Some of the earliest country music hits include Vernon Dalhart’s “Wreck of the Old ’97,” Jimmie Rodgers’ “Blue Yodel #1” and The Carter Family’s “Keep on the Sunny Side” and “Wildwood Flower.” All released during the 1920s, these songs formed the basis of popular country music.
Vernon Dalhart’s 1924 single “Wreck of the Old ’97” was the first true country hit and the first Southern song to achieve nationwide success. The record eventually sold millions of copies, alerting the record industry to the substantial market for country music. A ballad about the 1903 derailment of a Southern Railways train, the song was crucial in introducing country music to the masses. “The Prisoner’s Song,” the single’s B-side, was also a hit.
Jimmie Rodgers is often referred to as the “Father of Country Music,” and his single “Blue Yodel #1” established him as one of the biggest names in country. The song was released in 1928 and became an instant success, propelling Rodgers to stardom. He recorded many other popular songs before his death in 1933.
Along with Jimmie Rodgers, The Carter Family was one of the most popular groups in early country music. The group consisted of bandleader A.P. Carter; his wife, Sara Dougherty Carter; and his sister, Maybelle Addington Carter. “Keep on the Sunny Side” and “Wildwood Flower,” two of the group’s early hits, are now country standards.