Country music’s legend, Porter Wagoner, sits down with MTV Urge for an interview and discusses his start as well as serious health problems he had to overcome to record his new album, Wagonmaster.
You can find the interview here. You’ll need to download the Urge software first, but it”s worth it.
An excerpt: URGE: Your first big break came on Red Foley’s “Ozark Jubilee” show, the first nationally televised country music program. How did you develop your trademark flashy, Nudie-suit image there?
Porter Wagoner: Nudie [Cohn] came to the Ozark Jubilee one day, and I didn’t know who he was. It was in the real early ’50s. He said he made suits for cowboys and people in the movies. And he had a new idea for suits that included rhinestones and sequins … people hadn’t seen anything like that. My answer was, “It’ll probably cost so much I can’t afford it,” because I was barely getting by then. He said, “If this don’t work, they won’t cost you anything. If it does, then I’ll make some money off of making clothes for you throughout your career.” About three or four weeks later I got a big package that had a suit of clothes in it, and a shirt to match it and a pair of boots. It was a peach-colored suit, and it had a big covered wagon across the back of it. It was just unbelievably beautiful. It was the prettiest thing I’d ever seen. That weekend I wore it onstage, and boy, people just went “wow.” That was the first one he’d made for anybody. He had made a lot of different clothes for cowboys like Gene Autry and Roy Rogers, but they didn’t have the sparkle or the glitz.
URGE: You had a life-threatening illness shortly before recording Wagonmaster. How did you bounce back?
Wagoner: I had surgery this past year, July the 14th. I had an aneurysm I had to have taken care of. It got into my kidney. We was talkin’ about doin’ an album at that time, and of course that stopped everything. I started healin’ up, but it took me a long time to get my strength back. Marty [Stuart, album producer] talked to me in the hospital several times [saying], “Let’s get together with a couple of guitars and we’ll sit down and pick some together, and I’d like it if you sang some for me, too.” That really gave me a lot of encouragement, knowing that he was still interested. On the first day, I think we worked 30 to 45 minutes, maybe. He said, “Let’s don’t do too much the first few times here.” And that’s the way we did it. I got to singing and pretty much got my voice back. I was so thrilled to be able to sing again that it really just gave me new inspiration. I was just very fortunate to have somebody like him. Marty loves me like a brother. I had no idea how brilliant he was in the studio. I produced a lot of records, and produced Dolly’s records all the time when she was with me, but he knew new things that I didn’t know. He made a believer out of me. If you could imagine how proud I am of the project. I feel like it’s a touch of brilliance, I really do.
Porter Wagoner – Committed To Parkview