Marty Stuart

This appeared in the book Hot Country Sounds

Marty Stuart likes to say he earned his high school diploma as a mandolin player in Lester Flatt's band and his university degree as lead guitarist in Johnny Cash's band. Stuart grew up in Philadelphia, Mississippi. At age 13, he was recruited by Lester Flatt after the singer had split from partner Earl Scruggs. After Flatt's death, Stuart hooked up with Johnny Cash, performing with him until 1985.

All along, Stuart knew he wanted to create his own music. He released two independent albums, Marty: With A Little Help From His Friends and the acclaimed Busy Bee Cafe. In 1986, he joined CBS Records and put out Marty Stuart. But CBS and Stuart disagreed on musical direction, so Stuart went elsewhere.

In 1989, he emerged on MCA Records with Hillbilly Rock, an album that took a fresh perspective on indigenous American music by delving into the roots where country and rock 'n' roll intertwine. The album provided several hits.

By that time, Stuart had developed an individual stage style built upon a collection of some 200 pieces of flashy cowboy clothes, including dozens of jackets and shirts with special embroidery and rhinestone-studded patterns.

Travis Tritt invited Stuart to join him in a duet of "The Whiskey Ain't Workin'." The song helped earn Stuart and Tritt the 1992 CMA Vocal Event of the Year Award.

Stuart's next album, Tempted, kept the momentum of Hillbilly Rock rolling forward. The record allowed Stuart to reveal his talent for bluegrass and gospel as well as expanding on his country-rock style.

In 1992, Stuart released This One's Gonna Hurt You, which featured another duet with Tritt on the title cut. It, too, won the duo a bevy of awards. Stuart fulfilled a lifelong ambition when he became a member of the Grand Ole Opry in 1992, the first new member inducted after the death of Opry patriarch Roy Acuff.

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