Grand Ole Opry star Del Reeves, known for propulsive, edgy country hits
such as “The Girl on the Billboard,” “Looking at the World Through A
Windshield” and “A Dime at a Time,” died Jan. 1 in his Centerville
home after lengthy battles with emphysema and other ailments. He was 73.
Mr. Reeves joined the Opry in 1966, known then as “The Doodle-Oo-Doo-Doo Kid”
because of the country scat he sang over the guitar introduction
to “Girl on the Billboard,” his 1965 No. 1 country single.
His Opry appearances were notable not only for the songs he’d
sing but also for his spot-on impressions of other country
singers such as Johnny Cash.
“I first became aware of Del when he had a syndicated television show
that I picked up in South and North Carolina as a kid,” said signer-songwriter
Jim Lauderdale, who would later go on to duet with Mr. Reeves on a song
called “Diesel, Diesel, Diesel.” “I was so impressed by his voice,
but also impressed by the way he entertained. He was a real showman.”
Mr. Reeves was also an accomplished songwriter, penning songs
recorded by Little Jimmy Dickens, Wanda Jackson and others. Mr. Reeves also
was an early factor in bringing Billy Ray Cyrus to attention in Nashville.
Most of all, though, he’ll be remembered for music that fused Nashville
craft with Bakersfield edge.
“You would expect a harder-edged human being — more of a tough,
gruff person — after listening to his songs,” Lauderdale said.
“But he was a gentle man.”
Funeral arrangements have not yet been announced.
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