Uncle Dave Macon Biography

David Harrison Macon, 7 October 1870, Smart Station, Warren County, Tennessee, USA, d. 22 March 1952, Readyville, Tennessee, USA. Macon’s family moved to Nashville when his father, a Confederate captain in the Civil War, bought the city’s Broadway Hotel. Macon learned to play the banjo and acquired songs from the vaudeville artists who stayed at the hotel. He married in 1889 and started the Macon Midway Mule And Wagon Transportation Company, which was later described in the song ‘From Here To Heaven’. His mule-drawn wagons carried goods between Murfreesboro and Woodbury. Macon performed at venues along the way. However, the business collapsed following the advent of a motorized competitor in 1920. Although he had worked as a jovial entertainer for many years, he never thought of turning professional until a pompous farmer asked him to play at a wedding. Macon demanded $15, certain that he would be turned down; it was accepted and became his first professional booking. At the age of 52, when Uncle Dave Macon launched his professional career, his songs and humour proved so popular that he was soon known all over the south. He became the first star of the Grand Ole Opry when it was launched in 1925 with material covering folk tunes, vaudeville, blues, country and gospel music.

In 1927, Macon formed the Fruit Jar Drinkers with Sam And Kirk McGee and Mazy Todd - their tracks among the finest produced by old-time string bands. In 1931 he was the main attraction of the Grand Ole Opry’s first touring show, working with his son, Dorris (d. 15 February 1981), and the Delmore Brothers. Between 1924 and 1938, Macon recorded over 170 songs, which makes him among the most recorded of the early-day country stars. Despite the age of the recordings, his whooping and hollering brings them to life, and notable successes included ‘Arkansas Traveller’ and ‘A Soldier’s Joy’. ‘Hill Billie Blues’ is possibly the first recorded song ever to use hillbilly in its title. His 1927 recording of ‘Sail Away Ladies’ was converted into the 50s skiffle hit, ‘Don’t You Rock Me Daddy-O’. Macon appeared with Roy Acuff in the 1939 film Grand Ole Opry, which showed that, even at an advanced age, he was a fine showman.

Macon stopped touring in 1950 and he made his last appearance at the Grand Ole Opry on 1 March 1952. After his death at Murfreesboro in 1952, a monument was erected near Woodbury by his fellow Grand Ole Opry associates and he was posthumously elected to the Country Music Hall Of Fame in 1966.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

Filter Results