Johnny Bush, the Texas country-music veteran who co-wrote Willie Nelson’s signature opening quantity “Whiskey River,” has died at 85. Bush’s supervisor confirmed the singer’s dying to Rolling Stone.
Born in Houston in 1935 as John Bush Shinn III, Bush obtained his huge break from Nelson, who helped him land a job as a drummer in Ray Value’s band, the Cherokee Cowboys. Nelson would go on to bankroll Bush’s debut single, 1967’s “Sound of a Heartache,” and vouched for Bush’s expertise in a message on the again cowl of the album of the identical identify. “Johnny Bush is a good singing expertise,” Nelson wrote, “as you’ll uncover after listening to his first album Sound of a Heartache.”
Along with his profession off the bottom, Bush started writing and recording in earnest — together with 1972’s “Whiskey River.” However it was Nelson who made the music about drowning in brown liquor his personal, releasing it on 1973’s Shotgun Willie and utilizing it to open his concert events. The music stays Nelson’s show-opener to today.
However Bush was removed from a one-hit marvel. He scored a High 30 hit with the Nelson composition “What a Strategy to Reside,” a High 10 single with Marty Robbins’ “You Gave Me a Mountain” (later a staple of Elvis Presley’s concert events), and a High 40 single with “There Stands the Glass,” first a 1953 hit for Webb Pierce whose model was not too long ago sampled by Sam Hunt for his music “Arduous to Neglect.”
Bush’s rendition of “You Gave Me a Mountain” was an particularly highly effective efficiency, reinforcing the singer’s nickname of the “Nation Caruso.” Within the late Seventies, nevertheless, he started struggling a sequence of vocal issues that threatened to derail his profession. Recognized with a neurological dysfunction, he began vocal and speech remedy, and in 2002 obtained Botox injections to efficiently restore his vary. The next yr Bush was inducted — by Nelson — into the Texas Nation Music Corridor of Fame.
Bush continued to carry out up till his dying and was a daily visitor at Willie Nelson’s annual 4th of July Picnic, enjoying the 2019 version reside onstage and making a web-based look on the 2020 Picnic, held just about due to the pandemic.
In Could, Bush paired with Texas band Mike and the Moonpies to launch a model of the Moonpies’ “Say It Merely.” The group remembered Bush on Friday in a web-based publish, recalling him as “an enormous affect on us and the music we make.” “He’s a legend,” they wrote, sharing a picture of Moonpies singer Mike Harmeier onstage with Bush in 2015.
Tanya Tucker referred to as Bush one in all “Texas’ finest honky-tonk heroes.” “After I was 14, 15, I did many exhibits with Johnny Bush. I at all times liked his singing and he was at all times so variety to me,” she instructed Rolling Stone. “I stunned him in Fort Value and celebrated his 60th yr within the enterprise not too way back. We sang ‘Huge Huge Love’ collectively. Actually a particular night time.”
Mitch Ballard, senior artistic director at BMI Austin, stated the singer was the “epitome of the Texas dance corridor sound” and remembered marking two million airplays of “Whiskey River” with Bush. “He was true to his roots his whole profession and entertained all of us till the top,” Ballard instructed Rolling Stone. “We’re proud that Johnny has been part of the BMI household since 1965 and will likely be dearly missed.”
All through Bush’s profession, his kinship with Nelson remained a continuing. “It appeared that at some point I had by no means heard of Johnny Bush after which on the following day I had at all times recognized him,” Nelson wrote in 1968. “We’re that good of pals.”
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