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Roy Drusky
Born:  June 22, 1930
Died:  September 23, 2004
Georgia Music Hall of Fame (2001)
WSM Grand Ole Opry
KEVE Minneapolis, MN
WEAS Decatur, GA

Roy Drusky was a native of Atlanta, Georgia. In his childhood, he took to playing the drums in his kindergarten class. In later years of school, he learned to play the piano and clarinet.

He attended Roosevelt High School and had dreams of becoming a professional baseball player. A 1960 magazine article indicated that he had some talent - he was voted onto the Atlanta All-Star team after graduation. He was offered a minor leage contract with the Cleveland Indians farm system.

Roy was in the Navy for a bit, where he took up playing the guitar. When he got out, he went back to Atlanta and attended Emory University. And the music bug kept biting him and he tried to get into the hillbilly music entertainment field.

In 1956, he was doing four television shows a week over WLWA-TV and a daily transcribed radio program over radio station WEAS, a 50,000 watt radio station out of Decatur, Georgia.

At that time, he was also playing the Circle "H" Ranch club with his band, the Southern Ranch Boys. His show that aired on Tuesday nights from 8:00 to 8:30pm was called "Hillbilly Hits". His Saturday show that aired from 12:15pm to 1:00pm was "Hoedown Matinee". He also had the "Atlanta Jubilee" show from 7:00 to 7:30pm on Saturdays, too. Roy also had a 15-minute drive time show from 5:00 to 5:15pm each afternoon. In late 1955, he had just signed with RCA Victor and his fan club was headed by Phyllis Martin in Atlanta, Georgia.

His first record was "What Am I Worth?" b/w "Baby Come Back and Love Me". Later, his Starday recording of "Such A Fool" got the interest of the record buying public. That lead to Bill Lowery helping Roy obtain a two year recording contract with Columbia records. Later, he hooked up with Decca records and Owen Bradley.

The August 1955 issue of Country & Western Jamboree in their short reviews of recently released records back then, wrote this about his Starday record of "Such a Fool" b/w "Mumbling to Myself": "He's such a fool for trustingher but he can't help himself. Well, his gal's gone and he's mumbling to himself."

The Winter 1957 issue of the same magazine offered another angle in reviewing Roy's latest Columbia release then, "Walkin'" b/w "I Walk to Heaven". "If this one is a hit, it'll beat tradition, for there never seems to be hits on records where the same important word or words are used in both song titles. However, Drusky's own "Walkin'" is a good up-tempo blues, while the reverse is an extremely strong ballad with good assistance from a gal singing obligato."

His songwriting got the attention of other country music stars. Faron Young first recorded his tune "Alone With You" and later "Country Girl" and "I'll Be All Right". That led to Roy's songs being recorded by such stars as Webb Pierce, Red Sovine, Kitty Wells and George Morgan.

His Decca recording of "Another" was said to be in the Country Music Top 50 charts for over 20 weeks.

Some of the tunes he was listed as songwriter over the years:

  • The Way It's Gotta Be
  • I Will
  • Leave Me Alone
  • Just About That Time
  • Country Girl
  • Don't Leave Me Lonely Too Long (with Vic McAlpin)
  • Another (with Vic McAlpin)
  • I'll Be All Right in the Morning (with Faron Young and Bob Stroud)
  • I'm Letting You Go (with Webb Pierce and Lester Vanadore)
  • Alone With You (with Faron Young and Lester Vanadore)

A 1960 Country Song Roundup feature article on Roy provides some insight into Roy's approach to writing a song:

"I never force myself to write a song, and by this I mean that unless the words more or less fall into place, I just quite and wait till some other time. As a rule, if a song is hard to write, it will also be hard for the public to grasp the true meaning right off and this they need to do, if a song is to be a hit. The first thing I do is select my title. I get titles from things people say, from TV and radio programs, etc. After getting my title, I try to build my song toward the the title line so the song will readh a climax, constantly building. I write my melody and lyric at the same time as I go along."
    —Roy Drusky, 1960

A 1961 article mentions that one of Roy's big breaks as a performer and singer was during his time in Minneapolis. Lester Vanadore happened to meet Roy and hear him sing and contacted his associate, Hubert Long. Things moved along and Hubert must have liked what he heard - he brought Roy to Nashville and soon Roy was with Decca Records, Owen Bradley and soon afterwards, the Grand Ole Opry.

An article by Mae Axton notes he was a stock car driver and airplane pilot, owning his own plane to get to personal appearances. He used his stock car expertise to win a "Country Music Stock Car Race" back in 1965. He competed with Faron Young, Bobboy Lord, George Jones, Willie Nelson, Hubert Long, Jim Ed Brown, The Glaser Brothers, and Charlie Dick (Patsy Cline's husband) in that race.

He appeared on such shows as the Jimmy Dean television show.

Judy Hedy wrote of her interview with Roy Drusky in 1980 - a time when he had to undergo some lifestyle changes as an over two pack a day smoking habit for over 32 years had taken its toll on him then. Already a devoutly religious person, raised a Baptist, but later a Seventh Day Adventist, he told of the many times he had promised God he'd quit smoking if only he'd get through a bad spell or the next day. But all too often, those promises got broken in the endless string of personal appearances that wreak havoc on an artists' personal life and habits.

Roy was impressed by an article about Mother Teresa back then after she had won the Nobel Peace Prize. She noted, "My church has no walls". Roy noted, "She didn't care whether you were a Baptists, a Catholic or whatever. She didn't need to be labeled." As part of this reflective period, he decided he would not work on Fridays anymore. Some of his music friends thought it might have been akin to committing career suicide. But Ms. Hedy pointed out, Roy indicated with a smile that it had indeed not.

Ms. Hedy posed Roy the question that defies answering even in today's market. Then, as perhaps now, Many of the Grand Ole Opry performers ... are recording stars without a record label. Why? Their previous records still sold well, they continue to make personal appearances, but yet, they had no recording contract.

Roy didn't really have an answer - perhaps more philosophical about it. He noted "...That's like if we could piack a hit song, we'd all stay in the charts. I guess its like a roulette wheel, you just spint it and ever so often, your number comes up. For some, like some gamblers, it never comes up. You just keep spinning." Roy at that time had just signed with the Plantation Records with his producer Shelby Singleton.

Mae Axton wrote of Roy in her 1965 article:

"Our Mr. Drusky is a kodacolor of greatnewss. He is kind; and a gentleman. His sould walks upon all paths and unfolds itself, like a lotus of countless petals, unfolding for the people who know his heart, and love him for his goodness.

Roy Drusky is a man—a man who cares for people, and is the mirror of eternity.

Roy Drusky is my friend, as he is yours.

And like seeds dreaming beneath the snow, his heart dreams of autumn, winter, spring and summer, and the songs he writes and sings for the wonderful people who need to hear, and care for the man he is."

Credits & Sources

  • Country Song Roundup; No. 43; April 1956; American Folk Publications, Inc.; Derby, CT
  • Country Song Roundup; No. 67; July 1960; American Folk Publications, Inc.; Derby, CT
  • Country Song Roundup; No. 73; July 1961; American Folk Publications, Inc.; Derby, CT
  • Country Song Roundup; No. 74; November 1961; American Folk Publications, Inc.; Derby, CT
  • Country Song Roundup; No. 88; May 1965; American Folk Publications, Inc.; Derby, CT
  • Country & Western Jamboree; Vol. 1 No. 6; August 1955; Country & Western JAMBOREE, Inc.; Chicago, IL
  • Country & Western Jamboree; Vol. 1 No. 10; December 1955; Country & Western JAMBOREE, Inc.; Chicago, IL
  • Country & Western Jamboree; Vol. 3 No. 7; Winter 1957; Maher Publications; Chicago, IL

Sound Sample—(RealAudio Format)
After Your Turn Out Your Lights

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Recordings
 
Capitol
Rec. No. Side Song Title
  3859 A Close To Home
  3859 B One Day At A Time
  3942 A If I Could Paint The World
  3942 B Dixie Lily
  4028 A Baptism of Jesse Taylor
  4028 B I'm Knee Deep In Loving You
  4132 A Sunrise
  4132 B Warm Warm Bed
  4232 A This Life of Mine
  4232 B When My Room Gets Dark Again
  4281 A Battle for Daddy's Soul
  4281 B Never Before
 
Columbia
Rec. No. Side Song Title
  21478 A What Am I Worth
  21478 B Come On Back And Love Me
  21516 A I Just Can't Help My Loving You
  21516 B So In Love Again
  21537 A Three Blind Mice
  21537 B I'll Make Amends
  40830 A That's When My Heartaches Began
  40830 B God Planned It That Way
  40964 A Walkin'
  40964 B I Walk To Heaven
 
Decca
Rec. No. Side Song Title
  30793 A Just About That Time
  30793 B Wait And See
  30943 A Our Church-Your Wedding
  30943 B Such A Fool
  31024 A Another
  31024 B Same Corner
  31109 A Anymore
  31109 B I'm So Helpless
  31164 A I Can't Tell My Heart (w/Kitty Wells)
  31164 B When Do You Love Me? (w/Kitty Wells)
  31193 A Three Hearts In A Tangle
  31193 B I'd Rather Loan You Out
  31297 A I Went Out Of My Way
  31297 B I've Got Some
  31366 A There's Always One (Who Loves A Lot)
  31366 B Marking Time
  31411 A After You Turn Out Your Light
  31411 B I'm Not Getting Over You
  31443 A Secondhand Rose
  31443 B It Worries Me
  31486 A She Never Cried When She Was Mine
  31486 B Divided Love
  31523 A My World's Losing You (w/Kitty Wells)
  31523 B Another Chance To Fall In Love (w/Kitty Wells)
  31717 A Summer, Winter, Spring and Fall
  31717 B Almost Can't
 
Mercury
Rec. No. Side Song Title
  72204 A Peel Me A Nanner
  72204 B Room Across The Hall
  72265 A Pick of the Week
  72265 B Yesterday
  72376 A (From Now On All My Friends Are Gonna Be) Strangers
  72376 B Birmingham Jail
  72471 A White Lightnin' Express
  72471 B Lonely Thing Called Love
  72532 A Rainbows and Roses
  72532 B Thing Called Sadness
  72586 A The World Is Round
  72586 B Unless You Make Him Set You Free
  72627 A If The Whole World Stopped Lovin'
  72627 B Too Many Footprints
  72689 A New Lips
  72689 B Now (Is A Lonely Time)
  72742 A Weakness in A Man
  72742 B I've Got The Right To The Blues
  72784 A You Better Sit Down Kids
  72784 B Let's Put Our World Back Together
  72823 A Jody And The Kid
  72823 B Your Little Deeds of Kindness
  72865 A Memphis Morning
  72865 B I Wouldn't Be Alone
  72886 A Where The Blue And Lonely Go
  72886 B I'm Gonna Get You Off My Mind
  72928 A My Grass Is Green
  72928 B Alone With You
  72964 A Such a Fool
  72964 B All Over My Mind
  73007 A I'll Make Amends
  73007 B Our Everlasting Love Has Died
  73056 A Long Long Texas Road
  73056 B Emotion Devotion
  73111 A All My Hard Times
  73111 B At Times Everyone's Blind
  73178 A I Love The Way That You've Been Lovin' Me
  73178 B (My Love For You Goes) On and On and On
  73252 A Red, Red Wine
  73252 B Without You Baby
  73712 A I Can't Go On Loving You
  73712 B You're Shakin' The Hand
 
Plantation
Rec. No. Side Song Title
  PL-183 A Beautiful Sunday
  PL-183 B You've Got Your Troubles
  PL-187 A Last Farewell
  PL-187 B Welcome Home
  PL-194 A What A Difference A Day Makes
  PL-194 B What A Difference A Day Makes
 
Starday
Rec. No. Side Song Title
  135 A Such A Fool
  135 B Mumbling To Myself
  185 A Such A Fool
  185 B Mumbling To Myself
 
Scorpion
Rec. No. Side Song Title
  GRT-154 A I Used To Be A Cowboy
  GRT-154 B Don't Touch Me
  SC-0515 A Deep In The Heart of Dixie
  SC-0515 B Last Call for Alcohol
  SC-0521 A Night Flying
  SC-0521 B Lifetime In A Week
  SC-0527 A Lovers Friends and Strangers
  SC-0527 B Five String Hero
  SC-0540 A Betty's Song
  SC-0540 B Naked Truth


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