What an outstanding book this is.All lovers of 50's and 60's country,bluegrass,and gospel music will be well aware of the importance of the Starday label to these genres.Artists such as George Jones,Jimmy Dean,Dottie West,and Roger Miller started their careers with this label.Others like Moon Mullican,Cowboy Copas,and Red Sovine had their fading careers revitalised when they signed for Starday.Nathan Gibson with much help from former Starday owner Don Pierce tells the story from beginning,to the end.Plenty of wonderful stories from the artists,musicians,and employees make this a very informative,and enjoyable read.As a reference this book will be invaluable,containing as it does almost seventy pages listing recordings issued by Starday and its subsiduaries.Don't be put off by the high price,this book is vital to collectors of country music.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Outstanding piece of work!3 Mar. 2011
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From start to finish Nathan Gibson's work on the great Starday Records is simply a masterpiece. Far more than just a recording of the facts concerning the company - which are readily and easily found on the web - Gibson's work delves into much of what went on behind the scenes that made what might arguably be America's greatest Country Music record empire. Right from its humble beginnings on a handshake deal between Jack Starnes and H.W. 'Pappy' Daily (STAR and DAY), to the eventful deal with Don Pierce, to the eventual sale of everything to Pierce (a true business genius who then built an empire), here is a complete and even handed picture of what happened. Though Pierce contributed mightily to the volume, and it might have been easy for Gibson to paint him as the 'white knight' of the story and the others as villains, he does not. All are shown for their strengths and weakness's, as well as their individual business goals - some of which interfered with the product and purpose of the label. I personally found the initial chapters on the first years of the company, and the last chapters - when Pierce almost single handedly kept traditional country music alive - the most interesting, but the whole book is both informative and entertaining. It is a true portrait of a man with a clear vision, drive, and business sense, building and operating a powerhouse label, for the good of a single product - good traditional country music.
It is interesting to note the efforts that Starday and its subsiderary labels, went to in order to provide a chance for the undiscovered talent out there. More often than not Starday had an open door policy - a policy that paid off. The label was also instrumental in keeping Bluegrass music alive and healthy and giving us some of its leading champions. Rockabilly, Bluegrass, String music, truck driving music and, of course, their flagship line - Honky-Tonk - are all discussed in the vein of Starday's contribution to their success's as genres.
So too are the people involved, not the least of which was George Jones. Much has been written about 'the Possum', but precious little of it ever covers his landmark early years. Here we get a strong glimpse of that young man as he started out. So to do we get pictures of other success stories - and their hits. (Remember 'Satisfied Mind', by Porter Wagoner? He didn't do it first! You get the song behind the story here!)
All in all I give a hearty thumbs up to the book. The writing is clear and concise and to the point, without personal opinion or fluff. It does jump around a bit in the beginning, but smooths out quickly. You can tell Gibson is excited and passionate about his subject and left no stone unturned in the telling.
You won't be disappointed with this book, and I can't see any book collection that deals with early country music not having this included in its ranks. If it doesn't, then it is far from complete and sadly lacking.
Robert J. Laplander
Lead singer for TEXAS '55 and THE JONES JUNKIES
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Devoted Country Fans..buy this book!!!13 May 2011
- Published on Amazon.com
I felt the same excitement reading Nathan Gibson's "Starday Story" as that day many years ago when I bought my first Starday 45, George Jones's "You Gotta Be My Baby"...well, almost as excited. True confession: I've been following the fortunes of Starday since that time as Don Pierce was one of the unsung heroes of the record business who inspired me to drop out of law school and pursue a somewhat marginal career at the fringes of the music business. So when I saw the positive review of "Starday Story" in that excellent UK mag, NOW DIG THIS, I couldn't wait to read it. Gibson, who fell completely under the Starday spell, has done his homework thoroughly and produced a well-researched labor of love that reads (at least to me) like a mystery novel..I devoured it in one late night session. As the better music histories tend to do, "Starday Story" should inspire those unfamiliar with certain aspects of the rich musical history of this enterprise to seek out the musical legacy which Don Pierce has left us. Many of Starday's best sessions are readily available on CD and Gibson's appendix gives an excellent overview of those. I'm not a fan of country gospel but that chapter inspired me to check out Starday's important output in that genre. More casual c&w fans (please don't be put off by the necessary high cost of this book...kudos for Univ. of Miss Press for producing it..it's well worth the cost) will enjoy back stories of George Jones, Red Sovine, Cowboy Copas, Frankie Miller and other top artists who contributed to Pierce's long run. Anyone interested in the mechanics and foibles of the record business in the 50s and 60s will welcome this book. Pierce's contribution to the "indie label" saga with Starday and his R&B Hollywood label (also detailed here) was both unique and typical of the era...Gibsons' book stands alongside John Broven's recent magisterial "Record Breakers.." as an essential contribution to our understanding of an important phase in American roots music history which was generally ignored by the academy (and most critics) until fairly recently. Maybe you'll even want to collect original Starday pressings after you read this book...Gibson's comprehensive discography is drawn from both company archives and research pioneered by serious record collectors. It's a heady addiction (Gibson's obsessive affinity for Starday recordings underlines his narrative) but fortunately the best of all this is available on CD (or MP3 and YouTube if that's your preference). Let's see...future projects for this very able researcher and writer?? Tough, because many of the principals in the 50s/60s record business who deserve accurately documented histories are no longer with us...how 'bout Morty Craft..a colorful figure if there ever was one...started in '53 with the Harptones on Bruce, recorded Neil Sedaka on Melba in '56, ran Warwick Records with a host of national hits, stints at Mercury, MGM with Connie Francis, produced countless one-offs..knew every record distributor and important deejay back then...I add this only to emphasize the importance of doing this research NOW...sadly Tommy Hill, Pierce's right-hand man in Starday, had died before Gibson could interview him. Finally, not to be jingoistic, I applaud Gibson, an American music fan, undertaking this task which has been often left to able writers from the U.K. and Europe. Colin Escott may be a national treasure but I'm glad that Mr. Gibson, an enthusiastic musician in his own right, decided to write this definitive "Starday Story."
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
A must-read for classic country fans penned by a new young researcher in the Country Music field.2 Oct. 2011
- Published on Amazon.com
I'm coming a bit later than others to reviewing this book here. After hearing the author - Nate Gibson - give a presentation on his research at the 2011 Annual Conference of the Association for Recorded Sound Collections (ARSC) in May - and meeting him in person - I just had to read this book and it's worked its way up my reading pile. Like reviewers before me I can highly recommend this comprehensive book to any serious classic country music fan. After all, it not for Starday folks like George (Jones), Willie (Nelson) and Roger (dang me, Miller) would never have reached their audience.
As a gad student in folklore Gibson knows how to do research and express himself well in print. The book is well organized and contains which Gibson calls a "Record Listing" in numerical order in the back. It is properly titled because it is not a "discography" which would provide recording dates, personnel and matrix numbers. (For that you'll have to go to the essential Country Music Discography by the late Bob Pinson.)
The book has black and white photos scattered throughout as well as a few images of adverts and other documents. Like must university press books, this one has a sturdy binding and a glossy laminated cover.
As Gibson continues his studies and research I look forward to the other subjects he'll be covering. Based on this work, he's destined to follow in the footsteps of Bill C. Malone and the aforementioned Pinson.
Steve Ramm "Anything Phonographic"
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Great read11 Mar. 2013
- Published on Amazon.com
Mr. Gibson really did his homework on this one. Tons of interviews with the main players of this great label(especailly Don Pierce). I bought this book mainly to try and find out more about the folks that recorded the top-notch rockabilly that was recorded and/or released on this label, unfortunately there wasn't a whole lot on that subject, but we are talking about obscure musicians with limited releases. But there is a lot of great information about the label's bigger stars in the country and hillbilly genres. All in all, a great book with great pictures and information on one of the greatest independent labels ever.
Starday label exposed as true birth place of rockabilly music.8 Dec. 2013
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Fantastic book for any one interested in music released on the Houston based Starday label back in the fifties. It also covers the Dixie and Starday custom labels plus all the custom pressings made for individual artists for release on their own labels. The book contains a full discography of music produced by the label, and is a must for collectors of rockabilly, honky tonk and country music from the fifties and early sixties. This book is very complimentary to recent cd releases that contain several hundred songs from the Starday stable that have not been available for over fifty years.