The Influence


85th Birthday

Memories of Floyd


Memories of Floyd
Floyd Tillman at Fan Fair Reunion Show in 1975 with friends including Pee Wee King, Minnie Pearl, Del Wood, Leon McAuliffe, Roy Acuff and James "Goober" Buchanan. WSM Photo By Les Leverett
Austin American Statesman 

He wrote Bing Crosby's 1939 smash hit It Makes No Difference Now, recorded his first No. 1 single in 1944 with They Took the Stars Out of Heaven and was one of country music's first great electric guitarists.

But Country Music Hall of Famer Floyd Tillman, who died Friday morning at his home near Houston at 88, will best be remembered for a 1949 song that helped usher in the social realism era of country songwriting.

Slipping Around may not have been the first ''cheating song,'' but it was the first one to top the charts.The title of the album Mr. Tillman finished recording just a couple of months ago says it all. He was, simply, The Influence, and such admirers as Dolly Parton, Merle Haggard, George Jones and Willie Nelson sang duets with him on the album, which is slated for release in November.A longtime resident of Marble Falls, Texas, Mr. Tillman moved to the Houston suburb of Bacliff recently, after his leukemia was diagnosed, to be near his doctors.''He was a great, great writer,'' Willie Nelson said in a telephone interview. ''But he was also a great, great friend. Floyd always had a big smile, and you knew it was real.''Mr. Tillman was a 1930s honky-tonk pioneer, and his unique sound fused Ernest Tubb's homespun plaintiveness with uptown sprinkles of jazz and swing. His unique, behind-the-beat vocal phrasing, not to mention his jazzy guitar stylings, made an impression on a young Nelson, who employs both techniques himself.''You could tell, right away, that his music wasn't the typical country music of the time,'' Nelson said.Mr. Tillman's songwriting was another influence on younger musicians, including some who would become major propellants of rock 'n' roll's first waves.''You can't underestimate the influence Floyd Tillman had on rock 'n' rollers like Buddy Holly, Roy Orbison and Buddy Knox,'' musician Monte Warden said. ''With their self-contained combos, the honky-tonk guys like Tillman and Hank Thompson showed that you didn't have to look to New York or Nashville for your songs. You could just play your own.''Among Mr. Tillman's hits were Driving Nails In My Coffin (1946), I Love You So Much It Hurts (1946), I Gotta Have My Baby Back (1949) and his last hit, 1960's It Just Tears Me Up.Among the artists who have recorded his songs are Gene Autry, Tex Ritter, the Supremes and Ray Charles.

Tillman was in a Texas diner when he overheard a woman sweet-talking on the phone with a man he assumed was her husband. When she asked the man to call her at home, but to hang up if her husband answered, Tillman had a song idea:

Seems we always have to slip around to be together, dear. Slipping around ? afraid we might be found. I know I can't forget you, and I've gotta have you near. But we just have to slip around and live in constant fear.

Adultery was a taboo subject at the time, and because Slipping Around didn't moralize that cheating was wrong, the song was traveling untested territory. But Margaret Whiting and Jimmy Wakely had a huge hit with it in early 1949, topping the charts for 17 straight weeks.Months later, Mr. Tillman's version peaked at No. 5.Texas disc jockey Tracy Pitcox, who produced The Influence, said Tillman was ''very excited about making his first record in more than 20 years.'' He was honored that so many country music greats had done duets with him.Pitcox said, ''Floyd didn't get much out of accolades. To him the biggest thrill was having the respect of his peers.''

Tillman, who was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1984, is survived by his sons Larry and Don Tillman.

WSM Photo By Les Leverett
Dear Floyd Tillman Fan,

I wanted to personally thank you for your memories and admiration for Floyd Tillman.  Floyd was a great talent in our Country Music Industry.  He certainly did appreciate his many fans from throughout the world.  I realized his great importance to the industry while working on his final album "The Influence."  I asked some of Country Music's greatest legends to be a part of this project.  I was only turned down by two artist who had contractual obligations with other labels.  The remaining fourteen were so excited to be a part of the project.  We did not realize that it would be Floyd's final album.  It is indeed a great tribute to a wonderful man. 

We would love to hear your comments on this site and about your memories of Floyd Tillman.  You can email me at:  tracy@hillbillyhits.com

Thank you again for your support of Country Music Hall of Famer Floyd Tillman!!

                                                                                      Tracy Pitcox



Heart of Texas Records 1701 South Bridge Street Brady, Texas 76825 (325) 597-1895

www.heartoftexascountry.com     tracy@hillbillyhits.com

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