October 26

Ferguson’s “On the Wings of a Dove” Rose Husky

Husky sings “On the Wings of a Dove” at the Grand Ole Opry

In the year 1958, “On the Wings of a Dove”, a country song, was written by Bob Ferguson of Willow Springs, Missouri. Two years after, 1960, Ferlin Husky recorded “On the Wings of a Dove” and became very popular. For 10 non-successive weeks, Ferlin Husky’s recording stayed at the number one spot on the country charts. Spending nine months on the country chart, it was Ferlin Husky’s third and final number one track. “On the Wings of a Dove” gained its victory on the pop charts, topping at number 12 on the Hot 100. In 1987, Broadcast Music Incorporated awarded Ferguson with the “million air” plays for the “On the Wings of a Dove”.

It seems like almost yesterday that I first heard the song “On the Wings of a Dove.”

The song referred to several passages from the Christian Bible about doves sent by the Lord. One of which is a verse about God sending Noah a dove during the flood in Genesis 8:6-12. Another passage about a dove in Matthew 3:16, “After his baptism, as Jesus came up out of the water, the heavens were opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and settling on him” was included in Dolly Parton’s and Porter Wagner’s cover versions.


Since its debut and because of its haunting melody, several musicians covered it. To name a few, they are Bonnie Guitar, The Jordanaires, George Jones, Hal Ketchum, Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton, Ricky Skaggs and the Whites, The Wilders, Jim Witter, and Madness. Nanci Griffith and Lucinda Williams recorded a duet version of the song for Other Voices, Too (A Trip Back to Bountiful). On Dolly Parton, Tammy Wynette, and Loretta Lynn’s 1993 album Honky Tonk Angels, they recorded this.


At a young age, Ferlin already had a heart for music. Every Saturday night in the 1930s, he and his family tuned in to the Grand Ole Opry. Because of his passion for music, his father exchanged a hen for a guitar to a neighbor for young Husky.

After Husky served in the Merchant Marines during the World War II, he came back home. He worked at KXLW, a radio station in St. Louis. There he paired with one of the great characters of country music and western movies—Smiley Burnette.

Making his way to Bakersfield, California, he worked there as a disc jockey and sang under the name of Terry Preston. In Bakersfield, Husky teamed with female vocalist Jean Shepherd to record a song about a soldier dumped by his girlfriend. “A Dear John Letter” became a surprise hit and brought new opportunities.

Among his other successes, Ferlin Husky got hold of a role in a television drama and played in two movies. Then, he moved to Nashville and signed an agreement with Bob Ferguson to be his manager. And the rest was history.


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