Ferlin Husky Biography

3 December 1925, on a farm near Flat River, Missouri, USA. Husky learned to play guitar as a child and during World War II served in the US Merchant Navy. His mother wanted him to be a preacher and his father a farmer, but after discharge, he found radio work as an announcer and disc jockey but gradually turned to performing while at KXLW St. Louis. In the late 40s he moved to California, where he appeared on the Los AngelesHometown Jamboree and played clubs in the Bakersfield area. Believing that Ferlin Husky, his real name, was unsuitable, he first called himself Tex Preston, then changed again to Terry Preston. He also developed an alter ego country philosopher character, Simon Crum, whom he introduced into his act. (A few years later, Sheb Wooley also adopted a similar practice with his character Ben Colder, who sought to entertain with his supposed humorous parodies on popular and country songs.)

In the early 50s, he recorded for Capitol Records and worked with Tennessee Ernie Ford. In 1953, as Ferlin Husky, he recorded ‘A Dear John Letter’ with Jean Shepard, which became a smash US country number 1, as well as reaching number 4 on the US pop charts. An answer version called ‘Forgive Me John’, also had success in both charts. Following success with his self-penned ‘Hank’s Song’ (a tribute to Hank Williams), Huskey finally dropped the name of Terry Preston. In 1957, now minus the ‘e’ again, Husky joined the Grand Ole Opry and achieved another smash hit number 1 with his million-selling recording of ‘Gone’, which, ironically, he had first recorded unsuccessfully as Preston five years earlier. In 1960, he charted a further country number 1 with the gospel/country ‘Wings Of A Dove’, which also became a Top 20 pop hit. He recorded ‘The Drunken Driver’, a tear-jerking narrative about a father who runs over his son, which has been rated a classic by some and one of the worst recordings ever made by others.

He became a popular entertainer on many network television shows, including hosting theArthur Godfrey Show and appearing as a dramatic actor onKraft TV Theatre. While not always singing traditional country material, he maintained his country popularity through the character of Simon Crum. In this guise, he demonstrated a great talent for impersonating other country stars, presenting rustic comedy, and even managed a number 2 country hit with ‘Country Music’s Here To Stay’. He recorded an album of pop songs called Boulevard Of Broken Dreams in 1957 and also recorded several rock ‘n’ roll singles such as ‘Wang Dang Do’. Husky has appeared in several films includingMr. Rock & Roll andCountry Music Holiday.

From the 60s to the mid-70s, he toured extensively with his band, the Hush Puppies, and had regular country chart entries including ‘Once’, ‘Just For You’, ‘True True Lovin’’ and ‘Freckles And Polliwog Days’. He moved to ABC Records in 1973 and achieved a country chart entry, ‘An Old Memory Got In My Eye’, in 1975. Husky has been married six times and has nine children, one of whom is called Terry Preston. In 1977 he had a heart operation but he recovered and continued to perform and record.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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