DR. HOOK: Cover to Cover
The song, Long Tall Texan, has been recorded by many singers including Jerry Woodard, The Beach Boys, Conway Twitty, The Kingsmen, Buck Owens, Lyle Lovett, Doug Supernaw and Jerry Reed.
Here is the story of the origin of the song. One night in 1957, a tall, rather lanky man in western entertainer clothes strode into an all-night diner on the Bessemer Highway near Birmingham, Alabama. He and his band, the Western Ramblers, had stopped in for a bite to eat while en route to an engagement.
A 17 year-old Birmingham lad named Henry Strzelecki took in with wide-eyed awe the man’s colorful attire, his large, white Stetson, big shiny boots, easy gait, and height.
Then Strzelecki wrote the famous song that became a million-selling hit recorded by Murry Kellum. The song the lad penned was entitled Long Tall Texan and its subject was none other than Tex Ritter.
Henry Strzelecki became an elite bass player in country music, playing in Hee Haw’s “Million Dollar Band,” the “Nashville Superpickers,” and over his storied career, playing bass for Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash, Chet Atkins, Loretta Lynn, Ray Charles, Roy Orbison, Jim Reeves, Boxcar Willie, George Strait, Elvis, Charlie Rich, and many more. The list of recordings on which he worked—usually as bassist, but sometimes also as a singer and occasionally on mouth organ, or as a producer—is prodigious, and encompasses the work of just about every star to come out of Nashville since the early '60s.
Sadly, he passed away after being struck by a car while out for a walk on December 22, 2015. He received severe injuries including major head trauma in the accident. He was in a coma and died on December 30.
Here is the original recording of the song by Murry Kellum: