Porter Wagoner, R.I.P.

Oct 29th, 2007 // 7 Comments

porterwagoner.jpgPorter Wagoner–television host, singer, songwriter, and stoic dispenser of the cold, hard facts of life–died on Sunday from complications due to lung cancer after more than 50 years in Nashville, in a career that ranged from a honky tonk youth to an old age celebrated by country-infatuated rockers like Jack Whtie and Neko Case.

As the star of The Porter Wagoner Show for over two decades starting in 1960, Wagoner was both a hitmaker in his own right and a groomer of younger singers, most notably Dolly Parton, whom he brought onto the show in 1967 and recorded over a dozen hit duets during the next seven years. You can get a sense of the image Wagoner projected both live and on record not only by how many times his CMT obituary repeats the words “solemn” and serious,” but also how often they mention him “clowning” on stage. This purse-lipped seriousness and hammy showmanship–dry fatalism cut with sly wit–is embodied by the drama and ridiculousness of one of my favorite album covers, from Wagoner’s 1967 The Cold Hard Facts Of Life. (You can see a larger version here.) Wagoner was 80.

Country Music Hall Of Fame Member Porter Wagoner Dies [CMT]

  1. coolfer

    not to nitpick, but i think he was in nashville for 50 years.

  2. Jess Harvell

    no, that was a definite typo on my part. thanks glenn.

  3. Juancho

    Heard it on NPR this morning.The man was a badass.

  4. How do I say this ... THROWDINI!

    He opened for Neko Case in LA earlier this year. I had not heard of him (didn’t listen to a lot of Dolly Parton growing up), however, he warmly received by the crowd and put on great show. (Dwight Yoakam and Billy Bob Thorton came out to play on a couple of songs.) I even bought his newest cd. Its not bad. R.I.P.

  5. CloudCarrier

    After he was admitted to the hospital a few weeks ago, I only feared the worst.

    Hopefully, his expansive back catalog will be reissued soon (an Australian-only 29 track (!) import is a good place to start), so that a whole new generation will be able to experience, first-hand, one of the hardest working musicians to ever tread Nashville.

    He was a sweet man, and I already miss him, all too much.

  6. nighttimingbaby

    saw him play a few months back with marty stuart, hands down one of the best shows i have ever seen.

  7. Chris Molanphy

    @How do I say this … THROWDINI!: OMG, thanks for the reminder — I saw him at a Neko Case show last year! Lucky me…he totally torched the joint. R.I.P., Porter.

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