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."