Country Music Originals: The Legends and the Lost

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9780195325096: Country Music Originals: The Legends and the Lost

In this sparkling collection, "roots" music authority Tony Russell offers vivid portraits of the men and women who created country music, the artists whose lives and songs formed the rich tradition from which Hank Williams, Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan, The Dixie Chicks, and so many others have drawn their 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 in the 1920s and '30s, 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, 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 essays are enhanced by more than 200 illustrations, many of them seldom seen and some never before published, including artist photographs, record labels, song sheets, newspaper clippings, cartoons, advertisements, 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.
Country Music Originals is a collection of gems which will delight the aficionado and first-time enthusiast as well as the scholar of American folk music.

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About the Author:


Tony Russell is a music historian who has written on country music, blues, jazz, and other forms of popular music in a wide variety of publications and has researched, written, and presented many musical programs for BBC Radio. He is the author of Country Music Records: A Discography, 1921-1942 (OUP 2004), The Blues from Robert Johnson to Robert Cray, and other books. He lives in London.

Review:

"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

"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

"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 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." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)

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