Grammy-Winner Stuart Now A Bonafide Star

This appeared in The Florida Times-Union - December 10, 1993

This has been a knockout year for Marty Stuart. Literally, Stuart has gone from one of the up-and-comers to a bonafide star in country music. He's received a Grammy, earned a gold album and even given himself a concussion. Stuart has since recovered and promises to be in top form when he performs tonight at the Coliseum with Robin Lee and Andy Childs.

During a hectic summer, Stuart was writing songs for his next album, performing and also taping the video for Hey Baby. The script called for him to jump over a woman and out the door of a honky tonk. He cracked his head on the door and was out of commission for eight weeks.

"I got hit by a beam that wouldn't move. I was supposed to duck my head, but I didn't duck it far enough," Stuart said during a recent telephone interview from Nashville. "I later saw B.B. King and I told him that I busted my head on a black juke joint's porch trying to jump over a girl. He said, 'You aren't the first white boy who's been hurt that way.' "

Joking with the best guitar players in the business is part of Stuart's life. He literally grew up playing guitar in the big leagues. He was only 13 when he played in Lester Flatt's band. He was in his early 20s when he joined Johnny Cash's band. He later married Cash's daughter Cindy. They have since divorced.

Stuart also ventured into bluegrass, playing with fiddler player Vassar Clements and guitarist Doc Watson. He retains a link with his musical heritage on stage by playing country innovator Clarence White's 1954 Telecaster guitar as well as a Martin D-45 once owned by Hank Williams Sr. and a Martin D-28 that was owned by Flatt. His flashy stage attire is made by the same company that made Gram Parson's outfits.

Stuart, like Vince Gill, Lee Roy Parnell and Randy Travis, has gone from being a member of someone else's band to being the star of his own show.

Stuart began his solo career with the 1982 album Busy Bee Cafe on the Sugar Hill label. In 1986, he joined CBS Records and released Marty Stuart and the song Arlene became a Top 20 hit. But subsequent albums flopped. He later signed with MCA Records and his combination of hillbilly enthusiasm, traditional country and a splash of rock influence caught on. Among his hits with the label have been Hillbilly Rock, Cry, Cry, Cry, Western Girls, Tempted, Burn Me Down and Western Girls.

His career got a boost last year when he teamed with Travis Tritt for the No Hats tour, which jokingly poked fun at the hat acts in country music (singers who never appear on stage without a cowboy hat). Tritt and Stuart won a Grammy for their performance of The Whiskey Ain't Workin'.

Stuart is now looking at his career from a new vantage point. After being constantly on the go for the past three years, he can relax a bit. "I feel like we are solid in the world of country music. I think the focus now is to keep it country and be true to what we have been spending four or five years carefully trying to put together."

He knows he is drawing a diverse group of fans. That was most obvious when he walked into his dressing room after a recent show. "One of my favorite scenarios happened not too long ago in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. There, in my dressing room, on one side were some of my friends who are members of a gospel singing group and on the other side of the room was David Allan Coe. I looked at that and thought to myself, 'That pretty much sums up my life.' "

By Dan Macdonald

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