1892–1940

Sep­tem­ber 18, 1892, Up­shur Coun­ty, Tex­as.

Au­gust 19, 1940, Bay­lor Hos­pi­tal, Dallas, Tex­as.

Laur­el Land Ce­me­te­ry, Dal­las, Tex­as.

portrait

Virgil was the son of Will­iam Os­car Stamps and Flor­ence Cor­ine Ros­ser. His fa­ther was a lum­ber­man and some­time state le­gis­la­tor. Vir­gil mar­ried twice, to Ad­die Belle Cul­pep­per and True­man Bus­sey.

As a young teenager, he at­tend­ed the Up­shur Coun­ty Sing­ing Con­ven­tion and fell in love with quar­tet sing­ing. In 1907, he attend­ed a sing­ing school run by R. M. Mor­gan. From 1911–14, he taught sing­ing schools while con­tin­u­ing to work at the fam­i­ly store in Ore Ci­ty, Tex­as.

In 1914, he com­posed his first song—Man Be­hind the Plow—and sold it for ten cents a co­py. En­cour­aged by his suc­cess, he went to work for a mu­sic com­pa­ny that year, and con­tin­ued his mu­sic­al stu­dies.

In 1917, Stamps moved to At­lan­ta, Geor­gia, to work for an­oth­er mu­sic com­pa­ny, and in 1918, to Law­rence­burg, Ten­nes­see. He re­turned to Tex­as in 1919, set­tling in Timp­son, then in Jack­son­ville, where he op­ened a branch of­fice for his em­ploy­er. In 1924, he found­ed the V. O. Stamps Mu­sic Com­pa­ny, and pub­lished his first vol­ume, Har­bor Bells.

In 1926, Jes­se Bax­ter be­came as­so­ci­at­ed with the Stamps con­cern. In 1927, the com­pa­ny changed its name to the Stamps-Bax­ter Mu­sic Com­pa­ny. With­in two years, the firm moved its head­quar­ters to Dall­as, Tex­as, and op­ened an office in Chat­ta­noo­ga, Ten­nes­see.

For the first few years, Stamps-Bax­ter had its books print­ed in Dal­ton, Geor­gia, but in 1934 de­cid­ed to be­gin print­ing them it­self. By 1936, the com­pa­ny moved to larg­er quar­ters, and was known as the Stamps-Bax­ter Mu­sic and Print­ing Com­pa­ny. At the time, it was said to be larg­est print­ing con­cern in the world de­vot­ed to Gos­pel mu­sic.

Stamps was al­so known as the found­er of the Stamps Quar­tet, a Gos­pel sing­ing group, which in 1936 be­gan broad­cast­ing in Dal­las, Texas, on ra­dio sta­tion KRLD. In 1938 and 1939, the quar­tet ran all-night sing­ing con­ven­tions in lo­ca­tions such as the Cot­ton Bowl of the State Fair Park, and the Dal­las Spor­ta­tor­i­um. The 1939 ev­ent ran from 8:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m., and was broad­cast for near­ly eight straight hours.

At the time of his death, Stamps was su­per­vis­ing ov­er a do­zen quar­tets sing­ing on var­i­ous ra­dio sta­tions, was ed­it­ing the month­ly Gos­pel Mu­sic News, and was pre­si­dent of the Texas State Sing­ers As­so­ci­a­tion.

He event­u­al­ly be­came a mem­ber of the Tex­as Music Hall of Fame, and—in at least the se­cu­lar world—is pe­rhaps best re­mem­bered for his ar­range­ment of the mu­sic to When the Saints Go March­ing In, in the Star­lit Crown (Dall­as, Tex­as: Stamps-Bax­ter Mu­sic, 1937), num­ber l8.

  1. At Sun­set I’m Go­ing Home
  2. Don’t For­get to Pray
  3. He Bore It All
  4. My Pray­er