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supply, that would be the end of it," says Mr. Peer. "We sent him 1,000 records, which he received on a Thursday. That night he called New York on the phone and ordered 5,000 more sent by express and 10,000 by freight. When the national sale got to 500,000, we were so ashamed we had Fiddler John come up to New York and do a re-recording of the numbers."
The matter of the name arose again in this connection. It was obviously impossible to list them under the designa­tion of each section (mountaineer, "Georgia Cracker," etc.) and Mr. Peer, who had come from Kansas City and was well acquainted with the Ozarks, named them hillbilly records. The result is that the word has come to have a general ap­plication, and mountaineers of all sections are now known as hillbillies.
The greatest success of all time was made by The Prison­er's Song, which was introduced almost as an after thought by Vernon Dalhart, who had done The Wreck of Old 97 and was desperate for something for the other side of the record. It eventually sold 2,500,000 records for the Victor company. It cost the company seven cents to make the record (all expenses included) and the wholesale price they received was thirty-seven cents a record.
The Singing Brakeman
The greatest of all romances in the hillbilly business centers about Jimmie Rodgers, the little railroad brakeman who fought desperately against poverty and the ravages of tuberculosis until Mr. Peer discovered him in Bristol, Ten­nessee, and started him on a career that was fabulous even in the phonograph industry. It is estimated that the Blue Yodel records sold over 5,000,000 copies. Jimmie Rodgers is now dead and his records do not have the fame with col­lectors that has come to those of Bessie Smith, but he has left a mark on all hillbilly music.
When David Kapp goes out to Dallas now for Decca to record hillbilly and race records, he will do as many as 325 selections in fifteen days. The big stars now are Jimmie Davis, clerk of the Criminal Court in Shreveport, Louisiana, and Gene Autry, the singing cowboy of the movies. Another
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E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III