The Maddox Brothers and Rose
|Origin||Boaz, Alabama, U.S.|
|Genres||Country, Western swing, Old Time, Gospel|
|Labels||Four Star, Columbia, Decca|
|Rose Maddox, The Strangers|
|Cliff Maddox (Died 1949)|
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 1930s. 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.
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 centennial 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.
The brothers and Rose appeared at places such as the 97th Street Corral in Los Angeles.
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.
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.
Fred Maddox played upright bass using the "slap bass" technique as early as 1937. 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.
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."
Don Maddox is the last surviving member of the band and lives in Ashland, Oregon. He has experienced a career resurgence 50 years after his success with Maddox Bros and Rose, playing at the world-renowned Britt festival in Jacksonville, Oregon, opening for "Big and Rich", performing at the Muddy Roots festival in Cookeville, Tennessee in 2011 and 2012, playing on the Marty Stuart show, and a receiving a standing ovation show at the Grand Ole Opry. He also performed in Las Vegas at the first annual Rockabilly Rockout at the Gold Coast Casino on Oct 5th, 2014. , "