Country Music Originals: The Legends and the Lost

Country Music Originals: The Legends and the Lost

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by Tony Russell
     
 

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Graced by more than 200 illustrations, many of them seldom seen and some never before published, this sparkling volume offers vivid portraits of the men and women who created country music, the artists whose lives and songs formed the rich tradition from which so many others have drawn inspiration. Included here are not only such major figures as Jimmie Rodgers,

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Overview

Graced by more than 200 illustrations, many of them seldom seen and some never before published, this sparkling volume offers vivid portraits of the men and women who created country music, the artists whose lives and songs formed the rich tradition from which so many others have drawn inspiration. Included here are not only such major figures as Jimmie Rodgers, The Carter Family, Fiddlin' John Carson, Charlie Poole, and Gene Autry, who put country music on America's cultural map, but many fascinating lesser-known figures as well, such as Carson Robison, Otto Gray, Chris Bouchillon, Emry Arthur and dozens more, many of whose stories are told here for the first time. To map some of the winding, untraveled roads that connect today's music to its ancestors, Tony Russell draws upon new research and rare source material, such as contemporary newspaper reports and magazine articles, internet genealogy sites, and his own interviews with the musicians or their families. The result is a lively mix of colorful tales and anecdotes, priceless contemporary accounts of performances, illuminating social and historical context, and well-grounded critical judgment. The illustrations include artist photographs, record labels, song sheets, newspaper clippings, cartoons, and magazine covers, recreating the look and feel of the entire culture of country music. Each essay includes as well a playlist of recommended and currently available recordings for each artist. Finally, the paperback edition now features an extensive index.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Published as a hardback on excellent quality paper and superbly illustrated, CMO is a treasure chest of info and images. For fans of country music this is an essential purchase."- CharlieGillett.com

"Tony Russell has been on of the most insightful and knowledgeable writers on pre-World-War-II country music for some forty years.... This is a wonderful addition to the country music bibliography, as well as just being a lot of fun to read."—Elijah Wald, Sing Out!

"Russell brings performers like Blind Alfred Reed to colorful life with a mixture of chatty, opinionated writing, interview extracts and contemporary reviews.... The perfect introduction to what is now truly another world."—Doulgas McPherson, Country Music People

"Tony Russell has been authoring history making contributions to our knowledge and understanding of American roots music since the 1970s. Country Music Originals delivers a substantial body of new biographical information—and a host of good stories—about many of the relative obscurities from the era of his Discography."—Barry Mazor, No Depression

"Country Music Originals combines Tony Russell's encyclopedic knowledge of country music with a lively and matchless prose style. Russell brings to life the work of both major artists and obscure figures whose important contributions might well have been lost were it not for his voluminous research and penetrating insights. It's a stunning achievement, perhaps the best book yet written on the subject."—Nolan Porterfield, author of Jimmie Rodgers: The Life and Times of America's Blue Yodeler

"This is quite unlike any other equivalent documentation of the genre that I have seen.... If you have any interest in the genre at all this is certainly an essential buy."—Keith Chandler, Musical Traditions

"Few people alive know as much about the early history of country music as Tony Russell does. Even fewer can write as engagingly about it. In these concise portraits of country music's pioneers, he brings America's musical past to life, revealing such dimly remembered figures as Uncle Jimmy Thompson and Charlie Poole as the living, breathing, creative, and complicated characters they once were. Thoroughly entertaining and indispensable for fans of early country and roots music."—Paul Kingsbury, editor of Will the Circle Be Unbroken: Country Music in America and The Encyclopedia of Country Music

"Russell has accomplished a spectacular feat in that he has written a thorough reference book that is as pleasing to read as the best of narrative nonfiction." IPublishers Weekly (Starred Review)

"Tony Russell is today's pre-eminent country music historian. His exhaustive research and congenially articulate writings have bequeathed much of what we know about the music and those who made it. Reading Country Music Originals has been lots of fun, and I know a lot more now than I did before I opened it."—Dick Spottswood

"Russell brings performers like Blind Alfred Reed to colorful life with a mixture of chatty, opinionated writing, interview extracts and contemporary reviews.... The perfect introduction to what is now truly another world."—Doulgas McPherson, Country Music People

Publishers Weekly

Long before Hank Williams, Johnny Cash or Willie Nelson, a passel of performers, mostly white men born in the South in the late 19th or early 20th centuries, loaded up old-time country music from its dirt road origins and hauled their songs into town in the new era of sound recording. They were an odd lot of farmers, mill workers, policemen, preachers, politicians, hell-raisers, cowboys and blind men, all dyed-in-the-wool characters who were the first to put what was initially called hillbilly music on vinyl. Take, for instance, A.C. "Eck" Robertson, born in 1887, who allegedly used a gourd with horse hair for strings as his first fiddle and went on to make what is believed to be the very first country music record in June 1922. Russell (Country Music Records: A Discography, 1921-1942) writes profiles of 110 such performers that sparkle with detail, often hilarious but just as often heartbreaking. A few of the performers covered-Jimmie Rodgers, the Carter Family, Gene Autry, Roy Acuff, Bob Wills and Ernest Tubb-were extremely popular and prosperous, but many more fell on hard times after the music stopped. Some succumbed to tragedy, such as Walter Coon, who effectively ended his music career when he cut off the tip of his index finger while working with a biscuit-cutting machine at his bakery job. Russell has accomplished a spectacular feat in that he has written an thorough reference book that is as pleasing to read as the best of narrative nonfiction. (Nov.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Library Journal

Music historian and frequent BBC radio contributor Russell has written on early country music (Country Music Records: A Discography, 1921-1942) and blues (The Blues: From Robert Johnson to Robert Cray). His latest book contains biographical sketches and selected CD discographies for a host of mostly pre-1950 country artists, some famous (e.g., Jimmie Rodgers, the Carter Family) and some considerably more obscure (e.g., Chris Bouchillon, Narmour & Smith). What ties all of these artists together is their originality, either as often-imitated innovators or as one-of-a-kind curiosities. The biographies and photographs of the obscure figures make it clear that a popular art form (e.g., country music) is decidedly not just about the big names. Bluegrass, country blues, fiddlers, Cajun, and Hawaiian musicians all populate this well-written and engrossing book. Recommended for all public libraries; highly recommended for public and academic country-music collections.
—James E. Perone

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780199732661
Publisher:
Oxford University Press, USA
Publication date:
03/15/2010
Pages:
288
Sales rank:
644,892
Product dimensions:
6.90(w) x 9.90(h) x 0.90(d)

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