On this day 19 years ago (as of 2013), the world lost yet another of it’s treasures in the form of Ken Carson. Kenny, after struggling for several months with declining health that no doctors could pinpoint, was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease only a day before he succumbed to the disease.
Ken had been active in his community up into the final two weeks of his life. He was so weak at the last that he had to be carried onstage, but he refused to stop singing. He loved to entertain, and he declared that “The day that the people don’t enjoy it, that’s the time that I’m going to hang it up.”
Kenny was a universal favorite. He was a gracious host and guest, and to use his own wordage, he was “just a wonderful pleasure” to be around. He enjoyed his wife, his dogs, his cooking, his golfing, and his singing. He was a social man who loved to mingle with people. He loved people, and they in turn regarded the lively little singer with affection.
“Ken was funny, lively, passionate, talkative, and an astoundingly good singer. He was in many ways a self-taught man. He………. could master almost any instrument in a matter of weeks. He knew how to grill the perfect steak, and how to take care of guests and make them feel special.” (Jon Carson, Ken’s grandson)
Born in November of 1914, Ken Carson began to show musical tendencies at the age of 12. He latched onto performing soon thereafter and never looked back, his career spanning over 65 years! (You can read more detailed accounts beginning here, or read his entire biography here.) Starting ‘officially’ with the famous Beverly Hill Billies, moving onto the Ranch Boys, and gaining his greatest fame with the renoun Sons of the Pioneers, Kenny’s honey-smooth tenor was called “Better than Sinatra” by many (a sentiment which I would heartily agree with!).
The world lost one of it’s gems when Ken Carson died nineteen years ago today. But Ken as a man and as a voice hasn’t been forgotten.
In memory of Kenny, there have been some exceptionally pretty songs uploaded to the Ken Carson Tribute YouTube channel, and over the course of the next few weeks, there will be a great deal more.
The most recent uploads in honor of Ken:
Goodbye, Old Paint (from Kenny’s 1962 record album Treasury of the Golden West)
On Top of Old Smokey (Whistled by Kenny, from his 1962 record album Treasury of the Golden West)
Home on the Range (from a 1946 movie with Monte Hale– Ken Carson in the blue shirt with the Sons of the Pioneers)
King of the Road (a late-in-life recording from Ken’s own personal collection)
On the Alamo (from the late 40s when Ken was recording with Henry Russel and his Hollywood Orchestra)
Whispering Hope (from Kenny’s 1962 record album Treasury of the Golden West)
To view an entire playlist with Ken-related songs and videos, view Ken Carson: Better than Sinatra