MARTY ROBBINS FORTY YEARS AGO
In late July 1972, Marty filmed his singing western, The Drifter, at Apacheland near Phoenix, Arizona. The movie’s name was changed to Guns of a Stranger at the request of Clint Eastwood’s company, so as not to conflict with Eastwood’s latest movie, High Plains Drifter. This agreement must have disappointed Marty, who had used the drifter theme in his first television series and in numerous songs and had long wanted to make the movie. To get a horse already accustomed to the Arizona climate, he hired Flax, who had appeared in The High Chaparral as the mount of Manolito (played by Henry Darrow). Several scenes showed Marty in a sleeveless undershirt, exhibiting his healthy-looking physique. His action scenes included a boxing match, and he did not look like someone who underwent triple bypass heart surgery less than three years earlier.
I’ve just learned that Twentieth Century Drifter is available as a Google eBook:
http://books.google.com/books?id=jGbogMkLPLYC. Live Fast, Love Hard “had an issue with the file,” according the publisher. The file was resent, and the book should be available shortly. Legal issues with Amazon.com still need to be worked out before the books can be downloaded from Kindle. I haven’t heard anything about Nook.
COTTON OWENS 1924-2012
Everett “Cotton” Owens–recently selected for induction into the NASCAR Hall of Fame–died June 7 at age 88. He’d been diagnosed with lung cancer seven years ago and chose not to treat the cancer aggressively, saying he had led a full life. When I did a phone interview with him in 2006, he said he started working with Marty Robbins when “I took this Plymouth and made a Dodge out of it for Marty there in 1972.” He maintained Marty’s cars for the next ten years, at his racing operation in Spartanburg, South Carolina. Cotton said Marty called him about six o’clock one afternoon in 1982. “We talked, and finally I asked him, ‘What else you got on your mind?’ He said, ‘Oh, I just called you to see how you’re doing, and wanted to chat a little bit.’ And then at 11:00 that night he had his final heart attack.” Cotton added, “After he died, I carried the Buick to Nashville, and they put it in Marty’s museum up there in Nashville. And the Dodge, it went to Talladega.”
Gerald Walton reports, “Just wanted to let know that Twentieth Century Drifter is in the Oklahoma City library.”
Linda Elliott Clark writes from northern Virginia, “I just read your interview about Marty. Very good. What goes on inside a person, only that person knows. We are ALL human, with human emotions from either our beginning life or things we have gone through over time. Like the old saying goes, ‘don’t judge someone until you have walked in their shoes.’ I’m trying to remember if the Andrew Jackson was where I stayed when I came to Nashville around 1955. I remember the hotel was on a hill within walking distance of the Ryman. I can remember the ride from Arlington, VA, to Nashville and how warm it was in the car, because many cars back then did not have A/C. When we got to the hotel in Nashville, it felt so good to get in an A/C room! Back in those days the Ryman was not air conditioned either, and I remember the night we went to the show it was very warm. Even with all the heat, though, the show was soooo good. I later went back to Nashville when I was about 20 to the Ryman as well. A lot of lasting memories of those days. Thanks for keeping them alive.”
Marge Hemsworth writes from Nova Scotia, “Recently when my friend Bonny Martell and I went to visit friends in Nashville, I bought your Marty book (had already rec’d your Faron one from our mutual friend Diane Jordan). After a wonderful visit with Diane, and also with Hank’s secretary, Sheri Blackwood and her husband Friday, I’m reading the book on the flight home. I’d also known Marty, and Bonny is reading over my shoulder. She says, ‘You told me that part . . . you told me that part also . . . you told me Marty discovered the Glaser Bros. Marge, why are you bothering to read the book?’ Thanks for another great read . . . .
P.S. Here in Nova Scotia, we just call him ‘Hank.’ We think ‘our home town boy’ is the ONLY Hank!”
“Marty Robbins has always been my idol,” Wayne Hobbs says. “I started playing acoustic guitar and singing when I was about four. It was Marty Robbins music that I was singing. My dad played steel guitar, and so that’s where I learned to play steel guitar.” Wayne worked with Connie Smith and Barbara Mandrell and then spent five years playing steel guitar in Hawaii before auditioning in early 1982 for Marty Robbins. “It was just Marty with his guitar and me with my steel,” Wayne recalls. “That was kinda scary, like WOW. I thought he was gonna start doing his ballad songs or western songs. But he started singing Hawaiian music, and I think we took a liking to each other right off the bat. He said, ‘how do you know all those songs?’” After Marty’s death, Wayne returned home to Ohio, where he still lives.