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Colin Escott
Born (1949-08-31) 31 August 1949 (age 73)
Boughton Aluph, Kent, England
Alma mater University of Kent
Occupation(s)Music historian, author

Colin Escott (born 31 August 1949) is a British music historian and author specializing in early U.S. rock and roll and country music. His works include a biography of Hank Williams, histories of Sun Records and The Grand Ole Opry, liner notes for more than 500 albums and compilations, and major contributions to stage and television productions. Honors include multiple Grammy Awards and a Tony Award nomination.


His early career included stints in operations for Island Records and Polygram Records in the 1970s, [1] followed by independent work for Universal, Sony/Columbia, Warner Bros.- Rhino, Time Life, Capitol-EMI, RCA, and many independent companies, including Bear Family, Sundazed, and Omnivore. [2] He also wrote music history pieces for various music industry publications including Record Mirror, Goldmine, and Record Hunter. [3]

Described as "the foremost authority on Sun Records", [4] in 1992 he and Martin Hawkins published Good Rockin’ Tonight: Sun Records and the Birth of Rock ‘n’ Roll, the first in-depth account of the label's history. His 1994 book Hank Williams: The Biography was adapted into the 2015 movie I Saw the Light. The multi-CD box set, The Complete Hank Williams, won a 1998 Grammy, and another of his productions, Hank Williams: The Garden Spot Programs, 1950, won a 2014 Grammy. [5]

In 1999 he received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Association for Recorded Sound Collections. [2] [6] In 2011 he was recognized with the Charlie Lamb Award for Excellence in Country Music Journalism. [7]

Escott co-wrote the 2010 musical theater production Million Dollar Quartet, which received three Tony nominations, [8] [9] [10] and in 2020 wrote a sequel, Million Dollar Quartet Christmas. He was also part of the writing/producing team adapting the original show for CMT/Viacom for broadcast in 2017.

In 2022 he was tapped as a writer for the "audio adventure" podcast series Tennessee Music Pathways. [11] That same year, he and co-writer Peter Guralnick released "an epic hardcover book", The Birth of Rock 'n' Roll: The Illustrated Story of Sun Records and the 70 Recordings That Changed the World, in conjunction with the film Elvis. [12]

Middle Tennessee State University's Center for Popular Music houses the Colin Escott Collection of historical documents and photographs acquired in 2019. [2]



  • Colin Escott (1994). Hank Williams: The Biography. Boston: Little, Brown and Company. ISBN  978-0316249867. [13]
  • —————— (1998). Tattooed on Their Tongues: A Journey Through the Backrooms of American Music. New York: Schirmer Books. ISBN  978-0028650333. [14]
  • —————— (1999). All Roots Lead to Rock: Legends of Early Rock 'n' Roll. New York: Schirmer Books. ISBN  978-0028648668.
  • —————— (2002). Roadkill on the Three-Chord Highway: Art and Trash in American Popular Music. London: Routledge. ISBN  978-0415937825.
  • —————— (2003). Lost Highway: The True Story of Country Music. Washington: Smithsonian Press. ISBN  978-1588341495.
  • —————— (2006). The Grand Ole Opry: The Making of an American Icon. Nashville: Center Street. ISBN  978-1931722865.


Other works



  • Screenwriter, Let Freedom Sing: Music That Inspired the Civil Rights Movement (2009)
  • Writer, Only New Orleans (2015)


Articles and essays

Selected works from books and major music industry publications: [3]

  • "Memphis Blues: Sun Rise". Record Mirror. November 13, 1971
  • " Carl Perkins: 'Blue Suede Shoes'". The History of Rock, 1981
  • " Bill Justis: Raunchy by Choice". Goldmine. June 15, 1990
  • " Bill Haley: Indisputably the First". Goldmine. April 19, 1991
  • " Hi Records: That Memphis Beat". Record Hunter. July 1991
  • " B.B. King: The Fortunate Son". Goldmine. April 29, 1994
  • " Tim Hardin: Poet of the Interior". Goldmine. June 24, 1994
  • " Ian and Sylvia: Northern Journey". Goldmine. July 8, 1994
  • " The Big Bopper (J.P. Richardson)", " Floyd Cramer", " Johnny Horton", " Billy Walker". The Encyclopedia of Country Music. 1997
  • "Come On, Let's Go!: Elvis on the Hayride". Mojo. December 2004
  • "B. B. King: A Golden Anniversary". The B. B. King Reader. Hal Leonard Corporation. 2005. pp. 9–14.

Selected production credits

Producer credits on major LP and CD releases: [5]

Selected liner notes


Grammy Awards

Year Category Nominated work Result
1992 Best Album Notes Hank Williams: The Original Singles Collection ... Plus Nominated
1994 Best Album Notes B.B. King: King of the Blues Nominated
1999 Best Historical Album The Complete Hank Williams Won
Best Album Notes Nominated
2011 Best Historical Album Hank Williams: The Complete Mother's Best Recordings...Plus! Nominated
2015 Best Historical Album Hank Williams: The Garden Spot Programs, 1950 Won

Tony Awards

Year Category Nominated work Result
2010 Best Musical Million Dollar Quartet Nominated
Best Book of a Musical Nominated

Drama Desk Award

Year Category Nominated work Result
2010 Outstanding Revue Million Dollar Quartet Nominated

Living Blues

Year Category [18] Nominated work Result
2003 Best Blues Album - Historical/Reissue When the Sun Goes Down - The Secret History of Rock & Roll Won
Best Blues Album - Liner Notes B.B. King: The Vintage Years Won

International Bluegrass Music Association

Year Category [19] Nominated work Result
2007 Liner Notes of the Year Ralph Stanley: A Mother's Prayer Won

Personal life

Escott was born in Boughton Aluph, Kent, England, on 31 August 1949, the son of Lenny, an optician, and Betty Escott. He graduated in 1971 from the University of Kent with a B.A. degree. [1] [2] He has lived in Nashville and Toronto.


  1. ^ a b "Escott, Colin". Retrieved December 9, 2022.
  2. ^ a b c d "The Colin Escott Collection - Biographical Sketch" (PDF). 2019. Retrieved December 20, 2022.
  3. ^ a b "Colin Escott Library". Rock's Backpages. Retrieved December 9, 2022.
  4. ^ "Colin Escott". Simon & Schuster. Retrieved December 11, 2022.
  5. ^ a b Colin Escott at AllMusic
  6. ^ "ARSC Awards for Lifetime Achievement & Distinguished Service to Historical Recordings". Association for Recorded Sound Collections. Retrieved December 20, 2022.
  7. ^ "Awards". International Country Music Conference. Retrieved December 21, 2022.
  8. ^ a b "Who's Nominated?". Tony Awards. IBM Corp. Retrieved December 9, 2022.
  9. ^ Gans, Andrew. "Foster and Stanley Will Join Original Chicago Quartet for Broadway's Million Dollar Quartet", January 21, 2010
  10. ^ Fick, David. "Million Dollar Quartet Opens Tonight". Musical Cyberspace, April 11, 2010
  11. ^ "Tennessee Tourism Teams Up with Armchair Productions for "Tennessee Music Pathways" Podcast". Nashville Music City. August 22, 2022. Retrieved December 20, 2022.
  12. ^ "Sun Records at 70 celebrates 'ELVIS'". Niagara Frontier Publications. June 10, 2022. Retrieved December 22, 2022.
  13. ^ Won 1994 Ralph J. Gleason Book Award third prize.
  14. ^ Nominated for 1997 Ralph J. Gleason Award.
  15. ^ "Creative Team". Million Dollar Quartet Christmas. Retrieved December 14, 2022.
  16. ^ "Hank Williams ~ About Hank Williams | American Masters | PBS". PBS. 10 August 2005. Retrieved December 23, 2022.
  17. ^ Petski, Denise (2016-03-14). "Chad Michael Murray To Star in CMT's 'Million Dollar Quartet'". Deadline. Retrieved 2017-02-22.
  18. ^ "2003 Living Blues Awards". Living Blues. Retrieved December 22, 2022.
  19. ^ "Award Recipient - Colin Escott". International Bluegrass Music Association. Retrieved December 22, 2022.

External links