The following is an excerpt from Author Tom Locke’s book ‘Moment in Time’.
In the mid to late 50s several country tunes found their way onto the pop charts. Affectionately known as country crossovers, these recordings had broad appeal and introduced such country artists as Johnny Cash, Don Gibson, and Marty Robbins to the Billboard Hot 100.
Joining Cash, Gibson, and Robbins during that period was another Country Music Hall of Famer who crossed over to the pop charts on six occasions between 1957 and 1972 – three of these crossovers went to #1 on the country charts …
Born in Shreveport, Louisiana, this singer/songwriter and music producer grew up on a dairy farm. He abandoned his desire to be a pop singer and began focusing on country music after seeing Hank Williams receive nine encores on the Louisiana Hayride.
Although noted for his honky-tonk style on many of his songs, he was vocally very versatile and became known as the Hillbilly Heartthrob.
He graced the country charts over four decades, beginning in 1953. Of his 88 charted recordings, five went to #1. He was also the first to have a hit version of Don Gibson’s “Sweet Dreams,” which went to #2.
His most popular #1 song that crossed over to the pop charts peaking at the #12 in 1961 was “Hello Walls,” a song written by Willie Nelson.
However, prior to this, in 1958, he had another one of his #1 hits cross over. It reached the #51 position on the Billboard Hot 100.
Sadly, it is one of the forgotten crossover tunes that we rarely hear today – somewhat surprising given that it had the longest unbroken run of the year in 1958 on the airplay-based listings, spending 13 weeks in the top spot.