sit down to sort out the what and why of 20th Century
American Music, they will have to accord high ranking to
the influence of Gid Tanner on all of its forms.
Tanner, a chicken farmer, never in his life fully
comprehended the importance of the bridge he and his
wild band of musical geniuses known as the Skillet
Lickers built between traditional folk and modern
They not only gave respectability and popularity to
what previously had been derided as "hillbilly" music,
but they also served as the initial catalyst in the
sweeping electronic evolution which brought this
nation's music to the mix of country, jazz, blues, and
urban pop which gives commonality to American music as
we know it today.
Had it not been for the lure of the burgeoning music
recording and radio broadcast industries, James Gideon
Tanner probably would have been content to limit his
musical activities to occasional forays out of his
Walton County farm to joust with the likes of Fiddlin'
Carson, his senior, and Clayton McMichen, his
junior, in the fiddling competitions of the time,
which he sometimes won and in which he always placed.
But then Frank Walker of Columbia Records invited him
at the age of thirty-eight to come to New York to help
that company catch up with OKeh Records' highly
successful issues of Carson's country
recordings. He took with him his blind friend,
Riley Puckett, who was to gain fame as the first of
the crooners and rhythm guitarist, and on March 7,
1924, they became the first southern rural artist to
record for Columbia.
Zell Miller - They Heard