Home > Country History > A History of Country Vol. 9: 1957-60

A History of Country Vol. 9: 1957-60

In Volume 9 of the country history series, we look at the glory years of country, a time when the genre was at its most self-confident and profitable. It was still a vibrant genre, as this collection shows, though the crooners were already beginning to define the genre, a situation that would give rise to the outlaw movement, the protagonists of which were inspired by several of the artists on this mix.

It’s difficult to say who was the biggest star in 1950s country. The crooner likes of Eddy Arnold were immensely successful, but in terms of sales and influence, the biggest names were Left Frizzell and Webb Pierce, rival kings of honky tonk music. Pierce notched up more country #1s than any other in the 1950s, having in the late ’40s gained recognition by placing girls in the frontrow of his gigs and paying them to scream at him, bobbysoxer style.

Pierce was famous for his Nudie suits – the ornately decorated outfits country singers used to be associated with, if they didn’t wear cowboy hats. Indeed, Pierce did much to popularise the suits made by Nudie Cohn, the Hollywood tailor who got his start from Tex Williams (whom we met in Volume 7). After a row over money, Pierce resigned from the Grand Ole Opry in 1957. The move coincided with the decline of Pierce’s career, though he continued to record until 1982. He died in 1991 at the age of 69.

Marty Robbins was a prolific songwriter and versatile performer. In Volume 8, he covered Chuck Berry’s Maybelline; here he sings his own composition El Paso, a cowboy song from his hugely successful 1959 album, Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs. Robbins also wrote one of the Lefty Frizzell songs featured here, Cigarette And Coffee Blues.  From the time of his first hit in 1952 till the year after his death at 57 in 1982, Robbins was never off the country charts. He did a cover of Arthur Crudup’s That’s Alright Mama before Elvis’ recorded his version. Who knows what might happened had Robbins’ single been a huge hit? He also scored a batch of pop hits, most famously A White Sports Coat (And A Pink Carnation), a US #2. He might have had another massive pop hit; he was the first to record Singing The Blues, written by Melvin Endsley, but his label, Columbia, pushed the version by Guy Mitchell, recorded almost two months later. Robbins’ version sold 750,000 copies; Mitchell’s 3 million. Robbins was also a skilled NASCAR racing driver, notching up six top ten finishes (he played himself in the NASCAR film Hell on Wheels).

For a long time, country music was not a place for women. Sporadically, one or two would have big hits, of course, but it was a solidly male world. Rose Maddox was among the pioneering women in country, even if she, as the frontwoman, still had to take second billing behind her brothers (they featured in Volume 8). The Maddox family had migrated from Alabama to California, a couple of years before the dustbowl sharecroppers from Oklahoma made their exodus there. Living in Modesto, the Maddox kids quickly established a reputation as California’s best hillbilly band (in the days before the term hillbilly was a slur), specializing in what then passed for racy lyrics. Their country boogie won the Maddox Brothers & Rose a recording contract in 1946. They made their breakthrough in 1949 with a song written by Woody Guthrie, Philadelphia Lawyer. It is said that Fred Maddox’s style of slap bass playing was central in the development of rockabilly, and therefore rock & roll. Only one of the six Maddox siblings – Don, 88, – is still alive. Fred died in 1992 at 73; Rose in 1998 at 72.

R&B musicians had an affinity with country music. Hank Ballard adopted his first name in tribute to Hank Williams, and Chuck Berry reworked a Bob Wills song from the 1930s, Ida Red, to create the seminal Maybelline. Over the years several R&B singers would sing country. Among them was Clarence Frogman Henry, a Louisiana musician in the mould of Fats Domino, who is a member of the Rockabilly Hall of Fame.

As always, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R, and includes covers.

TRACKLISTING
1. Don Gibson – Blue Blue Day
2. Hank Locklin – Geisha Girl
3. Buddy Holly – An Empty Cup (And A Broken Date)
4. Barbara Pittman – Two Young Fools In Love
5. Patsy Cline – Three Cigarettes In The Ashtray
6. Webb Pierce – There Stands The Glass
7. Hank Snow – Tangled Mind
8. Leroy Van Dyke – The Auctioneer
9. Ferlin Husky – Gone
10. Tommy Collins – You Better Not Do That
11. Jack Clement – The Black Haired Man
12. Lefty Frizell – Cigarettes and Coffee Blues
13. Charlie Walker – Pick Me Up On Your Way Down
14. Little Jimmy Dickens – Me And My Big Loud Mouth
15. Billy Brown – High Heels But No Soul
16. Cowboy Copas – Circle Rock
17. Clarence Frogman Henry – I Told My Pillow
18. Wes Holly – Shufflin’ Shoes
19. Johnny Cash – Guess Things Happen That Way
20. Patsy Cline – A Stranger In My Arms
21. Hank Locklin – Send Me The Pillow You Dream On
22. Marty Robbins – El Paso
23. Eddy Arnold – Tennessee Stud
24. George Jones – White Lightning
25. Lefty Frizzell – Long Black Veil
26. Skeeter Davis – Set Him Free
27. Brenda Lee – I’m Sorry
28. Wanda Jackson – Tweedie Dee
29. Jim Ed and the Browns – Who’s Gonna Buy You Ribbons
30. The Stanley Brothers – Rank Stranger
31. Johnny Horton – Johnny Freedom (Freedomland)

(includes front and back covers. PW here)

GET IT: https://rapidgator.net/file/c5e9cad99b2f21a27b393716057b3dc6/Cntry57-60.rar.html

Previously in A History of Country
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  1. bostig
    May 11th, 2011 at 08:07 | #1

    Thanks a lot

  2. May 11th, 2011 at 09:20 | #2

    Another great one, and a good looking cover too. I don’t know how far you plan to take this series but I’ll follow you until the mid-Seventies at least.

  3. May 11th, 2011 at 09:26 | #3

    Thank’s for another great comp.

    I think you first said that the series would be 9 cd’s, but please, please, please, go on. Don’t stop. There’s so much more we could and want to hear.

  4. halfhearteddude
    May 11th, 2011 at 13:00 | #4

    I thought nine would cover each decade, but the early comps were so popular that I’ve decided to give each decade what it’s worth (though I might cover 1990-2010 on more than half a CD).

    The 1960s are definitely going to run over three parts. I could bang together a fine collection for 1968 alone, I think. After that pickings will be slimmer. I hope I’ll be able to find enough good music to keep Don interested past the mid-70s.

  5. May 11th, 2011 at 13:27 | #5

    If you consider alt. country and Americana to be part of the history of country, there’s plenty of excellent music to be found.
    Even today.
    Especially today.

  6. Berni
    May 11th, 2011 at 14:18 | #6

    Love this series! Thanks, thanks a lot :)

  7. halfhearteddude
    May 12th, 2011 at 07:01 | #7

    Absolutely. The comps covering the ’90s and ’00s will reflect that.

  8. lugworm
    May 12th, 2011 at 09:05 | #8

    Top post and first class selection of songs. Thanks very much.

  9. George
    May 12th, 2011 at 19:34 | #9

    Another terrific selection of tracks. Keep it up, it’s much appreciated

  10. plasticsun
    May 14th, 2011 at 20:05 | #10

    Thanks so much – wonderful stuff

  11. humanebean
    May 15th, 2011 at 16:40 | #11

    Sadly, it appears that the link to this excellent collection has already been taken down by the Evil Powers That Be. Any chance of a re-up? This is truly a fantastic series, shedding light on a number of more obscure artists for those who are not already deeply knowledgeable about the lengthy tradition of Country down the years. Here’e hoping!

  12. pete
    May 15th, 2011 at 21:24 | #12

    Hmmm, seems I’m too late — error message

  13. halfhearteddude
    May 15th, 2011 at 22:47 | #13

    Shit, there’s been a cull. Four mixes have been zapped on Mediafire. I won’t re-up anything that has been deleted. Since I don’t know which songs Chappell Music have the rights to, I can’t even redo a set without the tracks that they don’t want advertised (and I reckon that this is what I’m doing: advertising their artists).

  14. pete
    May 16th, 2011 at 21:41 | #14

    Seems like Don Gibson’s Blue Blue Day, and Webb Pierce’s There Stands the Glass are two. I just Googled {Chappell Music } and a lyric site with a copyright line popped up. But it’s too much work to do the lot, I fear. That is, I’m supposed to be working … Good luck!

  15. pete
    May 16th, 2011 at 21:44 | #15

    @pete Bleargh, the posting software ignored what i put after “Chappell Music” because I stupidly used less-than/greater-than — I just added in a keyword or two, e.g. “Gibson Blue” …

  16. Julie.S
    May 29th, 2011 at 05:02 | #16

    You should check out: http://radiofreewohlman.blogspot.com/

    Scroll down to the older posts – this blogger found a troll that was making false claims against various blogs to have music removed – it even mentions Chappell music as someone he (falsely) claimed to be. The mixes you lost may have been due to the troll he found.

  17. halfhearteddude
    May 29th, 2011 at 11:03 | #17

    Thanks, Julie. I’ll definitely investigate that tip.

  18. Julie.S
    May 30th, 2011 at 01:18 | #18

    Yes, in particular, look at the posts:

    #1 May 25 – “A direct open letter to ebay wise” (the name of the person who was making false claims…including complaints to divShare and Multiupload)

    #2 May 24 – “the plot thickens”

    My guess is this is what happened to you.

    Hopefully people like this don’t discourage your work – I love your site, in particular the history of country music series.

  19. Jay
    June 3rd, 2011 at 16:06 | #19

    Is this going to go back up? These mixes have been amazing.

  20. halfhearteddude
    June 3rd, 2011 at 23:52 | #20
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