|This is from the BBC|
Marty Stuart, one of only a handful of genuine neo-traditionalists, is steeped in country music history. Unlike many of the modern Jones, Haggard and Owens' wannabes, he really has paid his dues. Starting as a teenage bluegrass prodigy on the road with the late Lester Flatt, Stuart worked with Johnny Cash's road band followed by years of Music Row session work. He is now married to legendary country singer Connie Smith.
Stuart finally struck gold as an artist in his own right in the early 1990s with the groundbreaking Hillbilly Rock and Tempted albums. Perfecting a near-flawless integration of southern rock, bluegrass, blues, honky-tonk boogie and rockabilly, he went on to record a series of raucous duet hits with Travis Tritt, the pair taking to the road with the celebrated "No Hats Tour". As well-known for his edgy music as he is for his flamboyant, glittery Nudie suits, Marty is a multi-instrumentalist who is at home on guitar, bass, mandolin, fiddle and upright bass. He is a tireless artist/activist who chairs the Country Music Hall Of Fame's Board of Trustees, has had his country music photography published in books and journals, and owns a world-class collection of country music memorabilia.
In 1999, freeing listeners from the insipid twang of young hat acts, Stuart brought class and undeniable talent back to country music with The Pilgrim, the first concept album by a major country artist since Red Headed Stranger propelled Willie Nelson to superstardom twenty-five years earlier. A man who consistently pays attention to the roots, legacy and history of country, he went to great lengths to get a sound in the musical arrangements that would reflect the rich heritage of his beloved country music. It turned out to be a masterful album, but commercially failed to make much of an impact.
John Marty Stuart was born on 30th September 1958, in Philadelphia, Mississippi. A child prodigy on guitar and mandolin, he made his first professional appearance at the age of thirteen with Carl and Pearl Butler and a few months later was touring with Lester Flatt And the Nashville Grass, making his debut on the Grand Ole Opry before he was fourteen. After the ailing Flatt disbanded the group in 1978, Stuart moved to Nashville and began working as a session musician, also touring with Doc & Merle Watson. He married Johnny Cash's daughter Cindy and was invited to join his father-in-law's band. The marriage didn't last too long, but the Johnny Cash association did.
Marty self-produced his 1982 debut album, Busy Bee Café, and maintained a heavy session schedule that included working with Bob Dylan, Billy Joel, Roger Miller, Emmylou Harris and others. He signed with Columbia Records in 1986, making the country top twenty with "Arlene." He released an eponymous solo album, but subsequent singles were only minor hits. A follow-up album, Let There Be Country, was not released until 1992. Marty moved back to Mississippi and worked with the Sullivans, a family gospel group he had previously sung with as a child, playing on and producing their A Joyful Noise album.
In 1989 he was signed by MCA Records, at that time building up a high-profile image with his puffed-up, long, ebony hair. Initially, his MCA recordings didn't take off, but with the help of video, Marty enjoyed top ten success with "Hillbilly Rock," "Little Things," "Tempted" and "The Whiskey Ain't Workin'," the latter the first of a trio of classic duets with Travis Tritt. He joined the Grand Ole Opry in 1992 and collected gold discs for both his Hillbilly Rock, Tempted, This One's Gonna Hurt You, and The Marty Party Hit Pack albums. He still undertakes a lot of session work and has recorded duets with Ralph Stanley, Hank Thompson, B.B. King, Willie Nelson, Steve Earle, George Jones and John Anderson. Though he has not enjoyed a major radio hit for several years, Marty Stuart is still very much in-demand as a touring act. In 1997 he married noted singer Connie Smith and produced her acclaimed Warner Brothers comeback album of 1998.
A fun-loving individual, with his Marty Party fan club and tours, Stuart takes his music seriously, but has a more light-hearted approach to the ups-and-downs of the music industry. Success is important to him, because it enables him to make music the way he wants to, but he is not guided by commercial aspirations. Creativity and artistic freedom is more important to him and it was with that in mind that he recorded The Pilgrim in 1999. The finest album in a career of great ones, its lack of success led to him being dropped by MCA. Ever the optimist he is still out there making music on his terms.
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