6 June 2007

FARON YOUNG, THIRTY-SIX YEARS AGO: On June 4, 1971, Faron was one of nine big names from Nashville who performed a three-hour spectacular at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The first country music package show presented there, it was billed as “Nashville at the Garden.” A crowd of 15,000 watched as Faron stood on the revolving stage in the center of the Garden, looked around the huge facility, and said, “This place is almost as big as Johnny Cash’s living room.” Faron, the sixth to perform, earned such an ovation that Jim Ed Brown commented before going onstage, “I wouldn’t give this spot to my cleaners.” Loretta Lynn and Conway Twitty closed the show. Porter Wagoner and Dolly Parton appeared before Faron’s segment. The show’s success surprised the organizers. With the goal of showcasing country music talent to advertising agencies, they’d hoped to sell enough tickets to prevent a major loss at the box office. A comment from one of them summed up what they should have realized at the beginning: “The show was a success–and why not? Every act was a star.” (This is a summary of “Madison Square Garden Fans Like Country Music,” an article Red O’Donnell wrote for The Nashville Banner the next day.)

In reference to Porter Wagoner getting the 2007 IFCO Tex Ritter Award, Bobby Jones writes, “Faron received this award. The Johnson sisters told me when he was presented with this award he cried.”

Response: Yes, Loretta Johnson described the occasion for me in an email and I put it in the book. The International Fan Club Organization honored Faron with its Tex Ritter Award on June 8, 1983. “Much as we appreciate and admire his long list of accomplishments as an entertainer,” said co-president Loudilla Johnson, “tonight we especially wish to recognize Faron Young as the founder and long-time president of Music City News.” She said, “The publication, now celebrating its 20th year, was the first to involve the fans in the actual structure of the paper and its related activities. We specifically commend the establishment of the industry’s first fan-voted awards.” Faron accepted the surprise award with tears in his eyes. “Yeah, y’all like to see an old hard-ass like me cry,” he said.

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