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Marty Robbins receives Country Music Hall of Fame honor

Monday, April 2, 2007 – Marty Robbins will be honored by the Country Music Hall of Fame with the cameo exhibition "Marty Robbins: Among My Souvenirs." The exhibition will open in the Museum's East Gallery on Aug. 3 and run through June 2008. Robbins was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in October 1982, only 7 weeks before he passed away at the age of 57.

"Marty Robbins was one of the most versatile performers in American music history," said Museum Director Kyle Young. "Throughout his career, he recorded country, western, rockabilly, Hawaiian music, gospel and pop with equal mastery. He was a showman who engaged fans and created excitement whenever he took the stage. Factor in that he was also a songwriter, businessman, actor, author and stockcar racer, and you have a Renaissance man with few equals."

An Arizona native, Robbins was born into a poverty-stricken family and endured a difficult childhood. After dropping out of high school, he joined the U.S. Navy and saw action in the Pacific Theater in World War II. Upon his return home to Arizona in the mid-1940s, Robbins began pursuing a career in music and soon had his own radio and TV shows on KPHO in Phoenix. His big break came in 1951 when Little Jimmy Dickens guested on his TV show: Dickens was so impressed with Robbins' talent that he encouraged his record company, Columbia Records, to offer Marty a contract. The label obliged and, except for the period 1972-74, when he recorded for Decca/MCA Records, Robbins remained with Columbia throughout his career.

Robbins had nearly 100 charted hits, including 16 number 1 songs. In 1953, he joined the Grand Ole Opry and moved to Nashville. Two years later, he charted with rockabilly songs and began to establish his crossover capability. In September 1956, Robbins' recording of "Singing the Blues" hit number 1 on Billboard's country chart and hit the Top Twenty on the pop chart. His crossover success continued with a series of hits he recorded with the Ray Conniff Singers, in 1957 and 1958, aimed at the teen pop market. One of those songs, "A White Sport Coat (and a Pink Carnation)," became a huge crossover hit. Other songs from those sessions included "The Story of My Life" and "The Hanging Tree." It was during this same period that Robbins also released the first of several Hawaiian music albums, "Song of the Islands."

Despite his propensity for so many styles of music, Robbins' strongest love was for the music and stories of the Old West. His signature song, the self-penned "El Paso," was released in October 1959 and won Robbins his first Grammy. Robbins' "Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs" album became a hit the same year; along with "El Paso," the record included the classics "Big Iron," "Cool Water" and "Running Gun." Other western albums followed. Robbins also authored the book "The Small Man," a western novel.

Following in the tradition of his idol Gene Autry, Robbins starred in a number of movies and TV series. Beginning in the 1950s, he made more than a dozen western- or country music-themed films, and his TV credits include "Western Caravan," "The Drifter," "The Marty Robbins Show" and "Marty Robbins Spotlight."

In August 1969, Robbins suffered a heart attack, and in January 1970 underwent then-experimental bypass surgery. After a successful recovery, Robbins was honored in April by the Academy of Country Music as its "Man of the Decade." The following year, he received his second Grammy Award for another self-penned classic, "My Woman, My Woman, My Wife."

Robbins also loved racing. He started by racing micro-midgets in the 1950s and by the 1960s was racing modified stockcars at the Nashville Speedway. He competed on the NASCAR circuit from 1966 to 1982, finishing in the top 10 6 times in Grand National Championship races.

As the 1980s began, Robbins was enjoying renewed chart success. In May 1982 "Some Memories Just Won't Die" made the country Top Ten, and in October, Billboard awarded him its "Artist Resurgence Award" as the performer with the greatest career revival during the past year. The revival was tragically cut short, however, as Robbins succumbed to chronic heart disease in December 1982.

"Marty Robbins: Among My Souvenirs" will be accompanied by an ongoing series of programs throughout the exhibit's duration.

More news for Marty Robbins

CD reviews for Marty Robbins

Live Classics
The hillbilly heart of Marty Robbins has seldom been displayed more prominently as on this 21-song set. Culled from Armed Forces Radio discs, these Grand Ol' Opry performances (1951-60) document the Glendale, Ariz. singer-songwriter's evolution from local phenom, through his early years as "Mr. Teardrop," to his arrival as a multi-million selling crossover superstar. Opening with two numbers the artist never officially recorded ("Ain't You Ashamed," "Good Night Cincinnati, Good Morning »»»
All Around Cowboy
Marty Robbins could sing more styles well than anyone else in country music history. His versatility may have left him underappreciated, since anyone can find some Marty Robbins records in a style they strongly dislike. Of course, anyone should also be able to find Marty Robbins records they love. Released on Columbia in 1979, this represented a return to the Western motif that had served Robbins well for years, but was only a minor part of his work in the late '70's. Robbins had been dipping »»»
Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs
Marty Robbins didn't invent the cowboy song, but this 1959 album made him one of its best-known and most loved exponents. His original tales and classic covers weave spellbinding images of the West that match the cinematic grandeur of Ford, Fonda, Rogers and Autry. The mythical themes of "El Paso," "Big Iron" and "The Master's Call" are lovingly rendered by Robbins, producer Don Law and a superb backing band. Bob Moore's acoustic bass and Louis Dunn's drums tap out trail rhythms, beautifully »»»
Editorial: Walking the talk – When names like Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Waylon and the Hag are invoked, you're talking hard core country. These are the touchstones of country , the guys who made country music what it was and still is (or maybe can be). When these folks would sing about being down-and-out and the rough-and-tumble, they knew of what they were singing about. Fast forward a few years to the country singers of today. »»»
Concert Review: The Lil Smokies provide the perfect antidote – On a night when the world to be falling further apart thanks to coronavirus (this would be the night the NBA postponed the season), there stood The Lil Smokies to at least in some small measure save the day. The quintet is part of a generation of musicians with bluegrass as the basis, but not totally the sum of the music either.... »»»
Concert Review: White makes the case for himself, no matter how dark the music – John Paul White opined with a glint in his eyes that his songs were not of the uplifting variety. In fact, they were downright dark. How else to explain "The Long Way" with the line "long way home back to you." Or "James," a song inspired by his grandfather who suffered from dementia. But lest you think that the Alabama... »»»
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