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Stuart at MerleFest in 2012
|Birth name||John Marty Stuart|
|Born||September 30, 1958|
Philadelphia, Mississippi, U.S.
|Labels||Sugar Hill, Columbia, MCA, Universal South, Superlatone, Ridge Runner|
|Associated acts||Connie Smith, Johnny Cash, Lester Flatt, Leroy Troy|
John Marty Stuart (born September 30, 1958) is a multiple Grammy Award-winning, American country music singer-songwriter, known for both his traditional style, and eclectic merging of rockabilly, honky tonk, and traditional country music. In the early 1990s, he had a string of country hits.
Early life and rise to fame
From an early age, he was obsessed with country music and taught himself how to play the guitar and mandolin. At the age of 12, Stuart started performing with the bluegrass group The Sullivan Family. He later met Lester Flatt bandmember Roland White. White invited Stuart to play with him and the Nashville Grass at the Labor Day gig in Delaware in 1972. After this, White asked him to join the band permanently and Stuart accepted. This made White responsible for the rest of Stuart's education. Fourteen-year-old Stuart appeared with the band on the season five finale of Hee Haw. Marty stayed with Lester Flatt until Flatt broke up the band in 1978 due to his failing health.
In 1979, Flatt died. Stuart pushed forward and worked with fiddler Vassar Clements. He also worked with guitarist Doc Watson. In 1980, he joined Johnny Cash's backing band. The previous year, Stuart made his first solo album, With a Little Help From My Friends, on Ridge Runner Records.
In 1982, he released a second album called Busy Bee Cafe on Sugar Hill Records. Both of these releases were bluegrass albums, and they failed to garner any success. In 1979 he dated Karen Darlene Graham, daughter of Junior A. Graham. In 1983, Stuart married Johnny Cash's daughter, Cindy. They divorced five years later, and had no children. In 1985, Stuart left Cash's band to pursue a solo career.
Recording career in the 1980s and 1990s
In 1985, Stuart accompanied Johnny Cash to Memphis and played on the Class of '55 album that also featured Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison, and Jerry Lee Lewis. At the end of the session Perkins presented him with his guitar. Later that year, Stuart left Cash's band and landed a recording contract with Columbia Records. The following year, he released a self-titled album on the label, which produced a Top 20 hit on the Billboard country charts in the song "Arlene." Stuart garnered his first cover story in 1986, appearing in a Mid-South magazine article titled "Nashville's New Hopes." Also in the article were Vince Gill, Sweethearts of the Rodeo and Lisa Angelle. Although he had a hit with "Arlene", the album itself did not sell well. Stuart recorded a follow-up album, Let There Be Country, but Columbia failed to release it after Stuart had a heated discussion with the label head over its decision to drop Johnny Cash from the Columbia roster.
His marriage to Cindy Cash ended in divorce in 1988, leading to Stuart's return home to Mississippi. Roland White invited Stuart to rejoin his band as their fiddler and this helped Stuart build his confidence to try again at becoming a singer.
Stuart soon returned to Nashville. He landed a deal with MCA Records in 1989, formerly Decca Records. That year, Stuart released his first album on MCA, Hillbilly Rock. In 1990, he found commercial success with the album, when two songs from Hillbilly Rock became hits. The title track, "Hillbilly Rock," was his first Top 10 hit on the Country charts. The other song, "Western Girls," broke the Top 20. The album received positive reviews from critics, who compared Marty's work to that of country singer Dwight Yoakam. The album featured a cover version of the Johnny Cash hit "Cry! Cry! Cry!." In 1991, he released another album, Tempted, and the title track became Stuart's first Top-5 hit.
In 1991, Marty co-wrote a song with Travis Tritt called "The Whiskey Ain't Workin'." The song was recorded as a duet on Tritt's 1991 album It's All About to Change, and became Marty's biggest hit. In 1992, his former record company, Columbia finally released his album Let There Be Country. That same year, Stuart released the album This One's Gonna Hurt You on MCA. The album's title track, a duet with Travis Tritt, was released as a single, and became another Top Ten hit for Stuart. This One's Gonna Hurt You became Stuart's first gold album.
Between 1991 and 1992, Marty and Travis went on the road for the No Hats tour, referring to "hat acts," as it seemed at the time every mainstream country singer was wearing a cowboy hat on stage. Although Stuart built quite a fan following, follow-up success was hard to find. In 1994, Stuart contributed the song "Up Above My Head / Blind Bartimus" with Jerry Sullivan and Tammy Sullivan to the AIDS benefit album Red Hot + Country produced by the Red Hot Organization. The release of his 1994 album Love and Luck turned out to be less successful than hoped. Three singles were released from the album, but only one ("Kiss Me, I'm Gone") made the Top 40. His record sales began to slip. This led to MCA releasing the album The Marty Party Hit Pack in 1995. This also led to a series of "Marty Party" concerts on the Nashville network. The year 1996 saw the release of another album, Honky Tonkin's What I Do Best. Once again, sales were less than hoped for. Stuart released three singles, with only one reaching the Top 40.
Career since the late 1990s
In 1997, Stuart married legendary country music singer Connie Smith. Connie and Marty met back in the 1960s, when he saw Connie performing at one of her concerts, and he told his mother that day, that someday he would marry her. In 1998, he helped produce Smith's comeback album on the Warner Bros. label, Connie Smith. He also co-wrote 8 out of 10 songs on the album. Stuart released another album in 1999 called The Pilgrim, along with another unsuccessful single, that failed to even make the Top 40.
In 2000, Stuart performed the voice of Reverend in Tom Sawyer. Stuart left MCA in 2000, joining Columbia Records, releasing a new album in 2003; however, this album was credited to "Marty Stuart & the Fabulous Superlatives." The lead single just missed Top 40 status. In 2005, Stuart launched a custom record label, Superlatone Records, to issue overlooked Southern Gospel and Roots music recordings. Stuart released three critically acclaimed collections on Superlatone, Souls' Chapel, Badlands and Live at the Ryman. In October 2005, Stuart released a concept album, Badlands: Ballads Of The Lakota, which pays tribute to the Sioux culture in what is now South Dakota. In 2007, Stuart produced country legend Porter Wagoner's debut album on the predominantly punk label Epitaph Records.
The Fabulous Superlatives, Marty Stuart's band since 2002, includes him on guitar and mandolin, Kenny Vaughan on guitar, and Harry Stinson on drums, and from 2002 until 2008 Brian Glenn on bass. From 2008 until 2015, Paul Martin on bass. In 2015 Chris Scruggs replaced Paul Martin on bass, and also playing steel guitar. Every member also sings.
His collection of music memorabilia and photography was exhibited at the Tennessee State Museum in 2007 as "Sparkle & Twang: Marty Stuart's American Musical Odyssey." The "Sparkle & Twang" exhibit later appeared at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, Ohio, and at the Arkansas Statehouse Museum. In early 2018, Stuart co-curated, along with the Grammy Museum, an exhibit at the Woody Guthrie Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma, entitled "Marty Stuart's Way Out West: A Country Music Odyssey." The exhibit highlighted the West Coast impact on country music, featuring items by artists including Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, Buck Owens and Stuart himself. Many of the items in the exhibit came from the private collection of Stuart, including the last portrait of Cash (taken by Stuart four days before Cash died).
Yvonne and Mavis Staples gave one of their father's, "Pops" Staples, guitars to Marty Stuart after Staples' death. Mavis Staples explained, "My father was Marty's godfather. My sisters and I took him in as our brother. He's the only one that I've heard who -- when he's playing guitar, he sounds like Pop. He can play just like him."
Stuart's guitars also include 'Clarence', the familiar two-tone Fender Telecaster, once owned by Clarence White. This instrument, either a '54 or '56 (different sources) is the original B-Bender guitar, built by White and Gene Parsons around 1967, designed to allow the guitarist to manually raise the guitar's 'B' string one whole step to play pedal steel style licks. Stuart bought this unique guitar in 1980 from White's widow.
The Marty Stuart Show
Stuart is host of The Marty Stuart Show, which features traditional country music in the vein of The Porter Wagoner Show, Flatt & Scruggs, The Wilburn Brothers Show, and Hee Haw. The Marty Stuart Show began airing at 8:00 p.m. on November 1, 2008 on cable's RFD-TV. Although no new episodes have been produced recently, the network continues to air old episodes of the show under the name The Best of the Marty Stuart Show.
Each episode features music by Stuart and his band the Fabulous Superlatives, as well as his wife, Grand Ole Opry star Connie Smith, banjo-picker Leroy Troy, and guests. The show is sponsored by Mississippi Tourism.
Country Music Foundation
Awards and nominations
|1985||Academy of Country Music||Top New Male Vocalist||Marty Stuart||Nominated|
|1990||Country Music Association||Video of the Year||"Hillbilly Rock"||Nominated|
|1991||Academy of Country Music||Top Vocal Duet||Marty Stuart and Travis Tritt||Nominated|
|Grammy Awards||Best Country Collaboration with Vocals||"The Whiskey Ain't Workin'" (with Travis Tritt)||Won|
|Country Music Association Awards||Vocal Event of the Year||"The One's Gonna Hurt You" (with Travis Tritt)||Won|
|1994||Album of the Year||Asleep at the Wheel: Tribute to the Music of Bob Wills & the Texas Playboys||Nominated|
|Rhythm, Country and Blues||Nominated|
|Vocal Event of the Year||"The Devil Comes Back to Georgia" (with Charlie Daniels Band, Travis Tritt, Mark O'Connor and Johnny Cash)||Nominated|
|1996||Vocal Event of the Year||"Honky Tonkin's What I Do Best" (with Travis Tritt)||Nominated|
|Academy of Country Music||Top Vocal Duet||Marty Stuart and Travis Tritt||Nominated|
|1998||Vocal Event of the Year||Same Old Train (with various artists)||Won|
|1999||Grammy Awards||Best Country Collaboration with Vocals||Won|
|Country Music Association||Vocal Event of the Year||Nominated|
|2000||Golden Globe Awards||Best Original Score||All the Pretty Horses||Nominated|
|2001||Grammy Awards||Best Country Instrumental Performance||"Foggy Mountain Breakdown"||Won|
|2004||International Bluegrass Music Awards||Recorded Event of the Year[A]||Livin', Lovin', Losin': Songs of the Louvin Brothers||Won|
|2005||Americana Music Honors & Awards||Lifetime Achievement Award for Performance||Marty Stuart||Won|
|2008||International Bluegrass Music Awards||Recorded Event of the Year[B]||Everett Lilly & Everybody and Their Brother||Won|
|2011||Grammy Awards||Best Country Instrumental Performance||"Hummingbyrd"||Won|
|Best Country Collaboration with Vocals||"I Run To You" (with Connie Smith)||Nominated|
|2017||Americana Music Honors & Awards||Duo/Group of the Year||Marty Stuart and his Fabulous Superlatives||Won|
^ A. shared with Joe Nichols, Rhonda Vincent, Emmylou Harris, Rodney Crowell, James Taylor, Alison Krauss, Vince Gill, Terri Clark, Merle Haggard, Carl Jackson, Ronnie Dunn, Rebecca Lynn Howard, Glen Campbell, Leslie Satcher, Kathy Louvin, Pamela Brown Hayes, Linda Ronstadt, Patty Loveless, Jon Randall, Harley Allen, Dierks Bentley, Larry Cordle, Jerry Salley, Dolly Parton, Sonya Isaacs, Del McCoury, Pam Tillis, Johnny Cash and The Jordanaires.
^ B. shared with Everett Lilly, Bea Lilly, Charles Lilly, Daniel Lilly, Mark Lilly, Rhonda Vincent, Billy Walker, Ronnie McCoury, Rob McCoury, David Ball, Charlie Cushman, Larry Stevenson, Joe Spivey, Eddie Stubbs, Jason Carter, Dickey Lee, Freddie Weller, Mike Bub, Rad Lewis, Andy May, Darrin Vincent, Marcia Campbell, Clay Rigdon, Eric Blankenship and Bill Wolfenbarger.
- Himes, Geoffrey (1998). "Marty Stuart." In The Encyclopedia of Country Music. Paul Kingsbury, Editor. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 517.
- Dickerson, James L., Goin' Back to Memphis: A Century of Blues, Rock 'n' Roll and Glorious Soul, Schirmer Books, 1996, p. 12
- Dickerson, James, Mid-South magazine, The Commercial Appeal,February 23, 1986
- Dickerson, James L., Mojo Triangle: Birthplace of Country, Blues, Jazz and Rock 'n' Roll, Schirmer Trade Books, 2005, p. 225
- Tunis, Walter (June 21, 2012). "Country guitarist Kenny Vaughan steps out on his own". Lexington Herald Reader. Retrieved April 27, 2017.
- "Marty Stuart Fan Page: The Band". Mattioli, Sherry. Retrieved December 17, 2017.
- Jon Weisberger (August 31, 2005). "Marty Stuart - The party may come to an end, but the road goes on forever". No Depression. Retrieved October 13, 2017.
- World, Jimmie Tramel Tulsa. "Marty Stuart launches 'Way Out West' exhibit at Woody Guthrie Center".
- "Marty Stuart Rediscovers Gospel in 'Souls' Chapel'". Npr.org. Retrieved May 23, 2013.
- Dauphin, Chuck (October 12, 2017). "Mavis Staples Talks Las Vegas Shooting & Reasserting Herself As a Voice for Change". Billboard. Retrieved October 12, 2017.
- Russell, Rusty. ""Clarence" The Granddaddy of Bender Guitars". Marty Stuart Fan Page. Retrieved January 31, 2016.
- Kuhn, Thomas Eric. "Telecaster - "Going electric"". The Country Boys. Retrieved January 31, 2016.
- di Perna, Alan. "How Marty Stuart Is Keeping Country Music's Rich Tradition Alive". Guitar Aficionado. NewBay Media, LLC. Retrieved January 31, 2016.
- Marty Stuart Official Site on Sony Music
- Marty Stuart Fan Page website
- Marty Stuart on IMDb
- Superlatone Records
- Marty Stuart Interview NAMM Oral History Library (2017)
| AMA Lifetime Achievement Award for Performing