Hillbilly-Music.comThe People. The Music. The History.
About The Artist
Claude Gray, known as the "Tall Texan" was born deep in the heart of East Texas, near the town of Henderson and was a graduate of Henderson High School and grew to be about six feet four inches tall. He joined the U.S. Navy during the Korean War and spent almost all of his naval career aboard ships in the Far East and South Pacific. Claude was honorably discharged as a second class petty officer (quartermaster) in the latter part of 1954.
Claude mentioned in an interview once that he got his start as a country singer when he just "...kept messin' around with my pickin' and singin' since I was 12 or 13 years old."
Claude's recording career began in 1960. At the time, he was working as a disc jockey for radio station WDAL out of Meredian, Mississippi. By that time, he had already made appearances on such nationally known shows as the "Louisiana Hayride" on KWKH in Shreveport, Louisiana as well as "The Big 'D' Jamboree" over KRLD out of Dallas-Ft. Worth, Texas.
His first hit record was the classic song, "The Family Bible" which was a country smash at the time, reaching the No. 7 position on the Billboard charts. In 1961, his debut record for the Mercury label was the million seller, "I'll Just Have A Cup Of Coffee Then I'll Go", which he followed with "My Ears Should Burn When Fools Are Talked About". That latter song also made it into the Billboard Top Ten list. It was also written by a good friend of Claude's, Roger Miller. When he was with Mercury at the time, the said he had a reputation as a "...country singer who really sings fromn the heart."
In an interview in Country Song Roundup Magazine in 1962, Claude was asked about his being noted for singing with warmth and sinceritysinging with his heart. He replied:
"If a song doesn't have any soul in it, I don't sing it. I just don't sing anything unless I like it and it expresses my sentiments."
Some of the other hit records for Claude include "I Never Had The One That I Wanted" which Claude co-wrote with a friend of his, Sheb Wooley. That tune was his first release on the Decca record label and reached the No. 2 spot on the national Billboard country charts. The following release "If I Ever Need A Lady, I'll Call You" and the truck-driving classic tune, "How Fast Them Trucks Can Go" are some of Claude's most requested hits.
Claude's recording career includes working with the Mercury, Columbia, and Decca record labels. He did a total of sixteen albums, 53 singles of which 18 reached the Billboard Top 20 on the national country charts. He's done personal appearances in a number of European countries and 49 of the 50 United States.
Claude has worked with almost all the major country music acts and consders many of them friends. He's also appeared with those who might be considered "pop" entertainers such as Duke Ellington, Marty Allen, the great Dinah Washington, and over a period of several years, worked a number of shows with "Festus" from the TV show, "Gunsmoke". Claude considers Festus to be one of the finest entertainers he ever worked with. He appeared frequently on the Grand Ole Opry in 1961 and from time to time was called upon to host portions of the Friday Night and Saturday Night Opry shows.
Claude notes that some of his favorite singers are Don Gibson, Buck Owens, Barbara Streisand, Luciana Pavarotti, Frankie Laine and Brook Benton. Some of his favorite people are folks such as the late Marty Robbins, Kitty Wells and Johnny Wright, who he had the pleasure of working with on many tours through the years, Freddie Hart and true friends, Bill Mack and Morgan Choat.
Sound Sample (RealAudio Format)