Faron Young and Marty Robbins newsletter — 8 August 2012

On August 7, 1992, Faron Young recorded Live in Branson, MO, USA at Gilley’s Theatre.  Faron said, “This is the first live album I’ve ever made.” He usually gave onstage songs a new personality instead of wanting them to sound like the record. Listening to the CD brings me back in time, to the feeling of being at one of his shows, complete with Dean-Martin-type delivery and jokes about favorite topics: ex-wife, fat people, and being a drunk. He described the show as “Faron Young, half shot in Branson.” The CD contains most of Faron’s greatest hits. “Leavin’ and Sayin’ Goodbye” has never sounded better than with Ernie Reed on fiddle in this version. The other Country Deputies that day were Richard Bass Barish on lead guitar, Stu Basore on steel, Ray Emmett on bass, Mark Gullen on drums, and Gene Dunlap on keyboard.

Ronny Robbins sends this update on Marty’s exhibit after the Nashville flood: “The cars are being restored and they got the instruments and suits out along with some other things. Everything in the office was wiped out though. Think they are just using the building for storage right now, since they weren’t charging admission, it wasn’t a money maker for them so it’s not high on their priority list. I think Brenda Colladay (bless her heart) is pretty much a one-man band right now, and doing the best she can to get everything restored with little or no budget. I have to go out there soon, will try to find out a little more info.”

Sad news from Jeff Chandler, former member of the Marty Robbins Band: His wife, Nancy, passed away on May 10th. She had been diagnosed with the fatal disease of ALS in July of 2010. Jeff asks, “Please keep us all in your prayers.”

Wesley Scott Rose says, “You are such a great writer and I hope you will write bios on other country stars, maybe someone like Webb Pierce or Johnny Horton. There’s so many life stories to tell and you would be wonderful at writing them. Thanks for writing your book on Faron Young, I enjoy it every time I read it. Now I bought your book on Marty Robbins and I know I’ll enjoy it as well.”

Geoff Lambert asks from England, “When my wife and I visited Nashville from the UK back in 1990 we tripped over a country shop and in the rear was a lot of Marty Robbins memorabilia including a car. We think it wasn’t far away from the Jim Reeves museum which, like this country shop, we tripped over coming up a slip road off an interstate. When we found the place, I do not recall anything mentioning Marty outside and we only stopped to get something to eat and when we went inside right at the back was from memory quite a lot of Marty bits and pieces including the car. Can you help me out is that still the museum? Where was it? And if it isn’t the current museum, where is the museum now?”
Response: I have no idea, Geoff. Perhaps my readers can help you.

Mike McKay writes from Youngstown, Ohio, “I have a musical question about Marty Robbins that has been bugging me for decades. I got my Communications degree in 1973, and the first radio job I found following graduation was at a country music station. I figured if I was gonna play this music, I better damn well learn to like it! And being exposed to the contemporary country music of the day whetted my appetite for its roots. I moved to a second country station that had a much deeper library of old country 45s and LPs. Somewhere in the depths of the collection was a compilation album…it might have been one prepared especially for radio stations, I’m not sure…and on that album was one of Marty’s older recordings — one that predated “Singin’ the Blues” and “A White Sport Coat.” I can’t tell you what it was, but I fell in love with the purity of the sound of Marty’s minimally accompanied voice and the simple production of the music. I wanted more like this…but there was absolutely none to be found. All of Marty’s Greatest Hits albums at the time started with “Singin’ the Blues” and moved forward…nothing could be found of his pre-1956 recordings. And here is the crux of the matter: I could swear that somewhere in this time frame (roughly mid-1970s), I read that Marty was somehow ashamed of these earlier recordings, and personally decreed they should not be made available. There seems to be strong evidence that this decree was followed. While many other artists saw their earlier recordings available on budget label reissues (i.e., Harmony, Pickwick, etc.), there was no early Marty Robbins to be found anywhere. And believe me, I looked. I haunted garage sales and flea markets, and while I found a lot by my other country faves, there was nothing available for Marty. It was only when the German Bear Family label came out with those 1951-1955 tracks that I was finally rewarded with such beautiful songs as “I’ll Go on Alone,” “Sing Me Something Sentimental” and the amazing “Lorelei.” So, my question to you is: in the course of your research, did you ever find any evidence that Marty made such a statement about being ashamed of his early work and/or not wanting it to be available? I can’t believe I could have completely imagined the statement that was attributed to Marty (or someone close to him). I can’t have just made that up out of whole cloth! I guess I’m looking for some kind of indication that I’m remembering correctly, and that the lack of availability of Marty’s early Columbia recordings during his lifetime was no accident. I wonder if there is anyone else who would have any insight into this, if it’s not something you’ve encountered before.”
Response: Marty was a perfectionist, but I didn’t come across any evidence that he rejected his earlier music. Readers?

Kelly Henkins (aka The Country Angel) says, “Sorry it took me longer to get the review for Marty’s book on my blog (http://kellyscountry.blogspot.com). I did get it up on Amazon some time ago but some life things happened and I didn’t get to the blog for awhile. I included a link to Amazon and your email address for anyone wanting to sign up for the newsletter.”

Wayne Kepner writes, “Here’s a little country music story to share with you about Marty. As you well know, he didn’t sleep much. I was talking to Les Leverett the other day and he told me a story about Marty and Carl Butler and Pearl. They were friends and both on the Columbia label. Marty used to go to Carl and Pearl’s home and spend time playing their piano into the wee hours of the morning. Carl and Pearl gave that piano and bench to Les and Dot Leverett so their daughter, Libby, could take piano lessons. When Libby married, she carried the piano to her new home. They later bought a new home but didn’t have room for the piano and left it in the old house. They did return the piano bench to Libby’s daddy, Les. He still has that piano bench to this day.”

Wanda Anderson in Nashville offers this note in response to Linda Elliott Clark: “The Andrew Jackson Hotel was not on a hill, I feel certain that she stayed at the Maxwell House Hotel, it was at 4th Ave and Church St easy walking distance to Ryman.  Seven presidents have stayed there, the hotel burned Christmas Eve 1961. The Maxwell House coffee acquired the name from this hotel plus the Maxwell family was a prominent family in Davidson County. The story goes that President Theodore Roosevelt while visiting Nashville and after drinking some of the coffee, stated it was good until the last drop.”

Gene Dunlap, one of the Country Deputies on Faron’s live CD in Branson, played keyboard from 1991 until Faron stopped performing in 1993. “Faron was one of the most honest, forthright people I’ve ever met,” Gene says. “He’d tell anybody what he thought, right there on the spot. And I loved him for that. I thought it was a great characteristic to have, but it didn’t endear him to a lot of people.” Gene and his brothers performed on the Louisiana Hayride in the mid-1950s before he moved to Nashville and worked Bob Luman and then Loretta Lynn. He still lives in the Nashville area and can be found on Facebook.

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