1) Jimmie Rodgers - Father of Country Music
“The Original” James Charles “Jimmie” Rodgers (September 8, 1897 -– May 26, 1933) was the first country music superstar. Rodgers, known as The Singing Brakeman and The Blue Yodeler, was born in Pine Springs, Mississippi, USA but considered his hometown to be Meridian, Mississippi, and spent most of his early life from boyhood accompanying his father on railroad jobs. He eventually became a railroad brakeman, an extremely dangerous and highly skilled job. In the days before air brakes, the brakeman had to stop the train by running on top of the moving train from car to car setting mechanical brakes on each one.
Tuberculosis forced him to leave the railroad, and he undertook all sorts of work, ranging from police detective to blackface performer in minstrels and medicine shows.before answering an advertisement from Ralph Peer of the Victor Talking Machine Company to audition as a performing artist. This audition in Bristol, Tennessee, on August 4, 1927 (two days after the Carter Family answered the same ad and recorded in the same hall) led to Rodgers’ phenomenally successful recording career.
His songs, most of which he wrote himself, were typically either sentimental songs about home, family and sweethearts, or tough takes on the lives of hoboes, “rounders”, and his beloved railroads and railroaders, on his own hard life and happy marriage.
Each of his recordings captures the unique vocal quality that singles Rodgers out from the array of early country musicians. His voice is powerful and haunting. His yodels are second to none in their tone, complexity and ingenuity. His sound is like no other and, once heard, is never forgotten. Hearing Rodgers also serves to instantly place in context much of the country singing of every era since. Backed by a variety of accompanying ensembles and playing guitar on many tracks, Rodgers’ instrumentation always seems well suited to the song’s needs. His music is invaluable for its historical importance and also for its virtuosic vocals and beautiful melodies.
A round dozen of his songs bore the generic title “Blue Yodel” with a number. The first “Blue Yodel” is better known from its refrain, “T for Texas, T for Tennessee”. Fundamentally, Rodgers was a white blues singer, singing traditional blues lyrics and accompanying himself on guitar and yodel, which was nothing like classic Swiss yodeling. His yodeling was really vocalized falsetto blues licks, providing obbligatos and choruses that in other blues performances would have been provided by a lead instrument.
Notable Rodgers titles include “Waiting for a Train” (1929), “In the Jailhouse Now” (1928, version 2 1930), “Jimmie the Kid” (1931), “Mule Skinner Blues” (1931), “Miss the Mississippi and You” (1932), “Looking for a New Mama” (1931), “Jimmie’s Mean Mama Blues” (1931), and “Train Whistle Blues” (1930). The 113 songs he recorded have hardly ever been out of print. His musical career lasted only six years. He died from tuberculosis in 1933 in the Taft Hotel, New York at age 35.
His last recordings were made in Manhattan less than a week before his death. He had been bedridden for several years before this last session and had to rest on a cot between takes.
When the Country Music Hall of Fame was established in 1961, Rodgers was one of the first three to be inducted. He was also elected to the Songwriters Hall of Fame and his song “Blue Yodel No. 9” is ranked No. 23 on The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.
2) James Frederick “Jimmie” Rodgers is also an American pop/rock & roll singer, incidentally born September 18, 1933 (year of death of the country musician above) in Camas, Washington, United States. He had number of hits in the 1950’s, including versions of “Kisses Sweeter Than Wine”, “Honeycomb”,”Oh Oh I’m Fallin’ In Love Again”, Woman from Liberia” and, particularly in the UK “English Country Garden”.
Rodgers was taught music by his mother, learned to play the piano and guitar, and joined a band called “The Melodies” started by violinist Phil Clark, while he served in the United States Air Force in Korea.
Edited by [deleted user] on 11 May 2011, 15:08
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