Marty Robbins - A Lifetime of Music

Early Years

One of most versatile singers of the 1950's, 60's and 70's was Marty Robbins. No one in the history of Country music has had a more diverse career than Marty; never content to remain just a country singer, Marty performed successfully in a variety of genres during his time in the music industry.

Martin David Robinson was born September 26, 1925 near the city of Glendale Arizona. It was during these early years that he developed a love for the old west by listening to the stories told by his Grandfather. These stories instilled a love of the old west into young Marty that would stay with him throughout his life. During his teenage years, he worked as a cowhand on his brothers ranch. In 1943 at the age of seventeen, Marty joined the US Navy; it was during his enlistment that he learned to play the guitar, and became interested in Hawaii music. Later in 1947, following his discharge from the Navy, Marty returned to Glendale Arizona and begun to sing locally. Within three years, Marty had gone from playing clubs and a small radio station to his own radio and TV show in Phoenix. In 1948, before Marty started his professional career, he married his sweetheart Marizona Baldwin. While hosting one of his TV shows, a popular singer named 'Little' Jimmy Dickens, appeared on Marty Robbins TV show 'Western Caravan.' When Dickens hear Marty sing, he was so impressed he helped Marty get his first recording contract with Columbia Records in May 1951.

Columbia Records

When Marty Robbins starting recording for Columbia records, he was given a selection of songs to choose from; he didn't like any of the songs. Marty being the independent thinker decided to write his own songs. This caused an uproar and hard feeling between him and Columbia management. To make a long story short, Marty got his way and was allowed to use his own songs. When the first two songs were released in Spring of 1952 they flopped. However, when " I'll Go On Alone " was released in 1953, it was Marty's first top ten hit. Deciding to capitalize on the success of ' I'll Go Alone,' Mary Robbins appeared at the Grand Ole Opry in 1953; during the same year he moved his family to Nashville. His next top ten hit ' I couldn't keep from crying ' was in the country top ten early 1953. However, Marty's next two songs 'Call me Up' and 'Pretty Words' didn't do so well. Then in 1955 Marty had two songs 'Maybellene' and 'That's all right' that kept him in the top ten during this year. However, many music critics don't consider Marty's career launched til he released ' Singing the Blues ' in fall 1956; this song was his first number one on the country top ten, and was in the top twenty pop chart too. Later in early 1957, Marty Robbins released ' A White Sport Coat; '; this song was number one on the Country charts and number two on the Pop charts.

Never allowing himself to be confined to just country music, Marty decided to broaden his musical reach with the release of ' Songs of the Islands ' late in 1957. Now a respected musical artist, Marty decided to turn his attention to his first love cowboy songs. In 1958 Marty started recording his beloved cowboy songs. Marty's first western hit was the song ' The Hanging Tree.' At this point, his childhood dreams of being a singing cowboy like Gene Autry was coming true. With the success of his first western song, Marty decided to release more. Marty's next album was called ' Gunfighter Ballards and Trail Songs; ' One of the songs included on this album was called 'El Paso;' this song would become the defining song of his career. "El Paso" was number one on both the pop & country charts; later it went gold.

Because of the success of the single ' El Paso,' it was now possible for Marty to finance another hobby he loves auto racing. Although he didn't compete to win, Marty enjoyed racing and the attention he received from the racing fans. In July 1961, Marty was recording his next hit ' Don't worry about me. ' An odd fuzzy sound was heard in the session recording. Instead of correcting the problem which was a blown tube, the producer in charge of this recording session liked the odd sound and left it in the finished recording. As a result of the hard work, singing talent and this odd new fuzzy sound ' Don't Worry about me ' was a hit. Other Hits Marty had before 1969 include: ' Ruby Ann,' ' Big Iron,' and ' Devil Woman.' Although Marty's success continued though 1965, his songs stopped being in the top ten after the hit song ' Ribbon of Darkness ' went to number one in 1965; this was the result of his focus on television not singing. However, he would have more number one hits it the 1970's.

Health Problems

Late in 1969, while on the road to a performance, Marty had the first of three heart attacks. Although he was confined in a hospital, Marly talked the doctor on call into releasing him, on the promise that he would go straight to a hospital in Nashville. Marty being one not to disappoint his fans performed the show, against medical advice; as the performance continued, Marty was in more and more pain. When the show was over, he went to the hospital; it was discovered three of his main arteries were clogged. Marty was given a choice to die in a year, or get a triple bypass. He decided to get the bypass. Following the triple bypass surgery, when he was able to use his arms, Marty requested a guitar. He wrote a song for his wife, who had helped him through the rough times. The name of the song was ' My Woman, My Woman, My Wife; ' the song would earn him another Grammy.

When Marty's personal physician told him to slow down, He did the opposite. Marty was more determined to live life just as hard and fast as he could; He devoted more of his time to his fans and he continued to participate in NASCAR racing. Also, he continued to record new songs. Marty decided to leave Columbia in 1972; he recorded with MCA for three years; following the weak record sales with MCA, he decided to contract with Columbia again. It was during this time Marty decided to record another one of his favorite songs ' El Paso city.' This song went to number one; another hit Marty had during 1976 was ' Among My Souvenirs.' After his 1978 hit ' Return to Me,' Marty continued to be a favorite of his fans despite his falling record sales. Marty Robbins had a second heart attack in 1981, which slowed him down even more. Marty's last top ten hit was the 1982 hit ' Some memories just wont die.' In October 1982, Marty was induced into Country music hall of fame; in December of the same year, Marty gave his last interview; a few hours after this interview, Marty had his third and final heart attack. Despite a lengthy surgery, with bedside care from his doctors, Marty passed away on December 8, 1982.

Marty Robbins transcended the boundaries of Country music. He was a songwriter, businessman, actor, husband and father. He will always be remembered for the joy he brought to his fans everywhere.

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Comments 42 comments

Hussains profile image

Hussains 7 years ago from Olympia, WA

Nice hub very informative and interesting! Thanks for sharing.

Coolmon2009 profile image

Coolmon2009 7 years ago from Texas, USA Author

@Hussains - Thank you for your feedback

habee profile image

habee 7 years ago from Georgia

Great hub - I love Marty Robbins! El Paso is my favorite.

Coolmon2009 profile image

Coolmon2009 7 years ago from Texas, USA Author

@habee - It is nice to meet another Marty Robbins fan here on hubpages Thanks for your feedback

prettydarkhorse profile image

prettydarkhorse 7 years ago from US

oh great country singer, thanks Coolmon I checked and listen to some of his songs in youtube, Maita

Coolmon2009 profile image

Coolmon2009 7 years ago from Texas, USA Author

@prettydarkhorse - thank you for your feedback and support

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cosette 7 years ago

mmm good country crooner. i love some of the vintage country music. very nice hub!

Coolmon2009 profile image

Coolmon2009 7 years ago from Texas, USA Author

@cosette - nice to meet another country music listener

dieseldodge09 profile image

dieseldodge09 7 years ago from Texas

Marty is great I love the old country. Some of this new stuff really is'nt true country just alot of Nashville wanna be's. Willie, Waylon, Hank Williams, Cash, and Coe are some of my favorites. Marty had lot great songs. El Paso is my favorite too. Great hub. I enjoy reading your hubs your a great writer.

Coolmon2009 profile image

Coolmon2009 7 years ago from Texas, USA Author

@dieseldodge09 - I grew up listening to country music(mainly Marty Robbins and Johnny Cash) with my dad. Like you I don't get into the new country music much except for a new song here and there.Thanks for your feedback and thanks for stopping by.

dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 7 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

I think Marty Robbins was a folksinger of the western song and have been a fan.

Coolmon2009 profile image

Coolmon2009 7 years ago from Texas, USA Author

@dahoglund - Yes he is one of the great old school country singers. Thank you for your comments

Dolores Monet profile image

Dolores Monet 7 years ago from East Coast, United States

I had to read this because I remembered the name Marty Robbins but could not recall his work. I'm glad you included those videos so we could hear his voice. I remember him now and El Passo vividly.

Coolmon2009 profile image

Coolmon2009 7 years ago from Texas, USA Author

@Dolores Monet - Thanks for stopping by

Rascal Russ Miles profile image

Rascal Russ Miles 7 years ago from Show Low, AZ USA

AWESOME Hub !!! Marty was my favorite singer when I grew up. He still was when he went home.

His was the greatest influence on my songwritig. If he were alive today, I would hunt him down and share some of my songs with him. Marty would relate so with his voice and guitar make them hits.

Now I'm your latest Fan. Here's one of my songs for you.

Coolmon2009 profile image

Coolmon2009 7 years ago from Texas, USA Author

@Rascal Russ Miles - Thank you for your comments; It is nice to meet another Marty Robbins fan. I will read your hub thanks for sharing

Diane Diekman 7 years ago

Thanks for keeping the memory and music of Marty Robbins alive. I'm doing my part by writing "Twentieth Century Drifter: The Life of Marty Robbins," for publication in 2012.

Coolmon2009 profile image

Coolmon2009 7 years ago from Texas, USA Author

@Diane Diekman - Sounds like an interesting project. I will check your site at to get periodic updates on your new book.

Truth From Truth profile image

Truth From Truth 7 years ago from Michigan

While I'm not a fan by any means of country music, I can truly appreciate Marty Robbins. I miss my father who died 2 years ago. The Marty Robbins song El Passo , brings back memories for me of my father playing that song at a restaurant jukebox. Anyway I will have to listen to some more of his songs now. Thanks for this excellent hub, and for bringing back some memories.

Coolmon2009 profile image

Coolmon2009 7 years ago from Texas, USA Author

@Truth From Truth - I understand what you mean I grew up listening to country music, R-n-B, and other genres with my father too It comforts me to listen to this music. Also, I just like the music from the 50's 60's and seventies better than the new stuff. Sorry to hear about your dad and thank you for your feedback

D.A.L. profile image

D.A.L. 6 years ago from Lancashire north west England

Coolmon2009, Marty Robbins is hugely popular over here in England. A great hub about a great singer. Country music is still very popular among many, and me in particular especially Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings. Thanks for sharing this informative hub.

Coolmon2009 profile image

Coolmon2009 6 years ago from Texas, USA Author

@D.A.L - Thank you for your feedback, and taking the time to comment on this article.

Contagious! profile image

Contagious! 6 years ago

Love it. Marty Robbins was SO versatile. Huge, clear, passionate, strong yet vulnerable tone. So believable and easy to listen to. A genius. Thanks for this Hub!

You know who I also love, but who doesn't have the power of Marty, but doea have a TON of soul and passion, is Rick Danko, of The Band. Stage Fright, It Makes No Difference and Too Soon Gone are a few of my favorites. Check him out if you haven't already :)

Coolmon2009 profile image

Coolmon2009 6 years ago from Texas, USA Author

@Contagious! - I will listen to some of Rick Danko's music, thanks for the suggestion. I am glad you enjoyed reading my article, and thanks for the feedback :)

Contagious! profile image

Contagious! 6 years ago

I like Rick's singing because you feel a STORY (and heart) when you hear it That's why I thought of him when I heard Marty Ribbons. I love the part of music that goes beyond notes--and straight into the heart, mind and soul. I hope to read more from you!

Coolmon2009 profile image

Coolmon2009 6 years ago from Texas, USA Author

@Contagious! - Once again thanks for your comments on this article, and i am looking forward to reading more articles from you too.

frogyfish profile image

frogyfish 6 years ago from Central United States of America

Enjoyable hub about Marty. I'll have to re-listen to "Don't Worry 'Bout Me" for the 'fuzzy'. Thanks for lots of interesting info!

Coolmon2009 profile image

Coolmon2009 6 years ago from Texas, USA Author

@frogyfish - Glad you enjoyed reading the article, and thanks for your feedback.

Micky Dee profile image

Micky Dee 6 years ago

Beautiful music from a great artist! I really loved the last video! Thanks Coolmon!

Coolmon2009 profile image

Coolmon2009 6 years ago from Texas, USA Author

@Micky Dee - Thanks for your kind words, and thank you for taking time to leave your comments :)

joe w bennett profile image

joe w bennett 6 years ago from Clinton, MS, US of A

Marty could (and did) sing almost anything. He had not only one of the best voices in country AND western, but one of the great voices in pop music for 4 decades. I'm a decent vocalist myself, but I really learned to appreciate Marty when I took on "El Paso" and "Big Iron" with my band F-Troop. Phrasing, dynamics, range, ease of delivery, song salesmanship-- Marty Robbins had it all. Thanks for keeping the memory alive...

Coolmon2009 profile image

Coolmon2009 6 years ago from Texas, USA Author

@joe w bennett - Thanks for your feedback and I wish you and your band much success in your musical endeavors.

epigramman profile image

epigramman 6 years ago

..gotta love Marty - what a voice and what a hub - bravo to you my yellow rose of Texas - and please check out one of my boys from up here in Canada - the great Ian Tyson - check him out on You Tube - and I love my uncle -from your state - Billy Joe Shaver - or I wish he was!!!

Coolmon2009 profile image

Coolmon2009 6 years ago from Texas, USA Author

@epigramman - I will take a look at Ian Tyson. Thanks for bringing him to my attention.

katiem2 profile image

katiem2 6 years ago from I'm outta here

At first as I read I thought who is this Marty Robbins character? The face did not look familar and yet the name rang a bell. As I read on I remembered him from my childhood, I think I may have seen him on a program my parents watched. I recall his face in the pictures of him older. Marty Robbins is as you said a very versatile performer. Great tribute. Peace :)

Coolmon2009 profile image

Coolmon2009 6 years ago from Texas, USA Author

@katiem2 - Thanks and it nice to hear from you again :)

KF Raizor profile image

KF Raizor 6 years ago

Nothing like Marty Robbins. I remember when I was little listening to him on the Grand Ole Opry on Saturday night. He was always on the last show because he was also a stock car driver. The "Midnite Jamboree" at Ernest Tubb's record shop was on after the Opry, and if Marty ran long Ernest would complain on the Midnite Jamboree...and that would make Marty would run even LONGER the next week!

He's a true legend of country music. Thanks for the hub.

Coolmon2009 profile image

Coolmon2009 6 years ago from Texas, USA Author

@KF Raizor - I am glad you enjoyed reading my article.

wilrhoades profile image

wilrhoades 5 years ago

Great hub Coolmon2009. Thanks for share.

Coolmon2009 profile image

Coolmon2009 5 years ago from Texas, USA Author

@wilrhoades - Thanks for your feedback; I am glad you enjoyed reading my article.

platinumOwl4 profile image

platinumOwl4 3 years ago

My favorite song by Marty is now and always will be, is Big Iron. Fantastic presentation.

Coolmon2009 profile image

Coolmon2009 3 years ago from Texas, USA Author

@platinumOwl4 - I like many of his songs from that time period; thank you for your visit :)

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