Classic Country: Legends of Country Music

By Charles K. Wolfe | Go to book overview

The Statler Brothers

One summer day shortly after the Civil War ended, two young men made their way up a dusty road toward a village called Singer’s Glen in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. Their names were Aldine Kieffer and Ephriam Ruebush, and they had met in a Union prisoner-of-war camp; both were lovers of music, and Kieffer’s grandfather had operated a songbook-printing company before the war. Now the two friends had in mind resurrecting the company, but as they got into the town and looked over the scene, they found the printing presses broken up, overgrown with weeds, the type jumbled and spilled. Determined, though, they set to work, cleaned up the print shop, picked up the spilled type, and were soon publishing new books of gospel songs.

These books used a system of shaped notes rather than the round ones generally used by northern and European publishers, and it quickly spread throughout the South. To help encourage it, the two friends decided to organize the Virginia Normal School, which began to dispatch singing teachers throughout the South. One of the pupils was a Tennessean named James D. Vaughan, who eventually started his own publishing company, and hit upon the idea of promoting his new songs by sending quartets of well-trained singers on the road to give free concerts in local churches. Within a generation, these male quartets were becoming more popular than the songs they were singing, and by the 1920s they had become synonymous with gospel singing itself.

In the early days of country music, many of the ideas of what consitituted good singing came from this gospel tradition. A lot of early singers got their training in harmony, meter, and tone from the old-time “singing schools” and early quartets. Opry pioneer Kirk McGee attended them as a child, as did the Delmore Brothers, Bill and Charlie Monroe, A.P. Carter, and others. Members of the old colorful string bands like the Red Fox Chasers, the Georgia Yellow Hammers, and Dr.

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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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