(born March 23, 1868, Fannin County, Georgia; died
December 11, 1949, Atlanta, Georgia)
The music of Fiddlin'
John Carson from Fannin County, Georgia, was the first
of what we know today as "country music" to be
broadcast by radio and recorded for phonograph.
He and his daughter, Rosa Lee, who was known as
"Moonshine Kate," were the first stars despite the
fact that little of the fame and none of the fortunes
produced in the country music industry ever were
Carson was fifty-four years old, had won the Georgia
Fiddlin' Championship seven times, and had a colorful
reputation as a traveling performer who made a living
playing and "passing the hat" when he was not working
in the cotton mill, painting houses, or making
moonshine when he walked into the "studios" of the
brand new radio station WSB started by the Atlanta
When he announced that he would "like to have a try
at the newfangled contraption," Lambdin Kay obliged
him. His only pay being a snort of the
engineer's whiskey, Carson performed "Little Old Log
Cabin in the Lane."
The Journal reported that Carson's fame spread "to
every corner of the United States were WSB was
heard." His popularity inspired Polk Brockman,
an Atlanta furniture dealer who had been successful in
developing and merchandising "race" records for the
black market for OKeh records, to persuade OKeh
Peer to bring his recording equipment to Atlanta
to record Fiddlin' John.
On June 14, 1923, in a vacant building on Nassau
Street in Atlanta, Georgia, Carson cut two sides,
"Little Old Log Cabin" and "The Old Hen Cackled and
the Rooster's going to Crow." Peer announced
them "pluperful awful" but agreed to press five
hundred on a blank label for Brockman's personal use.
With Fiddlin' John hawking them from the stage of the
next Fiddler's convention, Brockman promptly sold
every disc. Peer immediately rushed into a major
pressing on the OKeh label and invited Carson to New
York to record twelve more sides.
Zell Miller - They Heard