Hillbilly Honky Tonk / Settin’ The Woods On Fire 1945 – 1957


1945 - 1951


1 ERNEST TUBB / Tomorrow Never Knows / Single A Side January 1945

2 DELMORE BROTHERS / Freight Train Boogie / Single A Side March 1946

3 MERLE TRAVIS / Lost John / Single A Side June 1946

4 SONS OF THE PIONEERS / Cigarettes, Whiskey And Wild Women / Single A Side February 1947

5 ROY ACUFF / Wreck On The Highway / Single A Side July 1947

6 HANK WILLIAMS & HIS DRIFTING COWBOYS / Move It On Over / Single A Side July 1947

7 BILL MONROE & HIS BLUEGRASS BOYS / Blue Moon Of Kentucky / Single B Side September 1947

8 LEON PAYNE / Lost A Highway / Single Side February 1948

9 HANK WILLIAMS & HIS DRIFTING COWBOYS / Honky Tonkin’ / Single A Side April 1948

10 MADDOX BROTHERS & ROSE / George’s Playhouse Boogie / Single A Side June 1948

11 RED FOLEY & THE CUMBERLAND VALLEY BOYS / Tennessee Saturday Night /

Single A Side September 1948

12 HANK WILLIAMS & HIS DRIFTING COWBOYS / Lovesick Blues / Single A Side February 1949

13 VANCE BROTHERS / Draft Board Blues / Single A Side September 1949

14 TENNESSEE ERNIE FORD / Mule Train / Single A Side November 1949

15 HANK WILLIAMS & HIS DRIFTING COWBOYS / I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry / Single A Side November 1949

16 DELMORE BROTHERS / Blues Stay Away From Me / Single A Side January 1950

17 LITTLE JIMMY DICKEN / Hillbilly Fever / Single A Side March 1950

18 HANK WILLIAMS & HIS DRIFTING COWBOYS / Long Gone Lonesome Blues /

Single A Side March 1950

19 HANK SNOW & HIS RAINBOW RANCH BOYS / I’m Movin’ On / Single A Side May 1950

20 LEFTY FRIZZELL / If You’ve Got The Money / Single A Side September 1950

21 TENNESSEE ERNIE FORD / Shotgun Boogie / Single A Side November 1950

22 HANK SNOW & HIS RAINBOW RANCH BOYS / Golden Rocket / Single A Side November 1950

23 LEFTY FRIZZELL / Shine Shave Shower / Single A Side January 1951

24 TOMMY SCOTT / Rockin’ And Rollin’ / Single A Side March 1951

25 HANK WILLIAMS & HIS DRIFTING COWBOYS / Howlin’ At The Moon / Single A Side April 1951

26 TILLMAN FRANKS & HIS RAINBOW VALLEY BOYS / Hayride Boogie / Single B Side April 1951

27 HAWKSHAW HAWKINS / Rattlesnakin’ Daddy / Single A Side July 1951

28 JOHNNY HORTON / It’s A Long Rocky Road / Single A Side December 1951

29 HANK WILLIAMS & HIS DRIFTING COWBOYS / Ramblin’ Man / Single A Side December 1951


1952 - 1957


1 HANK THOMPSON & HIS BRAZOS VALLEY BOYS / Wild Side Of Life / Single A Side January 1952

2 WEBB PIERCE / Back Street Affair / Single A Side August 1952


Single A Side September 1952

4 LEFTY FRIZZELL / I’m An Old, Old Man / Single A Side October 1952

5 HANK WILLIAMS & HIS DRIFTING COWBOYS / I’ll Never Get Out Of This World Alive / Single A Side October 1952

6 FARON YOUNG / Goin’ Steady / Single A Side January 1953

7 MOON MULLICAN / Rocket To The Moon / Single A Side April 1953

8 TENNESSEE ERNIE FORD / Hey Mr Cotton Picker / Single A Side April 1953

9 CARL SMITH / Hey Joe / Single A Side July 1953

10 CURTIS GORDON / Rompin’ And Stompin’ / Single A Side July 1953

11 RAY PRICE & THE CHEROKEE COWBOYS / I’ll Be There / Single B Side January 1954

12 CARL SMITH / Back Up Buddy / Single A Side March 1954

13 WERLY FAIRBURN / Good Deal Lucille / Single A Side April 1954

14 HANK THOMPSON & HIS BRAZOS VALLEY BOYS / Honky Tonk Girl / Single A Side June 1954

15 SKEETS MCDONALD / Smoke Comes Out My Chimney / Single A Side November 1954

16 FARON YOUNG / Live Fast Love Hard Die Young / Single A Side February 1955

17 CHARLIE FEATHERS / Peepin’ Eyes / Single A Side April 1955

18 THE COCHRAN BROTHERS / Guilty Conscience / Single A Side July 1955

19 CARL PERKINS / Let The Jukebox Keep On Playing / Single B Side October 1955

20 GEORGE JONES / Why Baby Why / Single A Side October 1955

21 KITTY WELLS / Lonely Side Of Town / Single A Side November 1955

22 MARTY ROBBINS / Mean Mama Blues / Single B Side December 1955

23 GEORGE JONES / What Am I Worth / Single A Side January 1956

24 JOHNNY HORTON / Honky Tonk Man / Single A Side March 1956

25 RAY PRICE / Crazy Arms / Single A Side April 1956

26 THE LOUVIN BROTHERS / Cash On The Barrel Head / Single A Side August 1956

27 RAY PRICE / Falling Falling Falling / Single A Side October 1956

28 WEBB PIERCE / Honky Tonk Song / Single A Side March 1957

29 LEFTY FRIZZELL / Sick Sober And Sorry / Single B Side May 1957

30 MARVIN RAINWATER / My Brand Of Blues / Single A Side June 1957

31 JERRY LEE LEWIS / You Win Again / Single B Side November 1957

32 GEORGE JONES / Color Of The Blues / Single A Side December 1957


  In 1945, country music was many, very separate things: old time fiddlers, western swing, cowboy songs, hillbilly, bluegrass and brother duets. Best of all was honky tonk, which unlike any other country style, had grown from the cities, the new home for displaced country folk seeking work and a better life. The idyllic rural life – Mama’s cooking, the family bible, and the little old log cabin down the lane – was disappearing fast.

  It was Texan Ernest Tubb, a onetime Jimmie Rodgers protégé, who first used the electric guitar to popularise honky tonk, so signalling the upheaval of country’s folky, acoustic heritage. At the time, this new music struck the conservative, country world as one big, sour note. But, after Tubb and his Texas brethren had picked the locks, the doors swung open, and honky tonk took over the show. Super powered, border radio broadcasts took the music into more homes than ever and Billboard began a best seller’s chart (as Juke Box Folk Records). Very soon, country was bigger and better than ever.

  The post war decade is thought of as its golden era. The list of icon’s who entered the spotlight then is enormous: Lefty Frizzell, Faron Young, Webb Pierce, Ray Price, George Jones, Carl Smith, Johnny Horton and Hank Snow are just the heavyweights, with the lesser known Leon Payne (writer of the legendary ‘Lost Highway’), Hawkshaw Hawkins, Moon Mullican and Werly Fairburn filling in some of the cracks. But, the era truly peaked with the arrival of tall, skinny Alabama boy, Hank Williams.

  Someone wrote that Hank was ‘a mixture of whiskey, lamb’s blood, and grave dirt’. That just about sums him up. A crude, but incredibly expressive singer, he was a prolific writer, sometimes recording as many as three classics in an afternoon. His songs instantly hit a raw nerve, embodying, in less than three minutes, all the beauty and sadness of country, and his own turbulent, tortured life. Hank single-handedly raised the stakes, almost beyond reach. And he was somewhat prophetic.

  When rock’n’roll finally arrived, mere months after Hanks sad demise on New Years Eve 1953, it was considered a black and white stew of rhythm and blues and country honky tonk. But poor white southerners and blacks had always mixed, and sensibilities of one genre were often reflected in the other. Hank Williams learnt his first chords from a black street bandleader, and perhaps because of that, he anticipated rock’n’roll a good six years before Billy Haley. What is ‘Move It On Over’ if it’s not ‘Rock Around The Clock’ Part One? And he wasn’t the only one. The nearly forgotten Delmore Brothers, The Maddox Brothers, Hank Snows faster stuff, and even Tennessee Ernie, all added a country boogie beat that hinted at rockabilly mania.

  Honky tonk remained centre stage until 1956, when it was unceremoniously shoved aside by rockabilly, the bastard cousin of rock’n’roll. If Hank and Lefty had been the vision of turmoil, Elvis, Gene Vincent and Johnny Burnette, all former country boys themselves, showed a new generation how to let the anguish out. Some honky tonkers, like Moon Mullican and Curtis Gordon, came close to blurring the lines, but just as rock’n’roll consumed R&B, so rockabilly consumed honky tonk.  The rise of the slick, ‘adult’, Nashville sound marginalised honky tonk even more. Eventually it did find a new home, some 2,000 miles west of Music City, in Bakersfield, California. There, Buck Owen and Merle Haggard kept the fever alive for a few years at least.


June 2008.