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Duration: 1 hour

Profile of the six most influential male country stars of the 1940s, 50s, 60s and 70s, with the help of a blistering soundtrack and rare archive performances that show these men created a blueprint for songwriting that is as resonant today as it was then.

These are the stories of men who weren't afraid to be cowboys in a rapidly changing world. Hank Williams, who battled with his wife and addictions before dying a superstar at 29; 'Gentleman' Jim Reeves, the crooner in cardigans killed in a plane crash; Willie Nelson, the outlaw who rewrote the country rulebook; George Jones, whose life of heartache and booze is like a classic country song; the fugitive Merle Haggard who swapped his crowbar for a guitar after seeing Johnny Cash at San Quentin prison; and the king of kings himself - Johnny Cash. The surviving kings themselves join family members and close friends in giving rare insights into the rise to fame of these country greats, while admirers such as Billy Connolly, Jack White, LeAnn Rimes, Lauren Laverne and Elvis Costello pay tribute to the men who changed music for good.

Last on

Mon 19 Jul 2010 00:55 BBC Four


Fay Gibson
Executive Producer
Mark Cooper


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