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April 4, 1980: Musician Red Sovine Dies in Nashville

Singer Red Sovine
WV Humanities Council

Musician Red Sovine died in Nashville following a car crash on April 4, 1980. He was 61.

Born Woodrow Wilson Sovine in Charleston, he was influenced by local radio musicians Frank Welling and Buddy Starcher, who were known for their sentimental monologues.

Sovine’s early radio career on WCHS in Charleston and WWVA in Wheeling was slow to take off. So, he took a factory job in the Putnam County town of Eleanor while performing on radio. After World War II, he pursued a full-time musical career in Montgomery, Alabama, Shreveport and finally Nashville.

Joining the Grand Ole Opry in 1954, he became famous for his recitations, especially ‘‘Giddyup Go,” “Phantom 309,” and this number-one hit from 1976:

Red Sovine was inducted into the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame in 2008.

Teddy Bear by Red Sovine

[audio clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9bi_kRv0dOk]

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