Birth Name: Clarence Albert Poindexter
Stage Name: "Al Dexter"
Date of Birth: May 4, 1905
Place of Birth: Jacksonville, TX
Date of Death: January 28, 1984
Induction Into The Nashville Songwriter's Hall of Fame: 1971
Inspiration for "Pistol Packin' Mama" came from a waitress in a roadhouse Dexter owned in the East Texas oilfields (song was written partly on a paper napkin); she was chased through a barbed wire fence by the gun-toting wife of the man she was seeing.
(Speaking about the turning point in his career that came when he was in Dallas, starting to make the rounds trying to get
recorded) "An old man peered over his glasses and asked me what kind of
music I played. I told him Jimmie Rodgers and others. He looked at me and
said, 'Son, Jimmie Rodgers is under contract. If you want to sing, sing your
own songs. ' "
POINDEXTER, CLARENCE ALBERT (1902-1984). Clarence Albert Poindexter, country and western singer known as Al Dexter, was born in Jacksonville, Texas, in 1902. While working as a house painter, Dexter began performing in local bars and clubs. In the early 1930s he collected a band to perform in the outskirts of Longview, Texas. Dexter signed a recording contract with American Recording Corporation in 1936. Dexter's "Honky Tonk Blues," which
he wrote with his writing partner James B. Paris, was the first country song to use the term. In the late 1930s Dexter owned a honky tonk himself, called the Roundup Club in Tumertown, Texas.
Through his experiences there and in other roadhouses, Dexter developed the idea for his future hit, "Pistol Packin' Mama." Art Satherley, Dexter's producer, helped him by arranging a recording session with Gene Autry's backup band, for which Dexter had expressed admiration. Dexter recorded "Pistol Packin'Mama" and "Rosalita" with them at Columbia's Hollywood studios. The record was released in 1943 and in its first six months sold one million copies. The song "Pistol Packin' Mama", a controversial number due to its lyrics, remained at Number One on Billboard Magazine's best sellers chart for eight weeks. In 1944, when Billboard started its "Most Played Juke Box Folk Records" chart for country music, "Pistol Packin'Mama" was still at the top. "Rosalita" also enjoyed a week at Number One, and Dexter received such widespread recognition that he launched national tours. From 1944 through 1948 Dexter recorded other country hits, including "Too Late to Worry," "Wine, Women and Song," and "Calico Rag." The popularity of his honky tonk sound decreased over time.
He recorded other songs with King, Decca, and Capitol but never had another hit. He was the first country singer to perform on Broadway.In 1971 Dexter was inducted into the Nashville Songwriter's Hall of Fame.
He had invested in savings and loan, motel, and real estate businesses in Texas and died a wealthy man. Dexter died from a heart attack in his home on Lake Lewisville in Lewisville, Texas.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: Vertical Files, Barker Texas History Center, University of Texas at Austin.
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