Introduction

Welcome to Roughstock's History of Country Music! This is the only country music history site on the Web, brought to you by the world's #1 Country and Western Site: Roughstock. This exhibit looks at some of the influential artists and songs of the late 1920's through the year 2000, era by era. Look around, you'll find artists from Gene Autry, Roy Acuff, Bob Wills, Hank Williams to Patsy Cline, Lefty Frizzell, Willie Nelson, Garth Brooks and many others. Included in our narrative look are numerous rare images, sound clips, and digital movies.

The Beginnings

Although musicians had been recording fiddle tunes (known as Old Time Music at that time) in the southern Appalachians for several years, It wasn't until August 1, 1927 in Bristol, Tennessee, that Country Music really began. There, on that day, Ralph Peer signed Jimmie Rodgers and the Carter Family to recording contracts for Victor Records.

Acuff And The Grand Ole Opry

Perhaps no other institution is more synonymous with country music than WSM Radio's Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee. Since 1925, it has featured country music acts on it's stage for live Saturday night broadcasts. This program has introduced the nation to most, if not all, of the greats of country music. To this day, membership on the Opry remains one of a Country Music artist's greatest ambitions.

Western Swing

This very popular style of Country Music developed in Texas and Oklahoma the 1930's and saw enormous popularity in the 40's. The style is a blend of big band, blues, dixieland, and jazz, among others. Musically, it contributed the drums and Hawaiian Steel Guitar to Country Music. It was a Saturday night dance type of music which combined the style of jazz and big band swing with the culture of the Southwest.

Bill Monroe And Bluegrass

The virtual base on which the whole of bluegrass music rests, William Smith (Bill) Monroe was born at Rosine, Kentucky, on September 13, 1911, the youngest of eight children. Brother Charlie was next youngest, having been born eight years earlier. This gap, coupled with Bill's poor eyesight, inhibited the youngest son from many of the usual play activities and gave him an introverted nature which carried through into later life.

Cowboy Music

The songs of Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, and the Sons of the Pioneers put the Western in Country and Western Music. Much of this music was written for and brought to the American public through the cowboy films of the 30's and 40's and was widely popular.

Honky Tonk Music

Perhaps no other style of country music has had a greater influence on today's artists than the style known as Honky Tonk. Honky Tonk music embodied the spirit of dancing and drinking, and of loving and then losing the one you love. Its greatest practitioners owe their singing style to Jimmie Rodgers and much of the music to the steel guitar and drums of Bob Wills and Western Swing.

The Nashville Sound

The Nashville Sound is a blend of pop and country that developed during the 1950s. The music in this era was an outcropping of the big band jazz and swing of the '30s, '40s and early '50s, combined with the storytelling of honky-tonkers.

Outlaw Country

With country music very much a pop confection, a ragtag collective of artists took the outsider spirit of rock n roll and turned it into a vast movement.  The Outlaw movement was coined after country music's first million-selling album "Meet The Outlaws." Aside from the "outlaws" profiled below, new artists such as Charley Pride ("Kiss an Angel Good Morning") and Conway Twitty ("Hello Darlin' ") emerged to break the mold of the Nashville Sound. Southern Country Rockers such as The Outlaws, The Marshall Tucker Band, David Allan Coe, The Charlie Daniels Band, and others took country to a new, higher level. Without a doubt, though, it was the outlaws who defined this era in country music.

Urban Cowboy

The most infamous era in country music was in the early '80s. The Urban Cowboy movement led country music away from its roots. Country's move toward pop culture was popularized by John Travolta's "Urban Cowboy," and spurred on by Dolly Parton's movie 9 to 5 and the title song, which you can find here.