R.I.P. Ferlin Husky
The end came last Thursday for a performer with one of the more perfect names for country music, as word from Nashville came on Friday that country music pioneer Ferlin Husky died. He was 85. Born in Cantwell, MO on December 3, 1925 and reared on a farm near Flat River, MO, Husky grew up as a typical Midwesterner with a hard scrabble existence during the Great Depression and an eighth grade education.
Learning the basics of guitar as a boy from an uncle, Husky performed in honky tonks around St. Louis after dropping out of high school in the early 1940s. He worked blue-collar jobs as a truck driver and at a steel mill before enlisting in the U.S. Merchant Marine during World War II. Here he further honed his performing skills while entertaining other troops and adopting a stage persona of Simon Crum, an outspoken hayseed comic character based on a neighbor from back home.
After the war, Husky took a job as a disc jockey and performed from 1948 to 1953 under the stage name Terry Preston before reverting back to his real name. On the radio he continued to work on his Simon Crum character drawing an audience and sponsors. With the help of Tennessee Ernie Ford's manager, Cliffie Stone, Husky signed to Capitol Records in 1953 and recorded for the label until 1972.
Husky entertained country music fans in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s with hits like "Wings of a Dove" and "Gone."
His first number one hit on the country charts came during his first year at Capitol - "A Dear John Letter," a duet with Jean Shepard. The song also crossed over to the pop charts reaching number four.
In 1957, Husky reached the top spot on the country charts again with "Gone."
In 1960, Husky returned to the top of the country charts with "Wings of a Dove," a song written by Bob Ferguson, that stayed at number 1 for ten weeks and rose to number 12 on the pop charts.
Although Husky never reached the top of the charts again his music remained popular with country music fans. He reached number 4 twice with "Once" (1967) and "Just for You" (1968).
Husky semi retired in the late 1970s after heart issues. Though he returned to touring and performances, he ceased recording. In February 2010, the Country Music Association announce that Husky would be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville.
Over his career Husky charted 11 top ten country hits, 23 top twenty hits, and 41 top forty hits.