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Redd Stewart

Redd Stewart

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Biography: Redd Stewart

May 27, 1923 - Born Henry Ellis Stewart in Ashland City, Tennessee; the son of musical parents and raised in Louisville, KY. He learned to play the banjo, piano, fiddle and guitar as a child, then dropped out of junior high to perform in local bands. He legally changed his first name to Redd because of his red hair, freckles and fair complexion.

1935 - Redd was contracted to write a song for a car dealer's commercial in Louisville, KY at the age of 14.

1937 - Pee Wee King came to Louisville, Ky. to play on WHAS and signed Redd as a musician with the Golden West Cowboys.

1941- Following the attack on Pearl Harbor, Redd was drafted into the U.S. Army and sent to the South Pacific. While stationed there with the rank of sergeant, Redd wrote "A Soldier's Last Letter”, which Ernest Tubb worked on and recorded in 1944, making it a No.1 hit staying at the top for four weeks out of a seven month stay on the Country charts and crossing over to the Pop chart Top 20.

1947 -He appeared on the Grand Ole Opry until 1947. A year earlier, he and Pee Wee wrote their first major success, "Bonaparte's Retreat," which was Kay Starr's launch-pad to stardom. Redd signed a lifetime exclusive songwriting contract with Acuff-Rose Publications.

1948 - "Tennessee Waltz", his most popular song, was written with Pee Wee King. (King & Stewart decided to write the song after hearing Bill Monroe's Kentucky Waltz on the radio. Stewart emptied a matchbox and tore it open to write down the song.)

1947-1957 - In 1947, Pee Wee, Redd and the band moved to WAVE Louisville, Kentucky, where they had a weekly radio show and then later in the year, they transferred to WAVE-TV, where they had a television show until 1957. Redd sang on Pee Wee King's 1948 version, which reached the Top 3 on the Country chart and crossed over to the Top 30 on the Pop charts, on RCA Victor. It was re-issued in 1951 and climbed to the Top 10. Pee Wee King's version of "Bonaparte's Retreat" edged into the Top 10, during 1950. However, it was in 1951 that Pee Wee had a No.1 hit with the King-Stewart song "Slow Poke," which also became a No.1 Pop success. That year, Patti Page took "The Tennessee Waltz" to No.1 on the Pop chart, which also became a Top 3 Country hit. It went on to sell over 6 million copies. The following year, the song became a Top 10 hit for Hawkshaw Hawkins and "You Belong to Me" became a Pop hit for Jo Stafford. Their final hit together was "Backward, Turn Backward." Redd toured with Pee Wee throughout the 50's and 60's.

1965 -"Tennessee Waltz" was officially proclaimed by Governor Frank Clement as the Tennessee state song. (Redd also appeared in several movies with Pee Wee King, including "Gold Mine in the Sky (1938), "Ridin’ the Outlaw Trail" (1951) and "The Rough, Tough West" (1952). In 1961, Redd and Pee Wee appeared in the movie, "Hoedown.")

1972 - Redd was inducted as a charter member of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame- Hall of Fame Highest Achievement August 2, 2003 - Died at Baptist Hospital East in Louisville, Ky. He was 80 yrs. old. He died from complications from injuries suffered in the early 1990s after a fall at his home in Louisville.

2004– Inducted into Country Legends Hall of Fame
2004– Inducted into Traditional Country Music Hall of Fame
2004—Tribute web site launched in his honor. (
2004– Redd’s son, Billy takes over his music business– Ambridge Music, Inc.

Tribute to Redd Stewart


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