Painting by Linda Anderson

Jimmie Rodgers Saga

The Man That Started It All

Jimmie Rodgers of course is one of the guiding  lights of the 20th

Century whose way with song has always been an inspiration to

those  of us who have followed the path.  A blazing star whose

sound was and remains the raw essence of individuality in a sea

of conformity, par excellence with no equal”.      Bob Dylan


“We are a people starving for self-definition, and history is the medicine. 

It has nothing to do with the past.  It has everything to do with the present.”

Director Ken Burns




Les Paul gives great interview

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

Country 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, Blues Hall of Fame, and the first entertainer to be put on a US Postage Stamp...


Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard have announced Django & Jimmie, their latest collaborative album. Dedicated to Django Reinhardt and

Jimmie Rodgers.  TO BE RELEASED ON JUNE 2


Nelson confirmed the album during an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live

from SXSW, and said that the first single off of the record will be "It's All

Gone To Pot," which will be released on April 20, 2015. 


"It's really good; I think it's the best one we've done," he says. "I think the

title of the album is probably going to be Django & Jimmie, about Django Reinhardt and Jimmie Rodgers. We didn't really do any swing, per se,

we just did straight-ahead songs that we felt good about."



Barry Mazor, who penned the book "Meeting Jimmie Rodgers"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 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 Rodgers Same Train, A Different Time

In 1883 Wild 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 and 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's Wild 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.


Barry Mazor, pictured above has

written an incredible book on the

Train of Influence that Jimmie left

Slim and Merle sing "Mother, Queen of My Heart"

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

In 1889, 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 Street Journal begins, Texas outlaw Belle Starr is shot dead in Oklahoma, and Ever Ready batteries are



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. 

1891 and the1st 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.

Jimmie 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 to

Jimmie Rodgers and Woody Gutherie in 1959 and

we have been honored to work with Ramblin' Jack,

Jack like Jimmie ran away with a medicine show/circus

all photographs on this page owned by Benford E. Standley

Ramblin' Jack Elliott who did a

tribute album to JR in 1959.

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, showing 13 seconds of images of Annie Oakley and Buffalo Bill.


1895 Louis 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 Gramophones is advertised, 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

is released.


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 Rodgers...both are

in the 80tys and good friends with Left Frizzell

James Charles Rodgers is born September 8, 1897, it's a time when Annie Oakley and Sitting Bull traveled with 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 the Entertainment Industry itself.  Jimmie Rodgers was three years old when the century became nineteen hundred. 


In 1900, there was less than 10 miles of pavement in the entire U.S., and Casey Jones dies when his train the “Cannonball”

wrecks, 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 Motor Company 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 1903 Jimmie 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

Buck Page and Aaron Neville


click to see more of this shoot

1927, when Jimmie Rodgers did his first

recording with Victor Talking Machines,

who would later become RCA,  the

entertainment industry was in its' early

days of  development.  The "flickers" were

now called "talkies" and radio was becoming

the wave of the future.  Country music  was

called "hillbilly" or "race" music and Rock

and Roll was some quarter of a century

down the musical trail.



New 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 for awhile. 


The 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. is finished.  Tom Mix begins to ride in the Miller Brothers 101 Ranch Wild 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.


Crystal Gale sings Jimmie's Miss The Mississippi

all photographs owned by Benford E. Standley

and can not be used without his permission


Johnny Cash---Ride this Train Story

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 entertainment and theaters...

"flickers" newfangled 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 Brant 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 addition 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

star struck 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

Buffalo Bill Cody's Wild West Show

was still traveling in Jimmie's younger

days...Jimmie loved Medicine Shows

Tent Shows, the Flickers and any kind

of entertainment that he could

13 he ran off with a Medicine Show...



see more pictures & history




Janette Carter, AP Carter's daughter

before interview of her for this film, she

passed away only months after my

important interview with this great lady

photo by Benford Standley






See some of Jimmie Rodgers' Train of Influence



Click here for more.