Rodgers, Jimmie

Rodgers, Jimmie (James Charles Rodgers), 1897–1933, American singer, guitarist, and songwriter often called “the father of country music,” b. Meridian, Miss. The son of a railroad foreman, he left school at 14 and worked various railroad jobs, meanwhile learning the blues from his African-American fellow workers. Known as the “Singing Brakeman,” he retired from the railroad c.1924 due to the tuberculosis that eventually would take his life. Rodgers soon became a full-time musician, signed (1927) and recorded with Victor Records, and toured widely. He was extremely popular for his sweet, yodeling tenor; his 12-bar, black-inflected country blues (“blue yodels”); and his songs of railroad, hobo, and cowboy life. His trademark songs include “Mississippi Delta Blues,” “Waiting for a Train,” “In the Jailhouse Now,” “Brakeman's Blues,” and “My Time Ain't Long.” The first country musician to attain success in both rural and urban America, Rodgers has had an enduring musical influence on later generations. In 1961 he became the first singer named to the Country Music Hall of Fame and in 1986 was the first country singer inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

See biographies by his wife, C. Rodgers (1935, repr. 1995), B. C. Malone (1985), and N. Porterfield (1992); The Jimmie Rodgers Collection and The Jimmie Rodgers Memorial Songbook (both: 1999).

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