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Monday, May 13, 2013

Cripple Creek/Ida Red /John Henry - Gid Tanner and his Skillet Lickers

James Gideon Tanner (June 6, 1885 – May 13, 1960) was an American old time fiddler and one of the earliest stars of what would come to be known as country music. His band, the Skillet Lickers, was one of the most innovative and influential string bands of the 1920s and 1930s. Its most notable members were Clayton McMichen (fiddle and vocal) and the blind Riley Puckett (guitar and vocal). Gid Tanner was born at Thomas Bridge near Monroe, Georgia. He made a living as a chicken farmer for most of his life. He learned to play the fiddle at the age of 14 and quickly established a reputation as one of the finest musicians in Georgia. Early on, he participated in several fiddle conventions together with his rival Fiddlin' John Carson, what one of them didn't win, the other would. Tanner reportedly had a repertoire of more than 2000 songs. Tanner and Puckett traveled to New York City in March 1924 to make the first of a series of duet recordings for Columbia Records. The first recording made with the Skillet Lickers was "Hand Me Down My Walking Cane," recorded in Atlanta on April 17, 1926, when the country music scene in Atlanta rivaled Nashville's. It was released by Columbia on a 78rpm disc backed with “Watermelon On the Vine". The group would eventually record more than 100 songs for Columbia before splitting up in 1931. Three years later, Tanner and Puckett reformed the Skillet Lickers and had several releases on Bluebird Records. Tanner stopped making records in 1934, but continued performing into his seventies. He died in Dacula, Georgia.

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