Tommy Tomlinson (musician)

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Tommy Tomlinson
Musician Tommy Tomlinson.jpg
Tomlinson in the Rockabilly Hall of Fame
Born(1930-10-28)October 28, 1930
DiedApril 8, 1982(1982-04-08) (aged 51)
Resting placeGardens of Memory Cemetery in Minden, Louisiana
ResidenceMinden, Webster Parish
Louisiana
OccupationGuitarist/songwriter with
Louisiana Hayride
Mercury Records
Spouse(s)Marie G. Tomlinson (dates missing)
Katherine Seward Tomlinson (married April 1967 in Texas)
ChildrenDel Marie, Jackie, Donna, Doug, and Thomas Tillman Tomlinson
Parent(s)Carl Jackson and Myrtle May Wilson Tomlinson

Gerald Delmar Tomlinson, known as Tommy Tomlinson (October 28, 1930 – April 8, 1982), was a country guitarist and songwriter who was seriously injured in the automobile accident in Texas on November 5, 1960, which claimed the life of his friend and musical colleague, Johnny Horton.[1] A member of the Rockabilly Hall of Fame, Tomlinson also worked with Jim Reeves, Claude King, Marty Robbins, David Houston, David Soul, and Werly Fairburn.

Background[edit]

Tomlinson was born in Hampton in Calhoun County in southern Arkansas, one of five children of Carl Jackson Tomlinson (1901-1974) and the former Myrtle May Wilson (1906–1986).[2] Because of a devastating flood,[3] the Tomlinsons moved southwest by 1941 to Minden, Louisiana. When his older brother, Willie C. "Bill" Tomlinson (1926–2004),[4] entered the United States Navy and left behind his guitar, Gerald soon mastered playing the instrument. In 1951, he enlisted in the United States Marine Corps during the Korean War and was wounded in both legs during his three years of service. It was in the military that his fellow Marines gave him the nickname "Tommy", a shortened form of "Tomlinson".[5]

Career[edit]

Even before he went into the Marines, Tomlinson had worked sporadically in music, for a time with Hank Williams, who died in 1953, when Tomlinson was still in the military. After his military years, Tomlinson began playing his Gretsch guitar in 1954 as back-up for musicians of the Louisiana Hayride, sponsored by KWKH radio in Shreveport. He joined Johnny Horton with such hits as "The Battle of New Orleans" and "North to Alaska".[5] On May 31, 1959, Tomlinson, Horton, and Tillman Franks of Shreveport, dressed in frontier clothing, performed "The Battle of New Orleans" on CBS's The Ed Sullivan Show.[3]

He was a songwriter for Johnny Horton ("You're My Baby") and for Dolly Parton and Norma Jean (Heaven's Just A Prayer Away").[5] When Horton took a break on stage, Tomlinson often played such selections as "Wildwood Flower" and "Honky Tonk". In 1962, he worked with Claude King who was climbing the charts with "Wolverton Mountain" and, in August 1963, he backed David Houston, who also lived for a time in Minden, Louisiana, with "Mountain of Love".[3]

Prior to the 1960 accident, Tomlinson had returned from Nashville, Tennessee, where he had taped four instrumental albums for Mercury Records with Jerry Kennedy of Shreveport. The albums titled "Tom & Jerry", cover all genres of music, also included Hank Garland, Boots Randolph, Bob Moore, and Harold Bradley. The songs on the albums include "Sugar-Foot Rag", "Raunchy", "My Blue Heaven," and "Unchain My Heart". The first single from the album, released in August 1961, was "Wildwood Flower".[3]

In the car wreck, Johnny Horton was killed while Tomlinson sustained multiple leg fractures and was unable to work.[1] A benefit to raise funds on his behalf was held in December 1960, with Marty Robbins and Johnny Cash taking the lead.[3] Coincidentally, the Tomlinson farm in Hampton was near that of the Cash family between Kingsland and Tinsman, Arkansas. Whereas the Tomlinsons moved to Minden, the Cashes relocated to Dyess in Mississippi County in eastern Arkansas.[3]

Death[edit]

In 1962, eighteen months after the accident, despite various hospital procedures, Tomlinson lost his left leg. He died in Shreveport[6] of heart failure twenty years later in the spring of 1982 at the age of fifty-one. Still active, he had performed with his band, the Country Connection, the night before his death.[5]

On April 27, 1967, Tomlinson married the former Katherine Seward (born 1931) in Harrison County in East Texas, thirty-five days after the birth of his youngest child, Thomas Tillman Tomlinson (born March 23, 1967), who resides in Shreveport.[6] At the time of his death in 1982, Tomlinson had in addition to Thomas Tillman four other living children, Del Marie, Jackie, Donna, and Doug.[5] He had a younger brother, Houston E. Tomlinson (1933–1996), who served in the United States Army during the Korean War.[7] Along with their parents, Tommy and Houston Tomlinson are interred at Gardens of Memory Cemetery in Minden.[8] Brother Bill Tomlinson is interred at Lane Memorial Cemetery in Sibley in south Webster Parish.[4]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b http://www.rockdalereporter.com/news/2010-11-04/Front_Page/A_Night_To_Remember.html
  2. ^ "Carl Jackson Tomlinson". findagrave.com. Retrieved July 1, 2015.
  3. ^ a b c d e f "Tommy Tomlinson: A Great Rockabilly Guitar Picker". rockabillyhall.com. Retrieved July 1, 2015.
  4. ^ a b "Willie C. Bill" Tomlinson". findagrave.com. Retrieved July 1, 2015.
  5. ^ a b c d e "Tommy Tomlinson". hillbilly-music.com. Retrieved July 1, 2015.
  6. ^ a b "Gerald Delmar Tomlinson". search.ancestry.com. Retrieved July 2, 2015.
  7. ^ "Houston E. Tomlinson". findagrave.com. Retrieved July 1, 2015.
  8. ^ "Gerald Delmar "Tommy" Tomlinson". findagrave.com. May 10, 2011. Retrieved July 1, 2015.