September 8

Remembering Red Sovine: 7 Fast Facts About His Life and Legacy

Red Sovine, born as Woodrow Wilson Sovine on July 7, 1917 in West Virginia, is widely known for his songs which were associated with truck driving. The narratives of his songs are filled with sentiments to which a lot of people can relate to. Some of his well-known songs include “Giddyup Go” and “Teddy Bear,” both of which entered and peaked at the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart. 

Here are 7 fast facts about Red Sovine‘s life and legacy:

1. “Red” was actually a nickname.

Woodrow Wilson Sovine was given the moniker “Red” because of his reddish-brown hair when he was born. Though he was referred to as the “Old Syrup Sopper” for many years.

2. He got into music at a young age.

According to reports, Red Sovine grew up in a poor household. His mother had started teaching him how to play guitar at a young age. When he was 17 years old, he began his professional career at WCHS Charleston alongside Johnny Bailes.

3. Red Sovine started his musical career while working in a hosiery factory. 

Sovine started his own band in 1948 while working as a supervisor at a hosiery factory in the Putnam County of Eleanor. The group was called The Echo Valley Boys. After World War II, he made the decision to pursue a career in music.

4. His first music partner was his childhood friend. 

Red Sovine played as “Smiley and Red, the Singing Sailors” in Jim Pike’s Carolina Tar Heels, a country song revue, on WWVA-AM in Wheeling, West Virginia, with his childhood friend Johnny Bailes, marking their first musical collaboration. Bailes quit after having little success and joined The Bailes Brothers to perform.

5. Many of his truck driving hits have been covered by various artists.

Artists including Del Reeves, Dave Dudley, and Ferlin Husky, as well as Australian country singer Nev Nicholls have recorded some of Red Sovine songs, especially his biggest truck driving classics. For the King of the Hill soundtrack, Mike Judge covered “Teddy Bear” as Hank Hill. Dutch musicians have also covered some of his songs, which have gone on to become huge hits in their country.

6. Giddyup Go” was his most famous trucker hit.

Giddyup Go” was primarily spoken rather than sung. The song stayed on the country charts for six weeks and even made it to the pop charts.

7. He died due to a tragic vehicular accident. 

As he was driving in southern Nashville on April 4, 1980, the “Teddy Bear” singer had a heart attack, which led him to run a red light and collide with an approaching car. Both he and the second driver, 25-year-old Edgar Primm, were sent to St. Thomas Hospital. Primm received treatment for minor facial injuries and was later released, while Sovine passed away shortly after arriving. A preliminary autopsy revealed that Sovine suffered from cracked ribs and sternum, lacerated spleen and liver, and significant abdominal hemorrhage.

Red Sovine received a West Virginia Music Hall of Fame induction in 2008. He may have been long gone, but his legacy continues to live up until today. His immense talent and contribution to the music industry will never be forgotten. 


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