John Dilleshaw

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John Dilleshaw (* 1896 near New Hope , Georgia ; † 1941 ), also known as Seven Foot Dilly , was an American old-time musician and guitarist . Despite his name, he was not seven feet tall, but a tall man by the standards of the day.


Childhood and youth

John Dilleshaw was born near the village of New Hope in Paulding County , northwest of Atlanta . He suffered a gunshot wound to his foot in his late teens and began learning guitar during his recovery . He was motivated by a local black musician named Bill Turner. Shortly thereafter, Dilleshaw played with other musicians from the county. A contemporary of Dilleshaw's later described his skills as follows: “ You ain't never heard a guitar picker like him. He wasn't no extra singer, but he was real on the guitar. Them old timers didn't go in for foolishness. They went for the sound of them boxes. "

Around 1912 the family moved to Hiram, Georgia, where Dilleshaw met the Kiker family. In 1918 he married the daughter Opal and later took her brother Harry into his band.


Around 1925 Dilleshaw was regularly heard together with the guitarist Charles S. Brook (other sources also Brooks) on the radio station WSB in Atlanta. At that time, the city was the center of Georgia Old-Time Music and also the contact point for various record labels that had installed mobile recording studios there and recorded artists of all genres, but above all rural musicians. During the day Dilleshaw worked for the city fire department , while in the evenings and especially on weekends he performed on the radio and also played with the Dixie String Band .

In 1929 Dilleshaw formed his own band, often called Seven Foot Dilly and his Dill Pickles . In addition to Dilleshaw, the group consisted of Harry Kiker ( fiddle ), Pink Lindsey ( bass ) and his son Shorty ( tenor banjo ). When OKeh Records sent a team to Atlanta to record local groups in March 1929 , Dilleshaw and Pink Lindsey made the first recordings. Among other things, the guitar piece Spanish Fandango is worth mentioning . The records were released under the name John Dilleshaw & The String Marvel (the "String Marvel" was Lindsey).

In 1930, when the Skillet Lickers caused a "string band boom", Dilleshaw came to Vocalion Records . With his band he now played skits like The Square Dance Fight or A Fiddler's Tryout in Georgia , recorded a few tracks with Fiddler AA Gray or experimented with blues numbers, which, however, resulted in meaningless lyrics.

In November 1930 Dilleshaw made his last recordings for Vocalion's mother label Brunswick Records . As Atlanta's position as a music center waned, so did Dilleshaw's success. He continued to play in the Atlanta area but gave up music in 1940 due to illness. He died in 1941.


year title # Remarks
OKeh Records
1929 Cotton Patch Rag / Spanish Fandango OK 45328 as John Dilleshaw and the String Marvel
Vocalion Records
1930 The Square Dance Fight on Top Ball Mountain, Pt. 1 / The Square Dance Fight on Top Ball Mountain, Pt. 2 5419
1930 Sand Mountain Drag / Bust Down Stomp 5421 as Dilly and his Dill Pickles
1930 Tallapoosa Bound / Streak O'Lean - Streak O'Fat 5430 with AA Gray
1930 A Fiddler's Tryout in Georgia, Pt. 1 / A Fiddler's Tryout in Georgia, Pt. 2 5432
1930 Georgia Bust Down / Pickin 'Off Peanuts 5436 as Dilly and his Dill Pickles
1930 Lye Soap / Hell Amongst the Yearnings 5446 as Dilly and his Dill Pickels
1930 A Georgia Barbecue at Stone Mountain, Pt. 1 / A Georgia Barbecue at Stone Mountain, Pt. 2 5454
Nigger Baby / The Old Ark's A-Moving 5458 with AA Gray
Farmer's Blues / Walkin 'Blues 5459
Brunswick Records
A Bootlegger's Joint in Atlanta, Pt. 3 / A Bootlegger's Joint in Atlanta, Pt. 4th 489 as Seven Foot Dilly
Kenesaw Mountain Rag / Bibb County Hoe Down 575 as Seven Foot Dilly and his Dill Pickles
Unpublished titles
  • Where The River Shannon Flows
  • Bad Lee Brown
OKeh Records these titles are demos and were actually untitled; the titles were given retrospectively
  • Down the River We Go
  • She Had a Little Pig
  • Aunt Mandy's Barn Dance, Pt. 1
  • Aunt Mandy's Barn Dance, Pt. 2
Brunswick Records

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Tony Russell: Country Music Originals: The Legends and the Lost. Oxford University Press, 2007, ISBN 978-0-19-532509-6 , p. 48.