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200 North Main St | Bloomington, Illinois | 309-827-0428

Collection Description

Joseph Harry Dowell (1940-2016) was born January 23, 1940 in Bloomington, Indiana.  Joe began writing songs at the age of thirteen and began writing in earnest when he was eighteen. In 1941 he moved with his family to Bloomington, Illinois, where his father Harry worked as a Boy Scouts executive.  Joe attended the University of Illinois in Champaign and received a degree in journalism.  While at the university, Joe was auditioned by the Wilburn Brothers in Nashville and through this introduction became a recording artist for Smash Records.  Joe’s recording of his song, “Wooden Heart” became Smash Records’ second major hit, topping the charts.  Joe’s relationship with Smash Records ended in the summer of 1963 and he began writing and performing image ballads (commercial jingles) for radio and television.  This career lasted for many years and Joe also continued to release recordings of his songs including inspirational music.  His final national single release was in 1966, a Vietnam war protest song titled, “If I Could Find Out What Is Wrong.”

The collection includes biographical information, discography, recollections of his sister, Susie Dowell Emery, CD of “Image Ballads”, jingles written for area businesses, collection of lyrics written by Joe for area businesses (no recordings available), publicity photos and flyers, DVD of Joe singing and talking, autographed photo, newspaper articles and advertisements.


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