Ferlin Husky: Country singer who pioneered the 'Nashville Sound'

One of the most versatile vocalists in country music, Ferlin Husky was also one of its most popular all- round entertainers, as assured handling a comedy routine as he was performing classics like "Gone" and "Wings Of A Dove".

He was born on the family farm some 75 miles from St Louis, his first guitar coming courtesy of a neighbour who swapped it for a hen that then refused to lay. His mother hoped he would become a preacher, but he found himself drawn increasingly to music and honed his talent, entertaining fellow troops, during a five-year stint in the merchant marine. Following his discharge he returned to Missouri, working as a DJ and sometime musician at KXLW, St Louis before heading west for California, where he gained bit parts in Hollywood westerns.

He became friendly with the cowboy actor Smiley Burnette, who suggested he use the name "Terry Preston" rather than his own, which was thought uncommercial. It was under that name that he made his recording debut, cutting a handful of instrumentals for Four Star Records, alongside the bandleader "Big" Jim DeNoone, in 1949.

Having built up a local fan base, Husky joined the cast of the popular Hometown Jamboree, replacing Tennessee Ernie Ford. Ford's manager, Cliffie Stone, also worked as an A&R man for Capitol Records and signed him to the label. His first single, in 1951, a reworking of Roy Acuff's old hit "Tennessee Central (No 9)" flopped, as did a version of Smoky Rogers' "Gone" (1952). In 1953, "Hank's Song", a tribute to Hank Williams modelled on the Eddy Arnold hit "Eddy's Song" made chart inroads and marked another change in name, this time to Ferlin Huskey. A duet with the great Jean Shepard, "Dear John", gave him his first chart-topper months later and, typically of the period, was followed by a less effective "answer song", "Forgive Me John" (1953).

In 1955 came "I Feel Better All Over", "Little Tom" and "Cuzz You're So Sweet", the last of these the first hit for Husky's hick comedic alter ego Simon Crum. On 7 November 1956 he entered a Nashville studio and, with producer Ken Nelson at the helm, recut "Gone". Featuring the Jordanaires, the soprano Millie Kirkham and a vibraphone, it had immediate appeal beyond the obvious country music marketplace and is seen as a pioneering example of the famed Nashville Sound that would bring the genre to international prominence. A country No 1 for 10 weeks, it also broke through into the pop charts.

Further hits followed including, in 1958, "Country Music Is Here To Stay". A return to the Simon Crum persona, with its accurate impersonations of country stars Ernest Tubb and Kitty Wells, took it into the top five although like much of Husky's work as Crum it has not worn well. In 1959 he scored with the popular "My Reason For Living" and "Black Sheep" and then, in 1960 enjoyed another big crossover hit with Bob Ferguson's classic and oft-covered gospel song "Wings Of A Dove".

He maintained a presence in the charts into the early 1970s but only "Once" (1967) and "Just For You" (1968) came close to the top spot, and by the time he finally jumped label to ABC in 1973 the returns were diminishing. He continued to tour, appeared in a couple of substandard films – the earlier Country Music Holiday (1958) had co-starred, of all people, Zsa Zsa Gabor – and became a fixture of TV variety shows. Although plagued by ill-health over the past couple of decades, a live album on Audiograph (1982) received critical acclaim, as did an eponymous disc for Dot (1984).

If Husky's reputation is not now on a par with that of contemporaries like Ray Price and Carl Smith, the affection in which he is still held was clearly demonstrated on the stage of the Grand Ole Opry in early 1994, when he joined new member Hal Ketchum to perform a rousing version of one of the latter's favourite songs, "Wings Of A Dove". In 2010 he was belatedly inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.



Ferlin Husky, singer and songwriter: born Flat River, Missouri 3 December 1925; six times married (two sons, six daughters and one son deceased); died Westmoreland, Tennessee 17 March 2011.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
News
REX/Eye Candy
science
News
A photo of Charles Belk being detained by police on Friday 22 August
news
News
i100
Sport
Alexis Sanchez celebrates after scoring his first goal for Arsenal in the Champions League qualifier against Besiktas
sportChilean's first goal for the club secures place in draw for Champions League group stages
Arts and Entertainment
Amis: 'The racial situation in the US is as bad as it’s been since the Civil War'
booksAuthor says he might come back across Atlantic after all
Extras
indybest
Life and Style
Google Doodle celebrates the 200th birthday of Irish writer Sheridan Le Fanu
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Vinyl demand: a factory making the old-style discs
musicManufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl
News
i100
News
In Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind Jim Carrey and Kate Winslett medically erase each other from their memories
scienceTechnique successfully used to ‘reverse’ bad memories in rodents could be used on trauma victims
Arts and Entertainment
Singer Pixie Lott will take part in Strictly Come Dancing 2014, the BBC has confirmed
tv
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

C# Developer (C#, ASP.NET Developer, SQL, MVC, WPF, Real-Time F

£40000 - £48000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: C# Devel...

C# Swift Payment Developer (C#, ASP.NET, .NET, MVC, Authorize.N

£45000 - £60000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: C# Swift...

Front-End Developer (JavaScript, HTML5, CSS3, C#, GUI)

£55000 - £70000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Front-End Deve...

Graduate C# Developer (.NET, WPF, SQL, Agile, C++) - London

£30000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Graduate C# De...

Day In a Page

Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone
Amazon is buying Twitch for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?

What is the appeal of Twitch?

Amazon is buying the video-game-themed online streaming site for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?
Tip-tapping typewriters, ripe pongs and slides in the office: Bosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder

How bosses are making us work harder

As it is revealed that one newspaper office pumps out the sound of typewriters to increase productivity, Gillian Orr explores the other devices designed to motivate staff
Manufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl records

Hard pressed: Resurgence in vinyl records

As the resurgence in vinyl records continues, manufacturers and their outdated machinery are struggling to keep up with the demand
Tony Jordan: 'I turned down the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series nine times ... then I found a kindred spirit'

A tale of two writers

Offered the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series, Tony Jordan turned it down. Nine times. The man behind EastEnders and Life on Mars didn’t feel right for the job. Finally, he gave in - and found an unexpected kindred spirit
Could a later start to the school day be the most useful educational reform of all?

Should pupils get a lie in?

Doctors want a later start to the school day so that pupils can sleep later. Not because teenagers are lazy, explains Simon Usborne - it's all down to their circadian rhythms
Prepare for Jewish jokes – as Jewish comedians get their own festival

Prepare for Jewish jokes...

... as Jewish comedians get their own festival
SJ Watson: 'I still can't quite believe that Before I Go to Sleep started in my head'

A dream come true for SJ Watson

Watson was working part time in the NHS when his debut novel, Before I Go to Sleep, became a bestseller. Now it's a Hollywood movie, too. Here he recalls the whirlwind journey from children’s ward to A-list film set
10 best cycling bags for commuters

10 best cycling bags for commuters

Gear up for next week’s National Cycle to Work day with one of these practical backpacks and messenger bags
Paul Scholes: Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United

Paul Scholes column

Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United
Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?