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Ramblin' Rose
The Life and Career of Rose Maddox
By Johnny Whiteside
Vanderbilt University Press
1997
260 Pages
ISBN:  0-82651-269-0

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A groundbreaking study of one of the pioneering women of country music, whose biography sheds new light on the role of women in postwar America and the growth of the music business in California.

It's a Depression-era saga right out of STeinbeck. The determined matriarch of a rural Alabama family uproots her husband and five children and drives them westward on foot and by boxcar, through sheer willpower, on a journey of two thousand miles to California, where a new life begins. Four years later, at age eleven, youngest daughter Rose Maddox steps up to the microphone for the first time to sing on the radio with the family band. Within a week, the Maddox Brothers & Rose receive a thousand letters, launching the group on a country music career that ultimately ranges from the rodeo shows of the West to the bright lights of Nashville's Grand Ole Opry.

In this meticulously researched biography, veteran music journalist Jonny Whiteside recounts the colorful story of this pioneering woman who literally grew up in the mael-dominated enclaves of country music and struggled to make a place for herself there. In Rose Maddox, Whiteside has found an exceptional protagonist for his story: a fiery, strong-willed entertainer whose music has had an influence far beyond her handful of hits on the record charts and who in many ways, Whiteside convincingly artuges, prefigured the coming of rock and roll. In the process, Whiteside introdcues us to a host of memorable characters—stars like Hank Williams and Johnny Cash; behind-the-scenes movers and shakers like record men Cliffie Stone and Bill McCall; and, at the heart of the story, the irrepressible Maddox family themselves, whose freewheeling music so faithfully reflected the hurly-burly world of California's displaced migrant workers.

Ramblin' Rose is a long-overdue work of research and synthesis that documents not only the life of an unsung musical trailblaxer but also the vibrant, roughhewn West Coast country music scene that once rivaled Nashville and left an indelible imprint on the popular music of today.

About the Author
A West coast music journalist, Jonny Whiteside has written for both popular and scholarly publications, including the LA Weekly, Variety, and the Journal of Country Music. He is the author of Cry: The Johnny Ray Story.