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
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
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
—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.;
- Country Song Roundup; No. 67; July 1960; American Folk Publications, Inc.;
- Country Song Roundup; No. 73; July 1961; American Folk Publications, Inc.;
- Country Song Roundup; No. 74; November 1961; American Folk Publications, Inc.;
- Country Song Roundup; No. 88; May 1965; American Folk Publications, Inc.;
- 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
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