Faron Young and Marty Robbins newsletter — 30 March 2011

This periodic newsletter commemorates the lives of Faron Young and Marty Robbins. The University of Illinois Press published Live Fast, Love Hard: The Faron Young Story in 2007 and is publishing Twentieth Century Drifter: The Life of Marty Robbins in the spring of 2012. The manuscript will be assigned to a copy editor in April. (Finally!)

Seven years after I first met Faron and the Deputies, they came to the Wagonwheel Ballroom in Oklahoma City. This was Faron’s second Oklahoma appearance after the end of the rigged indecent exposure lawsuit in Tulsa. His first had been to Tulsa in December 1976, and I’d driven up from OKC for that. I was thrilled when they actually came to the city where I lived. In these photos, Faron is posing for me. Ray Emmett and Richard Bass are also there. Cootie Wayne, Leon Boulanger, and Al Lewis were the other members of the band.

Elizabeth Taylor 1932-2011
Faron Young enjoyed talking about him and Johnny Cash and Elizabeth Taylor being born at the same time. “Tomorrow is Johnny Cash and Liz Taylor’s birthday,” he told Ralph Emery in 1986. “They’ll be 54. I’m one day older than Johnny Cash. I don’t believe it. He looks like he’s 175 years old. I’ll go along with Liz Taylor.” Ralph told him, “Yeah, you’d go along anywhere with Liz Taylor.” I have another quote where Faron talks about Liz ignoring his birthday greeting, but I can’t find it.

Red Freeman writes, “Diane, always glad to see your current news.  I visited with my old boss Sherwin Linton in Minneapolis last summer and we talked about how much we appreciate your continuing work on country music history.”

Gerald Walton reports, “Just wanted to tell you that your Faron Young book is in the metro Oklahoma City library 4 copies.”

Pam Dyson says, “I’d like to receive your email newsletters. While reading your Faron bio I jotted down all the addresses of homes, businesses, etc. Last fall while visiting my daughter who lives in Nashville we looked up the addresses. The boarding house owned by Mom Upchurch was not far from where my daughter was living. I was surprised to see the Young Executive Building still bears that name.”

Colin Alderson writes from South Australia, “Just a note to say how much I enjoy reading your newslatters and reading other people’s letters and tributes – excellent. If you can give Peter Trenholm my e-mail address I can help him with some of the Marty tracks he asked for. I can’t wait for the Marty Biography to come out.”

Les Leverett in Nashville says, “Diane, thanks for the newsletter. I am glad to get this word on Joe Wright. I haven’t seen nor heard of him in years and wondered if he was still around Nashville.”

Merlin Robin writes, “I just finished reading the book on Faron Young that you wrote. I salute you, very good job. I had a lot of different emotions as I read. The reason why is my father and my wife`s father were alcoholics. They had the same behavior as stated about Faron. It was pitiful in a way, especially him being in the position he was. He could have had it made. But I can relate to his children. They never felt love. Me neither. Again I say thank you!!!!”

Tim Ceska says, “I am a devotee of classic country – loved the Faron Young book and will be purchasing the Marty Robbins book as soon as it becomes available.”

John Hamilton writes, “I always enjoy the Sideman Sidebar in your newsletters, so I wanted to share with you my thoughts on one of the greatest sidemen of all time–Ralph Mooney. The steel guitar, in my opinion, is the one instrument that says ‘this is country music’ more than any other single instrument. Fiddles, mandolins, guitars and other stringed instruments are common to music genres around the world. But when the steel guitar is plugged into the mix, it’s country! Think of it as Hawaii’s contribution, and the unpublicized reason the U.S. decided to make Hawaii the 50th state in 1959: it was payment for their amazing contribution to our country’s music.”

A reader reports, “The Marty Robbins Spotlight show is now available on DVD. You can order by calling 1-800-820-5405. The cost is $136 for the entire collection. There are 10 DVDs. It is being produced by Ronny Robbins and Larry Black who also produces Country Family Reunion. Their website is http://www.cfrvideos.com. Please let your readers know.”

Linda Elliott Clark writes from Alexandria, VA, “Very interesting newsletter this month Diane.  A lot of good info. I agree with John Krebs about Webb Pierce. He did have a unique voice, and I have not heard anyone sound like him since. Also agree about Mel Tillis.  Another great one that I had the opportunity to see in person on several occasions in the late 60s.  Would be great to see stories on these two fine performers.”

David Corne (Tarquin 45 of youtube) sends this message from the United Kingdom: “Thank heaven for youtube. How great to be able to see Marty’s four appearances on the Cash shows from the early 70s. To see Marty sing ‘The Master’s Call’ (one of his very best cowboy songs) as well as the most un-Marty song ‘Jolie Girl’ was sheer delight. People who often want to know what Marty was like should go to youtube and hear what Larry Gatlin says about him. Just tap in Larry Gatlin ACM and also ‘Marty Stuart ACM’ who tells how his mother named him after Marty Robbins. I’m quite proud of the fact that I have posted more video clips of Marty on youtube than anyone else in the world and I have helped to keep the magic of Marty alive. It’s my way of paying tribute to his undoubted genius. I’ve been a Country fan for most of my life and most of the artists whose records I bought have long gone, but Ray Price, Jimmy Dickens, Sonny James, Slim Whitman, Charley Pride, Merle Haggard and Willie Nelson are still with us. In my opinion, no one has ever come close to the all-round talent that Marty Robbins had. He just had it all; the most beautiful of voices that could sing any genre and his songwriting was as impressive and versatile as his vocal ability. I await your book with interest and anticipation.”

And this great news from Conrad Noddin: “After reading some of these comments from people who still want to hear things about Marty, I decided to upload the Tribute song I wrote and recorded – ‘Marty My Friend.’ Your contacts can hear it from our online magazine Nashville Newzine at http://www.nashvillenewzine.com/MartyRobbins.html. They can also feel free to download the song by clicking on the little triangle to the farthest right on the play bar.”

Conrad Noddin quit his job with Freddie Hart in 1979 on the chance Marty Robbins would hire him to play trumpet and piano. He called Marty, who asked if he had a black suit and then told him to be at the Friday Night Opry.  Conrad thought he would be introduced to the band members. “So I’m back there,” Conrad recalls, “and I have on my black suit, and he goes, ‘Okay, let’s go.’ And I said, ‘What do you mean?’ He said, ‘You’re going to play piano.’ And it was televised, live, I’d never played with them before, I didn’t even know all their names. So I march out on stage, and I’m sitting behind the piano. He comes to this one song, and I’d never heard it in my life. I remember to this day, it was in the key of E flat, and all of a sudden he turns to me and he points, and here the camera comes. I played something, and it seemed to go fine.” About playing both piano and trumpet, Conrad explains, “I would play the left hand of the piano, the bass part and some chords, while I had the trumpet up against my lips. Some people’s brains can do it and some can’t; mine just happened to. I didn’t know it at the time until I tried it.” Conrad can now be found at Nashville Newzine and Malibu Video Productions in Spring Hill, Tennessee.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.