About The Artist
Milton Estes was a WSM artist and Grand Ole Opry performer of the mid-1940s. Today, he is perhaps best remembered as one of the first, if not the first, country artist to be sponsored by Martha White Flour. He had other achievements but this one is best known.
In 1939, Peggy Stewart of Rural Radio magazine informed readers that Milton was working with the Delmore Brothers over radio station WPTF.
A native of Arthur, Tennessee, Milton first came to prominence as an early member of Pee Wee King's Golden West Cowboys where he played a variety of instruments and also sang. By 1941 he had departed from King's employ to become a leader of the Stamps Quartet (there seems to have been more than one).
In 1946, he returned to WSM as leader of the Martha White sponsored band, Musical Millers. Several noted Nashville musicians were part of the Musical Millers at one time or another over the next five years including Jimmy Selph, Tommy Jackson, Dale Potter, Clell "Cousin Jody" Summey, and Oral Rhodes. Over the years he cut records with Bullet, Decca, King, Coral, KGM, and Donna.
To give the reader an idea of the number of shows that Milton was doing over the air, Billboard reported that Milton Estes and His Musical Millers were featured on TEN billboards in Nashville. That was to promote the dozen programs they were doing every week on WSM.
Readers learned that Milton was the emcee for the Bailes Brothers' early morning show over WSM as well as for their transcribed programs.
Mary Jean Shurtz told readers that Milton made an appearance in a small town of Alabama that only had a population of 1,000. But when he got there, the hall could not seat the people who had shown up for the show. Milton had to put on THREE shows to entertain over 1,700 folks.
In 1947, mention was found of some large crowds Milton and his group entertained. They drew over 3,000 for the Flag Festival in Farmington, Missouri on June 28, 1947. A few days later, they drew over 6,000 on July 4th in Livingston, Tennessee.
They had to rope off four blocks around the square to accommodate the crowd. In that time, Milton had a morning show over WSM. Just three months later, they were reporting Milton had 26 shows on WSM. His schedule was so crammed, he began flying his own Luscombe all-metal Silveraire to two dates; he had logged over 1,000 miles flying by that time.In June of 1954, an article promoting the appearance of Red Garrett and Wilf Carter on a Canadian tour mentions that Milton was the personal manager for Red Garrett at that time.
He left full-time music after 1951 and completely in 1954.
Milton passed away at the age of 49. However, as the "Old Flour Peddler, he cut a wide swath. His Martha White commercials and the slogan, "Goodness Gracious, It's Good." have had a long and perhaps enduring life. All but two of his recordings have been reissued on the Cattle label in Germany.
Credits & Sources
Appearance History This Month
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