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Mac (The Old Country Boy) Odell
and His Alabama Jubilees
Born:  May 31, 1916
Died:  January 11, 2003
KBTM Jonesboro, AR
WJJD Chicago, IL
WLAC Nashville, TN
WWL New Orleans, NO

About The Artist

Odell McLeod simply reversed his real name which he used as a song writer to become "Mac Odell." He had a noteworthy career as a radio singer over major stations in New Orleans, Chicago and Nashville as well as recording for Mercury and King.

His compositions made an even larger impact, being recorded by such key figures as Roy Acuff, Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs, Cowboy Copas, and Wilma Lee and Stoney Cooper.

A native of Roanoke, Alabama, "Mac" grew up in LaGrange, Georgia where he and a friend named John "Slim" Bassett formed a country duet act. As they approached adulthood they journeyed to New Orleans where they landed a musical job at WWL New Orleans. Later the pair went to Benton Harbor, Michigan where they met a couple of young ladies who became their wives. Slim left music, but Mac and his betrothed, Adeline Wood (later known as Little Addie), formed a new duet that later went to WJJD where they became regulars on the Suppertime Frolic.

World War II led Mac into defense work for Michigan Power Shovel, during which time he began to work at songwriting. He sent some of his work to the newly formed Acuff-Rose, which bought five of his numbers, most notably "That Glory Bound Train" and "Radio Station S-A-V-E-D" which were recorded by Acuff. Mac looked forward to renewing his career after the war.

Although Mac did not land a spot at the Grand Ole Opry, he and Addie did find work at Nashville's other 50,000 watt station WLAC. This station had a number of what became known as "studio stars" and managed to earn a living through salaried programs and sales of songbooks and other products. Mac and Addie pursued this livelihood for a decade or so, but unlike the Opry performers they did not tour much.

Other WLAC acts included Big Jeff Bess and the couple Ted and Wanda Henderson.

Mac landed recording contracts with such upcoming labels as Mercury and King, cutting eight numbers for the former company in 1949 and sixteen for the latter from 1952 until 1954. Songs included such well known sacred songs as "Thirty Pieces of Silver" and "From the Manger to the Cross," which became bigger hits when recorded by other artists. Other of his songs were recorded by better-known figures.

Among his secular recordings were "Red Ball Rocket Train" which featured Speedy Krise on Dobro and a comical look at "Penicillin," viewed by folks as a near cure-all medicine at the time.

By the late 1950's Mac had returned to Michigan and started a sign painting business. A heart attack forced his retirement. He attempted a comeback of sorts which had only modest success, but did include a couple of new albums and reissues of his old numbers which were generally considered much better.

Odell continued to live in Benton Harbor, Michigan until his death.

Credits & Sources

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Recordings (78rpm/45rpm)

 
King
Rec. No. Side Song Title
  1040 A The Kiss of Betrayal
  1040 B Life?s Elevator
  1055 A Be on Time
  1055 B Wolves in Sheep?s Clothing
  1075 A Let?s Pray
  1075 B When the Hand of God Comes Down
  1159 A Set Your Dial on Heaven
  1159 B I?d Rather Have God
  1251 A Penicillin
  1251 B Wildwood Flower
  1275 A One Day Religion
  1275 B What Then
  1335 A Heaven Bound Gospel Train
  1335 B The Stone Was Rolled Away
  1361 A A Crown He Wore
  1361 B Are You Practicing His Love
 
Mercury
Rec. No. Side Song Title
  6179 A Thirty Pieces Of Silver
  6179 B Wild Rose Of The Mountains
  6243 A Red Ball Rocket Train
  6243 B That Final Day
  6272 A A Prayer For Freedom [Korean War]
  6272 B The Master's Train
  6298 A The Sign By The Highway
  6298 B From The Manger To The Cross
 
Quality
Rec. No. Side Song Title
  4243 A Wildwood Flower
  4243 B Penicillin


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