Melvin Endsley Biography

30 January 1934, Heber Springs, Arkansas, USA, d. 16 August 2004, Drasco, Arkansas, USA. In 1937 Endsley was disabled by polio, which confined him to a wheelchair for life. Between 1946 and 1947, he was sent to the cruelly titled Crippled Children’s Hospital in Memphis, where he became interested in country music after listening to artists such as Wayne Raney and the Delmore Brothers on the radio, and he learned to play guitar. He returned to Drasco and graduated from Concord High School in 1954, undecided whether he should seek a career in radio or become a teacher. He worked on KCON Conway and soon became a regular on Wayne Raney’s show on KWCB Searcy. By this time, Endsley, influenced by the songwriting of Hank Williams, had already begun to write songs himself. It was on Raney’s show that he first sang a song that he had originally copyrighted as ‘I’ve Never Felt More Like Singing The Blues’. When the song attracted local attention, Endsley quickly decided to try his luck at getting his material published. Borrowing money to finance the trip and with a friend to drive for him, he made the long, painful journey to Nashville. He hoped to interest Webb Pierce but it was actually on the prompting of Marty Robbins that Wesley Rose signed Endsley to a writing contract with Acuff-Rose Music and initially acquired six of his songs. (Robbins subsequently enjoyed major hits with ‘Singing The Blues’ and ‘Knee Deep In The Blues’. They were also major pop hits for Guy Mitchell both in the USA and the UK.) Chet Atkins signed Endsley to RCA - Victor Records, for whom he recorded in 1957/8 without chart success. In 1959, he recorded three singles for MGM Records, before joining Hickory the following year.

In 1961, Endsley ended his association with Acuff-Rose and formed his own label, Melark, which he operated from his farm at Drasco, but still failed to find that elusive hit. He recorded ‘Singing The Blues’ again for release as a Melark single, but RCA, whom he had contracted to undertake the production, lost his master tape. This marked the end of Endsley’s career as a vocalist and he retired to his farm. Endsley songs recorded by other singers include ‘It Happens Every Time’ (Don Gibson), ‘I’d Just Be Fool Enough’ (Johnny Cash, Faron Young, Jimmy C. Newman and the Browns), ‘Why I’m Walkin’’ (Stonewall Jackson) and ‘I Like Your Kind Of Love’ (Andy Williams). Endsley may have failed to make his mark as a vocalist but he most certainly did so as a songwriter.

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

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