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June 27

Lucky Johnny Rodriguez and “You Always Come Back (To Hurting Me)”

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Lucky Johnny Rodriguez and “You Always Come Back (To Hurting Me)” 1

The Amazing Start of Johnny’s Career

The story of Johnny Rodriguez‘s career started with a lucky break. It is one of the most amazing tales in the country music industry.  At the early age of 17, together with friends at a beer party, they thought it would be a good idea to barbeque a goat. They decided to steal the animal and cook it a state park. The group was caught early the next morning and Johnny Rodriguez took the blame. He was surprised the offense was a felony and he was sentenced to be imprisoned for three to seven years in the country jail. To pass time, Johnny sang songs in his cell and a Texas Ranger serving as the jailer was impressed by his vocal prowess.

When Johnny Rodriguez gained his early release, that Texas Ranger put him in touch with a regional entertainment executive named Happy Shahan. Rodriguez was employed by Shahan to sing at his theme park, Alamo Village.

The Lucky Break

Labor day in 1970 was when the magic happened. Tom T. Hall and Bobby Bare were passing by the area where Johnny Rodriguez was performing. The two gentlemen heard him sing and after his performance, Tom T. Hall met Johnny met backstage. Tom suggested that someday, Johnny might be able to join up with the Storytellers. Shortly, Rodriguez’s father died of cancer and his eldest brother was killed in a car accident. This was the time he decided to go to Tennessee.

Johnny Rodriguez stepped on a plane in Nashville with fourteen dollars, two pairs of pants, three shirts and a guitar wrapped in cellophane. After checking in a hotel, he called Tom T. Hall’s office. Tom picked him up with a black limousine and he happened to have just lost a guitar player so Johnny got the job.

The Start of His Success

Tom T. Hall later introduced Johnny Rodriguez to Roy Dea at Mercury Records who immediately signed Johnny in. At the Age of 20, he issued his first single that reached the No. 9 with “Pass Me By (If You’re Only Passing Through).” Johnny Rodriguez’s sophomore release, “You Always Come Back (To Hurting Me)” took him to the summit of the Billboard’s Hot Country Singles Chart on June 9, 1973.

Johnny Rodriguez thinks back during the days when he served as a kind of secretary when he and Tom T. Hall were traveling on the bus between shows. Tom would get an idea for a song and utter some lyrics while Johnny was writing them down on a piece of paper. One day, while Tom was reeling some words for a new song, Johnny had his own idea, “You Always Come Back (To Hurting Me).” While listening to Tom T. Hall, he simultaneously jotted down his own words. Later, Tom helped him polish the song and it became the first of Johnny Rodriguez’s six number one Billboard Hits.


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Johnny Rodriguez, tom t hall


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