Marty Stuart
Marty Stuart
by Valerie Clark

Marty Stuart turned forty last year; but, considering his early start and many accomplishments in this industry, you might assume that he would rest on past laurels. No, that would not be Marty Stuart! The dubbed “Renaissance Man” has so many talents and interests he is busier than ever pursuing each and every one almost daily.

“I really don’t know where I fit in the music business,” he says. “I just love to work.”

Work he does.

He is so busy with three recording projects and the Grammy Awards that he hardly has time to breathe, much less conduct interview upon interview. Here’s what Marty is currently up to:

  • He is currently producing three projects, one of which is Jerry and Tammy Sullivan’s latest album.
  • His new album, due out June 15th on his label, MCA, is tentatively called The Pilgrim and is a concept album that has found Marty writing consistently for two and a half years (along with his many other projects). The album is said to be a musical journey that takes one from the earliest days of country music to today’s hitmakers. This studio album comes three years after his last MCA project. It includes “Red, Red Wine and Cheatin’ Songs” which features Pam Tillis on harmony, as well as “Reasons”. Emmylou Harris and Ralph Stanley are also featured.
  • He made an appearance in Los Angeles for the 1999 Grammy Awards where he was nominated for three awards: “Best Country Collaboration with Vocals” for “Same Old Train” from Tribute to Tradition, “Best Country Instrumental Performance” for “Reuban’s Train” from Home Sweet Home and “Best Bluegrass Album” for that same project.

What I want to do here is give you some insight into the extensive career of this man; please watch for our May issue for a featured ‘update’ conversation with Marty which will fill in the most current information on all his projects.

The Marty Stuart story spans most of his life. In 1982, his first album, Busy Bee Cafe, was released. His record deal on Columbia produced the self-titled Marty Stuart with the top 20 hit “Arlene”; but fatefully, his second release Let There Be Country was shelved due to lack of response from his first album even though he was named the Academy of Country Music’s “Best New Male Vocalist”.

In 1989, he moved to MCA Records and the success of Marty Stuart, Recording Artist, began. Hillbilly Rock, Tempted (with the hits “Little Things” “Till I Found You” and “Burn Me Down”), This One’s Gonna Hurt You (with the hit title cut with Travis Tritt), Love And Luck (which garnered a Grammy for Best Country Instrumental Performance for “Marty Stuart Visits The Moon”), The Marty Party Hit Pack (his Greatest Hits) and his last studio album (in 1996) Honky Tonkin’s What I Do Best (again, the title cut a successful Marty/Travis pairing)...all have been successful, with four of them going gold.

(Other releases include Let There Be Country, Marty Stuart: The Slim Rickey Sessions or, also released, as Marty Stuart: With A Little Help From My Friends andOnce Upon a Time).

As you can imagine, it is difficult to cover a career that spans almost thirty years; but, while reviewing Marty’s bio, I found a list of the many categories one might find him listed under in the Annals of American Music. Here is some of that list and the many accomplishments of Marty Stuart as they relate to each category.

Singer and Musician:

Marty’s career began at the early age of 12 when he played at festivals and churches with The Sullivans (a popular gospel/bluegrass group). By 13, he was asked to join Lester Flatt’s band and he played from 1972 to 1979 with Lester (until Lester’s death). Taken under the wing of the legendary bluegrass king, Marty became an accomplished musician playing mandolin and guitar. He had a brief stint with various bands before settling in with “The Man In Black”, Johnny Cash, with whom he toured from 1980 to 1984.

In addition to his own discography, Marty has always been one to generously donate his talents to a variety of works. Here’s a sampling.

  • Blues legend B.B. King’s duets album entitled Deuces Wild playing “Confessin’ The Blues”.
  • Hank Thompson’s recent collaborative project where Marty performed a duet on Hank’s “Green Light”. According to Hank (from his official web page), “When he accepted my invitation to join me on this album, it was only natural that he chose one of my hits from the early years, “Green Light”. His vocalizing and mandolin picking added a new zest to this old favorite of mine, not to mention the fact that he managed to abscond with a pair of my vintage ‘Nudie’ stage trousers for his collection.”
  • Mark O’Connor’s phenomenal 1991 Nashville Cats project.
  • Ralph Stanley’s 2 CD set Clinch Mountain Country.
  • Mama’s Hungry Eyes; a tribute to Merle Haggard had Marty paired with John Anderson singing “Mama Tried”
  • “Let Me Be A Witness”, with friends Jerry and Tammy Sullivan, from the 1995 Silent Witness project that paid tribute to our gospel music legacy.
  • The Grammy Award winning performance in 1994 of “Red Wing” for “Best Country Instrumental” from Asleep At The Wheel’s Tribute To The Music Of Bob Wills.
  • The 1993 Celebration of Merle Travis where Marty offered his vocals and mandolin playing.
  • “The Weight”, performed with The Staple Singers for Rhythm Country And Blues, a 1994 CD and Video that spotlighted top country and rhythm and blues talents paired together.
  • The 1997 Legacy: A Tribute To The First Generation Of Bluegrass where Marty performed “Get In Line Brother”.
  • It’s Now Or Never: The Tribute To Elvis that included the acclaimed rendition by Marty and The Jordanaires of “Don’t Be Cruel”.
  • A performance alongside Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers on Johnny Cash’s project.
  • “Lady Yesterday” performed on Kinky Friedman’s new album Pearls In The Snow that features Willie, Dwight, Lee Roy and others.
  • Others include guesting on projects either vocally or instrumentally, such as The Highwaymen, Will The Circle Be Unbroken, projects by Randy Scruggs, T. Graham Brown, Neil Young, Emmylou Harris, Hank Williams, Jr., Randy Travis, Dolly Parton, Charley Pride, Pam Tillis, Travis Tritt, Jerry and Tammy Sullivan, Connie Smith, the Red Hot And Country project, George Jones - The Bradley Barns Sessions, Not Fade Away - A tribute to Buddy Holly, along with many more.

As one can see, Marty’s diverse musical background has appeared over and over again. He seems comfortable with rhythm and blues, bluegrass, gospel, traditional country, rock ’n roll; you name it and Marty is there.

But, his mark has always been as a hillbilly honky tonkin’ rocker.

“I really do love the honky tonk division of country music. To me, that’s the natural progression and stretch for me to go. It has an edge to it and it’s a little rowdier. To tell you the truth, I feel right at home with it,” Marty described his musical place in country music and music in general.
Songwriter and Poet:

According to Marty, “Country music is the language of America. It’s common-people music. You know it’s accessible; it’s true-life blues. It’s the kind of music you can play anywhere...”

Well, you can find Marty Stuart’s music just about anywhere. In addition to writing much of his own material for his extensive discography, Marty Stuart’s songs appear on a long list of other artists’ albums. Here’s a partial list:

  • Two songs for the soundtrack of Fire Down Below (also Marty’s acting debut), including the one he sang, “Give Me Back My Heart”.
  • “Same Old Train” from the highly acclaimed Tribute To Tradition project released last September. Some of today’s foremost country stars recorded songs that were made famous by country’s legendary performers. “Same Old Train” saluted the history of the music Marty finds so sacred. Marty and twelve other friends performed it for the project. (This song is nominated for a 1999 Grammy award for Best Country Collaboration With Vocals.)
  • “Milk And Honey” is a composition that Marty collaborated on with buddy Pam Tillis for the Prince of Egypt movie soundtrack released in November 1998.
  • Co-wrote with Clint Black and Matraca Berg, Clint’s hit “Still Holding On”.
  • The award winning duet he and buddy Travis Tritt performed, “The Whiskey Ain’t Workin’”.
  • He co-wrote with wife, Connie Smith, eight of the songs on her most recent project, Connie Smith.
  • “Heartbreak Kind” written by Marty and Paul Kennerley (who has played on countless of Marty’s albums) and recorded by Linda Ronstadt on her 1998 album, We Ran, as well as by Jon Randall on his latest project Cold Coffee Morning.
  • Along with cuts on albums by George Strait, Mark Collie, Wynonna, Rick Trevino, Wade Hayes, Travis Tritt, Marty Brown, Buck Owens, Jann Browne, John Anderson, Del McCoury, Joy Lynn White and, with every day, I’m sure the list grows and grows.

Marty has won awards for his songwriting accomplishments including BMI’s Millionaire Award (played a million times on radio) for “Tempted”, “This One’s Gonna Hurt You” and, most recently, last September, for “Little Things”.

Theatrical Composer and Author:

Marty has been involved in a theatrical production entitled “Moonshine”, as well as a recent movie release starring Woody Harrelson entitled “Hi Lo Country” where he was Executive Producer of Music and performed “Smoke, Smoke, Smoke That Cigarette” on the soundtrack. Most recently he is involved in the Billy Bob Thornton movie, “Daddy And Them” that stars John Prine with Andy Griffith, Jim Varney and Laura Dern. One of the songs Marty and Connie co-wrote for her album is played during the movie. Marty is actively involved in the soundtrack for this production.


Marty’s extensive collection of photos he has taken of country music legends, superstars and hitmakers, including Tammy Wynette, Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton, George Jones and others, has appeared at various exhibits including one in Nashville at the Arts Company’s Avant Garage. The showing, last September, included an auction of Bill Monroe’s last photo session. Marty’s poetic nature seems in sync with the titles of his photographs: “The Chicken Reel and Bill Monroe”, “Birds of a Feather Rock Together” and “Rocket Fuel, Hair Spray, The Same Three Chords and One More Town”.

Collector and Historian:

Marty is known as an avid collector of country music memorabilia and owns guitars from legends such as his mentor, Johnny Cash. Last September, Mercury released a 10 CD boxed set of 225 recordings called The Complete Hank Williams. Marty is reported to be the owner of the largest privately owned collection of Hank memorabilia and many of the photos and masters owned by Marty are part of this boxed set.

Marty’s extensive Hank Williams, Sr. memorabilia have been on display at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville.

Many people may become collectors of “Marty Memorabilia” as he has had both Martin and Fender signature guitars bearing his name. His Nudie style suits and Manuel designed clothes may also create a demand for Marty Stuart memorabilia some day.
Actor, TV Host and Commercial Pitchman:

Marty’s acting debut was on the Steven Segal movie, “Fire Down Below”. In addition, he has many hosting credits for countless television specials and awards shows. In 1995, he hosted the TNN/ Music City News Country Awards. Currently, he is featured as a host for “Century of Country Music Moments” on TNN and was a primary interviewee for “The History of Country Music” (a 13 part series) on CBS.

Marty has had national Miller Beer commercials (in 1993) and for Mazda Truck (1996).

Producer and Executive:

Marty’s most recent projects, as producer, include wife, Connie Smith’s, self-titled Warner release and his current project for Tammy and Jerry Sullivan. In addition, he has served as Musical Director and Executive Producer of Music for several film productions and television specials, including CBS specials in 1993 such as “Best of Country” and “The Roots of Country Music: Nashville Celebrates The Ryman”.

Entertainer and Raconteur:

Marty Stuart on stage is a memorable moment to experience. He has dates scheduled for The Grand Ole Opry and Fan Fair where you can catch him. His fan site lists his extensive tour schedule. (WHEN does he have time?)

His appearances were probably most memorable during the “No Hats” and “Double Trouble” tours with fellow hillbilly rocker and friend, Travis Tritt, and his extensive run of “Marty Party”, TNN features that gave country music fans a true taste of Marty Stuart, the entertainer extraordinaire.

As for ‘raconteur’, it is defined by Webster as “an accomplished and witty storyteller”. Marty Stuart tells a story with every song he writes, every photo he takes and each time he opens his mouth. That is best exemplified with the quote, “I try to keep the right perspective. I keep my feet on the ground and remember what is important. Johnny Cash told me to keep my eye on the big picture, never sweat the small stuff. One of my favorite things to do is sit on the back porch, watch a new day begin and be part of it.” It would seem he is a big part of it!

Nashville’s International Ambassador of Tourism:

Marty has been the Nashville Convention and Visitors Bureau’s International Ambassador since 1993.

“He has carried the city everywhere he goes. He’s been there every time we’ve needed him to help,” said Major Phil Bredesen as he presented Marty with the Major’s Metranome Award last year. The award was last presented over 12 years ago and it recognizes the music industry’s contribution in promoting and helping Nashville.

THAT is Marty Stuart encapsulated. Look forward to more in May as we update all the latest Marty happenings.

Marty will headline The International Fan Club Organization’s Fun Fest on Sunday, June 13th, to kick off 1999 Fan Fair week and will continue with a Monday Fan Club event and perform on the MCA label show on Tuesday. He will sign in his booth several days.

If you want to delve deeper into the Marty experience, check out his official site and related links at his fan club. The official Marty Party headquarters (his Fan Club) is located at or write to them at: The Marty Stuart Fan Club, P.O. Box 24180, Nashville, TN 37202.

Marty Stuart Personal Facts

Born: John Marty Stuart
September 30, 1958
Philadelphia, MS

Parents: John and Hilda Stuart

Siblings: Sister, Jennifer

Stats: 5’7”, black hair, hazel eyes

Wife: Connie Smith

Pet: Oscar Lee Perkins, his devoted bloodhound

Current Residence: Nashville, TN

Interesting Facts Trivia

(The first three (3) people to submit correct answers, by mail, to our office will win a free CD)

1. Marty was suspended from school at age 12 for reading what magazine during history class? Country Song Roundup

2. Also at age 12, he met a lady who would influence his life greatly. Who is she? His present wife, Connie Smith.

3. In addition to mandolin and guitar, what other two instruments does Marty play? Bass & Fiddle

4. Marty joined The Grand Ole Opry in what year? 1992

5. Many know of Marty’s dog, Oscar Lee Perkins. Who was he named after? Comedy team Lonzo and Oscar (Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins)

6. Marty had a Marvel Comic Book written just about him. What was it called? The Marty Party in Space.

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