A Career to Remember
Clarence Albert Poindexter, also known as Al Dexter, was born in Jacksonville, Texas. In 1930, he owned a bar and was the first few artists that pioneered the honky-tonk style of country music. ARC Records gave Clarence his first recording contract on November 28, 1936. Al Dexter was said to be the first recorded artist to use the term “honky-tonk” in the title of the country song when he recorded, “Honky Tonk Blues.”
Al Dexter‘s biggest break came when his famous hit “Pistol Packin’ Mama” was used by the New York Yankees. “Pistol Packin’ Mama” also became one of the most well-known songs during World War II. It was then converted to a movie in 1943 that gave Dexter about $250,00 due to royalties. Also during the ‘40s, Al Dexter released his hit “Guitar Polka.” This was then recognized by the Billboard’ list as the “Most Played Juke Box Folk Record” for 16 straight weeks in 1946.
Dexter’s career wasn’t just confined in recording several hit songs, but he was also the first country singer to ever perform on Broadway. Dexter was also included in the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1971. On August 21, 2010, Al Dexter was then inducted in the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame. Other inductees included: George Jones and Ray Winkler.
Pistol Packin’ Mama
Your grandparents or great grandparents would likely crank-up the radio once they hear the song “Pistol Packin’ Mama” being played on air. The song “Pistol Packin’ Mama” was released in 1943 and was written by Al Dexter. This song got tons of recognition causing it to become a top song on the Juke Box Folk Records chart which will be later on known as the Hot Country Songs Chart.
1942-1943 marked a dark age for American History. World War II was at its peak and the outcome could go either way. Fathers, brothers, loved ones and friends have left home to serve during the war without an assurance of coming back alive. Millions have died and it may take 2-3 years more before everything would end.
With all of this chaos happening around the world people of all ages from grandparents, fathers, mothers, and their kids would find refuge in music. The biggest hits that time would feature a guy named Al Dexter.
Al Dexter would not go on to be the great stars in country music like Hank Williams, Webb Pierce or Ernest Tubb. But when needed the most, Dexter was able to provide a kind of relief that was seldom seen or heard in music.
Al Dexter’s musical career may have been covered through time. Yet, the songs he wrote proved that music could give relief to the person listening. The song “Pistol Packin’ Mama” helped tons of families and people to find the refuge that was so hard to find during those days.
Pistol Packin Mama Covers
After the release of the original song that was recorded by Al Dexter in 1942, Pistol Packin Mama was also covered by several known artists. Bing Crosby together with the Andrew Sisters recorded their own version of the song on September 27, 1943, for the Decca Records. Bing Crosby’s recording peaked at the number 3 on the Harlem Hit Parade Chart.
Other artists that covered the song included Gene Vincent with his 1960 cover that reached the number 15 spot in the UK charts. Vincent’s rendition of the song featured Georgie Fame playing the piano. In 1969 Flamin’ Groovies also had their rendition of the iconic song which they included in their debut album “Supersnazz.”
The song’s legacy wasn’t just covered by several country artists but was also used in different mediums in different industries. During the ‘70s a UK television advertising campaign that was made for Rowntree’s Fruit Pastilles used the chorus of the song to advertise their product. Bing Crosby’s rendition of the song was also featured in several radio stations in video games that included: L.A. Noire and Fallout 4. It was also named to B17-G flying fortress that was sent out for a mission to Leipzig.