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When I began work on a rockabilly-oriented discography in 1979, the inspiration for this project was fourfold. First, I was fascinated by the odd mixture of country and rhythm & blues popularized by Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, and other performers in the 1950's. Second, I had long admired the discographic efforts of such scholars as Brian Rust, Mike Leadbitter, and Fernando Gonzalez. Third, I wanted to explore the application of computer database techniques to discography. Fourth, I was getting tired of waiting for someone else to compile the much-needed reference work on the music. When I discovered what a wonderful research tool Billboard magazine could be for American popular music, I conceived the idea of tackling the task myself.

The theoretical scope of the work evolved gradually over the first year of research. It was primarily influenced not by collector perceptions, but by the writings of contemporary Billboard reviewers, columnists, and reporters whose views were not clouded by hindsight. I broadened my objectives so that, instead of trying to identify examples of a narrow collectible sound, I was attempting to chronicle an important, multi-faceted musical movement. Along the way, I came to prefer the older, broader expression "country & western rock & roll" to the charming but variously interpreted term "rockabilly."

Establishing a historically valid theoretical scope was far easier than putting the theory into practice. Compiling a work of this sort involves making thousands of individual decisions. And, when those decisions are made over a period of many years, it is difficult to guarantee absolute consistency. I anticipate that every user of Rockin' Country Style (even those who are willing to accept my premises about what should be included) will question many of the entries.

This labor of love brought about a major career detour in 1980 when a research trip to the Country Music Foundation Library in Nashville led to a full-time position at that institution. This job gave me unlimited access not only to an enormous record collection, but also to a wide variety of scarce trade, fan, and collector publications. During my three years with the Foundation, I was able to devote literally thousands of hours to the study of the country rock & roll phenomenon.

During the course of my study, several knowledgeable collectors have told me that it was an impossible task. I understand their attitude completely (perhaps even better than they do themselves). Twenty-plus years after it began, the project still stubbornly refuses to grind to a proper halt, even at the fairly modest level of detail I have opted to include. Nevertheless, the compilation has reached the point where it would be considerably more valuable in public than in my private files. I believe that even the veteran rock & roll or country scholar will find Rockin' Country Style to be a useful source of basic information. More importantly, I hope that it will serve to stimulate further research in this exciting field.

Terry Gordon
March 2000

Compilation & presentation © 2010, Terry E. Gordon This page revised on 03/16/2000

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