|A view of downtown from the third floor of Meridian City Hall|
|Nickname(s): Queen City|
|Motto: "A Better Longitude On Life"|
Meridian's history begins in 1831, one year after the Choctaw Indians agreed to vacate their territories in Mississippi under the terms of the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek. Richard McLemore of Virginia settled first in the area from which Meridian would grow. He offered free land to draw more people into the region. When the railroads linked to the area in 1855, Meridian's future was secured.During the early 1860s, Meridian was a small community of 15 families. New growth was spurred by the town's strategic geographical location for railroads. During the Civil War, Meridian was the site of a confederate arsenal, military hospital, prisoner-of -war stockade and headquarters for a number of state offices. In February 1864, General William Tecumseh Sherman's army destroyed the city's railroads and much of the surrounding area . Sherman is credited with saying, " Meridian no longer exists."Despite this, the railroad tracks were repaired in 26 working days and the city continued to grow. As timber, cotton and the rails used for transporting them brought good times back to Lauderdale County, Meridian entered its most progressive era, known as the Golden Age. From 1890 until 1930, Meridian was the state's largest city and a leader in manufacturing. During this time, much of the existing skyline was built. The Grand Opera House opened its doors in 1890. The Threefoot Building, an art deco masterpiece, became Meridian's tallest skyscraper and Meridian's Carnegie Library, which now houses the Museum of Art, was constructed. Today, many of Meridian's historic neighborhoods feature fine homes and buildings typical of their eras.The city has nine recognized historic districts and neighborhoods, including the largest collection of historic buildings in its downtown district in the state. Not only has Meridian produced architectural gems, it has produced many talented peopleOne of the most famous is Jimmie Rodgers, known as the "Father of Country Music." Born in Meridian, the "Singing Brakeman" gained popularity during the late 1920s and early 1930s through his vocal and guitar music which helped shape a new musical style. Sharecroppers and railroads influenced his songs of the poor man's South, giving him a distinctive place in the music world. One of Meridian's most famous entertainers today is Sela Ward, who entertained us in the television series "Sisters," for which she won the 1994 Emmy Award for Best Actress in a Drama Series, and who currently stars in the hit drama, "Once and Again."
1900-The long stretch of 22nd Avenue featured three department stores. To the left were the Dumont Department Store and the Marks-Rothenberg Department Store.To the right was Winner and Kline Department Store. Also to the right, Weidmann's Restaurant, still in operation. In the center of the photograph is the Threefoot Brothers Wholesale Company, the present location of the Threefoot Building.
1885-City Hall & Market Building
1900-At the turn of the century, Front Street was a dirt road and the first Union Passenger Depot had not been built. This stretch is Front Street, between 26th and 27th Avenues. On the left is a white picket fence encircling a private residence, where a pig has wandered out into the street. In the middle ground is a steam-powered tractor, which were common at the time. In the hazy distance is the site where the first depot would be built.
1904-Farmers are shown delivering locally grown corn at the Queen and Crescent Freight Depot. At the Armour Packing Company, right, meat was smoked, packed and shipped to destinations all over the southeastern United States.
1904-This photograph shows Fifth Street, looking east. On the near right is the Rosenbaum Building, which is currently being converted intocondominiums. Farther down the block is the Arky Building, currently the site of Dumont Plaza. On the left are the Great Southern Hotel and First National Bank. The city was served by electric street cars.
The photograph shows the damage to Union Station Passenger Depot on Front Street after a tornado leveled much of downtown Meridian in March 1906. Martial law was declared, and the man standing with a shovel to the left is a Doughboy solider sent in to help with the clean-up.
1906-This photograph shows storm damage at the intersection of 22nd Avenue and Front Street after a tornado leveled much of downtown Meridian in March 1906. The people of San Francisco sent money and supplies to Meridian to help out in the emergency. The people of Meridian returned the favor the next month,
in April, when San Francisco was rocked by a huge earthquake.
1906-A spring tornado in 1906 killed as many as 50 people. The Baum Building's distinctive Mansard roof was completely ripped away; it was replaced with a flat roof when rebuilding efforts got under way.
1917-The oddly-shaped intersection at Sixth and Eighth streets is the home of the Miazza-Woods "Flatiron" Building. The vee-shaped structure was patterned after the Flatiron Building on 23rd Street in New York City, where girl watchers gathered and waited for the unusual winds around the building to tug at skirts. Police walking the beat would warn them to "23-Skidoo" from the area. Behind the Flatiron Building to the left are Threefoot Brothers Wholesale and the Saenger Movie Theatre.
1920's-Children are shown outside Oakland Heights School located then, as it is now, on 59th Avenue. In 1900, there were 119 schools in Lauderdale County. After consolidation efforts, the number of schools dropped to 35 in the 1920s and education standards improved.
About 1920, Meridian officials were preparing to pave 24th Avenue. This view shows preliminary site grading work near the intersection of Eighth Street, looking south. City Hall can be seen at the end of the street. Across Eighth Street, to the right, is a residence, now the location of Meyer and Rosenbaum insurance. The man in the photo is facing the site where the Temple Theatre would be built in the mid-1920s. Behind him was the Standard Club.
In the late 1950s, Meridian celebrated the opening of the James Melton Bridge, named for a local politician and businessman.The bridge quickly came to be called the 22nd Avenue Bridge. The bridge was needed to circumvent train tracks that ran through the center of town, often stopping traffic on 22nd Avenue. This opening day parade photograph was taken on the bridge, looking north. To the left is Meridian Hardware. The tall building in the background is the Threefoot Building.
For children, the Temple Theatre was the place to be on Saturday. It was not uncommon for lines of children waiting to see the latest western to wrap all the way around the block. On this particular Saturday,
"Snow White and the Seven Dwarves" and "The Three Stooges" were on the bill. The Temple Theatre is located on the corner of Eighth Street and 24th Avenue.
This fire broke out on Front Street about 10 a.m. on March 8, 1964. It began at Rice Pappenheimer Furniture Company, but eventually consumed six other businesses as well: L.H. Conard Furniture, Corr-Williams Tobacco Company, Rhodes Furniture Warehouse Annex., Merrill Paint and Hardware, Frank Tank Discount Store and
Saxton Used Furniture Store. The Meridian Fire Department was joined by firefighters from NAS Meridian, the 186th Tactical Reconnaissance Group and volunteer stations. The final damage was estimated at $2 million.
This 1956 view, taken from the top of the Threefoot Building, shows 22nd Avenue looking south. Before the construction of the James Melton Bridge, trains rolled through the downtown shopping area. Behind the train, to the right, is the Gulf, Mobile and Ohio Railroad Freight Terminal. Plans were under way to renovate the building for use as a railroad museum when it burned in 1995.
1885-City Hall & Market Building
1905-Lauderdale County Courthouse
1907-Lauderdale County Jail
1907-Federal Building 8th Street & 22nd Avenue.
In the 1930s it was used as a Post Office
Trolley going down Sixth street by the Miazza-Woods "Flatiron" Building.
Fifth Street & 24th Avenue looking east
1935-Smith's Bakery proudly displaying the bakery & delivery crew.
1928-Hardins Bakery on the corner of Fifth Street & 30th Avenue,
later became Hosiery Mills
1937-Brookshire's Ice Cream Parlor, where McDonalds is
now at corner Hwy 19 and 11 South.
1953-Brookshire's Ice Cream
1905- New Orleans and Northeastern Roundhouse
Trolley lines on Eighth Street. Left car destination,
Asylum/College and right car, Cotton Mill.
Meridian depot on Front Street.
First Christian (Disciples of Christ) church under construction.
The natural stone was obtained locally.
First Christian is located at 1301 23rd Avenue.
1907-Matty Hersee Hospital was located on Poplar Springs Drive
1907-Main Building of East Mississippi Hospital for the Insane
Destruction of the 1906 tornado.
This arial shot of Ole Miss was taken over Meridian.
1935 is when the Key Brothers set a world's endurance flight record.
Meridian contains nine registered historic districts illustrating the city's rich history. One district, the Meridian Downtown Historic District, is a combination of two older districts, the Meridian Urban Center Historic District and the Union Station Historic District. Many architectural styles are present in the districts, most from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, including Queen Anne, Colonial Revival, Italianate, Art Deco, Late Victorian, and Bungalow.
West End Historic District — roughly bounded by 7th St, 28th Ave, Shearer's Branch, and 5th St. The district was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1987. It presents continuous streetscapes of historic buildings built during this time period. The period of significance for West End dates from 1870 to 1936, representing the rise of Meridian from its destruction during the American Civil War to the position of Mississippi's largest city. The steady growth of Meridian's economy during this time made possible the expansion of this district.
A monument in Rose Hill Cemetery honoring Lewis A. Ragsdale, one of the founders of Meridian.
Although the history of the West End Historic District can be traced from Meridian's earliest days, its significance lies in its large collection of residences dating from 1890 to 1910. These residences are also complemented by buildings built prior to and after these dates, but this collection presents continuous streetscapes of historic buildings. The period of significance for West End dates from 1870 to 1936, representing the rise of Meridian from its destruction during the Civil War to the position of Mississippi's largest city. The steady growth of Meridian's economy made possible the expansion of the city of the west.
The West End Historic District is a historic district in Meridian, Mississippi. The history of the district can be traced from Meridian's earliest days, but its significance lies in its large collection of residences dating from 1890 to 1910. The district, added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1987, is roughly bounded by 7th St, 28th Ave, Shearer's Branch, and 5th St. This district presents continuous streetscapes of historic buildings built during this time period. The period of significance for West End dates from 1870 to 1936, representing the rise of Meridian from its destruction during the American Civil War to the position of Mississippi's largest city. The steady growth of Meridian's economy during this time made possible the expansion of this district.
Meridian Urban Center Historic District — roughly bounded by 21st and 25th Aves, 6th St, and the former Gulf, Mobile and Ohio Railroad. The district was added to the National Register of Historic Places on December 18, 1979. In 1872, the streets in this district were beginning to develop around the new railroads. The rails provided economic success in the area, which resulted in a large range of late 19th and early 20th Century architectural styles including Italianate row buildings and an Art Deco skyscraper known as the Threefoot Building. The Urban Center Historic District was combined with the Union Station Historic District in 2005 and became the Meridian Downtown Historic District.
The Meridian Urban Center Historic District, created in 1979, corresponds closely with a fire district created in 1872. At that time, 25th Avenue was the principal north-south axis and the streets running parallel to the tracks (Front, Fourth, and Fifth streets) were beginning to develop. During the 1880s through the 1920s, Meridian was the state's largest city. Commercial success built on railroading resulted in a large range of late 19th and early 20th Century architectural styles from Italianate row buildings to an Art Deco skyscraper.
East End Historic District is a historic district in Meridian, Mississippi. Added to the National Register of Historic Places on August 21, 1987, the district's significance lies in its large collection of late 19th and early 20th century Queen Anne and Colonial Revival style cottages built during Meridian's "Golden Age." Many of these cottages contain repetitive designs, creating interesting and picturesque streetscapes. The district is an irregular shape, bounded to the east by 11th Ave and to the south by 5th St. The northern boundary of the district follows 18th St west from 11th Ave, turns south on 14th Ave, and west again on 14th St. 17th Ave between 14th and 5th streets forms the far western boundary of the district.
Downtown Meridian in the early 1900s (photo taken near intersection of 22nd Ave and 4th St looking north)
Little architectural evidence of Meridian's early history survives, due to the Civil War. However, the significance of the East End Historic District lies in its large collection of late 19th and early 20th Century Queen Anne/Colonial Revival cottages, representing Meridian's "Golden Age." Many of these cottages are of repetitive designs, creating interesting and picturesque streetscapes. The cottages are also good examples of the work of the city's numerous contractors, who kept pace with increasing housing demands as Meridian prospered at the turn of the century.
Mid-Town Historic District — bounded by 23rd Ave, 15th St, 28th Ave, and 22nd St. The district is a collection of architectural and historically important 20th Century residences representing the houses of Meridian's wealthy industrialists, professionals and merchants, as well as the working class. Because of this historic architecture, the district was added to the National Register of Historic Places on August 21, 1987. The homes in the district are associated with Meridian's rapid growth at the beginning of the century, when the city was the center of Mississippi's railroad economy. The district has a large percentage of brick structures, built as an alternative to the wooden frame residences made popular by the lumber industry and mills in Meridian.
Looking into downtown Meridian from the 22nd Avenue Bridge in 2008. The Hotel Meridian was later demolished.
Mid-Town Historic District is a historic district in Meridian, Mississippi, containing a collection of architectural and historically important 20th Century residences representing the houses of Meridian's wealthy industrialists, professionals and merchants, as well as the working class. Because of this historic architecture, the district was added to the National Register of Historic Places on August 21, 1987. The homes in the district are associated with Meridian's rapid growth at the beginning of the 20th century, when the city was the center of Mississippi's railroad economy. The district has a large percentage of brick structures, built as an alternative to the wooden frame residences made popular by the lumber industry and mills in Meridian. The district is rectangular in shape, bounded by 23rd Ave, 15th St, 28th Ave, and 22nd St.
The Mid-Town Historic District is a collection of architectural and historically important 20th Century residences representing the houses of Meridian's wealthy industrialists, professionals and merchants, as well as the working class. The homes are associated with Meridian's rapid growth at the beginning of the century, when the city was the center of Mississippi's railroad economy. The district has a greater percentage of brick structures, built as an alternative to the wooden frame residences made popular by the lumber industry and mills in Meridian.
Merrehope Historic District is a historic district in Meridian, Mississippi. The district was originally subdivided around 1853 by city founder John T. Ball, but started developing after the Civil War. Following the war, Meridian's economy boomed through railroading, logging and textile enterprises. As Meridian began to grow northward, so did the need for housing. The housing development period for this district was late 1860 through 1940. The district was added to the National Register of Historic Places on September 19, 1988 and is rectangular, bounded by 33rd Ave, 30th Ave, 14th St, and 8th St.
The district is home to the Merrehope home, a stately 20-room Victorian mansion, restored and furnished by the Meridian Restorations Foundation, Inc. Originally, part of the home was used as headquarters for Confederate General Leonidas Polk and was spared by Union General William T. Sherman and his troops when they attacked the city in the Battle of Meridian during the Civil War and burned much of it to the ground.
The home is located at 905 Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Drive and is one of few homes in Meridian that remained standing after Sherman's raid.
Frank W. Williams Home
Another historic home in the district is the Frank W. Williams Home. Built in 1886, the home is a fine example of the Queen Anne style of residential architecture, with stained glass, oak paneling, parquet floors and detailed gingerbread. Many original features and antique furnishings are in the home. The house is located on the same lot as the Merrehope Historical Home.
Merrehope Historic District — bounded by 33rd Ave, 30th Ave, 14th St, and 8th St. The district was added to the National Register of Historic Places on September 19, 1988. Following the Civil War, Meridian's economy boomed through railroading, logging and textile enterprises. As Meridian began to grow northward, so did the need for housing. The housing development period for this district was late 1860 through 1940.
The Merrehope Historical District started developing after the Civil War, but was subdivided ca. 1853 by city founder John T. Ball. Following the Civil War, Meridian's economy boomed through railroading, lumbering and textile enterprises. As Meridian began to grow northward, so did the need for housing. The housing development period for this district was late 1860 through 1940.
The Depot District is east of the Urban Center Historic District and consists of a four-block area. In 1885, Meridian was the junction of five railroads, with three others considering coming into the city. From 1885 to 1905, this area was primarily residential, with a small industrial complex developing around the railroads. The construction of the Union Station in 1905-1906 led to the development of this area in business and industry.
Poplar Springs Road Historic District — roughly bounded by 29th St, 23rd Ave, 22nd St, and 29th Ave. The district was added to the National Register of Historic Places on August 21, 1987. It is a collection of residences representing the prosperity of Meridian at the turn of the 20th century and pre-Depression era. The district developed around Poplar Springs Road (now Poplar Springs Drive), at the time a winding country road leading into the north of the city. Hundreds of shade trees were planted and still contribute to the streetscape of the Poplar Springs Historic District.
The Poplar Springs Historic District is a collection of residences representing the prosperity of Meridian at the turn of the 20th Century and pre-Depression era. The district developed around Poplar Springs Road (later Drive), at the time a winding country road leading into the north of the city. Besides the laying out of the streets and plots, hills were cut down and hollows filled. Hundreds of shade trees were planted and they still contribute to the streetscape of the Poplar Springs Historic District.
Highlands Historic District is a historic district in Meridian, Mississippi that was listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places on August 21, 1987. The district is rectangular, bounded by 34th Ave and 19th St to the northeast and by 36th Ave and 15th St to the southwest. It was originally known as Missouri Ridge because Union soldiers, primarily from Missouri, camped in the area and were engaged in the Battle of Meridian during the Civil War. The district grew from the advent of Meridian's light rail streetcar system in 1883. The streetcar line began on 8th Street, continued up 34th Avenue, then turned west between 19th and 20th Streets and continued into Highland Park, just outside the district. This streetcar line provided transportation that allowed the area to develop.
The Highlands Historic District was originally known as Missouri Ridge because Union soldiers, primarily from Missouri, camped here and were engaged in a skirmish during the Civil War. With the advent of Meridian's light rail streetcar system in 1883, the city began to grow northward. When the streetcar line reached this district, it provided transportation that allowed the area to develop.
The origins of Highland Park can be traced back to 1889 when the area was used as the Meridian Fair and Livestock Exposition. The Fair and Exposition Corporation dissolved in 1906 and turned its property over to the newly formed Park Association. The Park Association was established as a non-profit corporation in 1906 to assemble property and develop initial plans for Highland Park. The Meridian Light and Railway Company had a rail line going from 8th Street up 34th Avenue that turned west between 19th and 20th Streets, then continued west into Highland Park. At the time Highland Park was designed, there was already a national trend for "streetcar" pleasure parks. Electric railway companies ventured into increasing their operations by owning or investing in such parks. Meridian Light and Railway followed the national trend, cooperating with the city to provide band concerts.
Union Station Historic District (originally added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1979 as the Meridian Depot District) is a historic district in Meridian, Mississippi. The district lies east of the Meridian Urban Center Historic District and contains Union Station, Terminal Hotel, General Supply Co., and the Soule' Steam Feed complex. The district is rectangular, bounded by 18th and 19th Aves, 5th St, and the former Gulf, Mobile and Ohio Railroad. In 1885, Meridian was the junction of five railroads, with three others considering coming into the city. From then to 1905, this area was primarily residential, with a small industrial complex developing around the railroads. The construction of Union Station in 1905-1906 led to the development of this area in business and industry. The name change occurred in 2000, after completion of the renovated Union Station Multi-Modal Transportation Facility. The Union Station Historic District was combined with the Meridian Urban Center Historic District in 2005 and became the larger Meridian Downtown Historic District.
Originally created in 1979 as the Meridian Depot District, the Union Station Historic District lies east of the Urban Center District and contains Union Station, Terminal Hotel, General Supply Co., and the Soule' Steam Feed complex. In 1885, Meridian was the junction of five railroads, with three others considering coming into the city. From 1885 to 1905, this area was primarily residential, with a small industrial complex developing around the railroads. The original construction of the Union Station in 1905-1906 led to the development of this area in business and industry. The name change occurred in 2000, after completion of the renovated Union Station Multi-Modal Transportation Facility.
Meridian Downtown Historic District — runs from railroad tracks north to 6th St between 18th and 26th Ave, excluding Ragsdale Survey Block 71. The district is actually a combination of two older districts, Meridian Urban Center Historic District and Union Station Historic District. In 2005, Meridian's city council voted to combine these two districts into one large district. The new district was added to the National Register of Historic Places on January 16, 2007.
Meridian City Hall after restoration efforts
In 2005 City Council approved an amendment to the Code of Ordinances which consolidated and expanded the Urban Center District and the Union Station District into a single, contiguous, and larger district. The new Meridian Downtown Historic District runs from the railroad tracks north to 6th Street between 18th Avenue and 26th Avenue excluding Ragsdale Survey Block 71. Although 23 building resources have been lost since 1979, the district still boasts some 137 resources considered as contributing elements to its historic character.
Meridian is a city in Lauderdale County, Mississippi, United States. The city is the county seat of Lauderdale County, the sixth largest city in Mississippi, and the principal city of the Meridian, Mississippi Micropolitan Statistical Area. The city's 38,314 inhabitants, as reported in the 2007 United States Census estimates, are governed by a city council headed by Mayor John Robert Smith. The city is located 93 mi (150 km) east of Jackson, MS; 154 mi (248 km) west of Birmingham, AL; 202 mi (325 km) northeast of New Orleans, LA; and 231 mi (372 km) southeast of Memphis, TN.
Meridian has a rich past and deep roots in railroading history. Established in 1860 at the intersection of the Mobile and Ohio Railroad and Southern Railway of Mississippi, the city relied heavily on the rails and goods transported on them. The city's historic Amtrak station now provides several other modes of transportation including the Meridian Transit System, Greyhound Buses, and Trailways, averaging 242,360 passengers per year.
During the American Civil War much of the city was burned to the ground by General William Tecumseh Sherman in the Battle of Meridian. After the war, the city was rebuilt and entered a "Golden Age." Between 1890 and 1930, Meridian was the largest city in Mississippi and a leading center for manufacturing in the South. During this time, many of the sites and buildings in the city's nine registered historic districts were built, and most still survive today.
Since the 1950s, the city's population has been declining, but the decline has slowed somewhat after an annexation in 2006 and the influx of displaced coastal residents after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The reason for the population decline lies in the city's struggle to create a modern economy based on newer industries after the decline of the railroad industry. In 2003, Mainstreet Meridian intensified the economic revitalization by launching its "Vision 2003" program, attempting to restore downtown to its original prosperity.
Originally inhabited by the Choctaw Indians, the area which is now called Meridian was given to the United States under the terms of the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek in 1830. After the treaty was ratified, European-American settlers rapidly began to move into the area. Richard McLemore, the first settler of Meridian, began offering free land to newcomers in order to attract more settlers to the region and develop the area. Most of Richard McLemore's land was bought by Lewis A. Ragsdale, a lawyer from Alabama, in 1853. John T. Ball, a merchant from Kemper County, bought the remaining 80 acres. Ragsdale and Ball, now known as the founders of the city, began to compete with each other by laying out lots for new development on their respective land sections.
Ball erected a small wooden station house on the Mobile and Ohio Railroad named Sowashee Station by the owners of the railroad after the nearby Sowashee Creek. Fierce competition continued between Ball and Ragsdale; Ragsdale wanted to name the new settlement Ragsdale City, and Ball (along with most citizens) supported Meridian. When the Southern Railway of Mississippi intersected the Mobile and Ohio in Meridian, William Crosby Smedes, the president of the Southern Railway, sided with Ball and suggested to the owners of the Mobile and Ohio that Sowashee be renamed Meridian. The Mobile and Ohio accepted the name, and the town was officially incorporated as Meridian on February 10, 1860.
Union General William Tecumseh Sherman invaded Meridian in 1864
When the American Civil War began in 1861, Meridian was a small village. The town's strategic position at the railroad junction led to the construction of several military installations for the war. During the Battle of Meridian in 1864, General William Tecumseh Sherman led troops into the city, destroying the railroads and burning much of the area to the ground. After the destruction of the city, Sherman is reported to have said, "Meridian with its depots, store-houses, arsenal, hospitals, offices, hotels, and cantonments no longer exists." Despite the destruction, the railroad lines in the city were repaired only 26 working days after the battle.
The town experienced a boom in the aftermath of the Civil War and entered a "Golden Age" around the turn of the 20th century. The railroads in the area provided for a means of transportation and an influx of industries, which caused a population boom. Between 1890 and 1930 Meridian was the largest city in Mississippi and a leading center for manufacturing in the South. Industry profits helped finance the construction of most of the city's major buildings, including the Grand Opera House in 1890, the Wechsler School in 1894, two Carnegie libraries in 1913, and the Threefoot Building, Meridian's tallest skyscraper, in 1929. The city's population continued to climb until it peaked in the 1950s. The decline of the railroad industry caused significant job losses, resulting in a population decline as workers left for other areas. The population has since continued to decrease as the city has struggled to create a modern economy based on newer industries.
Andrew Goodman, James Chaney, and Michael Schwerner
During the American Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s, Meridian was a major center of organizing and activism. James Chaney and other local residents, along with Michael and Rita Schwerner and Andrew Goodman, volunteers from the North, worked on creating a community center to help prepare African Americans in the area to regain the power to vote.
Whites in the area didn't agree with the activism, and racial tension often translated to violence. In June 1964 Chaney, Schwerner, and Goodman went to Neshoba County, Mississippi to meet with members of a black church which had been bombed and burned. The three young men disappeared that night on their way back to Meridian, and their bodies were discovered two months later. Seven Klansmen were convicted for the murders and three were acquitted in the Mississippi civil rights workers murders trial. In 2005 the case was reopened, and Edgar Ray Killen was convicted and sentenced to 60 years in prison. Meridian later honored Chaney by renaming a portion of 49th Ave after him and holding a memorial service annually.
Meridian's Grand Opera House, renovated in 2006
To try to revamp the economy, Meridian is undergoing a major gentrification effort. The project owes its beginning to the construction of a new Amtrak Station in 1997, which sparked a citywide effort to restore downtown to its lively prosperity of the early 20th century. After the Rosenbaum Building was renovated and reopened 2001 and Weidmann's restaurant reopened in 2002, Mainstreet Meridian launched a program called "Vision 2003," prioritizing the continued revitalization of downtown. Mainstreet Meridian, along with The Riley Foundation, helped renovate the historic Grand Opera House in 2006 into the "Mississippi State University Riley Center for Education and the Performing Arts." A 6-story parking garage, built to provide parking for the future Riley Center, opened in 2005. Plans are now underway to renovate the Threefoot Building into an upscale hotel before the end of 2009.
Hamasa Shrine Temple Theater
Many more projects have been designed and proposed in the city, including bridge improvements in several locations, the construction of several museums in downtown, an African-American Business District on 5th Street, as well as several murals and public arts projects on various buildings' facades. Mainstreet Meridian also plans to increase residential housing and create more night time activities in downtown. More downtown property and business owner involvement is also encouraged.
The Threefoot Building is a historic building located in downtown Meridian, Mississippi. The building is is the tallest building in the city, standing 16 stories tall. The building was added to the National Register of Historic Places on December 18, 1979, under the Meridian Multiple Property Submission. It was built in 1929 as Meridian's Art Deco Center but is now abandoned. Plans are currently underway to renovate the building possibly into an upscale hotel by the end of 2009.
Meridian City Hall
Meridian has operated under the mayor-council or "strong mayor" form of government since 1985. A mayor is elected every four years by the population at large, and the five members of the city council are elected every four years from each of the city's five wards. The mayor, the chief executive officer of the city, is responsible for administering and leading the day-to-day operations of city government. The city council is the legislative arm of the government, setting policy and annually adopting the city's operating budget. City Hall is located at 601 24th Avenue, and since September 13, 2007, the building has been undergoing a restoration to its original 1915 appearance. Temporary City Hall is located at 2412 7th Street.
The current mayor, John Robert Smith (R), has been in office since 1993 and has been recognized as an arts leader throughout the city and state, working on projects such as the restoration of Meridian's Grand Opera House, the future Mississippi Arts & Entertainment Center, upkeep and improvement of Bonita Lakes Park, the building of Bonita Lakes Mall, and development and construction of the Union Station multi-modal transportation center. He is also co-chairman of the National Forum on the Future of Passenger Rail, a member of Amtrak's board of directors, and a member of the transportation committees of the National League of Cities and the U.S. Conference of Mayors.
The current members of the city council are Dr. George M. Thomas, representative of Ward 1 and Vice-President of the council, Mary A.B. Perry, representative from Ward 2, Barbara Henson, representative from Ward 3, Jesse E. Palmer, Sr., representative from Ward 4 and President of the council, and John C. Harris, representative from Ward 5. The council clerk is Pam McInnis.
In Meridian's early days, the economy depended greatly upon the railroads in the area. The city was the largest in Mississippi at the turn of the 20th Century with five major rail lines and 44 trains coming in and out of the city daily. The city's economy not only depended on the rails but the goods, such as timber and cotton, transported on them. With these rail-based industries, the city was a great economic power in the state and region between 1890 and 1930.
Dentzel Carousel in Highland Park
Though its economy slowed with the decline of the railroading industry in the 1950s, the city has adapted, moving from a largely rail-based economy to a very diverse one. The city's 178 healthcare and social assistance institutions contribute greatly to its economy by providing 5,698 jobs to residents of Meridian and the surrounding area. Retail is another major employer in the city, with 378 institutions employing 4,892 people. Nearly $2 billion annually is spent on retail purchases in the city. The city is also home to two military facilities,
Naval Air Station Meridian,
Naval Air Station Meridian or NAS Meridian (ICAO: KNMM, FAA LID: NMM) is a military airport located 11 miles northeast of Meridian, Mississippi in Lauderdale County and is one of the Navy's two jet strike pilot training bases (the other being NAS Kingsville, Texas).
And Key Field, which supply more than 4,000 jobs to the city's residents.
Meridian Regional Airport (IATA: MEI, ICAO: KMEI) is a public airport located on Key Field, a joint civil-military airfield located 3 mi (4.8 km) southwest of the city of Meridian in Lauderdale County, Mississippi, USA. The airport is served by one commercial airline, but is primarily used for general aviation and military traffic. At 10,004 feet, Key Field is home to the longest public use runway in Mississippi.
Meridian Regional Airport opened in November of 1930 with the completion of the terminal, hangar, powerhouse and a graded and packed dirt runway. With the onset of the Great Depression, the City of Meridian considered abandoning the airport because of the cost of maintenance.
Brothers Algene and Frederick Key, managers of the airport, devised a scheme to keep the airport operating. They hoped that by breaking the standing flight endurance record of 23 days they would focus worldwide attention on Meridian and its airport.
From June 4 until July 1, 1935, the brothers flew over Meridian; a total flight time of over 27 days. Key Field is named in their honor. The hangar and offices used by the Key brothers preceding and following the flight are still in use today and are listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
Key Field is the site of the famous flight by brothers Fred and Al Key ("The Flying Keys") which set a world endurance flight record in 1935. At 12:32 p.m. on June 4, 1935, brothers Al and Fred Key lifted off in their Curtis-Robbins monoplane, the "Ole Miss," from Meridian's airport. The record they established in their 27 days aloft, totaling 653 hours and 34 minutes, remains unbroken in conventional flight. Working with other Meridianites such as A.D. Hunter and James Keeton, the Key brothers devised a workable method of air-to-air refueling in order to attempt this feat. Because of that, Key Field is now home to the 186th Air Refueling Wing and the 185th Army Aviation Support Facility, both of the Air National Guard. The site also contains an exhibit reviewing the history of aviation, and is the home of Meridian's Aviation Museum.
Peavey Electronics Corporation, which has manufactured guitars, amplifiers, and sound equipment since 1965, operates its headquarters in the city. Other businesses in the area include:
Peavey Electronics Corporation is one of the largest audio equipment manufacturers in the world, headquartered in Meridian, Mississippi in the United States.
Hartley Peavey founded Peavey Electronics in 1965 after building his first amplifier in 1957. Since its foundation, Peavey Electronics has been privately owned, and has grown massively from their humble beginnings in Hartley's basement in 1950s.
The company maintains a museum featuring memorabilia related to Peavey Electronics and its notable users, which is open to the public.
Peavey currently owns 1.5 million square feet (140,000 m²) of manufacturing/assembly area over 33 facilities across North America, Europe and Asia, 18 of which are located in their home state of Mississippi. Products are manufactured mainly in the United States, the United Kingdom and the Far East, and are distributed to 136 different countries across the globe. They also hold 130 patents, and have a product range of around 2000 designs, with between 80 to 100 being added each year.
3.1 5150/6505 guitar amplifier series
3.2 Wolfgang series electric guitars
3.3 CS series power amplifiers
3.4 JSX guitar amplifier series
3.5 Classic amplifier series
3.6 ValveKing series
3.7 Radial Pro Series of Drum kits
Peavey Electronics also owns 5 major electronics brands, namely MediaMatrix, Architectural Acoustics, PVDJ, Crest Audio, and Trace Elliot. while working with a number of famous musicians on signature instruments, amplifiers and other equipment.
Avery Dennison Corporation (NYSE: AVY) produces pressure-sensitive materials (such as self-adhesive labels), office products, and various paper products. R. Stanton Avery founded Avery in 1935. The Avery Dennison Corporation was created in 1990 by a merger of Avery and Dennison. Avery Dennison is a considerably large company and ranks 382 on the Fortune 500 list. The Avery logo was created by Saul Bass, a graphic designer known for his motion picture title sequences.
It operates through three segments:
The Pressure-sensitive Materials segment manufactures and sells pressure-sensitive roll label materials, films for graphic applications, reflective highway safety products, performance polymers, and extruded films.
The Office and Consumer Products segment manufactures and sells various office and consumer products, including labels, binders, dividers, sheet protectors, and writing instruments.
The Retail Information Services segment designs, manufactures, and sells various price marking and brand identification products, including tickets, graphic and barcode tags and labels, woven and printed labels, and related supplies and equipment.
The company also manufactures and sells, through its other specialty converting businesses, specialty tapes, engineered films, pressure-sensitive postage stamps, and other converted products.
Avery merged in 1990 with the Dennison Manufacturing Company, located in Framingham, Massachusetts which was founded in 1844 as a jewelry and watch box manufacturing company by Aaron Lufkin Dennison, who later became the pioneer of the American System of Watch Manufacturing. Five years later Aaron turned the Dennison Manufacturing Company over to his younger brother, Eliphalet Whorf Dennison, who took over and developed the company into a sizable industrial enterprise.
Structural Steel Services,
Structural steel is steel construction material, a profile, formed with a specific shape or cross section and certain standards of chemical composition and strength. Structural steel shape, size, composition, strength, storage, etc, is regulated in most industrialised countries.
Structural steel members, such as I-beams, have high second moments of area, which allow them to be very stiff in respect to their cross-sectional area.
Common structural shapes
In most developed countries, the shapes available are set out in published standards, although a number of specialist and proprietary cross sections are also available.
I-beam (I-shaped cross-section - in Britain these include Universal Beams (UB) and Universal Columns (UC); in Europe it includes the IPE, HE, HL, HD and other sections; in the US it includes Wide Flange (WF) and H sections)
Z-Shape (half a flange in opposite directions)
HSS-Shape (Hollow structural section also known as SHS (structural hollow section) and including square, rectangular, circular (pipe) and elliptical cross-sections)
Angle (L-shaped cross-section)
Channel (C-shaped cross-section)
Tee (T-shaped cross-section)
Rail profile (asymmetrical I-beam)
Flanged T rail
Bar, a piece of metal, rectangular cross sectioned (flat) and long, but not so wide so as to be called a sheet.
Rod, a round or square and long piece of metal or wood, see also rebar and dowel.
Plate, sheet metal thicker than 6 mm or 1/4 in.
Open web steel joist
While many sections are made by hot or cold rolling, others are made by welding together flat or bent plates (for example, the largest circular hollow sections are made from flat plate bent into a circle and seam-welded).
Sara Lee Corporation (NYSE: SLE) is a global consumer-goods company based in Downers Grove, Illinois, USA. It has operations in more than 40 countries and sells its products in over 180 nations worldwide. Its international operations are headquartered in Utrecht, The Netherlands.
Sara Lee is also the brand name of a number of frozen and packaged foods, often known for the long-running slogan "Nobody doesn't like Sara Lee" which is often misquoted as "Nobody does it like Sara Lee". In 2006, Sara Lee announced a new company wide campaign: "the joy of eating." The campaign is part of a restructuring at Sara Lee, that in Baltimore, and created Consolidated Foods Corporation. In 1956 the company bought a company known as "Kitchens of Sara Lee", which became one of the company's best-known brand names. In 1985 management adopted the brand name as the name of the corporation as a whole.
As of 2006, Sara Lee Corporation has operations in more than 40 countries; sells food, beverage and household products in over 180 countries; and has some 50,000 employees worldwide.
Food and drink,
Ball Park: hot dogs
Best Kosher Products: hot dogs
Butter Krust Bread: bread
Bryan Foods: meat products
Colonial Bread: bread
Douwe Egberts: coffee
Earthgrains: Baked goods
IronKids Bread: bread
Hillshire Farm: meat products
Jimmy Dean: pork sausages and meat products
Kahn's: meat products
Rainbo Bread: bread
Rudy's Farm: pork sausage and breakfast sandwiches
Sara Lee: frozen and packaged foods
State Fair: corn dogs
Senseo: coffee machine and coffee pods
Sara Lee: Bread
Household and body care,
Ambi Pur: air fresheners
Brylcreem: hair care (outside of U.S.)
Dusch Das: shower gels
Eskinol: facial toners, washes and masks (Philippines)
Kiwi: shoe polish
Master: facial toners and washes for men (Philippines)
Matey: children's bubble bath
Radox: shower gels and bubble bath (United kingdom)
Sanex: cosmetics / body care
Williams: men's care
Zwitsal: baby products
Sara Lee Corporation announced in 2006 that it had completed the sale of its branded apparel business in Europe to an affiliate of Sun Capital Partners, Inc. Such brands included Dim, Playtex, Wonderbra, Lovable, Abanderado, Nur Die, Unno, Bellinda.
Tower Automotive LLC is a global designer and producer of structural components and assemblies used by virtually every major automotive vehicle manufacturer. The companies main products include ody structural stampings and assemblies, chassis structural stampings and assemblies, including full frames and cradles, suspension components, modules and systems and exposed sheet metal ("Class A") surfaces.
In 2007 the company generated revenues of $2.2 billion. The company employs 11.000 employees and currently has 39 facilities in 13 countries in North and South America, Europe and Asia. Tower Automotive is headquartered in Novi, Michigan, United States. In the Automotive News global supplier ranking for 2006 the company ranked on the 55th position.
The company was founded in 1993 as R.J. Tower Corporation, later renamed Tower Automotive. During the 1990's Tower Automotive grew fast with multiple acquisitions in North America, Europe, Asia and South America. Tower Automotive, Inc. (a U.S. registered company) and its U.S. operating subsidiaries filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization in February 2005. In July 2007 Tower Automotive successfully emerged from Chapter 11 as an affiliate of Cerberus Capital Management, L.P.
And Teikuro Corporation.
The city is also home to four industrial parks. New businesses in the city are expected to bring in more than $250 million in new investments and add around 670 jobs.
Phase I of the construction of Meridian Crossroads, a shopping center in the Bonita Lakes area of the city, was completed in November 2007. The completion of Phase I has provided a major boost to retail in the area, and Phase II is projected to boost the region's economy even more.
In downtown, the MSU Riley Center provides revenue from tourism, arts, and entertainment sales. The Riley Center attracted almost 63,000 visitors in its second season in 2007.
Meridian Community College is a two-year public community college in Meridian, Mississippi (USA). Founded in 1937, it was originally named Meridian Junior College but changed its name in 1987.
Meridian is home to two post-secondary educational institutions.
Meridian Community College is located at 910 Highway 19 N and offers free tuition for four semesters to graduates from the Meridian Public and Lauderdale County School Districts as well as home schooled children who reside in the city limits.
Founded in 1937 as the "13th" and "14th" grades at Meridian High School, Meridian Community College is the only one of Mississippi's 15 public community colleges to originate through the initiative of the local school system. MCC began as the vision of Dr. H.M. Ivy (1884-1977), superintendent of the Meridian Separate School District in the 1930s. The college, then known as Meridian Junior College, operated at Meridian High School until 1964 when the College moved to its present location.
In 1970, the College merged with the historically black T.J. Harris Junior College as a result of a federal court order to the Meridian Municipal Separate School System. More than 400 students joined the MJC campus from Harris that year.
Meridian Junior College made its final break with Meridian Public schools by establishing its own district and Board of Trustees in 1980.
As part of its 50th anniversary celebration, the College changed its name to Meridian Community College to more accurately reflect the diversity of opportunities it provides for a growing community area.
Mississippi State University also operates a campus in the city. Seven hundred sixty-three students from 33 counties throughout the state and several in Alabama attend the college.
Mississippi State University is a land-grant university located in north east-central Mississippi, United States, in the town of Starkville and is situated 125 miles (200 km) northeast of Jackson and 23 miles (37 km) west of Columbus.
The Meridian Star is a daily newspaper published each morning in Meridian, Mississippi, USA, covering Lauderdale County and adjoining portions of West Alabama and East Mississippi. It is owned by Community Newspaper Holding, Inc.
Founded as The Evening Star in 1898, the paper was published each afternoon until early 2005, when morning delivery was implemented. The paper was renamed The Meridian Star in 1915 and has been Meridian's only daily newspaper since 1921.
Around Town Carousels Abound is a public arts project of 62 carousel horses, representing the historic Dentzel Carousel in Highland Park (see below). Sixty-two pieces have been sponsored by local businesses and citizens, and design of the horses was conceived and painted by local artists. They are placed throughout the city and county.
Highland Park Dentzel Carousel and Shelter Building is a carousel and building in Highland Park in Meridian, Mississippi. Manufactured about 1896 for the 1904 St. Louis Exposition by Gustav Dentzel of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the carousel was sold and shipped to Meridian. Highland Park Dentzel Carousel has been in operation since 1909 and was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1987. It is the only remaining two-row stationary Dentzel menagerie in the world.
Its closest contemporaries both reside in Indiana. The Children's Museum carousel, also called The Carousel of Wishes and Dreams in Indianapolis was probably manufactured pre-1900. It is not a pure Dentzel product, though; much of the original carousel has been modified from its original design. In Logansport, the Spencer Park Dentzel Carousel has also been partially restored. It is dated between 1900 and 1903, although it may predate 1900 as well.
Upper lake at Bonita Lakes park
The Carousel is one of three oldest surviving Dentzel menagerie carousels. The wooden carousel was built in 1917 on a Mangel-Illions mechanism, with its animals predating 1900. The domed pavilion housing the mechanism collapsed in 1956, destroying the mechanism. The Children's Museum purchased the animals in 1970, and using a different Mangel-Illions mechanism, plus an 1919 Wurlitzer carousel organ, restored the carousel from 1975 to 1978. There is no threat to the continued existence of the carousel.
Original oil paintings of museum quality adorn the top crown of the carousel. The carousel is approximately 30 ft (9 m) in diameter, smaller than the time's standard 2-abreast — 42 ft (13 m) in diameter, with 28 animals, two-abreast, and 2 chariots, providing seating for 36 people. All 28 animals on the carousel, including a lion, a tiger, 2 deer, 2 antelope, 2 giraffes, and 20 horses, are meticulously hand-carved of bass and poplar wood and have been recently restored to their original beauty.
Meridian's Dentzel Carousel arrived in the city in 1909 and has since occupied the same location in Highland Park. Its house, also a National Historic Landmark, is the only remaining original carousel building built from a Dentzel blueprint.
While the carousel building was closed from 1983 to 1984 for major restoration, the carousel animals were removed and placed in various local institutions while funds were raised.
From 1984 to 1995, the animals, chariots, and canvas oil paintings of the carousel were meticulously restored to their original beauty. Colors and designs were documented with careful color matching, tracing of designs, working drawings, and photographs showing where colors and designs originally occurred. The restoration was done by Rosa Ragan of Raleigh, N.C., one of the foremost restoration specialists in the U.S.
Original oil paintings of museum quality adorn the top crown of the carousel. The carousel is approximately 30 ft (9 m) in diameter, smaller than the time's standard 2-abreast — 42 ft (13 m) in diameter, with 28 animals, two-abreast, and 2 chariots, providing seating for 36 people. All 28 animals on the carousel, including a lion, a tiger, 2 deer, 2 antelope, 2 giraffes, and 20 horses, are meticulously hand-carved of bass and poplar wood and have been recently restored to their original beauty.
Meridian's Dentzel Carousel arrived in the city in 1909 and has since occupied the same location in Highland Park. Its house, also a National Historic Landmark, is the only remaining original carousel building built from a Dentzel blueprint.
While the carousel building was closed from 1983 to 1984 for major restoration, the carousel animals were removed and placed in various local institutions while funds were raised.
From 1984 to 1995, the animals, chariots, and canvas oil paintings of the carousel were meticulously restored to their original beauty. Colors and designs were documented with careful color matching, tracing of designs, working drawings, and photographs showing where colors and designs originally occurred. The restoration was done by Rosa Ragan of Raleigh, N.C., one of the foremost restoration specialists in the U.S.
Built from a Dentzel blueprint, the carousel's shelter building is a rectangular building approximately 70 ft (21 m) x 75 ft (23 m) x 22 ft (7 m). The exterior of the building is distinctive in appearance with a low, square, main block and a central section of octagonal roof with clerestory light windows. The clerestory is about 40 ft (12 m) in diameter and lights the interior. Inside the building, the original mosaic tile floor with a large snowflake pattern in green, yellow, terracotta, and white is intact. The carousel house has recently (1983 - 84) been restored, using a combination of city funds via private donations from "Friends of the Carousel," grants, fund-raisers, city budgeted money, and a small National Park Service grant.
The Dentzels have been credited with essentially jump-starting the carousel industry in America. The family's work has been praised for the artistry of its carving and even described as "the finest built." This characterization especially applies to their work up to 1910. Some Dentzels of the time were as large as 54 ft (16 m) in diameter carrying up to 72 animals and four chariots and contained anmials such as cats, dogs, rabbits, goats, pigs, donkeys, kangaroos, giraffes, lions, tigers, deer, buffaloes, ostriches, and more.
Gustav A. Dentzel, a young German immigrant, began building carousels in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1864. It is commonly believed that several parts for his first American carousel were imported from his father, Michael Dentzel, who manufactured carousels in Kreuznach, in present-day Germany. Gustav continued to construct and sell carousels in America until his death in 1908 in the Germantown section of Philadelphia. Gustav's two sons, William H. Dentzel and Edward P. Dentzel, continued their father's craft after his death, keeping the business running in Philadelphia until 1928, when William died. Edward continued the business for a short while in California, but quickly gave up the craft after the stock market crash of 1929 and the Great Depression to build homes in Beverly Hills, CA.
In the early 1970s, Edward's son, William H. Dentzel II, developed and produced a line of children's carousels finished in traditional Dentzel style with mirrors, artwork, lights and band organ music. He continued working in his grandfather's and father's footsteps until his death in 1991.
William H. Dentzel III, William II's son, and his three children, Zaryn, Sophia, and Noah, follow in the family tradition. David M. Dentzel, William III's younger brother, has also carved several large horses and menagerie animals. A Dentzel carousel from the closed Woodland Park will be installed at Memorial Hall in Fairmount Park inside the new home of the Please Touch Museum in Philadelphia when it opens in October 2008.
Jimmie Rodgers (September 8, 1897 – May 26, 1933), known as "The Singing Brakeman" and "America's Blue Yodeler", was probably the first country music superstar and pioneer, a status that resulted in another commonly used nickname, "The Father of Country Music".
James Charles Rodgers' traditional birthplace is usually given as Meridian, Mississippi. However, in documents signed by Rodgers' later in life, he gave his birthplace as "Geiger, Alabama," the home of his paternal grandparents. The youngest of three sons, his mother died when he was very young, and Rodgers spent the next few years living with various relatives in southeast Mississippi and southwest Alabama, near the town of Geiger. He eventually returned home to live with his father, Aaron Rodgers, a foreman on the Mobile and Ohio Railroad, who had settled with a new wife in Meridian.
Jimmie's affinity for entertaining came at an early age, and the lure of the road was irresistible to him. By age 13, he had twice organized and begun traveling shows, only to be brought home by his father. Mr. Rodgers found Jimmie his first job working on the railroad, as a waterboy. This is where he was further taught to pick and strum by the rail workers and the hoboes. A few years later, he became brakeman on the New Orleans and Northeastern Railroad, a position secured by his oldest brother, Walter, a conductor on the line running between Meridian and New Orleans.
In 1924 at the age of 27, Jimmie contracted tuberculosis. The disease temporarily ended his railroad career, but, at the same time, gave him the chance to get back to his first love, entertainment. He organized a traveling road show and performed across the southeast until, once again, he was forced home after a cyclone destroyed his tent. He returned to railroad work as a brakeman on the east coast of Florida at Miami, but eventually his illness cost him his job. He relocated to Tucson, Arizona and was employed as a switchman by the Southern Pacific. The job lasted less than a year, and the Rodgers family (which by then included wife Carrie and daughter Anita) had settled back in Meridian by early 1927.
Rodgers decided to travel to Asheville, North Carolina, later that same year. On April 18, at 9:30 p.m., Jimmie, Sam Biglari, and Otis Kuykendall performed for the first time on WWNC, Asheville’s first radio station. A few months later Jimmie recruited a group from Tennessee called the Tenneva Ramblers and secured a weekly slot on the station as the Jimmie Rodgers Entertainers.
The Tenneva Ramblers originally hailed from Bristol, Tennessee, and in late July 1927, Rodgers’ bandmates got word that Ralph Peer, a representative of the Victor Talking Machine Company, was coming to Bristol to audition and record area musicians. Rodgers and the group arrived in Bristol on August 3, 1927. Later that same day, they auditioned for Peer in an empty warehouse. Peer agreed to record them the next day. That night, as the band discussed how they would be billed on the record, an argument ensued and the band broke up and Rodgers arrived at the recording session alone. On Wednesday, August 4, 1927, Jimmie Rodgers completed his first session for Victor. It lasted from 2:00 p.m. to 4:20 p.m. and yielded two songs: "The Soldier's Sweetheart" and "Sleep, Baby, Sleep". For the test recordings, Rodgers received $100.
The recordings were released on October 7, 1927, to modest success. In November; Rodgers, determined more than ever to make it in entertainment, headed to New York City in an effort to arrange another session with Peer. Peer agreed to record him again, and the two met in Philadelphia before traveling to Camden, New Jersey, to the Victor studios. Four songs made it out of this session, including "Blue Yodel", better known as "T for Texas". In the next two years, this recording sold nearly half a million copies, which was impressive enough to rocket Rodgers into stardom. After this, he got to determine when Peer and Victor would record him, and he sold out shows whenever and wherever he played.
In the next few years, Rodgers was very busy. He did a movie short for Columbia Pictures, The Singing Brakeman, and made various recordings across the country. He toured with humorist Will Rogers as part of a Red Cross tour across the Midwest. On July 16, 1930, he recorded "Blue Yodel No. 9" with jazz trumpeter Louis Armstrong, whose wife, Lillian, played piano on the recording.
When the Country Music Hall of Fame was established in 1961, Rodgers was one of the first three (with Fred Rose and Hank Williams) to be inducted. Rogers was elected to the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1970 and, as an early influence, to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1986. "Blue Yodel No. 9" was selected as one of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll. Rodgers was ranked #33 on CMT's 40 Greatest Men of Country Music in 2003.
Since 1953, Meridian's Jimmie Rodgers Memorial Festival has been held annually during May to honor the anniversary of Rodgers' death. The first festival was on May 26, 1953.
In 1969, country singer Merle Haggard released Same Train, A Different Time: Merle Haggard Sings The Great Songs Of Jimmie Rodgers. Haggard also covered "No Hard Times" and "T.B. Blues" on his best-selling live albums "Okie From Muskogee" (1969) and "Fightin' Side of Me" (1970). "Blue Yodel No. 1 (T for Texas)" was covered by Lynyrd Skynyrd on their live One More from the Road album.
On May 24, 1978, the United States Postal Service issued a 13-cent commemorative stamp honoring Rodgers, the first in its long-running Performing Arts Series. The stamp was designed by Jim Sharpe (who did several others in this series), who depicted him with brakeman's outfit and guitar, giving his "two thumbs up", along with a locomotive in silhouette in the background.
Rodgers' legacy and influence is not limited to Country music. He was influential to Ozark poet Frank Stanford, who composed a series of "blue yodel" poems, and a number of later Blues artists. Among them Muddy Waters, Big Bill Broonzy and Chester Arthur Burnett, better known as Howlin' Wolf. Wolf's childhood idol was Jimmie Rodgers, who was noted for his "blue-yodel." Wolf tried to emulate the yodel, but found that his efforts sounded more like a growl or a howl. "I couldn't do no yodelin'," Barry Gifford quoted him as saying in Rolling Stone, "so I turned to howlin'. And it's done me just fine." Elvis Presley has also been quoted as mentioning Jimmie Rodgers as an important influence and stating that he was a big fan. Jimmie Rodgers was an important figure in the development of both Blues and Country music.
Meridian, Mississippi, as the birthplace of Jimmy Rodgers, was the first site outside the Mississippi Delta to receive a Mississippi Blues Trail designation. The ceremony was held at the Singing Brakeman Park located on Front Street and emphasized the importance of Rodgers to the development of the blues in Mississippi. Rodgers was known as the "Singing Brakeman" and the train was influential in the development of the blues both in the Mississippi Delta and throughout the state
Upper lake at Bonita Lakes parkBonita Lakes is a city-owned, 3,300 acre (13 km²) park including three lakes. The park also includes the Long Creek Reservoir and Lakeview Municipal Golf Course, along with nature trails, a jogging and walking track, biking paths, horseback riding trails, pavilions, picnic facilities, boat ramps, paddle boats, concessions, and fishing. The site is also the possible future home of the Mississippi Arts and Entertainment Center (pending government legislature for funding). Besides the lakes, the Bonita Lakes area includes Bonita Lakes Mall, Bonita Lakes Crossing, and Bonita Lakes Plaza. The 633,685 sq ft (58,871 m2) mall offers over 100 shopping venues, including department stores, specialty shops, restaurants, eateries, and United Artists Theatres.
The Causeyville General Store opened in 1895 as a general store and gristmill. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and has many original fixtures and demonstrations of the working gristmill. It is also the home of Meridian's Mechanical Musical Museum, one of the most popular attractions in the area.
Different Seasons, formerly known as Crossroads, is one of the gay bars featured in the Kevin Smith (executive producer)/Malcolm Ingram (director) film Small Town Gay Bar and one of only 6 gay bars in Mississippi.
Dunn's Falls is a 65 ft (19.8 m) waterfall created in the mid 1850s by John Dunn, an Irish immigrant, once used as a power source for a gristmill and the manufacture of Stetson hats. The park is a natural wildlife refuge including a picnic area with barbecue grills, a gristmill pond, several campsites, and hiking and swimming areas.
Meridian Museum of Art is an art museum located at 628 25th Avenue, Meridian, Mississippi. The building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1979. The building originally served as the home of the First Presbyterian Church of Meridian until the city of Meridian bought the building in 1911 and turned it into a Carnegie Library in 1913. The city originally constructed two Carnegie libraries — one for whites and one for African-Americans; the building currently housing the Meridian Museum of Art served as the white library. In 1970, after the libraries integrated and moved to a new location, the vacant building at 628 25th Avenue was transformed into the Meridian Museum of Art and still operates today.
The lot on which the building resides was originally owned by Richard McLemore, the first settler in the Meridian area in 1831. When construction of the Mobile and Ohio Railroad began in the area, most of McLemore's land was bought by Lewis A. Ragsdale, including the lot at 25th Ave and 7th St on which the museum now stands. In 1867 Ragsdale donated the lot to members of the First Presbyterian Church of Meridian, and they built a small wooden structure in which to hold worship services. A fire on January 24, 1883, burned the building to the ground, but it was later rebuilt in the same location with brick by members of the church. On September 25, 1911, the church sold the building to the city of Meridian.
Israel Marks, who helped operate the Marks-Rothenberg Department Store next door to the Grand Opera House, was an acquaintance of philanthropist Andrew Carnegie from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In 1904, after being asked by citizens of Meridian, Marks approached Carnegie about funding for a library in the city. Marks convinced Carnegie to issue a $38,000 grant to the city's government to build two Carnegie libraries — one for whites and one for African-Americans. The city used the money both to renovate the vacant building (formerly owned by First Presbyterian Church of Meridian) at 25th Ave and 7th St and transform it into a library, and to build another library for African-Americans at 13th St and 28th Ave on land donated by a local Methodist church. The two libraries served the city until 1967, when the institutions became integrated, combined their collections, and moved all materials to the new Meridian Public Library at 2517 7th St.
One of the first art organizations in the city, The Meridian Art League, was established in February 1933. From 1933 to 1949, art exhibitions were held in Lamar Hotel in downtown Meridian. In 1949, The Meridian Art League changed its name to Meridian Art Association and began to hold exhibitions on the second floor of the Marks-Rothenberg Department Store. For the next 20 years, exhibits were held at various locations throughout the city, including the Meridian Public Library, the Strand Theatre, Alex Loeb Department Store, First National Bank, Merchants and Farmers Bank, Sears, the Broadmoor Shopping Center, and Weidmann's Restaurant.
After the Carnegie library at 25th Ave and 7th street was closed and the operations moved to the new public library, the Meridian Art Association began talks with the city of transforming the vacant building into an art museum. This would give the association a permanent home for its exhibits. In December 1968, the Meridian Art Association raised $10,000 to start the museum; after many hours of effort, the grand opening was scheduled for January 1970. A fire on December 22, 1969, postponed the opening because some of the building had to be reconstructed.
The building opened as the Meridian Museum of Art in late 1970 and has since served as the region's premiere public museum. It features rotating exhibitions as well as many educational programs for both students and adults. The museum offers more free programming than any other museum in the state and holds over 30 exhibitions annually, ranging from traditional decorative arts to ethnographic and tribal materials, photography, crafts, and many other works of art. The collection also includes 18th and 19th century portraits, 20th century photography, and several sculptures.
Along with the exhibits, the museum offers special classes and programs to encourage participation by Meridian Community College, as well as city and county schools in Lauderdale County and the entire two-state area.
The museum primarily serves audiences from Meridian and Lauderdale County and the surrounding counties: Kemper, Neshoba, Newton, Jasper, and Clarke (in Mississippi), and Sumter and Choctaw (in Alabama).
Loeb's Department Store has remained a Mississippi clothing landmark, having passed through four generations of family ownership. Loeb's has been selling fine men's and women's clothing since 1887, when the store was first opened by Alex Loeb.
Lake Okatibbee is a 4,144 acre (Land area 7,150 acres) lake which offers boating, fishing, swimming, water, skiing, picnicking, hunting, hiking and camping. Splashdown Country Water Park, a 25-room motel, and cabins are located on the lake. The project was authorized by Congress in 1962 primarily for flood reduction on 26,000 acres (110 km2) of residential, industrial and agricultural lands along the upper Chickasawhay River and Okatibbee Creek.
Meridian Crossroads is a 375,000 sq ft (34,800 m2) plaza with many shopping and dining centers. The center is located off exit 154B on Interstate 20 and includes over 30 tenants, including Best Buy, Bed, Bath, and Beyond, Lane Bryant, Rue 21, Ross Stores Inc., Petco, LifeWay Christian Bookstore, and Books-A-Million, along with Olive Garden, Chili's, and Outback Steakhouse.
Meridian Little TheatreThe Meridian Little Theatre, one of the South’s oldest subscription-based community theatres, was established in 1932 and currently provides entertainment to residents and visitors to Meridian and Lauderdale County, welcoming over 22,000 theatre-goers each season (October through May), making it Mississippi’s largest community theatre. In 1973, the original theatre burned to the ground and was reconstructed in 1977.
John Luther Adams, composer,
John Luther Adams (born January 23, 1953 in Meridian, Mississippi) is a composer whose music is inspired by nature, especially the landscapes of Alaska where he has lived since 1978.
Susan Akin, 1986 Miss America,
Susan Akin, from Meridian, Mississippi, was Miss America 1986. Born in 1965, she was a member of Pi Beta Phi Fraternity for Women at the University of Mississippi.
In the past, Susan traveled extensively with Bob Hope, performing at conventions both in Las Vegas and Atlantic City. Susan remains politically active and has been the spokesperson for the National Down's Syndrome Association and for seatbelt safety, addressing many state legislative and advocacy groups. Susan is a resident of her home state of Mississippi.
She now lives near Carthage, Mississippi and sells insurance.
John Alexander, New York Metropolitan Opera star,
John Alexander (October 21, 1923, Meridian, Mississippi – December 8, 1990) was a Metropolitan Opera star for more than fifteen seasons. Also appearing with the New York City Opera, the tenor was much admired for his vocal longevity and brilliant top notes. He sang opposite many famous Metropolitan artists' debuts, including Renata Scotto's Metropolitan debut as Madama Butterfly, Montserrat Caballé's debut as Marguerite (in Gounod's Faust) and, in the same night, Sherrill Milnes' debut in the same opera.
He may be seen on such videos as Mozart's Idomeneo (also starring Luciano Pavarotti, in Jean-Pierre Ponnelle's production, 1982) and Donizetti's Roberto Devereux (with Beverly Sills and Susanne Marsee, in Tito Capobianco's production, 1975). His discography includes recordings of Bellini's Norma (with Dame Joan Sutherland and Marilyn Horne, 1964) and Donizetti's Anna Bolena (opposite Elena Souliotis, 1968-69). Additionally, VAI has released his 1967 performance, in New Orleans, of Massenet's Manon, with Caballé and Louis Quilico.
While most of his career was spent in lyric roles from the Italian and French repertory, Alexander had heft in his voice that made him an apt candidate for some of the lighter Heldentenor roles of Wagner and Strauss. At the New York City Opera in the 1970s he excelled as Walther in Wagner's Die Meistersinger and as Bacchus in Richard Strauss's Ariadne auf Naxos. James Levine cast him in the title role of Wagner's Lohengrin in a 1977 radio broadcast. Alexander sang one performance of Bacchus, astride Jessye Norman at the Metropolitan Opera House, however, his repertoire at the Metropolitan did not include heavier roles. Rather, he was known there for an expansive repertoire: Hoffmann, Pinkerton, Don Carlo, Idomeneo, Duke of Mantua, Alfredo, Rodolfo, Edgardo from Lucia di Lammermoor and many others.
Although he held an apartment on the West Side of Manhattan, John Alexander lived mainly in Cincinnati, Ohio. Alexander collapsed at the Temple Theater in Meridian, Mississippi, the city where he was born. He was 67 years of age, and still actively performing.
Moe Bandy, country music singer,
Moe Bandy (born February 12, 1944 Meridian, Mississippi, but raised in Texas since the age of six) is a country music singer. He was most popular during the 1970s, when he had several hits, both alone and with his partner Joe Stampley.
Marion Bandy, who was nicknamed Moe by his father when he was a child, grew up in the home-town of the legendary Jimmie Rodgers. He later stated: "My grandfather worked on the railroads with Jimmie Rodgers. He was the boss of the railway yard in Meridian and Jimmie Rodgers worked for him. He said that he played his guitar all the time between work."
The Bandy family moved to San Antonio, Texas when Moe was six years old. His mother played piano and sang. Bandy was taught to play the guitar by his father, but made little use of the ability until he was in his teens. His father's wish that he also play the fiddle never quite materialized.
He made some appearances with his father's country band, the Mission City Playboys, but generally during his high school days, he showed little interest in music but a great deal in rodeos. He tried bronco-busting and bull-riding and by the time he was 16, he was competing in rodeos all over Texas.
In 1962, tired of the bruises and fractured bones, he began to pursue a career in country music. He assembled a band that he called Moe And The Mavericks and found work playing small beer parlors, honky tonks and clubs over a wide area around San Antonio, Texas. When he was young he tried to sound like Hank Williams and George Jones - "I even had my hair cut short like his".
Although work was plentiful, the pay was poor and during the day he worked for his father as a sheet metal worker. This was to last for the next 12 years, during which time he made a few recordings for various small labels.
In 1964, he had his first single, "Lonely Lady", on the Satin label, but it made little impression. He did manage to get his band a residency on a local television program called Country Corner and in this capacity, he provided backing for several touring stars.
In 1973, he went solo when record producer Ray Baker, who had listened to Bandy's demos the previous year, suggested he come to Nashville. Bandy managed to obtain a loan and recorded a song called "I Just Started Hatin' Cheatin' Songs Today". Initially released on Footprint Records with a limited pressing of 500 copies, it soon came to the attention of the Atlanta-based GRC label.
In March 1974, it entered the US country charts, eventually peaking at number 17. Other hits followed, including "It Was Always So Easy To Find An Unhappy Woman (Till I Started Looking For Mine)" and "Don't Anyone Make Love At Home Anymore".
In 1975, a song written by his friend Lefty Frizzell and Whitey Shaffer gave him a number 7 country hit, firmly establishing his reputation. "Bandy The Rodeo Clown" was to become not only one of his own favorites but also one of his most popular recordings. (Shaffer was greatly amused by the way Bandy pronounced woman as "wah-man" and began to send him songs with "wah-man" in them.)
Bandy sang in a simple style that extracted the utmost from his songs of lost love, sadness and life. Although by no means a Hank Williams sound-alike, he showed a very distinct influence in his method of putting across his honky tonk songs. He met with immediate success at Columbia Records with Paul Craft's "Hank Williams, You Wrote My Life" and quickly added further hits, including "Here I Am Drunk Again".
Between 1977 and 1979, he was a country chart regular with singles such as "I'm Sorry For You, My Friend" (the song Williams had written for their mutual friend Lefty Frizzell), "Cowboys Ain't Supposed To Cry", "That's What Makes The Jukebox Play" and a duet with Janie Fricke, "It's A Cheating Situation".
In 1979, he achieved his first solo number 1 with "I Cheated Me Right Out Of You". Also during 1979, as a result of touring together in Europe, Bandy joined forces with Joe Stampley and a single release of "Just Good Ol' Boys" became a number 1 country hit, leading to a continuation of the partnership over the following years.
It was not too surprising that they proved a successful double act. Between 1979 and 1985, their further hits included "Holding The Bag", "Tell Ole I Ain't Here" and "Hey Joe (Hey Moe)".
In 1984, they ran into copyright problems with their parody of pop singer Boy George called "Where's The Dress", when they used the introduction of Culture Club's hit "Karma Chameleon". Referring to the matter later, Bandy said, "He didn't appreciate what we'd done and naturally he sued us. We paid him money, but I didn't like the way he spent it."
In addition to their single successes, Moe and Joe recorded several albums together. During the 80s, Bandy maintained a steady line of solo successes including "Yesterday Once More", "Rodeo Romeo", "She's Not Really Cheatin' (She's Just Gettin' Even)" and "Till I'm Too Old To Die Young".
He also registered duet successes with Judy Bailey ("Following The Feeling") and Becky Hobbs ("Let's Get Over Them Together"). Over the years he maintained a touring schedule estimated to average between 250 and 300 days a year and he also made numerous network television shows. In later years he cut back considerably on his schedules. He was never a regular Grand Ole Opry member but has made guest appearances from time to time.
Bandy summed up his music when he said, "I really think my songs are about life. There's cheating, drinking and divorcing going on everywhere and that's what hardcore country music is all about." He added: "If I'd done all the things I sing about, I'd be dead."
Critics reviewing some of his later recordings wrote that it was strange that, at a time when more artists were actually recording his type of music, some of his recordings were spoiled by string and/or choir arrangements, and advised that an immediate return to his roots was necessary. Bandy opened his popular Americana Theatre in Branson, Missouri in 1991.
Moe along with his brother, Mike Bandy: 6 time NFR bullriding qualifier, were Inducted into the Texas Rodeo Cowboy Hall of Fame in 2007
Dennis Ray "Oil Can" Boyd, former Major League Baseball pitcher,
Dennis Ray "Oil Can" Boyd (born 6 October 1959 in Meridian, Mississippi) is a former starting pitcher in Major League Baseball. Boyd played for the Boston Red Sox (1982-89), Montreal Expos (1990-91), and Texas Rangers (1991). He batted and threw right-handed. Boyd currently lives in East Providence, Rhode Island, with his wife, daughter Tala, and son Dennis.
Boyd had one of the more colorful personalities of his generation and a quotable outlook that made him memorable long after his career ended. He attended Jackson State University. Being selected by the Boston Red Sox in the 16th round of the 1980 amateur draft, Boyd made his debut in the 1982 season. He pitched 10 years in the Majors before blood clots in his right arm ended his career.
In a 10-season career, Boyd collected a 78-77 record with 799 strikeouts and a 4.04 ERA in 1389.2 innings.
From 1983-85 Boyd won 31 games for the Sox, with a high 15 victories in 1985. In the same season, he posted career-highs in games started (35), complete games (13), strikeouts (117) and innings pitched (272.1). In 1986 he won 16 games (a career-high), but after three disappointing years with Boston, he signed with the Expos as a free agent after the 1989 season.
In 1990 Boyd won 10 games with a career-best 2.93 ERA. When the Rangers acquired him from Montreal in the 1991 midseason, it looked like a deal which might lead to a division title, and though Boyd's work with the Expos before coming to Texas wasn't as good (6-8, 3.52), it was plenty good enough for the pitching-poor Rangers. That was the plan, but Boyd turned out to be a disaster. In 12 starts he posted a 2-7 record with a 6.68 ERA (the highest of his career) and allowed 81 hits in only 62 innings. Boyd was a free agent when the season ended, and after turning down some offers for relief duties, he retired. Between the 1990s and 2000s, Boyd has pitched in the minors, Puerto Rico and Mexico.
In November 2005, Boyd was indicted by a federal grand jury in Mississippi for threatening a former girlfriend (who was also a business associate) as well as her son. On November 14, 2005, Boyd surrendered to F.B.I. agents in Tupelo, Mississippi.
James Chaney, 1964 civil rights martyr,
James Earl "J.E." Chaney (May 30, 1943 – June 21, 1964) was one of three American civil rights workers who was murdered during Freedom Summer by members of the Ku Klux Klan near Philadelphia, Mississippi. He is portrayed in the movie Mississippi Burning by actor Christopher White as a character only identified as "Black Passenger" in the film credits.
Chaney was born in the town of Meridian, Mississippi and was the eldest son in a family of five children. He had one brother, Ben Chaney. His mother was Fannie Lee Chaney, who died in May 2007 but lived long enough to see one of his killers convicted of manslaughter when the case was reopened. His father worked as a plasterer, and his parents separated when Chaney was in his teens.
As a young man, Chaney became a civil rights activist, joining the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) in 1963 to work on voter education and registration. Mississippi laws and practices had disfranchised most black voters since 1890. The state was hostile to integration and civil rights activism, with the Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission's paying spies to compile lists of citizens suspected of any kind of involvement. They also tracked all northerners who entered the state to work on civil rights. During Freedom Summer in 1964, Chaney was part of an interracial team, including New York State Jewish-Americans Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman, organizing a community center in Meridian and registering African Americans for voting. He was so capable that Schwerner recommended him for a paid staff position.
On June 21, 1964, Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner visited parishioners of a black church near Philadelphia, Mississippi that had been burned down after being designated a site for a Freedom School to be operated by CORE. The three civil rights workers were arrested by Deputy Sheriff Cecil Price for an alleged traffic violation and taken to the jail in Neshoba County. They were released that evening and disappeared before reaching Meridian. They were murdered at a time not exactly known. The Federal Bureau of Investigation FBI entered the case and paid informants for information leading to the bodies, which were recovered two months later buried in an earthen dam.
Chaney was buried at Okatibee Cemetery becouse he died ,by Okatibee Baptist Church near Meridian, Mississippi.
The US government charged ten men with conspiracy to deprive the men of their civil rights under the Force Act of 1870. Seven men were convicted, including Deputy Sheriff Price, and three were acquitted.
Reinvestigation of murders,
Journalist Jerry Mitchell, an award-winning investigative reporter for the Jackson Clarion-Ledger, had written extensively about the case for many years. Mitchell had earned renown for helping secure convictions in several other high profile Civil Rights Era murder cases, including the assassination of Medgar Evers, the Birmingham church bombings and the murder of Vernon Dahmer. He developed new evidence about the civil rights murders, found new witnesses, and pressured the State to take action.
Barry Bradford, an Illinois high school teacher, and three students, Allison Nichols, Sarah Siegel, and Brittany Saltiel, joined Mitchell's efforts. They created a documentary about their work. Their documentary, produced for the National History Day contest, presented important new evidence and compelling reasons for reopening the case. They also obtained an interview with Edgar Ray Killen, which helped convince the State to reinvestigate.
In addition, Mitchell determined the identity of "Mr. X", the mystery informer who had helped the FBI discover the bodies and smash the conspiracy of the Klan in 1964. In part Mitchell used evidence developed by Bradford and his students.
When the trial opened on January 7, 2005, Edgar Ray Killen, once an outspoken white supremacist nicknamed the "Preacher," pleaded "Not Guilty" to Chaney's murder. Fannie Lee Chaney and Carolyn Goodman, mothers of two of the civil rights workers, were the last witnesses for the prosecution. The jury found Killen guilty of manslaughter on June 20, 2005, and he was sentenced to 60 years in prison.
Alvin Childress, actor, lead role in "Amos 'n' Andy Show",
Amos 'n' Andy was a situation comedy based on stereotypes of African-Americans and popular in the United States from the 1920s through the 1950s. The show began as one of the first radio comedy serials, written and voiced by Freeman Gosden and Charles Correll and originating from station WMAQ in Chicago, Illinois. After the series was first broadcast in 1928, it grew in popularity and became a huge influence on the radio serials that followed. The program ran on radio as a nightly serial from 1928 until 1943, as a weekly situation comedy from 1943 until 1955, and as a nightly disc-jockey program from 1954 until 1960. A television adaptation ran on CBS-TV from 1951 until 1953, and continued in syndicated reruns from 1954 until 1966.
George Cummings, guitarist, songwriter,
George Cummings, born July 28, 1938 in Meridian, Mississippi, is a guitarist and songwriter based in Bayonne, New Jersey and Nashville, Tennessee in recent years.
Darryl Vincent and the Flares was formed in Meridian in 1956, and Cummings joined the group in 1959. In the 1960s, Cummings was a member of the Chocolate Papers, along with Ray Sawyer, Bill Francis, Bobby Dimingus, Popeye Phillips and Jimmy "Wolf Cub" Allen. The Chocolate Papers toured clubs in Mississippi, Alabama and South Carolina, before settling in Biloxi as the house band at the popular 800-seat Gus Stevens Restaurant, the first Gulf Coast supper club to offer upscale entertainment with such headliners as Elvis Presley, Andy Griffith, Mel Tormé, Jayne Mansfield and Mamie Van Doren. The Chocolate Papers moved on to Chicago, and shortly after that, Cummings decided to form a new band in the New York area.
Cummings found fame with Dr. Hook & The Medicine Show, the group he named and co-founded in Union City, New Jersey in 1968, and several members of the Chocolate Papers joined the new group. They recorded their debut album for CBS/Columbia in 1970, and sold a million copies of their single, "Sylvia's Mother," when it was re-released in July, 1972.
For health reasons, Cummings left the Dr. Hook group in August, 1975, moving from San Francisco to Nashville, where he collaborated on songs with guitar legend Lonnie Mack while performing with The Raven and other Nashville country and rock bands.
In 1978, at the Muscle Shoals Studios, he collaborated with the legendary Delta bluesman Big Joe Williams on one of singer's last albums, The Final Years: Big Joe Williams. Produced by Cummings, Joe B. Stewart and Ken Hatley, this album was released in 1993 by Gitanes Jazz/Verve.
In 2003, Cummings worked with Ken Hatley on the soundtrack for Florida City, a film drama about advance knowledge of the Pearl Harbor attack. In the spring of 2004, the Flares were reborn in Lebanon, Tennessee when Cummings joined original members, guitarist Jim Pasquale and drummer Norman "Knobby" Lowell, along with Nashville singer-songwriters Scotty Cothran, Harold Hutchcraft, Jack Bond and Forest Borders, to cut the comeback album, It Is What It Is. In September, 2005, Cummings began recording a solo CD, working with Pasquale and Hutchcraft.
Paul Davis, singer,
Paul Davis (April 21, 1948 – April 22, 2008) was an American singer, best known for his radio hits and solo career which started worldwide in 1970. His career encompassed soul, country and pop music, and he wrote many memorable country music hits.
Davis was a member of a local group called the "Six Soul Survivors" around 1966 and later in another group called the "Endless Chain." In 1968 he was a writer for Malaco Records, based at Jackson, MS.
Ilene Berns, widow of Bert Berns, signed Davis to Bang Records in 1969, and in 1970, released a cover of The Jarmels' hit song "A Little Bit of Soap", reaching #52 on the Billboard pop charts. His first album, A Little Bit of Paul Davis, was released in 1970. in 1974 he recorded his third album, Ride 'Em Cowboy, which garnered a Top 40 for the title track. The same song also became a Top-40 country hit for Juice Newton in 1984.
Davis had his first American Top 10 single with the slow ballad "I Go Crazy," which peaked at #7 in 1978. "I Go Crazy" spent 40 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100, which at the time set the single-song record for most consecutive weeks on the chart in the rock era. The follow-up, "Sweet Life", did moderately well, peaking at #17. The corresponding album Singer of Songs - Teller of Tales was a modest success, peaking at #82 on the Billboard pop album chart. He was the last artist active on the Bang Records label when it folded in 1981.
After one more album, in 1981 he signed with Arista Records and had two more Top 20 singles, "Cool Night" (which rose to #11) and "'65 Love Affair" (which rose to #6). Davis retired from making records, except for two duet singles that went to #1 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles charts. The first was in 1986 with Marie Osmond on "You're Still New To Me" while the second was in 1988 was a collaboration with Tanya Tucker and Paul Overstreet on "I Won't Take Less Than Your Love".
He survived a shooting in Nashville on July 30, 1986.
Before his death on April 22, 2008 (one day after his 60th birthday), Paul returned to singing and songwriting recording two songs, "You Ain't Sweet Enough," and "Today." He died of a heart attack at Rush Foundation Hospital in Meridian, Mississippi.
Winfield Dunn, former Governor of Tennessee,
Bryant Winfield Culberson Dunn (born July 1, 1927) was governor of Tennessee from 1971 to 1975.
Dunn was born in Meridian, Mississippi. He graduated from the University of Mississippi in 1950 with a B.B.A., and from the University of Tennessee Medical Units in Memphis in 1955 with a D.D.S. Dunn served with the U.S. Navy in the Asia-Pacific Theatre during World War II. Dunn was also a reserve lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force.
Settling in Memphis after completing dental school there, Dunn established a flourishing dental practice and soon became active in local Republican politics. The Southern political landscape was changing rapidly at that time, and Dunn rose to the position of chairman of the Shelby County Republican Party. There was a massive crossover of voters in the South from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party in the late 1960s, in reaction to the Civil Rights Movement, and the trend was stronger nowhere than among white voters in Memphis. Dunn was a delegate to the 1968 Republican National Convention.
In 1970, Dunn decided to run for the Republican nomination for governor of Tennessee. The party had not even fielded a nominee in the gubernatorial election four years prior, but suddenly the nomination seemed valuable, in large measure to the factors cited above, and in the primary Dunn defeated four opponents, including 1962 Republican nominee Hubert Patty, then-Speaker of the Tennessee House of Representatives (and former 1st District-Congressman) William L. Jenkins, and industrialist Maxey Jarman, head of Genesco Corp. After winning the Republican nomination, Dunn narrowly defeated Democratic attorney and entrepreneur John Jay Hooker and became the first Republican elected governor of Tennessee in half a century, and only the second since Reconstruction. During his tenure, Dunn was a member of the National Governors' Conference Executive Committee from 1971–1973, and he chaired the Education Commission of the States from 1972 to 1973 and the Republican Governors Association from 1973 to 1974. The Tennessee State Constitution did not allow governors to succeed themselves at the time that Dunn's term expired in 1975. He did not return to his dental practice in Memphis, but became a successful businessman in Nashville.
In 1986, he was prevailed upon to run for governor again. However, he was haunted by his opposition to a medical school at East Tennessee State University in Johnson City during his first term. At the time, Dunn felt that Tennessee could only devote adequate staff and resources to the existing school in Memphis. However, Johnson City was located in the district of powerful Congressman Jimmy Quillen, the de facto leader of the Republican Party in East Tennessee. Although the school was built anyway, Quillen was still enraged at Dunn and never forgave him. He didn't endorse Dunn, and encouraged other East Tennessee Republicans to withhold their endorsements as well. Although Dunn won the Republican primary, the lack of support in East Tennessee cost him any realistic chance against Democratic State House Speaker Ned McWherter. Only a large turnout from his former base in the Memphis area kept the margin of defeat to just under nine points.
Retiring from active politics, Dunn returned to his business interests, especially banking, with notably strong results. He continues to serve the Tennessee Republican Party as something of an "elder statesman" who is still very popular with grass-roots party members in Middle Tennessee and West Tennessee. In the 2004 presidential election, he served as one of Tennessee's 11 presidential electors, casting his ballot for George W. Bush.
Steve Forbert, recording artist,
Steve Forbert (born December 15, 1954, Meridian, Mississippi) is an American pop music singer. He is best known for his song "Romeo's Tune", which reached #11 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1980.
Even though it states that "Romeo's Tune" is "dedicated to the memory of Florence Ballard" on the sleeve of the album Jackrabbit Slim (1979), the song is not really about the Supremes singer who died in 1976. The song was actually written about a girl from his hometown of Meridian, Mississippi, but was dedicated to Ballard because, as Forbert explains, "That seemed like such bad news to me and such sad news. She wasn't really taken care of by the music business, which is not a new story."
Critics hailed him at the time as "The new Bob Dylan" because of a similar vocal timbre and thoughtful songwriting. The front cover of his second album, Jackrabbit Slim, encourages such comparisons with its simplicity: a black and white photo of Forbert playing a well-worn Martin acoustic guitar with a capo on it, his shirt tinted green. The record was recorded in Nashville, Tennessee and produced by John Simon, who had worked with The Band. Forbert has a cameo appearance in Cyndi Lauper's "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" video, playing her boyfriend.
He had a disagreement with his record company (Nemperor) in 1984 and did not record for a number of years afterwards. The record company apparently did not want to release a 1984 recording that he had made, and it was shelved.
Charles Baker "Dill" Harris, supporting character from the Harper Lee novel To Kill a Mockingbird,
Charles Baker Harris comes to stay with his aunt Miss Rachel every summer. He tells the kids the first time he meets them that his nickname is "Dill". He becomes best friends with Jem and Scout. He joins in their games of reenacting books to help pass the long summer days. He is the one who comes up with the idea of making Boo come out of his house. He even dares Jem to knock on the door, but finally lets Jem just touch the house. The children spend the good part of one summer playing the "Radley Game," where they act out the part where Boo stabs his father. Atticus finally catches them and makes them quit. He is small for his age and his hair sticks up "like duck fluff." He is illegitimate, and has been sent often from relative to relative to avoid shaming his family, until his mother marries a man who gives Dill gifts to occupy him and to keep him out of the way; this betrayal drives Dill to run away. It is only with the Finch family that he feels any sense of "family". Small and horrible, Charles Baker "Dill" Harris is Scout and Jem's summer friend. He instigates much of the children's mischief by daring Jem to perform acts such as approaching the Radley house. He seems to have a limitless imagination, and his appeal is only enhanced by his firsthand knowledge of movies such as Dracula. Seemingly ignored (but not neglected) by his parents, Dill enjoys his yearly visits to his aunt, Rachel Haverford, who lives next door to the Finches — he even runs away from home one summer to come to Maycomb. (In the movie, however, he is related to Miss Stephanie Crawford) A year older than Scout, Dill has declared he will one day marry her, a statement she seems to accept matter-of-factly.
Ty Herndon, country music singer,
Boyd Tyrone (Ty) Herndon (born May 2, 1962 in Meridian, Mississippi) is an American country music singer. Signed to Epic Records in 1995, Herndon made his debut that year with the Number One single "What Mattered Most", followed by the release of his first album, also entitled What Mattered Most. This album was followed one year later by Living in a Moment, which produced his second Number One country hit in its title track.
Three more albums for Epic followed — Big Hopes (1998), Steam (1999), and This Is Ty Herndon: Greatest Hits (2000) — although none matched the success of his first two releases, and he was dropped from Epic. He recorded a Christmas album in 2002 for the Riviera label, followed by his fifth studio album (2007's Right About Now) and a second Christmas compilation for the Titan Pyramid label.
Overall, Herndon has charted a total of seventeen singles on the Billboard Hot Country Songs charts. This figure includes three Number ones — "What Mattered Most" (1995), "Living in a Moment" (1996), and "It Must Be Love" (1998) — as well as four additional Top Ten hits.
Kevin Ivey, Emmy Award winner,
Al Key, aviator and former mayor of Meridian,
Fred Key, aviator,
Brothers Fred and Al Key became interested in aviation after WWI. They started doing some barnstorming in the 1920s and continued their interest as the managers of the Meridian Municipal Airport, in Meridian, Mississippi.
With the onset of the Great Depression, the city of Meridian began doing whatever it could to save money. The airport was considered unnecessary, given the economic conditions, and was slated to be closed.
The Key brothers had no desire to see this happen, so they came up with a plan to draw attention to Meridian and its airport by breaking the standing flight endurance record of 23 days. At that time, air-to-air refueling was a dangerous affair. If gasoline was spilled, which often happened, if could be ignited by the hot engine exhaust.
To solve this problem, the Key brothers, along with local inventor and mechanic A. D. Hunter, invented a spill free fueling system that consisted of a valve on the end of the fuel nozzle which was opened by a probe in the neck of the fuel tank. The valve would not allow fuel to flow unless it was inserted into the fuel tank. During fueling, if the nozzle was removed from the tank, the fuel would automatically stop flowing. This nozzle was later adopted by the US Army Air Corps, and is still in use today with some modifications.
Refueling the plane wasn't their only concern. The engine needed regular maintenance during the flight in order to stay in good running order. To facilitate this, a catwalk was built so that Fred could walk out and work on the plane while it was airborn.
On June 4, 1935, The Flying Keys, as the brothers later became known, lifted off in a borrowed Curtiss Robin monoplane named Ole Miss from Meridian, Mississippi's airport. For the next twenty-seven days, they flew over the Meridian vicinity. Several times each day, the crew of a similar plane would lower food and supplies to the brothers on the end of a rope, as well as supply fuel via a long flexible tube. They landed on July 1 after traveling an estimated 52,320 miles and used more than 6,000 gallons of gasoline.
Their non-stop endurance flight lasted 653 hours, 34 minutes. The Ole Miss is permanently displayed in the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C..
After this historic flight, Meridian's public airport was renamed Key Field in the brothers honor.
According to Owens, the brother's flight boosted confidence in aviation nationally. People figured if the Key brothers made their flight safely in such a small plane, then the big commercial airplanes were definitely safe.
The Key brothers later served as bomber pilots in the Pacific Theater of Operations during World War II. Fred was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (USA), and Al earned a Distinguished Flying Cross (USA), a Distinguished Service Cross (USA), an Air Medal, a Distinguished Service Cross (UK) and seven Bronze Stars for participating in combat. They both had distinguished careers--Al remained in the Air Force until his retirement in 1960 at the rank of full Colonel, after which he was elected Mayor of Meridian, and Fred ran the Key Brothers Flying Service at Key Field until his death in 1971. The cutoff valve developed for the Keys by A.D. Hunter was an important innovation for national defense, being the precursor of those used by modern tanker airplanes, such as the KC-135 Stratotanker, that keep bomber and fighter aircraft in the air. Today, with only slight modifications, U.S. Air Force and Strategic Air Command airplanes use the valve that Hunter invented.
Greg Keyes, author,
Gregory Keyes is a writer of science fiction and fantasy who has written both original and media-related novels under both the names "J. Gregory Keyes" and "Greg Keyes". He is famous for his quartet The Age of Unreason, a steampunk/alchemical story starring Benjamin Franklin and Isaac Newton. He wrote the Babylon 5 Psi Corps trilogy, a history of the Psi Corps and a biography of Psi Corps member Alfred Bester.
In 2003 he began a fantasy series titled The Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone, the first volume of which was The Briar King. The second book in the series The Charnel Prince was published in 2004 and the third, The Blood Knight, was published in July 2006. His fourth and final book of the quartet, The Born Queen, was released in March 2008.
Keyes was born on 11 April 1963 in Meridian, Mississippi, to a large, diverse, storytelling family. He received degrees in anthropology from Mississippi State University and the University of Georgia before becoming a full time writer. He lives and fences in Savannah, Georgia. Greg is also the head coach of the Savannah College of Art and Design's fencing club.
Diane Ladd, actress,
Diane Ladd (born November 29, 1935) is an American television, film, and stage actress, and film director/producer. She has appeared in over 120 roles, in numerous popular TV shows or mini-series during 1958-2003, and several major feature films, including Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore (1974), Wild at Heart, Rambling Rose (1991), Ghosts of Mississippi, Primary Colors, 28 Days (2000), American Cowslip (2008) and Jake's Corner (see below: Filmography). Married 3 times, Ladd is the mother of actress Laura Dern with ex-husband actor Bruce Dern the father.
Ladd was born Rose Diane Ladner in Meridian, Mississippi, the daughter of Mary Bernadette (née Anderson), a housewife and actress, and Preston Paul Ladner, a poulterer. She is the second cousin of playwright Tennessee Williams and also related to poet Sidney Lanier. Ladd was raised Catholic. Ladd was formerly married to actor and one-time co-star Bruce Dern from 1960-69; the couple had two children, Diane Elizabeth Dern and Laura Elizabeth Dern, of whom only actress Laura Dern survives. (Diane died at 18 months from head injuries caused by falling into a swimming pool). Ladd and Laura Dern co-starred in the films Wild at Heart and Rambling Rose. They also appeared together in Inland Empire, another film by David Lynch. Ladd is now married to Robert Charles Hunter.
Ladd had a supporting role in Roman Polanski's 1974 film Chinatown, and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for her role as Flo in the film Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore. That film inspired the TV series Alice, in which Flo was portrayed by Polly Holliday. When Holliday left the TV series, Ladd succeeded her as waitress Isabelle "Belle" Dupree.
In 2004, Ladd played psychic Mrs. Druse in Stephen King's miniseries Kingdom Hospital. In April 2006, Ladd released her first book entitled: Spiraling Through The School Of Life: A Mental, Physical, and Spiritual Discovery. In 2007, she co-starred in the Lifetime Television film Montana Sky.
In addition to her Academy Award nomination for Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore, she was also nominated (again in the Best Actress in a Supporting Role category) for both Wild at Heart and Rambling Rose, both of which she starred alongside her daughter Laura Dern. Dern received a nomination for Best Actress for Rambling Rose. The dual mother and daughter nominations for Ladd and Dern in Rambling Rose marked the first time in Academy Award history that such an event had occurred. They were also nominated for dual Golden Globe Awards in the same year.
Ladd has also worked on the stage. She made her Broadway debut in the play Carry Me Back to Morningside Heights in 1968. In 1976 she stared in the play A Texas Trilogy: Lu Ann Hampton Laverty Oberlander for which she received a Drama Desk Award nomination.
LisaRaye McCoy, actress,
LisaRaye McCoy (born September 23, 1967, commonly known as LisaRaye, is an American actress and fashion designer.
McCoy was born in Chicago, Illinois, the daughter of a businessman and professional model. She is the half sister of rapper Da Brat. McCoy attended Eastern Illinois University before pursing a career in show business.
McCoy has one daughter, Kai, from her first marriage. On April 8, 2006, she married Michael Misick, the premier of the Turks and Caicos Islands.
In April 2008, McCoy's husband, Premier Michael Misick, was accused of raping an American woman, reportedly a friend of LisaRaye's, after a party on the island of Providenciales. This is currently being investigated by the FBI.
In August 2008, Premier Misick released a statement announcing that he and McCoy were getting a divorce.
Before acting, McCoy began her career as a model doing fashion shows in churches and high schools in her native Chicago. She made her acting debut as the lead in Reasons, an independent film directed by Monty Ross. She also had the lead role in the film The Players Club, directed and written by Ice Cube. and has film credits in The Wood, opposite Omar Epps, as well as Love the Way, Rhapsody, All About You, and Go for Broke. In 2003, McCoy starred as Neesee James in the CW sitcom All of Us. She played Robert Sr.'s (Duane Martin) self-absorbed ex-wife and the mother of their 6-year-old son, Bobby, Jr. The series ended in 2007.
In 2005, she launched two fashion lines: Luxe & Romance, a lingerie line that was introduced during New York's Fashion Week, and Xraye, a jeans line for women.
In addition to acting, McCoy has also appeared in several music videos including Tupac Shakur's last video, "Toss It Up", Sisqó's "Incomplete", Lil Jon and Ice Cube's "Roll Call" Video clip, and Ludacris' "Number 1 Spot." McCoy also recorded the single "Would You?" with rapper Benzino.
Derrick McKey, professional basketball player,
Derrick Wayne McKey (born October 10, 1966, Meridian, Mississippi) is a retired American basketball player who played the most part of his NBA career between the small forward and the power forward positions.
McKey attended Meridian High School in his Mississippi hometown, where he excelled on the team's basketball squad. In addition to being a star basketball player in high school, he was a shortstop on the baseball team despite being 6'10". He attended the University of Alabama for three years, leading the Tide to a regional No. 1 seed in 1986-87 and to the Sweet 16 (where they were eliminated by Providence). He played for the US national team in the 1986 FIBA World Championship, winning the gold medal.
He declared for the NBA after his junior season and was selected by the Seattle SuperSonics with the ninth overall pick of the 1987 NBA Draft, ahead of, notably, Reggie Miller, Horace Grant and Reggie Lewis. In the 1988-89 season, McKey averaged 15.9 PPG, his best scoring average in a single season.
McKey spent the following six seasons in Seattle, where he was known as one third of the "Big Mac" team of the late 1980s and early 1990s Seattle Supersonics, the others being Nate McMillan and Xavier McDaniel. At the start of the 1993-94 NBA season he was traded to the Indiana Pacers along with teammate Gerald Paddio for Detlef Schrempf. After years of playoff disappointments, he and the Pacers finally reached the NBA Finals in 2000, before losing to the Los Angeles Lakers. He then spent the 2001-2002 season, the last of his career, with the Philadelphia 76ers.
At 6'10", McKey was mostly known for his defensive skills, his emphasis on teamwork play, and his versatility, which allowed him to guard opposing players of any position. Consequently, he was elected twice to the All-NBA Second Defensive Team. These abilities were the prime reason why coach Larry Brown wanted him in Indiana. He was also a smart, team-oriented player, shooting wisely (.486 for his career) and had a knack for passing.
Derrick McKey still lives in the Indianapolis area and is known to be very polite to his fan, signing many autograph requests.
He also has 3 children
Samuel Mockbee, architect, winner of MacArthur Fellow award,
Samuel "Sambo" Mockbee (23 December 1944–30 December 2001) was an American architect and a co-founder of the Auburn University Rural Studio program in Hale County, Alabama.
Mockbee's architectural partnership with Coleman Coker was recognized for an ingenious and quirky brand of regionalism.
Mockbee was born in Meridian, Mississippi. He served two years in the U.S. Army as an artillery officer at Fort Benning, Georgia. He enrolled at Auburn University and graduated from the School of Architecture in 1974. Mockbee interned in Columbus, Georgia before returning to Mississippi in 1977 where he formed a partnership with classmate and friend Thomas Goodman.
A growing sense of connection with rural places and a respect for the disadvantaged people who inhabit them led Mockbee, along with D. K. Ruth, to found the Rural Studio program at Auburn University which has since been widely acclaimed for introducing students to the social responsibilities of architectural practice and for providing safe, well-constructed and inspirational buildings to the communities of West Alabama. In many cases these buildings, designed and built by students, incorporate novel materials which would otherwise be considered waste. They often combine vernacular architecture with modernist forms. In 1993 he was awarded a grant from the Graham Foundation for work towards the publication of his book The Nurturing of Culture in the Rural South An Architectonic Documentary.
In 1998, Mockbee was diagnosed with leukemia. After a strong and near miraculous recovery, he went on to accept awards and recognition for his work including the MacArthur Foundation Genius Grant, but fell to the disease three years later.
Mockbee was posthumously nominated in 2003 for the American Institute of Architects' (AIA) Gold Medal. No Gold Medal was awarded that year, but it was given to Mockbee the following year.
Mockbee's work was selected by Lawrence Rinder to be part of the Whitney Museum of Art 2002 Biennial.
David Moos curated an exhibition at the Birmingham Museum of Art in Birmingham, Alabama on Mockbee which was in its planning stages when Mockbee died. The exhibition was named "Samuel Mockbee and the Rural Studio: Community Architecture." This retrospective was to be a celebration but became a memorial and tribute.
The Harris House, called the "Butterfly House" due to its sharply angled roof structure is home of Anderson and Ora Lee Harris. The house has a large front porch formed by the dramatic roof.
Mrs. Harris was handicapped, so the house had to be specially designed to accommodate a wheelchair. The doorways in the home are wide and easily accessible, with a wheelchair ramp leading to the front door. In the bathroom are fixtures placed within a wheelchair-bound person’s reach.
The house is also designed to have several energy/cost efficient features. The ventilation allows the house to be heated and cooled as inexpensively as possible. The house is heated by a wood-burning stove located in a central area. Vents are located near the roof of the house which may be opened to allow for air circulation in the warmer months, or shut in the winter months to trap hot air inside the house. A huge fan located in the rear of the house pulls air throughout the central living area.
The roof is angled to collect rainwater into a cistern. This gray water system is used to wash clothes and flush toilets. The roof of the house is clad in tin, with tin and salvaged 105 year-old wood constituting the walls.
Gillespie V. "Sonny" Montgomery, late U.S. representative,
Gillespie V. "Sonny" Montgomery (August 5, 1920 – May 12, 2006) was an American politician from Mississippi who served in the U.S. House of Representatives 1967–1997. Montgomery, who was considered a pro-defense and pro-veterans Democrat, resided in Meridian, the seat of Lauderdale County, in eastern Mississippi.
Born in Laurel, Mississippi, he attended Mississippi State University in Starkville and was a member of Beta Tau chapter of Kappa Alpha Order. He served in the U.S. Army as a second lieutenant during World War II and also in the Korean conflict. He retired from the Mississippi National Guard as a Major General in 1980. He was the author of the G.I. Bill of Rights that gives servicemen money to pay for college and was a lead sponsor in establishing the Veterans Affairs cabinet level position.
On September 13, 1988, Sonny Montgomery became the first congressman to lead the U.S. House in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance as a permanent part of its daily and morning business operations. The day prior to his death, Congressman Gene Taylor introduced an amendment to House Defense Appropriations Bill to rename the bill the Sonny Montgomery National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2007. Following his death, President Bush ordered U.S. flags to be flown at half staff. In addition, the U.S. House of Representatives canceled non-suspension votes on the day of his funeral. Montgomery was laid to rest at Magnolia Cemetery in Meridian, Mississippi.
Hartley Peavey, electrical engineer, founder of Peavey Electronics, headquartered in Meridian.
Hartley Peavey is a founder and CEO of Peavey Electronics Corporation and a well-known innovator in the musical equipment industry. A 1965 graduate of Mississippi State University, Peavey has been recognized by his alma mater as an Alumni Fellow and as the 2004 commencement speaker. He also received an honorary doctor of creative and performing arts degree from Mississippi State in 2004.
The Past and Present of Peavey Electronics
By Hartley Peavey, Founder and CEO
“I had the good fortune to grow up in a very interesting part of the country during a very interesting time. My teenage years spanned the middle 1950s ... Mississippi was literally the birthplace of what we now know as rock 'n roll.
My father ran the local music store, and he put me to work there cleaning up and helping buy records when I was 14 years old. I was a disk jockey throughout my last two years of high school and into college as well.
In 1957, I went to a Bo Diddley concert in Laurel, Mississippi and from then on, I wanted to be a guitar player. I begged my father to give me an electric guitar but got nowhere with that request. He told me that I could take some guitar lessons and if I learned to play guitar, he would "consider getting me a guitar." Obviously, being a teenager, the concept of "waiting" was not very attractive, so I ended up modifying a classic guitar to accept steel strings. I then built my own pickup because I couldn't afford one. I went back to my dad and begged for an amplifier . . . . same story as on the guitar. That's when I built my first amplifier--at the end of 1957 and the early part of 1958.”
“At the beginning of 1964, I decided I would do what every musician I talked to said . . . "I wish someone would build good guitars, amps and P.A. systems at a fair and reasonable price." That sounded good to me.
Leo Fender has always been my idol. When he started his company in 1946, he started out building damn good products that weren't fancy but represented great performance and great value. I figured if it was good enough for Leo, it was good enough for me. I decided then and there that I would build the best musical equipment possible at fair and reasonable prices, even though I knew it would have to be done a different, and hopefully better, way.
When I graduated from college in 1965, I started Peavey Electronics. I came up with the original Peavey logo "doodling" in my notebook in high school. I put the first versions of this on my amplifiers that I made in my Dad's basement. At that time, both my amps and logos were pretty crude, but I learned a lot. In fact, after nearly 37 years, I'm still learning, and that's what keeps me interested. Since I conceived the company in 1964, my goal was to be the best. By definition, you can't be the best unless you are different. Peavey is a different kind of company and has been from the first.”
“The year I started my company (1965) was the year that Leo sold out to CBS. Beginning about that time, the huge conglomerates were buying up most of the music companies who were (then) family owned. LTV bought Altec Lansing. Norlin bought Gibson from Chicago Musical Instruments. Gulf & Western bought Unichord (the Marshall Distribution), and countless other traditionally family-owned music companies were gobbled up by the money men. Almost universally, prices went up drastically while quality did the opposite. It was a wonderful opportunity for Peavey.
We were building great equipment at fair prices. It seemed that the conglomerates were only too willing to sacrifice quality and performance on the "altar of profit." Although I didn't have the experience—and certainly not the financial resources—of the conglomerates, I had a passion for the product and for the people and for the industry. . . . I still do!”
“Since the invasion of the conglomerates in the 60's and 70's, many companies with famous names have changed hands, often several times. Unbelievably, many musicians think that because the name is the same, the company is the same. This is not true! After all, companies are nothing but groups of people. The truth of the matter is that when people change, so do the companies.
My company has been under the same ownership for nearly 37 years. I can think of only one other company, Marshall, that has been under the same ownership longer than Peavey.
Through the years, we continued to ‘dare to be different’ and build the best products possible. Currently, my company has over 130 patents worldwide with new ones being applied for at all times. A major difference between Peavey and our competitors is that some of the famous names seem more interested in trying to recreate the glories of the past than in build a better product for today's (and tomorrow's) musician.”
“Interestingly, if you look at both the major American guitar companies, neither has introduced any significantly new guitar designs in the last 35 years. A very interesting contrast when compared to Peavey's introduction of 80 to 100 all new products every year.
“Our goal was (and still is) ‘to be the best,’ even though that means being different.”
Jay Powell, Major League Baseball player,
James Willard "Jay" Powell (born January 9, 1972 in Meridian, Mississippi), is a former American baseball pitcher, who last played for the Atlanta Braves. He graduated from Mississippi State University.
He was drafted by the San Diego Padres in 1990, but did not sign. Following his junior year at Mississippi State, he was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles in the first round (19th pick overall) in 1993 and signed. He played for the Florida Marlins, Houston Astros, Colorado Rockies, and Texas Rangers before signing with the Atlanta Braves in January of 2005. His last game was in July 2005, when he fractured his humerus. Thus, pitching again could lead to another fracture.
Powell was the winning pitcher of Game 7 of the 1997 World Series for the Florida Marlins.
Jimmie Rodgers, country music singer,
David Ruffin, former lead singer of The Temptations,
David Ruffin (Davis Eli Ruffin) (January 18, 1941 – June 1, 1991) was an American soul singer most famous for his work as lead singer of The Temptations from 1964 to 1968.
As a young child, David, along with his other siblings (older brothers Quincy and Jimmy and sister Rita Mae), traveled with their father, a minister, and their stepmother as a family gospel group. Not much is known about Ruffin's childhood except that his father was abusive and his mother died in childbirth. What is known is that David Ruffin left home at fourteen years old, allegedly to pursue a ministership like his father.
Ruffin spent time in Louisiana at a horse farm, in Memphis (where it was alleged he was in a talent contest with Elvis Presley), and in Arkansas. In the mid 1950s, Ruffin sang with The Dixie Nightingales. He eventually made his way to Detroit, Michigan, where his older brother Jimmy Ruffin was pursuing a career in music while working at the Ford Motor Company. Jimmy landed a deal with Miracle Records, one of several labels owned by Berry Gordy's Tamla (later Motown) Records. David performed at shows around Detroit, and even lived with Berry Gordy's parents for a brief period.
In the late 1950s, Ruffin sang with The Voice Masters, which included future Motown producer Lamont Dozier and members of the singing group The Originals. The act was featured on the Anna label, run by Berry Gordy's sister, Gwen Gordy Fuqua, and Ruffin sang lead on two songs: "I'm In Love" and "Action Speaks Louder Than Words". Though Ruffin's name is on the label, the Voice Masters provide backup. The Anna label was absorbed by Motown Records in 1961. After the Voice Masters broke up, Ruffin signed with Billy Davis' Checkmate Records in 1963. On Checkmate, Ruffin recorded the single "Mr. Bus Driver, Hurry", a minor local hit. During this period, he was also doing side gigs as a drummer for the Temptations. In January 1964, Ruffin became a member of The Temptations after founding member Elbridge "Al" Bryant was fired from the group. Jimmy Ruffin was initially offered the opportunity to sing with the group, but Jimmy politely declined in favor of David.
With the Temptations
The bespectacled Ruffin initially sang background vocals on the Temptations' records while the role of lead singer generally alternated between Eddie Kendricks and Paul Williams. In November 1964, songwriter/producer Smokey Robinson wrote a single especially for Ruffin to sing lead on. That song, "My Girl", became the group's first #1 single and its signature song, and elevated Ruffin to the role of lead singer and front man.
The follow-ups to "My Girl" were also extremely successful singles, including "Since I Lost My Baby" (1965), "Ain't Too Proud to Beg" (1966), "All I Need" (1967), and "I Wish It Would Rain" (1967). The lanky, 6'3" Ruffin's passionate and dramatic performances endeared him to the Temptations' audiences and fans. According to Otis Williams, Ruffin (playfully nicknamed "Ruff" by the group) was initially a natural comedian and a hard-working singer when he first joined the group. Ruffin's most notable non-vocal contribution to the Temptations was the masterminding of their trademark four-headed microphone stand.
By 1967, however, ego problems with Ruffin became an issue for the group. He became addicted to cocaine, and began missing rehearsals and performances. Refusing to travel with the other Temptations, Ruffin and his then-girlfriend Tammi Terrell traveled in a custom limo (with the image of his trademark black rimmed glasses painted on the door). After The Supremes had their name changed to Diana Ross & the Supremes in early 1967, Ruffin felt that he should become the focal point of the Temptations, just as Diana Ross was for her group, and began demanding that the group name be changed to David Ruffin & the Temptations. This led to a number of fights between Ruffin and the group's leader, Otis Williams. In addition to the group's problems with his ego, Ruffin began inquiring into the Temptations' financial records, demanding an accounting of the group's money. This caused friction between Ruffin and Gordy.
David Ruffin (center) with the Temptations 1967.
In mid-1968, the Temptations agreed that Ruffin finally crossed the line when he missed a 1968 concert to attend a concert being performed by his new girlfriend, Barbara Martin (daughter of Dean Martin) instead. Ruffin was replaced with former Contour Dennis Edwards, who had been a friend of Ruffin and the group as a whole beforehand. Despondent that he had been fired from the group that he felt he had single-handedly brought to success, Ruffin began turning up at and crashing Temptations' concerts. When the group started to perform a Ruffin-era song such as "My Girl" or "Ain't Too Proud to Beg", Ruffin himself would appear on the stage, grab the microphone from Dennis Edwards and steal the show, embarrassing the band but delighting the fans. The Temptations resorted to hiring extra security to prevent Ruffin from attending their shows.
Meanwhile, Ruffin filed suit against Motown Records, seeking a release from the label and an accounting of his money. Motown countersued to keep the singer from leaving the label and eventually the case was settled. The settlement required Ruffin to remain with Motown to finish out his initial contract (Ruffin joined Motown as a solo artist, and always had a separate contract from the other Temptations, which some felt caused a lot of the in-fighting within the group).
Solo years and death,
Ruffin's first solo single was a song originally intended for the Temptations, "My Whole World Ended (The Moment You Left Me)". The single reached the US pop & R&B Top Ten, and Ruffin continued releasing solo material into the 1970s. His final Top Ten hit was 1975's "Walk Away From Love", produced by Van McCoy, which reached #9 on the pop chart. In 1971, Ruffin recorded an album with his brother Jimmy, for which they did a popular cover of the Ben E. King song "Stand By Me". While his solo career initially showed promise, Ruffin reportedly went into decline in part because of his cocaine addiction and the lack of support from Motown. After leaving Motown in 1977, Ruffin recorded for Warner Bros. Records, and later signed with RCA, accompanied by former Temptations bandmate Eddie Kendrick, who chose to rekindle their friendship when Kendrick himself started experiencing problems with the Temptations. In 1982, Ruffin joined The Temptations' Reunion tour, and, in 1985, Ruffin started touring with Kendrick as a duo act.
In 1985, longtime Temptations fans Hall & Oates teamed up with Ruffin and Kendrick to perform at the re-opening of the Apollo Theater in New York. Their performance was released as a relatively successful live album and single. The four singers also sang a medley of Temptations hits at Live Aid on July 13, 1985. John Oates later wrote a minor hit single for Ruffin and Kendrick, but the two duos fell out, allegedly due to Daryl Hall's objections to Ruffin's heavy drug use. After being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1989 with the other Temptations, Ruffin, Kendrick, and Dennis Edwards began touring and recording as "Ruffin/Kendrick/Edwards: Former Leads of The Temptations". The project was cut short, however, when David Ruffin died of a drug overdose on June 1, 1991, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, at the age of 50, having just recorded the single "Hurt the One You Love" for Motorcity Records.
Contrary to what was later depicted in The Temptations television miniseries, Ruffin's body was not randomly found in the middle of the street, nor did it lie unclaimed in a morgue for over a week. Instead, Ruffin's chauffeur drove him to the hospital, identifying him as "David Ruffin of the Temptations". A few days later, Ruffin's children claimed his body. To this day it is said that Ruffin's overdose was planned, as he carried a briefcase containing $45,000. It has been said that it was not a chauffeur but a friend who took him to a crack house in Philadelphia. After polishing off ten vials of cocaine, David passed out, and his friend threw him in the back of the limo and drove him to the hospital at 2:55 AM. His friend only stated, "This is David Ruffin", and sped off as the nurses and doctors carried him into the hospital. Ruffin was pronounced dead on June 1, 1991, at 3:55 AM in Philadelphia. The case is considered to be an accidental overdose, although there are some questions surrounding the circumstances.
Ruffin was portrayed by actor Leon Robinson in the 1998 television miniseries The Temptations. Leon won high praise for his portrayal of Ruffin, but Ruffin's family was upset by the way the miniseries portrayed Ruffin, and filed a lawsuit against the producers of the miniseries and also Otis Williams, whose memoirs had been the source material for the miniseries. The case was dismissed in favor of the defendants, with Williams later claiming that he had no real control over the presentation of the material.
Ruffin had a stormy relationship with singer Tammi Terrell, and is alleged to have physically abused her. Ruffin was married twice: his wives were Sandra Ruffin and Joy Hamilton. With Sandra, Ruffin had four daughters: Cheryl, Nedra, Kelly and Kimberly. He also has a son, David Jr., by a former girlfriend.
Michael Jackson covered some of the expenses of his funeral, at which Aretha Franklin and Stevie Wonder performed. He is interred at Woodlawn Cemetery.
Jimmy Ruffin, singer,
Jimmy Ruffin (born May 7, 1939 in Collinsville, Mississippi) is an American soul singer and older brother of David Ruffin, one of the lead singers for The Temptations. Jimmy himself was offered a chance to sing with the Temptations, but he declined in favor of David.
His 1966 hit "What Becomes of the Brokenhearted" was a major success and his most well-known song. The intended follow-up, "East Side West Side", was released only in Australia, however, due to an argument with Motown head Berry Gordy. The song was written by Ron Welser and Flamingos' member Terry "Buzzy" Johnson. With his brother David, Ruffin also released a popular cover version of "Stand By Me" (by Ben E. King), taken from the Ruffin Brothers' album, I Am My Brother's Keeper.
Ruffin's other hits include "I've Passed This Way Before", "Gonna Give Her All The Love I've Got", "Don't You Miss Me A Little Bit Baby", "I'll Say Forever My Love", "It's Wonderful To Be Loved By You" and "Tell Me What You Want".
In 1980 he collaborated with the Bee Gees' musician Robin Gibb, who produced his album Sunrise. From it came the single which would be his last Top 10 UK and U.S. hit: "Hold On To My Love". In 1986 Ruffin collaborated with the British pop group Heaven 17, singing "A Foolish Thing To Do" and "My Sensitivity" on a 12" EP record.
In the 1980s, Ruffin moved to England, where he has his own talk show.
He continues to tour and perform to this day. In addition to his brother David, he had three other siblings: Quincy, Rita Mae (deceased) and Rosa (deceased).
TMG577 What Becomes of the Brokenhearted / Baby I've Got It 7"
TMG593 I've Passed This Way Before / Tomorrow's Tears 7"
TMG603 Gonna Give Her All the Love I Got / World So Wide Nowhere to Hide 7"
TMG617 Don't You Miss Me a Little Bit Baby / I Want Her Love 7"
TMG649 I'll Say Forever My Love / Everyone Needs Love 7"
TMG664 Don't Let Him Take Your Love From Me / Lonely Lonely Man Am I 7"
TMG703 I've Passed This Way Before / Tomorrow's Tears 7"
TMG726 Farewell is a Lonely Sound / If You Will Let Me I Know I Can 7"
TMG740 I'll Say Forever My Love / Everybody Needs Love 7"
TMG753 It's Wonderful (To Be Loved By You) / Maria (You Were the Only One) 7"
TMG767 Let's Say Goodbye Tomorrow / Living in a World I Created for Myself 7"
TMG784 On the Way Out (On the Way In) / Honey Come Back 7"
TMG911 What Becomes of the Broken Hearted / Don't You Miss Me a Little Bit Baby 7"
TMG922 Farewell is a Lonely Sound / I Will Never Let You Get Away 7"
TMG934 I've Passed This Way Before / Sad and Lonesome Feeling 7"
TMG961 I'll Say Forever My Love / It's Wonderful (To Be Loved By You) 7"
TMG996 Gonna Give Her All the Love I Got / I've Passed This Way Before 7"
TMG1052 What Becomes of the Broken Hearted / I'll Pick a Rose For My Rose 7"
J. H. Rush, founder of Rush Foundation Hospital, Meridian's first private hospital,
Jesse Hackley (J.H.) Rush (September 6, 1868 – January 22, 1931) was an American physician who founded the first private hospital in Meridian, Mississippi.
Rush was born in De Kalb, Mississippi. One of the sons of William Vaughn Rush (1847–1916) and Julia Rush Key (1848–1907), Rush married Mary Hunnicutt (1874–1954) and this union produced three children: Lowry, Dorothy and Leslie. His sons Lowry and Leslie would follow in their father's footsteps and join the medical profession; Leslie Rush's contribution to orthopedic medicine is the invention of the "Rush Pin", which revolutionized the treatment of bone fractures and has continued to be used in the 21st century.
In 1915, J. H. Rush founded Rush's Infirmary, an 18-bed facility that became the first private hospital in Meridian, Mississippi. When Rush's Infirmary opened its doors, the staff was comprised of Dr. and Mrs. Rush, one registered nurse and six student nurses. Rapid growth soon followed.
Dr. J. H. Rush died at the start of the 1930s at the age of 62. His work continued, however, and in 1947, the hospital became a non-profit institution and was renamed Rush Memorial Hospital in commemoration of its founder. Since 1965, the facility has been known as Rush Foundation Hospital.
In the first decade of the 2000s, Rush is a comprehensive healthcare network providing medical care to people throughout East Central Mississippi and West Central Alabama.
Rush opened its doors to the Meridian community in 1915 when Dr. J.H. Rush founded the Rush Infirmary. Soon, the medical needs for area residents outgrew the existing bed capacity and in 1920, the hospital expanded its facility. Today, Rush is a comprehensive healthcare network providing quality care to people throughout East Central Mississippi and West Central Alabama.
Meridian’s first private hospital was built February 15, 1915. The 18-bed facility included one operating room and a staff comprised of Dr. and Mrs. J.H. Rush, one registered nurse, and six student nurses. In 1921, Dr. Lowry Rush, Sr. joined the staff, and in 1927, Dr. Leslie Rush began his medical career at the hospital. In 1926, Miss Catherine Hovious began her fifty year profession at Rush. As the healthcare needs of the hospital grew, Ms. Hovious completed nursing, x-ray, CRNA and laboratory technician schools and became the only registered x-ray technician in the state of Mississippi.
When the Rush infirmary became Rush Memorial Hospital in 1947, the bed capacity was expanded to 102, and nursing home services were added. The demand for medical services in the community kept growing and the hospital was expanded again in 1962. Two more wings were added in 1963 and 1967, including more patient rooms, an intensive care unit, new operating rooms, recovery rooms, visitor lounges, doctors and nurses’ lounges, and updated facilities. Rush dedicated another wing in 1975, featuring a state-of-the-art emergency room complex, radiology department, and 24 additional private patient rooms.
Rush has experienced several name changes since its beginning. In 1947, the original hospital became a non-profit institution with the establishment of the Rush Medical Foundation. Commemorating its founder, Dr. J.H. Rush, the name was changed to Rush Memorial Hospital. In 1965, the name was officially changed to Rush Foundation Hospital.
Rush is known for notable “firsts” in health care. In 1936, medical history was made when Dr. Leslie Rush performed the first known bone pinning in the United States. This revolutionary fracture treatment pioneered the development of the "Rush Pin," which is still used to this day.
In 1938, Rush hired the first non-physician administrator in the state of Mississippi. The state’s first blood bank with a 350 unit capacity began in 1942. In 1944, Dr. Leslie Rush, Miss Catherine Hovious, and Dr. H.M. Ivey (superintendent of Meridian Public Schools) joined forces with Meridian Junior College and initiated the first junior college and hospital nursing program in the state. Other “firsts” include the hiring of a pathologist, in 1950, the construction the state's first intensive care unit in 1962, the first co-laser used by OB/GYN physicians in 1981, and the opening of Meridian’s first Wellness Center in 1982.
The tradition continued in 1985, when the Rush Medical Group Professional Office was opened to the public. The six-story building was designed for patient convenience and housed lab and x-ray departments. In 1987, Rush introduced the Sports Medicine program to the community, placing athletic trainers at various sporting events. In 1988, the Rush Family Birth Center opened providing added patient comfort and care in a combined labor, delivery, recovery, and post-partum unit. The first Neonatal Intensive Care Unit was established in 1990 providing intensive care for high-risk newborns in East Central Mississippi and West Central Alabama.
In 1993, Rush opened the area’s first sub-acute transitional care nursing unit. This specialized facility provided care for patients requiring hip and knee surgery. Magna Home Health, a full service home care agency, opened in 1994, and in 1995, the Pain Treatment Center embarked on providing the area’s only outpatient setting for treatment for chronic pain. In 1995, Rush Workforce Wellness unveiled its 40-foot mobile clinic providing healthcare services and screenings to area industries.
In 1996, the Rush Senior Health Center opened giving senior adults comprehensive, primary care. The center focuses on controlling chronic conditions often associated with aging. The Rush Wound Care and Hyperbaric Center premiered in 1997, giving patients an alternative to hospitalization with acute injuries and slow-healing wounds.
In the fall of 1986, Rush dedicated a new lobby and front entrance providing a modern and comfortable location convenient to admitting services. Located off 19th Avenue, a bronzed statue of Mercury covered by a colored skylight welcomed Rush visitors. Growth and diversification continued with the addition of a five-story, 200,000 square foot ambulatory care center located adjacent to the hospital. This modern facility includes an Emergency Department in the lower level, Rush Rehabilitation Services and a beautiful lobby on the ground floor, updated Gastroenterology Lab and the Pain Treatment Center on first floor, Outpatient Surgery on the second floor, and cafeteria and dining room facilities on the third floor.
Rush Health Systems serves residents in East Central Mississippi and West Central Alabama with a variety of inpatient, outpatient, and community services. Our comprehensive system includes Rush Foundation Hospital, a 215-bed acute care facility; The Specialty Hospital of Meridian, a 49-bed long-term, acute care hospital which operates nine rural health clinics; Medical Foundation, Inc., a physician management company employing more than 40 providers; and Rush Home Care, a complete home health care agency. The Rush commitment to community remains as strong today as it was when Dr. J.H. Rush founded his infirmary. A team of highly dedicated individuals pledged to caring for their fellow man.
Pat Sansone, multi-instrumentalist in bands Wilco and The Autumn Defense,
Pat Sansone (born June 21, 1969) is a multi-instrumentalist in the rock bands Wilco and The Autumn Defense.
Sansone was born in Meridian, Mississippi, which is the home of Jimmie Rodgers, the father of country music. Upon entering college at The University of Southern Mississippi, Sansone found two musical kindred souls in Will Martin and Eddie Bo McRaney and started Beagle Voyage, a Minutemen/Hüsker Dü/The Who/Rush influenced power trio, with Sansone on guitar. Sansone went on to play guitar for Stretch Armstrong, a Black Sabbath meets the Butthole Surfers rock unit. Soon after, Sansone formed the band Birdy, which included fellow Mississippians Trey Batson, Ike Marr and Glenn Graham, who went on to play drums for Blind Melon. Sansone's tremendously tuned ear has led him to become a world class studio musician and producer. His own project The Autumn Defense was formed in New Orleans in 1999 with friend John Stirratt of Wilco, and the band is responsible for three full length albums, "The Green Hour" in 2000, "Circles" in 2003, and the self-titled "The Autumn Defense" in 2006. Stints living in Nashville and New York resulted in Sansone's continuing activity as a producer and studio musician. He has contributed to albums by Joseph Arthur, Andrew Bird, Josh Rouse, Swan Dive, Jenifer Jackson, Ryan Adams, The Clientele, and others.
In 2004, Sansone joined Wilco right before their tour in support of their album A Ghost Is Born, following the departure of multi-instrumentalist Leroy Bach. On tour, Sansone plays guitar, keyboard, maraca, and several other instruments, as well as singing backup vocals. He was also involved in the writing and recording of Wilco's 2007 release "Sky Blue Sky."
Jerry Turner, TV anchorman,
Jerry Turner (August 6, 1929 - December 31, 1987), was an American television news anchorman at WJZ-TV in Baltimore, Maryland. He was from Meridian, Mississippi and started working at the Baltimore television station in 1962, starting the 6PM Newscast With Al Sanders in 1977.
Prior to his arrival his arrival on Television Hill, WJZ's news was mired in third place in a town that had three major network newscasts. In 1971, WBAL-TV was #1, WMAR-TV was #2, three years later, WJZ with Turner, Sanders, Bob Turk (weather) and Nick Charles (Sports) were a runaway #1 and stayed there through the 70s and into the 80s.
He died from Esophageal cancer at the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore on December 31, 1987, 7:15 PM, In Early 1988 the funeral mass was held at Towson Presbyterian Church.
Each year, the Baltimore Community Foundation awards college scholarships in the name of Jerry Turner for those students who are interested in broadcast journalism.
Sela Ward, actress,
Sela Ann Ward (IPA: /ˈsiːlə ˈwɔrd/; born July 11, 1956) is an American actress, perhaps best known for her Golden Globe- and Emmy award-winning television roles as free-spirited Teddy Reed on Sisters (1991-96) and single mother Lily Manning on Once and Again (1999-2002). She is also noted for her portrayal of Richard Kimble's murdered wife in the Oscar-nominated film version of The Fugitive. She also appears as House's ex-girlfriend in the TV show House.
Ward, the eldest of four children, was born in Meridian, Mississippi, the daughter of Annie Kate, a housewife who died of ovarian cancer in 2002, and Granberry Holland Ward, Sr., an electrical engineer. She has a younger sister, Jenna, and two brothers, Brock and Granberry (Berry), Jr. She attended the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, where she performed as one of the Crimson Tide cheerleaders, was homecoming queen, joined Chi Omega sorority, and double-majored in art and advertising.
While working in New York City as a storyboard artist for multimedia presentations, the 5'7" (170cm) Ward began modeling to supplement her income. She was recruited by the Wilhelmina agency and was soon featured in television commercials promoting Maybelline cosmetics. Ward eventually moved to California to pursue acting and landed her first film role in the Burt Reynolds vehicle, The Man Who Loved Women, released in 1983. Her first regular role in a television drama series (as a beautiful socialite on Emerald Point, NAS) followed in the same year. Ward subsequently played variations on the same character in films and television guest spots throughout the 1980s, most notably opposite Tom Hanks in 1986's Nothing in Common. This pattern persisted until she aggressively pursued and won the role of the bohemian alcoholic Teddy Reed on Sisters, for which she received her first Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series in 1994.
Ward also won a CableACE Award for her portrayal of the late television journalist Jessica Savitch in the 1995 TV movie Almost Golden: The Jessica Savitch Story. But capitalizing on her accolades proved difficult as they coincided with a surge in films and programming marketed primarily at teenagers. A 39-year-old Ward was passed over for a Bond girl role, learning that even though then-Bond Pierce Brosnan was 42, the casting director said "What we really want is Sela, but Sela ten years ago". In response, she developed and produced a documentary, The Changing Face of Beauty, about American obsession with youth and its effect on women.
Ward succeeded actress Candice Bergen as commercial spokesperson for Sprint's long distance telephone service from 1999 until 2002, when landline long distance promotions fell out of favor. She also appeared on Frasier as supermodel/zoologist Kelly Easterbrook in the fifth season opener ("Frasier's Imaginary Friend"). When she read for the role of Lily Brooks Manning on the series Once and Again, its creators (Edward Zwick and Marshall Herskovitz of thirtysomething fame) initially deemed Ward "too beautiful" for the average single mother to identify with. After landing the part, she received her second lead actress Emmy and a Golden Globe Award for her efforts.
In 2004 she played the role of a private investigator, Bobbi Bacha of Blue Moon Investigations, in the TV movie Suburban Madness, the story of a dentist who ran over her cheating orthodontist husband with her Mercedes. In 2005, she began a recurring role in the Fox dramatic series House as Stacy Warner, the hospital's former attorney, who also happens to be the ex-partner of the protagonist, Dr. Gregory House (played by British actor Hugh Laurie).
Ward was originally offered the role of Megan Donner on CSI:Miami and Susan Mayer on Desperate Housewives, but turned both down. The parts later went to Kim Delaney and Teri Hatcher, respectively. Ward says she does not want another lead role in an hour-long series due to the time away from her family it would require. She developed and produced a pilot for a half-hour situation comedy (in which she would also star) for CBS' 2006 season but it was not selected by the network for its roster.
Elliott Street, actor,
Gayle Dean Wardlow, Delta Blues historian and author,
Gayle Dean Wardlow (born August 31, 1940) is an American historian of the blues. He is particularly associated with research into the lives of musicians Charlie Patton and Robert Johnson and the historical development of the Delta blues, on which he is a leading world authority.
He was born in Freer, Texas, but was brought up from the age of 6 in Meridian, Mississippi. In his teens he began collecting Roy Acuff 78s, and originally began collecting blues records so as to exchange them for Acuff's. However, by about 1960 he had started collecting blues records for their own sake, and realised that very little biographical information existed on the musicians who had created them.
By 1963 Wardlow had begun researching a book on Delta blues musicians, mainly by making enquiries in black neighbourhoods, recording oral histories, anecdotes, songs, and remembrances. He interviewed Ishman Bracey, Charlie Patton's widow, and blues talent broker H. C. Speir, and a few years later uncovered Robert Johnson's death certificate. In the process of his research he became a leading authority on country blues. He also amassed the world’s largest and most valuable collection of pre-war blues records, many of which are now unique.
Wardlow has published many articles on blues history, and the book "Chasin' That Devil Music - Searching for the Blues", which was inducted into the Blues Foundation Hall of Fame in 2006 as a classic of blues literature.
He has worked as an investigative and sports journalist, serving as Sports Information Director at Livingston University, and The University of Alabama. He has also been a journalism professor at various universities.
The name Gayle Dean Wardlow pops up just about anywhere there's talk of Delta Blues anthology, from Guitar Player Magazine to the London BBC. He has been called "the dean of all blues researchers." Gayle Dean Warddlow was the first Mississippian, and perhaps the first white man to extensively research the lives and music of Mississippi blues artists. He co-authored the book King Of The Delta Blues: The Life And Music Of Charlie Patton and has published over 20 articles of original blues research. His wrtings have appeared in numerous album notes and all of the major blues publications including Living Blues, Blues Unlimited, 78 Quarterly, and Storyville. His collection of blues recordings, especially pre-war 78's, is one of the most comprehensive in existence.
In 1968 Wardlow astonished the blues world by discovering a death certificate, a milestone in blues research that answered major questions about Mississipi's most controversial and historicaly obscure blues singer, Robert Johnson. In the following interview Gayle Dean Wardlow talks about the search for the Johnson death certificate, the Johnson legend, and the Delta Blues.
Interview by Patrick Howse
Reprinted with permission from the PEAVEY MONITOR, 1991
You're considered to be one of the foremost blues researchers and record collectors in the world. How did you get into blues research and record collecting?
I've been a collector all my life. I started collecting Roy Acuff records in 1952. By 1959 I had an almost complete collection of Acuff records dating back to 1936. A collector in California that I had bought some records from told me, "look, you're living in the south. If you'll go out and find some old jazz and blues records you can swap 'em for a whole box of Roy Acuff records." So one day I went down to the black neighborhood behind my house and started knocking on doors, looking for records. I found two records that day, one by an artist named Chippy Hill with Louie Armstrong on trumpet. The other was a Champion label that came out in 1931. It turns out that the Champion record was the only one ever found of that record and I found it right there in my own neighborhood.
And that got you started collecting blues?
Not then because I intended to trade the blues stuff. Later, while I was going to college. I started to work for an exterminating company in Jackson, Mississippi. During my lunch hour I would knock on doors in the black neighborhoods and buy old Victrola records. I developed a pretty good selection of blues and I started listening to the records and really liked the music. That's when I got serioulsly into collecting blues. It became an obsession. I've got approximately 3000 records in my 78 collection. It's one of the stronger collections in the world of pre-war blues.
What would you estimate the dollar value is on your collection?
Years ago I was offered $60,000, but it would take a lot more for me to sell. Those records have been a part of my life for a long time and it would be impossible to rebuild a collection like that. We're talking about records that are only one or two known copies in the world, extremely rare records. I keep 300 of the rarest records in safe deposit boxes.
And you got most of these records by knocking on doors?
The bulk of the collection I bought knocking on doors in about five states. The rest I got by trading.
What do you consider to be the most valuable record in your collection?
I was offered $5,000 for one of my Charlie Patton records.
What about Robert Johnson. Has the value of his records increased since he's been "re-discovered" by the public?
Yea, l'm sure they have. I've got a copy of "Terraplane Blues" and "Me and the Devil Blues" and some others that are worth more than they were a few years ago. One collector reportedly paid $600 for Johnson's "Hell Hound On My Trail". The Son House records are the really rare ones. One of his records, "Preaching the Blues", a song that Johnson did a version of, only one known copy exists. Another Son House record that I have a copy of, "Dry Spell Blues" is one of only three known copies.
Was your research into blues an extension of your record collection?
Right. Because I found out that there was very little information about these early bluesmen, hardly anything. I became determined to learn where these guys came from and as much as I could about them. For example, very little was known about Charlie Patton. In the summer of 1963 I found a wife of Patton's outside of Vicksburg and she told me he came from Dockery's plantation in Sunflower county, Mississippi. She also confirmed. that he had died in Holly Ridge, Mississippi. That summer I found where he was buried and the plantation where he had lived.
Was it at this point that you began your research for the Charlie Patton biography?
Originally the idea was to do a book about all the Mississippi bluesmen. But, so much information was uncovered on Patton, the book evolved into the life and music of Charlie Patton, Founder of the Delta Blues. I was researching all the major Mississippi blues artists such as Tommy Johnson, Willie Brown, and some of the lesser known guys like Garfield Akers and Joe Callicott. I thought, if I can find all this about Patton, l'm going find out about the rest of these guys nobody knows about. During the time I was going to college at Belhaven in Jackson, I was also working for the newspaper on weekends as a sports writer covering sports events. When they would send me up in the Delta area to cover a football game l'd knock on doors, buy records and ask people if they knew anything about Robert Johnson, Skip James, Son House or Charlie Patton.
This was 30 to 40 years after those guys had made records. Did you find anybody that knew who they were?
Most people had never heard of Robert Johnson, just about everyone had heard of Charlie Patton, and Skip James was like a non entity, nobody I talked to knew who he was.
Later, you made an extensive search for Skip James, didn't you?
I spent a year looking for him. The guys in the east who had record companies were also looking for Skip James at the time. This was 1964, nobody knew if he was still alive or anything about him. I found a fellow, Ishmon Bracey, who had recorded for Victor in 1928 and Paramount in 1930, a great blues singer and guitarist. He had become a minister, said he'd given up his wicked ways and didn't play the blues anymore. I asked him about Skip James and he told me he didn't know where he was or where he came from. Later I found out from another source that Skip James lived in Bentonia, Mississippi. I tracked him through Bentonia, all over the state, even into West Memphis with no results.
How was he finally discovered?
Well, meanwhile I had told Ishmon Bracey that I knew that James was from Bentonia and was still alive but I hadn't been able to locate him yet. He sold that information to a couple of guys from New York for $35 and they went to Bentonia, got some leads and found Skip James in a Tunica county hospital.
You had been looking all this time, how did they find him so guickly?
It was a matter of timing, I suppose. They hit the right people at the right time and I didn't.
When did you learn that he'd been found?
I picked up a TIME magazine one day and there it was: Skip James and Son House found! I was devastated. I had been looking for this man for over a year. Finding him was very important to me. I wanted to write about these guys, and I wanted credit for finding them.
Who were some of the other people you were looking for?
There were a lot of blues artists from the Mississippi Delta who made records in the twenties and I tracked almost all of them. Some I never found what happened to, they just disappeared.
How were all those bluesmen from a remote part of Mississippi getting on record?
Actually, one man is responsible for Charlie Patton, Tommy Johnson, Son House, Willie Brown, Skip James, Robert Johnson and most of the major Mississippi bluesmen being on record. His name was H.C. Speir and he owned a music store in Jackson, Mississippi. Speir had a recording machine upstairs and he would scout local talent, record them on acetate and send that off to the record companies. He was the first man in Mississippi to scout black musicians. He got two or three artists on RCA Victor, then he started working with Paramount. The Paramount people thought he was so good, they'd take anybody he sent.
Did Speir do a session with Robert Johnson?
No, not an actual session, just a one-song acetate. But he was responsible for getting Johnson his recording session in Texas. Robert Johnson came to the store in 1936, Speir told me he remembers Johnson singing "Kind Hearted Woman". About the time Johnson came to the store, Speir had just completed over 200 masters for ARC, that's the record company that predates Columbia. He was having problems with with the company about payment, so rather than do a session with Johnson himself, he contacted a fellow in New Orleans named Emie Oertle who was the ARC salesman for Mississippi and Louisiana. Oertle picked Johnson up and took him to San Antonio to record. But Speir was the man behind Robert Johnson getting to Texas to do those sessions. Speir deserves a lot of credit. If it had not been for him, many of the great bluesmen would possibly never have been recorded. An amazing fact is that by World War II, over forty artists from the state of Mississippi had made records with the major labels
And 1would guess almost as many after the war.
No, I doubt there's as many post-war. The post-war, Mississippi artists like Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, John Lee Hooker, B.B. King, Jimmy Reed etc. turned out tons of records, they were just so prolific, but their number wasn't as big as the pre-war artists. A rough estimate would be around 20 to 30. The difference is the pre-war artists, in a lot of cases, would make just one session, four sides. You had to be much better in those days, if your records didn't sell you didn't record again.
I read somewhere that Johnny Shines said all Robert Johnson was paid for his sessions was $ 75 to $100. Was that the going rate in the thirties?
That's about right. I interviewed one of the original members of Roy Acuffs band and he told me that in 1936 they recorded in Chicago for ARC and were paid $250 for twenty sides. So, that's about $12 a side. You can figure Johnson, being black, didn't get that much. Larry Cohn, the guy that produced the Robert Johnson CD, was telling me that he found some contracts from 1933 where a fellow named Buddy Moss was paid $5 a side. You can figure, based on that, Johnson was paid between $5 and $10 per song. He recorded 16 sides that first session so he was paid $160 maximum.
And here it is, 55 years later, and those songs are still selling like crazy.
Yea, and he was real close to becoming famous in his day. He died about three months before he was scheduled to perform at Carnegie Hall. If he had lived to make that performance he would have received tremendous recognition. l'm sure he'd be the man who started Chicago blues. Many people give him credit for Chicago blues anyway because so many of his songs were recorded by Chicago bluesmen after the war.
You're the man who found Robert Johnson's death certificate after he had been dead for almost 30 years. Was that the only clue left to solving the Johnson mystery?
Finding the death certificate would answer some important questions like how old he was, where he was buried, where he died, and how he died.
How long did you search for it?
I spent three years looking for that death certificate. One source I had told me he was killed in Eurdora, Mississippi and I tried to trace a death certificate from that county and found nothing. Then I tried Texas because there were rumors that he might have been murdered in San Antonio shortly after he recorded there, still nothing. Other sources told me he was killed in Helena, Arkansas. Another said Memphis. I tried both places with no results. At that point it seemed like a dead end. I was beginning to think that if he was murdered there was probably no death certificate.
How did you finally get the right lead?
In 1967 an article appeared in DownBeat magazine. A Mississippi bluesman named "Honey Boy" Edwards was quoted in that article that Johnson was killed around Greenwood, Mississippi. I immediately went and put in for a death certificate and there it was. I found it in Janurary 1968, and in 1971 it was published in Blues Unlimited magazine. That was the leading blues magazine at the time.
But, the death certificate didn't answer all the questions, did it?
It cleared up the some myths about where he was buried, his age, and how long he had been a musician. Up until that point it was thought that he was eighteen years old and fresh off the plantation when he recorded. Now we know he was 26 to 27 years old and had been playing for ten years. It didn't give any information about how he was killed. The certificate listed no attending doctor and no cause of death.
Did you try to uncover the details of his murder?
I did some research around Greenwood. There were sources that said they remembered him dying but no details beyond that. Who I was really looking for was the man the death certificate listed as informant, a guy named Jim Moore. He was responsible for all the information on the certificate. He knew Johnson's parents' names, his date and place of birth, and how long he had been a musician. He obviously knew Robert Johnson very well, and l'm sure he knew details about his death. If I could have found this Jim Moore person, all the questions could have been answered. But, to this day, nobody ever has.
The whole Robert Johnson thing probably wouldn't be nearly as fasinating if we knew all the facts.
The mystery is part of the charm. One story says he was stabbed to death. Another story says a jealous husband slipped some poison in his wiskey because Johnson was having an affair with his wife.
That would be the poetic way for a bluesman to die.
Yea, I guess so. The latest story claims Johnson was living with this woman, he beat her up and was later poisoned by the woman's angry father. I was talking to a black doctor who told me the possibility exists that Johnson could have died from internal bleeding caused by drinking moonshine over a long period of time. He said because Johnson lived for three days after he was said to have been poisoned showed that the poison itself was not lethal, if it had been deadly enough it would have killed him in a couple of hours. According to the death certificate he died on Tuesday and he was allegedly poisoned the Saturday night before, that's three days.
Based on what you've learned, was he stabbed or poisoned?
I believe Robert Johnson died from internal bleeding, what caused that I don't know, it could have been poison. I don't think he was stabbed to death. All we have is rumors. I seriously doubt the story about the woman's father poisoning him because I talked to the woman personally and I question her credibility.
During your reasearch on Charlie Patton and Willie Brown you interviewed quite a lot of people who knew or claimed to have known Robert Johnson personally. How did you qualify those people to tell if they were legitimate informants?
You know after you've talked to somebody for awhile if they're legitimate or not. For instance, this old couple I talked with, Willie and Elizabeth Moore, I've got eight rolls of tape where I've interviewed them over a period of time. And I always take a record player and records with me so they can comment on the music. You can tell if they're genuine by their reactions and comments.
Was Willie Moore a musician?
Yes, he played second guitar with Charlie Patton and Willie Brown. He was also thrown in jail with Robert Johnson because they were singing on the street corner in Robinsonville about the town's "high sheriff'. Elizabeth Moore ran a juke house in Friar's Point where Robert Johnson used to come. The Moore's knew Johnson even before he learned to play guitar, he was playing harmonica at the time and would come to Elizabeth's first husband for guitar lessons. He went by the name Robert Sax at that time. What made Robert Johnson so difficult to track was that he used four or five different names. Up in Robinsonville, where he grew up he was known as Robert Sax and Robert Saxton. He used the name Robert Dusty more than Robert Johnson. He later told Elizabeth Moore the reason he used different names was for protection. He said he worried that he'd be playing in some town and somebody would kill somebody and use his name and the police would start looking for him. He would come through Jackson using the name R.L. according to a another bluesman I talked to named Johnny Temple. Temple played a walking boogie style of guitar like Robert Johnson. He told me he got the style from a guy named R.L. I said,"You mean Robert Johnson?" He said, "No, his name was R.L." He told me that in the early thirties R.L. would ride a freight train into Jackson on Friday afternoons and Temple and Johnson would play the juke joints. I played Temple a Robert Johnson record and he said that the voice didn't sound like R.L. but the guitar playing definitly was. So, l'm pretty sure it was Johnson because he had used those initals in other places. You have to remember, Robert Johnson was not that well known, he was just another guitar player at the time. He didn't have anywhere close to the reputation that Charlie Patton, or even Son House, had.
Do you think, given Ihe right conditions, he could have been a prominent musician in any form of music.
I think he would have, he had incredible natural ability. He told Elizabeth Moore early on that someday he was going to be a professional musician and was going to New York to make records. According to the Moore's he got a lot of encouragement from the people there in Robinsonville. Because, you see, musicians were looked up to in the black community. The preacher was very big in the social structure, he was number one. There were no black doctors, or lawyers so number two was the musician. The musician attracted a lot of attention.
But the blues musician would be the preacher's natura! counterpart.
Right, the evil counterpart. Remember, now, black people in the church back then believed that if you played the blues you were playing the devil's music because of all the things associated with it, the whiskey, the women, the gambling, the violence, and so forth. If you played blues you were going to hell. And the legend was in those days that you could sell your soul to the devil in exchange for the ability to do whatever you wanted. I think Son House was partly responsible for this story about Robert Johnson's deal with the devil. Son House said he heard Johnson play one time and he couldn't do much, then he heard him six months later and he was a polished entertainer. Implying that he had made the "deal at the crossroads" to get so good so quick. I think Son House got his memory mixed up and instead of six months it was probably a couple of years. There were a few Johnson songs that no doubt perpetuated the myth like "Me And The Devil Blues"," Stones In My Passway", and "Hell Hound On My Trail". Lines such as "me and the devil walkin' side by side, gonna beat my woman 'till I get satisfied" were pretty strong statements. When people heard that they said "my gosh! he wouldn't be singing a line like that unless he belonged to the devil". Robert Johnson was an excellent song writer, he was very diverse with Iyrics and sometimes those Iyrics were a little unusual. The fact that he died a violent death added to the overall mystisism.
How much was Robert Johnson influenced Iyrically and musically by Charlie Patton, Son House and Skip James? Didn't a good bit of his stuff come from them?
He borrowed from Skip James a good bit. The song "32-20 Blues" is a Skip James song. James called it "22-20 Blues", it's word for word the same song except the ending where Johnson sings,"...doctors in Hot Springs sho can't help her none". The original says "doctors in Wisconsin". Skip James was in Wisconsin when he first recorded the song in 1 931 . "Hell Hound On My Trail" is another thing Johnson got from a Skip James song called "Devil Got My Woman", same melody, same feel. Charlie Patton did a song called "When Your Way Gets Dark", with the bottle neck. You can hear shades of that in Robert Johnson's "Come On In My Kitchen."
Would you say that Charlie Patton and Skip James were the original Delta blues singers and everybody else was patterned after their styles?
Charlie Patton founded the Delta blues style. I don't consider Skip James Delta blues, he has his own little school of blues, his own style based around an open E minor tuning. The Blues evolved somewhere between 1900 and 1920, we don't know exactly where it came from it just sprang up in the Mississippi Delta and different places across the South.
Some believe the Blues were rooted in New Orleans.
A city type of piano and horn blues maybe, but not a guitar blues. The New Orleans blues was, in most cases, female singers backed by piano or a jazz band. The Delta blues was all male, guitar oriented blues. An interesting point is that the guitar was first introduced to the black field-hands by Mexican laborers who came to the Mississippi Delta to build railroads and work on plantations.
So when the guitar was introduced the Delta style started with Charlie Patton?
Nobody was doing it before Patton that we know of. There was an old man that lived on the same plantation with Patton that played guitar, mostly just chords. Patton was the first to do the intricate rhythms and open tunings. Patton was already playing blues in 1909, before phonograph records were available, so he developed his style without hearing a lot of other musicians on records. Robert Johnson listened to many different kinds of music on records and was influenced by other musicians. According to Johnny Shines, Johnson sang all kinds of music from Bing Crosby to Jimmie Rodgers. Johnson took the guitar styles from the 20's, guys like Patton, James, and House and molded that into a highly emotional style of his own. There were a lot of guitarists that influenced Johnson. Many people don't realize that. However, Robert Johnson had a tremendous affect on the styles of other bluesmen. Elmore James and Muddy Waters were heavily influenced by Johnson. Both of those guys were limited guitarists compared to Johnson. Robert Johnson was a great guitar player. His playing was much stronger than his singing even. He didn't have a strong voice. Now, if you listen to Son House or Charlie Patton you'll hear some singing. They had strong, powerful voices.
You would think that Johnson would have a very strong voice to be heard at those rowdy house parties he played.
Compared to Patton and House, his voice was weak. People that I've talked to that heard Robert Johnson live told me this. That may surprise a lot of people who've listened to his recordings. I think the recording process did a lot to emphasize his voice. I think the guitar was his strong suit.
Speaking ofguitars, you're also a vintage guitar collector.
Yes, especially resophonic guitars, Nationals and Dobros. I've got a 1928 tricone National, style two; a 1928 style one square neck; and a 1935 style 0 National. And, I have a National Duolion and a National banjo. Unfortunately, l'm having to keep most of the collection in a bank vault at the present time.
What have you done lately in blues research?
Last year a friend of mine, Walter Liniger from the Blues Archives at Ole Miss, and I followed up on some leads I had on a Mississippi blues artist named Blind Roosevelt Graves. 1'11 be doing an article for 78 Ouarterly on that. Recently, I was asked to work on a Robert Johnson documentary that was being filmed for the BBC in Great Britain. We just finished ten days working on that and made some major discoveries, things that have not been known about Robert Johnson. I can't talk about what we found until the program is aired. It's going to be an excellent program, all musicians and blues fans should see this.
When will it be broadcast?
It's called "The Search for Robert Johnson" and it'll be on channel 4, BBC in Great Britain within six months. I understand the program will eventually be shown on PBS in the United States. Blues singer John Hammond has a big part in the program. Interviews were done with Johnny Shines and "Honey Boy" Edwards, two guys that knew Johnson personally. The film crew shot over ten hours of film; plantations, graveyards and the San Antonio hotel where Johnson recorded. We even uncovered Robert Johnson's signature on a 1931 marriage application, proving that he could write - this is interesting because most of the blues artists from that era were illiterate. His handwriting was graceful and fluid, not the signature of an illiterate man. But, as I said, l'm not at liberty to talk much more about the film at this point. I'll just stress that no fan of the blues should miss it.
So, what else you got cookin'?
In December I have tentative plans with blues guitarist Stefan Grossman to go to Jacksonville, Florida and try to find out what happened to Blind Blake. Blind Blake was a prominent artist for Paramount, a great ragtime guitarist during the 1920's to 1930's perhaps the best ragtime player of all time. He disappeared and no one knows where he died or when. He deserves to be researched and that'll probably be the last research I'll do.
Why wou!d you stop after that?
Because the days of research are over, you can't find primary sources anymore, they're all dead. It's time to do the writing instead of the researching and I'll be doing a lot of that. Researching the blues has been rewarding and something I've had a great time doing. l'm proud of what I've done with Mississippi blues and I'm proud of Mississippi for producing the greatest blues players in the world, their impact has been phenomenal. It's time for me to sit back with my record collection and enjoy the blues.
Buying Rare Race Records in the South
By Gayle Dean Wardlow
INTRODUCTORY COMMENTS BY TIM GRACYK: I am proud to add to my homepage this article originally written for VICTROLA AND 78 JOURNAL by my friend Gayle Dean Wardlow of Mississippi. It is copyrighted and may not be duplicated without permission. Wardlow is an acknowledged pioneer among blues collectors. He was the first researcher and writer to cover important details on the lives of Charlie Patton, Robert Johnson, Ishmon Bracey, King Solomon Hill, and others. He owns one of the most complete collections of Paramount race sides and has made that collection available to companies that reissue Delta blues recordings.
I did not begin as a collector of race records. In 1954 I was collecting Roy Acuff records. After going to jukebox companies to find Acuff records, I started buying Bob Wills 78s of the 1930s along with other western swing artists that I liked. I still remember finding a Mr. Freddie Okeh performing "Milk Cow Blues" (Okeh 8422) in the collection of an in-law. It was one of those rare race records bought by whites.
Will Roy Hearne, a jazz dealer from Los Angeles, told me I could "get a whole box full" of Acuff discs if I could offer some rare jazz items. One afternoon in March of 1961, I had an idea. Did any of the "colored" people near me have old records still? I say "colored" here since that is language typical at the time.
I walked three blocks down the hill to the "colored" section of town and picked out a row of houses. I went to the first one, knocked on the door, and said, "Anyone home? Can you hear me?" The door was opened by an elderly woman.
I said, "I buy old records--you know, them old blues records. Do you have any?"
She replied, "Lord, no, child! We threw 'em away years ago. But we used to have one of those old windup machines."
I kept knocking. After about ten houses on two streets, I spotted an old, decrepit shack with flower pots on the porch. I knocked and said, "Anyone home?" An old woman, about 80, came to the door, we talked, and she went back inside while I waited anxiously on the porch. I never asked to come into houses. I assumed that old people felt safer if strangers stayed on the porch, especially whites. I only entered if invited. I recall that sometimes people would invite me in by saying, "You can come look at 'em. I can't bend down that low to get 'em out of the Victrola."
This woman brought two discs out to the porch. "I found a couple," she said, modestly. "They ain't no good to me."
I looked and was surprised. One of the two records was a red label 16,000 Champion, the only time I found a Champion in Mississippi. This was #16058 by Alberta Jones, issued as Bessie Sanders and the Memphis Red Peppers. It was in E- condition. The other was a Bertha "Chippie" Hill Okeh disc, "Mess, Katie, Mess" (8437), with Louis Armstrong on cornet and Richard Jones on piano.
I concluded that here was a new and potentially easy way to find records. I enjoyed that day what turned out to be a case of beginner's luck. I soon learned that one could canvass all day and find nothing.
All that spring I knocked on doors, spending from one to three hours looking. I refined my sales approach to these words: "I buy old Victrola records--you know, them old blues records by Bessie Smith, Blind Lemon, Leroy Carr. All them old blues singers." I had learned that old people used the term "Victrola records" though sometimes they called them "Grafonola records." They remembered Bessie and Blind Lemon better than other artists.
I usually paid a quarter for each record--sometimes less, sometimes 50 cents. Normally I mentioned my price range as I made my initial inquiry. If I saw something especially desirable, I offered a dollar to be sure to get it. Selling records at the door to a white man must have struck some as unusual. Occasionally they asked if I was planning to reissue them--"You gonna make them over again?" My standard reply: "I play guitar and piano. I want to learn these old blues myself. It's illegal to put them out again."
Condition varied, with a disappointing number in G to V condition. I came across many Blind Lemon Jefferson and Leroy Carr discs that had been played until the surface was gray. Paramounts were often cracked all the way to the label. Columbias and Okehs struck me as more durable than other discs.
I learned from experience that women had the records. Men moved around more, and they did not take records when they moved.
I had the best luck with older women who had flower pots on the porch, so I learned to look for flower pots. The pots indicated that someone had lived at one location for a long time. Records were often in these homes.
Within a year I had found some choice items, including a Hattie Burleson disc from 1928 (Brunswick 7042), Robert Johnson's "Last Fair Deal Going Down" (Vocalion 03445), and Johnson's "Me and the Devil Blues" (Vocalion 04108). I bought this last one within a mile of my own home. But the prize was Mattie Delaney doing "Tallahatchie River Blues" (Vocalion 1480), a song that refers to a river flood in the Delta. My copy of this 1930 disc was the only one known to surface. I learned this from New York collectors eager for me to trade it away.
I also discovered that women who were active church-goers only had sacred music, never blues or jazz records. I did buy gospel records that featured singing. I recall a prize item in the home of a religious woman. I had to go back twice to get this disc. It was the fabulous Rev. D.C. Rice doing "I'm Pressing On" (Vocalion 1289). Five years later I located Rice himself in Montgomery, Alabama, interviewed him, and published his story in Storyville.
Usually when I found religious records, they featured Rev. F.W. McGee or Rev. J.M. Gates. Gates was the top seller of religious records. I always left these behind.
On occasion I found discs of non-blues artists, such as Bert Williams, which were never as worn as later blues records. The white singer whose discs could be found most often in these homes was Jimmie Rodgers. His blue yodels were especially popular. I never found, say, a Caruso disc unless people hauled out 78s given to them by white employers.
Only twice did people admit that they had old records and then refuse to let me see them. Naturally, this aroused my curiosity, so I never forgot those houses. I stopped three different times at one house in the Delta. The other house was in Natchez on the Mississippi River. I wonder what ever happened to those records?
When I did find houses with blues records--about one house in every ten--I generally found Bessie or Clara Smith, and a Blind Lemon or Leroy Carr.
Certain records showed up often, including Leroy Carr's "How Long, How Long," Blind Lemon's "Black Snake Moan," Blind Lemon's "Electric Chair Blues/So That My Grave Is Kept Clean," Jim Jackson doing his "Jim Jackson's Kansas City Blues." Bessie Smith's "Down Hearted Blues" was a huge seller.
I deduced that the old people then in their 60s or 70s had bought records mainly in the 1920s. I learned that their phonographs had been bought around 1923 or slightly later, perhaps up to 1927. The blues and jazz records would start from around 1921 and end by 1926 or 1927. People in a slightly younger age group had bought their machines and records from about 1926 to 1930.
Other records were from the late 1930s, starting from about 1937 and ending around 1942. Not surprisingly, records from the depths of the Depression, from around 1931 to 1934, did not pop up.
By 1962 I was working in Jackson for the Orkin Pest Company, and I knocked on doors at dinner time as my interest in country blues grew.
Blind Lemon's discs were common around Jackson. He cornered the market in that area, as far as the Paramount label goes! However, I learned that small towns were the best places for finding records, not bigger places like Jackson. In every small town at least one old person still had a Victrola. An exciting find was a Black Patti 8025, "The Jail House Blues" by Sam Collins. "I brought it back from Chicago," the old man said as I gave him a dollar for the prize.
One day I stopped in the little town of Edwards close to Charley Patton's birthplace and I found two Patton discs (12792 and 12909), which was exciting. At first Charley was hard for me to listen to because of the roughness of his style--both playing and singing--but New York collectors had asked if I had Pattons to sell, so I knew to look for these.
I canvassed for more than ten years and occasionally into the mid-1980s. But most of the records were gone by that time, ending up in junk stores, flea markets, or trash bins. By the mid-1980s the few records that turned up were not worth the effort in finding them.
I noticed interesting patterns. One day in 1967 I met in Alabama an old lady who had two Sam Collins Gennetts and ten Herwins, the best of which was 92001 by Alberta Jones with the Ellington Twins (Duke Ellington played piano on this 1926 disc). Later I learned that the Starr Piano Company had stores in Birmingham and Montgomery. Salesmen were sent to drug and furniture stores to convince store owners to carry Gennett discs. Herwins could be ordered from St. Louis. I found roughly a dozen different race Gennetts in west Alabama over a three year period.
One collector from Georgia who had begun canvassing in the late 1950s found both Blackbirds of Paradise discs, Gennett 6210 and 6211, in one home in Montgomery in 1967. The music had been recorded in Birmingham in 1927, but Montgomery was the band's hometown, so it made sense that the rare discs were in that city.
My best find was not from canvassing but from visiting a junk store in 1970. The man running the store acquired the records by going door to door. In that find were nine discs put out by Broadway, a label related to Paramount. All were broken except for a George "Bullet" Williams (5085). I found a Ma Rainey jug band record on Paramount 12804, a Paramount disc with Freezone on one side and Raymond Barrow on the other (12803), Vocalions by Garfield Akers (including "Dough Roller Blues," Vocalion 1481) and another copy of Mattie Delaney's Vocalion 1480.
Sometimes when I went knocking on doors, I tried to get information about the artists themselves. Asking about blues singers from Mississippi enabled me to locate Ishmon Bracey himself, who was then a preacher. This was in 1963. I located Johnnie Temple in 1965.
The 1930-32 Paramounts were never sold in Mississippi like they were in other states. The Mississippi distributor, the St. Louis Music Company, had closed its Memphis distribution center in May 1930. I acquired most of my Paramounts from the 1930-32 period by swapping. I once calculated that I had traded records with 49 different collectors since the early 1960s.
The most exciting find of all was a copy of Son House's "Dry Spell Blues," Paramount 12990--the only known surviving copy at that time. I found it in 1963 in Bayonne, Louisiana. At first I couldn't get the disc's owners to sell it to me. After a few months, I carried $25 for the record from New York collector Bernard Klatzko. Years later I got it back from him in a trade. It is my only Son House record. I am also happy to own eighteen records by Patton, six by Skip James (not one was found in Mississippi), a Willie Brown Paramount, and two Paramounts from 1930 of Louise Johnson. I have listened to my records carefully, and I have been happy to share what I have learned over the years with others interested in country blues.
I bought my Willie Brown disc, Paramount 13090, in the Louisiana Delta on a Saturday afternoon. I suspect a previous owner had dropped it at some point since it had been broken in half and taped back together with adhesive tape. Jim Cooprider repaired it for me. It was the first Willie Brown Paramount disc found. It had been kept in an old cheesebox under a bed. The woman who sold it to me owned other records that she had--for some reason--put on a chicken coop with a tin roof, and these were badly warped. Her copy of Paramount 13006 featuring Eurreal "Little Brother" Montgomery was too badly warped to be worth anything.
Through the years I taught other collectors to canvass, most notably Nick Perls, who came south in 1964 with Steve Calt. We went to Arkansas to canvass and used my car, which had Mississippi license plates. Using Perls' car, with its New York plates, would have brought trouble that summer in Mississippi due to civil rights workers being in the state to register voters. It was a tense summer, with three civil rights workers murdered 40 miles from my hometown. But we had no trouble in Arkansas knocking on doors.
Records were bought in patterns. I found one home near Jackson where a lady had nine Supertones in the rare 2200 series. These were taken from Vocalion masters, and the big sellers among these reissues were discs of Jim Jackson, Tampa Red teamed with Georgia Tom, and Leroy Carr. When the lady told me she had some Tommy Johnsons, I was thrilled at the chance of buying some incredibly rare blues 78s, but the records turned out to be Leroy Carr discs. She had confused the names since Carr was issued under the name Blues Johnson on Supertone. These Supertones reportedly came out in the fall of 1931.
Only one time did I encounter a threat of violence. In 1967 in Pensacola, Florida, a man who had been drinking threatened me with a butcher knife when I asked to see his mother's records. I left quietly and quickly. I did not buy any records there!
In one Mississippi town a local cop stopped me as I was buying records from an elderly woman. He asked what I was doing. These were tense days during the struggle for civil rights. When the woman told the officer that I was "just buying old records," he seemed satisfied that I wasn't trying to cheat her and he left.
The early 1960s were Golden Days for canvassing. Two men in Georgia--Jeff Tarrer of Macon and Max Tarpley of Augusta--started their "door knocking" about the same time or perhaps just before I did. The idea of knocking on doors for blues 78s has been satirized by cartoonist Robert Crumb.
Even today, when I pass a row of old houses, I wonder whether there could be old records still in the homes. By this time, the precious few that remain have been handed down to grandchildren. I am sorry to say it is dangerous to be in some black neighborhoods now. That was not a concern a few decades ago.
Skeeter Webb, professional baseball player,
James Laverne "Skeeter" Webb (November 4, 1909 - July 8, 1986) was a Major League Baseball infielder who played twelve season in the major leagues with the St. Louis Cardinals (1932), Cleveland Indians (1938-1939), Chicago White Sox (1940-1944), Detroit Tigers (1945-1947), and Philadelphia Athletics (1948). Born in Meridian, Mississippi, Webb attended the University of Mississippi before playing professional baseball.
He began his major league career on July 20, 1932, with the St. Louis Cardinals at the age of 23. He appeared in only one game in 1932 and did not have a plate appearance for the Cardinals.
Webb did not make another major league club for six years. In April 1938, he signed as a free agent with the Cleveland Indians, In 1939, he played in 81 games at shortstop for the Indians and had a career-high .264 batting average.
Traded to the Chicago White Sox in January 1940, he was moved to second base where he played 74 games. His batting average dropped to .237 in 1940, and he relegated to the role of a utility infielder and back-up second baseman in 1942 and 1943. However, with the major league talent pool depleted, Webb won the job as the Sox' starting shortstop in 1944. However, he hit only .211 in 513 at bats for the 1944 White Sox.
Traded to the Detroit Tigers at the end of the 1944 season, Webb was the Tigers' starting shortstop in their 1945 World Series championship season. Skeeter played 104games at shortstop for the 1945 Tigers but proved to be a liability at bat. His batting average dropped to .199 in 1945, as Webb got only 81 hits in 407 at bats. Some believe that Webb was able to hold onto the starting shortstop job despite his weak hitting, because the Tigers' manager Steve O'Neill was his father-in-law.
Despite his weak hitting performance in the regular season, Skeeter Webb played all seven games of the 1945 World Series as the Tigers' shortstop. He hit .185 in the World Series, going 5-for-27, though he did score 5 runs. In Game 7, Webb had his best performances, scoring two runs and fielding the final out of the Series.
In 1946 and 1947, Skeeter stayed with the Tigers as a backup second baseman. He finished his baseball career playing in 23 games for the Philadelphia Athletics in 1948, where he hit a career-low .148. He played in his final game on August 31, 1948.
In 12 major league seasons, Webb played in 699 games, 368 at shortstop, 282 at 2nd base, and 7 at 3rd base. Webb had a career .219 batting average, a .263 on base percentage, and a .368 slugging percentage.
Webb was born and died in Meridian, Mississippi.
Hayley Williams, lead singer of Paramore,
Paramore (IPA: /ˈpærəmɔər/) (often stylized as paramore) is a Grammy-nominated American rock band that formed in Franklin, Tennessee in 2004 consisting of Hayley Williams (lead vocals/keyboard), Josh Farro (lead guitar/backing vocals), Jeremy Davis (bass guitar), and Zac Farro (drums). The group released their debut album All We Know Is Falling in 2005, and their second album Riot! in 2007, which was certified platinum in the US and gold in the UK and Ireland.
Formation and All We Know Is Falling (2002–2005)
In 2003, at the age of 14, vocalist Hayley Nichole Williams (born May 7, 1988) moved from her hometown Meridian, Lauderdale County, Mississippi to Franklin, Williamson County, Tennessee USA where she met brothers Josh and Zac Farro while attending private school. Shortly after arriving, she began taking vocal lessons with Brett Manning. Prior to forming Paramore, however, Williams and bassist Jeremy Davis took part in a funk cover band called the Factory, while the Farro brothers had practiced together after school. The other members of what was soon to be Paramore had been "edgy about the whole female thing" of having Williams as vocalist/tambourine/accordian, but, because they were really good friends, she started writing for them and it eventually worked out. The band was officially formed by Josh Farro (lead guitar/backing vocals), Zac Farro (drums), Jeremy Davis (bass) and Hayley Williams (lead vocals) in 2004, with the later addition of Williams' neighbor Jason Bynum (Rhythm Guitar). They took the name Paramore, which is derived from the maiden name of the mother of one of the group's former bassists during the time in which they were "still playing in the garage" once the group learned the meaning of the homonym paramour ("secret lover"), they decided to adopt the name, using the Paramore spelling. The band's first song written together was "Conspiracy", which was later used on their debut album.
Over the following years, Paramore performed at venues outside the greater Nashville area, including the concert festivals Purple Door and Warped Tour. John Janick, CEO and co-founder of the music label Fueled by Ramen, got a hold of Paramore's demos and went to a Taste of Chaos performance in Orlando, Florida to see the band perform live. After a smaller private performance at a warehouse, the band was signed to the label in April 2005.
Paramore traveled back to Orlando to record their debut album All We Know Is Falling, but, shortly after arriving, Davis opted to leave the band citing personal reasons. The remaining four members of Paramore continued with the album, writing "All We Know" about his departure, and later deciding to base All We Know Is Falling around the concept. The album artwork also reflected Paramore's grief as Williams explains, "The couch [on the cover of All We Know is Falling] with no one there and the shadow walking away; it's all about Jeremy leaving us and us feeling like there's an empty space." Recording for All We Know is Falling had taken three weeks, and promotional material for the album had only featured the four of the remaining members. Before touring, the band added John Hembree (bass) to their line up to replace Davis. During that summer, Paramore was featured on the Shira Girl Stage of the 2005 Warped Tour. After being asked by the band, Davis returned to Paramore, after five months apart, as Hembree left. All We Know Is Falling was released on July 24, 2005 and reached #30 on the Billboard's Heatseekers Chart. Paramore released "Pressure" as its first single, with a video directed by Shane Drake, but the song had failed to place on the charts. The video featured the band performing in a warehouse, eventually getting sprayed with water sprinklers as the storyline of a conflicted couple occurs. "Pressure" is also featured on the soundtrack to the EA Games video game The Sims 2 for the Playstation 2 and Xbox. In July, "Emergency" was released as the second single, the video again reuniting the band with director Shane Drake and featuring Hunter Lamb, who replaced Bynum on guitar. The video for "Emergency" showcased Paramore in another performance, this time fixing the members bloody and in worn costumes. The third single "All We Know", was released with limited airtime, and the video consisting of a collection of live performances and backstage footage.
In January 2006, they were a part of the Winter Go West Tour where they played alongside Seattle bands Amber Pacific and The Lashes, and in February, Williams' vocals were featured on "Keep Dreaming Upside Down" by October Fall. In the spring 2006, Paramore was an opening act on headlining tours for both Bayside and soon afterwards, The Rocket Summer. They toured the United Kingdom from October 5 to October 15, 2006, where they ended in London at The Mean Fiddler. The band then covered Foo Fighters' "My Hero" for the Sound of Superman soundtrack which was released on June 26, 2006. During the summer of 2006, Paramore played a portion of Warped Tour, primarily on the Volcom and Hurley Stages, and their first night on the Main Stage was at a date in their hometown of Nashville. Paramore's first United States headlining tour began on August 2, 2006 to a sold-out audience "Paramore". mtv.com. Retrieved on 2007-08-18. with support from This Providence, Cute Is What We Aim For, and Hit the Lights with the final show in Nashville. That year they were voted "Best New Band", and Williams as #2 "Sexiest Female", by readers of the British magazine Kerrang!.
In 2007, Paramore was named by British magazine NME as one of ten bands to watch out for in their "New Noise 2007" feature. In January, the band played an acoustic set for the grand opening of a Warped Tour exhibit at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and the dress Williams wore in the video for "Emergency" was also put onto display in the exhibit. Paramore was featured in Kerrang! magazine once more, however, Williams believed the article was an untrue portrayal of the band, particularly because it focused on her as the main component. Afterwards, Williams addressed the issue in the band's LiveJournal, with a post saying, "we could’ve done without a cover piece. sorry, if it offends anyone at Kerrang! but i don’t think there was one bit of truth in that article." In April, Williams' vocals were featured in "Then Came To Kill" by The Chariot. They headlined a tour in early 2007 with This Providence, The Almost and Love Arcade.
Paramore began recording their second album Riot! in January 2007, ending production in March, without the guitar of Hunter Lamb (who left the band early in 2007 to get married); without Lamb, lead guitarist Farro was required to play both guitar parts on the album. Lamb has since been replaced by guitarist Taylor York, who had been in a band with the Farro brothers before the two met Williams, as temporary member for the duration of touring. After being courted by producers Neal Avron and Howard Benson, Paramore opted to record Riot! with New Jersey producer David Bendeth (Your Vegas, Breaking Benjamin), releasing the album on June 12, 2007. Riot! entered the Billboard 200 at number 20, the UK charts at number 24, and sold 44,000 its first week in the United States. The name Riot! had been chosen because it meant "a sudden outburst of uncontrolled emotion", and it was a word that "summed it all up". The first single from the album, released June 21, 2007, "Misery Business", is, according to Williams, "more honest than anything I've ever written, and the guys matched that emotion musically."
Lead vocalist Hayley Williams (front) and temporary guitarist Taylor York (right) perform at the Vans Warped Tour in Vancouver, July 2007.Summer of 2007 saw Paramore participating on their third Warped Tour and posting journals of their experiences on yourhereblog for MTV. In June they were declared by Rolling Stone as "Ones to Watch". Paramore made their 1st Live Television debut on Fuse Networks daily show, The Sauce The second single from Riot!, "Hallelujah", was released on July 30, 2007, and is currently only available online and on UK television. The video, much like "All We Know", features backstage footage and live performances. In August 2007, Paramore had been featured in television spots on MTV, performing acoustic versions of their songs or acting in short accompaniments to MTV program commercials. As "MTV Artists of the Week", the band filmed the faux camping themed spots in Queens, New York, all written and directed by Evan Silver and Gina Fortunato. MTV.com also has a collection of short videos with the band to promote Riot as well. For weeks in August 2007, the "Misery Business" video was the number one streamed video at MTV.com. On October 8, Paramore played "Misery Business" live on Late Night with Conan O'Brien, a booking made possible due to the friendship struck between the band and Max Weinberg during the 2007 Warped Tour. In August, Paramore participated in the band New Found Glory's music video for their cover of Sixpence None the Richer's song "Kiss Me".
On October 11, 2007, the music video for "Crushcrushcrush" debuted on the United States television as the next single from Riot!. The video for "Crushcrushcrush" featured the band playing a performance in a barren desert, being spied upon, and later destroying their equipment. The single was officially released in the United States on November 19 and made available in the United Kingdom on November 12, 2007. Williams recorded guest vocals for the tracks "Church Channel" and "Plea" for the Say Anything concept album In Defense of the Genre released on October 23, 2007. The group performed live, acoustic style in Boston on November 29, 2007 for FNX radio. On December 31, 2007, Paramore performed on the MTV New Years Eve program which ran from 11:30 p.m. to 1:00 a.m.
Paramore was featured on the cover of February 2008 issue of Alternative Press magazine and voted "Best Band Of 2007" by the readers. The band was nominated for "Best New Artist" at the 50th Annual Grammy Awards presented on February 10, 2008but lost to Amy Winehouse. Early 2008 saw Paramore touring the United Kingdom, supporting their album Riot!, along with New Found Glory, Kids in Glass Houses and Conditions. In early February 2008, the band began a tour in Europe, however on February 21, 2008, the band announced that they had cancelled 6 shows due to personal issues. Williams wrote on the band's web site that "the break will give that band 'a chance to get away and work out our personal issues'". MTV.com reported that fans of Paramore were speculating about the future of the band and reported rumours of trouble had been began earlier in the month when Josh Farro expressed his anger against the media's focus on Williams. The band, however, returned to their hometown to record the music video for the fourth single "That's What You Get", which was then released on March 24, 2008.
The band toured with Jimmy Eat World in the United States in April and May 2008. The band headlined the Give It A Name festival in the United Kingdom on May 10 and May 11, 2008. Also the band performed on the In New Music We Trust Stage at Radio 1's One Big Weekend in Mote Park, Kent on May 10, 2008. Paramore had their debut Irish performance at the RDS in Dublin, Ireland on June 2, 2008. Also, Paramore performed at the 2008 Vans Warped Tour from July 1- July 6, 2008.
On MTV's TRL, May 7, 2008, lead singer, Hayley Williams said that the band was working on a new album, and that it would hopefully be released by next summer. Hayley says she and the band have been practicing the new songs during the sound checks on tour. In an Alternative Press cover story, Zac Farro speculated on a forthcoming album, saying that it would sound like bands Mew, Thrice, and Arcade Fire.
On May 19, Paramore announced on their website that they will be going on tour again, the tour being named "The Final RIOT! Tour" and starting July 25 and ending September 1. On this tour, the band performed part of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah".
On September 2 Paramore released a collaboration hoodie along with Hurley Clothing based on the album Riot!. All proceeds will go to the Love146 Foundation.
Paramore will be touring in Mexico, Brazil and Chile in October.
The band will release a CD/DVD release of The Final Riot! and is set to be released on November 25, 2008.
Papa Williams, Baseball player,
Fred (Papa) Williams (July 17, 1913 to November 2, 1993) was a Major League Baseball player. Williams played First base for the Cleveland Indians in the 1945 season. In 16 games, he had four hits in 19 at-bats, with one walk. Williams batted and threw right handed. He was born and died in Meridian, Mississippi.
Al Wilson, singer, drummer,
Al Wilson (June 19, 1939 – April 21, 2008) was an American soul singer best known for the hit song "Show and Tell".
Wilson was born in Meridian, Mississippi. He showed little interest in education but performed in school plays, sung in talent shows and won first prize in a local art contest. Wilson began his career at the age of 12 leading his own spiritual quartet and singing in the church choir, even performing covers of country and western hits as circumstances dictated. While he was in high school, Wilson and his family relocated to San Bernardino, California, where he worked odd jobs as a mail carrier, a janitor, and an office clerk, in addition to teaching himself to play drums; after graduation he spent four years touring with Johnny Harris and the Statesmen before joining the U.S. Navy and singing with an enlisted men's chorus. He also developed his stand up comedy routine to fall back on in case he didn't make it as a singer.
After a two-year military stint, Wilson settled in Los Angeles, touring the local nightclub circuit before joining the R&B vocal group the Jewels; from there he landed with the Rollers, followed by a stint with the instrumental combo the Souls. In 1966, Wilson signed with manager Marc Gordon, who quickly scored his client an a cappella audition for Johnny Rivers — the "Secret Agent Man" singer not only signed Wilson to his Soul City imprint, but also agreed to produce the sessions that yielded the 1968 R&B smash "The Snake" (U.S. #27),which has been very popular on the Northern Soul music circuit in the UK; it also provided Wilson with his only British chart hit, reaching number 41 in 1975. The minor hit "Do What You Gotta Do" appeared that same year. In 1969, Wilson charted with his cover of Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Lodi" (U.S. #67), and Rivers' own "Poor Side Of Town" (U.S. #75).
Wilson largely disappeared from sight until 1973, when he issued the platinum-selling Weighing In — the album's success was spurred by the shimmering "Show and Tell," a Johnny Mathis castoff that sold well over a million copies.
1974's "The La La Peace Song" proved another hit but caused some trouble as OC Smith had also recorded a version around the same time and sales suffered as a result. Two years later in 1976 he recorded "I've Got a Feeling We'll Be Seeing Each Other Again" for Playboy Records which cracked the R&B Top Three. He tried to leave Playboy Records but was unable to get a release from his contract. Two years later the label folded. With 1979's "Count the Days" Wilson scored his final chart hit, however, and he spent the next two decades touring clubs and lounges; in 2001 he re-recorded his classic hits for the album Spice of Life.
In March 2007 many of his original master tapes were lost to a fire that swept through his home garage he had converted into a recording studio.
Wilson's recording of "The Snake" is currently being featured in a Lambrini advert on British TV.
Wilson died April 21, 2008 of kidney failure, in Fontana, California at the age of 68.
Tribute benefit concert at San Bernardino Valley College By PAT O'BRIEN The Press-Enterprise on May 3, 2008
Brenton Wood was speechless when he heard last week that his old pal Al Wilson, a longtime San Bernardino resident, died April 21.
"I just spoke to him a couple of weeks prior and he was going to be on a show with me in Fresno in September," Wood said by phone from his Moreno Valley home. "I've been working with Al since 1965."
The two men had R&B hits that have kept them working concerts and festivals for decades. Wilson's biggest success was "Show and Tell," while Wood hit it big with "Gimme Little Sign" and "Baby You Got It."
A concert today at San Bernardino Valley College will be both a tribute to Wilson, who had been scheduled to perform, and benefit for Valley-Bound Commitment, which seeks to help disadvantaged students attend college.
In the lineup, along with Wood, are Cannibal and the Headhunters ("Land of a Thousand Dances"), Jewel Akens ("The Birds and the Bees"), Tierra ("Together"), Leon Hughes of the Coasters ("Yakety Yak"), Jerome Robinson of the Platters ("The Great Pretender"), Bo Donaldson & the Heywoods ("Billy Don't Be a Hero"), Ron Dante of the Archies ("Sugar, Sugar") and Bertie Higgins ("Key Largo").
"It means the world to me that they are honoring him. This is overwhelming, and it's joyful," said Wilson's son Tony, who is a playwright and a teacher at Badger Springs Middle School in Moreno Valley. "When I was in junior high school he came and sang 'Show and Tell.' He was just Dad and I loved watching him perform. Now I see that not only was he a great father to me, he was a great person around the world."
The singers plan to collaborate on a performance of Wilson's platinum-selling "Show and Tell".
"This overwhelming response to this tribute is for a man who was one of the most generous people on the planet," said Paul Rubalcaba, director of community relations for the college. "When the tragedy hit with the untimely death of Al Wilson, all the fellow performers that worked with him over the years stepped up to the plate. They said, 'What can we do?' They are here to support the Valley-Bound Commitment that Al supported."
The concert will be the first major fundraiser for the program that offers a free first year of college education to disadvantaged students who qualify. Students from Colton High School will be the first recipients.
1968: Searching for the Dolphins (Soul City)
1973: Weighing In (Bell/Rocky Road) - US Pop #70, US R&B #9
1974: La La Peace Song (Bell/Rocky Road) - US Pop #171, US R&B #35
1976: I've Got a Feeling (Playboy) - US Pop #185, US R&B #43
1979: Count the Days (RCA)
1999/2000 Christmas to Christmas Live with Al Wilson (Wilsong Records)
2004: Show & Tell: The Best of Al Wilson'
1961: "The Continental Walk" (with The Rollers) - US Pop #80, US R&B #28
1968: "Do What You Gotta Do" - US R&B #39
1968: "The Snake" - US Pop #27, US R&B #32, UK #41
1969: "Lodi" - US Pop #67
1969: "Poor Side of Town" - US Pop #75
1973: "Show and Tell" - US Pop #1, US R&B #10
1974: "Touch and Go" - US Pop #57, US R&B #23
1974: "La La Peace Song" - US Pop #30, US R&B #19
1975: "I Won't Last a Day Without You/Let Me Be the One" - US Pop #70, US R&B #19
1976: "I've Got a Feeling (We'll Be Seeing Each Other Again)" - US Pop #29, US R&B #3
1976: "Baby I Want Your Body" - US R&B #28
E. F. Young, Jr., entrepreneur, founder of E.F. Young, Jr. Manufacturing Company, headquartered in Meridian,
E. F. Young, Jr. (July 1898 – 1950) was an American businessman specializing in hair care products.
E(ugene) F(red) Young, Jr. was born in Russell, Mississippi, the son of E. F. Young, Sr., a Methodist minister and farmer. 
In 1927, after graduating from the Haven Institute in Meridian, Mississippi, Young set to establish a career in business. Unfortunately, for an African-American man in the South, opportunities were few and far between. While in school, he worked part-time as a barber. Upon his graduation, he began working full-time as a barber to support his new wife and growing family.
E.F. Young married Velma Beal in 1927. To this union were born three children:
Loyce Young [Daniels-De Augustino-Todd] (April 3, 1928– November 9, 1994)
Charles Lemuel Young, Sr. (August 27, 1931–)
E(ugene) F(red) "Sonny" Young III
As a barber, he saw a need to develop hair care products for his African American clients. As the demand for these products grew he decided to start a company to manufacture these products on a wider scale. In the 1931, he established the E.F. Young, Jr. Manufacturing Company.
In 1933, his company received its trademark and by 1945 had grown to one of the most successful black owned businesses in the South.
After a long terminal illness, Young died in 1950. His widow assumed control of the business, until their eldest son, Charles L. Young, Sr. took over the operation in 1969. He continues to serve as president of the company to this day.
The company distributes its line of products throughout the United States, It is also distributed in Canada and the Caribbean.
The founding father of the company, Eugene Fred Young, Jr. was born about the turn of the 20th century in Russell, Mississippi. His father, Reverend E. F. Young, Sr., a minister and farmer, laid a firm foundation of honesty, integrity, and industriousness for his son to grow up under. E. F. Young, Jr. seemed like a normal, quiet, average boy, but little did anyone realize that this young man would become the entrepreneur of one of this country's finest black owned manufacturing companies.
In 1927, E. F. Young, Jr. finished school from Haven Teacher's College. It was there that he received an extensive background in Business and Chemistry. Being black and with very little work experience, he found it extremely difficult to secure a job or start a business. While in school, however, he started to work part-time in a barber shop and as a cab driver. He later decided to pursue a fulltime career as a barber. E. F. Young, Jr. married Miss Velma E. Beal in 1927.
In 1931, after having had worked in the barber shop for four (4) years, he purchased it from the owner. He noticed while working in the shop that there was a need in the marketplace for a maintenance line of products for Black hair. E.F, Jr. began to formulate and manufacture samples at night in the privacy of his kitchen. During the day he used and sold his preparations to customers in the barber shop. The demand for his products became so great that he was forced to go into the manufacturing business.
In 1933, E. F. Young, Jr. Manufacturing Company received its official trademark from the U.S. Patent Office in Washington, D.C. By this time, however, thousands of satisfied customers were spreading the word about the new revelation. The company grew and prospered and by 1945, E. F. Young, Jr. products were household items to hundreds of thousands of people. The demand for the product line was so great that E.F. Young, Jr. opened a second manufacturing location in Chicago, IL.
In 1950 tragedy struck, E. F. Young, Jr. died after a long terminal illness. It was at this time that his wife, Velma Young, had to assume to responsibility of the business because her oldest son, Charles, Sr. was only 19 years old and still in school at Tennessee State University.
In May of 1950, Mrs. Young took over as Owner and President of E.F. Young, Jr. Mfg. Co. As the company's successor, after her husband's passing, Mrs. Velma Beal Young was the epitome of effeminate strength and fortitude in the 1950's and 1960's. She received her secondary education from Knoxville College in Knoxville, Tennessee and she also received cosmetology training and her instructors certificate from Burkette's Beauty School in Memphis.
Mrs. Young was a full time mother of three; Loyce, Charles and Eugene III. Loyce, her daughter and Charles, her eldest son were away at college, and her youngest son, Eugene III, was only 10 years old at the time of their fathers death. All of the Young children worked in the family business while growing up.
Mrs. Young also took notice of neighborhood children in need, making sure that the hungry were fed, the dirty were clean, and the need for adequate clothing met for the children with less blessings than her own. She founded and operated Meridian's first ethnic beauty salon, Young's Beauty Salon in 1930. In 1944 she and her husband started Meridian's first ethnic barber and beauty schools, Young's Barber College and Young's Beauty School.
In the interim, Mrs. Young assured that her late husband's dream, E.F. Young, Jr. Mfg. Co., also thrived and prospered under her management. Mrs. Velma Young was the chief administrator of E.F. Young, Jr. Mfg. Company's Chicago, IL and Meridian, MS plant locations for nineteen years. After which her son Charles, fresh from the military and civil rights activists movement, came to the head of the company.
Mrs. Young was an active participant in many civic and social organizations. She was the loving mother of three children and the grandmother of ten. All of whom she provided lunch for at the family house at 12:00 noon each business day. Velma Beal Young departed this earth in February of 1987 and is honored with a neighborhood park bearing her name.
Charles L. Young Sr.
In 1969, Charles L. Young, Sr. became the third Young family member to become Owner and President of E.F. Young, Jr. Mfg. Co. After having earned a B.S. degree in Business Administration from Tennessee State University (Nashville, Tenn.), being drafted and serving in the U.S. Army, receiving the Bronze Star and other service medals for his participation in the Korean conflict, and being honorable discharged from the Army, he returned home to assist in the family business. While restructing operations, Charles, Sr. became heavily involved in the civil rights activists movement. He was a fellow participant with Chaney, Goodman and Swerner in the Philadelphia incident and was instrumental in spear heading the search for them afterwards. Charles was always on the front line for equality and freedom.
Charles Young, Sr. worked diligently in the family business for 15 years after returning home before becoming its leader. He became the first African American to join the Chamber Of Commerce and to break many other barriers of segregation in the community.
It was then that he could start to devote his full time and energies to the business of hair cosmetics manufacturing. Charles, Sr. started building staff and developing new product to market. It was under his administration that the existing E.F. Young, Jr. and Lady Velvet lines were expanded and that the company's new products began their influx into the marketplace. The following is a brief time line of the company's development history under the administration of Rep. Charles Young, Sr.
Early 1970's Formally introduced the Lady Velvet Cream Sheen Relaxer sodium hydroxide system as the company's forerunner during the 1970's. He also added Revitalizing Hair Food to the E.F. Young, Jr. oil product line.
1975-1976, Started distributing company products to South Africa and opened the first Black cosmetology school in Petoria, South Africa.
1978, Introduced Young's Amazing Gro to the E.F. Young, Jr. product line
1979, Added Lady Velvet Tri-Set-Gel and Instant Repair to compliment the relaxer line
Introduction of the Curl'n Body Curl System:
1980, Introduced Curl'n Body Re-Arranger, Booster, Neutralizing Solution, Activator and Moisturizer.
Introduction of the Stay'n Touch Retail Maintenance System:
1981, Introduced Stay'n Touch Activator and Moisturizer products to the retail market.
1982, Added Stay'n Touch Curl'n Scalp Conditioner and Conditioning Shampoo to the
1983, Introduced Curl'n Body Acti-Gel and Stay'n Touch Acti-Gel products.
1984, Added gallon sized Neutralizing Solution to the Curl'n Body line
1985, Charles Young, Sr. constructs new state of the art 25,000 sq. ft. manufacturing facility for E.F. Young, Jr. Mfg. Co.
"New" Lady Velvet Cream Sheen "Plus" Relaxer System introduced:
1986-87, Curl'n Body Line under goes complete packaging change for the entire line.
1987, Curl'n Body product additions: Maximum Strenght Re-Arranger, Conditioning
Shampoo and Instant Conditioner.
1988, Introduction of the Body Look Wave System.
1989, Company expands distribution to the Hawaii and the United Kingdom.
Product additions to the Body Look and Lady Velvet lines:
1992, Introduction of Lady Velvet Conditioning Relaxer System.
1993, Company establishes distribution in Canada.
Company starts stronger retail push in the U.S.A.
1995, Company establishes distribution in the Carribbean, Jamaica, and U.S. Virgin Islands.
"Our company has a strong rich history of being the best provider of quality products and services in the ethnic hair cosmetics industry. E.F. Young, Jr. Mfg. Co. is the oldest operating African American owned manufacturer of hair cosmetics that is still owned and principally operated by the same original family in the WORLD! We may not be the biggest, and we may not have a lot of glitter .... but we do provide the best quality products to our customers and that is what has made and continues to makes us Shine the Brightest."
"We, at E.F. Young, Jr. Mfg. Co., believe in the basic philosophy of good ol' traditional sound business principles:
Hard Work, Quality Product, Good Customer Service,Good Ethics and a Fair Price
are the ingredients for the recipe that = Longevity and Prosperity"
Charles L. Young, Sr.
Mr. Abdul Lala
Vice President, Chief Chemist
Mr. Lala was born in India and chose to move to the United States as a teenager. He has worked very hard to achieve the position that he holds today in the business industry. Mr. Lala aquired his BS degree in Chemistry at Gujarat University in India. He was awarded his second BS degree in Chemical Engineering at Texas A & M University. He received his Masters Degree in Petro Chemicals at Texas A & I University.
Abdul has been happily married to Farida for twenty five years. During their twenty year stay in Meridian, they have amassed seven hospitality properties. Mrs. Lala is the COO for each of these properties, she has provided successfull day-to-day management of each property from inception. The Lala's are the proud parents of two teenage children; Asif, twenty years old and Aneesa, fourteen years old. Abdul and Farida have been a part of the E. F. Young, Jr. Mfg. Co. for over twenty years.
Recent developments in our new research and development program have now enabled us to produce a very efficient and super conditioning relaxer system.
Traditionally, cosmetic chemists have often chosen proteins for their well known conditioning properties such as body, bounce, gloss, etcetera, and fatty quartnaries for manageability, lubricity, softness, and anti-static properties. It would be very desirable for a cosmetic chemist to use proteins and quarternaries in a relaxer system but they were known to be unstable in relaxers due to the alkaline hydrolysis.
Modern technology has combined these two conditioners into a single fused molecule which affords us a new way to formulate a relaxer sytem with a great competitive edge. The result is a highly cationic alkylquartenary short chain protein derivative which remains stable even in a highly alkaline system.
This quarternized protein provides extra mildness and super conditioning properties to our new Lady Velvet Super Conditioning Relaxing System. Lady Velvet Super Conditioning Relaxer is exceptionally gentle to the hair and scalp, yet it quickly relaxes the hair without stripping the natural oils. It conditions the hair without interfering with the relaxing process and therefore the chemical damage to the hair is minimal.
Our Lady Velvet Super Conditioning Relaxer is an elegant, soft and creamy hair relaxer which exhibits excellent stability due to the emulsification properties of the high quality surfacants used in our new emulsion system. A perfect blend of light, refined oils and lanolin derivatives gives our new relaxer excellent emoliancy, unusually easy spreading properties, and makes it easy to apply and rinse out of the hair.
In short, our Lady Velvet Super Conditioning System provides hair with great body, illuminating radiance and sheen, a more natural look, a silkier softer velvety feel, less flyaways, and an overall healthier conditioned state! ............. I think that says it all.
Abdul Lala, Vice-President (Chief Chemist)
Danny Brown, Director of Sales,
Mr. Danny Brown is the Director of Sales at E.F. Young, Jr. Manufacturing Company. He was born and raised in Meridian, MS, and attended the Meridian Community College where he took general studies. In 1961, Mr. Brown joined the Army, and after his discharge in 1968, he came to work with Mr. Charles Young, Sr. at E.F. Young, Jr. Mfg. Co. For the past 29 years, Danny has provided this company with his focused leadership abilities, his genial outlook on co-workers, and his efficiency for getting things done. Mr. Brown has been happily married for 22 years to the former Bobbie Durham. She is a Durant, Miss. native, and the lovely mother of their two girls, Tracy, age nineteen, and Nicole, age eleven. For the past fifteen years, Mr. Brown has been a member of the Board of Deacons at Mt. Zion Baptist Missionary Church here in Meridian
Notable peopleMeridian has produced many famous people in the arts and other areas. Jimmie Rodgers, the "Father of Country Music," was born in the city in 1897. The Jimmie Rodgers Museum is located in Meridian, and the Jimmie Rodgers Festival has been an annual Meridian event since 1953.
Chris Ethridge (February 10, 1947 – April 23, 2012) was an American country rock bass guitarist. He was a member of the International Submarine Band (ISB) and The Flying Burrito Brothers, and co-wrote several songs with Gram Parsons. Ethridge worked with Nancy Sinatra, Judy Collins, Leon Russell, Johnny Winter, Randy Newman, Ry Cooder, Linda Ronstadt, The Byrds, Jackson Browne and Willie Nelson. The guitarist-songwriter George Cummings, born in Meridian in 1938, was a founding member of Dr. Hook & the Medicine Show. David Ruffin, former lead singer of The Temptations, and his older brother Jimmy Ruffin were born in the surrounding area, Whynot and Collinsville respectively. Hayley Williams, lead singer of the band Paramore, was also born in the city in 1988. Paul Davis, a singer-songwriter best known for the late 1970s and early 1980's pop hits "I Go Crazy" and "'65 Love Affair", was born in Meridian in 1948; after retiring from the music business, he returned to the city where he remained until a fatal heart attack in 2008. George Soulé, the singer-songwriter most famous for the rhythm and blues anthem "Get Involved", is a resident of Meridian, where he was born in 1945. The singer-songwriter Steve Forbert was born in Meridian in 1954. The Island Def Jam rapper Big K.R.I.T. was born in Meridian.
Novelist Edwin Granberry, who won the 1932 O. Henry Award for Best Short Short Story, was born in Meridian. For 30 years, Granberry wrote the Buz Sawyer comic strip.
Alvin Childress, who played the lead role in the Amos 'n' Andy Show, was born in the city in 1907. Diane Ladd was also born in the city in 1932, and Sela Ward was born in 1956.
The city has also been home to several athletes, many of whom have competed at professional levels. Among them are Dennis Ray "Oil Can" Boyd, former Major League Baseball pitcher, Jay Powell, another pitcher, Negro league baseball catcher Paul Hardy, and Derrick McKey and George Wilson, both professional basketball players.
In politics, Meridian was home to Gillespie V. Montgomery, former U.S. Representative,Winfield Dunn, former Governor of Tennessee, and John Fleming, current U.S. Representative for Louisiana's 4th congressional district. Meridian is also the hometown and birthplace to Mississippi state representative Greg Snowden.
Other notable natives of the city include: Miss America 1986, Susan Akin, Fred Phelps, leader of the Westboro Baptist Church, James Chaney one of the victims of the Mississippi civil rights workers murders in 1964, Hartley Peavey, founder of Peavey Electronics which is headquartered in Meridian, and Fred and Al Key, holders of the world flight endurance record and the latter of which is a former mayor of the city. Singer Al Wilson, born in June 1939, was a Meridian native. One of the characters of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel To Kill a Mockingbird, Dill Harris, is from Meridian, which is mentioned throughout when referencing Dill's home. Cullen Bohannon, the main character and protagonist of the AMC series "Hell on Wheels", hails from Meridian, Mississippi, where he was a tobacco farmer and later a soldier in the Confederate Army during the American Civil War. Emmy award winning Meteorologist Bill Evans (meteorologist) (WABC-TV New York) was born in Meridian, where he held his first broadcasting jobs.