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.