|When Marty Stuart was 13, he convinced his mom that he'd be better off playing mandolin with bluegrass legend Lester Flatt than going to school. "I'd just been kicked out again," Stuart, 35, says, "for humbly telling my history teacher I'd rather make history than study it." His teacher might be surprised to learn that Stuart, who's on the charts now with "Kiss Me, I'm Gone," has become a Nashville historian. He has a yarn about every star he ever met and probably owns one of their suits. The centerpiece of his collection of C&W outfits is a $30,000 number worn by Hank Williams Sr. "His steel guitarist, Don Helms, gave it to me when he saw I was trying to preserve a part of music history," says Stuart, who favors flashy Western duds onstage. ("If you wear them offstage," he notes, "you tend to get beat up.") Stuart's latest album, Love And Luck, mixes love songs with rocking sing-alongs, but he's quick to say, "I'm not much with a ballad." And while he's proud of his country credentials--he describes his music as a "honky tonk sound, a shot of blues, all tied up in a bow of bluegrass"--his shock of silver-tipped, black hair is pure rock & roll. "It takes three minutes," he says. "You wet it, get in a fast car with the windows down and then spray it with Aqua Net. Just stay away from open flames."
By Guy Nicolucci