Personalities | Jimmie Rodgers | Roots of Rock
Jimmie Rodgers, ‘The Singing Brakeman’, struggled against poor health and the rigours of the road to forge a new American folk music that would influence country music for generations. Rodgers wrote songs like ‘T.B. Blues’, ‘Travelin’ Blues’, ‘Train Whistle Blues’ and his 13 ‘blue yodels’. Rodgers’ voice and inherent honesty attracted legions of listeners.
Rodgers developed his guitar-playing and lyrics during 10 years working on southern and western railroads. Despite a diagnosis of tuberculosis in 1924, he alternated railroad jobs with music work. When he was signed to RCA his ‘Blue Yodel’ became a major hit, followed by ‘Way Out On The Mountain’, ‘Blue Yodel No. 4’ and ‘In The Jailhouse Now’. The financial rewards from the work were short-lived, however, and during the Depression Rodgers’ T.B. overcame him. He died of a lung haemorrhage in 1933. Rogers was the first artist inducted into the Country Music Hall Of Fame.
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