Dedicated to The Late, Great Marty Robbins
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'An interesting anomaly of the period was an Arizonian named Marty Robbins, whose style was unique and not derived from any particular tradition or artist, except, perhaps, the early Eddy Arnold or two underrated, smooth singers of the 1940's, Pete Cassell and Zeke Clements. Marty Robbins' voice was so superb, flexible, expressive and warm, that he was welcomed with open arms into the country music establishment and hailed as one of the new breed of country singers. His singing was overwhelming in those days...strong, caressing, punctuated by high, clear yodels, breaking and crooning, inspiring his early nickname, "MR. TEARDROP". He played this role to the hilt in those early days. He joined the Opry in 1953 with magnificent country songs like TIME GOES BY, AT THE END OF A LONG LONELY DAY and SING ME SOMETHING SENTIMENTAL".
Robbins is probably the most versatile country singer of all and began to expand his repertoire widely in the early years of rock'n'roll, scoring the first of his NO.1 hits with A WHITE SPORTCOAT and recording several other rockabilly sides like MEAN MAMA BLUES and even Chuck Berry's MAYBELLINE. Rockabilly was but one of his numerous flirtations with widely different musical styles, for example, he recorded two Hawaiian albums (highlighted by Jerry Byrd's tender touch on the steel) that are among the best of that genre and he chalked up a big hit with the voguish calypso sound with DEVIL WOMAN in 1961. And of course, he is noted as one of the few to ever have big selling cowboy records, with his back-to-back hits, BIG IRON and EL PASO, both of which were included on GUNFIGHTER BALLADS AND TRAIL SONGS, one of the earliest country albums to be awarded gold record status.
Marty Robbins eventually recorded three albums in the cowboy style, which are testament to the power of his rich, versatile voice. The majority of the cuts feature only the voice of Marty Robbins, the powerful harmony singing of the Glaser Brothers, a rhythm guitar and a bass, the absolutely brilliant gut-string guitar work of Grady Martin. These forays into other fields did not keep Robbins from having hits with pure country love songs like DON'T WORRY and SINGING THE BLUES. Somehow, he has always kept his identity with the country fans who never seemed to desert him despite his wide ranging musical explorations, and Marty Robbins remains one of the most popular contemporary stars.
The nashville approach to recording provided maximum opportunity for lucky accidents and their presence on country records did much to spread the word about Nashville sidemen to singers of other fields.
The now commonplace but then striking fuzz tone guitar on Marty Robbins' DON'T WORRY (1961) was the result of guitarist Grady Martin plugging into a studio amp with a blown speaker. Instead of putting the amp in the corner and using one in good shape, he began experimenting with the strange, rasping sound and a hit record was born.
Marty Robbins' foray into the genre (with EL PASO in 1959 and BIG IRON in 1960, plus an album called GUNFIGHTER BALLADS AND TRAIL SONGS, which earned gold record status) can now be seen as a stopping point in a remarkably diverse career that has touched upon pure, hard country, rockabilly, western, caribbean, Hawaiian, pop and other musical styles.