Sheb Wooley / Slim Dusty / Wilma Burgess / Redd Stewart / Tary Owens
Singer/actor/comedian Sheb Wooley, the man who popularized “The Purple People Eater”, passed away on September 16 in Nashville after a long bout with leukemia. Known for his humorous country songs, Wooley was named comedian of the year in 1968 by the CMA. He also had a prominent acting career, starring in such films as High Noon and Hoosiers and the TV show “Rawhide”. He was 82.
Legendary Australian country singer Slim Dusty succumbed to cancer on September 19 in Sydney. His most famous tune, “The Pub With No Beer”, was Australia’s first gold record. He was 76.
Wilma Burgess, who scored several top-10 country hits on Decca in the mid-1960s, died in Nashville on August 26 after suffering a massive heart attack. She was 64.
Redd Stewart, who co-wrote the country classic “Tennessee Waltz” with Pee Wee King in 1948 and was a member of the Nashville Songwriters Hall Of Fame, died August 2 in St. Matthews, Kentucky, of complications from head injuries suffered several years earlier. He was 80.
Tary Owens, who helped revive the careers of Texas bluesmen Roosevelt Williams (a.k.a. the Grey Ghost), T.D. Bell and Erbie Bowser during the 1980s and ’90s, died of complications from cancer September 21 in Houston. Owens grew up in Port Arthur and attended high school and college (at the University of Texas in Austin) with Janis Joplin. At UT, he became interested in documenting traditional American music, and recorded material by legendary Texas blues guitarist Mance Lipscomb that is archived at UT’s Barker Center. He was 60.