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Country Music Encyclopedia
By Melvin Shestack
Thomas V. Crowell Company
1974
410 Pages
ISBN:  0-690-00442-7

Buy this Book

Country music has come of age. It has a rich history in American life, and until now its story has never been told. Covering its earliest development in the 1920s to its present glittering status, this book is at once the definitive encyclopedia and history of country music, and an engaging, opinion-filled, knowledgeable story written with verve and insight by one of the country's leading scholars of Americana.

The background of all the major performers in country music, their greatest hits, fascinating anecdotes about their childhood, their rise to, or fall from, fame, the truth behind publicity releases and general rumor—it's all here, from Roy Acuff to Tammy Wynette. Over the past twenty-five years, Mel Shestack has talked and listened to everybody from Spade Cooley to Barbara Mandrell, from Haywire Mac (the first recorded cowboy and the author of "Hallelujah, I'm a Bum") and the immortal Hank Williams to the contemporary stars. He has watched the late Cowboy Copas and Hawkshaw Hawkins perform, argued with Montana Slim, and met scores of performers in the course of writing this book and traveling with them for Country Music magazine. Here also is the Nashville story: some of the friendships, the arguments, the nights, and the fly-by-night record moguls—a sharp critical look at every school of country music, and the meaning of some of country music's most memorable and best-loved songs.

From country music fans everywhere, city and country, from Boston to Nashville, San Francisco to L.A., here is absolutely the best and most entertaining book you could own.

Here, then, is the real why of country music: why a performer is famous, the theme of his music, and where he fits in the country-music world. A discography of every major hit of each performer is included.

  • Melvin Shestack was formerly an editor with The Saturday Evening Post and True magazine. He has written numerous articles for Playboy, Penthouse, and Esquire, and was a producer for CBS News. He was formerly a contributing editor of Country Music magazine and lives in a converted old factory building in New York City.