Art Satherley book due soon

Bristol (England) born musician and Country Music fan and founder of Keg Records, Alan John Britton, has written a biography about Art Satherley. The book, Uncle Art, will be published on October 19, the anniversary of Satherley’s birthday.

For the author, the book has been a labor of love, a quest to learn more about a man who rivaled Ralph Peer as an important figure in the history of early country and bluegrass music …..

“I have lived with this story since 1994. My research has involved the Satherley family both here and in the States, and has taken three years to write up. People who knew Art and archives at the Hall of Fame Museum, they made all they had available to me, there’s over 150 images as well.

I have attempted to write about the man and I feel I got to know him quite well, and of course I hope this comes across in the book. I felt quite overwhelmed at times with the importance of this story in early recording and music history.”

Arthur Edward Satherley was born and raised in Windmill Hill, Bedminster, Bristol, England, in 1889. He emigrated to America at the age of 24, having developed a fascination with the American West. Initially, he settled in Wisconsin, where he worked in a factory that made cabinets for Edison phonographs.

However, Satherley’s first real job in the record industry was promoting 78 rpm records on the Paramount label. By 1930, he began working for Columbia Records and soon became one of the leading A&R men in country music.

He signed Bill Monroe and the Stanley Brothers to Columbia Records. In the process Satherley recorded what has become known as ‘the original bluegrass band’ – Bill Monroe, Lester Flatt , Earl Scruggs, Howard Watts and Chubby Wise – capturing over 30 classic songs. The Stanley Brothers worked four sessions under the guidance of Satherley (and his protégé, Don Law) producing 22 songs and releasing ten 78 rpm singles.

In addition to being an influence on the recorded work of Bill Monroe and the Stanley Brothers, Satherley signed four bluegrass-related acts, the Bailes Brothers, Molly O’Day and former Blue Grass Boy, Clyde Moody, who was again attempting a solo career, and Wilma Lee and Stoney Cooper.

Satherley, who died of natural causes on February 10, 1986, at his Fountain Valley home, California, aged 96, received the first Pioneer Award given by the Academy of Country Music in 1968 and was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame Nashville in 1971.

Again from Britton…

“Satherley recorded ‘race artists’ Ma Rainey, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Alberta Hunter, Ida Cox, Big Bill Broonzy, Josh White, Leroy Carr, Memphis Minnie and others.

He worked with numerous country music artists, including Pickard Family, Carson Robison, Vernon Dalhart, the Allen Brothers, the Callahan Brothers, Cliff & Bill Carlisle, Doc Roberts, Asa Martin, Al Dexter, Hank Penny, Tex Ritter, Red Foley, George Morgan, Spade Cooley, Ted Daffan and Johnny Bond also.

Additionally, Satherley was responsible for recording some of the most popular songs of the era; including Gene Autry‘s Silver Haired Daddy of Mine, Bob Wills‘s San Antonio Rose, I Want to Be a Cowboy’s Sweetheart by Patsy Montana, Lefty Frizzell, Carl Smith, Marty Robbins and his favorite; Roy Acuff (whom Satherley called a ‘pure, unadulterated country person, a pure, unadulterated country American’).

He tried to do a job and he did do a job. He was the recording genius for Columbia Records for a good number of years. . . .  He was a good judge of what the market needed.”

Such was one record-business pioneer’s—Ralph Peer’s—estimate of another: Arthur Edward “Uncle Art” Satherley. Producer, talent scout, and salesman, Satherley easily ranks among early country music’s half-dozen essential businessmen. Like his fellow pioneer Peer, he was equally important to the early recording of blues (then called “race music”) in the years before World War II, as he was to the recording of country music (then known as “hillbilly”).

The publisher of Uncle Art is Authorhouse Books UK. It will be available through Waterstones, Amazon and Barnes & Noble in the USA on October 19.

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About the Author

Richard Thompson

Richard F. Thompson is a long-standing free-lance writer specialising in bluegrass music topics. A two-time Editor of British Bluegrass News, he has been seriously interested in bluegrass music since about 1970. As well as contributing to that magazine, he has, in the past 30 plus years, had articles published by Country Music World, International Country Music News, Country Music People, Bluegrass Unlimited, MoonShiner (the Japanese bluegrass music journal) and Bluegrass Europe. He wrote the annotated series I'm On My Way Back To Old Kentucky, a daily memorial to Bill Monroe that culminated with an acknowledgement of what would have been his 100th birthday, on September 13, 2011.

  • fdwil111

    I propose that Satherley’s influence went way beyond the exposure of some artists via their recordings, but more importantly, to what constituted high quality music in some of the minor musical forms of the time. What he chose to record was, and still is, very good music that has withstood the test of time. It greatly influenced my judgement of hillbilly and mountain music and what was top quality. I regret I never had the chance to meet Mr. Satherley but among his artists he had the reputation of a fine gentleman; and to this outsider, a very important man in the music of my country.

  • terry brewer

    i was just 15 when I was introduced to this older gentlemen by his grand daughter Judy. I remember vividly a room he had shown to me where he had pictures and gold 45s on the walls in this room. He was a very generous man who paid me twenty dollars to mow a lawn that took only 10 minutes..in 1975 that was alot of money. I have been unsucessful in trying to get in contact with his grandchildren and was pleased to find this site..any help in getting in touch with Arthur daughter Judy or grand daughter Judy or grand son Tony would be greatly appreciated…thanyou Terry

  • Benjamin Johnson

    Hi,

    My name’s Ben Johnson, a descendant of Art Satherley. I’m his great great nephew (blood related). Only recently have I discovered the amazing life of my great great cousin and I’m absolutely blown away by everything I have learned. I’m a blues guitar player and recording engineer myself and to hear of the people Art knew, discovered, recorded and affected is just indescribable. I would love to know more about him and people he knew. Please if you can get in contact that would be brilliant. My personal e-mail is benjohn5@hotmail.com.

    Thanks all the way from Bristol, England.

    • Chuck Wagon Gang

      He recorded The Chuck Wagon Gang on November 26 and 26, 1936 at the Gunter Hotel in San Antonio Texas. These were for the ARC Label, later purchased by Columbia Records. The CWG remained with Columbia Records until 1936. Mr. Satherley and Don Law were involved in all our early records. I have sent you an email, looking for a picture for a Bear Box Set in the works.

      The Chuck Wagon Gang

  • Ninikeg

    Hello… This is Judy Keigley, Art Satherley’s Grandaughter. It warms my heart to see so many people still interested in my Grampa and the contributions he made in his life. Terry, please contact me. My email is Ninikeg@roadrunner.com.

    • Chuck Wagon Gang

      He worked with the Chuck Wagon Gang. All the original members are now deceased. The group is owned today by Shaye Smith, grandaughter of the original alto singer, Anna Gordon.

      We are looking forward to obtaining this book.

  • Dick Bowden

    If Art isn’t in the IBMA Hall of Fame and the IBMM, he sure ought to be!

    His protégé Don Law was the premier A&R man and producer of Flatt & Scruggs Columbia “middle years” too.