The Everlys Meet Tennessee Ernie Ford

Tuesday, 07 January 2014 06:27 AM Written by 

In 1961, the Everly Brothers lucked out.  Rock didn't always get a friendly reception on network TV in the 50's and early 60's.

I'm not talking about Ed Sullivan shooting Elvis from the waist up and Dick Clark was clearly playing to his base: teenagers.  That wasn't always the case in the mid to late 50's, whe rock's very existence  offended mainstream showbiz types like Steve Allen, who treated both Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis with condescension when they guested on his Sunday night NBC show. He was much more respectful to the jazz acts he presented.

In 1961 Don and Phil encountered a notable exception: Tennessee Ernie Ford.  From 1956-61 Ford, known for his 1955 hit recording of "Sixteen Tons" hosted NBC's The Ford Show Starring Tennessee Ernie Ford.  Most guests were the usual show business luminaries with a few country singers thrown in, and he closed every show with a hymn. 

Near the end of the show's run, Ernie brought on the Everlys, presenting them with respect and affection. They later cited Ernie as one of the first name TV hosts who treated them as artists.  Ernie, of course, grew up in Bristol, Tennessee.

They did two songs on the show, in color.  One was Little Richard's "Lucille."


Interacting with Ernie , all three went back into the blues as they did an old guitar trick. The song: "Rattlesnake Daddy."


If Ernie seems sympatico, it might be because a decade earlier, he wasn't far from rock and roll himself.  This is a rare kinescope of Ernie on the Feburary 10, 1951 Hometown Jamboree, a local LA TV show where he got his start doing both comedy and music. The song: "Shotgun Boogie," his second # 1 country single.


One way or another, a lot of this stuff is connected, in ways not always obvious.





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