100 Greatest Men: #18. Ernest Tubb

Ernest Tubb100 Greatest Men: The Complete List

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.

Essential Singles:

  • 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

Essential Albums:

  • 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

Next: #17. Kenny Rogers

Previous: #19. Webb Pierce

100 Greatest Men: The Complete List

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2 Comments

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2 Responses to 100 Greatest Men: #18. Ernest Tubb

  1. Tom PNo Gravatar

    “Thanks A Lot” was one of the first OLDER songs that introduced me to traditional country. A great overlooked song. Also, Martina Mcbride did a wonderful cover of that a few years back. Check it out if you haven’t heard it..

  2. Paul W DennisNo Gravatar

    ET should be top six, but I should be grateful, I suppose, that he is remembered at all by the younger set. ET’s biggest hits occurred just before Billboard started its country charts so Billboard has him ranked a little below where he belongs (Joel Whitburn’s Top Country Singles 1944-1993 had him at #16)

    “Walking The Floor Over You” and “Take Me Back and) Try Me One More Time” would be the quintessential Ernest Tubb recordings

    Much of ET’s recorded output remains available today. It would probably improve the music of Jason Aldean and Florida-Georgia Line if they would spend a few hours listening to ET

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