Ernest Dale Tubb, nicknamed the Texas Troubadour, was an American singer and songwriter and one of the pioneers of country music. His biggest career hit song, “Walking the Floor Over You”, marked the rise of the honky tonk style of music. In 1948, he was the first singer to record a hit version of “Blue Christmas”, a song more commonly associated with Elvis Presley and his mid-1950s version. Another well-known Tubb hit was “Waltz Across Texas”, which became one of his most requested songs and is often used in dance halls throughout Texas during waltz lessons. In the early 1960s, he recorded duets with up-and-coming Loretta Lynn, including their hit “Sweet Thang”. Tubb is a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame.
Tubb was born on a cotton farm near Crisp, Texas. His father was a sharecropper, so Tubb spent his youth working on farms throughout the state. He was inspired by Jimmie Rodgers and spent his spare time learning to sing, yodel, and play the guitar. At age 19, he took a job as a singer on a San Antonio radio station. The pay was low, so Tubb also dug ditches for the Works Progress Administration and then clerked at a drug store. In 1939 he moved to San Angelo, Texas and was hired to do a 15-minute afternoon live show on radio station KGKL-AM. He drove a beer delivery truck in order to support himself during this time, and during World War II he wrote and recorded a song titled “Beautiful San Angelo”.
In 1936, Tubb contacted Jimmie Rodgers?s widow to ask for an autographed photo. A friendship developed and she was instrumental in getting Tubb a recording contract with RCA. His first two records were unsuccessful. A tonsillectomy in 1939 affected his singing style, so he turned to songwriting. In 1940, he switched to Decca records to try singing again and it was his sixth Decca release with the single “Walking the Floor Over You” that brought Tubb to stardom.
Tubb joined the Grand Ole Opry in February 1943 and put together his band, the Texas Troubadours. Tubb’s first band members were from Gadsden, Alabama. They were, Vernon “Toby” Reese, Chester Studdard and Ray “Kemo” Head. He remained a regular on the radio show for four decades, and hosted his own Midnight Jamboree radio show each Saturday night after the Opry. In 1947, Tubb headlined the first Grand Ole Opry show presented in Carnegie Hall in New York City. In 1965, he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame and in 1970, Tubb was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame.