Marty Stuart's Hillbilly Rock

The Story Behind The Hillbilly Rock

This appeared in Country Music USA - September 1990

"I knew when I heard "Hillbilly Rock," I wanted some type of street dance," Marty Stuart says about his latest Top 10 Hit, "Hillbilly Rock." We had talked about bringing in a choreographer from New York, but I wanted something children, adults and honky tonkers could all do," he explains. Video producer Joann Gardner then suggested they try Jean Whitaker at Opryland Talent. "She came in one day and showed me the step," Marty says, "and it was exactly what I wanted." And so began the "Hillbilly Rock."

Following the success of "Hillbilly Rock," the third single, "Western Girls," has been released. "Paul Kennerley (co-writer) and I were talking about there are just as many cowgirls as cowboys out there. So this song is dedicated to all the cowgirls," he says. Marty will also be touring extensively in support of the Hillbilly Rock LP. "I'll be working tours, fairs, honky tonks, everywhere until the end of December," Marty states, "and then we'll be releasing my new album in February." Marty described the new album as true hillbilly music--possibly the best work he's ever done.

Although "Hillbilly Rock" was Stuart's first Top 10 hit, Marty spent much of his young life on stage. It was at the age of 13 that Marty joined the Lester Flatt show playing guitar and mandolin. "Lester taught me the basic rules of show business--how to endure. If it hadn't been for Lester, I probably wouldn't be here today," Marty states. From Lester, Marty learned to build slow and build a foundation. "Lester always said, 'Marty, there will be a time when things are going to cool off. You need to wait for your time to come around'." And that's exactly what Marty did. After Flatt's death in 1979, Stuart branched out musically, playing what he describes as sort of "bluegrass-fusion" style with fiddle player Vassar Clements and also working with acoustic guitar virtuoso Doc Watson. It was also during this time that Marty began his six-year stint touring with Johnny Cash.

Stuart produced his first solo album in 1982, Busy Bee Cafe, on the independent Sugar Hill label. In 1986, Stuart made his major label debut on CBS Records with Marty Stuart. Marty Stuart was his first attempt as a lead singer and the beginning of a style that would be all his own. Stuart would spend the next two years working on his songwriting and polishing his trademark around which Marty describes as "hillbilly music with a thump." Stuart eventually landed a label deal with MCA Records. His debut LP Hillbilly Rock has produced two hit singles, "Cry, Cry, Cry" and his first Top 10 hit "Hillbilly Rock."

Marty Stuart is a complete artist--singer, songwriter and expert picker. Lester Flatt would be proud to see his advice pay off.

Article written by Jody Konkle

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