Articles, Tributes and Comments about


  • Posted May 1, 1998

    Photos courtesy of Glenn E. Mueller. These pictures were taken at the funeral ceremony of Rose Maddox, April 21, 1998. Glen Glenn, Jonny Whiteside (author of "Ramblin' Rose), Gary Lambert (Glen's guitarist) and Glenn Mueller had traveled to Ashland, OR.

    #1 Pallbears (from left to right) Johnny Whiteside, unknown person, Tyrone Maddox (Fred's son), Colby Troxel (Rose's sister's grandson, and Donnie Maddox (Rose's grandson).
    #2 A view of the casket and bluegrass musicians in the background.

    Initial News Release... reported April 16, 1998:

    The Death of Rose Maddox

    The Rockabilly Hall of Fall received a call from Glen Glenn this morning giving us the sad news that Rose Maddox had passed away yesterday in Ashland, OR at 4pm local time. Rose was in her early '70s and in poor health for several months. For those of you not familiar with Rose or The Maddox Brothers please see the Maddox Brothers & Rose HOF page for more information on this icon of roots music.

    Glen reports that the last known recording of Rose to be put to CD might very well be the HOF CD Vol. #1 track, "Don't Bother to Cry" recorded in 1947. Glen furnished us with this rare audio tape as he was a close friend of Rose and appeared with her on stage whenever possible. If you listen carefully to this cut, you'll will hear a slap bass, an element found in true rockabilly music. The Bear Family has recently released her Columbia recordings in a box set.

    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. Her last live appearance was with Glen on stage at Jack's Sugar Shack a few months ago. Glen reflects that Rose was the first real "country music female star." The only one he can recall that had any success before her was Patsy Montana. Comments from Rose's friends and fans will be posted within the Rockabilly HOF soon. We'll miss you, Rose, :-(

  • Posted April 20, 1998
    The Tennessee Rhythm Riders have asked Amos Clark to post the lyrics of 'Ramblin' Rose' to the list as their tribute to Rose Maddox who has had such a great influence on all of them.

    Ramblin' Rose (S. Briggs - May 1997)

    Lula and Charlie left in Thirty Three
    walked through the State with the family
    jumped a freight train, started headin' west
    to find a new beginning in a brand new nest
    Started hearing music on the Radio,
    there began the name Maddox Brothers and Rose

    Fred slappin' hard on his upright bass
    Don Juan fiddlin' like a mule in a race
    Friendly Henry, the working girls friend
    playing hot licks on his mandolin
    Cal the laughing cowboy in a perfect pose
    as the crowd go wild for Maddox Brothers and Rose

    Rose is the girl purely sent from Heaven
    started in the band when she was eleven
    feisty and fiery with her southern drawl
    she had the fellas at her feet to fall
    the original sweetheart who sang like a dream
    and everybody knows she's the hillbilly queen

    From fruit tramps into singing stars
    from Model A Ford to Cadillac cars
    a family dream that turned out right
    for us to play each and every night
    Brothers looking down from Heaven above
    waitin' for you all to live and love

  • Posted April 17, 1998
    By JEFF BARNARD (Associated Press). ASHLAND, Ore. -- Rose Maddox, a flamboyant country music pioneer who earned a Grammy nomination late in life for her autobiographical "$35 and a Dream," has died at 71. Maddox, who died of kidney failure Wednesday, hit it big after World War II when she toured with her four brothers as The Maddox Brothers and Rose. They were billed as "The Most Colorful Hillbilly Band in America." Maddox had a reputation as a lusty firebrand, with uptempo songs such as "Hangover Blues" and "Pay Me Alimony." Her musical styles ranged from hillbilly to rockabilly to gospel. Known for her colorful Western costumes, Maddox once shocked a Grand Ole Opry audience by appearing on stage with a bare midriff, a stark contrast to her sometimes staid female contemporaries. "Kitty Wells would stand up there and not even move," said biographer Jonny Whitesides. "Rose would get on stage and high-kick and shimmy-shake. That drove people crazy." At its height, her group played the Las Vegas Strip and the Grand Ole Opry and toured with Elvis Presley, Hank Williams and Marty Robbins. Among its biggest hits were the Woody Guthrie song "Philadelphia Lawyer, "Tramp on the Street" and "Whoa, Sailor."

    The band broke up in 1956 amid a changing music scene and Maddox's brothers settled down, but Maddox kept singing. Among her solo hits in the late 1950s and early '60s were "Sing a Little Song of Heartache," "Gambler's Love," "Kissing My Pillow" and "Bluebird, Let Me Tag Along." She also recorded Buck Owens and the king of bluegrass, Bill Monroe. In the early '80s, she recorded an album of gospel music, "A Beautiful Bouquet," in memory of her son, Donnie, who died in 1982. In 1996 she got her first Grammy nomination for her CD "$35 and a Dream." The title song told Maddox's life story. During the Depression, her Alabama sharecropper daddy sold everything the family had for $35 and loaded his wife and five of their seven kids on a freight train bound for California. Rose was 7.

    In a 1996 interview, Maddox recalled that her musical career began just a few years later. Her brother Fred decided he had had enough of picking fruit for 10 cents a box and lined up a job playing music on the radio for a furniture dealer in Modesto, Calif. But the dealer demanded a girl singer. "They didn't know if I could sing or not -- Fred didn't -- but he wasn't about to lose that opportunity," Maddox said. "And he knew Mama wouldn't let him get a girl singer. So he said, 'We've got the best girl singer that's ever been.' "He didn't tell him it was a kid, an 11-year-old kid. We went on the radio the next day, and we started selling that furniture like mad."

  • Posted April 17, 1998
    From: (Jon E. Johnson) - Though I had heard of them for years, I didn't actually hear the music of the Maddox Brothers and Rose until maybe three or four years ago when I picked up their two Arhoolie CD collections that were in print at the time. I was curious if they were as good as I'd always heard and, if anything, they were better than I could ever have imagined! I'd never heard anything remotely like it: the speed, the power, the humor, the giggling in the background, and the sheer joy of making music that existed for no other reason than it was *fun*. At their best they were making music that was so far ahead of its time that it was very nearly rockabilly a good five or six years before it should have existed and they planted the seeds that would sprout fully realized in the fifties and sixties as the great Bakersfield Sound (partly defined in the work of Merle Haggard by guitarist Roy Nichols, who had gotten his start with the Maddoxes).

    No other country in the world could have produced the Maddox Brothers and Rose; of that I have no doubt whatsoever. At a time when Europe, Asia, and Russia were slipping deeper and deeper under a jackboot of totalitarianism, it was nothing less than American grit and determination that drove the Maddox family from a bleak existence as Alabama sharecroppers to the promised land of California in the thirties. And after the war was over, the Maddoxes were there to entertain people who had spent four years liberating much of the world and now wanted to have as much fun as possible.

    It's hard to say why Rose Maddox never became a bigger star, with or without her brothers, though being based in California instead of Nashville couldn't have helped. In my mind, though, she was simply the best. Like a new Christian who is so caught up in the sudden realization of pure, unyielding Truth with a capital "T" that he'll evangelize to anyone who will listen, I've constantly championed Rose Maddox over the past few years, have written about her and her brothers in several reviews for the Boston-based "Country Standard Time" magazine, have bought as many of her albums as I could find, and have recommended those records to dozens of friends and acquaintances. A year or so back Deke Dickerson posted her address on the rockabilly mailing list with the suggestion that list members send her get-well cards because she was feeling poorly at the time. I went out right away, bought a card, wrote her a short letter telling her how much her music meant to me, and wished her a quick recovery. She never responded, and I didn't really expect her to, but I'm glad that I got a chance to tell her how great I thought she was.

    As I write this I'm sitting at home listening to a Maddox Brothers and Rose CD, just having listened to George Jones' stunning new album, which I'm supposed to review for the new issue of "Country Standard Time." It's a stark reminder of the way Nashville works that Rose fought for recognition for her entire life (in spite of a string of hits for Capitol in the early sixties) and that George Jones, country's greatest living singer bar none, has to now fight, beg, and cajole for airplay wherever he can get it. If there's a lesson to be learned, it's that Rose never gave up, in spite of the fact that vocalists far less talented than her became more successful. George has put out a great album - probably one of his very best - and it will probably be ignored by radio for no other reason than his age. And this will be decided by people half his age who aren't fit to carry his jockstrap, much less pass judgment on his music, and who know as much about country music as they know about industrial turbines. And yet Rose Maddox spent most of her career in much the same position and still found it in herself to give it her best right up until the very end. She never quit and she gave as good as she got.

    God bless you, Rose Maddox. You've earned your rest. I had almost forgotten how fun music could really be for a while there until you, Fred, and the others reminded me. And, if nothing else, I'd like to think that the Maddox Brothers and Rose are together again, singing "There's a real hot spot on the Waterloo Road, got a hillbilly band called Maddox and Rose...."

    ROSE MADDOX CDs and MORE, Arhoolie Productions

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