The History of Country Music – Hour 3

Okay top hands, here comes the third installment of “The History of Country Music”, written and narrated by Hugh Cherry about fifty years ago. It ran on KAYO in 1971.

From the 1940’s onward, Hugh Cherry was active in country music as a CMA Hall of Fame disc jockey and music historian. He said he talked about the music he played because he was “the unfunniest man in radio”. Much of the lore he learned was from hanging out backstage at the Grand Ole Opry and asking everybody lots of questions.

In this episode, early groups, Jimmie Rodgers, Bradley Kinkaid, Pie Plant Pete, Vernon Dalhart, Mother Maybelle and her lovely lively daughters all receive mention and attention.

Drinkin’, cheatin’, prayin’, singin’, workin’, courtin’, strummin’, pluckin’, hard time in the big house, overnights in the local pokey, chasin’ a plow through the mud. Listen to country – your life story’s there somewhere.

A Variety of Early Groups (5:31)

The Railroad in Country Music (8:48)

The Skillet Lickers (4:21)

Early Folk Influence – Bradley Kinkaid (6:45)

Religious Music (7:51)

Prisons in Country Music (9:17)

Toward the end of Hour 3, in the prison segment, we hear Johnny Cash sing “Folsom Prison Blues”. Although he was given credit for the words and music (Hi-Lo Music Inc., 1956), Cash got the melody and some of the lyrics from “Crescent City Blues”, a song written by Gordon Jenkins and sung by his wife, Beverly Mahr, on his 1953 Decca concept album, “Seven Dreams”. In 1968, when the “Live at Folsom Prison” LP was released and “Folsom Prison Blues” became a hit for the second time, Jenkins sued Cash and got $75,000.

“Crescent City Blues” is included here.

Gordon Jenkins & His Orchestra, vocal by Beverly Mahr – Crescent City Blues (3:22)

Author: Dick Ellingson

Aging gratefully in a little country town. Parcel post crusher; blood'n'guts laundry serf; parking lot fender bender/bumper jumper; Lazy B flunkie with 7-word job title; P-I down crew; bobtail trucker; Sunbeam breader; retail store mangler; bothersome boiler roomie; fake real estate agent; d.j./copywriter/p.d./ripper/reader - 600 KGEZ Good Advertising, Kalispell; Community Radio 1510 KURB, Mountlake Terrace; 1540 News/MOR/92.5 Solid Gold Rock & Roll KFKF, Bellevue; 1150 Kountry KAYO America's Own Music, Seattle; 1300 KoMPaSs Radio 13 Modern Country, Seattle; 1360 KLFF Good Music & Great Memories, Glendale/Phoenix; 106.3 Concert 106 KONC, Sun City/Phoenix; 1580 KCWW Real Country Network, Tempe/Phoenix. Four-year Volunteer P-I/Times/TNT news reader for Evergreen Radio Reading Service at the Washington Talking Book & Braille Library, Seattle; dotcomboom stock trader who came out alive; King County Metro Bus Driver; Seattle Streetcar Operator. Two pups & a pension = easy livin'! More articles by Dick

2 thoughts on “The History of Country Music – Hour 3

  1. It seems to me there were a number of different syndicated “History Of Country Music” programs. They were aired at several different country stations where I was a jock, but I have an indelible recollection of one particular segment featuring Minnie Pearl talking about Hank Williams, Sr. ~ Minnie tells of the time she rode back to Nashville with Hank, Sr. following an out of town concert. They were in the backseat & Hank was in bit of a stupor. (This ride took place not long before his tragic death). Hank, writer of the gospel song “I Saw The Light” was in a very somber mood. Minnie was attempting to console him. I’ll never forget the sound of her voice when she said Hank leaned over and sadly said to her, “that’s just it Minnie, there ain’t no light … there ain’t no light”.

  2. Jay, I remember hearing that story. Minnie took Hank Jr. under her wing as he was growing up and did her best to keep him well and healthy, sane and sober.

    I’ve read of another “History Of Country Music” that was hosted by Ralph Emery and ran about the same time as this one.

    Hugh Cherry told how he learned of Hank’s death: after a night of New Years revelry, he headed for work at WMAK-AM 1300 in Nashville to sign on for his early-morning broadcast. When he ripped the wire, he saw the notice that Hank Williams had died. Cherry telephoned Fred Rose, Williams’ manager and record producer, to give him the news.

    Also in Nashville radio at that time was Ralph Emery, on daytimer WNAH-AM 1360.

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