Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Passings: Marvin Rainwater (1925 - 2013)

Marvin Rainwater, who hit the country top ten and pop top twenty in 1957 with Gonna Find Me a Bluebird, died on Tuesday after a short illness. He was 88.

Rainwater's early life took a very different path as he studied classical piano until losing part of his thumb as a teenager in a work accident. He then began studies to be a veterinarian before spending time in the Navy.

After his time in the service, Rainwater took up the guitar and became fascinated in country music, especially that of Roy Acuff. Being 1/4 Cherokee, Marvin began wearing a buckskin jacket and headband while performing at local venues.

In the early 50's, Rainwater hooked up with guitarist Roy Clark and, together, they recorded a number of demos for 4 Star Records, but it was a 1955 win on Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts that became his first big brake. It led to regular appearances on the Ozark Jubilee and a contract with MGM.

In 1957, Rainwater scored his biggest hit with the self-penned Gonna Find Me a Bluebird. The record went to number 5 on the Country Singles and 18 on the Pop Singles and was followed by the number 1 U.K. hit Whole Lotta Woman (1958 / #15 Country / #60 Pop), Nothin' Needs Nothin' (Like I Need You) (1958 / #11 Country) and Half Breed (1959 / #16 Country / #66 Pop).  Marvin was also one of the first to record John D. Loudermilk's The Pale Faced Indian which would eventually become the hit Indian Reservation for both Don Fardon and Paul Revere & the Raiders.

Rainwater's voice gave out in 1960 and he and MGM parted ways. After a couple of years of vocal rehab, Marvin returned to record for a series of labels but without a hit. In the late-70's, he developed throat cancer which he beat.

Marvin move to Aitkin, Minnesota during his time recovering from cancer where he remained for the rest of his life. He is survived by three daughters and two sons.

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