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Country music performer Roy Drusky, whose smooth baritone was part of the
Grand Ole Opry for 46 years, died yesterday at the
Highland Manor Nursing Home in Portland, Tenn.
He was 74 years old and had battled emphysema for many years.
"I've always felt that Roy Drusky was the Perry Como
of the Grand Ole Opry," said WSM-AM air personality
and Opry announcer Eddie Stubbs.
"His style of singing — some would deem him to be a crooner — is
a wonderful sound, the likes of which we rarely hear anymore
in country music."
He learned to play guitar while in the U.S. Navy, and he began
working as a disc jockey in Decatur, Ga., after a failed tryout
with the Cleveland Indians.
At that station, he engineered the first recording session of
future Hall of Fame artist Bill Anderson (who would later
pen Drusky's 1963 novelty hit Peel Me a Nanner).
His big break came three years later, when Faron Young's version
of the Drusky-penned Alone With You dominated the country charts
for 13 straight weeks.
Other hits followed, including Yes, Mr. Peters
(his first No. 1 hit, recorded as a duet with Priscilla Mitchell),
White Lightnin' Express, Where the Blue and Lonely Go and
Long Long Texas Road.
Stubbs, who will serve as host for a Roy Drusky tribute show next week
on WSM-AM, said Drusky's smooth persona was the same whether onstage or off.
"He had so much class when he performed, and he was always the
same wherever you saw him, whether it was in a shopping mall or
on the Opry. He was a very gentle man, and very much a gentleman."
Mr. Drusky is survived by wife Bobbye of Portland; sons,
Tad Drusky of Gallatin, Roy "Twig" Drusky III o
f Portland and Tip Drusky of Pensacola, Fla.; and four grandchildren.
Mr. Drusky's remains will be cremated. A memorial service
will be 3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 3, in Highland Seventh-day Adventist Church
on Highway 109, just outside Portland.
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