Billy Grammer, 1925-2011
Greetings from Asheville, where the news of another Country music loss has just come across, with the announced passing of longtime Grand Ole Opry member Billy Grammer. The 85 year old Illinois native had been a part of the Country music family since the 1950’s, as a singer and musician. Grammer is best remembered for his 1959 hit, “Gotta Travel On”. The lively track caught the attention of not only Country music fans, but Pop fans, as well. The single would peak in the top five on both the Country and Pop charts. Easily his biggest hit, it was also the first hit single for Monument Records.
Unfortunately, the success of his first single didn’t last. It would be his only Pop hit, and one of only four top forty Country hits he would have. One of those other tracks included a song titled “I Wanna Go Home”, which debuted in early 1963, becoming a top twenty hit. While Grammer’s version was on the radio during the late Winter, another version would take over in the Summer of 1963, by Bobby Bare, but under the title “Detroit City”. “Bottles” in 1966 and “The Real Thing” in 1967 would be his final top forty entries, and there were six other singles that charted, but failed to climb into the top forty, including his last chart single, a 1969 cover of the Lawrence Reynolds Pop hit, “Jesus Is A Soul Man”. While it failed to catch on in the States, it did well in Canada, reaching the top five on the Canadian Country charts.
Grammer would remain a regular performer, though, at the Opry, until health issues in the 1990’s forced him to stop.
He was a good performer who gave us a lasting classic that is always a great listen with his recording of “Gotta Travel On”. We send our thoughts and prayers to his family.
Below is the full obituary, as reported by CMT.com.
Here’s a video featuring his hit version of “Gotta Travel On”.