DeFord Bailey (1899-1982) was born in Smith County, Tennessee, the grandson of slaves, and lived there until he moved to Nashville at the age of 19. Nine years later when the legendary George D. Hay introduced DeFord Bailey on WSM's Barn Dance, he first called his show, "The Grand Ole Opry," a name that has stood the test of time. The tune Bailey played, Pan American Blues, named after an L & N Passenger Train, became the very first harmonica blues solo ever recorded. His recording, "John Henry" was released in both RCA's "race" and "hillbilly" series. Bailey appeared on the Opry from 1927 until 1941 when he was fired because of a conflict between music promotion companies. For the rest of his life he worked shining shoes and rented out rooms in his home to supplement his meager income and rarely performed again. He gave no interviews, but, late in Bailey's life, David Morton, the primary author of this book, worked for the public housing agency in charge of the unit where Bailey lived, and spoke extensively with him. At the time this book was published, he headed the Reno, Nevada, Housing Authority. The co-author is the late Charles K. Wolfe, a professor at Middle Tennessee State and the pioneer in scholarly examination of the country music scene.
Knoxville, The University of Tennessee Press, 1991. 199 pages with an Index, Discography, Sources, song list, and many photos. Hardback in dust jacket.