DIARY - 17 AUGUST 2006 - JOHNNY DUNCAN OBITUARY
JOHNNY DUNCAN RIP AT 67
RICHARD DUNCAN - BORN DUBLIN, TEXAS OCTOBER 5, 1938
DIED DUBLIN, TEXAS, AUGUST 14, 2006
country singer Johnny Duncan had impeccable genetics for a country
His first band included his mother, cousins Dan and Jimmy Seals and
fiddle playing uncle Ben Moroney.
Dan was internationally known as Dan Seals of England Dan and John
Ford Coley and Jim was the Seals of Seals And Croft.
not to be confused with the older English born skiffle king, who died
in Australia in 2000 of cancer, blazed his own trail.
Duncan scored a hit in 1957 with Last Train To San Fernando.
Both were often confused in Australia with another Sydney country singer
recording under the same name.
The Texan Johnny Duncan scored a brace of hits in his first lunge at fame
in the early seventies and later with duet partner Janie Fricke.
The hits included She Can Put Her Shoes Under My Bed, Anytime, It Couldn't
Have Been Any Better, Stranger, Thinkin' of a Rendezvous and Come
a Little Bit Closer.
At the peak of his career he appeared in the Clint Eastwood movie Any
Which Way You Can.
But it ended when Duncan died at 67 on August 14 of heart attack while
being flown to a Fort Worth hospital.
Earlier in the day, the singer-songwriter had sought treatment for abdominal
pains he experienced at his home in Dublin.
DUBLIN TO CLOVIS
can put shoes under my bed anytime/ Matter of fact she can move right
into my life and stay" - She Can Put Her Shoes Under My Bed Anytime
- Johnny Duncan
embryonic musical era was etched deep in the traditional country music
of West Texas.
Johnny was born in the farm town of Dublin and learned guitar from his
mother as a child.
His mother played rhythm guitar with the Seals and fiddler uncle Ben Moroney
in a Dublin dance band.
Johnny, an English major at Texas Christian University, took up singing
in his late teens and moved to Clovis, New Mexico, in 1959 and recorded
pop oriented demos with Buddy Holly's famed producer Norman Petty.
The demos hit the cutting room floor so he moved to Nashville in 1964
where he had construction jobs.
Duncan, his first wife Betty and their three children lived in Brentwood,
He also toiled for three years in a honky tonk in Bowling Green, Kentucky,
but joined a local radio station, where he was an air personality.
During this last stint on a Franklin radio station he began his songwriting
career and would sing jingles on air.
The radio station gave him access to artists, and he was able to start
pitching them his songs.
That dream became a reality when popular singers such as Charley Pride,
Marty Robbins, Chet Atkins, Conway Twitty and Jim Ed Brown recorded Duncan-penned
Ralph Emery invited Duncan to sing on his celebrated WSM-TV morning show
in 1966 - that led to a spot on Bobby Lord's afternoon program.
Don Law of CBS Records signed Duncan to Columbia.
It released his singles Rainbow Road and Hard Luck Joe,
Duncan had a few minor chart entries over the next few years, including
two duets with June Stearns, but nothing became a major hit.
all changed when Duncan hooked up with famed Nashville producer
Billy Sherrill who guided careers of artists such as fellow Texan
George Jones, Tammy Wynette and David Allan Coe.
His singles Baby's Smile, Woman's Kiss (1972) and Sweet
Country Woman that made #10 in 1973 earned him success.
But Duncan, father of three, hit a major hurdle when Betty - his
wife of 16 years - left him for another man and he returned to Texas.
"We probably should never have married," Duncan revealed
at the time.
"At 20 we were only kids. I was an English major at Texas Christian
Johnny Duncan & Janie Frick
I had an
old Chevrolet, a guitar and I thought Betty was the woman I wanted to
live with for the rest of my life. It was a classic case of growing up
and growing apart. I've always had a driving ambition to amount to something
big. I don't know what she wanted out of life. I still don't. She
wasn't interested in anything, Not the kids. Not the house. Not any career.
Not any hobby. Not my music ambitions. I'm like a wild horse in the wilderness.
It was wrong of Betty to want to want to tie me down and I was wrong to
try to change her."
living in Texas, was talked back into the music business for the single
Jo and the Cowboy, which paired him with then-unknown Dallas reared
jingle singer Janie Fricke.
The song's success persuaded Sherrill decided to feature her on Duncan
Sordid barroom sagas like Kris Kristofferson penned Stranger (1976)
and Thinkin' of a Rendezvous made Duncan a star.
The former was his first #5 hit and the latter his first #1 in 1976.
It Couldn't Have Been Any Better was his second chart-topper in
1977 and his first credited duet with Fricke.
Come a Little Bit Closer went #5 the following year.
Duncan also scored a big solo hit in 1978 with #5 Hello Mexico (And
Adios Baby to You).
He cracked #1 again with She Can Put Her Shoes Under My Bed (Anytime)
and also appeared in Clint Eastwood movie Any Which Way You Can.
Duncan's success enabled him to hire top shelf road bands including famed
pedal steel guitarist Jay De Maness who worked with Chris Hillman's Desert
The singer, faithful to Betty for the first decade of marriage, blamed
his Bowling Green honky tonking for the insight to write and deliver his
"That's where I discovered some of the wild, wonderful adventures
I'd been missing," Duncan confessed.
"I drank and chased women. I wasn't only physically unfaithful to
my wife. I lost all mental and emotional interest."
His last Top Ten appearances came in 1979 with Slow Dancing and
The Lady in the Blue Mercedes.
IN HIS REAR VISION MIRROR
"She can have the key to my door anytime/ and she can move right
into my life and stay." - She Can Put Her Shoes Under My Bed Anytime.
- Johnny Duncan
Columbia parted ways in the early '80s, and he returned to Texas and married
Georgian Connie Smith - not the singer, now wed to Marty Stuart.
He went on a hiatus from singing and sired a son John Isaac.
"While I was away from Nashville, I was never completely removed,"
Duncan recalls. "I worked about 10 dates a month to keep my voice
in shape, but I worked at my own pace, always thinking of an eventual
return to Nashville and recording."
Duncan recorded a new album in 1997 and continued to tour while concentrating
on his farm life in Central Texas.
"When you're an entertainer, you can't just sit and do nothing,"
Duncan revealed on his web page shortly before his death.
"It's in your blood, and it never leaves. I guess I'll be singing
and writing forever."
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