When I was in John’s [Johhnny Cash’s] band, the first time I went to London, I ran into a guy named Issac Tigrett who was the co-founder of Hard Rock, a Southern guy. And I went to the first Hard Rock and I saw The Beatles, The Stones, Otis Redding, The Who, all their stuff on the wall. And in my mind I went, “Well that’s just as important if it’s Porter Wagoner, Hank Williams, George Jones, and who on.” And so when I came back to America, I made it a mission. I mean it became my whole focus at that time. Get a record deal, start a band, make them look cool, and get all of the country music artifacts you possibly can and preserve them, lock them down, because they’re getting away fast.
Marty says he would find boots, suits, and other sundries from country music legends just sitting in thrift stores and second-hand shops in Nashville, forgotten and unwanted from the changing times.
Everything was changing in country music. The look of it, the sound of it, and this stuff was just a throwaway…The ultimate mission is not just to preserve this stuff, protect it, promote it, save it, but to get the music into the hands and hearts of young people that are coming through and [saying), “Well I want to do that, but they tell me I have to be like so and so.” But we’ve already got one of those. Be who you are, at any cost.
In the early 90’s Marty Stuart was singed to MCA Records and had multiple hits. Along with Travis Tritt, the two were known as “No Hat” acts. Then as the 90’s wore on Marty’s mainstream popularity waned.
It’s a lonely life sometimes, but it’s rewarding. I wouldn’t trade what’s going on in my life these days for what happened in the 90’s when the records were hitting and popping. I wouldn’t trade it for any amount of money because this is the real stuff.
This is not just country music history, this is American history. And you cannot just dismiss this stuff because it doesn’t matter to anybody’s chart anymore or anybody’s demographic. It’s bigger than all of that.
Much more on Marty Stuart and his collection can be found in this week’s Country Weekly, and in the videos below. You can also check out a recent Marty Stuart interview with Eddie Stubbs.