Sometimes, footage from grainy VHS tapes pops up on YouTube and other video sharing sites and offers us a different look at country, folk and bluegrass icons.
The latest example of this comes in the form of an hour-plus video of roots musicians and popular stars recording commercial jingles for Dr. Pepper. Artists shown in this discovery from the '70's include Doc Watson, Grandpa Jones, the Carter Family, Hank Snow and Lynn Anderson plus numerous blues, rock and soul legends and the father of bluegrass music himself, Bill Monroe.
Monroe's segment has been posted separate from the rest of the video, making his chat about his mandolin's backstory easy to discover. Beyond talk about Monroe's instrument of choice and a summary of how his popularity with the Grand Ole Opry's live audience spawned a new genre, the film shows Monroe and his Blue Grass Boys working some studio magic.
That's definitely the great Kenny Baker on fiddle, with social media sleuths identifying the rest of the band as Bob Black (banjo), Ralph Lewis (guitar) and Randy Davis (bass).
If that lineup is correct, it dates the footage to 1974 or 1975.
No one seems to know the full backstory behind this historic collection of talent, featuring not just country music-adjacent legends but also stars the caliber of Tina Turner and Chuck Berry. That said, a Facebook post by music producer and author Susan Hamilton identifies footage of Berry as coming from a Hamilton-produced 1972 session for a Dr. Pepper jingle featuring lyrics written by Randy Newman.
Even without much context, this video brought together one of the deepest pools of talent from Nashville and beyond while adding to the archival footage out there of such popular music cornerstones as Mother Maybelle Carter and B.B. King.
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