Bobby Bare's 1963 single of Tillis and Danny Dill's "Detroit City"
The late Mel Tillis first made his name as a composer writing songs that became hits for others, a career path similar to that of Roger Miller and Willie Nelson, whe were first famous as songwriters before becoming star vocalists in their own right. Here's a sample of Tillis compositions that became hits for others, starting with the man who discovered him after a fashion: Webb Pierce and ending with Ricky Skaggs, who took a Tillis song to # 1 in 1984.
Mel Tillis's death at 85 closed an extraordinary career that saw him excel first as a songwriter, then as a singer and entertainer, one who managed to not only overcome a handicap—stuttering--but once controlled, made it part of his act to the point his 1984 autobiography was titled Stutterin' Boy. (Photo: Associated Press)
Me: I heard something you did over 30 years ago, a record with Tex Williams at the Mint in Las Vegas . . . you let rip with a real hot solo.
Glen: “My Window Faces the South!” That was the early sixties. What was Roger Miller’s line? “I don’t think I’m half as good as I really am.”
I interviewed Glen Campbell just once, in 1995, for Country Music Magazine's "20 Questions With" feature, not unlike Trish Sheridan's old "Breakfast With" PG feature. I thought back to an old record I had, recorded nearly a decade before Glen became a star, in the days he was an obscure LA sideman. I wasn't sure he'd remember it, but I thought, what the hell? And I got my answer--spot on. The rest of the interview was terrific as he talked about the changing country music industry, which he didn't care for. He couldn't contain his pride over his days as part of the loose group of elite LA session musicians known as the Wrecking Crew, which included Leon Russell, Hal Blaine, Tommy Tedesco and Carol Kaye.who worked with everyone from the Byrds to Sinatra. His memory then was impregnable.
It hasn't been successful at the box office, but the Hank Williams biopic I Saw The Light told the tragic (too tragic, in the eyes of some) story of Hank Williams, Sr. one of the small group of singers who defined the barroom style known as honky tonk. Others added to it: Webb Pierce, Ernest Tubb, Johnny Bush, Ray Price, Floyd Tillman, Lefty Frizzell, George Jones, Johnny Paycheck and so on. Not all who contributed gained fame on the level of the others. And here's one of those who despite vast talents also met a tragic end: Gary Stewart of Jenkins, Letcher County, Kentucky
So many of Ray Price's obituaries have commented on the fact he created the "shuffle" beat that drove his hit singles from 1956-66, when he moved on to the smoother country pop sound. Quite a few of those comments including my own, have noted the influence the "Ray Price Shuffle" had on generations of other artists and its durability over several generations.