WFMU Ichiban, Rock and Soul with Debbie D

Monday, March 12, 2012

Ruby Wright - "Dern Ya"

    As you may recall, the headmistress of this institution posted Jody Miller's "Queen of the House" a couple of days ago. Ms. Miller is okay, I guess, but she's never been a personal favorite (I prefer Mrs. Miller). And while "female vocalists performing Roger Miller-themed answer records" is not a crowded field, I'm afraid that, to my ears, the best she can hope for is second place.
    I assert that the clear winner in this race would be none other than Ruby Wright, whose destiny would seem to have been predestined, given that she sprang from the loins of Kitty Wells, the singer of perhaps the greatest answer record of all, "It Wasn't God Who Made Honky-Tonk Angels." And of course, her father was none other than Johnnie Wright, of Johnnie and Jack fame (as well as a distinguished solo career). 
     While she had earlier recorded as part of the trio Nita, Rita, & Ruby ("Nita" being Anita Carter and "Rita" being Ruby Winters, sister of Don Winters), and would perform with her parents on stage and on their TV show through the years, Ruby only had one big hit, as featured above. It was written by another scion of Nashville royalty , Justin Tubb (who was an ex-roommate of Roger Miller's!), and was also recorded without chart success by faded '50s pop singer Teresa Brewer.

     While assembling material for my various Miller-related posts for the month, I was going through one of my myriad souvenir booklets of country star photos and discovered a forgotten one with a bunch of autographs on the back page, presumably acquired at an appearance by the Kitty Wells/Johnnie Wright Family Show. They include Ruby, her parents, her brother Bobby Wright, fellow member of their show Bill Phillips, fiddler and Jimmy Martin sideman Vernon Derrick, bass fiddle player Bill Yates (I think this is the right guy) and Chris Warner (this is my least certain I.D., but all of these last three seem to have played with Jimmy Martin , so I imagine he must have been on the bill with them backing him).

Ruby with Bill Phillips

And more, backing up her daddy in a number from SECOND FIDDLE TO A STEEL GUITAR
(Available on DVD from Time/Life!)

     Outside of Bobby's string of hits in the '70s, the family ceased to be a force in the recording industry, but remained popular as a stage act until Kitty and Johnny's retirement in 2000.  Sadly, Ruby never lived to inherit the mantle of "Queen of Country Music," dying in September 2009. Her father followed in 2011, leaving Kitty a widow after nearly 74 years of marriage. Their grandson still maintains their recording studio in Madison, TN.


Dr. Filth said...

Great post.

Anonymous said...

As to Chris Warner, he was Jimmy Martin's banjo player in the late 60's- early 70's.

Jennie Mc said...

Hey, if you are judging Jody Miller solely by the song "Queen of the House," you are missing out on a wealth of great performances. Check out "Home of the Brave," "My Daddy's Thousand Dollars", "If You Were a Carpenter", "A Woman Left Lonely," Don't Take It Away" and "Every Time You Touch Me (I Get High)." She's a magnificent interpreter. Don't deprive yourself of getting to know the totality of her body of work.

shirl marie said...

and I also, sang with ruby wright,kitty`s daughter, but for something about bobby wright and ruby, was a distant relationship, she never would tell me, but he wouldn`t let her perform with the kitty wells band, bless her heart, her mother let me and ruby sing with her equipment, and told me shirl, please be good and take care of this equipment, for bobby would kill me, if he knew,I was letting ruby borrow it...that was sad, never knew why, but couldn`t ever pose for a picture with the band, cause bobby wright wouldn`t allow it, so I wouldn`t pose either, without her????didn`t even get to go toher funeral, cause my huband passed away, first part of the same year, she did, hope love got them back together, before she left the, is family, and we all are in the :family of GOD...thathad to hurt miss kitty, she was such a happy, CHRISTIAN lady, the QUEEN, OF OLD COUNTRY.......she paved the way, for LORETTA...LOVED THEM BOTH......<3