Friday, April 12, 2013

April 12: "Boxcar Willie" died on this date in 1999…

… he was 67-years-old when he passed away from leukemia.

Born Lecil Travis Martin in Sterret, Texas, Lecil sang in the "old-time hobo" music style, complete with dirty face, overalls, and a floppy hat. His stage name Boxcar Willie came from a character in a ballad he wrote and sang.

Martin attended a talent show in San Jose, California and performed under the nickname "Boxcar Willie"

for the first time. He won first place, a $150 prize and the nickname stuck. Music was only a part-time gig; he was in the Air Force and flew missions every day in the early 1950s.

In 1976, Martin left the Air Force and became a full-time performer. He became well-known thanks to a series of television commercials for recording artists who were not well-known in the U.S. including Slim Whitman and Gheorghe Zamfir. Eventually his own singing career took off, and he become a country music star in his own right, selling more than 10 million records, tapes and CDs. In 1981, he was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry as its 60th member.

In 1985, Martin moved to Branson, Missouri and purchased a theater on Highway 76, or 76 Country Music Boulevard. In addition to the Boxcar Willie Theater, he opened a museum and eventually had two motels, both bearing the name that made him famous - "Boxcar Willie."

Press link below to view You Tube video:

-- "Train Medley"

King of the Railroad: 21 Country Tracks
Boxcar's Best

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