“Jimmie Rodgers of course is one of the guiding lights of
Century whose way with song hasalways been an inspiration to
those of us who have followed the path. A blazing star
soundwas and remains the raw essence of individuality in a sea
par excellence with no equal”.
“We are a people starving for self-definition, and history
is the medicine.
It hasnothing to do with the past. It has everything to do with the present.”
HIS TRAIN OF INFLUENCE
Les Paul gives great
in the Jimmie Rodgers Saga
photo by Benford Standley
Like a locomotive, Jimmie Rodgers
came into this world with a force that is still strong over
one hundred years later. And like the trains that criss-crossed the country, Jimmie Rodgers’ legacy crosses
over every aspect of the American music scene. His
music echoes in tunes we hear today as his memory is
enshrined in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the
Music Hall of Fame, where on his plaque it states, “The Man
That Started It All.” Known as
“The Father of
Country Music”, he has garnished the W.C. Handy Blues Award
and is in the Grammy Hall of Fame and the Songwriter Hall of
Fame, and the first entertainer to be put on a US
Barry Mazor, who penned the book "Meeting
is talking here with Ralph Peer, Jr.
Barry is now writing a book
on Ralph's dad, and we had a great time with
them during this interview at Bob Weir's Sweetwater Cafe in Mill Valley, CA.
Ralph Peer Jr. is on Merle's bus with him
talking about Jimmie Rodgers and his
dad back in the early days...
Ralph Peer, Sr. discovered and produced Jimmie
Rodgers and there are stories to be
told by these two fellers talking on Merle's bus.
Haggard's tribute album in 1969 to
Same Train, A Different Time
In 1883Wild Bufalo Bill Cody formed his
Wild West Show and the first Vaudeville--Benjamine F. Keith opens theatre in Boston
and we are seeing the early days of show business... the US Railroads adopt Standard Time,
Thomas Edison pioneers the radio tube,
and Etienne Jules Marey experiments with chronophotography--the photography of
people in movement. Then in 1884 German Paul Nipkow applied for a patent covering another image
scanning system beginning of TV.
Ringling Brothers' Circus starts,
and The Central Pacific Railroad is merged into the Southern Pacific Railroad.
In 1885, the first commercial moving-picture film was produced in Rochester,
NY. Eastman Kodak, the film and camera maker. Cattle business is the biggest business in the West
the cattle barons
are born. Annie Oakley joins Bill Cody's Wild West Show, and the
Santa Fe Railroad extends its service to Los Angeles.
In the year 1886, Marconi gets first patent for the invention of the radio
and electric lighting begins to reach in urban areas. Patent granted to Charles Sumner Tainter and Chichester Bell (cousin of AG Bell) for a disc, but began to work
on a cylinder for their work to replace the tin-foil that TA Edison
develop for his tinfoil phonograph. They used cardboard coated with wax. 3 years
later their new machine the Graphophone, was ready for its first
major exhibition in Washington DC 2 years later. Sitting Bull
joins Cody'sWild West Show and the first rodeo in America was held at Prescott, Arizona.
In 1987 Hannibal W. Goodwin of Newark, NJ applied for a patent for celluloid
photographic film -- the stuff from which movies
are shown. Edison phonograph company is founded
and Buck Taylor, King of the Cowboys is published. Heinrich Hertz's electric waves will be the basis of radio communication,
and there are now 200,000 US telephone listings. Thomas Edison invents the first motor-driven phonograph and opens new
lab in W. Orange, NJ, Edison's new phonograph plays cylindrical wax records.
Merle introduces the 94 year old
Slim Bryant after playing
"Mother Queen of My Heart " which he recorded, as did
Jimmie Rodgers. Slim played guitar with Rodgers in 1932
1989, Cecil B. DeMille is born, the Slot machine invented, the
Columbia Phonograph Company was formed in Washington, DC., and
there is the beginning of the Oklahoma Land Rush...Land Ho! At noon, the sound of a gun shot was the only signal needed
for thousands of settlers to rush into the Oklahoma territory
to claim land "sooners" name give to those that left too soon. The Sioux Indians secede Dakota Territory to the U.S., Montana, South Dakota and Washington become states
and the1st movie film developed by Edison, who also invents the prototype of the 1st juke box--Edison Tinfoil Phonograph
with 4 listening tubes and a coin slot for each. Electric lights are installed at the White House,
The Wall StreetJournal begins, Texas outlaw Belle Starr is shot dead in Oklahoma,
and Ever Ready batteries are introduced.
In 1890, Sitting Bull is killed
and many historians say that this was the end of the West, and the fastest time for a train is set 78.1 mph US has 125,000 miles of railroad in operation.
The Grand Opera House Opens it doors in Meridian, MS.
and the 1st patent for a movie camera is T.A. Edison for his Kinetoscope,
Carnegie Hall opens in New York, and the Ryman Auditorium is built in Nashville--for revivals.
That year is the1st photo of the sun, and Columbia first company to offer a
catalog of its phonographs and cylinders. The next year, 1892, get first U.S. patent for a radio,
and The Dalton gang from Oklahoma are shot.
lived in Kerrville, Tx before his death in 1933 to be treated for
his TB. This is the ruins from
that hospital in Kerrville Texas
Ramblin' Jack Elliott released an Album tribute
Jimmie Rodgers and Woody Gutherie in 1959 and
we have been honored to work with Ramblin'
Jack like Jimmie ran away with a medicine
In 1893, Henry Ford builds the first auto.
T.A. Edison, changing the way the world lives is inventing things like
the mimeograph, the phonograph, the movie camera, not to mention the electric
light, and the radio and opens the world's first motion picture
studio--his Black Maria in New Jersey. The world's first
ferries wheel goes up, and the American Buffalo head falls
down to 1,090. The next
year Sears is offering seven guitar models in its
catalogue, W.K. Dirckson received a patent for motion picture
film, Marconi sends
a radio wave 3/4 mile..."wireless" is born...Edison
demonstrated the Kenetoscope "peepshow" in New York City,
seconds of images of Annie Oakley and
1895Louis and Auguste Lumiere patent Cinematograph,
actor Ken Maynard born,
Marconi built a wireless system capable of transmitting signals at
long distances, and Columbia was manufacturing
hundreds of cylinders daily. Woodville Latham demonstrated the first use of a moving picture projected on
a screen in NY City. The next year, 1996,George Burns is born, The
Gramophone is perfected by E.R. Johnson, gold is discovered in Alaska,
and the Nobel Prize is established.
One of the earliest spring-powered
and Westinghouse builds huge power generators at Niagara Falls, the 1st auto accident takes place in New York,
and Thomas Edison's Vitoscope an improvement on his 1893 Kinetoscope
Jimmie Rodgers famous Martin Guitar
where we took some great pictures in
the Museum in Meridian, Mississippi
Norm Stevens, who's in
Merle's band, played guitar with Lefty Frizzell,
Merle Haggard and
Buck Page (rt), he formed the Riders of the Purple
Sage in 1936, setting on
Merle's bus after the interview for our Saga
Buck and Norm talking about Jimmie Rodgers,
both of these
ole Troubadours were influenced by
in the 80tys and good friends with Left
James Charles Rodgers is born September 8, 1897, it's a time when
Annie Oakley and Sitting Bull
Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West Show, and trains, nearing 80 miles an
hour began to connect the western territories with the populous eastern cities.
Moving faster than the train, the technological inventions of the day such as the phonograph
(talking machines), the
radio (the wireless), and the big silver screen (flickers and talkies)
would not only spur
along Jimmie Rodgers’ career, but would give rise to
Industry itself. Jimmie Rodgers was three years old when the century became nineteen
In 1900, there was less than 10 miles of pavement in the entire U.S., and Casey Jones dies when his train the
the next year oil is discovered in Texas, Eldridge Johnson starts Victor
Talking Machine Company, and U.S. Steel Corporation
is formed. During this period
of time tuberculosis was afflicting a majority of the population and was
the major killer. In 1902, “The Great Train Robbery” is released and is the first movie
with a plot. Gibson
begins to make guitars and mandolins, and the novel “The Virginian”
is published. The few
years following would see the Wright Brothers fly at Kitty Hawk, Ford
sells its first car, the first film exchange in America established,
New York open the subway,
and the Pennsylvania Railroad inaugurates the “fastest long distance
train in the world”, then there is the San Francisco Earthquake. Time and change is at
a rate never known by man...
In 1903Jimmie Rodgers' mother dies and he begins his ramblin'
life, first living with relatives.
Aaron Neville, who has a cut on the
Bob Dylan that we will be using in our
soundtrack came to the old Radio Recorders where we had a great interview
session with him, Buck Page and
Dave Somerville. Jimmie recorded some
of his biggest hits in this room in
1930. Elvis recorded many hits in the room
York City opens their first subway in 1904, the first Baldwin
Locomotive, a big eight-wheeler of the Consolidation type is made,
and Victor Talking Machines opens a new studio in New York.
Aaron Rodgers, Jimmie's dad, marries Ida Smith and moves to
the the outskirts of Meridian, Miss. where Jimmie moves in with them
next year Einstein presents his "Theory of Relativity", there
are 4 million telephones in use, Bob
Wills is born, the American Bison Society is formed to save the
buffalo from extinction and "Variety Magazine" begins a weekly
publication in New York. Victor opens its own pressing
plant. That year of 1905, the Union Station railroad
station at 1805 Front Street in Meridian, Miss.
Tom Mix begins to ride in the Miller Brothers 101 RanchWild
West show near Ponca City, OK.
Jimmie's dad quits
the RR and tries farming in Pine Springs.
Jimmie is not getting along with his step-mother and moves to
live with his brother.
Jimmie is 9, in 1906 and moves to live with his Aunt Dora in Pine Springs, hanging in
the streets and missing school and loafing
his time away. Meridian is a booming rail and trade center in the south. Lots of
moving picture shows were being shown
between the vaudeville. Aaron Rodgers goes back to work on the RR.
On the West
coast there is the San Francisco Earthquake. Tex
Ritter is born, the first radio broadcast of voice and music booms out of
Rock, Mass. The Victrola is introduced by Victor
Talking Machine Co., who's Eldridge Johnson has enclosed the gramophone
horn in a cabinet.
"Even if Meridian's prohibition laws did
effectively prohibit, the spirited, feisty young Jimmie Rodgers was hardly at a
loss for other temptations. In additon
to the fine, delicious evils that emanated from the
rail shops and poo room, there were countless alleys to roam, pranks to play,
drugstores with Belgian marble soda counters and gaudy trinkets, and a
succession of tatty carnivals, circuses, and "expensive companies and leading
stars" which played the Opera House....Young Jimmie apparently starstruck from
birth, was fascinated by any kind of show; he was particularly excited when the
Gem and Elite theaters, both nominally vaudeville houses, began to show the
newfangled moving pictures between acts. from
JIMMIE RODGERS by Nolan Porterfield