Ernest Tubb was a legendary "honky tonk" country music pioneer. Known as the "Texas Troubadour," Tubb's recording of "Walking the Floor Over You" in 1941 made him one of country music's most enduring stars.
Tubb, elected to the the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1965, was a deep-voiced baritone singer who enjoyed his greatest success in the 1940s and '50s. Over the years though, he maintained a fiercely loyal following that was always ready to applaud such all-time favorites as "I'll Get Along Somehow," "Thanks A Lot," "Rainbow at Midnight" and "Have You Ever Been Lonely?"
He pioneered the "honky tonk" style of country music featuring steel guitars and earthy lyrics, and stuck to that sound throughout his career.
"I just know what sounds good to these ears," Tubb said in an interview with The Times in 1980.
"When I left MCA Records in 1975, I had lots of labels wantin' to sign me, but they all wanted to change somethin' or other — make me more modern. I told 'em it had to be my way or not at all."
Tubb, born in Texas cotton country south of Dallas on Feb. 9, 1914, had boyhood dreams of becoming a cowboy movie star. By the age of 6, he was already strumming a guitar on the cotton farm where he grew up. Inspired by his idol, country music great Jimmie Rodgers, he landed a job performing on KONO radio in San Antonio when he was 20.
He met Rodger's widow, Carrie, a couple of years after the singer died in 1933, and the two struck up a firm friendship. It was through Carrie Rodgers that Tubb got his first recording contract with RCA.
He soon moved on to Decca, which distributed most of his hits, including the song that launched his career in 1941 "Walking the Floor Over You." The song was an enduring favorite, selling steadily until it finally reached the golden million mark in 1965. Its initial popularity enabled Tubb to fulfill his childhood dream: He appeared in two Charles Starrett westerns in 1942. And the song propelled him to the Grand Ole Opry, where he was a regular performer from 1943 until 1982, when his health began failing.
He sold about 30 million records over the years and released nearly 200 singles.