Born Ferlin Eugene Husky, 3 December 1925, near Flat River, Missouri
Ferlin Husky was a mainstay on the country charts for more than two decades. Several of his hits crossed over to the pop charts. He was a great live entertainer, who remained a popular concert attraction throughout his career.
Born and raised on a farm in Missouri, Husky learned to play the guitar from an uncle and began performing in his teens at various social functions. After serving in the Merchant Marines in World War II, he wound up in Bakersfield, California, working as a DJ. In 1949 he signed a contract with Four Star Records, recording under the name Terry Preston because he felt Ferlin Husky sounded “too made up”. In 1951 he hooked up with Cliffie Stone, who became his manager and helped him get a deal with Capitol Records, where Ken Nelson was his producer. Until 1953 Husky’s records were still issued under the name Terry Preston, then as by Ferlin Huskey and from 1956 under his given name, Ferlin Husky.
His first hit was a duet with Jean Shepard, “A Dear John Letter”, which topped the country charts for six weeks in 1953 and also reached # 4 on the pop charts. In 1955 he had his first chart entry as a solo act. Both sides of “I Feel Better All Over”/“Little Tom” made the country Top 10. He began to hit regularly and had his biggest success in 1957, with “Gone” (# 1 country for 10 weeks, # 4 pop). It became his second million seller, after “A Dear John Letter”. “Gone” (which he had originally recorded without success in 1952 as by Terry Preston) is often cited as the earliest hit record of the Nashville Sound style of production. Husky had one further big pop hit, the gospel number “Wings Of A Dove” (1960), which went to # 12 pop and to # 1 country (10 weeks). He had to wait until 1966 for another Top 10 country hit, “Once” (# 4), followed in 1968 by his last Top Tenner, “Just For You”, which also peaked at # 4. Ferlin moved to ABC Records in 1972. Between 1953 and 1975 he placed 49 singles on the country charts. Hollywood beckoned as his popularity grew and Husky appeared in several films, first of all in “Mister Rock and Roll” (1957), as himself.
Husky had a history of heart trouble. In 1977 he had a heart attack and underwent heart surgery in a Minneapolis hospital. He had to retire from performing, but made a comeback. In the 1980s and 1990s he performed regularly at the Gran Ole Opry. In 2005 he had another heart operation. Ferlin Husky died of congestive heart failure on March 17, 2011, less than a year after his induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame.
More info : http://www.ferlinhusky.com/Ferlin_Husky_Biography.html
Discography / sessionography :
Recommended listening :
Acknowledgements : Greg Adams, Don Roy.
Ferlin Husky had a dual career : he also recorded as his alter ego Simon Crum, a comic hayseed character with a silly laugh, based on a a Missouri neighbour called Simon Crump. The Crum persona was already developed during his wartime service, but Ferlin didn’t record as Crum until 1954. Two singles came out of that first Simon Crum session : “Cuzz You’re So Sweet”, which went to # 5 on the country charts in the spring of 1955 and “A Hillbilly’s Deck of Cards”. The latter - which still makes me laugh - is a hilarious parody of the inspirational recitation “Deck of Cards” that had been recorded by several artists. T. Texas Tyler’s 1948 version was the most commercially successful. The second and last Simon Crum hit was “Country Music Is Here To Stay” (1958, # 2 country), a funny song (partly recitation) that many country fans could relate to, as they felt that their music was being marginalized by rock n roll. Though it wasn’t a hit, “Bop Cat Bop” (1956) has proved to be one of the most enduring of Crum’s recordings because it was featured on many rockabilly compilations as an authentic example of the genre, although it was intended as a satire of rock and roll.
Husky often made his Simon Crum sides at the same sessions as his regular recordings and vice versa, which sometimes blurred the line between the two. For instance, the smash hit version of “Gone” was recorded at the same session (November 7, 1956) as Crum’s “Little Red Webb” and “Don’t Be Mad” (a quasi-live parody of “Don’t Be Cruel”). The latter two were not released until 1963, coupled as Crum’s last Capitol single. In that same year, “Don’t Be Mad” was used as the opening track of Crum’s only LP “The Unpredictable Simon Crum”, which collected most of the earlier singles. Previously unaware of its existence, I found a mint copy at the Waterloo Square market in Amsterdam in 1968 and never regretted its purchase.
CD : Country Music Is Here To Stay : The Complete Simon Crum a.k.a Ferlin Husky on Capitol (Collector’s Choice CCM-295-2). 21 tracks, five previously unissued. Released in 2002. Liner notes by Greg Adams.
Dik, August 2015
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