Faron Young and Marty Robbins newsletter — 31 March 2009

Bill Johnson played steel guitar for Marty Robbins from 1960-1974, with a two-year break in the early Sixties when he was drafted into the U.S. Army. He was one of the first people to provide me with research material and his memories when I started working on Marty’s biography. Bill talked about Marty’s heart attacks and the fuzztone origins and the poker games on the bus. When he told me he wrote “A Wound Time Can’t Erase,” I said I recognized the Stonewall Jackson song. I looked forward to meeting him someday when we were both in Nashville. So I was shocked to read Bobbe Seymour’s post to the Steel Guitar Forum that Bill died March 17. He was 70 years old. Here’s a link to post a note to his memory: http://tinyurl.com/cfl284

Bobbe Seymour of Steel Guitar Nashville says, “I didn’t hear about Bill ever being sick, a shock to me too! He was a good friend.” He adds, “Pete Fisher at the Opry came backstage and told us musicians, the Opry is going to have to let some of you guys go, we need younger players. I said, ‘Pete, we are dying off as fast as we can!’ I don’t think he even caught what I was saying. Jeanne Seely did and loved it! Stay in touch, I read all your emailing with great interest.”

Bert Wade writes, “During the sixties and early seventies we had an agency, booking Nashville and Bakersfield Talent. Additionally, I had a band called the Westwinds and fronted many of the shows we booked into B.C. Canada. We have special memories of Faron, and the odd story we can’t tell, but we always could count on him being there, doing a super show, and yes, if the venue allowed he would sit on the edge of the stage and ask for requests, songs that were other’s hits as well as his own. He stayed there and signed autographs. Darrel McCall was with him on most of the tours, as was Odell Martin. But these guys also played for Ray Price, and so on, as musicians were want to do. It is too bad that Traditional country Music has not seen fit (those responsible in the business end) for keeping tradition like it should be. After all, you never hear of on Opera singer by any other title, there is no such thing as “new Opera”, the Rockers of this world still play to huge crowds, are still considered “rock an roll”.

Juanita Buckley sends this announcement from Willcox, Arizona: “Wanted you to know Marty Robbins, Rex Allen SR & JR were inducted into the National Traditional Country Music Assn. Hall Of Fame on March 7, 2009. Bob Everhart, President of NTCMA, came to the 18th Annual Tribute to induct all 3.”

Linda Elliott Clark says, “Thanks so much for your continual updates. This brings back so, so many memories for me from the 50’s and 60’s (maybe early 70’s). Don Williams is one of my favorite singers and miss not having seen him in recent years. His voice gets to your heart and soul. Is he still performing in different areas of the country? Of course Bill Anderson I have listened to for years. Saw him perform several times when I visited the Opry at the Ryman Auditorium in the mid 50’s and later in the late 60’s, and of course watching him on TV at the Opry. Billy Grammar I remember well also. Saw several of his shows when he was in the DC area. He appeared at several of the local parks. Remember one time in particular when he was either at Bull Run Park or a regional park in Culpeper, VA. Saw George Jones at these parks as well. Saw Jim Ed Brown at a club in Waldorf, MD. Fats Domino at same location one time. Conway Twitty shows I always tried to see. Saw so many different country music artists of that era that it would be too hard to mention them all here. As you can see, I was a huge country music fan of that era. It does my heart good to re-live some of those years.”

Barbara Pruett checks in to say, “Thanks for the update via the newsletter. I enjoyed it very much. I always want more information on Marty.”

Bill Yarbor in Haubstadt, Indiana, says, “I think one of the most under appreciated recordings that Faron made is one he did in the years at Capitol, ‘I Miss You Already.’ A bit of it was featured in the movie Walk the Line. The scene had a radio playing in the background and this record was playing. I’ve always thought it was a great record and the opening line as delivered by Faron will have you hitting replay to hear it again. Just wanted to share. Love the newsletter and best wishes for continued good fortune with the books.”Here are Faron and the Deputies: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UO02NGwvqPU&feature=related

Jeani and Beeman Burgoon of Carroll, Ohio, write, “We, also, listened, last Saturday on the XM radio station, to Bill Anderson’s interview with you. It was great! No one can interview like ‘our’ Bill. We have been long time BA fan club members. Thank you for remembering Faron with your book. We haven’t bought it yet but intend to. He was a great country singer and joined the Legends in ‘Hillbilly Heaven,’ the song Mr. Acuff sang. We miss him so. We watch the old television reruns of ‘Hee Haw’ on the satellite station RFD. He was on the other day, taped in 1970, and sang ‘Wine Me Up.’ His voice was so smooth and that little grin and wink he had was so good to see again.”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kn3msOjIbsg&feature=related

Bruce Carlson writes from Fort Mill, South Carolina, “Diane, what a wonderful book you wrote about my favorite country singer. I shed tears many times throughout the book. I remember back in the 50’s my brother took me to Newark NJ to see Faron which I think was sponsored by WAAT radio station at that time.  Also, I saw him in Secaucus NJ at Shorty Warren’s Copa Club. When I was stationed in Tacoma WA in the 60’s I saw a performance there. . . . Thanks for writing such a wonderful biography and cannot wait for your book on Marty Robbins.”

Buddy Rogers has another personal story about his two years as Marty’s drummer: “The very first night I played with Marty, naturally I was a little nervous, and I surely wanted to please him. Well, the very first tune he called up was ‘El Paso’! Dang!  But when I realized that this was in 3/4 time, I started playing my ‘jazz waltz’ pattern with brushes, on the snare drum. You see, my varied musical background included lots of jazz, and this busy beat I was playing just seemed to fit right in! HA! Well, right after Marty started singing, he stopped for a second and said into the mike, ‘Whatcha doin’ back there, Whitey, sounds like a dog trottin’ through some dry leaves!’ Everybody laughed, even the other band members! I switched to a much simpler pattern on the snare, he was pleased, and ‘the ice was broken’! My nervousness was gone, and he had made me feel comfortable as a regular band member from then on!”


If anyone is planning to attend the Cherry Blossom Festival parade in Washington D.C. this Saturday, please stop by the Navy Memorial (http://www.navymemorial.org/) at the corner of 7th St NW and Pennsylvania Avenue. At 2:30 PM in the Heritage Center, I’ll be talking about my Navy career and signing Navy Greenshirt.

One Response to “Faron Young and Marty Robbins newsletter — 31 March 2009”

  1. Regina Broach Says:

    I was a dear friend to Bill, and wnat to know when your book is ready, so that I can read it. I was very close to Bill, asnd miss him so much.

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