Jimmie Rodgers Remembered on Anniversary of His Death

By: Jessica Dealy Email
By: Jessica Dealy Email

Bob Dylan once said, 'Jimmie Rodgers combined the elements of blues and hillbilly sounds before anyone else had thought of it. His plaintive voice and style would outlast them all.'

It turns out Dylan was right. Though Jimmie Rodgers died 77 years ago, his legacy and legend are alive and well.

"He is still quite popular in Australia," said Jane and Norm Rigby. "As I said before, my brother runs a show called County Roots and he still receives a lot of requests for Jimmie. So he's well remembered Down Under!"

Every year, fans like the Rigbys gather around Rodgers' grave on the anniversary of the country star's death. It was May 26, 1933, when Rodgers passed away from complications believed to be related to tuberculosis. At the time he was only 35, but he had already established himself as the Father of Country Music.

"It doesn't seem real that I am a part of someone who had such an influence in the American music field," said Rick McWilliams, great-nephew of Jimmie Rodgers. "I am just proud to be here."

Through the years, the Jimmie Rodgers Foundation sponsored the annual wreath laying ceremony at his grave to celebrate the country star and remind the city of Meridian where the Father of Country Music came from.

"He is a tremendous economic development and tourist tool for our community and for the state of Mississippi," said Betty Lou Jones, president of the Jimmie Rodgers Foundation. "Meridian is the only place that can claim Jimmie Rodgers. We should never let that be forgotten."

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  • by tiredteacher on May 27, 2010 at 07:10 PM
    I am so sorry BJ - I addressed you by mistake; I should have and intended to address Redline. I apologize.
  • by BJ on May 27, 2010 at 05:11 PM
    I'll just clear up a couple of things and then I'm through with this subject. tiredteacher, I was DEFENDING the different genres of singers and their contributions, including Jimmie Rodgers. I was merely making a point by mentioning Memphis and Elvis. RedLine Citizen, my dear grandparents were sweet country folks, born in the 1880s, 15 years AFTER slavery ended in this country. Your argument that all white people then (or now) are racists is idiotic, just as idiotic as saying that all black people today are welfare queens or thugs. That is not true. Saying things like that harms our whole community. It's unfair and it's not true.
  • by tiredteacher on May 27, 2010 at 04:59 PM
    Hey RedLine, who cares about your granddad?
  • by RedLine Citizen Location: Meridian on May 27, 2010 at 04:35 PM
    To: Jennifer. No I do not need to go back to grade school. I was just spelling underwear the same as Anonymous. Maybe you should ask them the same question? How can you be sure your ancestors were not racist? As for your comment about Africans stealing their people and putting them up for sale, remember the Aficans were invaded by others. Just like any other race greed is always there. The bottom line is who cares about Jimmy Rodgers!!!!!!! He is just a token to make money.
  • by tiredteacher Location: collinsville on May 27, 2010 at 04:02 PM
    Let me broaden your horizons BJ. My aunt e-mailed me today to let me know that she is bringing her grandchildren (from their home in Memphis) to Meridian next week to see the Jimmie Rogers Museum. My aunt is a flaming, far-left, liberal, card-carrying Clinton/Obama democrat. She doesn't like or listen to country music. She wants to provide her grandchildren with exposure to different types of music, culture, history, heritage, etc. because she is a good person. She is also as southern as grits, magnolias, and homegrown tomatoes. Don't assume that your particular preferences for music should be adopted by everyone. I respect, as should you, everyone's preferences - but do not condemn, or degrade those different from yours. My aunt and I vote adn think differently on many topics, but I love, respect, and cherish her regardless of our differences. You need to think about finding things to love about your fellow man instead of sitting around hating on a coward's forum.
  • by Jennifer Location: Enterprise on May 27, 2010 at 03:41 PM
    @ redline citizen, I'm sorry, I'm having a bit of trouble understanding what you're trying to write.... What is underware, are you sure you wasn't talking about underwear? You might want to go back to grade school. I've already traced all of my ancestors back to the Mayflower and all of them was from the north. If you know anything about the census, you would know that they say if they owned slaves or not and mine didn't. Also, I can assure you that none of them were racist either. If you hate hearing or reading about something, do yourself and us a favor, try not to click on certain links or perhaps move to one of the other 49 states, you know there is 6 other continents you can move to. Just a question, didn't people from Africa steal their people and sale them to other people for money? Is that were slaves came from. BTW... What does any of this slave mess have to do with Jimmy Rodgers?
  • by RedLine Citizen Location: Meridian on May 27, 2010 at 11:14 AM
    To: BJ. The answer to your question is yes if your grandparents were born in the 1800's the were more than likley racist and they may even have owned slaves. To: Anonymous. No you didn't see their underware but, I saw their white sheets!!!!!! Please don't act like there was not any racist during that time.
  • by Bill Location: Meridian on May 27, 2010 at 08:50 AM
    It is one thing to not be intelligent, but another to flaunt it with comments such as tying Jimmy Rodgers to any part of racism. Jimmy Rogers impacted country, blues, and even rock and roll and he did this in a very short span of time. I am proud that he was from Meridian and I am proud that I am from Meridian and Jimmy deserves to to honored. Thank you WTOK for reporting this and your continued support of a legend.
  • by BJ on May 26, 2010 at 09:35 PM
    The fact is we have a few events that feature Jimmie Rodgers. The foundation and some ardent fans work to make sure his contributions are not forgotten. What is wrong with that? Maybe the people in Memphis are tired of hearing about Elvis but he still has fans and it brings in money. Isn't that good for all the community? Maybe some people get tired of hearing about Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra, or BB King. Should we stop recognizing what they brought to music? Of course not. No one makes you listen or watch these few times Jimmie Rodgers gets a little attention. Now you're calling someone you didn't know a racist just because he walked the earth at a difficult time for black people. Just because he walked the earth then and he was white, he must have been a racist? My grandparents were white and born in the 1880s....so they had to be racists, right? That's just silly. If you want to make a point, RedLine Citizen, be intelligent about it.
  • by Anonymous on May 26, 2010 at 08:20 PM
    Thank You BJ. I agree that we all have to celebrate holidays that we could care less about and days we feel are not important. I am happy to be from the place the father of country music is from. Thank you Wtok for doing this story at least we did not see any of those peoples underware....
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