• Inducted
    2000
  • Born
    February 25, 1932
  • Died
    December 10, 1996
  • Birthplace
    Shreveport, Louisiana

From the early 1950s through the mid-1970s, Faron Young ranked among the top stars and most colorful personalities of country music.

Faron Young’s signature hits like “If You Ain’t Lovin’ (You Ain’t Livin’)” and “Live Fast, Love Hard, Die Young” marked him as a honky-tonker in both sound and personal style, while other chart-topping singles like “Hello Walls” and “It’s Four in the Morning” showed off his versatility as a vocalist. A music industry entrepreneur, Young invested in Music Row real estate, and in the 1960s he published the influential trade paper Music City News. Though his career did not lack for controversy, Young’s voluble, outgoing personality was well received, and the entire community was as shocked as it was saddened when he died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound at age sixty-four.

Songs

It’s Four in the Morning
Faron Young

00:00  /  00:00

Hello Walls
Faron Young

00:00  /  00:00

Wine Me Up
Faron Young

00:00  /  00:00

If You Ain’t Lovin’ (You Ain’t Livin’)
Faron Young

00:00  /  00:00

Louisiana Beginnings and Capitol Hits

Born in Shreveport and raised on a farm outside town, Faron Young, as a teenager, was more interested in pop music than in country music. That changed, however, when his high school football coach, who moonlighted in a country band, started Young singing at the local Optimist club and nursing homes. Young then met Webb Pierce and began working with him in clubs and on Shreveport’s KWKH. By 1951, Young was appearing on the radio station’s feature program, the Louisiana Hayride.

Though recorded in Shreveport, Young’s first sides appeared on Philadelphia’s Gotham label. By February 1952, however, he had been signed to Capitol Records, for which he would record for the next ten years. His first Capitol single appeared that spring, and soon thereafter he moved to Nashville. He cut his first chart hit, “Goin’ Steady,” in October 1952, but his career got sidetracked when he was drafted into the army the following month. While in the service, he performed on army recruitment programs and continued to record. He was discharged in November 1954, just as “If You Ain’t Lovin’” was hitting the charts.

From 1954 to 1962, Young cut a slew of honky-tonk classics for Capitol, including the first hit version of Don Gibson’s “Sweet Dreams.” Most famous was “Hello Walls,” a crossover smash in 1961. It was written by Willie Nelson, who reportedly pitched the song to Young at Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge.

Videos

“It’s a Great Life”

Faron Young performs on Country Music Caravan, Show #60, 1966

“Live Fast, Love Hard, Die Young”

Faron Young performs on Country Music Caravan, Show #93, 1955

From 1954 to 1962, Young cut a slew of honky-tonk classics for Capitol, including the first hit version of Don Gibson’s “Sweet Dreams.” Most famous was “Hello Walls,” a crossover smash in 1961. It was written by Willie Nelson, who reportedly pitched the song to Young at Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge.

Later Recordings

In 1963, Young left Capitol to join Mercury Records. Though initially his Mercury catalog drifted through various bland Nashville Sound stylings, by the end of the decade, he had recaptured much of his hard country fire with hits like “Wine Me Up.” Released in 1971, the waltz-time ballad “It’s Four in the Morning” was one of Young’s finest records and his last #1 hit. By the mid-1970s, his records were becoming overshadowed by his salty persona. In 1972, for example, he made headlines when he spanked a six-year-old girl at a concert in Clarksburg, West Virginia, and was subsequently arrested for assault and fined $24.

In 1979, Young switched labels again, signing with MCA. The association lasted only two years, and little was heard from Young after that until the Nashville independent Step One picked him up in 1988. He recorded for Step One into the early 1990s and then withdrew from public view. Although young country acts like BR5-49 were exposing his music to a whole new audience in the mid-1990s, Young apparently felt the industry had turned its back on him. That and despondency over his deteriorating health were cited as possible reasons why Young shot himself on December 9, 1996. He died in Nashville the following day. —Daniel Cooper

Adapted from the Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum’s Encyclopedia of Country Music, published by Oxford University Press

Related Hall of Fame Members

We use cookies in the following ways: (1) for system administration, (2) to assess the performance of the website, (3) to personalize your experience, content and ads, (4) to provide social media features, and (5) to analyze our traffic. You consent to our cookies if you continue to use our website. Please consult instructions for your web browser to disable or block cookies, or to receive a warning before a cookie is stored on your computer or mobile device. Read our Privacy Policy.