The Maddox family migrated from Boas, Alabama to California during the Great Depression of the 1930s. Along their trek West they took jobs as fruit pickers, travelling around to follow the local harvests. When the family settled in the San Joaquin Valley of California, young Fred Maddox convinced a furniture company to sponsor a country music radio show, to feature the Maddox Brothers band. The only problem was, the furniture company wanted the band to have a girl singer, which they didn't, but Fred told them he had the best girl singer around. He was talking about eleven-year old Rose, who only knew the words to three songs, but hey! She WAS the best girl singer around...
The group gained immense popularity through the 1930s, performing on radio shows and at honky-tonks across the state. But in 1941, the Maddox brothers were drafted into the service to fight WWII, and Rose was left behind without work. At one point she tried to convince Bob Wills to give her a listen in the hopes that he'd hire her for his band, the Texas Playboys, but ol' Bob wouldn't give her the time of day. She told him, "When my brothers get back from the war, we're gonna show you but good" or something to that effect. And true to her word, when her brothers returned in 1946, the Maddox Brothers & Rose went into full swing. They were most famous for their outlandish wardrobes and onstage hijinks, and their exhuberant performances caused people to stop their dancing and just stare!
The group disbanded in 1956 after twenty years of performing and recording. Sadly, Cliff, Henry, and Cal Maddox have passed on, but Rose Maddox is still performing and in later years has crossed over to Bluegrass where she has found a new and appreciative audience. She is one of the very few females that even Bill Monroe acknowledges as "having that special Bluegrass sound".
If you haven't heard the Maddox Brothers & Rose, then run, don't walk, to your favorite record store and get this CD: MADDOX BROTHERS & ROSE "America's Most Colorful Hillbilly Band", on Arhoolie Records, catalog #391. Make 'em order it for you. It's priceless.
There's a more recent Rose Maddox album called Queen Of The West available on Rounder Records. Also, PBS did a special called "The Life & Times of Rose Maddox".
Original design and copyright Edith Frost, Used and Modified by Permission