Friday, 18 September 2009

Johnny Darrell

Country singers are stereotypically meant to be unlucky in life and love, but few can have been as unlucky in their career as Johnny Darrell.

Back in the 1960s he was the first person to record "Green, Green Grass Of Home" and had to stand by and watch as Porter Wagoner and Tom Jones had huge success with it. And then exactly the same happened with "Son Of Hickory Holler's Tramp" and "Ruby Don't Take Your Love To Town". Even his biggest hit, Bobby Goldsboro's "With Pen In Hand", became an even bigger pop hit for Vicki Carr. His career petered out in the mid 1970s and he passed away in 1997.

Whatever the reason for his comparative lack of success it wasn't lack of talent. As well being a fine singer his choice of material was consistently more interesting than most stuff coming out of Nashville in the late 1960s. In 1970 he made an album in L.A. called "California Stopover" which included among other things what I believe are the first ever recordings of Jackson Browne's "These Days" and Lowell George's "Willin'". The album featured Clarence White of The Byrds on guitar who, true to form, nicked "Willin'" for the next Byrds album.

Raven Records put out an excellent compilation of Johnny's work called "Singin' It Lonesome" a few years ago and if you are a country fan it is well worth tracking down. From that album here are "Sing It Lonesome" and "Freedom In The Yard".

Here he is with his hit:

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