Faron Young and Marty Robbins newsletter — 19 May 2010

I emailed the completed manuscript of Twentieth Century Drifter: The Life of Marty Robbins last week and received this response from the editor: “I’ve read your Marty Robbins manuscript with pleasure and am sending it out to two readers for formal assessment. I anticipate having their comments back by midsummer. Thanks for your fine work on the manuscript, and I’ll be in touch as the reports come in.” If all goes well, I might have a book contract by Marty’s 85th birthday, followed by publication in late 2011 or early 2012. Today I started working on the index. I’m looking for photos to put in the book. If anyone has a good-quality photo and owns the copyright (no professional publicity shots or photos with fans), I’d be happy to consider it.

I’ve been wondering whether Faron and Hilda’s second home survived the flooding. They moved to the house on Brush Hill Road near the river in 1956, close to where Hubert Long lived,  The house was much larger than their first one, and they considered it a step up to be able to afford it. Soon after moving in, they remodeled the kitchen into what Hilda still remembers as her favorite kitchen.  Pink and charcoal and metal were popular at the time. They installed pink metal cabinets, along with a hanging refrigerator, a dishwasher and a hanging freezer that looked like a cabinet. The fireplace on the other side of the breakfast nook had charcoal bricks, “It was a gorgeous kitchen, metal, that was the thing back then,” Hilda says.

Barbara’s obituary is in the Washington Post: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/washingtonpost/obituary.aspx?n=barbara-j-pruett&pid=142879957. I had no idea it would mention me. Note that she would like memorial donations sent to the Country Music Foundation. The memorial service will be this Saturday, May 22, at 2 p.m. at Cleveland Park Congregational Church, 3400 Lowell St. NW, Washington, DC 20016.

Jean Earle sends this sorrowful note from the UK: “Thank you for the latest newsletter. Lots to read. I have been so sad to see all of the flood pictures from Nashville. Nothing in our papers or on the T.V. but found them on our computer. We had the most dreadful news on the Tuesday after the flooding….our lovely friends who we have known for 35 years were caught in a flash flood on the way to church and were both drowned. We just could not believe it ….Billy and Frankie Rutledge were the first folk we met when we visited Nashville in 1975… When they realised we had travelled from England with the hope of seeing Faron, they said they could take us to see him! What a thrill….we went to Pine Street and saw Faron in his office. Wonderful!! Billy and Frankie have remained our dearest friends for 35 years …we returned to their home many times and they came to England to see us many times too. We are still in shock and heartbroken. Terry Counts and Alana Young have been very supportive to us. Bye for now. Hope Nashville soon recovers.”

Jenny Jones writes, “Thanks for adding me to the Faron Young and Marty Robbins newsletter.  I do not watch a lot of news; and did not realize how bad the flood was in Nashville; until I heard from Billy Walker’s step-daughter and saw the pictures on the e-mail newsletter I just read from you.  It is such a shame that beautiful memories are being washed away.”

Dave Rogers, who flew from Washington DC to Nashville to visit his granddaughter, reports, “I went to see the Grand Ol Opry yesterday but it was closed for flood repairs. I drove along the river and saw the homes with piles of carpets and insulation and clothes outside. It was sobering. Then went to the Hard Rock Cafe and it was closed for flooding. There is such a difference here. Instead of ‘Oh poor me’ it is ‘How can I help.’ Really amazing.”

PJ “Steelman” Jenkins recalls, “In 1981, I was leaving the old Municipal Auditorium, as I pushed the door open, Marty was walking in. I did an about face and walked with him, he chatted with me like I was his long, lost brother. When we got to the steps at the edge of the stage, he turned and shook my hand and said, ‘This is where I leave you, Friend.’ The only time I had an opportunity to meet him. . . . For the Marty Robbins bio, I can hardly wait.  And then I can’t wait to see what great artist you will take on next.”

Terry Counts says, “As usual great letter! I thought I would let folks know that HEE HAW is on dvd.. you might have them try online at the  Ernest Tubb record shops, or Amazon. they were selling them at the Dollar general store but not anymore..but they are out there folks..they did have a TV commercial selling them but I don’t know if it still is.”

Ron Reagan writes, “In response to David Corne, I’d suggest he probably does have access to Hee Haw if he saw a satellite channel offering Porter Wagoner and The Wilburn Brothers.  Hee Haw airs on RFD-TV as do the other two mentioned shows.”

Sheree Homer says, “Thanks for adding me to the newsletter subscription list. Interesting as always. Glad to be informed of what is going on in Nashville. I saw bits and pieces on TV. I, too, cried when I saw the Opry stage underwater. Feel terrible for everyone involved. I can’t imagine losing my possessions. Please keep me informed if you hear exactly what was ruined at the museum. So much history there. I hope they were able to get out the most important items. Although it isn’t good that photos were destroyed either. Very sad. I wanted to go back to Nashville soon since I haven’t been there since I was very young. I don’t even remember it. Thanks again for the information.”

I interviewed Ray Edenton for both Faron’s and Marty’s biographies.  Although I’ve never met him, we talked several times on the phone. He moved into Ma Upchurch’s boarding house in Nashville in the fall of 1952. “There were probably 10-12 musicians living there, including Faron,” Ray told me. “I was on the road all the time. I remember him being there when I first went there. . . . Always a lot of music in the house. There were so many players, so many different bands, everything from bluegrass to pop.” A few months after Faron left in November to join the Army, Ray was assigned by WSM to back a singer recently arrived from Arizona. Marty Robbins had an early morning radio show sponsored by Martha White Flour, and he needed a band to travel with him to shows in the local area. Ray played rhythm guitar for Marty for almost three years and lead guitar on his rockabilly sessions. “Marty called me in to do the session on ‘Singin’ the Blues,’ Ray says. “I played lead electric guitar on it. That was the last session I did with Marty for 15-16 years.” When I mentioned in 2006 about someone who didn’t know if Ray was still living, Ray replied, “Most people, even after they’ve seen me, don’t know whether I’m living or not. I’ll be 80 years old in November. I haven’t played anything since–’91, I guess. But I’m still kickin’ around.”

Delia Upchurch’s house at 620 Boscobel in Nashville, fifty years later

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