Ernest Thompson

Ernest Errott Thompson (February 20, 1892 – December 7, 1961) was a blind street musician from Winston-Salem, North Carolina, who was one of the earliest country musicians to be recorded in the United States. In his sessions with Columbia Records in 1924, Thompson recorded many songs that today are considered among the most iconic from country music's early history, including "Are You from Dixie?", "Old-Time Religion", "Bury Me Beneath the Willow", "Wreck of the Southern Old 97", "Life's Railway to Heaven" and "Little Rosewood Casket".

Blinded as the result of a work-related accident in his late teens, Thompson spent most of his life as a street musician, singing to his own accompaniment on guitar and harmonica. In 1924, he was discovered by a Columbia A&R (Artist & Repertoire) representative who signed him to a recording contract. Thompson traveled to New York City for three recording sessions that year and returned in 1930 for two more sessions. However, sales of his records proved disappointing, and Columbia cancelled his contract. After a couple sessions with another label, Thompson's recording career ended, and he returned to his life as an itinerant musician, playing on the streets well into his fifties.

Birth and Death Data: Born February 20, 1892, Died December 7, 1961 (High Point)

Date Range of DAHR Recordings: 1924 - 1930

Roles Represented in DAHR: harmonica, guitar, vocalist, banjo, kazoo

= Recordings are available for online listening.
= Recordings were issued from this master. No recordings issued from other masters.

Recordings (Results 26-50 of 51 records)

Company Matrix No. Size First Recording Date Title Primary Performer Description Role Audio
Columbia 81986 10-in. 9/9/1924 John Henry, steel-driver Ernest Errott Thompson Male vocal solo, with guitar and/or harmonica vocalist  
Columbia 81987 10-in. 9/9/1924 Sylvester Johnson Lee Ernest Errott Thompson Male vocal solo, with guitar and harmonica vocalist, instrumentalist, harmonica, guitar  
Columbia 81992 10-in. 9/10/1924 At a Georgia camp meeting Connie Faw Sides ; Ernest Thompson Instrumental duet instrumentalist, harmonica, banjo  
Columbia 81993 10-in. 9/10/1924 Silly Bill Connie Faw Sides ; Ernest Thompson Instrumental duet instrumentalist, harmonica, banjo  
Columbia 81994 10-in. 9/10/1924 Underneath the southern moon Connie Faw Sides ; Ernest Errott Thompson Female vocal solo, with harmonica and guitar instrumentalist, harmonica, guitar  
Columbia 81995 10-in. 9/10/1924 You're as welcome as the flowers in May Connie Faw Sides ; Ernest Errott Thompson Female vocal solo, with harmonica and guitar instrumentalist, harmonica, guitar  
Columbia 81996 10-in. 9/10/1924 In the shadow of the pine Connie Faw Sides ; Ernest Errott Thompson Female vocal solo, with harmonica and guitar instrumentalist, harmonica, guitar  
Columbia 81997 10-in. 9/10/1924 Where the River Shannon flows Connie Faw Sides ; Ernest Errott Thompson Female vocal solo, with harmonica and guitar instrumentalist, harmonica, guitar  
Columbia 81998 10-in. 9/11/1924 Mammy's little coal black Rose Connie Faw Sides Female vocal solo, with harmonica and guitar instrumentalist, harmonica, guitar  
Columbia 81999 10-in. 9/11/1924 They made it twice as nice as paradise Connie Faw Sides ; Ernest Errott Thompson Female vocal solo, with harmonica and guitar instrumentalist, harmonica, guitar  
Columbia 140000 10-in. 9/11/1924 Whistling Rufus Ernest Thompson Male vocal solo and whistling, with banjo and harmonica vocalist, instrumentalist, banjo, harmonica  
Columbia 140001 10-in. 9/11/1924 When you're all in down and out Ernest Thompson Male vocal solo and whistling, with banjo and harmonica vocalist, instrumentalist, harmonica, banjo  
Columbia 140032 10-in. 9/11/1924 Jim Thompson's old grey mule Ernest Errott Thompson Male vocal solo, with banjo and harmonica (self-accompaniment) vocalist, instrumentalist, harmonica, banjo  
Columbia 140033 10-in. 9/11/1924 Alexander's ragtime band Ernest Errott Thompson Harmonica and kazoo solo, with guitar instrumentalist, harmonica, kazoo  
Columbia 140034 10-in. 9/11/1924 The Mississippi dippy dip Ernest Errott Thompson Harmonica and kazoo solo, with guitar instrumentalist, harmonica, kazoo  
Columbia 140035 10-in. 9/12/1924 In the baggage coach ahead Ernest Errott Thompson Male vocal solo, with harmonica and guitar vocalist, instrumentalist, harmonica, guitar  
Gennett 16120 10-in. 1/21/1930 Sparrow bird waltz Ernest Thompson Male vocal solo, with guitar and harmonica instrumentalist, guitar, harmonica, vocalist  
Gennett 16121 10-in. 1/21/1930 My little girl Ernest Thompson Male vocal solo, with guitar and harmonica instrumentalist, guitar, vocalist, harmonica  
Gennett 16122 10-in. 1/21/1930 Are your from Dixie Ernest Thompson Male vocal solo, with guitar and harmonica vocalist, instrumentalist, guitar, harmonica  
Gennett 16124 10-in. 1/22/1930 Bring me a leaf from the sea Ernest Thompson Male vocal solo, with guitar and harmonica vocalist, instrumentalist, guitar, harmonica  
Gennett 16127 10-in. 1/22/1930 Snow dear Ernest Thompson Male vocal solo, with guitar and harmonica instrumentalist, harmonica, guitar, vocalist  
Gennett 16422 10-in. 3/29/1930 Every little bit added to what you got Ernest Thompson Male vocal solo, with guitar and harmonica vocalist, instrumentalist, guitar, harmonica  
Gennett 16423 10-in. 3/29/1930 Sweetheart dance with me Ernest Thompson Male vocal solo, with guitar and harmonica vocalist, instrumentalist, guitar, harmonica  
Gennett 16425 10-in. 3/29/1930 I will be dancing with you Ernest Thompson Male vocal solo, with guitar and harmonica vocalist, instrumentalist, guitar, harmonica  
Gennett 16426 10-in. 3/29/1930 What is home without babies Ernest Thompson Male vocal solo, with guitar and harmonica vocalist, instrumentalist, guitar, harmonica  
(Results 26-50 of 51 records)

Citation

Discography of American Historical Recordings, s.v. "Thompson, Ernest," accessed July 13, 2024, https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/115306.

Thompson, Ernest. (2024). In Discography of American Historical Recordings. Retrieved July 13, 2024, from https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/115306.

"Thompson, Ernest." Discography of American Historical Recordings. UC Santa Barbara Library, 2024. Web. 13 July 2024.

DAHR Persistent Identifier

URI: https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/115306

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