Classic Country: Legends of Country Music

By Charles K. Wolfe | Go to book overview

Seven Foot Dilly

In the years I have been studying, researching, and writing about old-time music, the name of John Dilleshaw has remained a tantalizing and elusive mystery. An inquiry about Dilleshaw—or Dilly and His Dill Pickles, as the record labels read—became a standard coda to any interview I did with any older southeastern musician, and the inquiry usually drew a blank. Who was this tall, laconic guitar player who propelled such excellent, driving string band music, and talked his way through a couple of solo performances besides?

There were abundant clues: His records are full of place-names like Bald Mountain, the Dog River, Bibb County, and Kennesaw Mountain, and the names of his supporting musicians appear on several of the skits the band recorded. Yet in spite of the clues, people digging after him kept drawing blanks. Repeated research forays into north Georgia unearthed a good many other musicians, and some of these had heard of Dilleshaw, but none really knew much about him. I had started hoping for the same fate that befell Donald Nelson in his hunt for the Allen Brothers: that the word would spread, and some morning I would get a phone call from a deep-voiced man who would identify himself as John Dilleshaw and invite me to his farm down on the Dog River for some barbecue and talk about old times.

Alas, this scenario never developed, but what did happen, while not as dramatic, is about as interesting, and it does give us at least a rudimentary portrait of one of the last big mystery figures of old-time string band music.

Dilleshaw has not been a complete mystery; over the years several researchers have gotten scraps of information about him. Back in 1963 Bob Pinson, stopping over in Atlanta, contacted Raymond W. Lindsey, the “Shorty” Lindsey of the Dilleshaw records, who played tenor banjo. In an informal conversation Bob learned that Shorty’s father was “Pink”

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Classic Country: Legends of Country Music
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Introduction vii
  • Part I - From the Hall of Fame 1
  • The Carter Family 2
  • Roy Acuff 19
  • Lefty Frizzell 27
  • Grandpa Jones 33
  • Pee Wee King 38
  • Bill Monroe 44
  • Hank Snow 50
  • Kitty Wells 56
  • Part II - From the Victrola 63
  • Fiddlin’ John Carson 64
  • Vernon Dalhart 70
  • Riley Puckett 76
  • Charlie Poole 82
  • The Georgia Yellow Hammers 85
  • Darby and Tarlton 89
  • Part III - From the Airwaves 93
  • Lew Childre 94
  • The Blue Sky Boys 97
  • Brown’s Ferry Four 103
  • Cousin Emmy 106
  • The Monroe Brothers 109
  • Wayne Raney 114
  • Karl and Harty 117
  • Bradley Kincaid 125
  • Part IV - From the Shadows: Unsung Heroes 129
  • Tommy Magness 130
  • Arthur Q. Smith 143
  • Zeke and Zeb Turner 146
  • Johnny Barfield 152
  • The Rouse Brothers 155
  • Seven Foot Dilly 165
  • The Jordanaires 175
  • Deford Bailey 178
  • Emmett Miller 182
  • Tommy Jackson 185
  • Jimmie Riddle 188
  • Part V - From the Stage: Classic Country 193
  • Curly Fox and Texas Ruby 194
  • The Delmore Brothers 197
  • Don Gibson 203
  • The Louvin Brothers 215
  • The Statler Brothers 221
  • Martha Carson 236
  • The Carlisles 239
  • Albert E. Brumley 243
  • Stringbean 247
  • Part VI - From the West 257
  • Girls of the Golden West 258
  • Billie Maxwell 261
  • Red River Dave 265
  • Skeets Mcdonald 268
  • Part VII - New Fogies 273
  • Hazel and Alice 274
  • Doc Watson 279
  • Roy Harper 285
  • The Freight Hoppers 294
  • Acknowledgments 300
  • Index 301
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