In the early 1950s, the Snake River Outlaws' members played popular songs of the day, and some of their own, to crowds in Missoula, Mont. Forgotten recordings of the band have recently resurfaced, giving listeners a glimpse at those unsettled days.

Snake River Outlaws: No 'Imitation'

Snake River Outlaws: No 'Imitation'

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Imitation Love

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Old recordings of the Snake River Outlaws have recently resurfaced. Courtesy of the artist hide caption

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They were young folks coming out of WWII and Korea. They were sick and tired of sacrifice, and just wanted prosperity and a little bit of fun. All the jukeboxes and radios in the world were no substitute for live music; they wanted their favorite hits performed right in front of them.

The Snake River Outlaws played those hits. Lead singer Orval Fochtman kept track of who was popular on the jukeboxes: singers like Hank Snow, Ferlin Husky and Hank Williams Sr. By the end of their career, the Outlaws ended up with around 200 covers, but they also played some originals. Scott Wilburn, son of bass player Harold Wilburn, recently reminisced about how the song "Imitation Love" came about.

"In the era they were living in, they were watching all these things come out," he says. "That's when margarine was coming out, so they wanted to write a song about imitation love. I think my father had his heart broken. He'd been hoodwinked by this girl, and she had imitated her love for him."

Fochtman bought a tape recorder and started recording the band's weekly half-hour show in Missoula, Mont. They wanted to listen back to their performances and refine them. He bought only a couple of tapes, though, and would record over all the old shows, so only six survive today. Some long-forgotten recordings of the band have resurfaced recently, though, giving listeners a rare whiff of those unsettled days.

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