Roy Frank Drusky, Jr.
1930 - 2004
Roy Drusky was a nationally known country music singer and songwriter who frequently performed as a soloist at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee. He made over fifty single records and albums.
Roy was born in Atlanta, Georgia, the son of Roy Frank and LeVerne Ewing Drusky (Druschky). Although his mother was an organist and encouraged him to do something in music, and he sang in the church choir as a boy, he aspired to be a baseball player and pursued that interest during his teenage years. In 1951, after he unsuccessfully tried out for the Cleveland Indians, he formed the Southern Ranch Band, from which his voice and skill on the guitar, learned while in the U.S. Navy from 1948 to 1950, would lead to a career in country music.
A self-taught musician, Drusky’s first success happened when he and his group won a radio talent show in Decatur, Georgia. This success led to a job as a disk jockey in Decatur and a following in that region. When his group disbanded, Drusky continued to sing in area nightclubs and following the 1953 success of one of his recordings, "Such a Fool," signed a contract with Columbia Records in 1955.
After his success in Decatur, Drusky moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota, where he continued to work in radio and became a headliner at the famous Flame Club. At this time, country music singer Faron Young had hits with two of Drusky's compositions, "Alone With You" and "Country Girl."
This success led Drusky to move to Nashville, Tennessee, an ultimate destination for all country music performers. Following two back-to-back top-five hits in 1960, he was invited to join the Grand Ole Opry and signed a new contract with Decca Records in 1960, then switched to Mercury Records in 1963. He would have a number of chart hits all through the 1960s and into the early 1970s.
In Nashville he met a young woman named Bobbie Stafford, who had been raised in the Seventh-day Adventist church. After they married and had children, Bobbie insisted that the children attend church school. Subsequently, both she and Roy started attending the SDA church, and in 1980 the family was baptized.
Drusky would be associated with the Grand Ole Opry for 46 years. With his baritone voice and smooth singing style, he was often referred to as the "Perry Como of country music" and enjoyed considerable success, his last big hit in the top five being "Long Long Texas Road." His last performance at the GOO was in June 2003.
In spite of a refusal on his part to sing from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday after he joined the church, he continued to be successful and appeared regularly at the GOO. Drusky made over fifty records during his career and appeared in three films, White Lightnin' Express, The Golden Guitar, and Forty Acre Feud. In the 1990's he did some singing as a gospel singer in the country music tradition.
Although encouraged by a church leader to end his career in country music when he first became a member of the church, Drusky did not. He felt that through his Sabbath stance and life as an Adventist Christian, he would be able to reach far more people than most Adventist ministers do through their ministry. He also recorded with Chapel Records, an SDA owned producer of religious music recordings.
He felt strongly that "we’re supposed to represent Christ to the world, not just to our own little group." He was active within his home church as a church elder and Sabbath School teacher and also assisted in Adventist evangelism several times a year.
He and his wife, Bobbie, were living in Portland, Tennessee, at the time of his death at age 74, following complications from lung cancer.
Sources: Obituaries in the Robertson County (Tennessee) Times, 23 September 2004 and Aiken (South Carolina) Standard, 24 September 2004; CMT.com biography, Jason Ankeny, All Music Guide (2005); Wikipedia (2012); Stephen Chavez article, Adventist Review, 29 September 1994. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Death Index, 1850-2010; One World Tree (Roy Drusky), Ancestory. com.