ERNEST TUBB (1923-1984)
(Jukka Joutsi * latest additions: 17.4.2020)

A) 'Ernest Tubb Mailbox':

(Misty C, Nashville - 18.6.2008): Reasons to go to the Ernest Tubb Record Shop:
1. The incredibly cheesy, kitschy, and reasonably-priced knick-knacks. Thimbles, snow globes, floaty pens, straw hats, and more. It's that kind of place that you are pretty sure has not changed a bit since it opened. Granted, they have moved on to carrying CDs, but you get the idea that they probably were reluctant to do so when the time came... Insisting cassettes were way better.
2. Getting your photo taken either beside or on the original "Midnight Jamboree" stage where Ernest Tubb, Loretta Lynn and many other legends sang every Saturday night after the Grand Ole Opry "back in the day".
3. The staff. They eat, sleep and breathe country music. REAL country music... Hank Williams, Ray Price, Kitty Wells... You get the idea. They are extremely helpful in locating hard-to-find items. They have a huge mail order operation as well. The Ernest Tubb Record Shop might possibly have the last real "catalog" on earth where people actually send in a check or money order with their order form. They also have an online store for those who have moved into the internet age.
4. The location. Buy a few classics like "Johnny Cash at San Quentin", "Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music" by Ray Charles, maybe some Bob Wills, Flatt & Scruggs, or Buck Owens. Then go complete your day by having a cold beer at the Bluegrass Inn or Robert's.
There you have it. Ernest Tubb Record Shop = THE destination for hard core country & western fans. Also, the shop is a great tourist destination as well. Their outdoor sign is a well-known photo op location, because it is one of the oldest and most recognizable landmarks on Broadway.
One last hint: Head out to their Music Valley location on Saturday night for the Midnight Jamboree. This live radio show has been running continuously on the radio for over 60 years (second only to the Grand Ole Opry). It's free and often full of characters.


(Kevin E, England - 28.10.2011): Was 'Walking The Floor Over You' Ernest Tubb's biggest hit?

(JJ, 29.10.2011): First we should specify the expression 'biggest hit' - Ernest recorded 'Walking the Floor Over You' already in 1941 and Billboard's 'official' country music charts started only in 1944. That's why we can't use the system 'how many weeks it was number one in country charts'.
Ernest's 'Soldier's Last Letter' was #1 hit for four weeks in a row in 1944 and any of his later recordings couldn't beat that. I am quite sure 'Walking The Floor Over You' has sold a lot more copies than 'Soldier's Last Letter', however. At least 'Walking The Floor Over You' was his 'biggest career hit song'.

ERNEST TUBB & CAL SMITH-album: "Together" (First Generation).

C) 1) Thanks A Lot, 2) I'm Walking The Floor Over You, 3) Driftwood On The River, 4) Filipino Baby, 5) I'll Step Aside, 6) Let's Say Goodbye Like We Said Hello, 7) Waltz Across Texas, 8) Try Me One More Time, 9) Soldier's Last Letter, 10) Drivin' Nails In My Coffin.

(J.Joutsi, 19.10.2013): Obviously Cal Smith got a permission to visit the First Generation studio archives and overdub his vocal parts into the original E.Tubb-tapes. Pete Drake produced some vinyl double-albums back then right after Tubb's death with several star-classed visitors. Justin Tubb has later released also his own album full of over-dubbed duets with his dad Ernest.
Now - this sounds very good to me - the piece of news of Cal Smith's death had reached me only a few days ago ~ just before listening to this project for the first time, so here are some sentimental shades, too.

C) ('Legacy', August 2009): Jimmie Rodgers’ influence on Tubb’s music was perhaps too pronounced in those early years. Tubb struggled to emerge from the stylistic shadow of his idol, going so far as to choose the tribute song “The Passing of Jimmie Rodgers” as his first release. His early recordings tanked.
Then in 1939, another setback arrived as Tubb learned he would have to undergo a potentially voice-altering tonsillectomy. In one of those odd twists of fate you often find in showbiz success stories, what could have been a career-ending moment provided the impetus for his big breakthrough.
The operation changed his voice (making it impossible to ape Rodgers’ yodel) and forced him to concentrate on his songwriting and develop his own vocal style. What emerged was a plaintive, more straightforward approach to singing, one that made up in warmth and personality what it lacked in range and technical precision.
“As much as I loved Ernest, he was never a singer,” fellow musician Danny Dill told biographer Ronnie Pugh. “But communicate! Nobody else I ever saw except [Hank] Williams onstage could communicate what he was feeling as well as Ernest.”

After leaving RCA for Decca records in 1940, Tubb finally had a hit record with “Walking the Floor Over You.” He moved to Nashville not long after, bringing with him what was coming to be known as honky-tonk music – a stripped down style of Western swing popularized in the roughneck bars of Texas and Oklahoma where Tubb cut his teeth.
Tubb’s band The Texas Troubadours became the first act to use an electric guitar at the Grand Ole Opry, and his songs emphasized guitarist Jimmy Short’s simple, single-string melodic guitar lines instead of the layers of fiddles and jazzy compositional flourishes favored by most country musicians popular at the time.
This back-to-the-basics approach would be a big influence on later country artists like Hank Williams, Ray Price, Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard and George Strait. Despite Tubb finally discovering his sound, his recording career was momentarily stalled by factors beyond his control, one being a musicians' union strike in 1943, another being a wartime shortage of shellac that meant not enough records could be produced to satisfy the growing demand. But beginning in 1946 he released a string of hit songs, outselling every artist on Decca except Bing Crosby.

His newfound and hard-won stardom earned him silver screen roles in B movies like The Fighting Buckaroo and Hollywood Barn Dance. And in 1947, Tubb helped legitimize his artform by becoming the first country artist to headline at Carnegie Hall. It’s thanks in part to Tubb’s efforts that we even refer to the genre as country music, as he lobbied music publications to use that appellation rather than the pejorative “hillbilly music” many favored.
He also helped convince them to create a separate sales category for country and western that lasts to this day in the form of the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart. Indeed, much of Tubb’s legacy resides outside the actual music he produced. The record store he opened in 1947 remains a Nashville landmark, and it was there he hosted the one-hour “Midnight Jamboree” radio show.
Always thankful for the help he’d had along the way, Tubb used his radio program to give many up-and-coming Nashville acts broader exposure.

(Wikipedia, 2020): Ernest Dale Tubb (February 9, 1914 – September 6, 1984), nicknamed the Texas Troubadour, was an American singer and songwriter and one of the pioneers of country music. His biggest career hit song, "Walking the Floor Over You" (1941), marked the rise of the honky tonk style of music.

In 1948 he was the first singer to record a hit version of Billy Hayes and Jay W. Johnson's "Blue Christmas", a song more commonly associated with Elvis Presley and his late-1950s version. Another well-known Tubb hit was "Waltz Across Texas" (1965) (written by his nephew Quanah Talmadge Tubb, known professionally as Billy Talmadge), which became one of his most requested songs and is often used in dance halls throughout Texas during waltz lessons. Tubb recorded duets with the then up-and-coming Loretta Lynn in the early 1960s, including their hit "Sweet Thang". Tubb is a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Tubb was born on a cotton farm near Crisp, in Ellis County, Texas (now a ghost town). His father was a sharecropper, so Tubb spent his youth working on farms throughout the state. He was inspired by Jimmie Rodgers and spent his spare time learning to sing, yodel, and play the guitar. At age 19, he took a job as a singer on San Antonio radio station KONO-AM. The pay was low so Tubb also dug ditches for the Works Progress Administration and then clerked at a drug store.
In 1939 he moved to San Angelo, Texas and was hired to do a 15-minute afternoon live show on radio station KGKL-AM. He drove a beer delivery truck in order to support himself during this time, and during World War II he wrote and recorded a song titled "Beautiful San Angelo".

In 1936 Tubb contacted Jimmie Rodgers' widow (Rodgers died in 1933) to ask for an autographed photo. A friendship developed and she was instrumental in getting Tubb a recording contract with RCA. His first two records were unsuccessful. A tonsillectomy in 1939 affected his singing style so he turned to songwriting. In 1940 he switched to Decca records to try singing again and it was his sixth Decca release with the single "Walking the Floor Over You" that brought Tubb to stardom. It sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc in 1965 by the RIAA.

Tubb joined the Grand Ole Opry in February 1943 and put together his band, the Texas Troubadours. Tubb's first band members were from Gadsden, Alabama. They were: Vernon "Toby" Reese, Chester Studdard, and Ray "Kemo" Head. He remained a regular on the radio show for four decades, and hosted his own Midnite Jamboree radio show each Saturday night after the Opry. Tubb headlined the first Grand Ole Opry show presented in Carnegie Hall in New York City in September 1947.

Tubb always surrounded himself with some of Nashville's best musicians. Jimmy Short, his first guitarist in the Troubadours, is credited with the Tubb sound of single-string guitar picking. From about 1943 to 1948, Short featured clean, clear riffs throughout Tubb's songs. Other well-known musicians to either travel with Tubb as band members or record on his records were steel guitarist Jerry Byrd and Tommy "Butterball" Paige, who replaced Short as Tubb's lead guitarist in 1947. Billy Byrd joined the Troubadours in 1949 and brought jazzy riffs to the instrumental interludes, especially the four-note riff at the end of his guitar solos that would become synonymous with Tubb's songs. A jazz musician, Byrd — no relation to Jerry — remained with Tubb until 1959.

Another Tubb musician was actually his producer, Owen Bradley. Bradley played piano on many of Tubb's recordings from the 1950s, but Tubb wanted him to sound like Moon Mullican, the honky tonk piano great of that era. The classically trained Bradley tried, but couldn't quite match the sound, so Tubb said Bradley was "half as good" as Moon. When Tubb called out Bradley's name at the start of one of the piano interludes the singer always referred to him as "Half-Moon Bradley".

In 1949 Tubb helped the famed boogie-woogie Andrews Sisters crossover to the country charts when they teamed on Decca Records to record a cover of Eddy Arnold's "Don't Rob Another Man's Castle" and the western-swing flavored "I'm Bitin' My Fingernails and Thinking of You." Tubb was impressed by the enormous success of Patty, Maxene, and LaVerne Andrews, and he remembered that their 1947 recording of "The Blue Tail Fly (Jimmy Crack Corn)" with folk legend Burl Ives produced a Top-10 Billboard hit, and he was therefore eager to repeat that success. He brought the upbeat "Fingernails" tune to the session, hoping that the trio would like it, and they did. Not realizing how tall the Texas Troubadour was, the recording technicians at Decca had the sisters stand on a wooden box on one side of the one microphone they shared with Tubb so that the audio would balance. The rhythm trio also wasn't used to Tubb's vocal style, as Maxene once remembered, "He sang different than anybody I've ever heard. He sang the melody of the song, but the timing was different. It wasn't like we were used to ... you sing eight bars, and then you sing eight bars, and then you sing eight bars. Not with him. He just sang eight bars, ten bars, eleven bars, and then stopped, whatever it was. So, we'd just start to follow him, and then got paid on 750,000 records sold that never came above the Mason-Dixon Line!"

Tubb never possessed the best voice: he always sang flat, and actually mocked his own singing. He told an interviewer that 95 percent of the men in bars would hear his music on the juke box and say to their girlfriends, "I can sing better than him," and Tubb added they would be right. In fact, he missed some notes horribly on some recordings.
When Tubb was recording "You Don't Have to Be a Baby to Cry" in 1949 and tried to hit a low note, Red Foley, his duet partner at the time, was sitting in the booth when somebody said, "I bet you wish you could hit that low note." Foley replied, "I bet Ernest wishes he could hit that note." The two, who released seven albums together, maintained a friendly on-air "feud" over the years, and Tubb appeared on Foley's Ozark Jubilee on ABC-TV.

In 1957 he walked into the lobby of the National Life Building in Nashville and fired a .357 magnum, intending to shoot music producer Jim Denny. Tubb shot at the wrong man but did not hit anyone. He was arrested and charged with public drunkenness.

In the 1960s Tubb was well known for having one of the best bands in country music history. The band included lightning-fingered Leon Rhodes (1932–2017), who later appeared on TV's Hee Haw as the guitarist in the show's band. Buddy Emmons, another pedal steel guitar virtuoso, began with Tubb in fall of 1957 and lasted through the early 1960s. Emmons went on to create a steel-guitar manufacturing company that bears his name. Buddy Charleton, one of the most accomplished pedal steel guitarists known, joined Ernest in spring 1962 and continued to fall of 1973. Buddy Charleton and Leon Rhodes formed a nucleus for the Texas Troubadours that would be unsurpassed.

Beginning in the fall of 1965, he hosted a half-hour TV program, The Ernest Tubb Show, which aired in first-run syndication for three years. That same year, he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame; and in 1970, Tubb was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame.

Tubb inspired some of the most devoted fans of any country artist — and his fans followed him throughout his career, long after the chart hits dried up. He remained, as did most of his peers, a fixture at the Grand Ole Opry where he continued to appear. He continued to host his Midnite Jamboree radio program a few blocks away from the Opry at his record shop.

A notable release in 1979, The Legend and the Legacy paired Tubb with a who's who of country singers on the Cachet Records label, a label which Tubb was connected to financially. This long out of print duets album was re-released in 1999 as a CD on the First Generations label, on the 20th anniversary of its release, and it quickly went out of print again.

In 1980 he appeared as himself in Loretta Lynn's autobiographical film, Coal Miner's Daughter with Roy Acuff and Minnie Pearl. His singing voice remained intact until late in life, when he fell ill with emphysema. Even so, he continued to make over 200 personal appearances a year, carrying an oxygen tank on his bus. After each performance he would shake hands and sign autographs with every fan who wanted to stay. Health problems finally halted his performances in 1982.

On August 14, 1982, he made his final appearance on the Grand Ole Opry. He died in 1984 at the Baptist Hospital in Nashville, Tennessee from emphysema. He is buried in Nashville's Hermitage Memorial Gardens.

One of his sons, Justin, was a popular country singer and songwriter in the mid-1950s through the early 1960s; Justin's sons, Carey and Zachary Tubb, also became musicians. Tubb's nephew, Billy Lee Tubb, was his lead guitarist briefly (fall 1959–April 1960). He also had solo careers under several pseudonyms (Ronny Wade, X. Lincoln) and played with John Anderson, writing several songs with him. Tubb's great nephew, Lucky Tubb, has toured with Hank Williams III.

Cal Smith, who played guitar for the Texas Troubadours during the 1960s, went on to a successful country music career of his own in the 1970s, recording hits such as "Country Bumpkin".

Jack Greene, who played drums for the Texas Troubadours, went on to become a successful country music star following his departure from Tubb's band, recording the hits "There Goes My Everything" and "Statue of a Fool".

Ernest Tubb's nephew, Glenn Douglas Tubb, wrote his first hit song for his uncle in 1952. He then went on to write more than 50 hits songs for more than two dozen country and rock music superstars, including Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, BJ Thomas, George Jones, Kentucky Headhunters, Charlie Pride, Ann Murray, and Kitty Wells. Glenn won a Grammy Award for "Skip a Rope," made a hit by Henson Cargill. He currently performs "The Ernest Tubb Tribute Show" in theaters across the U.S.

The Midnite Jamboree Tubb founded in 1947 continues to air, recorded each weekend from a stage at his record shop and airing after each episode of the Grand Ole Opry The song "Set 'Em Up Joe", recorded and made famous by Vern Gosdin, was a tribute to Tubb's music, particularly the song "Walking the Floor Over You". On June 25, 2019, The New York Times Magazine listed Ernest Tubb among hundreds of artists whose material was reportedly destroyed in the 2008 Universal fire.

ERNEST TUBB ~ King of the Honky Tonks ("Country Music Review"-magazine * August 1977 * Bryan Chalker * England).

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