Vintage photos of country music artists before they were very famous

Have you ever wondered what your favorite country stars looked like before they rose to fame? You are about to find out!

Dolly Parton

1967: Country singer Dolly Parton with collaborator Porter Wagoner on set of her television show circa 1967. Mr. Wagoner is wearing a Nudie suit designed by Nudie Cohn of Nudie’s Rodeo Tailors. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

Singer “I will always love you” and “Jolene” Dolly Parton is a country music legend who has been nominated for dozens of Grammys. She starred in the movie 9 to 5, had a hit song of the same name and co-owns a Tennessee theme park named Dollywood. She is pictured here alongside Porter Wagoner circa 1967 before her career really took off.

Elvis Presley

Elvis Presley circa 1953

UNITED STATES – JANUARY 01: USA Photo of Elvis PRESLEY, posed portrait of Elvis Presley, c.1953/1954 (Photo by RB/Redferns)

Although you can still find people insisting the King is still alive, the country and rock icon died in 1977. Pictured is a photo of Presley around 1953 before he became a sensation international.

Johnny Cash

Johnny Cash in 1955

MEMPHIS – 1955: Country singer/songwriter Johnny Cash poses for a portrait in 1955 in Memphis, Tennessee. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

Johnny Cash, aka “The Man in Black,” was a country legend with hits like “Ring of Fire” and “I Walk the Line.” Towards the end of his career, Cash covered haunting versions of Nine Inch Nails’ “Hurt” and Depeche Mode’s “Personal Jesus”. Pictured is an early Johnny Cash publicity still from 1955, the same year he made his first recordings at Sun Records.

willie nelson

Willie Nelson with a band in 1955

TEXAS – CIRCA 1955: Country singer/songwriter Willie Nelson (second from left) performs on stage with a band circa 1955 in Texas. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

Singer and activist Willie Nelson is one of the most recognizable faces in country music. Two of her most famous songs are “On the Road Again” and “To All the Girls I’ve Loved Before”. Nelson has appeared in over 30 films and is an advocate for biofuels and the legalization of pot. Pictured is Nelson (second from left) circa 1955 performing with a band in Texas.

Haggard Merle

Merle Hagard in 1961

Wikipedia Commons/Public domain

Merle Haggard’s latest recording, “Kern River Blues”, describes her disenchantment with politicians. He died in 2016 at the age of 79. Pictured is Merle Haggard in a publicity portrait for Tally Records in 1961 before she had hit songs.

Waylon Jennings

Waylon Jennings in 1958

Wikipedia Commons/Public domain

Waylon Jennings composed the theme song for The Dukes of Hazard TV show. The “good old boy” died in 2002 at the age of 64. Pictured is Jennings while broadcasting his radio show at KLLL in Lubbock, Texas in 1958.

Bill Monroe

Bill Monroe circa 1937

CIRCA 1937: Country music duo The Monroe Brothers, Bill Monroe (left) and Charlie Monroe (right) pose for a portrait circa 1936. (Photo by Donaldson Collection/Getty Images)

Bill Monroe helped create the style of music known as bluegrass. His group, the Blue Grass Boys, is named after his home state of Kentucky. Monroe died in 1996 at the age of 84. Pictured, left, is Bill Monroe alongside his brother Charlie in 1936, the same year Bill got his first recording contract.

Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift in 2006

Taylor Swift at the 41st Annual Academy of Country Music Awards – Arrivals held at the MGM Grand Theater in Las Vegas, Nevada, United States. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc)

People forget that to promote her 2006 debut album, Taylor Swift opened up to other established country artists such as Brad Paisley to gain exposure. She is pictured here in 2006 at the 41st Annual Academy of Country Music Awards. Today, his music is decidedly more pop than country.

Rosanne Cash

Roseanne Cash in 1981

View of singer Roseanne Cash on stage, Chicago, Illinois, May 3, 1981. (Photo by Paul Natkin/Getty Images)

Rosanne Cash is the eldest daughter of country music legend Johnny Cash, though that didn’t help her get her 1978 self-titled debut album released in the US…or anywhere other than Germany. She released her most commercially successful song, “Seven Year Ache,” in 1981, the same year this photo was taken.

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