Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music


TUBB, Ernest

(b Ernest Dale Tubb, 9 Feb. '14, Crisp TX; d 6 Sep. '84, Nashville) Country singer, guitarist; one of the all-time kings of country music. Consumed by a passion for Jimmie Rodgers as a boy, he went to see Rodgers's widow, still living in San Antonio '35 (where Tubb got his first radio dates on KONO); she was impressed with his sincerity, convinced him he didn't sound a bit like Rodgers, gave him Rodgers's guitar and helped arrange for two Victor sides ('The Passing Of Jimmie Rodgers' and 'Jimmie Rodgers' Last Thoughts') which went nowhere. He worked digging ditches for the WPA (Depression-era Works Progress Administration), played nights for oil-field workers in bars; signed with Decca late '39 and promoted Gold Chain Flour on KGKO Fort Worth, becoming the Gold Chain Troubadour; became more famous as the Texas Troubadour after massive '42 hit 'I'm Walkin' The Floor Over You'. Joined the Grand Ole Opry and became an innovator, taking honky-tonk music to that already hallowed institution, a fusion of rough country vocals with the swagger of western swing, also one of the first to establish the electric guitar in country music and headlined the first country music show at Carnegie Hall '47 (he looked around and observed, 'This place sure could hold a lot of hay'). Appeared in cowboy movies Fighting Buckaroo and Ridin' West '42 (with Charles Starrett as the Durango Kid), also Jamboree '43 and Hollywood Barn Dance '47, opening his famous record shop same year near the Opry's Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, also Midnight Jamboree show on WSM, plugging the record shop and up-and-coming country stars. Bing Crosby had covered 'Walkin' The Floor Over You'; Tubb's country hits incl. duets with the Andrews Sisters ('Don't Rob Another Man's Castle' backed with his own 'I'm Bitin' My Fingernails And Thinking Of You' '49), Red Foley (top ten hits '49--53: 'Tennessee Border No. 2' at no. 2, 'Goodnight Irene' at no. 1, 'Too Old To Cut The Mustard', 'No Help Wanted'), the Wilburn Bros ('Hey Mr Bluebird' '58), Loretta Lynn (incl. 'Mr And Mrs Used To Be' '64, 'Who's Gonna Take The Garbage Out' '69). Solo hits nearly every year (with a gap '53 when a Far East tour on top of his normal two or three hundred nights a year left him exhausted and forced him to rest) incl. 'Slippin' Around' and 'Blue Christmas' '49, 'I Love You Because' plus his own 'Letters Have No Arms' and 'Throw Your Love My Way' '50, 'Missing In Action' '52, 'Thanks A Lot' '63, all top five. Producer Pete Drake (steel guitarist, alumnus of Tubb's Texas Troubadours) made surprise tribute album on Tubb's 65th birthday: two-disc Ernest Tubb: The Legend And The Legacy on the Cachet label had original Tubb tracks overdubbed with additional vocals by Lynn, son Justin (see below), Waylon Jennings, Conway Twitty, Charlie Rich, Merle Haggard, Johnny Paycheck, Marty Robbins, George Jones, Ferlin Husky and others; '65 hit 'Waltz Across Texas' was reissued as a single with Ernest, Willie Nelson and Charlie Daniels. He made over 200 singles altogether over the years; compilation LPs incl. Honky Tonk Classics on Rounder, more on MCA. Compilations etc on CD incl. The Legend And The Legacy on Step One, Live 1965 on Rhino; three big boxed sets on Bear Family Let's Say Goodbye Like We Said Hello '91, The Yellow Rose Of Texas '93, Walkin' The Floor Over You '96 total 18 CDs.