Jimmie Rodgers, "the father of country music" and the first performer
elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame, was a folk hero in his own
lifetime, and has been idolized by fans and emulated by performers
ever since. His life has been particularly susceptible to romanticizing,
marked as it was by humble origins, sudden success and fame, and an early,
tragic death from tuberculosis.
Nolan Porterfield's definitive and highly readable biography banishes
the rumors and myths which have long shrouded the Blue Yodeler's life
story. Unlike previous writings about Rodgers, Porterfield's book
derives from extensive and detailed research into original sources:
private letters, personal interviews, court records, and newspaper
accounts. JIMMIE RODGERS significantly expands and alters our
knowledge of the entertainer's life and career, explaining the nature
of his role in American culture of the Depression era and providing
pages of insightful background on the milieu in which he worked.
Reading the first full account of the Singing Brakeman's childhood and
adolescence, fans may be surprised to find that his early years were
considerably less austere than previously reported, and that the railroad,
although important, was not the dominant force in his life. Readers will
also learn the details, never before published, of Rodgers's first marriage,
and of the bitter lawsuit which centered around the only child of that
marriage. Music specialists will welcome the abundance
of information on Rodgers's recording sessions, including newly discovered
facts regarding the circumstances of the original session in Bristol, and
data on the performers, managers, and other show business figures who
worked with Rodgers. An extensive discography, an itinerary of Rodgers's
personal appearances, a chronology of the famous "Blue Yodels," and abundant
illustrations give JIMMIE RODGERS even greater appeal and utility.
"Not only has Porterfield given us the most complete and accurate account
of Rodgers that we are likely to get; he has also provided
some of the most valuable insights about early country music, and the
South, that can be found in any published work."
Bill C. Malone, author of Country Music, U.S.A., and coeditor
of Stars of Country Music.
Nolan Porterfield is professor of English and writer-in-residence at Southeast
Missouri State University. A Texas native and lifelong Jimmie Rodgers fan,
his previously published works include an award-winning novel, "A Way of Knowing,"
and numerous stories and articles in such magazines as "Harper's", "The Sewannee
Review", and "The North American Review."