By Jonny Whiteside
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Hardcover, 360 pages
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Winner of the 1998 ARSC Award A groundbreaking study of one of the pioneering women of country music, whose biography sheds new light on both the role of women in postwar America and the growth of the music business in California. It's a Depression-era saga right out of Steinbeck. The strongwilled matriarch of a rural Alabama family uproots her husband and six children and drives them westward on foot and by boxcar, through sheer willpower, on a journey of two thousand miles to California where a new life begins. Four years later, at age eleven, youngest daughter Rose Maddox steps to the microphone for the first time to sing on radio with the family band. Within a week, the Maddox Brothers & Rose receive a thousand letters, launching the group on a country music career that ultimately ranges from the rodeo shows of the West to the bright lights of Nashville's Grand Ole Opry. In this meticulously researched biography, veteran music journalist Jonny Whiteside recounts the colorful story of this pioneering woman who literally grew up in the male-dominated enclaves of country music and struggled to make a place for herself there. In Rose Maddox, Whiteside has found an exceptional protagonist for his story: a fiery, strongwilled entertainer whose music has had an influence far beyond her handful of hits on the record charts, and who in many ways, Whiteside convincingly argues, prefigured the coming of rock and roll. In the process, Whiteside introduces us to a host of memorable characters--stars like Hank Williams and Roy Acuff; behind-the-scenes movers and shakers like record men Cliffie Stone and Bill McCall; and, at the heart of the story, the irrepressible Maddox family themselves, whose freewheeling music so faithfully reflected the hurlyburly world of California's displaced migrant workers. "Ramblin' Rose" is a long-overdue work of research and synthesis that documents not only the life of an unsung musical trailblazer but also the vibrant, roughhewn West Coast country music scene that once rivaled Nashville and left an indelible imprint on the popular music of today.

 

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