Forty-five years ago, the Country Music Association held its first awards show. Today, the event is a spectacle and the highlight of the year for the genre. On that evening in 1967, Jack Greene was the star of the show. Due to the strength of his huge hit, “There Goes My Everything,” he was on top of the country music ladder. He took home three trophies, including Male Vocalist of the Year.
“Time sure does fly. It is hard for me to believe that was so long ago. It was a memorable night. To be honest, I wasn’t even expecting to be nominated. Dallas Frazier wrote that great song and it really took off for us,” Greene said in a phone interview.
Greene grew up in the Smokey Mountain region of eastern Tennessee. He learned to play guitar at the age of 8. While still in junior high school, he started performing on local radio station WGAP of Maryville, Tenn. From there, Greene moved to WNOX in Knoxville. Soon, he relocated to Atlanta, where he joined the Cherokee Trio. After short tenures with a couple of other local bands, duty called and he was drafted into the Army.
After his discharge in 1952, he returned to Atlanta and joined the Peachtree Cowboys. Ten years later, he landed his first major job in the music business when he was hired as the drummer for Ernest Tubb’s famed Texas Troubadour band.
“I learned a lot from playing with Ernest,” Greene said. “He was such a professional with the way he handled everything. He was a very giving person and he did a lot for country music”
On Tubb’s 1964 album, “Ernest Tubb Presents the Texas Troubadours,” Greene sang “The Last Letter.” The recording was released as a single and provided him the perfect opportunity to branch out on his own.
“That was really the beginning for me,” he noted. “Again, I give Ernest the credit for what I’ve achieved.”
In addition to winning big at the CMA awards show, Greene became a member of the Grand Ole Opry in 1967. Under the sharp production of Owen Bradley, he rounded out the decade with such hits as “All the Time,” “You Are My Treasure,” “Until My Dreams Come True” and “Statue of a Fool.”
“That was a great run,” Greene recalled. “Owen was a great producer. He had a great ear for a song. He knew exactly what would work and what would not work. I am very thankful for that period of my career.”
As the 1970s surfaced, Greene continued to have a modest number of hits, which included “Satisfaction,” “I Need Somebody Bad” and “It’s Time to Cross That Bridge.” Along with those solo hits, he had a successful stint as a duo with fellow Grand Ole Opry member Jeannie Seely. The pair was nominated four times for Vocal Duo of the Year by the CMA and posted three top 20 singles, “Wish I Didn’t Have to Miss You,” “Much Oblige” and “What in the World Has Gone Wrong with Our Love.”
At 82, Greene remains a regular performer on the Grand Ole Opry. Most of all, he simply cherishes the life that his music career had provided for him.
“Today, I am enjoying life more than ever,” he said. “I stilI love pleasing the fans. It is a great feeling to get to do something for a living that you love. I have really been blessed.”
Beebe writer Charles Haymes is a member of the Country Music Association and the International Bluegrass Music Association. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.