Marvin Rainwater | Photo credit: deeprootsmag.com

Growing up during the Great Depression and originally trained to be a veterinarian was a quarter-Cherokee country musician with the name Marvin Rainwater. This man became popular for his multiple singing styles. But, his music was prominently described as peculiar and just plain weird. Born on July 2, 1925, in Wichita, Kansas, Rainwater would have turned 93 years old today. To honor his birthday, let us have a brief view of his musical exploit and heritage.

While his father was a devotee of the Grand Ole Opry, Rainwater didn’t take interest in the show when he was a young boy. Instead, he displayed a greater interest in imbibing music as he went on to take classical piano classes. However, such fascination has been cut short when his right thumb had to be cut following an accident. But this unfortunate event has led him to learn how to strum the guitar. At this time also, Rainwater became interested in country music. After leaving the Navy where he served as a pharmacist during the World War II, Rainwater became a full-time musician. Having acquired proficiency in playing the guitar, he began singing and writing songs.

Career Highlights

When Rainwater was starting his musical journey, he was fascinated with the country legend Roy Acuff. Soon, he put up his first band with Roy Clark on lead guitar. He became highly known for his usual wear of buckskin jacket Indian headband during performances. He first recorded with the 4-Star Records with sponsorship from Bill McCall. Several of his recorded song demos were pitched to other artists. Although he was disappointed to find out later about the poor overdubbing of these demos. Additionally, these were released to mostly budget record labels at the height of his fame.

Fortunately for him, one of his compositions “I Gotta Go Get My Baby” became a big hit when pitched to pop star signer Teresa Brewer. Her recording of the song landed a significant spot in the pop music market. Yet, Rainwater’s big break came after winning first place on Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scout in 1955. An invitation as a guest on Godfrey’s top-rated morning show helped him gain national attention. By late 1955, Rainwater began working with Red Foley’s Ozark Jubilee television and touring show. It was also he where she met Brenda Lee and introduced him to Foley.

His Most Notable Recording and Musical Legacy

Rainwater started recording for MGM Records shortly after signing with Foley. At this time, the singer made a shift on his style to rockabilly which was the emerging sound at that time. Perhaps he made the right decision here as in no time, he recorded his first and most successful song. That tune was no other than “Gonna Find Me a Blue Bird” that reached No. 3 on Billboard Hot Country Songs chart while peaking at No. 18 on the pop chart.

The succeeding recordings of Rainwater didn’t achieve much success, but those songs showcased the singer’s voice and huge potential in rockabilly music. While Rainwater didn’t become a big name, his legacy of real musical depth and originality counts a lot in country music history.

Listen to Rainwater’s big hit below.

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