Jerry Wallace: 'Mr Smooth' of country-pop

Jerry Wallace's warm and engaging vocal style gained him the sobriquet "Mr Smooth". He modelled himself on his hero, Nat King Cole, and his delivery proved ideal for the trend in the late 1960s and early 1970s towards country-pop; in 1972, he was nominated as Male Vocalist of the Year by the Country Music Association.

Wallace was born in Guilford, Missouri in 1928, but moved to Los Angeles while still in his early teens. He was drawn to both music and acting, but the former won out and, in 1951, following service in the US Navy, he cut his first sides for the Allied label. He moved to Challenge in 1957 and recorded "How the Time Flies", which made it into the pop Top Twenty in 1958. A year later, he had another big hit with "Primrose Lane" and in 1964 charted with both "Shutters and Boards", a song written by the war hero turned film star Audie Murphy, and Cindy Walker's "In the Misty Moonlight".

In the same year he made brief appearances in a pair of movies, Flipper's New Adventure and Goodbye Charlie and, more significantly, switched labels to Mercury, a move that coincided with a newfound focus on the country market. His initial forays into the genre, including "Life's Gone and Slipped Away" (1965) and "Sweet Child of Sunshine" (1968), proved only moderately successful and it wasn't until he signed with Decca in 1970 that he began to make a significant impact upon the country charts: "After You" (1971) quickly made the Top Thirty and was succeeded by "The Morning After" (1971).

In 1972 he enjoyed a crossover hit with "To Get to You", a disc that was later nominated as Single of the Year by the Country Music Association. He followed it with "If You Leave Me Tonight I'll Cry", a song that had been written for inclusion in an episode of Rod Serling's cult television series Night Gallery entitled "The Tune in Dan's Café". Although not heard in its entirety, the record's dramatic role within the story – the needle in the café's jukebox repeatedly gets stuck as Wallace sings, "'til death. . ." – helped to propel it to the top of the country charts. He then finished the year with, "Do You Know What It's Like to Be Lonesome", which reached number two.

Further hits included "Don't Give Up On Me" (1973), "Guess Who", "My Wife's House", "I Wonder Whose Baby (You Are Now)" (all 1974), and "Comin' Home to You" (1975), but protracted litigation involving his management interfered with Wallace's ability to sustain a chart career and he began to jump from label to label in a vain attempt to replicate his earlier success. "If I Could Set My Love to Music", recorded in 1980, proved to be his chart swansong.

Paul Wadey

Jerry Wallace, singer: born Guilford, Missouri 15 December 1928; twice married (three sons, one daughter); died Victorville, California 5 May 2008.

Suggested Topics
Voices
The Sumatran tiger, endemic to the Indonesian island of Sumatra, is an endangered species
voicesJonathon Porritt: The wild tiger population is thought to have dropped by 97 per cent since 1900
Arts and Entertainment
Beast would strip to his underpants and take to the stage with a slogan scrawled on his bare chest whilst fans shouted “you fat bastard” at him
musicIndie music promoter was was a feature at Carter gigs
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Story line: Susanoo slays the Yamata no Orochi serpent in the Japanese version of a myth dating back 40,000 years
arts + entsApplying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
Performers dressed as Tunnocks chocolate teacakes, a renowned Scottish confectionary, perform during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park in Glasgow on July 23, 2014.
news
Life and Style
Popular plonk: Lambrusco is selling strong
Food + drinkNaff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
News
Shake down: Michelle and Barack Obama bump knuckles before an election night rally in Minnesota in 2008, the 'Washington Post' called it 'the fist bump heard round the world'
newsThe pound, a.k.a. the dap, greatly improves hygiene
Arts and Entertainment
La Roux
music
Arts and Entertainment
Graham Fellows as John Shuttleworth
comedySean O'Grady joins Graham Fellows down his local Spar
News
people
News
Ross Burden pictured in 2002
people
News
Elisabeth Murdoch: The 44-year-old said she felt a responsibility to 'stand up and be counted’'
media... says Rupert Murdoch
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Extras
indybest
Sport
Arsenal signing Calum Chambers
sportGunners complete £16m transfer of Southampton youngster
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

Junior / Graduate Application Support Engineer

£26000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful international media organ...

QA Manager - North Manchester - Nuclear & MOD - £40k+

£35000 - £41000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: QA Manager -...

Property Finance Partner

Very Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: LONDON - BANKING / PROPERTY FINANCE - ...

Agile Tester

£28000 - £30000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: An ambitious...

Day In a Page

The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on