Billy Grammer


Billy Grammer

Billy Grammer (born Billie Wayne Grammer on August 28, 1925 in Benton, Illinois) is an American country music singer and noted guitar player. He is best known for the ever-recognizable "Gotta Travel On," which made it onto both the country and pop music charts in 1959. It was Grammer's first hit, and his most enduring.

Life

Grammer was the eldest of 13 children (nine boys and four girls). His father was a musician; he played the violin and trumpet.Fact|date=June 2007

Billy Grammer served in the Army during World War II, and upon discharge worked as an apprentice toolmaker at the Washington Naval gun factory at Shop #20. Grammer married his high-school girlfriend, Ruth Burzynski, in 1944. Shortly after WWII ended, 18,000 of a 24,000-strong workforce were terminated, including Grammer. The couple returned to their home in Franklin County, Illinois.

Signed by Monument Records in Nashville, Tennessee, in 1959 he hit with "Gotta Travel On" by Paul Clayton, which peaked at #4 on the U.S. Pop Singles chart. That same year, he became a regular cast member on the Grand Ole Opry. [Trott, Walt. (1998). "Billy Grammer". In "The Encyclopedia of Country Music". New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 207-8.] Grammer's "Gotta Travel On" was such a great hit, he named his band after them: The Travel On Boys.

Grammer founded RG&G (Reid, Grammer & Gower) Company in 1965 with Clyde Reid and J.W. Gower. RG&G made the Grammer guitar from 1965 until 1968, when a fire consumed the factory in downtown Nashville. The company was then sold to Ampeg and a new factory was erected just down the street from the old one. The company was renamed Grammer Guitar, Incorporated (GGI). GGI produced the Grammer guitar until 1970.

On May 15, 1972, Billy Grammer and the Travel On Boys played at the rally in Laurel, Maryland where Alabama governor George Wallace was shot. Grammer and his band played the "Under the Double Eagle" march, as Wallace mounted the stage to speak. After he made his speech, Wallace mingled with the crowd of admirers, when Arthur Bremer of Milwaukee, Wisconsin shot a concealed weapon at the presidential candidate. The outcome was Wallace's paralysis, leaving him confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life. [ [http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/daily/sept98/wallace051672.htm Washingtonpost.com: George Wallace Remembered ] ]

"I've said all along, if they wanted to do something like this, they do it under these circumstances," Grammer said, weeping, after the incident. [ [http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/daily/sept98/wallace051672.htm Washingtonpost.com: George Wallace Remembered ] ]

Grammer also delivered the invocation for the Grand Ole Opry House opening on March 16, 1974. [Trott. p. 208]

In 1990, Grammer was inducted into the Illinois Country Music Hall of Fame, along with Tex Williams, Lulu Belle and Scotty, and Patsy Montana.

Grammer suffers from a degenerative eye disease, rendering him legally blind, causing him to give up his Opry membership. [Trott. p. 207.]

References


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