cover of book

Don't Give Your Heart to a Rambler: My Life with Jimmy Martin, the King of Bluegrass
by Barbara Martin Stephens
University of Illinois Press, 2017
Paper: 978-0-252-08276-4 | eISBN: 978-0-252-09979-3
Library of Congress Classification ML429.S84A3 2017
Dewey Decimal Classification 782.421642092

As charismatic and gifted as he was volatile, Jimmy Martin recorded dozens of bluegrass classics and co-invented the high lonesome sound. Barbara Martin Stephens became involved with the King of Bluegrass at age seventeen. Don't Give your Heart to a Rambler tells the story of their often tumultuous life together. Barbara bore his children and took on a crucial job as his booking agent when the agent he was using failed to obtain show dates for the group. Female booking agents were non-existent at that time but she persevered and went on to become the first female booking agent on Music Row. She also endured years of physical and emotional abuse at Martin's hands. With courage and candor, Barbara tells of the suffering and traces the hard-won personal growth she found inside marriage, motherhood, and her work. Her vivid account of Martin's explosive personality and torment over his exclusion from the Grand Ole Opry fill in the missing details on a career renowned for being stormy. Yet, Barbara also shares her own journey, one of good humor and proud achievements, and filled with fond and funny recollections of the music legends and ordinary people she met, befriended, and represented along the way. Straightforward and honest, Don't Give your Heart to a Rambler is a woman's story of the world of bluegrass and one of its most colorful, conflicted artists.

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