Publish date:
Updated on

Country legend Jimmie Rodgers is recorded for the very first time

The Father of Country Music, Jimmie Rodgers, is recorded for the very first time on August 4, 1997, during the legendary Bristol Sessions.

The term “country music” did not exist in the summer of 1927, when Ralph Peer, an engineer and talent scout for the Victor Talking Machine Company of Camden, New Jersey, set up a makeshift recording studio in the upper floors of an empty warehouse in Bristol, Tennessee. He was preparing for what Johnny Cash would later call “The single most important event in the history of country music.”

The historic 12-day marathon now known as “the Bristol Sessions” began on July 25 with a recording session with Ernest Stoneman, one of the few established names in what was then known as “hillbilly music.” It continued with a string of mostly unknown musicians drawn to the railroad town of Bristol, on the Virginia-Tennessee border, by newspaper stories and advertisements promising $50 for any song Ralph Peer chose to record. Peer’s efforts would have been judged a resounding success even if he’d stopped after August 1, when he recorded an unknown act called the Carter Family—a group that would come to be known as the First Family of country music. But on August 4, 1927, the Bristol Sessions took on truly historic dimensions when an itinerant, tubercular blues yodeler from rural Mississippi, named Jimmie Rodgers walked into Peer’s studio. The recording session that followed would lay the foundation for Rodgers’s undisputed status as the “Father of Country Music.”

Born in 1897 and raised back and forth between southeast Mississippi and southwest Alabama, Jimmie Rodgers followed his father into the railroad business, where he would earn one of his several famous nicknames, “the Singing Brakeman.” When tuberculosis forced Rodgers off the railroad in the mid-1920s, he began to pursue his longstanding passion for music professionally, first making a name for himself in western North Carolina through weekly appearances on WWNC out of Asheville. It was his decision to travel roughly 100 miles north through the Blue Ridge Mountains to the Bristol Sessions, however, that would make his career.

In his first-ever recording session on this day in 1927, Rodgers cut two test recordings, “The Soldier’s Sweetheart” and “Sleep, Baby, Sleep,” which were released two months later on the Victor label to moderate success. His follow-up session in October 1927 in Camden, however, yielded “Blue Yodel,” his first smash hit and the song that launched him on a short but brilliant career as a recording, radio and movie star. Rodgers died at the age of 35 of a lung hemorrhage on May 26, 1933.

FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us!


Washington becomes Master Mason

George Washington, a young Virginia planter, becomes a Master Mason, the highest basic rank in the secret fraternity of Freemasonry. The ceremony was held at the Masonic Lodge No. 4 in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Washington was 21 years old and would soon command his first military more

Slain civil rights workers found

The remains of three civil rights workers whose disappearance on June 21 garnered national attention are found buried in an earthen dam near Philadelphia, Mississippi. Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman, both white New Yorkers, had traveled to heavily segregated Mississippi in more

Borden parents found dead

On this day in 1892, Andrew and Abby Borden are found hacked to death in their Fall River, Massachusetts, home. Andrew was discovered in a pool of blood on the living room couch, his face nearly split in two. Abby was upstairs, her head smashed to pieces; it was later determined more

Anne Frank captured

Acting on tip from a Dutch informer, the Nazi Gestapo captures 15-year-old Jewish diarist Anne Frank and her family in a sealed-off area of an Amsterdam warehouse. The Franks had taken shelter there in 1942 out of fear of deportation to a Nazi concentration camp. They occupied more

Secret negotiations are initiated in Paris

The first secret negotiating session takes place between Henry Kissinger and North Vietnamese representative Xuan Thuy, at the apartment of French intermediary Jean Sainteny in Paris. Kissinger reiterated an earlier proposal put forth on May 14 for a mutual withdrawal of North more

Lizzie Borden took an axe…

Andrew and Abby Borden, elderly residents of Fall River, Massachusetts, are found bludgeoned to death in their home. Lying in a pool of blood on the living room couch, Andrew’s face had been nearly split in two. Abby, Lizzie’s stepmother, was found upstairs with her head smashed more

Union generals squabble outside of Atlanta

A Union operation against Confederate defenses around Atlanta, Georgia, stalls when infighting erupts between Yankee generals. The problem arose when Union General William T. Sherman began stretching his force—consisting of the Army of the Ohio, the Army of the Tennessee, and the more

“Talladega Nights” released

“Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby,” an irreverent comedy based in the outlandish (fictionalized) world of American stock car racing, premieres in movie theaters around the United States on this day in 2006. The comedian Will Ferrell (who also co-wrote the screenplay more