Their music comes from the heart — and the head.
Siblings Frankie Hayes, 86, and Deedee Love, 85, never learned how to read music. But, they have been playing and entertaining for about 75 years and still wow their audiences on a regular basis.
“Dad bought us our first instruments for $3,” said Frankie, who can fiddle with the best of them. “And we picked them up and just started playing.”
That was when the siblings were about 8 or 9 years old.
“When we were little, we lived by some bachelors,” said Deedee, who strums the guitar like it is second nature. “They played the fiddle, and one day Frank just started copying it. And I just picked up a guitar and started doing the same thing.
“We never took lessons. Neither one of us can read music. We play by ear.”
Deedee said her father traded a calf for her second guitar.
The duo regularly plays at Home Folks in Parkway Village when owners Spike and Janis Huff are open for business. It will reopen in the fall.
They also perform at weddings, funerals, senior centers, hospitals, picnics and just about anywhere else they can.
“We love it,” Deedee said. “We love music and we love playing it.”
Deedee resides in St. Clair. Frankie still lives in Richwoods.
Deedee’s daughter, Diane, said even though the siblings are well into their 80s, “They play now more than ever.”
“It’s really a big part of our lives,” Deedee said. “I wish we could play more.”
The pair performs “old-fashioned country music” and were inspired by the likes of the Carter family, Waylon Jennings, Roy Acuff, Hank Snow and other similar performers of that era.
“We used to listen to music on the radio, and we had an old Victrola,” Deedee said. “The Carter Family had a big influence on us.”
The Hayes children were born and raised on a farm near Richwoods. The two are the only ones still alive out of 11 and are the only two who took up music.
“It was a good life,” Deedee said.
Deedee is the youngest and Frankie is the second youngest.
Deedee did not go to high school. Instead, she babysat until she was 16 years old and went to work for the International Shoe Factory in St. Clair.
At age 18, she married Elmer Love, and the two were together 64 years. They had two children, four grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren.
Frankie graduated from Potosi High School in 1945 and also went to work at the shoe factory. He said he had about 11 jobs during his life, the last being at the Richwoods post office, where he retired in 1989.
Frankie was married to Verna for 58 years. They had six children, 18 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren.
Coincidently, Deedee and Frankie lost their spouses in the same week in 2011.
Those deaths led to their getting together and playing their music more often.
“We played together off and on through the years,” Deedee said. “Being able to play together was a godsend when I lost my husband. We’ve been playing a lot together ever since.”
Frankie either plays his music alone or with his sister. Deedee, however, has another three-woman band she plays with as well as with other groups in other cities. She has performed in Union, Sullivan, Owensville, Richwoods, Potosi and Cuba.
“I’ll play wherever there’s a jam,” she said.
She started playing at Home Folks when it opened about eight years ago.
“I guess you could say I’m in the house band there,” she said with a smile.
Currently, Deedee said she performs about a dozen times a month. Frankie said his schedule calls for about five performances a month.
When asked if they ever had any aspirations to play on a big stage like the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Deedee said, “I’m always content just to play.”
“I would have liked to play there,” Frankie said.
Both siblings hope they still have some good music days ahead of them.
“I’ll play until I drop dead, I guess,” Deedee said.
“I have no intentions of slowing down,” Frankie said.