Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music
(b 8 June '41, Benton County AR) Country singer, fiddler, guitarist, with a vocal quaver similar to that of Hank Williams: 'I guess we're both country boys and we both sing from the heart.' Father was a prize-winning fiddler; family moved to Wichita KS; Vernon entered the Cowtown fiddle contest, Kansas State Championship. Led own band, worked clubs in Midwest; married '62, moved to Nashville; meeting songwriter Harlan Howard led to RCA contract: good records failed to make the charts and he was dropped. Unknown to him, however, he had a cult following in Europe; a club tour early '70s revealed that he was quite a star: RCA/UK issued a two- disc album and he was re-signed to RCA in Nashville, this time making the charts with 'Shadows Of My Mind', top 20 'Redneck' '76. He was still too traditional for contemporary Nashville, and despite more minor hits he never made the big time in the USA. In Europe it was a different story, with tours '75--85 incl. visits to the UK's annual country jamboree at Wembley. He left RCA '78 and recorded for Rounder. LPs incl. Woman Let Me Sing You A Song '66, By Public Demand '75, I Just Want To Be A Country Singer '77 on RCA; Tribute To Hank Williams '78 on Meteor and Nobody's Child '79 on Release; His And Hers '80 on Rounder, followed by A Better Way Of Life, Keepin' It Country, If I Had My Wife To Love Over, the second of these on Sundown in UK '87, all-star Nashville cast incl. Buddy Spicher, Lloyd Green, Hargus 'Pig' Robbins, Pete Drake, Charlie McCoy. He turned preacher and toured Northern Ireland '89 with the Gospel, filmed by DBA TV Ltd for BBC documentary Power In The Blood; BBC Enterprises put out an album of that name; the version of 'Where The Roses Never Fade' on the album was not as good as the one in the film (he didn't need a band, just his guitar) but was still deeply moving. five-CD Keeper Of The Flame compilation on Bear Family.