Faron Young and Marty Robbins newsletter — 12 May 2010

In 1968 Marty Robbins considered tearing down the two-and-a-half-story house that served as his office at 713 18th Avenue South in Nashville. He hired an architect to prepare preliminary sketches for a three-story office building but eventually chose to build a one-story addition at the rear of the old house. Lucy Coldsnow, Marty’s office assistant, hired the contractor and oversaw the building project, to include designing Marty’s new executive office. “I decorated it into a very rustic western décor,” she says. “That was something I did because Marty asked me to. That was just another one of my duties.” An interviewer described the new office by saying, “The décor of rough-hewn wood walls and a large glass-topped wooden desk befit the Robbins image–strong, sophisticated and very much his own man. The burnt orange, brown and gold color scheme seem to accent his cowboy nature.” It included a sofa and his piano. After Marty’s death, Ronny arranged for the desk and office furnishings to be moved to the Opry museum. I walked through the space on several of my Nashville visits but never took any photos. Marty’s 1982 NASCAR Buick was also on display. I say “was” because I haven’t heard a report on the flood damage there.

All I know about Ronny and Janet Robinson suing Jason Petty is what I read in this Tennessean article: http://tinyurl.com/2ac26np. However, as a writer, I do know something about protecting copyrights and trademarks. It’s the responsibility of an owner to challenge violations, because trademark protection can be lost if you can’t prove to a judge you did your best to stop unauthorized use. If Marty’s children don’t fight to preserve his name and image, they may lose control over it. They seem to be following proper procedure by sending a letter and then negotiating use of the rights. I read online comments about “greed,” and I wonder how it can be greed to spend thousands of dollars to protect what’s yours from someone who expects to use it for free. I hope the two sides reach an agreement, because it would benefit all fans to have Marty’s music promoted. I also hope Ronny succeeds in overcoming the copyright difficulties he’s having in trying to repackage Marty’s old TV shows. He can’t issue them without permission of all copyright holders.

David Corne sends this note from the UK: “I’d just like to thank the folks who were kind enough to respond to my query about Marty appearing on ‘Hee Haw.’ This programme has never been aired in the UK (and it’s unlikely that it ever will). Having said that, we are able to see at long last on one of the satellite channels both the Wiburn Brothers and Porter Wagoner shows (both 40 years too late!). Better late than never I s’pose! I must say how highly Johnny Cash obviously rated Marty; his latest appearance on youtube on John’s show singing ‘Jolie Girl’ and a very funny Gabby Hayes skit reminds us of not only what a superb vocalist Marty Robbins was (aside from his great songwriting ability), but also what a funny man he also was. I don’t know many artists who appeared on the Cash show 4 times, but Marty did. Regarding unreleased songs, I’ve always understood that Marty did actually record both ‘Take Me Home Country Roads’ and ‘Back Home Again’ both John Denver classics, but whether they will ever see the light of day is another matter.”

Dominique “Imperial” ANGLARES writes from France, “Yesterday, we got a report on the French TV about the situation in Nashville with some very impressive movie footages make from plane. I hope the Tennessee State government will handle better the situation than they did in New-Orleans when the Katrina flood came in. That’s pretty sad to know about Jeannie Seely’s house and to see the Opry Stage under water. Personal belongings and a large part of the American musical history should be lost forever. We just can’t help from here but all our prayers goes for the folks fighting against that new Mother Nature anger and we truly hope the Volunteers State folks can get over that mess pretty soon. Of course, our wishes came to the Louisiana Bayou folks too and we hope British Petroleum will stop that oil slick spreading across the Gulf of Mexico. Hold tight, Southern friends and know about our care.”

Ken Johnson reports, “In case you didn’t see the Today Show this morning (Wed. 5/5) Laura Bush appeared to promote the release of her new book. She also answered several questions submitted by viewers. When asked about music that she enjoys, the former First Lady indicated two of her favorite artists were Bob Marley and Van Morrison. She then said she was also a big fan of country music and mentioned Faron Young and George Jones! Enjoyed your latest newsletter – thanks for the mention. Sad about the Nashville flooding. Hope that irreplaceable items were saved from the floodwaters.”

Ron Dias writes, “How is the Marty book coming? I am looking forward to it; your book on Faron was great. If you hear from Jennie Seely or know of a way I can contact her let me know. I am a devoted fan of hers and I feel so bad. I have many signed items of hers here at home; she has been very kind to me.”

An update from Les Leverett on the Nashville flood: “The Willie Nelson & Friends Country Store and Museum is fine. Water got up to the door, but not inside. . . . I am also concerned about Marty’s museum items. But also Tex Ritter’s, Hank Snow’s, etc, etc! Brenda Colladay, Opry archivist, called me Monday to tell me that the museum was afloat. I don’t know how bad it is, as they worked all Sunday trying to save what they could. . . . Sad to say, she said all photographs are gone. The Gordon Gillingham photos that were made before my arrival on the scene are all on electronic retrieval systems. I don’t know about the old photos from early days, but all my work of 32 years is apparently gone.  She wanted to know if I would allow them access to my files for copying.”

Lucy Coldsnow Smith writes from Los Angeles, “I have been in contact with my friends in Nashville and the flooding is bad. I have one friend that lives on the Cumberland River and she is flooded, as of today she has not been able to get to her house. I am just thankful that they are all still alive. I am going to Nashville on Thursday . . . . I cannot believe that Marty’s office has been flooded. That office was my creation. Many years ago.”

Mike O’Neill writes, “lt was sad to see the Opry house stage flooded and all of the dressing rooms are behind the stage on the lower level. I am sure that Marty could write a song about the May Flood. Your News letter is always interesting.”

My business partner Jylinda White says, “I really enjoyed reading your news letter. Thinking about the devastation in Nashville is so heartbreaking. I was just in the Opry House a few years back and to see it now is simply unbelievable.”

Steel player Cal Sharp writes from Nashville, “I’ve got a new blog at http://steelguitarmadness.com/insanity that you might find interesting. Pass it on if you do. Luckily, I wasn’t flooded at home, though my Saturday night gig was a wash, since nobody could get there.”

Terry Counts says, “Great issue as always. One of my favourite pix is one with George Jones, Faron Young and Marty Robbins, taken on the stage at Hee Haw. Billy Deaton had it on his wall for decades, they were all laughing and having a great time. Sam Lovullo loved these 3 guys and had them as often as he could. Nashville is bad, bad. I cried when I saw the flooding at the Opry House. I haven’t heard yet if it flooded the stage..that circle of wood from the old Ryman on the centre of the stage is AWESOME..first time I went there and I stood on that circle I felt in awe, absolutely..of the history I was standing on.” She adds, “I cried when I saw that…yes, all Roy Acuff’s stuff in Room 1…the whole place…omg..last I heard the Hall of Fame was only basement, and I hope it stays that way…so much there that can’t be replaced.”

Pete Wade, “Shorty” Lavender, “Strollin’” Tom Pritchard, and Lloyd Green made up the second set of Faron Young’s Country Deputies, during the period January 1957 through March 1958. I erred last week in saying Ben Keith joined the band in 1957; he followed Lloyd in 1958. Lloyd didn’t originally plan to be the world-class steel player he’s known as today. He intended to follow in the footsteps of his favorite uncle, who was a career Navy officer. “I was in R.O.T.C. and would have entered the Army as a 2nd Lt. had I completed college,” he told me, “but Nashville beckoned so I became self-educated, immersing myself in history and archaeology, in addition to music.” My daughters and I visited Lloyd and Dot at their home in Nashville in 2003, and Lloyd tuned the guitar April had chosen at the Ernest Tubb Record Shop as her trip souvenir. Lloyd answered many questions for me while I was writing Faron’s biography, and he reads this newsletter regularly. Hello, Lloyd!

Lloyd Green

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.