This musical montage of Rose Maddox was produced mostly from her Capitol recordings from 1959 to 1966, a small portion of her many recordings. Her singing career lasted over 60 years starting on KTRB in 1937 when she was 11 years old. She appeared with her brothers Cal, Henry, Fred and Don. One of the best sources of Rose's solo recordings is the 4 CD box set released by Bear Family (BEF 15743) which contains the complete Capitol recordings from 1959-1966 and a 16 page book with pictures, biography and complete recording information.
Roselea Arbana Maddox (Rose Maddox)
December 15, 1925 - April 15, 1998
Born in Boaz, Ala. December 15, 1925; died April 15, 1998 in Ashland, Ore. Age 71.
• Rose, age 7, leaves Alabama in 1933 with her family, traveling to California by freight car (a trip chronicled in her 1996 album, “$35 and a Dream”)
• Family settles in Modesto, travels the valley picking fruit and cotton
• Maddox Brothers make their professional debut as the Alabama Outlaws in 1937 with a 30-minute program on Modesto’s KTRB. The show’s sponsor has a stipulation: The band must have a “girl singer.” So Rose, just 11, joins brothers, Cal, Henry, Fred and Don. Rose’s primary qualifications: her availability and, according to Fred, “We knew she could sing loud.” Originally they were a trio. Fred, as announcer and played slap-bass, Cal with harmonica-on-yoke and rhythm guitar and 11-year-old Rose doing vocals. All three sang.
• Fred and Cal went into the armed services during WWI. When the war was over, The group reformed with two younger brothers joining the band. Don with fiddle and Henry on electric mandolin. For personal appearances and dances, Bud Duncan on steel guitar and Jimmy Winkle on guitar. There sound was called Rockabilly.
• Maddox Brothers & Rose record more than 100 records for the 4 Star label
• The band hires 16-year-old lead guitarist Roy Nichols, later to play for Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash and others, in 1949. Nichols, who stays on for 18 months, moves Bakersfield in 1953
• After recording for Four Star Records for about six years, starting in 1946 or '47, the group switched to Columbia Records in the early ‘50s, releasing 30 singles including the gold record “Philadelphia Lawyer”
• Maddox Brothers & Rose tour the San Joaquin Valley extensively in the 1950s and ‘60s, playing the Bakersfield honky-tonk the Blackboard alone more than 20 times by Rose’s estimate. Group produces numerous records for Columbia, King and Capitol Records
· She was referred to as "The Original Hillbilly Filly" and "The Grandmother of Rockabilly".
• Group disbands in 1957. Rose and Cal going off as a duet and Fred, Don, Henry and Henry's wife going their way as The Maddox Brothers and Retta. Rose launched a solo career that produces the hits “Gamblers Love,” “Wild, Wild Young Men,” “Please Help Me I’m Falling” and “Sing a Little Song of Heartache”
• Rose records three singles with Buck Owens: “We’re the Talk of the Town,” which helped her earn Best Female Country Vocalist of the Year, as named by Billboard and Cashbox magazines; and, in 1964, “Loose Talk” and “Mental Cruelty,” which won Buck and Rose top duet honors in a national poll of disc jockeys
• Rose is nominated for a Grammy in Bluegrass category in 1995; election to the Country Music Hall of Fame continues to elude her, though she has a square on the hall’s Walkway of Stars
• Performers including Bonnie Owens, Loretta Lynn, Barbara Mandrell, Dolly Parton and the late Janis Joplin cite Rose as a major influence
• Rose Maddox was a cheeky spitfire whose unrestrained vocal style served as a model for a number of female singers. Among those who cite Rose Maddox as an inspiration are Emmylou Harris, Patsy Cline and Janis Joplin. Women found compatibility with Rose Maddox. Rose was always in full throttle, even when she sang ballads and gospel. She had a loud voice that was very original. She was a pioneer when it came to staging a show, Rose Maddox was wild. Women musicians dancing onstage was unheard of at that time. The Maddox Brothers and Rose performed their show the way they wanted to perform it--regardless of venue. Rose bared her midriff (considered downright naughty before the age of Madonna) on the sedate Grand Ole Opry stage, an unprecedented and rather scandalous move that meant they were--though not officially banned--certainly never invited back. With her skimpy outfits and exuberant burlesque-style show, Rose Maddox and her honky-tonk brothers merrily broke the rules and together formed a group the likes of which the public had never seen before.
• In his meticulously researched biography - Ramblin' Rose: The Life and Career of Rose Maddox- veteran music journalist Jonny Whiteside recounts the colorful story of this pioneering woman who literally grew up in the male-dominated enclaves of country music and struggled to make a place for herself there. In Rose Maddox, Whiteside has found an exceptional protagonist for his story: a fiery, strong-willed entertainer whose music has had an influence far beyond her handful of hits on the record charts and who in many ways, Whiteside convincingly argues, prefigured the coming of rock and roll. In the process, Whiteside introduces a host of memorable characters - stars like Hank Williams and Johnny Cash; behind-the-scenes movers and shakers like record men Cliffie Stone and Bill McCall; and, at the heart of the story, the irrepressible Maddox family themselves, whose freewheeling music so faithfully reflected the hurly-burly world of California's displaced migrant workers.
· Although weighing under 100 lbs., she recently made a movie with actor Woody Harrleson, playing his mother. The film is scheduled to be released next year. Rose was not an actress, but because there is talk in Hollywood about making a motion picture of her life story, she was cast to work with Woody.
· Cause of death, kidney failure April 15, 1998 in Ashland, Oregon at the age of 71.
· Books available on Rose:
"Rambling Rose: The Life and Career of Rose Maddox"
by Jonny Whiteside
1997 Vanderbilt University Press/Country Music Foundation Press
Nashville, TN 37235
"Rock-A-Billy and Country Legends"
Vol. 2 (1989) and Vol. 3 (1990)
by Alan Clark
The National Rock 'N' Roll Archives
PO Box 1062, West Covina, CA 91793
"In the Country of Country"
by Nicholas Dawidoff
1997 Pantheon Books, A Division of Random House, Inc., New York