15 March 2006

My new title for Faron’s biography is “Tell It Like It Is: The Faron Young Story.” I wrote a response to the reports on my manuscript, and the whole set of documents will be presented to the university press’s faculty board at the end of March. The board’s approval would mean I’ll be offered a contract–36 years after my first meeting with Faron. I also learned I’ll need written permission from every person I interviewed and quoted in the book. Considering I did over 120 interviews, it will take some time to find addresses for all the people and ask them to sign and return a permission form.

FARON THIRTY-SIX YEARS AGO: On St. Patrick’s Day in 1970, Faron and Roy Acuff played a package show in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. I walked downtown to the Coliseum, as I did whenever a package show came to town. (With very little money in my college days, I usually walked or rode the bus.) I stayed for both shows, collected autographs, and talked to the band. I helped Cootie Wayne carry equipment out to the bus, and Faron invited me inside. When he found out I planned to walk the three miles back to the college campus, he insisted on taking me there in the bus. We reached my college dorm, and Earl Stiltner pulled the bus into the circular driveway and turned a bright spotlight against the side of the dorm. I proudly stepped out of the bus, wondering how many girls were looking out of their windows to see what caused the bright light. Not that any of them would have recognized Faron’s name painted on the side of the bus. There weren’t many country music fans at Augustana College. But it was a memorable night for me.

INTERVIEW: While researching Faron’s life, I placed an ad in “The Retired Officer Magazine” in search of anyone who had attended Faron’s Third Army shows or knew him in his Army days. The first response came from a man who attended two of the concerts. The second person didn’t know Faron, but he told me how to find Earl Stiltner. I called Earl’s two Alaska phone numbers repeatedly over the next few months, and finally Earl answered the phone. He said he drove Faron’s bus from 1967-1971 and then joined the Army. During his twenty-year Army career, he saw Faron perform in Berlin, Germany, and at Fort Bragg/Pope Air Force Base in North Carolina. Earl turned down Faron’s employment offers by saying he’d only come back to work if Faron quit drinking. “Well, &*^*%, you know I ain’t gonna quit drinkin’,” Faron said. The Army eventually sent Earl to Alaska, and he retired there in 1992.

Robert Ackerman in Palmer, Alaska, included this note when he forwarded my newsletter last week: “Another gem on Faron Young – Did you all see (or hear) Faron on the radio near the beginning of the movie WALK THE LINE ? – a nice touch and I wish they would have had more about him also. The idea [in the newsletter] about a video of Faron would be great – of course there is some footage such as the Gannaway film but it would be fantastic if the book was made into a movie.”

Jean Earle writes from England, “Reading thro’ your letter today brought back many memories. Alan and I went up to London to see Faron in the first show of the tour. It was our very first chance to see our “hero”. It was a wonderful show. We picked up our first copy of “Music City News” that Faron had thoughtfully brought over to show his English fans. Next morning I was still under “Faron’s spell” and I suggested that we should make the journey down to Chatham to catch another show . We drove down full of excitement but when we arrived at the theatre they had a notice saying that the first show had been cancelled. We were told it was because of the death of Joe Red Hayes. We had our children with us, both fairly young and we could not keep them up long enough for the time of the second house. We had taken an old, very old, Family Bible, with the hope that we would get the chance to give it to Faron. That song was my favourite…sadly we had to leave it at the box-office. A few years later when we finally got to Nashville we spoke to Faron about that show and he said it had been the hardest of his life. Faron remembered the Bible, he still had it with him in Nashville. So many memories about that lovely man!”

John Morris in Peterborough, Ontario, writes, “It was eighteen years ago on the 13th of March I saw Faron in concert and also met him. When he heard I was blind, he came right to our table and we had a nice talk and signed an album for me. I will never forget that night.”

Travis McCauley says, “I wish you all the best in the world on getting your book on Faron published. Please add my e-mail address to your mailing list.”

Everett Corbin in Nashville writes, “I continue to read your excerpts from the Faron Young book with great interest, and, assuredly, THIS IS ONE BOOK I DON’T WANT TO MISS WHEN PUBLISHED.”

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