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Who Floyd Tillman
What Country tunesmith Floyd Tillman dies
When August 23, 2003
Where Houston, TX

(Excerpt from the article mentioned above)

Country tunesmith Floyd Tillman dies

By Michael Corcoran

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 Floyd Tillman, who passed away Friday morning at his home near Houston at age 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.

"He was a great, great writer," Willie Nelson said, reached by phone Friday. "But he was also a great, great friend. Floyd always had a big smile, and you knew it was real."

Tillman was the last of the great 1930s honky tonk pioneers. His passing marks the end of a great era in Texas music.

Tillman was born in Ryan, Okla., in 1914, but moved to Post, near Lubbock, before he was a year old. He started playing guitar and mandolin as a pre-teen, often backing fiddle players at ranch dances. In 1933 at age 19, he joined Adolph Hofner's house band at Gus' Palm Garden in San Antonio. Two years later he was recruited into the Houston-based Blue Ridge Playboys by fiddler Leon "Pappy" Selph. It was in the Playboys that Tillman started singing his songs, and in the late '30s he struck out with his own band and signed to Decca. He joined the Army during World War II and, although he stayed in Texas during the war, he identified with the loneliness and separation of soldiers being shipped overseas and penned such songs as "G.I. Blues" and "Each Night At Nine," which became Top Five country hits in 1944.

Among 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." His songs have been recorded by everyone from Gene Autry and Tex Ritter to the Supremes and Ray Charles. "It Makes No Difference Now," which Tillman sold for $300 in 1938, was his most covered song. Tillman eventually succeeded in regaining the rights.

Though it only began inducting members in 1986, Cleveland's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame membership roll will soon swell to more than 200. The country world has been inducting members since 1961, and this year's elections of Cramer and Smith will bring the Country Hall's total to a comparatively small 90.

Fiddler Johnny Gimble, who met Tillman in 1948, said, "It was always fun to back Floyd. Even in the last few years, when he was gettin' up there in years, Floyd would have a ball. He'd forget something, but he'd just laugh and the audience would get a big kick out of it. I miss him already."

Tillman, who was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1984, is survived by his sons Larry and Don Tillman. There are no plans for a funeral at this time.

Full text of the article can be found at the link above.

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Contact Michael Corcoran
Austin American-Statesman


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