ERNEST TUBB ON TELEVISION

ERNEST TUBB ON TELEVISION

Bear
Family Release Historic 1960s Shows on
DVD
Take a trip back in time and see country music as it was on
television in the mid 1960s. No big spectacular production, no glitzy sets –
just honest-to-goodness country music the way the fans liked
it.
Country music was no stranger to television and, throughout the
previous decade, had been presented in the “barn dance” setting that was already
a proven winner with radio audiences – a large regular cast, some guests and
often shot in a large auditorium. But things changed when Porter Wagoner arrived on the small
screen in 1961, with his show focused on the star and his band, a few
guests and recorded in a studio with minimal props. The viewers loved it and
other artists looking to broaden their audience horizons quickly followed suite,
among them Buck Owens, the Wilburn Brothers, Billy Walker, Del Reeves
and Flatt &
Scruggs
.


There was also Ernest
Tubb.
His show was launched in 1965 – a truly memorable year for the Texas
Troubadour as, after over 30 years in the business (and 25 on Decca Records)
– 
he became the sixth inductee into
Nashville’s
prestigious Country Music Hall of
Fame
.
The show
was produced by Hal Smith (Tubb’s manager and co-founder
of Pamper Music) with shows filmed four-at-a-time at the WSIX-TV studios in
Nashville.
Accompanying Tubb and the regular guests were The Texas Troubadours, going through
their hottest period with the much acclaimed line-up of Buddy Charleton (steel guitar), Jack Drake (bass), Leon Rhodes (guitar). Jack Greene (drums) and Cal Smith (guitar), the last
two on the threshold of their own solo careers. At the start of 1967 Steve Chapman replaced Rhodes who went
on to become a member of the Grand Ole Opry house band as well as working
numerous recording sessions.
The regular cast of the show comprised
veteran fiddler/vocalist Wade
Ray
; Lois Johnson, who would be
charting records by the end of the decade; pop/gospel quartet The Johnson Sisters; and, for a spot of
Southern comedy, Bun
Wilson.
The show also had a co-host – a clean shaven, smartly attired
singer/songwriter named Willie
Nelson
. But it wasn’t a role that particularly suited him as Ernest Tubb later recalled in an
interview with Hairl Hensley.
“Willie was my co-star on that show, and the producer kept after me to get
Willie to say something. I said ‘you get him to say something, I can’t’.
Willie’s a great singer but he didn’t have just a whole lot of exuberance on
TV”.
He left the show in 1967 and, rather than seeking a replacement, more
time was given to Greene and Smith.
Although bootleg copies of the series have been in circulation
over the years, eight episodes are now officially released by Bear Family Records (artist and song
details are listed below) on two DVDs.
Shot on a
single stage, and with the camera focussing square on the artist (with the
occasional tracking to band members), The Ernest Tubb Show was no flashy
production. It was the music that counted!
The main attraction, of course, is ET himself and, during the
course of these two DVDs, gets to sing 18 songs including his chart successes
Waltz Across Texas, Thanks A Lot, Have You Ever Been Lonely
and Seaman’s Blues, alongside classics Your Cheating Heart and
In The Jailhouse Now, the latter being associated with Jimmie
Rodgers
, the legend that was Tubb’s inspiration. On one show he also
introduced his 9 year old son Tinker Tubb and, between the music,
finds time for a spot of humourous conversation with Bun Wilson who, incidentally, was the
Troubadours’ first official drummer
back in 1960.
In
addition to backing their bossman, and the other artists, The Texas Troubadours feature in their
own rights, with spotlight turned upon steelman Buddy Charleton presenting an
instrumental or Leon Rhodes showing
his vocal skills while
uprising stars Jack Greene and Cal
Smith
‘s performances include There Goes My Everything and
All The World Is Lonely Now in their respective
repertoires.
Willie
Nelson
might
not have been a talkative co-host but he had no problem with his
distinctive singing styling on the shows that he appeared, conjuring up
images of his native Texas with such as San Antonio Rose and My
Window Faces The South
as well performing One Day At A Time and
Lonely Little Mansion among his original material. Wade
Ray
, the “old pug nosed fidder” who began his career in the
1920s, had headed up his own western swing band and, after the tv shows, joined
Nelson’s band as a bass player. Here he shows off his considerable talents as
both fiddler and vocalist.
Lois
Johnson
, yet to
achieve hit status, performed classics like A Legend in my
Time and Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain, or joining forces with
the Johnson Sisters (no relation) on
Ride Ride Ride among other songs. The sisters also had their own spots
as well as providing the occasional vocal backup to the other artists. And, like
the majority of country shows, there was always a gospel song
included.
The Ernest Tubb Show ceased production in
1968 after 139 episodes, although it continued in re-runs for several years.
Details of the show’s history, together with mini-biographies and photographs of
the artists, is told in the full colour 16 page booklet that accompanies each
DVD. The
text is penned by
Nashville
journalist Randy Fox.
Other Ernest Tubb releases available from Bear Family
Records:
Walking
the floor Over You

(complete recordings 1939-47) (8 cd box set with 40 page book) – BCD 15853
HI
Let’s say
Goodbye Like We Said Hello

(complete recordings 1947-53) (5 cd box set with 32 page book) – BCD 15498
EH
The
Yellow Rose of
Texas
(complete recordings 1954-60) (5 cd box set with 32 page book) – BCD 15688
EI
Waltz
Across
Texas
(complete recordings 1961-66) (6 cd box set with 44 page book) – BCD 15929
FI
Another
Story

(complete records 1966-75) (6 cd box set with 40 page book) – BCD 15935
FI
Thirty
Days: Gonna Shake This Shack Tonight
(cd with
32 page booklet) – BCD 16866 AH

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