Pee Wee King’s birth on February 18, 1914, into a Milwaukee working–class
Polish family named Kuczynski was hardly an indicator that he would
grow up to become a pioneer and superstar of country and western music.
Certainly no one in the Polish German community of his youth could have
foreseen his influence on the direction of American popular music or
his enduring fame on the stage of the Grand Ole Opry. Even Pee Wee King
himself in incredulous at the unlikely twists and turns of his life
King is probably best remembered as the co-writer of the most popular
country music song of all time, “The Tennessee Waltz.” He is just as
important, however, for his role in expanding the horizons, and the
market potential, of country and western music. He made country
music respectable and brought it into the mainstream of American culture.
He took the polka and waltz rhythms of his youth, mixed them with the
sounds of the big bands of the thirties and forties, and flavored it all
with the balladry and modes of the Western cowboy.
He combined this new sound with folk and country traditions rooted in
places like Louisville, Knoxville, and Nashville. The result was a
smooth, listenable, danceable, up-to-date sound that has become the
most popular form of music in the United States.
Recipient of numerous awards, including induction into both the
Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Country Music Hall of Fame, Pee Wee King
has been one of the most important figures in country music for
over sixty years. Told in Kings’ own voice and words, this biography,
based on many hours of taped conversations, is the first account
of King’s incredible life and career. Featuring a star-studded cast
of characters form the history of music—Gene Autry, Eddy Arnold,
Minnie Pearl, Roy Acuff, Hank Williams, Patti Page, and many
others—this memorable book is a must read for any country music fan.
- Wade Hall is professor emeritus of
English and the author of numerous books, including "The Rest of the
Dream: The Black Odyssey of Lyman Johnson", "Greetings from Kentucky:
A Post Card Tour", and "Passing for Black: The Careers of Mae Street Kid".