The Starday Story
The House That Country Music Built
Publication Year: 2011
Published by: University Press of Mississippi
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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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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, ...
1. YOU ALL COME
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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....
2. ROCK IT
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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 ...
3. DON’T STOP THE MUSIC
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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 ...
4. RANK STRANGER
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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 ...
5. SUNNY TENNESSEE
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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 ...
6. GIDDY-UP GO
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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 ...
7. A SATISFIED MIND
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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 ...
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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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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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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 ...
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Page Count: 272
Publication Year: 2011