Maddox Brothers and Rose

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
The Maddox Brothers and Rose
OriginBoaz, Alabama, U.S.
GenresCountry, Western swing, Old Time, Gospel
Years active1937–1956
LabelsFour Star, Columbia, Decca
Associated actsRose Maddox, The Strangers
MembersRose Maddox
Fred Maddox
Cal Maddox
Henry Maddox
Don Maddox
Past membersCliff Maddox

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, United States, 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 itinerant fruit and vegetable pickers, following the harvest as far north as Washington and as far east as Arizona, as well as the San Joaquin Valley. They often worked from dawn to dusk, sleeping and eating on the ground.[1]

Having settled in Modesto, California, 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 risqué lyrics. They became, officially, California's best hillbilly band.[2][3]

The brothers and Rose appeared at places such as the 97th Street Corral in Los Angeles.[4]

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. These 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 Maddoxes’ 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.[5][6]

Fred Maddox played upright bass using the "slap bass" technique as early as 1937.[7] 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.[6]

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."[8]

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 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 October 5, 2014.[7]

Band members[edit]

  • Cliff Maddox (born 1912, Boaz, Alabama – died 1949)
  • Cal Maddox (born November 3, 1915, Boaz, Alabama – died 1968)
  • Fred Maddox (born July 3, 1919, Boaz, Alabama – died October 29, 1992)
  • Don Maddox (born December 7, 1922, Boaz, Alabama)
  • Rose Maddox (born August 15, 1925, Boaz, Alabama – died April 15, 1998)
  • Henry Maddox (born March 19, 1928, Boaz, Alabama – died 1974)
  • Bud Duncan (born March 18, 1928, Picket, Arkansas)


  • A Collection of Standard Sacred Songs (King, 1959)
  • Maddox Bros. and Rose (King, 1960)
  • I'll Write Your Name In the Sand (King, 1961)
  • Maddox Brothers and Rose (Wrangler, 1962)
  • Go Honky Tonkin! (Hilltop, 1965)
  • America's Most Colorful Hillbilly Band, v.1 (Arhoolie, 1976 [LP]; 1993 [CD])
  • America's Most Colorful Hillbilly Band, v.2 (Arhoolie, 1976 [LP]; 1995 [CD])
  • Old Pals of Yesterday (Picc-A-Dilly, 1980)
  • On the Air, v.1 (Arhoolie, 1983 [LP]; 1996 [CD])
  • Maddox Bros. and Rose: Columbia Historic Edition (Columbia, 1984)
  • On the Air, v.2 (Arhoolie, 1985 [LP]; 1996 [CD])
  • Live - On the Radio (Arhoolie, 1996) recorded 1953
  • The Hillbilly Boogie Years (Rockateer, 1996) all Columbia recordings
  • The Most Colorful Hillbilly Band in America (Bear Family, 1998) 4-CD set
  • A Proper Introduction to Maddox Brothers & Rose: That'll Learn Ya Durn Ya (Proper, 2004)


  1. ^ "NPR : Honky Tonks, Hymns and the Blues". Retrieved February 14, 2020.}
  2. ^ Ramblin' Rose - The Life and Times of Rose Maddox. Jonny Whiteside. 1997. page 42. ISBN 0-8265-1269-0
  3. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-06-10. Retrieved 2010-02-20.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) Lyrics
  4. ^ Billboard, January 15, 1949, p. 33
  5. ^ "Americas Most Colorful Hillbilly Band". Archived from the original on 2007-04-04. Retrieved 2007-02-27.
  6. ^ a b "Honky Tonks, Hymns, & the Blues". Retrieved February 14, 2020.
  7. ^ a b "The Maddox Brothers & Rose". Retrieved February 14, 2020.
  8. ^ The Blue Moon Boys - The Story of Elvis Presley's Band. Ken Burke and Dan Griffin. 2006. Chicago Review Press. page 26. ISBN 1-55652-614-8

External links[edit]