In 1949, Johnny Maddox was a 22-year-old aspiring pianist who worked packing records for a thriving retail and mail-order music outfit, Randy’s Records, in Gallatin, Tenn. The following year, his employer and friend Randy Wood founded a record company, Dot, and had Maddox, an accomplished ragtime pianist, cut the label's first single, "Crazy Bone Rag." In just over a month, the disc sold over 22,000 copies and established Maddox as one of the biggest sensations in the business.
A subsequent and steady stream of Maddox rags continued to resonate with buyers and musicians: W.C. Handy called Johnny Maddox "the white boy with the colored fingers" in 1952. By 1954, Maddox was voted the No. 1 jukebox artist by the Music Operators of America. His 1955 single "Crazy Otto Medley" sold an astonishing 2 million copies and stayed at No. 2 on the pop charts for over three months. Maddox, who had reintroduced the ragtime style at a point when it was a virtually dead idiom, found himself a household name, in-demand live attraction and frequent guest on the numerous network television variety shows of the day. His role in establishing Wood's Dot Records was also significant, enabling Wood to introduce another local Tennessee lad, Pat Boone, to the American public.
Maddox became recognized not only for his prodigious keyboard technique and flabbergasting 3,000-plus song repertoire but also as a historian and musicologist with one of the largest private collection of vintage sheet music in the U.S. His appeal, even during the mid-1950s rock 'n' roll explosion, was formidable, and Maddox ultimately scored nine certified gold singles, recorded almost 50 full-length albums and had sales that topped 11 million.