Dalhart, Vernon [Slaughter, Marion Try ]
- Bill C. Malone
- , revised by Patrick Huber
[Slaughter, Marion Try ]
(b Jefferson, TX, April 6, 1883; d Bridgeport, CT, Sept 15, 1948). American hillbilly singer. He received some formal vocal training at the Dallas Conservatory of Music in his mid-teens. For several years beginning in 1912 he sang light opera in New York under the stage name Vernon Dalhart, including leading roles in Gilbert and Sullivan’s H.M.S. Pinafore and Puccini’s Madame Butterfly. He began his recording career in 1915, and during the next eight years as a versatile tenor he recorded more than 350 sides of light classical and popular material, but he became best known for his interpretations of “negro dialect” songs. In 1924 he ventured into hillbilly music and for Victor recorded “Wreck of the Old 97” and “The Prisoner’s Song” (Victor, 1924), a coupling that sold more than one million copies and became the first national hit of the nascent hillbilly recording industry. As a result of this success Dalhart began specializing in hillbilly recordings, particularly such topical “event songs” as “The Death of Floyd Collins” (...