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Maddox Brothers and Rose: Wikis


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The Maddox Brothers and Rose, known as America’s Most Colorful Hillbilly Band from the 1930s to the 1950s, consisted of four brothers, Fred, Cal, Cliff and Don Maddox, along with their sister Rose. Cliff died in 1949 and was replaced by brother Henry. The group disbanded in 1956.



The family hailed from Boaz, Alabama, but rode the rails and hitch hiked to California in 1933 when the band members were still children, following the failed efforts of their sharecropper parents during the early part of the Depression. They were a little in advance of the flood of Okies who were to flood the state in the 30s. They struggled to make a living as intinerant fruit and vegetable pickers following the harvest as far north as Washington state, and as far east as Arizona, as well as in the San Joaquin Valley. They often worked from dawn to dusk, sleeping and eating on the ground.[1]

Having settled in Modesto, the family developed their musical ability and, in 1937 performed on the radio, sponsored by a local furniture store. In 1939 they entered a hillbilly band competition at the centenial Sacramento State Fair after driving to Sacramento in their Model A. When they took the stage they tore through "Sally Let Your Bangs Hang Down" with rocking rhythms and risque lyrics. They became, officially, California's best hillbilly band.[2][3]

The brothers and Rose appeared at places such as the 97th Street Corral in Los Angles.[4]

From 1946-1951 the group recorded for 4 Star Records (Hollywood), then for Columbia Records. Some 4 Star masters were leased and released by US.-Decca Records at the beginning of the 1950s. The following quotes are from Rose Maddox. "We were called hillbilly singers - not country - then. No, none of this country music then. People just called us hillbilly... People tell me that I was one of the first women to sing what I sang - country boogie. I guess I was. There was no rock 'n' roll in those early days, before 1955. Only country boogie. My brothers also played that way. We called it country then."[5]

The Maddox's material ranged from the country standards of Hank Williams and Merle Travis, cowboy songs, to the Western swing of Bob Wills, to old-time, folk, and church singing, to jazz, swing, boogie woogie and even a taste of early rock and roll.[6][7]

Fred Maddox played upright bass using the "slap bass" technique as early as 1937.[5] This trademark backbeat, a slapping bass style, helped drive a broad change in popular music, sporting a faster, immediately discernible rhythm that came to be known as rockabilly.[7]

Fred Maddox's bass is displayed at the Experience Music Project in Seattle. "They wanted his bass because they believe he might have hit the first note of rock 'n' roll on it."[8]

Band members

  • Cliff Maddox (born 1912 Boaz, Alabama - died 1949)
  • Cal Maddox (born November 3, 1915 Boaz, Alabama - died 1968)
  • Fred Maddox (born July 3, 1919 Boaz, Alabama - died October 29, 1992)
  • Don Maddox (born December 7, 1922 Boaz, Alabama)
  • Rose Maddox (born August 15, 1925 Boaz, Alabama - died April 15, 1998)
  • Henry Maddox (born March 19, 1928 Boaz, Alabama - died 1974)


  • America's Most Colorful Hillbilly Band v.1 (Arhoolie Records, 1976/1993)
  • America's Most Colorful Hillbilly Band v.2 (Arhoolie, 1995)
  • On The Air (Arhoolie, 1983/1996)
  • Live On The Radio (1996)
  • The Hillbilly Boogie Years (Rockateer, 1996)
  • A Collection of Standard Sacred Songs (King, 1956)
  • The Most Colorful Hillbilly Band in America (Bear Family, 1998)


  1. ^ NPR : Honky Tonks, Hymns and the Blues
  2. ^ Ramblin' Rose - The Life and Times of Rose Maddox. Jonny Whiteside. 1997. page 42. ISBN 0-8265-1269-0
  3. ^ Lyrics
  4. ^ Billboard Jan 15, 1949 page 33
  5. ^ a b The Maddox Brothers & Rose
  6. ^ Americas Most Colorful Hillbilly Band
  7. ^ a b Honky Tonks, Hymns, & the Blues
  8. ^ The Blue Moon Boys - The Story of Elvis Presley's Band. Ken Burke and Dan Griffin. 2006. Chicago Review Press. page 26. ISBN 1-55652-614-8

External links



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