Texas Ruby Was A Real Firecracker   13 comments

Texas Ruby has been gone for fifty years now, and she didn’t headline in Vegas or score any huge hit records during her too-short career, but she remains one of the most memorable country music stars of all time. Ably accompanied by husband Curly Fox’s fiddle, her deep singing voice and distinctive performing style helped make her special, but her personality was the crowning touch. She was sassy and tempestuous, a hard living and highly spirited force of nature.

trub

Born on a Texas ranch, Ruby Agnes Owens often sang with her brothers while growing up (one would later become a songwriter) and it’s been said that she was discovered when a radio station owner in Ft. Worth heard her singing on the back of the wagon during a trip to the city. She soon began appearing on the air and building a career from there, spending the early part of the 1930s working all over the country and appearing with outfits like Zeke Clements’ country band. She also built a reputation as tough-talking and fiesty, as evidenced by the time she spent at WHO radio in Des Moines, where — so the story goes — a young announcer named Ronald ‘Dutch’ Reagan felt the force of her temper and subsequently left for Hollywood fame.

In any case, Ruby ended up at the Grand Ole Opry, where she eventually met up with a tall and talented Tennessee fiddler named Curly Fox. He’d already spent a number of years leading his own group, and was a much in demand sideman too. The twosome formed a duo in 1937 and married a couple of years later, and their act became one of the most popular around. The decade of the 1940s was especially good to them as they headlined on the Opry and starred on tour while also making lots of good records.

In the 1950s they moved to Ruby’s home state of Texas and continued to enjoy some success, even appearing on regional TV for a while, but things began to slow for them so they eventually moved back to Nashville and the Opry. By the close of the decade Ruby was cutting back on performing, often staying home while Curly played his fiddle for many of the acts on the show. That’s what he was doing in 1963 when word was received that Ruby — a heavy smoker — had apparently fallen asleep and died in a fire. She was just 54.

txcdTexas Ruby & Curly Fox – “We May Meet Again Some Day”

 

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13 responses to “Texas Ruby Was A Real Firecracker

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  1. I was unfamiliar with Ruby, thanks for letting us know about her. What a great voice. And yodelling too.

  2. She had an unusual voice – almost sounded like a male country tenor.

  3. Ruby would have fit in really well today. One legend of Ruby’s I have read is she missed out on a role in Disney’s Snow White & The Seven Dwarfs because of a massive hangover. Ruby kinda makes me think of Patsy Cline, the way she did it her way.

  4. Double thanks for your comment. Not only was it a good one, but it also allowed me to realize that the original video on this post was removed at its source, so I’ve replaced it with a couple of others.

  5. Enjoyed reading the post and comments. My great aunt was Texas ruby.

  6. Great to hear from you. Thanks for the kind words.

  7. I remember Ruby from the early days of television.I never even saw one in store window untill 1948.She & curley fox were on tv in Houston,I think on saturday nights.Couldn,t wait for them to come on.

  8. As a young girl growing up in Houston, our family always tuned in for “Curly Fox and Texas Ruby” and they were always so much fun to watch. They also had a guy who could really play steel guitar. I loved to hear Ruby yodel.

    Sharon Caudle Craig
  9. Does any old film exist of Ruby singing?

    • Not that I know of. If you find any footage I would appreciate knowing. Thanks. Picture of the Owens family. Date unknown. Ruby on front row. 2nd from left.

  10. No live performances that I know of. Will be glad to post it if one of our many visitors knows of something.

  11. When my brother and I were small boys in the early 1950s we lived near Curly Fox and Texas Ruby’s home on Almeda-Genoa Road, and watched their local show every week on TV. That part of Houston’s outskirts was not all that populated back then. The school bus that took us to Garden Villas Elementary passed close to their house, which I remember as a big ranch style (and by that I mean wagon wheels) set back from the road. We got to go to a party with our parents there once, though I don’t recall how Mom and Dad knew them. I’m thinking it may have been through my Uncle Jack White, who was a member of the Harris County Sheriff’s Mounted Posse. We also went trick-or-treating there at least once. I was completely agog that they were the same people who were on our TV. every week.

  12. Thanks for writing, Chris. Always interesting to hear about real-life experiences with the stars.

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