One of the earliest members of both the Grand Ole Opry and the Country Music Hall of Fame, Ernest Tubb’s legacy stretches back to the 1940’s, when he became one of country music’s earliest national stars.
Hailing from Texas, Tubb was the son of a sharecropper who passed the time listening to Jimmie Rodgers records, which inspired him to take up singing and yodeling. By age nineteen, he was singing on the radio in San Antonio, while digging ditches for the federal government to pay the bills. He wrote Rodgers’s widow, hoping for an autograph, and it started a friendship that motivated her to help Tubb land a recording contract.
A bad bout of tonsillitis almost sidelined his recording career, but by 1941, he found success on Decca Records with his breakthrough single, “Walking the Floor Over You.” He formed a backing band called the Texas Troubadours, and they were soon stars on the Grand Ole Opry. Tubb was one of the artists essential to the Opry’s broadening success in the 1940’s. By the time the Opry cast was playing Carnegie Hall in 1947, Tubb and his boys were headlining the show.
Tubb’s recordings were both hugely popular and hugely influential, but another important element of his legacy was identifying and promoting new talent. It was Tubb that brought producer Owen Bradley to prominence, and his collaborations with the Andrews Sisters and Red Foley brought country music popularity to both acts. He was also responsible for some of the genre’s finest studio musicians, with his bands going on to great success with other acts and even on television shows like Hee Haw. Texas Troubadours such as Cal Smith and Jack Greene would go on to award-winning country careers of their own.
Tubb’s willingness to share the spotlight eventually developed into his own record store in Nashville, where acts would perform after the Grand Ole Opry, and his own television show in the 1960’s. By 1965, he was already in the Country Music Hall of Fame, but he continued to score hits as a recording artist, doing best when paired with Loretta Lynn. An early promoter of her talent, Tubb would later appear as himself in her autobiographical film, Coal Miner’s Daughter.
Tubb toured until his emphezyma made performing impossible, and he passed away in 1982 at the age of 70. His Ernest Tubb Record Shop is still open today in downtown Nashville.
- Walking the Floor Over You, 1941
- Soldier’s Last Letter, 1944
- It’s Been So Long Darling, 1945
- Filipino Baby, 1946
- Have You Ever Been Lonely? (Have You Ever Been Blue), 1948
- Slipping Around, 1949
- I Love You Because, 1950
- Goodnight Irene, 1950
- Thanks a Lot, 1963
- The Old Rugged Cross, 1951
- Jimmie Rodgers Songs, 1951
- The Daddy of ‘Em All, 1956
- Ernest Tubb Record Shop, 1960
- Thanks a Lot, 1964
- Singin’ Again (with Loretta Lynn), 1967
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