One of our columnists just released a new book, his biggest and most ambitious yet.
“Hello Chattanooga! Famous People Who Have Visited the Tennessee Valley ”is a 700-page book containing some two hundred photos, over a hundred years of history and a comprehensive index allowing the reader to instantly find the date Frank Sinatra, 23, made his debut. Southern debut, President Franklin D. Roosevelt dedicated the Chickamauga Dam, or Sir Winston Churchill slammed the door of his Chattanooga hotel room in the face of a reporter.
Carroll, who writes a weekly column for 47 newspapers – including The Greeneville Sun – and his website ChattanoogaRadioTV.com, has spent the past four years combing through data and photos to compile an entertaining historical record. This is Carroll’s third book, after “Chattanooga Radio and Television” (2011), an illustrated history of broadcasting from his hometown, and “Volunteer Bama Dawg” (2016) a collection of his most popular columns.
“It started as a story of the soldiers and sailors memorial auditorium,” he said, “and then it got a lot bigger. I realized that the Tivoli Theater should also be included. I told people about the project, they told me I should include all regional sites. The deeper I got, I decided it should be a full story that includes all of our famous visitors, with some stories and mixed images. So I included all of our scenes and locations in the area, as well as all the notable politicians, presidents, movie stars, athlete, author, military man and evangelist, as well as a list of movies and clips video that were shot in the area.
The book lists visitors in each category in chronological order, from 1900 to the present day. Carroll said, “Our region has attracted some of the world’s best-known celebrities and artists, with our historic places, beautiful landscapes and powerful people. This book will finally give readers the opportunity to settle a few arguments by learning the dates and places that your favorite star (or president) has visited.
“Hello Chattanooga” also lists area residents who have gained national and world fame in all fields, including political figures like Bill Brock and Estes Kefauver, athletes like Rick Honeycutt and Reggie White, and artists from Samuel. L. Jackson to Usher to Kane Brown.
There are also stories detailing famous people who appeared on our regional stages before they were famous, from Billy Graham to Jimi Hendrix to Taylor Swift.
The book also points out that many of today’s superstars have performed in these opening act venues, which were hired to occupy a certain amount of time as audiences found their seats while waiting for a close-up act to happen. Among them are Celine Dion, Britney Spears, Jeff Foxworthy and Kenny Chesney.
There are also tales of big names who had a personal connection to the area, whether through early jobs (Jim Nabors), a quickly arranged wedding (Dolly Parton), or even run-ins with the law. (Johnny Cash).
“The first reaction to the book was phenomenal,” Carroll said. “I’m grateful that it’s finally finished and available after all these years. People buy it for themselves or for Christmas presents, and I hope those who read it enjoy it as much as I put it together.
Autographed copies of “Hello Chattanooga: Famous People Who Have Visited the Tennessee Valley” are available in softcover ($ 29.95) and hardcover (39.95) via Paypal or credit card at ChattanoogaRadioTV.com, or by check at 900 Whitehall Road, Chattanooga, TN 37405 (Include $ 6 for shipping). It is published by Fresh Ink Group. Carroll can be contacted at [email protected]