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The Starday Story

The House That Country Music Built

Nathan D. Gibson, Don Pierce

Publication Year: 2011

The Starday Story: The House That Country Music Built is the first book entirely dedicated to one of the most influential music labels of the twentieth century. In addition to creating the largest bluegrass catalogue throughout the 1950s and '60s, Starday was also known for its legendary rockabilly catalogue, an extensive Texas honky-tonk outpouring, classic gospel and sacred recordings, and as a Nashville independent powerhouse studio and label.Written with label president and co-founder Don Pierce, this book traces the label's origins in 1953 through the 1968 Starday-King merger. Interviews with artists and their families, employees, and Pierce contribute to the stories behind famous hit songs, including "Y'all Come," "A Satisfied Mind," "Why Baby Why," "Giddy-up Go," "Alabam," and many others. Gibson's research and interviews also shed new light on the musical careers of George Jones, Arlie Duff, Willie Nelson, Roger Miller, the Stanley Brothers, Cowboy Copas, Red Sovine, and countless other Starday artists. Conversations with the children of Pappy Daily and Jack Starns provide a unique perspective on the early days of Starday, and extensive interviews with Pierce offer an insider glance at the country music industry during its golden era.Weathering through the storm of rock and roll and, later, the Nashville Sound, Starday was a home to traditional country musicians and became one of the most successful independent labels in American history. Ultimately, The Starday Story is the definitive record of a country music label that played an integral role in preserving our nation's musical heritage.

Published by: University Press of Mississippi

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FOREWORD

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pp. vii-ix

Country music and Starday Records were a labor of love for me from 1946 to 1970. I salute Nate Gibson and the publishers of this book for making the story available to country music fans.

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INTRODUCTION

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pp. xi-xvi

The Starday story is the tale of one of, if not the, most important independent labels in country music history—an empire based on East Texas honky-tonk, rockabilly, bluegrass, western swing, cowboy trios, old-time stringband music, Cajun ditties, jug bands, gospel quartets, square dance jigs, cornball comedians, polkas, and almost anything else that has, at one time or another, ...

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1. YOU ALL COME

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pp. 2-23

Lefty Frizzell’s boyish good looks and quirky, swooping vocal style won him the hearts of millions of fans across the United States. By the end of 1951 he had appeared on the Grand Ole Opry and the Louisiana Hayride, had four songs in Billboard’s Top 10 charts simultaneously, and had just completed a nationwide tour with country music superstar Hank Williams....

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2. ROCK IT

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pp. 24-48

The immediate success enjoyed by Starday was rare for an independent label, especially one devoted entirely to country music. At the onset of World War II, the American Federation of Musicians declared a nationwide recording ban, claiming that jukeboxes and radio airplay cut into a musician’s potential salary and that the recording companies should contribute to a fund to ...

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3. DON’T STOP THE MUSIC

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pp. 49-78

Irving B. Green founded Mercury Records in Chicago in 1945. Among the first country acts to record for the new label were Wally Fowler, the Oklahoma Wranglers (later known as the Willis Brothers), Carl Story, Rex Allen, and others. By 1949 Mercury’s country stable also boasted the likes of Dale Evans, the Masters Family, Eddie Dean, Bonnie Lou, Archie Campbell, and the legendary ...

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4. RANK STRANGER

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pp. 79-106

For Pierce, the decision to stay in Nashville was obvious. He loved the city. He loved the people. He loved the food. He loved the business. He had built a new home. Despite the sour turn of events, there was at least a bright side: Pierce kept the office building he had bought with Daily. He still had half of a very active publishing catalog and was contracted with George Jones for another ...

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5. SUNNY TENNESSEE

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pp. 107-128

By 1960 Pierce had earned the esteem and admiration of music executives on Nashville’s downtown Music Row as well as fans and disc jockeys. Respect for Starday was further cemented with the grand opening of the Starday Sound Studios in May 1960. Prior to its opening, Nashville studio time was hard to come by. Pierce’s studio was soon booked solid as well. Th e studio quickly ...

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6. GIDDY-UP GO

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pp. 129-151

Despite the recent tragedies, by 1964 country music was enjoying a massive surge in popularity, both within the United States and overseas. Once viewed as a small independent label on the outskirts of town, Starday was now considered to be one of the hot trendsetters during the resurgence. Yet even with the industry recognition and the growing success of their long play albums, major ...

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7. A SATISFIED MIND

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pp. 152-170

Nineteen sixty-six was a good year for country music. Several of the trade publications declared it so and Pierce could certainly agree. With the successes of “Giddy-Up Go,” “Ten Little Bottles,” the various truck driving albums, Pierce’s side-project golf tournament and various business adventures, Starday experienced its most successful year. Yet, buried deep within the pages of the trade ...

NOTES

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pp. 171-172

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RECOMMENDED LISTENING

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pp. 173-176

After completing this book, I realized that it might be useful for me to point readers to where they might hear some of the records about which they have just read. Sadly, much of the Starday catalog remains out of print. Additionally, I recognize that many music listeners have long since abandoned their record players and have no interest scouring eBay for records every day. With that in mind, I have attempted to compile a list of some of ...

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RECORD LISTING

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pp. 177-247

While writing the history of Starday Records, I became very interested—obsessed, actually—in hearing the music I was to be writing about. Unfortunately, much of this great label’s output remains locked away in a vault. Thus, the only way to hear many of these tunes is to seek out the records themselves. In attempting to do so, there were many highs and lows. For example, I can think of very few things as exciting as discovering a record ...

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BIBLIOGRAPHY

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pp. 249-255

The Starday Story—The House That Country Music Built relies extensively on personal interviews, the majority with Don Pierce. Other research materials for chapter 1 include scrapbooks and keepsakes kept by both Don Pierce and Patsy (Elshire) Astorga. Bud Daily, Pappy Daily’s son, also contributed to my understanding of the label’s early history and directed me to Bear Family’s “D” label box set liner notes by Colin Escott. Joyce Kelley ...

INDEX

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pp. 257-265


E-ISBN-13: 9781604738315
E-ISBN-10: 1604738316
Print-ISBN-13: 9781604738308
Print-ISBN-10: 1604738308

Page Count: 272
Publication Year: 2011

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