Eck Robertson

Real Name:
Alexander Campbell Robertson
Profile:
American fiddle player (20 November 1887 Delaney, Madison County, Arkansas-17 February 1975 Fritch, Texas)

His family moved to Hamlin, in the Texas Panhandle, in 1890, when he was only 3.
His first instrument, at age 5, was made from a long-necked gourd and a tanned cat hide.

By the end of WWI, Eck had become a well-known area fiddler, and a fixture at the many fiddling contests held in the state. By now he was living at Vernon, often performing with two senior musicians (Lewis Franklin and A.P. Howard).

The first rural recording artist to enjoy wide distribution of his recordings. Robertson, with partner Henry C. Gilliland, recorded for Victor in New York 30 June and 1 July 1922.

The standard story has always been that Eck and Gilliland, dressed in Confederate uniforms, appeared at the door to Victor begging for a try-out, and that the Victor officials finally cut a couple of tunes to placate them, grudgingly releasing them April 1923.
In fact, Robertson was wearing what one witness called "the garb of a western plainsman," and the Victor A & R men were quite impressed: so much so that they actually recorded 12 sides [or 8?] over the two-day span of 30 June and 1 July 1922.

All but four sides were issued, and stayed in print for a number of years.

_ 30 June 1922 Eck and Gilliland recorded 4 unaccompanied fiddle duets:
"Arkansas Traveler"and "Turkey in the Straw'' with Gilliland playing the melody and Eck a high harmony.
[Apple Blossom and Forked Deer were not released]

_ The next day Eck returned alone, this time recording "Sallie Gooden" and "Ragtime Annie" solo, and 2 additional tunes accompanied by a studio piano player ["Sally Johnson/Billy In The Low Ground" & "Done Gone"]

Two tunes from these sessions, "Sallie Gooden" and "Arkansas Traveler," were released in April 1923, thus becoming the first commercial record ever released by a country musician.

When Mike Seeger, John Cohen and Tracy Schwarz visited Eck in 1963, he was seventy-six years old.
The next year he performed at the UCLA Folk Festival, and in 1965 he appeared at the Newport Folk Festival. Even then he was still plenty able to charm an audience with his music and talk.

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2 stories that I remember reading many years ago [lost in a computer crash in 1998]:

_ the first one, I found a semi-current mention of it on an Old-Time music forum:

" I seem to remember seeing an article in the last couple of years (I can't remember what magazine) written by John Fahey, who came across Robertson more or less accidentally (late 50's? early 60's?). "

What I remember is John Fahey, believing that Eck Robertson was dead, went to Texas looking for stories about him.
He stopped, I think, in Amarillo and asked people in the street if they ever heard of "Eck Robertson" , and he learned : " Sure, he is at the barbershop right now"
[must have been early 1960's as The New Lost City Ramblers visited him in 1963]

_ story #2:
I may have read that in 1978, in the book "Beginning Old-time Fiddle by Alan Kaufman" [1977].
Eck Robertson is on the cover.
I read [there ?] that people thought he was left-handed because of an error on a recording where the image was reversed.

This explains the mirror image on Eck Robertson - Master Fiddler - His Complete Recordings 1922 - 1929
Sites:
In Groups:
Variations:

Artist

Image Title Label Catalog Number Year In Your Collection, Wantlist, or Inventory Actions

Albums

STR-201 Master Fiddler - His Complete Recordings 1922 - 1929 — Eck Robertson Eck Robertson Master Fiddler - His Complete Recordings 1922 - 1929(LP) Sonyatone STR-201 US 1976 Sell This Version
Image Title Label Catalog Number Year In Your Collection, Wantlist, or Inventory Actions
202, County 202, CO-202 Famous Cowboy Fiddler — Eck Robertson Eck Robertson Famous Cowboy Fiddler(LP, Album) County Records, County Records, County Records 202, County 202, CO-202 1991 Sell This Version
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CO-CD-3515 Old-Time Texas Fiddler — Eck Robertson Eck Robertson Old-Time Texas Fiddler(CD, Album) County Records CO-CD-3515 US 1998 Sell This Version
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Singles & EPs

19149 Turkey In The Straw / Ragtime Annie — Eck Robertson Henry C. Gilliland - A. C. (Eck) Robertson* / A. C. (Eck) Robertson* Henry C. Gilliland - A. C. (Eck) Robertson* / A. C. (Eck) Robertson* - Turkey In The Straw / Ragtime Annie Victor 19149 US 1923 Sell This Version
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18956 Sally Gooden / Arkansas Traveller — Eck Robertson A. C. (Eck) Robertson* / Henry C. Gilliland And A. C. (Eck) Robertson* A. C. (Eck) Robertson* / Henry C. Gilliland And A. C. (Eck) Robertson* - Sally Gooden / Arkansas Traveller(Shellac, 10") Victor 18956 US 1923 Sell This Version
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19372 Sallie Johnson And Billy In The Low Ground / Done Gone — Eck Robertson A. C. (Eck) Robertson* Sallie Johnson And Billy In The Low Ground / Done Gone(Shellac, 10") Victor 19372 US 1924 Sell This Version
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V-40145 Texas Wagoner / There's A Brown Skin Girl Down The Road Somewhere — Eck Robertson Eck Robertson Texas Wagoner / There's A Brown Skin Girl Down The Road Somewhere Victor V-40145 US 1929 Sell This Version
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B-26660-2 Arkansas Traveler — Eck Robertson Eck Robertson, Henry Gilliland Eck Robertson, Henry Gilliland - Arkansas Traveler(7", Promo) RCA Records B-26660-2 US 1988 Sell This Version
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Compilations

CO-CD-5515, 5515 Old-Time Texas Fiddler (Vintage Recordings 1922-1929) — Eck Robertson Eck Robertson Old-Time Texas Fiddler (Vintage Recordings 1922-1929)(CD, Comp) County Records, County Records CO-CD-5515, 5515 US 1998 Sell This Version