Twentieth Century Drifter

Twentieth Century Drifter : The Life of Marty Robbins

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During his three decades as a country music performer, Marty Robbins (1925-1982) placed 94 songs on Billboard's country music charts, with sixteen number-one hits. In addition to two Grammy awards, he was also honored with the Man of the Decade Award from the Academy of Country Music in 1970. His Hawaiian songs, rockabilly hits, teen-angst ballads, pop standards, and country & western classics showcased his exceptional versatility. Yet even with fame and fortune, Robbins always yearned for more. Twentieth Century Drifter: The Life of Marty Robbins is the first biography of this legendary country music artist and NASCAR driver. Drawing from personal interviews and in-depth research, biographer Diane Diekman explains how Robbins saw himself as a drifter, a man always searching for self-fulfillment and inner peace. Born Martin David Robinson to a hardworking mother and an abusive alcoholic father, he never fully escaped the insecurities burned into him by a poverty-stricken nomadic childhood in the Arizona desert. As Diekman describes, he spent his early teens in trouble with the law and worked an assortment of short-term jobs after serving in combat in World War II. In 1947 he got his first gig as a singer and guitar player. Too nervous to talk, the shy young man walked onstage singing. Soon he changed his name to Marty Robbins, cultivated his magnetic stage presence, and established himself as an entertainer, songwriter, and successful NASCAR driver. As NASCAR's Bobby Allison said, "He started out being a singer driving a race car, but he became a race car driver who could sing." For fans of Robbins, NASCAR, and classic country music, Twentieth Century Drifter: The Life of Marty Robbins is a revealing portrait of this well-loved, restless entertainer, a private man who kept those who loved him at a distance.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 320 pages
  • 158 x 232 x 36mm | 662.24g
  • University of Illinois Press
  • Baltimore, United States
  • English
  • 25 black & white photographs, 1 table
  • 0252036328
  • 9780252036323
  • 632,447

Review quote

"Diekman propels the narrative with impressive detail and energy, leaving the reader with an impression that can only echo the admiration and respect of those who knew him."--The Austin Chronicle

"In her excellent new, 2012 biography, Diane Diekman explores the personal, more nuanced side of this unique and gifted talent and explains how he was painfully shy by nature."--American Cowboy "A top country & western artist who crossed over to the pop charts, Marty Robbins deserves this well-written, well-researched account of his life and music. Diekman's expert history is a welcome addition to the oeuvre of classic country music biography."--Holly George-Warren, author of Public Cowboy No. 1: The Life and Times of Gene Autry "A detailed account of the life and career of country music superstar Marty Robbins. Anyone interested in Robbins or the country music world of his long era will enjoy Diane Diekman's refreshing, compelling narrative."--Ronnie Pugh, author of Ernest Tubb: The Texas Troubadour
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About Diane Diekman

Diane Diekman , a retired U.S. Navy captain, is the author of Live Fast, Love Hard: The Faron Young Story; Navy Greenshirt: A Leader Made, Not Born; and A Farm in the Hidewood: My South Dakota Home.
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Rating details

19 ratings
4.1 out of 5 stars
5 37% (7)
4 37% (7)
3 26% (5)
2 0% (0)
1 0% (0)

Our customer reviews

In September 2010, the Academy of Country Music gave singer-songwriter Marty Robbins its first ever Cliffie Stone Pioneer Award to signify the 40th Anniversary of his winning the ACM's Award for the Man of the Decade in 1970. The honor may have spurred writer Diane Diekman to investigate Robbins' life and examine why such an honor was bestowed on him. Though Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash's rise and peaks parallel Robbins from the 1950's thru the 1970's, most modern day audiences can hardly name a hit song from the country crooner let alone recall his nickname Mr. Teardrop or his contributions to such ventures in the film and song publishing industries, booking and talent agencies, and NASCAR, his favorite pastime activity. Robbins died of a heart attack in December 1982, a condition fostered by his workaholic lifestyle, which Diekman evinces in her biography of the man called Twentieth Century Drifter. The biography contains past quotes from Robbins' interviews on air and in print in addition to the thoughts and musings from people who interacted with him including race car driver Richard Petty and singer-songwriter Eddie Arnold. Diekman chronicles Robbins' life from his birth which he shares with his twin Mamie on September 26, 1925 in the frontier of Arizona to his impoverished upbringing with an alcoholic father and a mother who took odd jobs to keep her family sheltered and feed. Diekman organized the biography year by year showing how each decade moved Robbins up another rung on the ladder to worldwide fame, illustrating the work ethic that grounded him and kept him motivated to reach higher each time he accomplished what he set out to do whether it was recording an album, touring or lending assistance to aspiring singers and musicians who wanted entry into the country music industry. Some would interpret his actions as being fatherly while others would suggest he wanted to control all aspects of his life. Diekman show that Robbins was there at the start of the Grand Ole Opry, Music Row, and the annual festival of Fan Fair. The history which Diekman presents is dotted by poignant quotes from Robbins' family, friends, and people behind the scenes giving Twentieth Century Drifter credibility as a documentary not only of Robbins but also of Americana depicting a time when country and western music influenced the storylines in Hollywood films Twentieth Century Drifter covers a wide range of time from the Great Depression in 1929 when Robbins was merely four years old to the tension induced by World War II when Robbins served in the US Navy and up through his glory days in the 1950's, 1960's and 1970's when the entertainment industry expanded beyond anything the world had ever experienced. Robbins was a part of that period and Diekman provides the evidence to demonstrate his contributions to the world of more
by Susan Frances
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