Jazz and Beyond
Song - Artist - Album
Some Always - Gerald Clayton - Life Forum
Tune into "Dark Side of the Highway" this Sunday (Sep. 22) for a special memorial tribute to legendary 1950's country and rockabilly singer Marvin Rainwater...
Marvin Karlton Rainwater (July 2, 1925 - September 17, 2013)
Marvin Karlton Rainwater (July 2, 1925 – September 17, 2013), was an American country and rockabilly singer and songwriter who had several hits during the late 1950s, including "Gonna Find Me a Bluebird" and "Whole Lotta Woman", a UK no.1 record. He was known for wearing Native American-themed outfits on stage and was 25 percent Cherokee.
Rainwater was born in Wichita, Kansas to Stella (née Miller) and Cicero Percy Rainwater, and grew up during the Great Depression. As a child, instead of listening to the Grand Ole Opry with his father, he took classical piano lessons, which ended after he lost part of his right thumb to a work accident as a teenager. He originally trained to be a veterinarian, but after some time in the Navy during World War II took up the guitar. He became fascinated with Roy Acuff and started playing and writing songs. With his brothers, he played concerts around Virginia. He sometimes wore a buckskin jacket and headband. Rising guitarist Roy Clark worked with Rainwater and together they cut a few demos for 4 Star Records. Pop singer Teresa Brewer turned one of his compositions, "I Gotta Go Get My Baby", into a big hit. Others were overdubbed and released on budget record labels.
Rainwater got his big break in the music business when he performed on Arthur Godfrey's programs. He won first place on Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts on May 9, 1955. He had a regular role on ABC-TV's Ozark Jubilee for several years in Springfield, Missouri beginning in 1955. He signed with MGM Records and recorded a series of songs for the label, including peppy numbers like "Hot and Cold". Such songs were showcases for Rainwater's voice, and his energy and versatility led him to record rockabilly.
Rainwater was one of country's most noteworthy stars in the late 1950s, when his good looks and baritone voice made him popular. One of the first country songs he recorded was "Gonna Find Me a Bluebird", which he wrote. Released in 1957, the song became a big country-pop crossover hit, making Rainwater among the first country singers to appeal to a pop market.The song reached No. 5 on the country chart and 18 on the pop chart. It sold one million copies by 1957, and gave Rainwater his first gold record. During the song's success, Rainwater relocated to the New Jersey-New York area.
"The Majesty of Love" (1957) was a duet with Connie Francis, which also sold over one million copies. His next single, "So You Think You Got Troubles", was a successful follow-up on the country charts, but not on the pop charts. His self-penned "Whole Lotta Woman" reached UK No. 1 one for three weeks in April and May 1958. A second UK single, "I Dig You Baby", made No. 19 in June 1958. Another hit was "Nothin' Needs Nothin' (Like I Need You)".
Rainwater performed and toured throughout the rest of the 1950s. In 1959, he added three more gold records: "My Love Is Real", "My Brand Of Blues" and "Half Breed" all sold in excess of one million records. "Half Breed" was a cover version of a John D. Loudermilk song, and in 1959, Rainwater recorded another Loudermilk song, "The Pale Faced Indian". His original version went unnoticed, but later efforts by Don Fardon and Paul Revere & The Raiders under the title "Indian Reservation" were hits.
His voice began to give out, and he developed calluses on his vocal cords. As a result, Rainwater and MGM Records parted ways in 1960. He went into brief retirement to rest his voice and then recorded sporadically for Warwick Records (United Kingdom), although without any hits In the 1960s, he recorded for a series of record labels including United Artists, Warner Bros and Sonet; and started his own record company called Brave Records.
In the 1970s, Rainwater developed throat cancer, from which he slowly recovered, and moved to Aitkin, Minnesota. He has appeared occasionally at rockabilly festivals in Europe and is still loved by many fans. He has three daughters: Judi, who lives in Wenatchee, Washington; Lora, who lives in Columbia Heights, Minnesota; and Barbara, who lives in Coon Rapids, Minnesota. Two sons, Wade, also lives in Minnesota and his son, Jimmy, lives in Alabama.
Rainwater was the 73rd inductee into the Rockabilly Hall of Fame.
He died after a short illness on September 17, 2013, at Aitkin.