Jimmie Rodgers Net Worth (Updated 2024)

What is Jimmie Rodgers’ Net Worth?

Jimmie Rodgers, also known as “the Father of Country Music,” had a net worth of about $500,000 (adjusted for inflation) when he passed away. He was a famous American singer, songwriter, and musician who became well-known in the late 1920s for his unique yodeling style.

Born in Meridian, Mississippi, Rodgers got his start in music by winning a local singing contest at the age of 13, and he was influenced by vaudeville shows during his teenage years. Later, he traveled with a medicine show across the Southern United States. Despite dropping out of school to work on the railroad, he honed his musical skills, inspired by fellow railroad workers and their spontaneous blues performances.

In 1927, Rodgers joined the Tenneva Ramblers, and during the Bristol sessions, he recorded solo after a disagreement with his band. His recording of “Blue Yodel No. 1 (T for Texas)” became a huge success, launching his national career. He went on to have a prolific recording career, with over 100 songs to his name. Despite battling health problems like tuberculosis, Jimmie Rodgers left an enduring legacy in the world of music.

Here’s the breakdown of her net worth:

Name:

Jimmie Rodgers

Net Worth:

$500 Thousand

Date of Birth:

Sep 8, 1897 – May 26, 1933

Salary:

$40 Thousand Per Year

Source of Wealth:

Singer-songwriter

Jimmie Rodgers Net Worth

Learn more: richest singers in the world

Early Life

The Rodgers family, originally from England and Ireland, settled in the United States before the American Revolution, mainly around the Appalachian Mountains. They moved around the Southern and Western United States. Both of Jimmie Rodgers’ grandfathers served in the Confederate States Army during the Civil War. One settled in Meridian, Mississippi, and the other in Geiger, Alabama.

Jimmie’s father, Aaron, was a foreman for the Mobile and Ohio Railroad. He married Eliza Bozeman in 1884. The family lived in various railroad work camps as Aaron’s job required moving along the railroad line. They temporarily settled in Pine Springs, near Meridian.

Jimmie Rodgers, born on September 8, 1897, had his birthplace often cited as Meridian, although he later claimed it was Geiger, Alabama. When his mother, Eliza, passed away in 1903, Jimmie and his brother Talmage went to live with relatives in Scooba, Mississippi, and then in Geiger. Jimmie’s schooling was irregular due to frequent relocations.

After his father remarried, they moved back to Meridian. Jimmie’s relationship with his stepmother was strained, and he often skipped school to hang out at local theaters, which sparked his interest in show business. To make money, he sold newspapers, molasses, and sometimes panhandled. In 1906, he moved in with his brother Talmage and Aunt Dora Bozeman in Pine Springs, attending school more regularly.

Returning to Meridian in 1911, Jimmie resumed his street life, organizing a neighborhood carnival funded by his show earnings. He won a contest at the local Elite Theater and started performing with a medicine show. At thirteen, he worked for a tailor in West Blocton, Alabama, until his father brought him back to Meridian to learn about railroading.

Jimmie started as a waterboy for the railroad, picking up their jargon, work songs, and banjo skills. He progressed to baggage handler and then brakeman, working on lines from Mississippi to Texas. In January 1917, he met Stella Kelly in Durant, Mississippi, and they married in April 1917. After their marriage ended, Jimmie took various jobs and returned to railroading in the early 1920s, mainly as a brakeman, including on the Vicksburg, Shreveport, and Pacific Railway.

Music Career

In 1924, at the age of 27, Jimmie Rodgers faced a setback when he was diagnosed with tuberculosis. This illness disrupted his railroad work, so he moved to Asheville, North Carolina, in search of a drier climate. With fewer opportunities on the railroad, he turned back to music and formed a band that played jazz-style pop standards. Despite touring extensively, they didn’t achieve commercial success.

In 1927, Rodgers decided to leave the railroad and teamed up with the Grant Brothers to form the Jimmie Rodgers Entertainers. They played on WWNC radio but were eventually let go. Rodgers and his band found work at a resort. During this time, Rodgers learned about recording sessions by Ralph Peer in Bristol, Tennessee, and scheduled a session in August 1927. A dispute led to Rodgers recording alone.

This recording session produced “The Soldier’s Sweetheart” and “Sleep, Baby, Sleep.” Rodgers later moved to Washington, D.C., and reached out to Peer for another recording session, which resulted in “Blue Yodel,” his first major hit.

Despite facing copyright issues and a shortage of original material, Rodgers collaborated with his sister-in-law, Elsie McWilliams, to create new songs. His records sold well, particularly during the Great Depression.

In 1929, Rodgers’ health began to deteriorate, but he continued to tour. Eventually, he settled in Kerrville, Texas, for tuberculosis treatment and named his home “Blue Yodeler’s Paradise.”

During his peak, he earned significant royalties, but his income was affected by the Wall Street Crash. His songs, like “Waiting for a Train,” resonated with the struggles of unemployed Americans.

Despite his declining health, Rodgers kept recording, even collaborating with famous artists like the Carter Family and Louis Armstrong. In 1931, his health worsened further, and his record sales declined.

Rodgers reduced his tour schedule, and some of his concerts had to be cut short. He continued recording until 1932 when he suffered a severe hemorrhage in Lufkin, Texas.

In May 1933, Rodgers traveled to New York City for a recording session but fell into a coma and passed away on May 26, 1933. His body was transported back to Meridian, Mississippi, where he was laid to rest at Oak Grove Cemetery. Jimmie Rodgers played a crucial role in boosting the Victor Talking Machine Company’s record sales during his lifetime, making up a significant part of the label’s revenue at that time.

Personal Life

Jimmie Rodgers experienced several personal challenges throughout his life. In 1917, he married Stella Kelly, but their marriage faced difficulties and ended in divorce by 1919. He remarried in 1920 to Carrie Williamson, and they had a daughter named Anita. However, they suffered the loss of another daughter, June, in 1923. Financial issues, a tendency for extravagant spending, and his ongoing battle with tuberculosis led Rodgers to increasingly turn to alcohol.

In 1932, Rodgers was involved in a paternity lawsuit filed by his first wife, Stella. She claimed that he was the father of her daughter, Kathryn. The evidence was not conclusive, but the court ruled in Stella’s favor. As a result, Rodgers was required to pay child support for Kathryn until she reached the age of 18. The payments stopped when she got married, and tragically, Kathryn passed away in 1938.

Aside from his family and music career, Rodgers was active in various social organizations. He was a Freemason, a member of the Elks lodge, and achieved the rank of Master Mason. In 1931, he received the honor of being named an honorary Texas Ranger, a recognition he later celebrated in his song “The Yodeling Ranger.”

Legacy

Influence

Jimmie Rodgers, often referred to as “the Father of Country Music,” had a profound impact on the world of music. He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame’s inaugural class in 1961, solidifying his status as a trailblazing figure. He redefined the role of a singing star in “hillbilly music” with his unique personality and passionate singing.

In 1986, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame recognized Jimmie Rodgers as an early influence. This acknowledgment highlighted his crucial role in shaping the early foundations of rock and roll. He achieved this by blending elements from blues, Appalachian ballads, and spirituals into his music.

Rodgers’ influence stretched far beyond the country genre. He left an imprint on a wide range of artists, from Bob Dylan to Lynyrd Skynyrd. Moreover, he had a significant impact on the blues genre, inspiring both white and African American singers.

His contributions to songwriting were so significant that he became the first artist to be inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1970. This recognition encompassed his contributions to various music genres, including hillbilly, gospel, blues, jazz, pop, and mountain folk music. Jimmie Rodgers’ legacy continues to resonate across different musical styles and generations.

Tributes

Jimmie Rodgers was honored with several tributes throughout the years:

  1. Jimmie Rodgers Memorial Festival: The festival began in 1953 and became a regular event in 1972, drawing thousands of attendees.

  2. USPS Commemorative Stamp (1978): The United States Postal Service paid tribute to Rodgers with a commemorative stamp that featured his iconic brakeman’s outfit and guitar.

  3. “Honkytonk Man” Film (1982): A movie loosely based on his life, titled “Honkytonk Man,” was released, bringing his story to the big screen.

  4. Bob Dylan’s Tribute Compilation (1997): Bob Dylan curated a tribute compilation in 1997, featuring major artists covering Rodgers’ songs.

  5. Steve Forbert’s Tribute Album (2004): Steve Forbert released a tribute album in 2004, which received a Grammy nomination for Best Traditional Folk Album.

  6. Legacy Markers: Jimmie Rodgers’ legacy lives on through markers on the Mississippi Blues Trail and the Mississippi Country Music Trail. Additionally, his influence can be heard in the music of countless artists worldwide.

These tributes and recognitions continue to celebrate the enduring impact of Jimmie Rodgers on the world of music.

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