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July 4

Jul 4, 1826
Songwriter Stephen Foster is born in Lawrenceville, Pennsylvania. He becomes one of America’s greatest songwriters, celebrated in a Grammy-winning 2004 tribute album, “Beautiful Dreamer,” by Alison Krauss, Beth Nielsen Chapman and Suzy Bogguss
Jul 4, 1882
Buffalo Bill Cody presents a Wild West show in North Platte, Nebraska. The concept serves as a precursor to the singing cowboys of Hollywood
Jul 4, 1883
The first rodeo is held in Pecos, Texas. The rodeo becomes an important career building block and/or musical theme for such artists as Reba McEntire, Moe Bandy, Garth Brooks, Chris LeDoux and George Strait, among others
Jul 4, 1903
Guitarist/vocalist Charlie Monroe is born in Ohio County, Kentucky. He joins younger sibling Bill to form The Monroe Brothers, who become a significant recording duo during the 1930s, pre-dating Bill’s emergence as the Father of Bluegrass
Jul 4, 1933
Songwriter Baker Knight is born. Among his credits: Rick Nelson’s “Lonesome Town,” Elvis Presley’s “The Wonder Of You,” Dave Dudley’s “Cowboy Boots” and Mickey Gilley’s “Don’t The Girls All Get Prettier At Closing Time”
Jul 4, 1939
Hank Penny records “Won’t You Ride In My Little Red Wagon” at the Gayoso Hotel in Memphis. The heat is so bad that the band–including Noel Boggs, Boudleaux Bryant, Sheldon Bennett, Louis Dumont and Carl Stewart–plays in its underwear
Jul 4, 1942
Peter Rowan is born in Boston, Massachusetts. The guitarist sings lead for Bill Monroe’s band in the ’60s and works with David Grisman, The Nashville Bluegrass Band and Jerry Garcia. He writes Ricky Skaggs’ “You Make Me Feel Like A Man”


Jul 4, 1957
The Country Gentlemen form in the Washington, D.C. area. The bluegrass band later counts among its members Ricky Skaggs and Dobro player Jerry Douglas
Jul 4, 1966
George Jones opens his first amusement park, the George Jones Rhythm Ranch, and begins a friendship with guest performer Merle Haggard
Jul 4, 1968
The John Wayne movie “The Green Berets” premieres in Atlanta. The Vietnam War film’s theme song is Barry Sadler’s “The Ballad Of The Green Berets,” performed by a male chorus. The cast includes former hitmaker Cactus Pryor
Jul 4, 1970
The Statler Brothers host the first “Happy Birthday U.S.A.” concert in Staunton, Virginia, beginning a 25-year tradition
Jul 4, 1973
Willie Nelson holds his first Fourth of July Picnic in Dripping Springs, Texas
Jul 4, 1973
Marty Robbins finishes 8th in a 1973 Dodge Charger in the Firecracker 400 at the Daytona Motor Speedway in Florida
Jul 4, 1981
Barbara Mandrell’s “I Was Country When Country Wasn’t Cool,” featuring a guest appearance by George Jones, goes to #1 on the Billboard country chart

Jul 4, 1992
Wynonna’s “I Saw The Light” tops the Billboard country chart
Jul 4, 1994
The Statler Brothers host their 25th–and final–“Happy Birthday U.S.A.” concert in Staunton, Virginia, for 100,000 people. The set list includes the military-themed “More Than A Name On A Wall”
Jul 4, 2005
Big Al Downing dies of complications from leukemia at a hospital in Worcester, Massachusetts. The singer/songwriter played piano on Wanda Jackson’s “Let’s Have A Party” and wrote Tom Jones’ “Touch Me (I’ll Be Your Fool Once More)”

Jul 4, 2006
American Recordings and Lost Highway release Johnny Cash’s “American V: A Hundred Highways,” featuring the last song he wrote, “Like The 309”