Whatever Happend To The ‘Gotta Travel On’ Singer Billy Grammer?
The year was 1959. Dwight Eisenhower was deep into his second term as President of the United States. The Cold War was raging. The Space Race had begun. One decade was ending while another dawned.
And a young man named Billy Grammer had a huge pop hit. And a huge country hit. And he did it with one song. ‘Gotta Travel On’.
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Billy was the oldest of 13 kids born to a family in Illinois. After serving his country in World War II, Billy and his wife returned to his home state of Illinois and he began his music career.
It was after being signed by Monument Records in Nashville that Billy Grammer recorded a song written by Paul Clayton called ‘Gotta Travel On’. The song ended up being a Top 5 hit on both the pop music and country music charts. It sold well over a million copies and shortly after Billy became a long running performer on the fabled Grand Ole Opry.
By the way, did you know ‘Gotta Travel On’ was what Buddy Holly used to open his show on that ill fated final tour in 1959?
One more note: Billy Grammer recorded ‘Detroit City’ and had a minor hit with it in early 1963. Of course, it was Bobby Bare who recorded it and it became a country classic.
A final trivia fact: It was billy Grammer and The Travel On Boys Band that was playing in Laurel, Maryland at the rally in 1972 when George Wallace was shot.
Grammer suffered from a degenerative eye disease and eventually became completely blind. In 2009 he was honored by the Grand Ole Opry for his 50 year membership.
Billy passed away in 2011 at the age of 85 after suffering from a long term illness.