Über Jimmie Rodgers
Any time you have ever heard anyone yodel within the confines of a country music song, you can thank (or blame) the late, great Jimmie Rodgers. He wasn't the first to yodel in a country song, but he was the first to make it famous. Also known as "The Blue Yodeler," Rogers was the first person to gain celebrity status as a country musician. Following a railroad job as brake operator and then as a blackface minstrel performer on the medicine show circuit, he used those tales to fuel his songs, imbuing them with a humbled kind of romance and poetry that the working man could relate to in the late 1920s. And these weren't just the typical "She'll be comin' 'round the mountain" hillbilly songs of the day. Threading elements of gospel, jazz, blues, folk and the cowboy campfire songs of the time, the singer wrote such iconic and influential songs as "T For Texas," "Travelin' Blues," "Waitin' For A Train," "In The Jailhouse Now" and the haunting "T.B. Blues." The latter tune came from true experience, since Rogers was riddled with tuberculosis so badly that they had to put up a cot in the recording studio so he could rest his bleeding lungs in between takes. In 1933, at the young age of 36, Rogers died an untimely death when one of his lungs hemorrhaged -- from the ravages of his tuberculosis -- immediately following what would be his last recording. He was the first artist to be inducted in to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1961, and his influence can still be heard in modern day country and Americana artists.