Classic Country: Legends of Country Music

By Charles K. Wolfe | Go to book overview

Bill Monroe

It was a cold February day in 1950, and at two o’clock that afternoon Grand Ole Opry star Bill Monroe was driving down to the Tulane Hotel, on Church Street in downtown Nashville. He was on his way to the Castle studios, a remodeled dining room in the hotel that had become Nashville’s first real recording studio; there he would meet Paul Cohen, the A&R man for his new record label, Decca. In fact, Monroe’s very first session for Decca was set for 2:30 that afternoon, with a second three-hour session scheduled for 7:30 that night. Monroe had seven songs ready, but even then he knew it would be a long day: He had a new, young band, most of whom had never recorded before, and a new producer to break in as well. And to top it all off, Monroe was in a crisis of sorts in his own career: Though his distinctive music was starting to take off, it was also threatening to get away from him, as young bands around the South began copying the “high lonesome sound.” His new bosses at Decca seemed nervous about Monroe tying himself too much to this sound, and had been making noises about a more mainstream country style.

On that day Monroe was thirty-nine years old, and had been recording for some fourteen years—first with his brother Charlie on the old Bluebird label before World War II, then with his own bands for Bluebird, and, since 1945, for Columbia. Both labels had brought him major successes: “What Would You Give in Exchange for Your Soul?” with his brother on Bluebird; “Orange Blossom Special” and “In the Pines” with his prewar band for Bluebird; and “Kentucky Waltz,” “Footprints in the Snow” and “Little Community Church” for Columbia. Since September 1946 his recordings had included the singing and guitar of Lester Flatt and the revolutionary banjo sounds of Earl Scruggs. He had won national fame in the early 1940s by landing himself and his Blue Grass Boys a spot on the NBC network portion of the Grand Ole Opry, and the incredible popularity and influence of band members

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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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