Classic Country: Legends of Country Music

By Charles K. Wolfe | Go to book overview

The Georgia Yellow Hammers

By 1926, the success of the Skillet Lickers was proving to America’s record companies that the hard-driving north Georgia fiddle band sound could be a commercial commodity. All kinds of string bands paraded through the studios in the late 1920s, each seeking a piece of the Skillet Lickers’ action, and many bearing wild, extravagant names like Dr. Smith’s Champion Hoss Hair Pullers, Seven Foot Dilly and His Dill Pickles, and the West Virginia Snake Hunters. Many of these groups made a handful of records and then drifted back into obscurity. One that did not, though, was an outfit from Gordon County, Georgia, called the Georgia Yellow Hammers. Unlike many other bands, the Yellow Hammers generated a distinct style of music that was uniquely their own, and they recorded extensively and successfully.

To a casual observer, the Yellow Hammers might seem merely another imitation of the Skillet Lickers. After all, both bands were from north Georgia, and both were built around a preexisting fiddle-and-banjo team. Both presented images of hard-drinking, carefree rustics, and in both cases these images were the products of record company executives. Both recorded comedy skits, as well as vocal and fiddle tunes. Both contained musicians who wanted to transcend the narrow confines of the old-time string band. Both were in a sense studio groups, with personnel shifting from session to session, and both shared a common repertoire of north Georgia fiddle tunes. Yet there were some important difference too. The Yellow Hammers were based not in Atlanta, but in rural Gordon County, some sixty miles to the northwest. The Yellow Hammers stressed singing more than the Skillet Lickers (their records are full of fine quartet work), and boasted among their ranks two formally trained musicians who were adept at reading and composing all sorts of music. Yellow Hammers members were more ecumenical in their music, recording gospel quartets, sentimental songs, blues, pop, fiddle breakdowns, and even a couple of

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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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