Ferlin Husky Records “Gone”…Twice

Ferlin Husky "Gone" 45 RPM.

Ferlin Husky sold over a million copies of “Gone”

Ferlin Husky ascended to the top of Billboard’s country music charts this week in 1957. “Gone” was a mega-hit, becoming Ferlin’s biggest career hit record. But did you know that this was not Ferlin’s first attempt with this song? That came in 1952.

Missouri native Ferlin Husky began recording in 1949, first on 4 Star, then moving to Capitol in 1951. 4 Star thought his birth name sounded too made up, so they used the name Terry Preston for his recordings. That continued through his first two years with Capitol. But none of the Terry Preston releases garnered much attention from either country radio or country audiences. It wasn’t until he reverted back to his given name that he finally tasted success. He scored his first chart hit in the summer of 1953 with the Jean Shepard duet “A Dear John Letter”. That song spent six weeks atop Billboard’s country chart, while also reaching the top ten on their pop chart.

Moderate chart success followed, mostly in 1955 with three top ten hits. 1956 was hitless, but Ferlin’s career momentum would take a sharp upward move. And it was due to one of the most iconic hits of all-time.

One of the unsuccessful Terry Preston releases had been “Gone”, a song written by western swing musician Smokey Rogers. Released in November, 1952, it went virtually unnoticed. Fast forward to a Nashville recording studio in November, 1956. Something made Ferlin and his producer Ken Nelson (who had produced the earlier version, as well) decide to revisit “Gone”. But this time, instead of a traditional steel and fiddle sound, they went for a more lush country-pop arrangement. The Jordanaires, as well as the famous soprano sounds from Millie Kirkham were also part of the mix.

Released in January, 1957, it quickly became apparent to Husky, Nelson, and Capitol Records that this was going to be a big one. Debuting in February in both Billboard and Cashbox, “Gone” climbed the country charts, hitting number one the first week of April. Ultimately, it would spend ten weeks at number one on Billboard’s country chart and eight weeks on top of the Cashbox country chart. Pop music jumped on the record, as well. Debuting on Billboard’s pop charts in early March, Ferlin climbed to a peak of four in Billboard, while stopping at six in Cashbox. Over a million copies of “Gone” on both 45 and 78 sold.

Not only is Ferlin Husky’s “Gone” a country and oldies classic, it is considered by many historians to be the first major hit utilizing the lush arrangements that became known as “The Nashville Sound”.

Ferlin scored several more country hits through 1974. That included another number one smash, “Wings Of A Dove”. But “Gone” will always be the ultimate Ferlin Husky release. Not only did it usher in a new level of popularity for Ferlin, but it started a whole new sound in country music, one that would be a major part of the format into the 1980’s.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
I go by Mike The Country Musicologist, both here and on the radio. All the records featured here are from my collection. In case you’re curious (and you’re probably not, but I’m telling you anyway), I graduated with a degree in Broadcasting from Vincennes University. That’s a small college in SW Indiana. I’ve worked in radio at various small town Indiana stations, did some parttime radio at a Raleigh, NC AM station, and most recently (and most successfully) at WSFM-LPFM/AshevilleFM. See more on my About page.

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