Music News

One of the Oldest Arizona Recordings Is Back in Arizona

A couple of weeks ago, our music feature was on the earliest musical recordings from Arizona, created in 1929 by a cowgirl singer/guitarist named Billie Maxwell.

Though her music is obscure to most, a handful of Arizona collectors are on a quest for to obtain a very rare original copy of one of her records. And just last week, professional record collector and Arizona music historian John Dixon won one in an online auction.

The record that will soon be in his possession is a 78 rpm that contains two songs: "Haunted Hunter" and "Where Your Sweetheart Waits for You, Jack." Dixon is especially excited because the second track is the only one of Maxwell's that's still not available on CD or MP3.

Dixon bought the record from a collector in Texas. He paid $55 for it, even though it's not in such great shape anymore. "It's beat up," Dixon explains. "It was advertised as -- I think a 'V' is what he called it, and in 78s that's a lot of wear, a lot of noise. But it plays through and it doesn't skip...I was glad that it wasn't a better condition record -- I'm sure it would've driven it up a lot higher. Who knows what somebody else might pay for it."

This means that one of Maxwell's recordings, most of which have long been lost, broken, or dispersed, will finally be back in Arizona. And it goes to a modest man who truly appreciates it. Despite the complicated search, the mediocre condition, and the high prices he's willing to pay, he's still thrilled to own a piece of the state's history.

Dixon beams, "Just to have one in any condition is pretty cool at this rate."

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Sarah Ventre