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The Country Music Hall Of Fame® And Museum Adds The British Archive Of Country Music To Its Collection

March 05, 2024

The acquisition was underwritten by the Tyson Family Foundation
and includes more than 50,000 sound recordings

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – March 5, 2023 – The Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum has added the British Archive of Country Music (BACM) to its collection, which consists of more than 50,000 historic sound recordings, as well as books, periodicals, videotapes, photographs and more. The acquisition and transport of the collection from England was made possible through a gift from the Tyson Family Foundation.

The BACM collection was housed in Dover, England, and compiled by the late British collector Dave Barnes over a span of more than seven decades. Barnes established the nonprofit archive in 1987 to catalog and preserve thousands of country music recordings and more. The collection is a trove of country music history assembled from a British vantage point, containing many recordings and information files about country musicians from Canada, Australia, the U.K. and Europe, as well as U.S. recordings. Upon Barnes’ death in 2020, his family collaborated with the museum on the acquisition of the BACM with support from the Tyson Family Foundation.

With the addition of the BACM collection, the museum’s archive now encompasses more than 250,000 sound recordings, including phonograph cylinders, disc records, tapes, CDs and digital files, ranking it among the world’s largest collections of country music recordings.

“We are thankful to the Barnes family and the Tyson Family Foundation for helping bring this enormous and important collection to the museum’s archives,” said Kyle Young, CEO of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. “The British Archive of Country Music speaks to the international influence of country music. We’re honored to preserve the collection and continue BACM’s legacy of making this music available to researchers and scholars across the world.”

“My father Don Tyson was a huge, lifelong fan of country music, as well as many other forms of music,” said John H. Tyson, Chairman of the Board of Tyson Foods, Inc. “He passed that love of music on to his children and grandchildren as well. When we learned of the British Archive of Country Music, we immediately knew it was a treasure that should be located in posterity at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. We are pleased to have been able to work with Mr. Barnes’ son, Alan, and the team at the museum to make this a reality. My son, John Randal and daughter Olivia and I are delighted to have made this collection available so that future generations of country music fans can continue to enjoy this music as Mr. Barnes did years ago as he was putting the archive together.”

About the BACM

The BACM originated in the record collection of Barnes, who started buying 78-rpm records by artists such as Wilf Carter, Roy Rogers and Gene Autry in London as a young teenager in 1951. By the end of the 1980s, Barnes had amassed a significant collection of country music recordings and turned his collection into a formal archive. The BACM non-profit organization aimed to preserve the collection and make it available to researchers, record companies, radio and television presenters and producers, and students. The BACM also served as a record label, reissuing rare country music tracks on more than 300 CD compilations.

The BACM collection joins the museum’s world-renowned Bob Pinson Recorded Sound Collection, which recently celebrated its 50th anniversary and helped establish the museum as a premier archive and research center. Located within the museum’s Frist Library and Archive, the Pinson collection contains an estimated 98 percent of all pre-World War II commercial country recordings, in addition to tens of thousands of post-war country recordings through present day. Access to the museum’s collection is available on-site by appointment. Many recordings in the museum’s collection have been digitized and are available to access through the museum’s Digital Archive.

Panel and listening session

To celebrate this significant collection, the museum will host a panel discussion and listening session on the history of the BACM in the museum’s Ford Theater on Tuesday, April 16, at 3 p.m. The panel discussion will include Alan Barnes, son of Dave Barnes and a fine art dealer now living in Dallas, Texas; Kevin Fleming, the museum’s director of library and archival collections, who managed the acquisition of the BACM; and Martin Hawkins, music historian, record collector, and author of “A Shot in the Dark: Making Records in Nashville, 1945–1955.” The panel will be moderated by the museum’s senior director of editorial, Paul Kingsbury. Following the discussion, the museum’s longtime curator of recorded-sound collections, Alan Stoker, will lead a listening session of and discuss records from the BACM collection. The program is included with museum admission. Tickets can be reserved here.

About the museum’s collection

Since 1967, the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum has amassed a collection of country music artifacts and archival items that is the finest and most comprehensive of its kind in the world. The museum celebrates and showcases a rich American art form, preserving and interpreting items that document the history of an American musical experience rooted in Southern culture. The museum’s diverse artifact collection and Frist Library and Archive comprise more than 40,000 moving images on film, video and digital formats; 500,000 photographs; more than 250,000 sound recordings, including commercial music releases, interviews and demonstration recordings; over 700 oral history interviews; 2,000 stage costumes; 500 musical instruments; 75,000 posters; 5,000 linear feet of print materials; and thousands of additional objects illustrating the lives and careers of performers, industry figures and the culture of country music. Read more about the museum’s collection here.

Top: Photo of a 78-rpm record by Big Bill Campbell and His Rocky Mountain Rhythm, released in 1947 and included in the British Archive of Country Music collection. Rex was a British label founded in 1933. Photo courtesy of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.

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