29¢ Country Music Legends
Issue Date: September 25, 1993
City: Nashville, TN
Printed By: Stamp Venturers
Printing Method: Photogravure
Please note: Due to the layout of the pane, the se-tenant may or may not be provided in Scott Catalogue order.
In January of 1993 a commemorative featuring Elvis Presley set the stage for a new stamp series - the Legends of American Music. Designed to highlight the music our nation has come to be known for, these stamps also offered more exciting, contemporary themes for collectors. The Country Music stamps wrapped up the 1993 releases for this new series.
A combination of folk music from Great Britain and the blues of rural southern blacks, country music later added sounds from other cultures, including the banjo, guitar, mandolin, and Hawaiian steel guitar. Playing with or without vocal accompaniment, country bands often entertained people at dances, parties, and country fairs. Country music continued to change as others began adding drums and electric instruments, incorporating yet another sound - that of pop music. By the 1930’s country music had gained national popularity.
Country Music Legends
A leading performer of the 1940’s and 50’s, Hank Williams dominated country music from 1949, when he joined the Grand ‘Ole Opry, until his death in 1953. His classics such as “Your Cheatin’ Heart”, “Jambalaya”, and “Hey Good Lookin’” helped cement his place in the Country Music Hall of Fame.
Born Virginia Patterson Hensley, Patsy Cline climbed to the top of the country charts and earned her a place on the pop charts - a feat far less common than it is today, especially for a female vocalist. Other top-selling releases soon followed including “Crazy”, “I Fall to Pieces”, and “She’s Got You.” In the late 50’s she moved to Nashville to join the Grand Ole Opry. Her unforgettable voice and pop-oriented recordings greatly increased the popularity of country music, which had taken a backseat to rock ‘n’ roll.
Her brilliant career ended in 1963, when her plane crashed near Camden, Tennessee. Even after her death however, her single releases continued to sell well into the 1960’s, and her performances still inspire female country artists even today.
Originally formed in 1926, the Carter Family was one of the most influential groups in the country music field - one that greatly affected succeeding generations of performers.
When A.P. Carter married Sara Dougherty in 1915, the two made a natural duet. Gathering Appalachian folk music and arranging it for performances, as well creating new songs, the two entertained family and friends. Maybelle Carter, who had married A.P.’s brother Ezra, joined the pair in 1926. The following year the newly formed trio traveled to Bristol to audition for Victor (later RCA Victor). Out of those who were lucky enough to be paid $50 per recorded song rose two of country music’s most promising stars - the Carter Family and Jimmie Rodgers.
The Carters’ music appealed to many rural Americans, and broadcasts over radio stations helped increase their popularity. During the late 1930’s and early 40’s other family members joined the trio, and in 1943 the original threesome disbanded.
Teaming up with her three talented daughters Anita, June, and Helen, Maybelle kept the family tradition alive. And today the legend lives on through June and her husband Johnny Cash, and other family members.
Born into a family of old-time fiddlers, it was only natural that music would play an important role in Bob Wills’ life. Although he pursued various occupations including farming, barbering, and preaching, Wills eventually went on to become a full-time musician.
Hired to fiddle with the Fort Worth Doughboys, Wills made his first recording with the group in 1932 for RCAVictor. The following year he split from the Doughboys with his banjo-playing brother Johnnie Lee and vocalist Tommie Duncan to form his own group that became known as the Texas Playboys. For eight years they performed on a Tulsa, Oklahoma radio station, eventually gaining national popularity.
Combining the sounds of fiddling, blues, pop, big-band swing, and Mexican folk music he created a new pop-country style known as western swing. His recordings for American Record Company and Columbia, such as “San Antonio Rose”, “Take Me Back to Tulsa”, “Faded Love”, and the “Spanish Two Step”, appealed to a far broader audience than old-time fiddling attracted. And as western swing gained popularity, Wills’ name became a household word. Despite his failing health throughout much of the 1960’s he appeared for his induction into the Country Hall of Music in 1968.
First Grand Ole Opry Performance
On November 28, 1925, the Grand Ole Opry was founded as the WSM Barn Dance.
In 1924, a Chicago radio station began airing the National Barn Dance, one of the first country music radio programs in the country. The following year, producers at WSM radio station decided to make their own version. They hired the Chicago show’s longtime announcer George D. “Judge” Hay and produced their first episode of the WSM Barn Dance. The radio program was produced in the fifth floor studio of the National Life & Accident Insurance building in downtown Nashville. Their first guest was 77-year-old fiddler Uncle Jimmy Thompson.
Early performers on the program included the Fruit Jar Drinkers and the Crook Brothers. Uncle Dave Macon became the show’s first star the following year. The show adopted its famous name on December 10, 1927. That night, announcer George D. Hay opened the program with, “For the past hour, we have been listening to music taken largely from Grand Opera. From now on, we will present the ’Grand Ole Opry!’” (The show followed an NBC music appreciation hour.)
Over time, audiences attending the shows grew and they could no longer accommodate such large crowds in their small venue. The show changed venues four times between 1934 and 1943, finally settling at the Ryman Auditorium. To reduce crowd sizes, they began charging a 25¢ admission fee, but fans still filled the seats. During this time the show also grew from one hour to four, and began hiring professional performers.
The Grand Ole Opry made its national debut in 1939 on NBC Radio. Roy Acuff served as the first host of the segment, known as The Prince Albert Show (after its sponsor). In the coming years, a number of country music stars took the Opry stage. Among them were Hank Williams, Patsy Cline, Marty Robbins, the Carter family, Bill Monroe, Ernest Tubb, Kitty Wells and Minnie Pearl.
In the 1970s, the Opry once again outgrew its home and began planning an even larger venue. In June 1972, they opened Opryland USA Theme Park and the Opryland Hotel. The new 4,000-seat Opry House opened two years later. President Richard Nixon attended the event and played a few songs on the piano. Though the theme park closed in 1997, the Opry House continues to serve as the show’s home. Also in the 1990s, the Opry renovated its former home, the Ryman Theater, where it presents its winter performances for three months every year.
The Grand Ole Opry is the longest-running radio broadcast in in American history. It’s known as “The Show That Made Country Music Famous,” the “Home of American Music,” and “Country’s Most Famous Stage.”