11 October 2006

FARON YOUNG, FIFTY-FIVE YEARS AGO:  Faron’s first solo performance on the Louisiana Hayride occurred October 13, 1951. His hair had been cut off as an initiation ritual at Centenary Methodist College in Shreveport, and he later said, “I was embarrassed, so Webb slapped that great big ten-gallon hat on me when I went on stage, and I looked like a rabbit sitting under a collard leaf.” He was Webb Pierce’s frontman at the time. The Hayride announcer, Frank Page, called him “a rising young folk music artist” and introduced him by saying, “Remember that name, Faron Young. We think you’ll be hearing it more and more as time goes by. Because Faron has a fresh new style of his own that appeals to many. Listen as he sings ‘The Good Lord Must Have Sent You.'”

Charlie Roberts sends this enjoyable story about knowing Faron in the Army:  “I just wanted to tell you again how happy I am to have found your site and I am avidly absorbing all of the Faron stories available on there. He was one of a kind as anyone who had the good fortune to know him will verify. I first met Faron in the fall of 1952 at Fort Jackson, South Carolina where he had been sent for basic training. I had already completed my basic training and had been stationed in another company as a mail clerk. Gordon Terry, Faron’s fiddle player, was stationed in the company adjacent to mine during basic training so we had the opportunity to get acquainted before Faron arrived. Later Gordon was also stationed at Fort Jackson in the 61st Infantry as a supply clerk. Then Faron came down and the fun started so to speak. When he first arrived he was resented by some of the other soldiers because he was given certain privileges that the others didn’t receive. On the Saturday nights that he was to appear on the Opry the Army made arrangements to let him travel to Nashville to appear. Needless to say that didn’t sit too well with some of the fellows. However, anyone who knew Faron will understand that it wasn’t long before he was one of the boys. Some of the boys in his company played instruments and many a Sunday afternoon his barrack sounded like the Opry. I made it a point to walk over from my company on Sunday and listen to some great entertainment. With Faron singing and Gordon and his fiddle and anyone else who cared to join in we had a million dollar gig going. I remember one time while we were there Tex Ritter came to Columbia along with Johnny and Jack to give a show at one of the local theaters. Faron and Gordon joined them and it wasn’t long till that place was jumping. Neither Faron nor Gordon had said anything about going so it was quite a surprise to me to see them there. I might be wrong but I seem to remember Faron only taking 8 weeks of basic before he and Gordon were sent to Special Services. I do remember they told me they were being transferred to another base. Faron and I kept in touch for a period of time after that though but shortly after they left I was sent to Korea and since the war was still going on over there it was hard at times to write and he was moving around all the time putting on shows and we lost contact. Years later I walked into the lounge at the Sheraton Inn in Nashville for a business meeting and the fellow I was supposed to meet with asked me if I had ever met Faron Young. Imagine our surprise when we began to recognize each other. You can just bet we had a lot of catching up to do and I enjoyed every minute of it. He was the same old Faron I had known before. He had to laugh when he was telling me about the little corporal he had over him at Fort Jackson. He said ‘that little SOB didn’t understand that he was supposed to be nice to me. Here I was the big country music star and used to being treated like a king and here was this dried up little shrimp treating me like dirt.’ Of course he told me all of this with a big smile on his face. But that was just the way he was. No one ever had any doubt where they stood with him and that’s for sure. He either liked you or he didn’t. No middle ground there. Well, thank you for allowing me to spend some time with you and keep up the good work. You are appreciated.”

Les Leverett (who has a photo in Faron’s book) writes from Goodlettsville TN, “Thanks for the e-mail with all the comments on Faron and Marty Robbins…enjoyed every one.”
Maheen Wickramasinghe of Mississauga, Ontario, in Canada writes, “I am a 22 year old visually impaired guy and I have always loved country music especially the legends. Faron is one of my all time favorites and I am extremely delighted you will be publishing this story. I am always interested to know about artists’ personal lives and I know that Faron had quite a few problems such as his drinking, etc. If this story ever comes out on tape I will be the first one to listen to it! I read that in the early 70’s Faron spanked a girl on stage at a time when his beautiful song This Little Girl Of Mine was a hit for him. I couldn’t believe that. Is this true? Also is it true that he did things to aggravate people such as cursing, etc? God bless you and good luck on this. I will look forward to hearing from you!”

Response: Yes, Faron could definitely say things that aggravated people. I thought I’d told the spanking story already, but I couldn’t find it in my archives and then remembered it was the purecountrymusic.com website where I’d posted an explanation. What got into the news was what the parents said, not what actually happened. A little girl was running around and disrupting the show and Faron called for her parents, but nobody came. He tried singing with her, and she spit at him and pulled his hair. I’m not justifying his swatting her, because–even if it was mostly for show–that’s rather out of line with someone else’s child. But the father took it as an opportunity, my research showed, to get some money out of a rich singer. The lawsuit complaint said Faron came off the stage, grabbed her from her chair, and beat her “by striking her with some 15-20 strokes of his hand on her legs and buttocks. The father rushed to his daughter’s aid but was unable to reach her before Faron…returned to the stage.” Can you imagine someone hitting a little girl that many times and no parents, no audience members, no band members, no security stopping him? The show’s organizer saw the father standing off to the side, watching until Faron set her down. So it couldn’t have been too serious. The organizer later wrote a letter that said, “Public sentiment around here is all in Faron’s favor as everyone can see just what these people are trying to do.” When Faron settled out of court and paid the family off, to stop the negative publicity, he didn’t realize he was setting himself up to be vulnerable to an extortion attempt in Tulsa the next year. Yes, that’s what his “indecent exposure” charge was, and I’m sure some of you remember the headlines. Both stories will be in the book.

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