CATCHING UP WITH ... ROY DRUSKY
Country music history may have sung a different tune had Roy Drusky recorded the song he was offered in 1961. That's when legendary producer Owen Bradley suggested Roy try his mellow baritone on a tune called "I Fall to Pieces."
"I told Owen, 'I think it's a great song, but it's a girl's song.'" recalls Roy, now 73. "He replied, 'If you don't want it, I've got a girl that will do it.' He played it for Patsy Cline, she recorded it - and that's history."
The Atlanta native doesn't bemoan the loss - after all, he did enjoy 14 Top 10s from 1960 to 1970, including "Three Hearts in a Tangle," "Another" and "Second Hand Rose." He also wrote hits for others, including Faron Young's 13-week chart-topper "Alone With You," whose success inspired Roy to move to Nashville in 1958.
But that wasn't the career path he had imagined for himself. "I wanted to play baseball," admits Roy. But after an unsuccessful tryout with the Cleveland Indians, he joined the Navy in 1947 and fell in love with music.
"We had a little band on the USS Toledo, and that's where I got an interest in country music," he remembers. "After I'd watch the guitar player, I would go back to my bunk and try to play like him."
After the Navy, Roy briefly attended Atlanta's Emory University to become a veterinarian - but music, he says, "was tearing at me." Roy formed a band, got his own 15-minute radio show in Decatur, Ga., and eventually traveled to Houston and Minneapolis as a musician and DJ.
Once in Nashville, he quickly began stacking up hits - including his biggest, 1965's "Yes, Mr. Peters," a duet with Priscilla Mitchell recorded on the spur of the moment. "We had completed a session and had about 15 minutes left," Roy recalls. "We ran over the song once or twice, and then recorded it. That was it."
These days, Roy lives on a small farm in Portland, Tenn., with wife Bobbye and their dogs. He says most of his days are spent "enjoying my four grandkids." While he describes himself as semi-retired, Roy sings gospel occasionally and occasionally appears on the Grand Ole Opry, where he's celebrating his 45th year as a member.
And even as he looks back on a string of hits that stretched into the mid-'70s, Roy now regrets that he focused so much on his singing career. "If I had to do it over, I'd probably concentrate on songwriting," he admits. "The royalties are insurance for your old age."
Story by Nick Krewen