Faron Young and Marty Robbins newsletter — 8 December 2010

This evening 28 years ago (also a Wednesday) Marty Robbins died, a week after being hospitalized during his final heart attack. I’d known from news reports that he was in serious condition, but his death still came as a complete shock. He’d survived heart attacks and car crashes, and I fully expected him to survive this. So did everyone else, I’m sure. He was 57.
Fourteen years ago tomorrow, Faron Young finally gave in to his long-running depression. His friends were used to his suicide threats, which he treated as jokes, and no one realized he wasn’t joking. Looking back, it’s easy to see he showed classic signs of a depressed man heading for suicide. He died 24 hours after shooting himself. He was 64.
These were the only two singers whose deaths ever propelled me to send sympathy cards to their unknown families. Who could have dreamed I would someday write their biographies?

Update on Twentieth Century Drifter: The Life of Marty Robbins book contract: I’ve sent the photo spread to the University of Illinois Press and am waiting for the last of the permission forms to be returned to me, so I can send them in. Then I wait for the copy edited manuscript to come back for review.

Becky Hobbs says, “I LOVE your Faron Young book. I started reading it on the plane yesterday, and could not put it down. You captured his personality to a ‘T.’ You ROCK! And, so did Faron.”

Response: Thanks for a great concert here in Sioux Falls, Becky. I wish it had been longer.

Dixie Grass writes from San Antonio, Texas, “I love receiving your newsletter.  Faron was (still is) my husband’s favorite country singer although he was not a country music lover until we met in 1964. I was very happy to introduce him to the country singers I grew up listening to and he was so pleased to see and meet Faron in San Antonio during the early 80’s.  I’m so glad I got on your list.  Many thanks to the Rankins in California whom we met on a Grand Ole Opry Cruise last year.  Another one coming up 30 January 2011 and look forward to seeing them.”

Louisa Howerow writes, “Just to add another note of congratulations to all those you’ve already received, Diane. I remember when you started with the Faron Young story — and how pleased I was that it was picked up by such a good press and now a second book with them — all to the good. May you have many appreciative readers. (I’m sure you will!)”

Ron Reagan reports, “Now I know who Hubert Long is!!! After Don Bowman came out with ‘Chet Atkins, Make Me A Star,’ I saw Jethro of Homer and Jethro fame quip on one of Don’s albums that his next song could be ‘Hubert Long, Get Me A Booking!'”

Ray Emmett sends this update on his health: “I had a heart failure and my heart rate went way up to 150. They had to shock it to get it down to normal. I’m real weak now but I’ll get better in a few days. Just have to slow down a bit.”

When Bobby Braddock moved from Florida to Nashville to pursue a songwriting career in 1966, he found a job playing piano in the Marty Robbins band. Marty recorded two of his songs, and Bobby recalls, “When that happened, I thought maybe I really am a songwriter.” He left Marty to work for Sony Tree Music and, he says, “went on to have a career writing a bunch of number one songs.” Those songs include “He Stopped Loving Her Today,” “D-I-V-O-R-C-E,” “Golden Ring,” and “I Wanna Talk About Me.” After I interviewed Bobby for Marty’s biography, we met at the Southern Festival of Books in 2007 and exchanged books. His is Down in Orburndale: A Songwriter’s Youth in Old Florida.

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