Grandpa Jones

Louis Marshall "Grandpa" Jones was one person who aged right into his makeup. Like his real appearance, however, his actual background and role in country music were deceptive and more complex than they seem. Beginning in the 1920s, he began attracting attention with his boisterous performing style, old-time banjo performing, and powerful singing, and by the 1940s, with hits like "Rattler" and "Mountain Dew," he began receiving national attention. He joined the Grand Ole Opry in 1946 and remained there throughout his career; in the 1960s, with hits like "T for Texas," he continued making a place for himself on the country charts, and as a regular on Hee Haw since its inception in 1969, he became a television celebrity. But Jones' influence went much further than that chain of successes would indicate -- he was almost single-handedly responsible for keeping the banjo alive as a country music instrument during the 1930s and 1940s, and in addition to his own work and songs, he was an important associate and collaborator of Merle Travis.