Faron Young (February 25, 1932 â December 10, 1996) was an American country music singer and songwriter from the early 1950s into the mid-1980s and one of its most colorful stars. Hits including âIf You Ainât Lovinâ (You Ainât Livinâ)â and âLive Fast, Love Hard, Die Youngâ marked him as a honky tonk singer in sound and personal style; and his chart-topping singles âHello Wallsâ and âItâs Four In The Morningâ showed his versatility as a vocalist. Known as the Hillbilly Heartthrob, and following a movie role, the Singing Sheriff, Young’s singles reliably charted for more than 30 years. He committed suicide in 1996. Young is a member of the Country Music Hall of Frame.
Born in Shreveport, Louisiana, on February 25, 1932, Faron Young was the youngest of six children. He grew up on a dairy farm his family operated outside the city and began singing at an early age. He performed at the local Optimist Club and was discovered by Webb Pierce, who brought him to star on the Louisiana Hayride on KWKH-AM radio in 1951. He graduated from Fair Park High School that year and attended Centenary College of Louisiana.
Young recorded in Shreveport, but his first releases were on Philadelphiaâs Gotham Records. By February 1952, he was signed to Capitol Records, where he recorded for the next ten years. His first Capitol single appeared that spring.
Young moved to Nashville, Tennessee, and recorded his first chart hit, âGoinâ Steadyâ, in October 1952, but his career was sidetracked when he was drafted into the US Army the following month. The song hit the Billboard country charts while Young was in basic training. It peaked at number two, and the US Army Band took the young singer to replace Eddie Fisher on toursâits first country music singerâjust as âIf You Ainât Lovinââ was hitting the charts. He was discharged in November 1954.
From 1954 to 1962, Young recorded many honky tonk classics for Capitol, including the first hit version of Don Gibsonâs âSweet Dreamsâ. Most famous was âHello Walls,â a 1961 crossover hit for Young written by Willie Nelson. It sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc.
During the mid-1950s, Young starred in four low-budget movies: Hidden Guns, Daniel Boone, Trail Blazer, Raiders of Old California and Country Music Holiday. He appeared as himself in cameo roles and performances in later country music movies and was a frequent guest on television shows throughout his career, including ABC-TVâs Ozark Jubilee. His band, the Country Deputies, was one of country musicâs top bands and they toured for many years. He invested in real estate along Nashvilleâs Music Row in the 1960s and, in 1963, co-founded, with Preston Temple, the trade magazine, Music City News.
The same year, Young switched to Mercury Records and drifted musically, but by the end of the decade he had recaptured much of his fire with hits including âWine Me Upâ. Released in 1971, waltz-time ballad âItâs Four In The Morningâ written by Jerry Chesnut was one of Youngâs finest records and his last number one hit, also becoming his only major success in the United Kingdom, where it peaked at No. 3 on the pop charts. By the mid-1970s his records were becoming overshadowed by his behavior, making headlines in 1972 when he was charged with assault for spanking a girl in the audience at a concert in Clarksburg, West Virginia, who he claimed spat on him, and for other later incidents. In the mid-70s, Young was the spokesman for BC Powder.
Young signed with MCA Records in 1979 but the association lasted only two years. Nashville independent label Step One signed him in 1988 where he recorded into the early 1990s (including a duet album with Ray Price), then withdrew from public view. Though young country acts like BR5-49 were putting his music before new audiences in the mid-1990s, Young apparently felt the industry had turned its back on him. That, and despondency over his deteriorating health and the untimely death of his daughter, were cited as possible reasons why Young shot himself with a revolver on December 9, 1996. He died in Nashville the following day and was cremated.