WILL YOU MISS ME WHEN I'M GONE?: The Carter Family and Their Legacy in American Music

Mark Zwonitzer, Author, Charles Hirshberg, With with Charles Hirshberg. Simon & Schuster $25 (432p) ISBN 978-0-684-85763-3

The Carter Family, Virginia mountain musicians who composed, performed and recorded hundreds of folk songs beginning in 1927, finally get their due in documentary filmmaker Zwonitzer's comprehensive biography. To say that the Carters, who inspired such legends as Chet Atkins, Hank Williams, Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash, had a profound impact on popular American music is an understatement. Zwonitzer follows the Carter family's history from the 1891 birth of A.P. Carter, the musical founder, up through the late 1970s, offering background on the social, economic and technological developments that spawned American folk, country and rock music. The Carter family got its official start when A.P. dragged his wife, Sara, and his pregnant sister-in-law Maybelle to Bristol, Tenn., to sing for a record company scout. The Carters' performance—with A.P. singing bass, Sara and Maybelle singing harmony, and Maybelle on guitar—earned them a recording contract and a legendary career that spanned three generations. Family and friends reminisce about the forbidden love affair that broke up the Original Carters; Hank Williams's attempt to shoot June Carter; how June and Maybelle Carter sustained June's husband, Johnny Cash, through his drug addiction; and other colorful episodes from the Carters' lives. Zwonitzer writes with flair, weaving anecdotes into a compelling study that will intrigue historians and music lovers alike. (July)

Reviewed on: 06/10/2002
Release date: 07/01/2002
Paperback - 432 pages - 978-0-7432-4382-7
Open Ebook - 432 pages - 978-1-4391-2744-5
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