Happy birthday to bluegrass pioneer Rose Maddox

Rose Maddox, the lead singer of America’s “most colorful hillbilly band” the Maddox Brothers and Rose, was born on August 15, 1925.

Rose went from very modest beginnings to fronting her family band, to a solo career that included a number of top-10 Billboard singles including “Mental Cruelty” with Buck Owens and “Sing a Little Song of Heartache.”

Murphy Hicks Henry writes in her book Pretty Good for a Girl: Women in Bluegrass:

The life of Rose Maddox was so melodramatic that if someone had written it as fiction, readers would scoff and say, “That could never happen!”  It’s a little like John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath with a musical twist. 

Although she could play guitar and bass, Rose performed as a vocalist only. From her pre-teen appearance on KTRB in Modesto, CA in 1937 through her final show in 1997 at the Sugar Shack in Hollywood, Rose performed nearly constantly. She even made it to the silver screen, playing a small role in the film The Hi-Lo Country, which was released shortly after her death in 1998.


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