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Porter Wagoner

Porter Wagoner, the Thin Man from the West Plains, is a case of an artist often ahead of his time who has always appeared hopelessly behind the times. He's among the most immediately recognizable figures in country music, largely due to his exploitation of TV -- and flashy costumes -- a good 20 years before the video boom. And while he's forever perceived as the man who tried to hold Dolly Parton back from pop success, he was also responsible, in many ways, for putting her in a career position where the issue could even arise. As for his music, since signing with RCA in 1952 he has produced a wealth of superb hard country, and just as much of the most wretchedly oversentimentalized tripe you'll ever want to hear. The latter, of course, is half the reason he's loved.

Wagoner was born in West Plains, MO. As he grew up, he fell in love with the country music he heard over the radio, teaching himself guitar so he could sing and play along with them. When he was a teenager, he landed a job at a local market, where he would frequently sing when business was slow. The owner believed that Porter's singing was actually helping the store's reputation, so he arranged to sponsor a local radio show that would feature the fledgling vocalist. Throughout the late '40s, Wagoner was singing on the local West Plains radio station. Eventually, a Springfield radio station called KWTO offered Porter a show in 1951. Around the same time, Red Foley was beginning his Ozark Jamboree program, which was based in Springfield and broadcast both on KWTO and national television. Foley brought Wagoner onto his show, which helped the young vocalist land a record contract with RCA Records. In 1954, his ninth single, "Company's Comin'," hit the Top Ten. It was followed in the spring of 1955 with "A Satisfied Mind," which stayed at number four for four weeks. At the end of the year he released "Eat, Drink, and Be Merry (Tomorrow You'll Cry)," which climbed to number three in early 1956. In 1957, he joined the Grand Ole Opry and moved to Nashville, where he formed his backing band, the Wagonmasters.

For the rest of the '50s, Porter continued to record, but he never broke the Top Ten again. It would take another television show for him to return to the top of the charts. In 1961, he began hosting his own television show, which was syndicated out of Nashville. It was the most popular country show of the '60s, growing from 18 stations in 1961 to over a hundred stations in the early '70s. Wagoner often sang with Norma Jean, a new female singer he introduced to the country audience, on these programs. The look of Porter's television show defined country music for much of America's general public during the '60s, although his music rarely departed from traditional country. In 1967, Norma Jean was fired from the show and replaced by Dolly Parton, who was then an unknown singer. Not only did exposure on Wagoner's program kick-start Parton's career, it provided a boost for Porter's as well. Parton was enormously popular on the show, and their first joint single, "The Last Thing on My Mind," rocketed to number seven at the beginning of 1968. The song launched a string of Top Ten hits that ran more or less uninterrupted until 1975, when the duo stopped working together. In 1968, the Country Music Assocaition named the duo the Vocal Group of the Year; the CMA would award them Vocal Duo of the Year in 1970 and 1971, as well.

Although the duo of Wagoner and Parton was successful, it wasn't stress-free. Porter continued to have solo hits during the late '60s and early '70s, though none of them was as big as his songs with Parton. Furthermore, he resented her attempts at a solo career; on her part, she felt musically restrained by him. The tensions culminated in late 1974, when she parted ways with Wagoner. RCA issued two singles in 1975 and 1976, and both of the songs -- "Say Forever You'll Be Mine" and "Is Forever Longer Than Always" -- hit the Top Ten. The pair would continue to duet sporadically over the next decade, highlighted by the number two hit "Making Plans" from 1980. After Parton and Wagoner separated in 1975, Porter continued to film his TV show and to chart singles, but all of his hits were minor. In 1976, he retired from touring, choosing to concentrate on producing his own studio, Fireside. Wagoner sued Parton in 1979 over various contractual problems; the suit was settled out of court the following year. For the first few years of the '80s, Porter had several minor hits, but he stopped recording in 1983.

In 1981, Wagoner and RCA Victor parted ways after nearly 30 years, and his television show went off the air. He mounted a minor comeback in 1982, appearing in the Clint Eastwood film Honkytonk Man and recording an album, Viva Porter Wagoner, for Eastwood's label imprint at Warner Bros. Records, Viva, that made the country charts and produced a couple of minor country singles chart entries. After that, he only made occasional recordings for small labels. He toured with the Right Combination, an all-girl band, for several years. In the late '80s and early '90s, he became increasingly active on The Nashville Network, to the point that Opryland named him its "Goodwill Ambassador" and he was a regular host of the Grand Ole Opry radio and television program. In July 2000, he released his first new album in many years, The Best I've Ever Been. In 2007, as Wagoner turned 80 and some 55 years after his first recording, the Marty Stuart-produced Wagonmaster was released on Anti Records. ~ Dan Cooper & Stephen Thomas Erlewine
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Porter Wagoner Sings His Hits (Time)

1. Come On In (And Make Yourself At Home)

2. A Satisfied Mind

5. What Would You Do (If Jesus Came To Your House)

6. Life Of The Party

7. Another Day, Another Dollar

8. Be Careful Of Stones That You Throw

9. I've Enjoyed As Much Of This As I Can Stand

10. I'll Go Down Swinging

11. Green Green Grass Of Home

13. Skid Row Joe

14. Company's Comin'

x

Track List: Wagonmaster

1. Wagonmaster #1

2. Be A Little Quieter

3. Who Knows Right From Wrong

4. Albert Erving

5. A Place To Hang My Hat

6. Eleven Cent Cotton

7. My Many Hurried Southern Trips

8. Committed To Parkview

9. The Agony Of Waiting

10. Buck And The Boys

11. Fool Like Me

12. Late Love Of Mine

13. Hot Wired

14. Brother Harold Dee

15. Satan's River

16. Wagonmaster #2

17. Hidden Track

x

Track List: The Rubber Room

1. Out Of The Silence (Came A Song)

2. Rubber Room

3. George Leroy Chickashea

4. Cassie

5. Fairchild

6. Indian Creek

8. Bones

9. Jim Johnson

10. Lonelyville

11. My Many Hurried Southern Trips

14. The First Mrs. Jones

15. The Cold Hard Facts Of Life

16. Shopworn

17. Julie

18. Carroll County Accident

19. Let Me In

20. The Wino

21. The Bottom Of The Bottle

22. Nothing Between

23. Crumbs From Another Man's Table

24. He's Alone Again Tonight

25. Life Rides The Train

26. Little Boy's Prayer

29. Moments Of Meditation

x

Track List: The Versatile

1. Indian Creek

2. Old Log Cabin For Sale

3. Thinking Out Load

4. Divers Are Out Tonight

5. House On Mulberry Street

6. Bury Me Beneath The Willow

7. If There Was No Love

8. Cookeville Kid

9. Nothing Between

10. Mystery Mountain

11. Have I Told You Lately

12. Enough To Make A Grown Man Cry

13. Mary Of The Wild Moor

14. Bluegrass Country Style

x

Track List: Misery Loves Company

1. Enough To Make A Grown Man Cry

2. Satisfied

3. Misery Loves Company

4. Sorrow On The Rocks

5. Green, Green Grass Of Home

6. Skid Row Joe

7. Cold Hard Facts Of Life

8. Big Wind

9. Carroll County Accident

10. Eat, Drink And Be Merry

11. What Would You Do If Jesus Came To Your House

x

Track List: 18 Grand Old Gospel 2005

1. Satan's Got A River

2. Drifting Too Far From The Shore

3. Soldier For The Lord

4. In The Sweet Bye And Bye

5. Matthew 24

6. I Believe

7. Where The Soul Never Dies

8. When They Ring Those Golden Bells

9. How Beautiful Heaven Must Be

10. The Bird That Never Flew

11. He Took Your Place

12. Leaning On The Everlasting Arms

13. I Found A Man

14. Where Would John Baptize Jesus

15. When I Reach That City On The Hill

16. When I Sing For Him

17. Washed In The Blood

18. Ye Of Little Faith

x

Track List: 20 All - Time Greatest Hits

1. Carroll County Accident

3. (A Rose From) A Bride's Bouquet

4. Walk That Lonesome Valley

5. Skid Row Joe

6. Misery Loves Company

9. When The Silver Eagle Meets The Great Speckled Bird

10. Cold Hard Facts Of Life

11. Sorrow On The Rocks

14. Green Green Grass Of Home

15. Wayfaring Stranger

16. A Satisfied Mind

17. Trouble In The Amen Corner

19. The Farmer And The Lord

20. Company's Coming

x

Track List: The Thin Man From The West Plains

Disc 1

1. Settin' The Woods On Fire

2. Headin' For A Weddin'

4. I Can't Live With You (I Can't Live Without You)

6. An Angel Made Of Ice

7. Takin' Chances

9. That's It

11. Trademark

12. Don't Play That Song

13. The Flame Of Love

14. Dig That Crazy Moon

20. Love At First Sight

21. Be Glad You Ain't Me

23. Company's Comin'

25. A Satisfied Mind

26. A Good Time Was Had By All

Disc 2

4. Itchin' For My Baby

5. Eat, Drink And Be Merry

9. What Would You Do (If Jesus Came To Your House)

11. Tryin' To Forget The Blues

12. Uncle Pen

13. How I've Tried

15. Trying To Forget The Blues

18. Midnight

Disc 3

3. Pay Day

12. Heaven's Just A Prayer Away

13. Tomorrow We'll Retire

16. Tell Her Lies And Feed Her Candy

20. Me And Fred And Joe And Bill

22. I Thought Of God

28. The Girl Who Didn't Need Love

Disc 4

1. Legend Of The Big Steeple

3. An Old Log Cabin For Sale

4. Falling Again

6. Your Old Love Letters

8. Everything She Touches Gets The Blues

13. I Thought I Heard You Calling My Name

19. Uncle Pen

20. Misery Loves Company

23. Frosty The Snowman

24. Cold Dark Waters

28. I've Enjoyed As Much Of This As I Can Stand

x

Track List: The Cold Hard Facts Of Life

Disc 1

1. Men With Broken Hearts

2. I Just Came To Smell The Flowers

3. May You Never Be Alone

4. Skid Row Joe

5. Take Me Back And Try Me One More Time

6. How Far Down Can I Go

7. I'm A Long Way From Home

8. Confessions Of A Broken Man

9. My Tears Are Overdue

10. I've Been Down That Road Before

11. Thy Burdens Are Greater Than Mine

13. Boston Jail

14. The Convict And The Rose

15. I Relived My Life Today

17. Let Me In

18. The Big River Train

19. The Snakes Crawl At Night

20. They're All Going Home But One

21. Folsom Prison

22. Soul Of A Convict

23. Green Green Grass Of Home

24. (I Heard That) Lonesome Whistle

Disc 2

1. First Mrs. Jones

2. Words And Music

3. Cold Hard Facts Of Life

4. Sleep

5. Hundred Dollar Funeral

6. If I Could Only Start Over

7. Tragic Romance

8. Try Being Lonely

10. I Just Can't Let You Say Goodbye

11. Shopworn

12. Julie

13. Wino

14. Daddy And The Wine

15. Swinging Doors

17. In The Shadows Of The Wine

18. She Burnt The Little Roadside Tavern Down

20. One Dime For The Wine

21. Wine

23. I Threw Away The Rose

24. Bottle, Bottle

Disc 3

1. The World Needs A Washin'

2. Banks Of The Ohio

3. Sing Me Back Home

4. Barefoot Nellie

5. Sorrow Overtakes The Wine

6. Black Jack's Bar

7. The Carroll Country Accident

8. Rocky Top

9. Your Mother's Eyes

10. King Of The Cannon County Hills

11. I Lived So Fast And Hard

12. Fallen Leaves

13. Here's A Toast To Mama

14. Sidewalks Of Chicago

15. The Silent Kind

16. The Alley

17. The Town Drunk

18. Mama

19. Bottle Of Wine

20. One More Dime

21. I Judged A Man

22. When I Drink My Wine

Comments

Report as inappropriate
Dolly Parton wrote "I will always love you" in a nod to porter wagoner after the duo split. She wanted to show her appreciation for all that mr. Wagoner had done in giving her the opportunity to come into people's homes over the tv airwaves. Gotta love them both. Dolly and porter.
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rgspops
Still none better in this time frame!!
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A real haunting voice, brings tears to ones eyes
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He's from my home town
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Kiss your left hand
Say your crushes name
Close your hand
Pick a school day
Say your name
Post this on 15 different songs and the day you chose your crush will ask you out
Report as inappropriate
Great song! Porter Wagner was such good singer.
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amaldonado17 4 9
Bogilas Hoilas
Hoilas
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Porter & Dolly Parton, aces for sure.
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watch wagon masters on rfd which should bring back the old country church gospel groups, what about it rfd!
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shirley_wint e r s
STILL ONE OF MY FAVORITES.
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shirley_wint e r s
SURE DO MISS YOU PORTER.YOU AND VERN GOSDEN ARE SINGING IN GODS BIG BAND MY TWO FAVORITES
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I love this song. Porter Wagner will always be with us.. i love all porter wagner music.
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kc-edney
actually, the Thin Man from West Plains, MO
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This is Johnny cashs song
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Porter was never married to Dolly

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hotmamaw04
love geroge jones
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hotmamaw04
love u porter
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What an amazing artist!!! Love you Porter!!
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she was always married to Carl Dean, not Porter! They were married in May of 1966...check it out on Wikipedia.or g .
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i cant find the words to express what an artist he was
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cat14308
Loved Porter Wagner's music,he sang from the heart ,and when he sang a song you felt it,theres nothing better than classic country and good old southern gospel music,sure wish today,s artest,felt the same,way,tha n k God there are still a few out there who do :)
Report as inappropriate
Look it up in Tennesee public records. They were not married
Report as inappropriate
avturk
He was not married to Dolly Parton
Report as inappropriate
He was married to Dolly Pardon
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Porter is my all time favorite... None better
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one of the Great Singers to help many people.
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rgspops
none better
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Love to listen to Porter all day long. Great Artists
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Amen.
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p.harrisonp
I love PORTER wagoners music, HE was ONE of A KIND.
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smokehousebe a r
Porter Wagoner, what can you say, he was one of the very best.
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love all
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rplace97
to bad some of the singers today dont take lessons from the real singers and musicans
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tombeatty
Thank God for Porter and Ernest Tubb. Styles and humanity exemplified to the nth degree. true gentlemen both, that left us way too soon.
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Glory!
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billhughes19 3 3
Great country music speaks to your heart and soul,special l y Gospel Country. Super song by Porter Wagoner.
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boring music country
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Dolly Pardon wrote and recorded *I will always love you* for and about porter wagoner
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the country listening community is deep. great story telling. the portermaster general
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fishingearl
HE RANKS RIGHT UP WITH THE BEST AND HE LOOKS THE PART TOO.
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mareray
just love Bucks music
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maggiemay196 2
Porter Wagoner has always been a favorite of my husband and me. We listened many a night to records by Porter and then Porter and Dollay. We also enjoyed recordings of Porter and Norma Jean.
Report as inappropriate
My favorites are the carrol county accident and the Farmer and the Lord. His gospel album is my all time favorite
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Porter Wagoner exempfies true country music the way it is suppose to be with tradition about people.
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snickerdoodl e s says he was one of the best for a good story...will miss him.
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I was sorry to hear he went HOME........ . . . . . . f o r us..but happy for him....in Heaven...NO worries..... . . . . . . . . . . . C h e r o k e e
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PORTER,IS ONE OF MY FAVORITE SINGER.ALWAY S ENJOYED HIS SHOWS!
Report as inappropriate
I would love to hear the song, Charley's Picture by Porter Wagoner

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