1914 – On This Day In Rock, Ernest Tubb, one of the first great honky-tonk singers, is born in Crisp, Texas.
Ernest Dale Tubb (Feb. 9, 1914 – Sept. 6, 1984), nicknamed the Texas Troubadour, was an American singer/songwriter and one of the pioneers of country music. His biggest career hit song marked the rise of the honky tonk style of music, “Walking the Floor Over You” (1941). He was the first singer to record a hit version of “Blue Christmas” In 1948, the song is more commonly associated with Elvis Presley and his mid-1950s version.
Tubb was born on a cotton farm in Ellis County, Texas (now a ghost town). Tubb spent his youth working on farms throughout the state since his father was a sharecropper. He spent his spare time learning to sing, yodel, and play the guitar and was inspired by Jimmie Rodgers. He took a job as a singer on a San Antonio radio station at age 19. The pay was low so Tubb also dug ditches for the Works Progress Administration and then worked as a clerk at a drug store. He moved to San Angelo, Texas in 1939 and was hired to do a 15-minute afternoon live show on radio station KGKL-AM. During this time, Tubb drove a beer delivery truck in order to support himself. During World War II he wrote and recorded a song titled “Beautiful San Angelo”.
Tubb inspired some of the most devoted fans of any country artist, his fans followed him throughout his career even long after the chart hits dried up. The Texas Troubadour remained a fixture at the Grand Ole Opry where he continued to appear. A few blocks away from the Opry at his record shop he continued to host his Midnight Jamboree radio program. The Legend and the Legacy paired Tubb with a who’s who of country singers, a notable release in 1979 on the Cachet Records label, a label which Tubb was connected to financially. This long out of print duets album was re-released in 1999 as a CD on the First Generations label.
Tubb appeared as himself in Loretta Lynn’s 1980 autobiographical film, Coal Miner’s Daughter with Roy Acuff and Minnie Pearl.
His singing voice intact until late in life, Tubb fell ill with emphysema and died in 1984 at Baptist Hospital in Nashville, Tennessee. He is buried in Hermitage Memorial Gardens in Nashville.