Maryville-born country star Jack Greene dies in Nashville

Jack Greene

Jack Greene

Maryville-born Grand Ole Opry star Jack Greene has died. Greene was best known for his 1966 hit “There Goes My Everything.” The song, written by Dallas Frazier, became a huge hit and was named Single of the Year by the Country Music Association in 1967.

Greene, 83, also won Male Vocalist of the Year and the album that contained the single was named Album of the Year. Greene followed with the song “Statue of a Fool” and several other hits.

The singer grew up in the house his father built on Lincoln Street in Alcoa and performed on radio station WGAP-AM.

In the early 1950s, he moved to Atlanta, where he performed as part of the Peach Tree Boys. Later, he moved to Nashville and formed the Tennessee Mountain Boys. He had become friendly with Ernest Tubb after opening for the star, and, in 1961, Tubb invited Greene to fill in a spot in Tubb’s group the Texas Troubadours. Greene became not only the drummer, but a featured vocalist and sometimes guitarist.

In an interview with the News Sentinel in 2007, Greene recounted that although he and Tubb were good friends, there were a few tense moments in the band. Tubb was well-known for his friendly demeanor but also for his drinking binges. After one, in which Tubb was too drunk to appear at a show, he got mad at Greene and put him off the tour bus.

“I walked for miles and miles,” said Greene.

The bus eventually returned to pick up the stranded musician.

In 1964, while still a Texas Troubadour, Greene released his first solo single, “The Last Letter.” The single did little, but Decca, the record label that Tubb recorded for, and legendary producer Owen Bradley recognized Greene’s potential. Tubb saw that Greene could have a solo career as well, and he encouraged Greene to strike out on his own.

In late 1965, Greene had a minor hit with the Marty Robbins-penned “Ever Since My Baby Went Away.” However, it wasn’t until a year later, when “There Goes My Everything” went No. 1, that Greene was recognized as one of country’s top crooners.

Ironically, his reputation stalled the recording of what would eventually become his second most-popular song.

“I carried ‘Statue of a Fool’ around for nine years trying to get it cut,” said Greene. “It was kind of fast, and everybody kept telling me: ‘You’re a ballad singer. You can’t do that!’”

In 1969, Greene finally recorded the number when an album needed just one more track.

He said “Statue of a Fool” became his most requested song in concert.

Greene continued having hits through the 1970s, sometimes with duets with regular singing partner Jennie Seeley.

When older stars were exiled from modern country radio, which afforded little airtime for veteran country performers, Greene continued on the Opry and toured regularly in Europe.

“It’s been great to have a career like this,” said Greene in 2007. “ Ernest Tubb always said: ‘Listen to the fans. They’ll tell you what they want.’”

According to the Associated Press, Grand Ole Opry spokeswoman Jessie Schmidt said Friday that Greene died in his sleep Thursday night at his Nashville home from complications of Alzheimer’s disease. Funeral arrangements were incomplete.

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