Country, Western & Gospel Music

A History And Encyclopedia Of Composers, Artists & Songs

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lore fan named Ralph Peer (then sales manager for Okeh Records) took a recording apparatus into the backwoods of Georgia and made some 300 disks. As an experiment, Okeh issued Peer's recordings, listing them in a special catalogue similar to those used for foreign language and "race" rec­ords. Within a few years Okeh's hillbilly list sold over a million disks—mostly below the Mason-Dixon line. Tin Pan Alley still paid no attention.
By 1927, attracted by Okeh's success, Victor decided to enter the field, unearthed in Bristol, Va., a former Southern Railway brakeman named Jimmie Rodgers. His quaintly drawling voice soon became the biggest thing in hillbilly minstrelsy.
What really started the corn sprouting on Broadway was a lugubrious tune by Louisiana's Jimmie Davis called "It Makes No Difference Now." In the late '30s Decca's Record­ing Chief David Kapp heard this Texas hit and got it on wax. Within a few months record buyers were clamoring for Decca's later Bing Crosby version. Shrewd David Kapp barged wholesale into the hillbilly field, boomed local hits into national smashes by giving them successive recordings by bigger and bigger names. Thus, Crosby became the most popular singer of hillbilly as well as other popular music.
AL AND FREDDIE. The rage has taken a good part of U. S. song writing out of the hands of Tin Pan Alley's vet­erans. Almost any simple soul might write hillbilly words and the composition of hillbilly music has always been regarded by Tin Pan Alley as a variety of unskilled labor. Chief among the newcomers are Texas-born Al Dexter ("Pistol Packin' Mama"), Indiana-born Freddie Rose ("Low and Lonely," "111 Reap My Harvest in Heaven"), the Carter Family of Bristol, Va. ("I'm Thinking Tonight of My Blue Eyes"), Texas-born Bob Wills ("New San Antonio Rose").
SHOUTING BAPTIST. The most spectacular of all is Jimmie Davis, who wrote the historic "It Makes No Dif­ference Now." A hard-boiled Louisiana politician, crack shot and ex-college professor, he last week declared him­self a candidate for the Democratic nomination for Gover­nor of his home state. Local politicos conceded that the recent author of such twangy hits as "Nobody's Darlin' But