Country Music Originals: The Legends And The Lost
British writer and researcher Tony Russell has been authoring history-making contributions to our knowledge and understanding of American roots music since the 1970s, including his ground-breaking re-examination of interracial, cross-genre music history Blacks, Whites And Blues, and the recent, monumental Country Music Records: A Discography 1921-1942.
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. As the title suggests, Russell also offers fresh, brief, breezy takes on legends of that era. The result is another long-term keeper, an important new reference on performers never chronicled in any great or readily-available detail before — as well as the sort of read country music fans will want to dip into for the pleasure of it.
In pieces typically not more than a few pages long, supplemented with telling, often previously unpublished photographs, Country Music Originals ably fills in the blanks on the lives and career details of under-covered, middling acts such as Cliff Carlisle, Darby & Tarlton, Al Dexter and Molly O’Day. It provides memorable overviews of stars such as the Carter Family, Hank Snow, Gene Autry, Bob Wills and Ernest Tubb.
Most charmingly, it brings to light the alternatively sad and funny stories of such rarely mentioned acts as Da Costa Woltz’s Southern Broadcasters, the South Georgia Highballers, the Golden Melody Boys, and Bob Skyles & His Skyrockets. When Russell’s done with the likes of those, you’ll want to hear them — and he provides helpful information on available recordings of all the hundred-plus acts entertainingly chronicled here.