Friday, August 11, 2017

Faron Young (1932 - 1996)

Faron Young was born in 1932 in Shreveport, Louisiana where he grew up on a dairy farm. He taught himself to play the guitar and sang in his first country band at Fair Park High School. They appeared at school functions and country fairs amassing s local following. He was discovered and invited to become a regular on the Louisiana Hayride radio program on KWKH in 1951. KWKH was a well-known station which offered Saturday night competition for the Grand Ole Opry. There he met Webb Pierce who was a major country star at the time. Webb Pierce invited Faron Young to join his country tour at local fairs and in concert halls. Faron proved a crowd favourite and recorded “Have I Waited Too Long" and "Tattle Tale Tears" for an independent label (Gotham).

Realising his potential Capitol Records signed Faron Young in 1952 and just prior to being drafted, the young singer appeared on the Grand Ole Opry. The handsome baritone had a winning way with his audiences and soon became a regular cast member of the Grand Ole Opry. In the army he won an Army talent show on ABC-TV and was placed in an entertainment unit. In the Special Service division he served in the Korea he sang for the troops and appeared on recruitment shows. While he was still serving Capitol brought out, "Goin' Steady" in 1953 which was a country hit in the US. "Goin' Steady" was an up-tempo tune aimed at the teen market and became a standard for rockabilly hopefuls.

In the same year "I Can't Wait (For the Sun to Go Down)," made the top five.

After being discharged from the Army, Capitol Records released “If you ain’t lovin,” this gave him another huge hit and reaffirming his popularity.

The “Hillbilly Heart-throb” had a vocal style characterised by a careful balance between honky tonk and pop which, in the wake of Hank Williams, gave him a string of big hits throughout the 50s and early 60s. He also encouraged new country songwriters like Don Gibson, Kris Kristofferson and Willie Nelson and enjoyed many hits as a result. Faron Young also helped singer Roger Miller and hired him as a tour drummer when he was a virtual unknown. Faron’s successes continued with "Live Fast, Love Hard, Die Young," which became Faron’s first number one hit.

By 1956, Faron Young was at his peak and enjoyed hit after hit including “I've got five dollars and It's Saturday Night," "You're Still Mine" and "Sweet Dreams," written by Don Gibson.

In 1958 he had another hit with “Alone with you” (partly written by Roy Drusky) and in 1961, Willie Nelson’s ‘Hello Walls’ became a hit in the pop charts.

In 1962, he switched record labels and signed with Mercury where he concentrated more on country pop for mass appeal. His music became more polished and commercial. "You'll Drive Me Back (Into Her Arms Again)," "Keeping Up With the Joneses," and "Walk Tall" all climbed into the Top Ten.

Before her untimely death in 1963 Faron and Patsy Cline had a long and, at the time, scandalous affair. He was devastated at the news of her death. In 1965 Faron left the Grand Ole Opry and started touring. He worked a punishing schedule but won more fans who craved to see his live performances. By the end of the sixties he had returned to honky tonk and had a hit with "Wine Me Up."

Throughout the early 70s Faron had another series of hits including, "Your Time's Comin'," "If I Ever Fall in Love (With a Honky Tonk Girl)," "Step Aside," and "It's Four in the Morning."

The hits started to dry up by the end of the 70s and despite changing record labels Faron Young had no more hit singles. Away from the limelight Faron Young was a successful businessman and co-founded with Preston Temple the Music City News. In the 80s he continued to perform live concerts then returned briefly to record for a small label, called Step One.

The handsome singer appeared in many films including Hidden Guns (1955) where he earned the nickname “the Young Sheriff,” this later became “the Singing Sherrif” to his fans. Other films followed including: Daniel Boone, Trail Blazer (1956), Raiders of Old California (1957), Country Music Holiday (1958), Stampede, A Gun and a Gavel, Second fiddle to a steel guitar (1966), Nashville Rebel (1966), Road to Nashville (1967), and That’s Country (1977). He also was a regular in many television shows. Faron Young died aged 64 in 1996. He had been in failing health when he took his own life.

Worth a listen:
Goin’ Steady (1953)
I can’t wait for the sun to go down (1953)
If You Ain't Lovin' (You Ain't Livin') (1954)
Live Fast, Love Hard, Die Young (1955)
Sweet Dreams
Country Girl
Alone With You
Hello, Walls (written by Willie Nelson)
It's Four In The Morning (written by Jerry Chesnut).
Here I Am In Dallas
Go Back You Fool
It's a Great Life
The Yellow Bandana
You'll Drive Me Back (Into Her Arms Again)

No comments: