August 15, 2003 by

Redd Stewart


Categories: Musicians

Henry Ellis Stewart, a country music singer who co-wrote Tennessee’s official song, died on Aug. 2 of complications from head injuries he suffered in a fall at his Louisville home. He was 80.
Stewart, who legally changed his first name to Redd to match his appearance, was 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. At 14, his first professional job was to write a jingle for a car dealer’s commercial.
In 1937, Stewart became a singer and fiddler in Pee Wee King’s Golden West Cowboys, a group that made regular appearances at the Grand Ole Opry and in Gene Autry films. During the 1940s and 1950s, Stewart signed a lifetime exclusive songwriting contract with Acuff-Rose Publications, and co-wrote numerous songs, including “Bonaparte’s Retreat,” “Slow Poke” and “You Belong to Me.”
He co-wrote “Tennessee Waltz” with King while on a road trip from Nashville to Texarkana. Patti Page’s version of the song sold millions. It was adopted as the official song of Tennessee in 1965.
Stewart was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1970 and the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1972.

4 Responses to Redd Stewart

  1. Gayle de la Kruse

    It is very sad for us to lose another one of Country Music’s great Ledgends. I am blessed to have experianced so much of this wonderful music in my life. It has been my lifes joy.
    Gayle de la Kruse

  2. kenneth kessinger

    In the early 60’s or late 50’s I was at the bar of the Blackboard in Bakersfield with Will Ray (Local disc jockey) talking with Pee wee and Red. I aam originally from Louisville, Ky and knew them from before. We were having a drink and shooting the bull during their break ( they were appearing there that night ) when Bonnie Owens who was working there as a waitress at the time and occasionally singing with Bill Wood’s and his band who played there reguarly, came up to Will and said ” Will stop mentioning that I am married to Buck on your show, It will hurt my career.” I don’t have to tell you where Buck’s career was at that time Ken Kess

  3. Steamboat Willie-New Orleans

    I used to listen to my father sing the Tennesee Waltz while he was shaving. Before he died, I recorded the song with my jazz band and took him the cd while on a visit. My Daddy passed away last October. I recorded the Tenn. Waltz again while in Nashville in May 2008. It was a last minute decision at the end of my recording session of the “Legend of Jack Daniels.” The song always brings tears to my eyes. Thank You Redd & Pee Wee

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