1938. Bill Monroe assembles his Bluegrass Boys, from whom a new offshoot of country music will take its name. They perform at the Grang Ole Opry in October.
1939. Ted Daffan writes the first trucking song, 'Truck Driver’s Blues’.
House musician, Sam Gill plays the Opry’s first electric guitar.
1941. America joins the war. Southern recruits introduce country music to their fellow soldiers from various regions of the U.S. Okies transplant to California to work in war related industries.
1945. Nashville begins its rise as a famous recording centre when Decca’s Paul Cohen records smooth, Kentucky born crooner, Red Foley.
Solo vocalists begin to supplant string bands on the charts.
1948. Banjo legend Earl Scruggs & guitarist lester Flatt leave Bill Monroe’s band to form Bluegrass powerhouse ‘The Foggy Mountain Boys’ &, eventually, Flatt & Scruggs.
1949. Hank Williams debuts at the Opry, performing ‘Lovesick Blues’
KXLA in Pasadena, Calif. Becomes the first all Country radio station.
1952. The future ‘Queen of country music’ Kitty Wells is asked to record an answer song to hank Thompson’s ‘The wild side of life’, which contained the lyric, ‘I didn’t know God made honky tonk angels’. The result, ‘It wasn’t god who made honky tonk angels, hit no. 1 on the country charts & sold over 800,000 copies.
Folkways records rleases the 6 L.P. ‘Anthology of American Folk Music’ compiled by Harry Smith. It was released on 6 C.D’s in 1997. This set had a huge influence on the Folk revival & eventually on alt. country.
1953. After more than a decade of hard living Hank Williams is pronounced dead on new year’s day.
1956. Johnny Cash releases his first no. 1 single, ‘I walk the line’.
1960. Folklorist Ralph Rinzler discovers ‘Doc’ Watson in Deep Gap, North Carolina & records him with old time banjoist, Clarence Ashley.
1963. Maybelle Carter appears at the Newport Folk Festival. She returns there with fellow Carter Family member & cousin Sarah for a performance in 1967. These appearances expose a whole new audience to the Carter Familty & help renew interest in ‘Old Time’ music.
1965. Merle Haggard releases his first album.
1968. ‘Johnny Cash live at Folsom prison released by Columbia.
Townes Van Zandt records his debut album ‘For the sake of the song’.
The Byrds release ‘Sweetheart of the Rodeo’, the first(?) country rock album.
Shiloh records releases ‘Safe at Home’ by the International Submarine Band. Tracks were recorded during the 2 years prior to it’s release.
1969. Merle haggard releases ‘Same train, a different time’ an album of Jimmie Rogers covers. The following year he also releases a tribute album to Bob Wills.
1972. California based country-folk-rock group, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band release ‘Will the circle be unbroken’ a gold selling pop hit album that will spend 32 weeks on the charts. The double album features the likes of maybelle Carter, Roy Acuff, Merle Travis & many other old time players. The object being to bring the real old time music to the masses as opposed to Nashville’s glossy version of it.
Emmylou Harris shares the vocals on ‘G.P’ the rootsy debut solo album by Gram Parsons, who played in the country influenced, hippie era bands, the Byrds & the Flying Burrito Brothers. Following his death in 1973 he would become the Godfather of the alt. country movement.
1975. Release of Emmylou Harris’s solo debut ‘Pieces of the sky’.
1986. Steve Earle mixes rock & traditionalism on his M.C.A. debut album ‘Guitar Town’, which reaches no.1 on the country album charts & becomes a critics favourite.
1994. Johnny Cash’s somber, subdued ‘American Recordings’ & its single ‘Delia’ introduce acoustic country to the ‘grunge’ generation.
Archetypal alternative country band ‘Uncle Tupelo’ split, (over artistic differences) giving birth to Wilco & Son Volt.
1995. The alt. country movement gets its voice with the publication of ‘No Depression’ magazine’s first issue. Many critics also dub the musical genre ‘No Depression’. The name comes from an old Carter Family son, ‘No depression in heavan’, &, eventually, the title track from Uncle Tupelo’s debut album.
1997. Bob Dylan produces & assembles ‘The songs of Jimmie Rogers – A Tribute’, an album of Rogers covers that features Jerry Garcia, Dwight Yoakam, Steve Earle, Bono, & Dylan himself, among others. The Rock & Roll hall of fame & Museum hosts a tribute concert & symposium honouring Rogers & celebrating the centenary of his birth.
1998. British folk singer Billy Bragg & U.S. roots rockers Wilco introduce a new generation to Woody Guthrie via their ‘Mermaid Avenue’, featuring Guthrie lyrics & Wilco & Bragg’s music. It is followed 2 years later with ‘Mermaid Avenue 2’.