Personalities | ‘Tennessee’ Ernie Ford | West Coast Scene | Country
(Vocals, comedian, author, 1919–91)
A native of Bristol, Tennessee, Ernest Jennings Ford began his career on the West Coast as a dj after military service, catching the attention of Cliffie Stone, who made him a regular on the Hometown Jamboree radio and television shows. He began recording for Capitol in 1948 and initially made his name with a series of fast country boogies, enhanced by the musicianship of guitarist Merle Travis and steel guitarist Speedy West. But it was Travis’s ‘Sixteen Tons’ (1955) that gave him a million-seller and a worldwide reputation, putting him en route to a prime-time television series and a headlining appearance at the London Palladium. A much-loved performer and television personality, he devoted his later years to sacred recordings – the first being Hymns (1959), at one time the biggest-selling album in Capitol’s catalogue.
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