Jimmie Rodgers (1897-1933) was the most influential performer in the early history of country music. Every singing cowboy, rambling man, and honky-tonk hero who has followed owes Rodgers a significant stylistic debt.
After working as a railroad brakeman and vaudeville performer from his teens, Rodgers got his break recording a pair of songs with Ralph Peer in Bristol, Tennessee in 1927. Along with the Carter Family, Rodgers was the biggest thing to come out of that storied meeting, and Rodgers quickly became the biggest star of the country scene. In the six years that remained to Rodgers before his death of tuberculosis, he crafted a catalogue that is still mined today (although few singers have been able to match his distinctive "blue yodel").