60s Music

Pop and Country Hitmaker, Rusty Draper

Short introduction

Rusty Draper
Photo of country vocalists Molly Bee and Rusty Draper from the television series Swingin’ Country. (Source: Wikipedia)

Rusty Draper was an American singer who enjoyed crossover successes during the 1950s. His first label was Mercury Records, from where he would release eventual big pop hits such as “No Help Wanted” (#10 pop), “Gambler’s Guitar” (#6, pop; #6, country), “The Shifting, Whispering Sands” (#3, pop) and “Freight Train” (#3, pop). After Mercury, Draper moved to Monument record label, where he made records that became less successful, drawing minor hits particularly on the country singles chart. His concerts and gigs were constantly selling well, as well as appearances on stage musicals and TV that kept his career afloat. Draper died in 2003 of pneumonia, aged 80.

 

Early life and career

Rusty Draper was an American country and pop singer. He was born Farrell H. Draper in Kirksville, Missourin on January 25, 1923. He was nicknamed “Rusty” because of his red hair.

Draper got his first taste in performing when he was younger, playing on his uncle’s radio show in Tulsa, Oklahoma during the late 1930s.

As he grew older Draper moved on to work at local radio stations in Des Moines, Iowa. Sometimes Draper would pinch-hit for Ronald Reagan, who also used to be a sportscaster during those days. He also worked in Illinois as a disc jockey before moving to California, where he actually started a professional music career. After being a regular warbler at a local club in San Francisco, eventually he had appeared in TV programs such as The Ed Sullivan Show and Ozark Jubilee.

 

Draper’s recording career and initial chart successes

Draper secured his first recording contract from Mercury Records in 1952. He released his debut single “How Could You (Blue Eyes).” The following year he achieved his first hit “No Help Wanted” which went to Top 10 on the Billboard pop chart.

After doing a national tour, Draper released his own version of Jim Lowe’s “Gambler’s Guitar” in 1953. It earned him another top 10 Billboard pop hit at #6. It also went also to #6 on the Billboard country singles chart. It sold over a million copies and was awarded with a gold disc.

 

After doing a national tour, Draper released his own version of Jim Lowe’s “Gambler’s Guitar” in 1953. It earned him another top 10 Billboard pop hit at #6. It also went also to #6 on the Billboard country singles chart. It sold over a million copies and was awarded with a gold disc.

After a succession of unremarkable follow-up singles, Draper returned to the charts with a Top 20 pop hit “Seventeen” (at #18) in 1955.

 

Later that year Draper achieved his biggest chart hit in his entire career, with “The Shifting, Whispering Sands” (written by Jack Gilbert and Mary Hadler). Also released on Mercury, it went to #3 on the Billboard pop singles chart.

For the exception of “Are You Satisfied?” (which just missed the Top 10 pop chart) and “In the Middle of the House” (at #20), most of the singles Draper relesed between the years 1955-1957 were only minor ones. Until he reached the Top 10 again — for the last time — with “Freight Train,” which reached #6 on the Billboard pop chart in 1957.

Draper’s later life and career

In 1962 Draper signed with Monument Records. However, as his musical style had become more old-fashioned, his chart success had begun to ebb. But this was compensated by achieving a string of country hits throughout the 1960-1980s. In his later years, Draper had remained a top concert draw, and he also appeared in a number of stage productions and television shows, including a short-lived one on NBC titled Swingin’ Country.

Draper died from pneumonia in Bellevue, Washington on March 28, 2003. He was 80 years old.

 

 

Click to check out some Rusty Draper song lyrics:

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