Thursday, August 11, 2011

Gotta Travel On to Hillbilly Heaven

Category:  Obituary/News

The 1959 smash hit "Gotta Travel On" was one of many country songs that year that found a home on the pop "top 40" charts as well as country radio.  The man who performed that song, Billy Grammer, passed away Wednesday (8/10) in a hospital in his hometown of Benton, Illinois.

Although the song is easily Grammer's best-known work, he was not a one-hit wonder.  He had a top 20 hit in 1963 with a song called "I Wanna Go Home."  That same year Bobby Bare recorded the tune with a different title:  "Detroit City."

In addition to his own recordings, Grammer was known as a superlative guitarist.  He worked on recordings by Marty Robbins, George Hamilton IV, Ernest Tubb, and Charley Pride -- and on recordings with the legendary Louis Armstrong.  In the early 1960s he opened his own guitar company, Grammer Guitars.  Although the company didn't last long the guitars made a lasting impression on many country guitarists, including Vince Gill.

Despite his world-wide acclaim Grammer chose to live in his hometown.  Survivors include his wife of 67 years, Ruth.

Billy (ne Billie) Grammer was 85.

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