1-CD deluxe album with 72-page booklet, 27 tracks. Playing time approx. 74 mns.
After many, many requests, we're finally doing a definitive year-by-year country series! And it won't stop when the music is in copyright, either! The most luxuriously packaged single CDs we've ever done! The history of country music told year-by-year from 1945-1970. The first six volumes are complete, 1945-1950. The hits! The classic performances! The truly influential recordings! Painstakingly restored sound! The series is compiled an annotated by Grammy winning Colin Escott. The country series has been compiled with today's fans in mind. Yes, the big hits are there, but so are the classic performances that weren't necessarily big hits at the time, but became influential in the years ahead. Every volume has incredibly detailed behind-the-scenes stories, fabulously rare photos, and an ongoing history of country music set against the backdrop of the broader American music business. Definitive' You bet!
One momentous event in country music history took place in 1947, even if it was more-or-less unheralded at the time. On August 30, 'Billboard' casually noted, "Milton Estes and Red Foley cut their first Decca platters in Nashville two weeks ago. Previously all cutting was done in Chicago, but many waxeries are now using WSM's new studio." It was a tiny note and full of half-truths (Ernest Tubb was omitted from the list of those who recorded and it wasn't WSM's studio but a studio run by three moonlighting WSM engineers…and, of course, all cutting wasn't done in Chicago prior to these sessions). Eddy Arnold had inaugurated the latter-day Nashville recording business when he recorded a session at WSM in December 1944, and Tubb and Foley weren't the first to record at the new Castle Recording Laboratories, but when two of the biggest stars of the day began recording there on a regular basis, it wouldn't be long before others followed suit. Nashville was on its way to becoming country music's ground zero.
The Grand Ole Opry was aggressively drawing the top country stars to Nashville, and the business followed. The Opry mandated that its artists must be in Nashville almost every week so record producers knew that their artists would be in Nashville on the weekend; song pluggers knew that the record producers would be in town; and bookers knew that they could pitch show dates to artists' managers. Many of the deals were done backstage at the Opry or in the alley beside the old Ryman Auditorium where the Opry had been staged since 1943. Before the Second World War, Chicago, Dallas, and Los Angeles had been the hubs of the business, but within a few years of war's end Nashville became synonymous with country music. Roy Acuff and Fred Rose looked like visionaries because they'd launched the city's first professionally-run music publishing company, Acuff-Rose Publications, in 1942. In their wake, Opry manager Jack Stapp started Tree Music in 1951, and the Opry's Artist Service Bureau manager, Jim Denny, launched Cedarwood Music in partnership with Webb Pierce in 1953. Meanwhile, east and west coast publishing companies began recruiting local reps to scout and pitch country songs. In 1946, for instance, New York's Leeds Music hired singer Riley Shepard, and several years later Tannen Music hired Boudleaux Bryant. As of 1946, the city had its first independent label, Bullet Records, and in 1947, Bullet scored the biggest pop hit of the year, Francis Craig's Near You. Bullet's success encouraged other indies to launch out of Nashville.
The Castle studio was started in 1945 by WSM engineers, who began renting WSM's studios, but, in mid-1947, as demand increased, the Castle partners moved to a wood-paneled dining room on an upper floor of the Tulane Hotel. It was also in 1947 that Ernest Tubb launched the Ernest Tubb Record Shop. From talking to fans, Tubb knew that they had a hard time finding country records in stores across the country, so he opened a store with a mail order operation on Commerce Street in Nashville, very close to the Opry. The official launch was in May 1947. Tubb had already bought WSM airtime after the Opry signed off on Saturday nights and at some point in late 1947 or early '48 he began hosting a post-Opry show, 'The Midnite Jamboree,' from the store. The store and the 'Jamboree' did a lot for Nashville and for Tubb, but the business itself was a marginal operation for several years. Breakages wiped out profits, and Tubb himself said that only the advent of the 45 RPM saved him.