Ernest Tubb: Wikis


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Ernest Tubb

Background information
Birth name Ernest Dale Tubb
Also known as The Texas Troubadour
Born February 9, 1914
Crisp, Texas, United States
Died September 6, 1984 (aged 70)
Nashville, Tennessee
Genres country, honky tonk
Occupations singer-songwriter, bandleader
Instruments guitar
Years active 1936–1982
Labels Bluebird, Decca, First Generation

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 "Blue Christmas", a song more commonly associated with Elvis Presley and his mid-1950s version. Another well-known Tubb hit was "Waltz Across Texas" (1965), which became one of his most requested songs and is often used in dance halls throughout Texas during waltz lessons. In the early 1960s, he recorded duets with up-and-coming Loretta Lynn, including their hit "Sweet Thang". Tubb is a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame.



Early years

Tubb was born on a cotton farm near Crisp, Texas (now a ghost town in Ellis County, Texas). 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 a San Antonio radio station. 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".[1]

Recording career

In 1936, Tubb contacted Jimmie Rodgers’s 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.[2]

Tubb joined the Grand Ole Opry in February 1943 and put together his band, the Texas Troubadours.[3] 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 Midnight Jamboree radio show each Saturday night after the Opry. In 1947, Tubb headlined the first Grand Ole Opry show presented in Carnegie Hall in New York City. In 1965, he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame and in 1970, Tubb was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame.[4][5]

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. In 1949, Billy Byrd joined the Troubadours, 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. Actually 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. Therefore, 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."

Tubb never possessed the best voice 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 asked, "I bet you wish you could hit that low note." Foley replied, "I bet Ernest wishes he could hit that low 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 National Life building's lobby 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.[6]

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, 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 about 1958 and lasted through the early 1960s. Emmons went on to create a steel-guitar manufacturing company that bears his name.

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.[7]

Later years

Tubb inspired one of the most devoted fan bases 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 Midnight 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.[2]

He appeared as himself in Loretta Lynn's autobiographical film, Coal Miner's Daughter, in 1980 with Roy Acuff and Minnie Pearl.

His singing voice remained intact until late in life, when he fell ill with emphysema. He died of the illness in 1984 at Baptist Hospital in Nashville, Tennessee.[2] He is buried in Nashville's Hermitage Memorial Gardens.


Current fans may know Tubb primarily for the Ernest Tubb Record Shop in Nashville, which opened in May 1947. There are also Ernest Tubb Record Shops in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee and Fort Worth, Texas. The record shops have been meeting places for country music stars and fans for decades. He ranked #21 in CMT's 40 Greatest Men of Country Music in 2003.

One of Tubb's sons, the late Justin Tubb, made a minor splash on the country music scene in the 1950s; and roomed with a young, up-and-coming songwriter named Roger Miller in the late 1950s.

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.[8] Tubb's great nephew, Lucky Tubb, has toured with Hank III.



  1. ^ Pugh, Ronnie (1998). Ernest Tubb: The Texas Troubadour. Duke University Press. pp. 5. ISBN 978-0-8223-2190-3. 
  2. ^ a b c Vinopal, David. "Ernest Tubb Biography". Allmusic. Retrieved January 9, 2010. 
  3. ^ Pugh, Ronnie. Ernest Tubb: The Texas Troubadour, p. 84
  4. ^ Country Music Association Hall of Fame list of members. Retrieved January 9, 2010.
  5. ^ Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame entry for Ernest Tubb. Retrieved January 9, 2010.
  6. ^ Cusic, Don Eddy Arnold: I'll Hold You in My Heart (1997), Rutledge Hill Press, ISBN 1-55853-492-X, p. 137
  7. ^ Gross, Mike "Country Television Programs Enjoying Coast-to-Coast Hayride" (November 13, 1965) Billboard, p.1
  8. ^ Pugh, Ronnie. Ernest Tubb: The Texas Troubadour, p. 240


  • "Ernest Tubb". Country Music Hall of Fame. Retrieved Apr. 21, 2005.
  • Pugh, Ronnie (1998). "Ernest Tubb". In The Encyclopedia of Country Music. Paul Kingsbury, Editor. New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 547-8.
  • Pugh, Ronnie (1996). "First Year In Nashville". In Ernest Tubb - The Texas Troubadour. Durham, London: Duke University Press. pp. 88.

External links

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