Ralph Peer and the Making of Popular Roots Music (Enhanced Edition)

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Chicago Review Press, Apr 1, 2015 - Biography & Autobiography - 320 pages
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This enhanced e-book includes 49 of the greatest songs Ralph Peer was involved with, from groundbreaking numbers that changed the history of recorded music to revelatory obscurities, all linked to the text so that the reader can hear the music while reading about it. This is the first biography of Ralph Peer, the adventurous—even revolutionary—A&R man and music publisher who saw the universal power locked in regional roots music and tapped it, changing the breadth and flavor of popular music around the world. It is the story of the life and fifty-year career, from the age of cylinder recordings to the stereo era, of the man who pioneered the recording, marketing, and publishing of blues, jazz, country, gospel, and Latin music. The book tracks Peer’s role in such breakthrough events as the recording of Mamie Smith’s “Crazy Blues” (the record that sparked the blues craze), the first country recording sessions with Fiddlin’ John Carson, his discovery of Jimmie Rodgers and the Carter Family at the famed Bristol sessions, the popularizing of Latin American music during World War II, and the postwar transformation of music on the airwaves that set the stage for the dominance of R&B, country, and rock ’n’ roll. But this is also the story of a man from humble midwestern beginnings who went on to build the world’s largest independent music publishing firm, fostering the global reach of music that had previously been specialized, localized, and marginalized. Ralph Peer redefined the ways promising songs and performers were identified, encouraged, and promoted, rethought how far regional music might travel, and changed our very notions of what pop music can be.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - nmele - LibraryThing

Before reading this book, I was aware of Ralph Peer as the man who fist recorded and sold what we call roots music today, the man who recorded Jimmie Rodgers and the original Carter Family, among ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Romis78 - LibraryThing

This is a fascinating and insightful book that shows the great innovations of Ralph Peer in the music industry. It covers many areas I was unfamiliar with in a concise, informative and clear manner. Well written and with high production values, I highly recommend it. Read full review


Something NewBuilt Along the Same Lines
Independence 18921919
Okeh Records and Roots 19191926
3 To Victor On to Bristol and the Making of Giants 19261927
Southern Music 19271933
5 Breaking Loose Branching Out Starting Over 19331940
The War Latin Music and the Media 19401945
Expansion 19461951
9 The Roots and Pop Aftermath
Key Recordings and Published Songs of Ralph Peer 19201960
Notes and Sources
Back Flip
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8 Locking a Legacy 19521960

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About the author (2015)

Barry Mazor is a longtime music, media, and business journalist. He is a regular contributor to the Wall Street Journal and to the roots music blog Engine 145, and is the author of Meeting Jimmie Rodgers and Connie Smith: Just for What I Am. He is the former senior editor and columnist for No Depression magazine and his work has appeared in numerous publications, including American Songwriter, the Nashville Scene, the Village Voice, and the Washington Post. He was awarded the Charlie Lamb Award for Excellence in Country Music Journalism in 2008.

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