Marvin Rainwater, who became one of early rock 'n' roll's one-hit
wonders with his 1957 record "Gonna Find Me a Bluebird," died Tuesday in Aitken, Minn. He was 88.
A tall, handsome man with a smooth baritone voice, Rainwater had his career cut short
by illness before later becoming a popular figure on the rockabilly revival circuit.
He was eventually inducted into the Rockabilly Hall of Fame.
Born in Wichita, he trained to become a classical pianist until he lost part of his thumb
in a work accident.
After serving in World War II, he began playing country music, influenced by artists
like Roy Acuff.
After several years on the television circuit, including regional music revues as well
as the national Arthur Godfrey and Ed Sullivan shows, he signed with
MGM and cut a series of country-style records.
Since he was one-quarter Cherokee, he made it a signature of his live shows
to dress in a buckskin jacket with a headband.
"Bluebird" was his biggest hit, reaching the top five on the country charts
and the top 20 on the pop charts, and earning him a gold record.
Soon after he developed throat problems, including nodules on his vocal chords and later
He survived both, though they ended his contemporary recording career and he eventually
moved from the New York area to Minnesota.
In later years he came back into demand as a rockabilly pioneer, particularly in Europe.
He is survived by three daughters and two sons.
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