Many country music fans out there would already know the answer if they’re asked who the King of Country Music or the King of Country is. George Jones, George Strait, Johnny Cash will definitely be some of the answers. But many still forget who the one and only Father of Country Music is.
Named as the Singing Brakeman and the Mississippi Blue Yodeler, Jimmie Rodgers is considered as the Father of Country Music. Rodgers is Mississippian and he created the Blue Yodel from which his nickname was derived.
Born on September 8, 1897, James Charles Rodgers or more popularly known as Jimmie Rodgers, made the art of rhythmic yodeling known not only in America but to the other parts of the world. He, along with the Carter Family, paved the way to introducing country music. To note, Rodgers is cited by many artists as an inspiration, and an inductee into numerous Halls of Fame as well.
As a performing artist, Rodgers started his career at a young age. On August 4, 1927, he released his first recording “The Soldier’s Sweetheart.” It was then followed by a number of other recordings. His most notable songs are “Blue Yodel No. 1″, In the Jailhouse Now”, “Waiting for a Train”, “Any Old Time”, and “Blue Yodel No. 9” to name a few.
However, in 1933, exactly 85 years ago, Rodgers recorded the last single of his entire career. The song was called “Years Ago“.
About “Years Ago”, His Last Recording
Recorded on May 24, 1933, “Years Ago” is the last of Jimmie Rodgers’ recordings. It was released on December 20 later that year.
“Years Ago” was not just simply a song. He earned and lived it. Suffering from tuberculosis, Rodgers traveled to New York City for a group of sessions on May 17, 1933. He began recording all by himself and finished four songs on the first day. Returning to the studio after a day’s rest, he recorded his next songs sitting down. However, he soon retreated to his hotel in hopes of regaining enough energy to complete the session. Hence, the recording engineer hired two musicians to help Rodgers. Together, they recorded a few songs, including “Mississippi Delta Blues”.
For the last song, “Years Ago”, Rodgers decided to record the song alone. It was a matching bookend to his career.
Two days after recording his last song, sadly, Rodgers succumbed to tuberculosis. He died at the age of 35 in Manhattan, New York. According to stories, he knew that he was dying, and he knew that his soon-to-be widow would be in a financial crisis. Thus, he requested the RCA folks to set up a big recording session to essentially fill the larder for the sake of his estate.
Jimmie Rodgers may have been gone too soon but his music and his gift of yodel will always live and mark him the legacy of being the Father of Country Music.
Listen to Jimmie Rodgers’ recording of “Years Ago” below:
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