History

Gid Tanner & Riley Puckett record for first time

May 31, 1924

Gid Tanner & Riley Puckett record for first time

Gid Tanner, a fan favorite at local fiddlers’ conventions in the early 1920’s is confronted by new Columbia Records Artist & Repertoire talent scout, Frank Walker, who headed south to find new and different forms of music to record. Walker is introduced to Tanner, who is invited to New York to record with Columbia. Tanner agreed to record, as long as he could bring his friend, Riley Puckett, a blind guitar extraordinaire along with him. And, off they went to New York City, to record their first session with Columbia Records. As it turned out, Tanner and Puckett weren’t just local stars in North Georgia. They quickly became household names nationally and just two years following these first recordings, the first edition of the ‘Skillet Lickers’ would officially form.

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First edition of ‘Skillet Lickers’ formed

April 17, 1926

First edition of ‘Skillet Lickers’ formed

On April 17, 1926, Gid Tanner and Riley Puckett, together with Clayton McMichen and Fate Norris step up to the mic to record the very first song as the ‘Skillet Lickers’, a band that would become known as one of the most innovative and influential string bands of the 1920’s and ’30s, and would leave a profound impact on the Country music genre for generations to come. The new band’s first song was “Hand Me Down My Walking Cane”, recorded at Columbia Records in Atlanta, back when Atlanta’s Country music scene rivaled that of Nashville.

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Columbia releases first edition of legendary ‘Corn Licker Still in Georgia’ series

November 1, 1927

Columbia releases first edition of legendary ‘Corn Licker Still in Georgia’ series

Just one year after the original formation of the band, the very first edition of the legendary, ‘Corn Licker Still in Georgia’ series is released on November 1, 1927. A collection of seven 78’s released between 1927 and 1931, together comprising a musical narrative about moonshiners, the ‘Corn Licker’ helped define the Skillet Lickers and contributed greatly to their popularity. The series runs until the original lineup is disbanded in 1931.

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Skillet Licker Lowe Stokes has bow hand shot off

December 1, 1930

Skillet Licker Lowe Stokes has bow hand shot off

Lowe Stokes, who mostly served as a sideman for the Skillet Lickers, found himself in the center of several serious altercations through the years, including more than one near death experience. On one tour, the trouble-bound Stokes was stabbed perilously near the heart as the nasty consequence of a love triangle, then was shot in the hand in a drunken altercation a few days later while still healing from the earlier wound. This was something of a gory preliminary to the next Skillet Lickers tour, where the poor Stokes would have his hand shot off completely. Luckily, a fellow fiddler in the outfit was a skilled engineer and was able to design a special hook that allowed Stokes to hold his bow despite the injury. LISTEN as fellow Skillet Licker, Bert Layne, tells the story of the tragic accident, in an interview from May 1976.  

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Skillet Lickers disband

January 1, 1931

Skillet Lickers disband

All good things must come to an end. In 1931, following a successful five year run as the Skillet Lickers, the group disbands. Conflicting personalities and differing opinions on music leads to the split in the band. The group would reform with different members in 1934 for the original band’s final recordings.

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Skillet Lickers reunite for final recording session, selling record one million copies

January 1, 1934

Skillet Lickers reunite for final recording session, selling record one million copies

After being invited to record by RCA’s Bluebird label, the original Skillet Lickers reunite one final time in 1934 for what would become their biggest success of all time. Traveling to San Antonio, Texas from Atlanta, Georgia, with 17-year-old Gordon Tanner driving the band, the Skillet Lickers step up to the mic to record the final sessions of…

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Legendary Skillet Licker guitarist Riley Puckett dies of blood poisoning at 52

July 13, 1946

Legendary Skillet Licker guitarist Riley Puckett dies of blood poisoning at 52

Legendary Skillet Licker guitarist, whose singing and guitar helped shape the Skillet Lickers’ iconic sound and style, passes away of blood poisoning at the age of 52 at his home in East Point, Georgia.

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Skillet Licker founder, Country music pioneer, Gid Tanner, passes away at 74

May 13, 1960

Skillet Licker founder, Country music pioneer, Gid Tanner, passes away at 74

A legend is gone. One of the most influential pioneers in Country and old time music, Gid Tanner, passes away at his home in Dacula, GA at the age of 74.

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Skillet Licker fiddler, Clayton McMichen, dies at 69

January 4, 1970

Skillet Licker fiddler, Clayton McMichen, dies at 69

Clayton McMichen, a member of the original Skillet Lickers lineup, who later pursued a career in more jazz-flavored bands, passes away at the age of 69.

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Skillet Lickers, led by Gordon and Phil Tanner, reform

January 1, 1975

Skillet Lickers, led by Gordon and Phil Tanner, reform

After casually performing for family and friends, Gordon Tanner, along with his young son, Phil, are encouraged to resurrect the ‘Skillet Lickers’ with new members. Featuring a lineup of Gordon Tanner, Phil Tanner, Randall Mahaffey, and Larry Nash, the reunited band takes off, performing consistently to this day.

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Skillet Lickers play at National Mall in Washington, DC for first major show since 1930’s

January 1, 1980

Skillet Lickers play at National Mall in Washington, DC for first major show since 1930’s

In their first major show outside of their Georgia home, the newly re-formed Skillet Lickers, led by 2nd generation, Gordon Tanner, and 3rd generation, Phil Tanner, travel to the National Mall in Washington, DC for the annual National Folk Fest in the Nation’s Capital.

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Second generation Skillet Licker, fiddler extraordinare, Gordon Tanner, dies at age 66

July 26, 1982

Second generation Skillet Licker, fiddler extraordinare, Gordon Tanner, dies at age 66

At the young age of 66, a Georgia musical treasure passes away. Gordon Tanner, the fiddler behind the million selling recordings, ‘Back Up & Push’ and ‘Down Yonder’ (songs he recorded at just 17 years old), dies of a heart attack. His fiddle playing is masterful, some even naming him “the most underrated fiddler of his time”. While Gid was known for his great entertainment skills, Gordon was known for his incredible musicianship, which nearly all say topped that of his father.

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Gid Tanner & original Skillet Lickers inducted into Georgia Music Hall of Fame

January 1, 1988

Gid Tanner & original Skillet Lickers inducted into Georgia Music Hall of Fame

28 years after his passing, Gid Tanner along with entire lineup of the original Skillet Lickers (Riley Puckett, Clayton McMichen, Lowe Stokes) are inducted into the prestigious Georgia Music Hall of Fame in Macon, GA. Phil and Russ Tanner, third and fourth generations of the Tanner family are on hand for the induction ceremony for their grandfather and Country music pioneer, Gid Tanner.

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Skillet Lickers perform for lifelong Skillet Licker fan, Georgia Governor Zell Miller

January 10, 1995

Skillet Lickers perform for lifelong Skillet Licker fan, Georgia Governor Zell Miller

Former Georgia Governor (1991-1999) and Senator (2000-2005), Zell Miller, knows Georgia music, so it comes as no surprise that he’s been a big fan of Gid Tanner and the Skillet Lickers. In fact, Zell Miller even invited the modern-day Skillet Lickers to perform at the Governor’s mansion, following his second inauguration in 1995.

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In celebration of 90 years, Skillet Lickers announce play telling history of legendary band

November 21, 2014

In celebration of 90 years, Skillet Lickers announce play telling history of legendary band

90 years after Gid Tanner & Riley Puckett recorded the first session, ushering in the Skillet Licker era in Country and old-time music, Russ Tanner, the great-grandson of Gid, announces a historical play, telling the full history of the iconic band, performing their biggest hits, and detailing the legends they influenced. The play took place for the first time in November of 2014 and is still being performed to this day across the North Georgia area and beyond. The show, featuring some of the same music recorded over 90 years ago, combined with the modern Skillet Licker approach, is still selling out theaters today.

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