Jimmie RodgersMarch 06, 2012
Jimmie Rodgers (Meridian, Miss.) worked many jobs for the Mobile and Ohio Railroad, most notably as a brakeman, always carrying his guitar with him and entertaining his buddies while learning new songs along the way. In 1924, when a bout with tuberculosis forced him off the rails, Rodgers was able to take up his first love, entertaining. He relocated his family (wife Carrie and daughter Anita) to Asheville, N.C. three years later to become part of the growing music scene in this region. Rodgers began performing with the Tenneva Ramblers, of Bristol, Tennessee. During the summer of 1927 the group heard about auditions for the Victor Talking Machine Company to be held in their hometown that August. When the group arrived to perform, an argument ensued regarding how the band would be billed, which ended in Rodgers going solo. Those first two songs, "Sleep, Baby, Sleep" and "The Soldier's Sweetheart," enjoyed modest success. Rodgers soon traveled to New York City in an effort to secure another recording session. That second session was successful enough to send Rodgers into celebrity status. As the depression raged, Rodgers became an inspiration to a hopeless nation, traveling to the Midwest with comic Will Rogers on a Red Cross tour and recording such hits as "T for Texas" and "Away Out On A Mountain." Though money was tight even for musicians of the time, Rodgers kept recording and performing wherever he could find work. He finally succumbed to consumption in May of 1933 after a career that lasted five short years. Rodgers has since been labeled the "Father of Country Music."
Written by Becky Buller and Thomas Sneed
Special Thanks to: The Archives of Appalachia and the Center for Appalachian Studies and Services, East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, Tenn.; Bluegrass Unlimited; Charles K. Wolfe; www.allmusic.com; Richard Blaustein; Jack Tottle; Ed Speer; Ned Irwin; Ted Olson; Roy Andrade; the Kiser Family; Dave Winship; Bryant Label Co.