Classic Country: Legends of Country Music

By Charles K. Wolfe | Go to book overview

Albert E. Brumley

In the years shortly before he died, in 1977, songwriter Albert E. Brumley took great pleasure in hosting his Hill and Hollow Folk Festival on the grounds of his publishing company in the hamlet of Powell, in southern Missouri. One day, the story goes, a group of locals were sitting with a group of visitors at a picnic table, exchanging small talk about the crops, the weather, and music. Finally one of the older men, dressed in khaki pants and baseball cap, muttered good-byes and wandered off. Talk continued for a while, and finally one of the visitors remarked, “You know, I came here hoping to meet Albert Brumley in person, but I haven’t seen a thing of him.” Another, more experienced visitor looked up and said, “Why, woman, that man who just left was Albert Brumley. He’s been sitting here talking to you for an hour!”

It is a typical Albert Brumley story. While many can easily recognize the legends of country singing, far fewer can recognize the great songwriters. And Brumley was certainly that; in the last decade of his life, he was honored about as much as any songwriter could be. He was in the first group of inductees to the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, and was an early member of the Gospel Music Hall of Fame. Festivals and singings were named in his honor, and his songs had been recorded by everybody from Elvis Presley to Ray Charles. Yet throughout all the hoopla, he remained an essentially modest man, with a gentle smile and mellow friendliness that made him look more like an accountant or a postmaster than the creator of classics like “I’ll Fly Away” and “Turn Your Radio On.”

He worked far from the glitter of Nashville or the bustle of New York’s Tin Pan Alley, choosing instead a beautiful little valley about seventy miles west of Springfield, Missouri, just a few miles from the Arkansas line. It was a place he could play checkers at the local gas station, or take an afternoon off to go fishing. It was this down-to-earth

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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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