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The Man Who Invented Country and Western Music

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.

Ernest Tubb, A Nashville, Music City Legend | Sharon Henry

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 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.

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.

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.

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.

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 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.”

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.

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

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