June 14

Fiddlin’ John Carson

June 14, 1923 - Fannin County, Atlanta

Farmer, railroad worker, horse jockey, moonshiner and country music’s first big star — that was John William Carson.

Fannin County native fiddlin’ John Carson was a colorful character who played every year at the Georgia old-time fiddlers’ conventions in Atlanta beginning in 1913. He first gained fame performing “The Ballad Of Mary Phagan” during the Leo Frank trial in Atlanta. When WSB Radio went on the air in 1922, Carson showed up, fiddle in hand, and asked to perform live. Audiences loved him, and he became a national radio celebrity.

In June 1923, a New York record company scout in Atlanta reluctantly recorded Carson performing “The Little Old Log Cabin in the Lane”—which launched the country music record business. Company executives weren’t crazy about it, but it sold out in days. When sales hit half a million, Carson was invited to New York to record. The rest is, literally, music history.

The country music recording industry began in a building on Nassau Street in Atlanta on June 14, 1923, Today in Georgia History.