Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Ernie Ashworth: Colorful Opry star dies at 80

Ernie Ashworth, longtime Grand Ole Opry star, passed away on Monday, March 2, 2009.  Though his recordings weren't very active in the charts in the last 40 years, Mr. Ashworth was a familiar face at the Opry, popular in the UK,, the owner of radio stations,  and unforgettable in his flamboyant sequined cowboy suits. 

From the 'Redneckerson' Blog:
Ernie Ashworth, longtime star of the Grand Ole Opry, died in Nashville today at 80. Ashworth's heyday was in the 1960s with the number 1 song Talk Back Trembling Lips. Born Ernest Bert Ashworth inHuntsville, Ala. on Dec. 15, 1928, he began his career singing on Huntsville radio station WBHP. In 1949, he moved to Nashville where he worked for several radio stations and was signed by Wesley Rose as a songwriter for Acuff-Rose Music. Among the artists who recorded his songs between 1949 and 1955 were Jimmy Dickens, Carl Smith, Johnny Horton and Paul Anka.  Due to lack of success as a recording artist, in 1957, he returned to Huntsville and began working at the Redstone Arsenal, doing guided missile work. Three years later, Rose arranged a recording contract for him with Decca Records. Billed as "Ernest Ashworth," his first single, Each Moment (Spent With You) became a top five hit. Later that year, You Can't Pick A Rose In December went into the Top 10 and in 1961, Forever Gone made it to 15.

From the Independent (UK):

In 1962 he began to record for Acuff-Rose's own label, Hickory, and quickly gained two substantial hits: "Everybody But Me" (1962) and "I Take the Chance" (1963). It was, however, his next single, "Talk Back Trembling Lips", that would prove his signature record. It landed him awards from industry publications such as Cashbox and Record World and, in 1964, led to an invitation to join the cast of the Grand Ole Opry. This was the fulfillment of a life-long dream for Ashworth; he remained a popular fixture on the show, as well known for his taste in gaudy stage attire – his suits were characteristically adorned with embroidered lips – as he was for his slightly nasal, if sincere, vocals.

He continued his chart run with "A Week in the Country", "I Love to Dance with Annie" and "Pushed in a Corner" (all 1964). In 1965 he appeared in the little-seen movie The Farmer's Other Daughter, the same year in which he enjoyed his final Top Ten hit, "The DJ Cried". Although he released further singles, his chart career effectively ended in 1970 with "The Look of Goodbye".

Ashworth's traditionalism inevitably appealed to many country fans on this side of the Atlantic and ensured that he continued to receive airplay in Europe while struggling to do so at home. More recently he focused increasingly on his business interests – he owned a pair of radio stations in Tennessee – while continuing to tour and appearing regularly on the stage of the Opry. Last year he was inducted into the Alabama Music Hall of Fame.

1 comment:

Bill said...

I guess I never really knew him by name, but after seeing his picture and after listening to the video clip, I remember seeing him on TV. I love the variety of your posts, you have a very interesting site.

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