In the fickle and often conservative world of country music, Marty Stuart stands out as a torchbearer of the genre who preaches the new traditionalist word with help from his Fabulous Superlatives. Having grown up in Philadelphia, MS, obsessed by the genre ever since he was five, Stuart takes his role as an archivist very seriously, having apprenticed under the likes of Lester Flatt, Doc Watson and Johnny Cash before having his own spate of success on Music Row in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
Between his encyclopedic musical knowledge, penchant for wearing Nudie suits and tireless devotion to country music’s heritage, Stuart is one cool Nashville cat. Here are three things you might not know about him.
1. He’s Got A Nose For Knick-Knacks
Stuart’s memorabilia collection hovers around the 20,000-piece mark and goes as far back to the first two records he ever owned when he was five—Flatt & Scrugg’s Greatest Hits and The Fabulous Johnny Cash. It was also the centerpiece of a 2007 Tennessee State Museum exhibit called “Sparkle & Twang: Marty Stuart’s American Musical Odyssey.” It later appeared at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum and the Arkansas Statehouse Museum.
2. The Man In Black Looms Large In His Life
Dating back to when a then-11-year-old Stuart’s mom took him and his sister to a Johnny Cash show in December 1969, the totemic country singer has been ever-present throughout the hillbilly rocker’s life. Cash not only eventually hired Stuart to play in his band, but the latter was briefly married to the late icon’s youngest daughter. Stuart also became friends with Heartbreakers’ guitarist Mike Campbell (who also produced Stuart’s current recording Way Out West) after Cash invited Stuart to play on his 1996 recording Unchained alongside Tom Petty and his band.
3. He Walks The Historical Walk
While Stuart’s six-term stint as president of the Country Music Foundation from 1996 to 2002 is impressive, he’s been the consummate country music ambassador. He’s served as a producer for late career comeback records by country music legends Porter Wagoner and wife Connie Smith, and launched his Superlatone Records imprint as an outlet for overlooked southern gospel and roots music recordings. His dressing room at the Grand Ole Opry appropriately enough was previously occupied by Ernest Tubb, Marty Robbins and Wagoner.