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The Ernest Tubb Record Shop And The Mid Nite Jamboree

The neon lights of the legendary Ernest Tubb Record Shop on Broadway, Nashville.

The neon lights of the legendary Ernest Tubb Record Shop on Broadway, Nashville.

The Man Who Invented Country & Western Music | Sharon Henry

Let me tell you a story about the Ernest Tubb Record Shop and the Mid Nite Jamboree.  Sunday mornings growing up, my sister and I were subjected to country and western music cranked-up on the record player. Protests and pillows failed to mute those torturous sounds to ears that preferred The Go-Gos, Bryan Adams and Madonna. This was our Dad’s time of the week to unwind with his kind of music; Charley Pride, Kitty Wells and his favourite (my worst), Ernest Tubb, playing the Midnite Jamboree. It was so embarrassing.

Star-struck next to a brass statue of the 'inventor' of Country & Western music, inside the Ernest Tubb Record Shop, Nashville, Tennessee.

Star-struck next to a brass statue of the ‘inventor’ of Country & Western music, inside the Ernest Tubb Record Shop, Nashville, Tennessee.

Imagine my surprise when decades later I stood star-struck in front of a brass statue of Ernest Tubb inside ‘THE’ Ernest Tubb Record Shop in Nashville, Tennessee, where ‘THE’ Midnite Jamborees took place. My teenage self would have died of embarrassment. Memories of those Sunday mornings returned in a flash and I wished my Dad were there.

For non-country fans or those whose dads didn’t inflict the genre onto them, Ernest Tubb is a legend in country and western music. Indeed, I found out that he coined the term, ‘country and western.’

The Ernest Tubb Record Shop on Broadway continues to operate as a country music store today, where the modern stars of Nashville take their place alongside the founding members of the industry. For fans of country music it's a fascinating place to visit.

The Ernest Tubb Record Shop on Broadway continues to operate as a country music store today, where the modern stars of Nashville take their place alongside the founding members of the industry. For fans of country music it’s a fascinating place to visit.

A Pioneer Of Country Music

Cue, Victor Black, the shop sales manager and a self-confessed historian of country music. Attracted by my excited state he struck up conversation about the great man. “The only person who sold more records than Ernest Tubb on the Decca Records label was Bing Crosby,” Victor told us warming to his subject. “Ernest told Decca Records, this is not right, my song ‘Walking The Floor Over You’ was number one only on the Hillbilly Chart in 1941. They said, well what do you want us to call it?

“He replied, well we were all raised in the country, call it country music. What about those cowboys in Hollywood making music, came the response. They’re making westerns, call that western music, suggested Ernest. So it’s called Country & Western today because of Ernest Tubb,” said Victor.

The very informative, Victor Black inside the Ernest Tubb Record Shop. More Victor trivia: When Ernest Tubb first came to Nashville there were no recording studios. By 1947 he had convinced music companies to record in Nashville instead of travelling to Chicago, LA or New York.  The Ernest Tubb Record Shop and the Mid Nite Jamboree.

The very informative, Victor Black inside the Ernest Tubb Record Shop. More Victor trivia: When Ernest Tubb first came to Nashville there were no recording studios. By 1947 he had convinced music companies to record in Nashville instead of travelling to Chicago, LA or New York. The Ernest Tubb Record Shop and the Mid Nite Jamboree.

Teenage Sharon would just die! The modest Midnite Jamboree stage where legendary country stars gave live performances inside the Ernest Tubb Record Shop, Nashville, Tennessee.

Teenage Sharon would just die! The modest Midnite Jamboree stage where legendary country stars gave live performances inside the Ernest Tubb Record Shop, Nashville, Tennessee.

In the Ernest Tubb Record Shop, Nashville, Tennessee, 90% of all the pictures on the walls are country music artists who've played for the Midnite Jamboree.  The Ernest Tubb Record Shop and the Mid Nite Jamboree.

In the Ernest Tubb Record Shop, Nashville, Tennessee, 90% of all the pictures on the walls are country music artists who’ve played for the Midnite Jamboree. The Ernest Tubb Record Shop and the Mid Nite Jamboree.

Ernest Tubb died 6 September, 1984 aged 70, but his legacy lives on inside this record store. Country CDs of all genres stand alphabetically on racks. The walls are covered with photographs, some yellow with age, in honour of artists who played the Midnite Jamborees. Hank Williams, Patsy Cline, even Elvis Presley all performed to packed audiences from the small stage rigged at the back of the shop.

Walking The Floor Over You

The Ernest Tubb Midnite Jamboree was a live, free radio show every Saturday night following the ‘Grand Ole Opry’ at the Ryman. “Ernest would play 26 Saturday nights of the year,” said Victor, “because back then to be a member of the Opry you had to play 26 Saturday nights. If not you lost membership.” The Midnight Jamboree show lasted from 1951 to 1974, until the Opry left the Ryman.

Photos of the Midnite Jamboree in its heyday in Nashville. A live, free show that was aired on radio every Saturday night after the 'Grand Ole Opry' at the Ryman. It lasted from 1951 to 1974 until the Opry moved to the Texas Troopador Theatre, 2416 Music Valley Drive. The Ernest Tubb Record Shop and the Mid Nite Jamboree.

Photos of the Midnite Jamboree in its heyday in Nashville. A live, free show that was aired on radio every Saturday night after the ‘Grand Ole Opry’ at the Ryman. It lasted from 1951 to 1974 until the Opry moved to the Texas Troopador Theatre, 2416 Music Valley Drive. The Ernest Tubb Record Shop and the Mid Nite Jamboree.

The Coca-Cola boxes Loretta Lynn stood on to be seen from the back of the Nashville shop during Midnite Jamboree shows. Loretta was such a fan of Ernest Tubb she named her eldest son after him, nine years before they had even met.

The Coca-Cola boxes Loretta Lynn stood on to be seen from the back of the Nashville shop during Midnite Jamboree shows. Loretta was such a fan of Ernest Tubb she named her eldest son after him, nine years before they had even met.

A painting of Audrey Williams, Hank's first wife and Hank Junior's mother. This painting is visible on the wall during the Midnite Jamboree scene in the film 'Coalminer's Daughter' which was shot here, inside the Ernest Tubb Record Shop in Nashville.

A painting of Audrey Williams, Hank’s first wife and Hank Junior’s mother. This painting is visible on the wall during the Midnite Jamboree scene in the film ‘Coalminer’s Daughter’ which was shot here, inside the Ernest Tubb Record Shop in Nashville.

Country legend, Loretta Lynn made four duet albums with Ernest Tubb. The Midnite Jamboree scene in her biopic movie, ‘Coalminers Daughter’ was filmed inside the actual shop. “This is where Loretta got her start,” said Victor. “These are the Coca-Cola cases she used to stand on so that the crowds could see her. Ernest Tubb plays himself in the movie, even though Sissy Spacek plays Loretta Lynn.”

Ernest Tubb Record Shop and the Mid Nite Jamboree

And guess what? I stood next to that stage and posed with a cardboard cut-out of Ernest Tubb, the man who had ‘ruined’ many a Sunday morning. The teenage me would have been mortified. But the adult me was so impressed with Ernest Tubb and his story, she later downloaded ‘Walking The Floor Over You.’ And it’s actually pretty good…

Excited to visit the legendary Ernest Tubb Record Shop on Broadway, Nashville, where 'real' country music lives. The Ernest Tubb Record Shop and the Mid Nite Jamboree.

Excited to visit the legendary Ernest Tubb Record Shop on Broadway, Nashville, where ‘real’ country music lives. The Ernest Tubb Record Shop and the Mid Nite Jamboree.

COMMENTS

  • February 9, 2017

    I loved what you wrote about ET. I grew up in the preppy north Baltimore suburb of Towson in the 1960s, so I was the only fan of country music in my school. And that was when country music was still really country music. I went to a Country Music Jamboree at the Baltimore Civic Center in 1967 and interviewed Mr Tubb for the high school paper (I don’t think they ever ran the story!) and ET treated me as if I were Walter Cronkite or someone of similar importance. For a legend in his field to regard a 16-year-old with such kindness is something I have never forgotten. I still listen to his songs daily! I write a blog too (http://trulyregalmanners.blogspot.com/) and I look forward to enjoying yours as well! Mark Clark

    • February 11, 2017

      Wow what a claim to fame and an excellent story to tell! From what Victor (store manager) told us ET really appreciated his fan base and whilst touring would often stay late at gigs signing autographs and talking to people. Sounded like a really nice guy. Right, I’m going to listen to some ET and have a read of your blog! 🙂

  • Sally Stucker

    September 12, 2016

    Yee Ha!! I love it. thanks and keep them coming. Love Your Blog!! Great Job! When we were on St Helena, we stayed at the Farmlodge and one day I was back near the kitchen and Maureen was playing the radio on St FM and they let me take it out to the front of the house and listen to the country show that was playing and we even called in to request a song! Good times indeed. You are lucky people to live in such a wonderful place!!

    • September 13, 2016

      Yee Ha indeed! Hopefully you’ll visit again someday, country music is certainly here to stay. 🙂

  • Jean Fowler

    September 7, 2016

    Hi Guys, Good ole Ernest Tubb eh; we just loved Country & Western music back in the day! I remember in the late 60’s early 70’s we use to queue at “The Star” to buy one or two Country & Western classics on vinyl Records. Beautiful memories and powerful music.

    • September 13, 2016

      Wow great story, would love to see photos of this. My how times have changed, no more vinyl in this digital age of music. 🙂

  • Dave Halas

    September 7, 2016

    My son and I visited St Helena in March. I was very surprised to find out that Country Music was so popular with the Saints! Enjoy your visit to Nashville. Make sure you stop by Tootsies bar on Broadway. Hope to return to St Helena some day.

    • September 13, 2016

      Hee hee country music is EVERYwhere on St Helena! Had a great time in Nashville. Tootsies was packed so we went into Second Fiddle instead and had a blast. 🙂

  • Roger Bagley

    September 6, 2016

    Have just seen your Post on Ernest Tubb. Not only did I enjoy it very much but it reminded me of the power of musical memories to transport us back to the time of childhood & so link us closely with parents no longer alive. I remember so vividly my Dad calling me to join him in listening to records on Family Favourites. His favourite was another couple of American musicians, Les Paul (inventor of the modern electric guitar & multi-tracking) & his vocalist wife Mary Ford. I have some of their records & putting them on enables me to sit side by side with my Dad once again. Thanks for the memory. Very best wishes to both you & Darrin & many congratulations on all your blogs, Roger

    • September 6, 2016

      Wow, that’s such a lovely and poignant story, Roger, thanks for sharing. Music really can take us for a trip down memory lane, even if (like me) you don’t appreciate it at the time. It was so funny realising how excited I was on in being in the ‘presence’ Ernest Tubb! Today is the anniversary of his death – what a legend.

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