By Kris Smith
This month, The Corsicana Palace Theatre will welcome John Conlee, a veteran of the 1980’s country music scene.
Conlee, born and raised in Versailles, Kentucky, on a tobacco farm he still owns, began his career as a licensed funeral director and embalmer. Conlee stated, “I still hold active licenses as a funeral director. I may never need them again, but I still hold them.”
Accepting a job on Nashville AM radio, WLAC, in 1971, Conlee moved from Kentucky to Nashville, where he fell in love with radio broadcasting. “Without WLAC, country music would have only been a hobby.”
Thankfully, in 1978, Conlee would leave WLAC to pursue his dreams as a recording artist. Those dreams would become a reality soon after the release of his first album Rose Colored Glasses in November of that same year. The first single, Backside of Thirty, was the first to be released to radio in November of 1976 and was the first to gain radio airplay. The title track wouldn’t be released until March of 1978 and was the first single to hit the charts. Although
‘Glasses’ has never actually hit the top of the charts; it quickly became his biggest and signature hit. He said, “You never really know (it will be a hit). You just know you love it.” Conlee had 7 Billboard #1’s, including ‘Lady Lay Down’, ‘Common Man’, ‘Backside of Thirty’ and ‘I’m Only In It For The Love’.
John Conlee, undoubtedly one of country music’s most significant and recognizable voices in country music, joined the Grand Ole Opry officially in 1981 and was inducted by the incomparable Porter Wagoner. Conlee’s top ten single ‘Busted’ brought forth being named the National Spokesperson for the FEED THE CHILDREN campaign. During his live performances of the song, fans would throw dollar bills on stage, prompting the humble singer/songwriter to find a charity to donate the funds. Conlee also joined Willie Nelson, Neil Young and John Mellencamp to organize Farm Aid- an annual concert that raised more than $15 million that were sent to farmers in grants.
Conlee has been honored with many awards, including the Academy of Country Music’s Best New Male Vocalist in 1979.
Known for his own distinctive baritone voice, the seasoned Nashville veteran recalls Nashville in years’ past, “New country is missing song quality. I am thankful I was there when songs were more important.”
John Conlee will take the Palace stage on August 20th at 7:30 PM. Tickets are available and for sale now at http://www.corsicanapalace.com.
The Corsicana Palace Theatre, a 1921 vaudeville house located in downtown Corsicana, Texas, seats 533, with 8 handicap accessible seats available. The Theatre, a Corsicana treasure, was saved from demolition and restored in the late 1990’s.