Classic Country: Legends of Country Music

By Charles K. Wolfe | Go to book overview

Don Gibson

In 1965, when Don Gibson was on Knoxville’s WNOX Tennessee Barn Dance, the venerable announcer and emcee Lowell Blanchard used to introduce him by saying, “Here’s the young man with the fine voice and fantastic phrasing. He came to the Barn Dance four years ago to see if he could find his niche in life. He’s still looking—and still singing. He adds the modern touch to our music here.”

Surrounding Gibson on the show were fiddlers, bluegrass banjo pickers, old-time duet singers, and mandolin pickers, and though it was the age of Jim Reeves and Eddy Arnold, Gibson was beginning to feel out of place with his smooth singing and sophisticated guitar playing.

“I was amazed that they even hired me,” Gibson recalls. “When I went in there, singing like I sing, smooth sound and everything, I thought, ‘I’ll never go over in there.’ And sure enough, when we tried playing out—playing schoolhouses and auditoriums and such, like the old-time and bluegrass groups did—nobody would ever show up.”

Don Gibson was twenty-three years old in 1955, and he had been in the music business for six years. During that time, he had always assumed that if he was going to make it, he would do it as a singer or, at worst, a rhythm guitar player.

“A lot of people at WNOX remembered Don best for his unusual rhythm guitar work,” recalls Archie Campbell. But in the summer of 1965 neither talent seemed to be doing much for the man. That was the summer that WNOX radio moved from its longtime location on Gay Street in downtown Knoxville out to the new digs at Willow Springs. The new place had a big empty basement with interesting acoustics.

“One day I had to do the noonday show, and after it was over I started walking down the steps and found myself humming a tune,” Gibson recalled. “About a year before I had written, sort of by accident, a song called ‘I’m Glad I Got to See You Again,’ and Hank Snow had picked it

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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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