Hillbilly-Music.comThe People. The Music. The History.
About The Artist
Alfred Reed was another resident of southern West Virginia who made notable contributions to the early years of country music. A native of Floyd, Virginia and blind from birth, Reed lived most of his life in Mercer County, West Virginia.
He proved to be an excellent but archaic styled fiddler and composer of some of the best original songs in the 1920s. The songs included comments and observations on changing times such as "Why Do You Bob Your Hair Girls" and "How Can a Poor Man Stand Such Times and Live."
Although poor, Reed and his wife managed to rear six children on his meager income from music.
A train wreck on the Virginian Railway in May 1927 inspired Reed to compose a ballad and he contacted the Victor Talking Machine Company. They invited him to their upcoming field sessions in Bristol, Tennessee where he recorded "The Wreck of the Virginian" and three other numbers, on all but one of which his driver Arthur Wyrick also played rhythm guitar. That December he, son Arville, and Fred Pendleton went to the Victor studio in Camden, New Jersey. Only Arville (mistakenly called Oville on record labels) accompanied his father on discs, but the son did one song by himself, and he and Fred did two numbers as the West Virginia Night Owls.
Nearly two more years elapsed before the father and son returned to record one final time. After that, the deepening depression ended his recording career.
His wife died in 1938. By the 1940s, he seldom played at all.
He died at nearly 76. When I (Ivan Tribe) started work on Mountainer Jamboree, three of his children separately contacted me to be sure than their father's contributions would be included (they were!)
Almost all of his nineteen songs are classics of old time music.
Credits & Sources