Cover image for Classic country : legends of country music
Classic country : legends of country music
Wolfe, Charles K.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Routledge, 2001.
Physical Description:
x, 318 pages : illustrations 24 cm
General Note:
Includes index.
Reading Level:
1230 Lexile.

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
ML385 .W64 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



Now for the first time, country music authority Charles K. Wolfe gathers together his profiles of 50 legends of country music, including Bill Monroe, Lefty Frizzell, and Kitty Wells.

Author Notes

Charles K. Wolfe,Professor of English at Middle Tennessee State University, is the author of sixteen books on folk, country, and popular music, including A Good NaturedRiot: The Birth of the Grand Ole Opry(1999), The Lifeand Legend of Leadbelly(cowritten with Kip Lornell, 1992), and The Devil's Box: Masters of Southern Fiddling(1997). He has produced or annotated over one hundred albums of music, for which he has received three Grammy nominations.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Author of 16 books on country music and compiler-annotator of more than 100 albums of the music, Wolfe belongs to the small band of country music scholars and writes better than most of them. He has concentrated on the most venerable country styles, and the subjects of these 50-odd profiles mostly have, as an old-time country radio announcer might put it, gone on before. Wolfe interviewed many of them while he could, though, and when he was too late, talked with surviving associates. Besides stars like the Carter Family and Roy Acuff, he sketches very early recording musicians (Fiddlin' John Carson, Vernon Dalhart, etc.); performers who became famous on radio (e.g., Lew Childre); Grand Ol' Opry originals like Stringbean; figures barely known outside the country music industry, like the Rouse Brothers (they created "Orange Blossom Special"), or even inside, like the elusive Seven Foot Dilly; some western music pioneers (e.g., Red River Dave); and younger old-time artists including Doc Watson and Hazel and Alice. An essential book for popular music history collections. --Ray Olson

Publisher's Weekly Review

"There are three types of history for our music.... There's mullet history√Ąthat's the kind you tell to people from Minnesota who don't know what a banjo is. Then there's book history.... And then there's the... stuff the pickers tell each other about the secret history of bluegrass," says Bill Monroe at the beginning of one of Wolfe's essays. Compiled primarily from The Journal of the American Academy for the Preservation of Old-Time Country Music, a professional magazine, this sweeping collection falls somewhere between the latter two brands of histories as it profiles 50 artists whose work can be called classic. Wolfe (A Good-Natured Riot: The Birth of the Grand Ole Opry), his ears trained on the origins of country music and the great stories of its practitioners, has established a rock-solid reputation as one of the genre's preeminent writers. In lively, easygoing prose, he undertakes honest, generous, largely biographical investigations of the musicians to whom he's devoted his career. The book's first and last sections cover lesser-known details about stars like Kitty Wells and Roy Acuff. (The latter was so famous that during World War II "Japanese soldiers in the Pacific would try to psych out American Marines by yelling taunts like, `To hell with Franklin Roosevelt! To hell with Babe Ruth! To hell with Roy Acuff!'") But the real gold lies in the book's middle sections on the accomplishments of artists now only dimly remembered: the Georgia Yellow Hammers, the Rouse Brothers and others. Wolfe also recounts the careers of artists who have recently been reappraised and touted, such as the Louvin Brothers, Don Gibson and Riley Puckett. His sensitive, masterful essays elucidate the contributions these artists made to the "great unifying, nourishing stream [that] runs through the history of country music." 47 photos. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Although it contains a few previously unpublished essays, this quirky collection comprises mostly previously published articles about country music pioneers that appeared in such publications as Country Music and Old Time Music, among others. Many of the pieces are based on Wolfe's own interviews. Be forewarned, though: this is not for people whose idea of "country music" is defined by the likes of such "New Country" stars as Shania Twain or any of the interchangeable crop of big hat-wearing male singers. Wolfe (English, Middle Tennessee State Univ.; A Good Natured Riot) takes some of the best- and least-known personalities of "Traditional Country" and gives them life in succinct but informative vignettes. A few fall flat, particularly where the artist has passed on; a postscript bringing the essay up-to-date would have helped. Still, whether Wolfe is retelling well-known lore or delving into the fascinating, forgotten, yet influential lives of lesser-knowns, he provides vivid, loving portraits of a country music that barely exists anymore. If you have fans of traditional country music among your patrons, this is a solid purchase; it will serve well-rounded pop culture collections, too.DDavid M. Turkalo, Suffolk Univ. Law Sch. Lib., Boston (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Introductionp. VII
I. From the Hall of Famep. 1
The Carter Familyp. 2
Roy Acuffp. 19
Lefty Frizzellp. 27
Grandpa Jonesp. 33
Pee Wee Kingp. 38
Bill Monroep. 44
Hank Snowp. 50
Kitty Wellsp. 56
II. From the Victrolap. 63
Fiddlin' John Carsonp. 64
Vernon Dalhartp. 70
Riley Puckettp. 76
Charlie Poolep. 82
The Georgia Yellow Hammersp. 85
Darby and Tarltonp. 89
III. From the Airwavesp. 93
Lew Childrep. 94
The Blue Sky Boysp. 97
Brown's Ferry Fourp. 103
Cousin Emmyp. 106
The Monroe Brothersp. 109
Wayne Raneyp. 114
Karl and Hartyp. 117
Bradley Kincaidp. 125
IV. From the Shadows: Unsung Heroesp. 129
Tommy Magnessp. 130
Arthur Q. Smithp. 143
Zeke and Zeb Turnerp. 146
Johnny Barfieldp. 152
The Rouse Brothersp. 155
Seven Foot Dillyp. 165
The Jordanairesp. 175
DeFord Baileyp. 178
Emmett Millerp. 182
Tommy Jacksonp. 185
Jimmie Riddlep. 188
V. From the Stage: Classic Countryp. 193
Curly Fox and Texas Rubyp. 194
The Delmore Brothersp. 197
Don Gibsonp. 203
The Louvin Brothersp. 215
The Statler Brothersp. 221
Martha Carsonp. 236
The Carlislesp. 239
Albert E. Brumleyp. 243
Stringbeanp. 247
VI. From the Westp. 257
Girls of the Golden Westp. 258
Billie Maxwellp. 261
Red River Davep. 265
Skeets McDonaldp. 268
VII. New Fogiesp. 273
Hazel and Alicep. 274
Doc Watsonp. 279
Roy Harperp. 285
The Freight Hoppersp. 294
Acknowledgmentsp. 300
Indexp. 301