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GID TANNER AND THE SKILLET LICKERS

When historians sit down to sort out the what and why of 20th Century American Music, they will have to accord high ranking to the influence of Gid Tanner on all of its forms.  Tanner, a chicken farmer, never in his life fully comprehended the importance of the bridge he and his wild band of musical geniuses known as the Skillet Lickers built between traditional folk and modern popular music.

They not only gave respectability and popularity to what previously had been derided as "hillbilly" music, but they also served as the initial catalyst in the sweeping electronic evolution which brought this nation's music to the mix of country, jazz, blues, and urban pop which gives commonality to American music as we know it today.

Had it not been for the lure of the burgeoning music recording and radio broadcast industries, James Gideon Tanner probably would have been content to limit his musical activities to occasional forays out of his Walton County farm to joust with the likes of Fiddlin' John Carson, his senior, and Clayton McMichen, his junior, in the fiddling competitions of the time, which he sometimes won and in which he always placed.

But then Frank Walker of Columbia Records invited him at the age of thirty-eight to come to New York to help that company catch up with OKeh Records' highly successful issues of Carson's country recordings.  He took with him his blind friend, Riley Puckett, who was to gain fame as the first of the crooners and rhythm guitarist, and on March 7, 1924, they became the first southern rural artist to record for Columbia.

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