Wednesday, March 28, 2007
Yahoo LAUNCHCAST song of the day
Artist:Tennessee Ernie Ford
Tennessee Ernie Ford was famous for his comedy antics but he also had a booming baritone and was a pioneer in crossing over from country music to mainstream. He was born Feb. 13, 1919 in Bristol, TN. Though he studied music, he got his start as a DJ in Cincinnati in 1939. After serving in the US Army Corps in WWII, he moved his family to San Bernardino, CA and developed his Cousin Ernie comedy shtick while working as a DJ. In 1947 he met influential producer Cliffie Stone and Stone signed Ford to Capitol Records. A lot of music fans familiar with Ford's later recordings might be surprised to know that his early records had a boogie woogie feel to them. He had a few hits and things were starting to peter out in 1953. His appearances as Cousin Ernie on the hugely popular I Love Lucy in 1954 brought him back to the public's attention. Sixteen Tons was written by legendary songwriter Merle Travis and Ford's booming vocal really sold the grim tale of a coal miner. It was number one on the charts for ten weeks in 1955. This got him his own TV variety show in 1956. He continued to record for decades and had occasional chart success. But Sixteen Tons was his biggest hit. This budget comp is fine for beginners. Tennessee Ernie Ford was inducted into the Country Music Hall Of Fame in 1990 and then died of liver failure Oct. 17, 1991 in Los Angeles at age 72. Here's Ford performing Sixteen Tons. I think this clip was shown on the 1990 Country Music Hall Of Fame broadcast.