Boxcar Willie

Lecil Travis Martin (September 1, 1931 – April 12, 1999), whose stage name was Boxcar Willie, was an American country music singer-songwriter and Air Force personnel sergeant, who sang in the "old-time hobo" music style, complete with dirty face, overalls, and a floppy hat.[2] "Boxcar Willie" was originally a character in a ballad he wrote, but he later adopted it as his own stage name.[3]

Boxcar Willie
Birth nameLecil Travis Martin
Also known asBoxcar Willie
BornSeptember 1, 1931
Ellis County, Texas, U.S.
DiedApril 12, 1999 (aged 67)
Branson, Missouri, U.S.
GenresCountry, gospel
InstrumentsVocals, guitar, train whistle
Military career
Allegiance United States
Service/branch United States Air Force
Years of service1949–1976
RankMaster sergeant E7[1]
Battles/warsKorean War


Martin was born in Sterrett, Texas in 1931. He joined the United States Air Force in 1949, and served as a flight engineer for the B-29 Super Fortress during the Korean War in the early 1950s. In Lincoln, Nebraska, Martin was once sitting at a railroad crossing and a fellow that closely resembled his chief boom operator, Willie Wilson, passed by sitting in a boxcar. He said, "There goes Willie." He pulled over and wrote a song entitled "Boxcar Willie". It eventually stuck and became Martin's nickname. There is no relation to the fictitious character, bearing the same name, as featured in the CJCLS commercial that aired ~1985. In 1962, Martin met his future wife, Lloene, in Boise, Idaho. They would later have four children.

In San Jose, California, Martin attended a talent show as "Boxcar Willie" and performed under the nickname for the first time. He won first place, a $150 prize and a nickname that he would forever go by. That was his part-time vocation, however; he was still in the Air Force and had been flying daily missions. He later became a Flight Engineer on Boeing KC-97 Stratofreighter aircraft in the 136th ARW in the Texas Air National Guard, including air refueling flights around the U.S. and overseas in Germany.

In the early seventies, Lecil was in the Texas Air National Guard as a Flight Engineer on KC-97L tanker aircraft, participating in Operation Creek Party by flying over the Atlantic to Germany many times to do air-to-air refueling there. He was in the 136th Air Refueling Wing, 181st Air Refueling Squadron.

In 1976, Martin retired from the Air Force and became a full-time performer. One of his first national appearances was a win on Chuck Barris' The Gong Show. He entered American mainstream pop culture consciousness due to a series of television commercials for record compilations of artists who were obscure in the United States, yet had large international followings, such as Slim Whitman and Gheorghe Zamfir. He went on to become a star in country music. In 1981, Martin achieved a professional landmark by being inducted into the Grand Ole Opry as its 60th member. His was more than a US success too, with his 1980 album King of the Road giving him his greatest chart success by reaching #5 in the UK pop charts [1]. Traveling around the world with his band, was his steadfast and trusty steel guitar player Chubby Howard, radio show host and musician for many years.

In 1985, Martin moved to Branson, Missouri and purchased a theater on Highway 76, or 76 Country Music Boulevard. In addition to the Boxcar Willie Theater, he opened a museum and eventually had two motels, both bearing his name. Boxcar Willie was one of the first big stars to open a show in Branson, paving the way for the other nationally-known names that followed.[4] He performed at his theater in Branson until he died.

On February 23, 1992, Boxcar Willie was featured on the Season 2 premier of Tracks Ahead in which he performed with his band at the Boxcar Willie Theater.


Diagnosed with leukemia in 1996, Martin died on April 12, 1999 in Branson, Missouri at age 67. He was subsequently buried at Ozarks Memorial Park in Branson.[5] Major league baseball umpire "Cowboy" Joe West was among his pallbearers.


After a major reconstruction project, the overpass at Interstate 35E and Farm to Market Road 664 in Red Oak, Texas (also known as Ovilla Road, approximately four miles east of Ovilla) was renamed Boxcar Willie Memorial Overpass. A small park, two blocks from the National Mall, near the L'Enfant Plaza Station in Washington, D.C. was renamed Boxcar Willie Park. Boxcar Willie's legacy also includes being named "America's Favorite Hobo".



Year Album Chart Positions Label
US Country CAN
1976 Boxcar Willie Column One
1978 Daddy Was A Railroad Man
1979 Boxcar Willie Sings Hank Williams And Jimmie Rodgers
1980 Take Me Home
Greatest Hits - Boxcar Willie
1981 King of the Road 54 35 Main Street
1982 Last Train to Heaven featuring Lee Gentry 27
Best of Boxcar, Vol. 1 34
1983 ...Not the Man I Used to Be 35
1986 Boxcar Willie Dot Records


1988 Live At Wembley Pickwick Records
Best Loved Favorites Heartland Music
1991 Pure Country Magic
Truck Driving Favorites Madacy Entertainment
1993 Rocky Box: Rockabily (With The Skeletons) K-Tel Records
1994 The Spirit Of America Madacy Entertainment
1996 Achy Breaky Heart
2004 American Songs - The Very Best of Johnny Cash & Boxcar Willie Retro Records


Year Single Chart Positions Album
US Country CAN Country
1980 "Train Medley" 95 Take Me Home
1982 "Bad News" 36 15 Last Train to Heaven
"We Made Memories" (w/ Penny DeHaven) 77
"Last Train to Heaven" 80
"Keep on Rollin' Down the Line" 70
1983 "Country Music Nightmare" 76 Best of Boxcar, Vol. 1
"Train Medley" (re-release) 61
"The Man I Used to Be" 44 ...Not the Man I Used to Be
1984 "Not on the Bottom Yet" 87
"Luther" 69


  1. ^ "Martin, Lecil Travis, MSgt". Retrieved 6 September 2015.
  2. ^ Malone, Bill C. Country music, U.S.A., University of Texas Press, 2002, p. 277.
  3. ^ Mazor, Barry. Meeting Jimmie Rodgers: How America's Original Roots Music Hero Changed the Pop Sounds of a Century, Oxford University Press, 2009, p. 291.
  4. ^ "BoxCar Willie" Archived November 7, 2004, at the Wayback Machine, Salon obituary, April 14, 1999.
  5. ^ Handbook of Texas Music
  6. ^ DVD


1982 in country music

This is a list of notable events in country music that took place in the year 1982.

Andy Rodgers (musician)

Andy Rodgers (March 14, 1922 – August 14, 2004) was an American Delta blues harmonicist, guitarist, singer, and songwriter. A flamboyant character, commonly known as the Midnight Cowboy, Rodgers worked part-time as a musician for most of his lifetime. He recorded two albums in the 1990s.

In his lengthy career, Rodgers variously performed with Carey Bell, Junior Wells, Billy Boy Arnold, Raful Neal, Kenny Neal, Little Walter, Phillip Walker, T-Bone Walker, Little Milton, Cab Calloway, Charles Brown, Boxcar Willie, Rose Maddox, Mickey Gilley, Willie Nelson, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Sonny Rhodes, and David "Honeyboy" Edwards. Rodgers also appeared on television programs, including the Gong Show, You Bet Your Life, and Good Morning America.

Convoy (song)

"Convoy" is a 1975 novelty song performed by C. W. McCall (a character co-created and voiced by Bill Fries, along with Chip Davis) that became a number-one song on both the country and pop charts in the US and is listed 98th among Rolling Stone magazine's 100 Greatest Country Songs of All Time. Written by McCall and Chip Davis, the song spent six weeks at number one on the country charts and one week at number one on the pop charts. The song went to number one in Canada as well, hitting the top of the RPM Top Singles Chart on January 24, 1976. "Convoy" also peaked at number two in the UK. The song capitalized on the fad for citizens band (CB) radio. The song was the inspiration for the 1978 Sam Peckinpah film Convoy.

List of train songs

A train song is a song referencing passenger or freight railroads. Trains have been a theme in both traditional and popular music since the first half of the 19th century and over the years have appeared in all major musical genres, including folk, blues, country, rock, jazz, world, classical and avant-garde. While the prominence of railroads in the United States has faded in recent decades, the train endures as a common image in popular song.The earliest known train songs date to two years before the first public railway began operating in the United States. "The Carrollton March", copyrighted July 1, 1828, was composed by Arthur Clifton to commemorate the groundbreaking of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad. Another song written for the occasion, "Rail Road March" by Charles Meineke, was copyrighted two days after Clifton's, one day before the July 4 ceremonies. The number of songs that have appeared since then is impossible to determine, not only because of the difficulties in documenting the songs but also in defining the genre.Following is a list of about 1,000 songs by artists worldwide, alphabetized by song title. Most have appeared on commercially released albums and singles and are notable for either their composers, the musicians who performed them, or their place in the history of the form. Besides recorded works, the list includes songs that preceded the first wax cylinder records of the late 1800s and were published as either broadsides or sheet music.

Mike Snider (musician)

Mike Snider, (born May 5, 1961), is an American banjo player and humorist. He specialized in "old-time" mountain music which is a stylistic that can be traced back to the core beginnings of country music. He learned to play banjo at the age of 16. Although he is well known for comedic routine, he is a well respected banjo player. Much of his comedy is based on stories about his wife, Sabrina, referred to as Sweetie.

Penny DeHaven

Penny DeHaven (born Charlotte DeHaven; May 17, 1948 – February 23, 2014) was an American country and gospel music singer and actress. At the beginning of her career, she recorded as Penny Starr.

Born Charlotte DeHaven in 1948 in Winchester, Virginia, she is best known for her country hit singles in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Her biggest hit was "Land Mark Tavern", a duet with Del Reeves in 1970.

DeHaven’s other singles included country remakes of such pop hits as Billy Joe Royal’s "Down in the Boondocks" (1969), The Beatles’ "I Feel Fine" (1970), The Everly Brothers’ "Crying in the Rain" (with Reeves, 1972), and Marvin Gaye’s "I'll Be Doggone" (1974).Her albums included 1972’s Penny DeHaven and 2011’s gospel collection A Penny Saved.As an actress, she made two guest appearances on the CBS-TV/syndicated TV show Hee Haw in 1972-73. She also appeared in the movies Traveling Light, Country Music Story, the 1973 horror movie Valley of Blood, and the 1974 TV series Funny Farm.

DeHaven died from cancer on February 23, 2014, at the age of 65.

Phantom 309

"Phantom 309" is a song written by Tommy Faile and released as a single by Red Sovine in 1967. It was a minor hit, peaking at number nine on the Billboard Magazine Country chart.

Red Sovine

Woodrow Wilson "Red" Sovine (July 7, 1917 – April 4, 1980) was an American country music singer and songwriter associated with truck driving songs, particularly those recited as narratives, but set to music. The most noted examples are his 1965 number one hit "Giddyup Go" and his 1976 number one hit "Teddy Bear".

Roll in My Sweet Baby's Arms

"Roll in My Sweet Baby's Arms" is an American traditional song. It seems to have developed from lyrics in the cowboy song "My Lula Gal", itself a development of bawdy British and Appalachian songs generally known as "Bang Bang Rosie" or "Bang Away Lulu.

The Flatt & Scruggs version was first released as a single by Lester Flatt, Earl Scruggs and the Foggy Mountain Boys, on December 14, 1951. Buck Owens released his cover version "Rollin' in My Sweet Baby's Arms" in August 1971 as the second single from his album Ruby. The song peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart. It also reached number 1 on the RPM Country Tracks chart in Canada.

Stoney Cooper

Dale Troy Cooper (October 16, 1918–March 22, 1977), known professionally as Stoney Cooper, was an American country star and member of the Grand Ole Opry. He was a master of the fiddle and the guitar.

The Cattle Call

"The Cattle Call" is a song written and recorded in 1934 by American songwriter and musician Tex Owens. It became a signature song for Eddy Arnold. Members of the Western Writers of America chose it as one of the Top 100 Western songs of all time.Owens wrote the song in Kansas City while watching the snow fall. "Watching the snow, my sympathy went out to cattle everywhere, and I just wished I could call them all around me and break some corn over a wagon wheel and feed them. That's when the words 'cattle call' came to my mind. I picked up my guitar, and in thirty minutes I had wrote the music and four verses to the song," he said. He recorded it again in 1936.

The Pressure Is On

The Pressure Is On is a studio album by American country music artist Hank Williams, Jr.. It was released by Elektra/Curb Records in August 1981 and was Williams' seventh studio album on the Elektra/Curb label.

Truck Drivin' Man

"Truck Drivin' Man" is a popular country song written and recorded by Terry Fell in 1954. One of his band members, Buck Owens, sang harmony with him on the recording.

In 1965, Owens recorded the song himself, omitting the fourth verse - "When I get my call up to glory, They will take me away from this land, I'll head this truck up to Heaven, 'Cause I'm a truck drivin' man."Others who have recorded the song include Ricky Nelson, Boxcar Willie, Charley Pride, Bill Anderson, Conway Twitty, Jimmy Martin, Dave Dudley, Red Simpson, Jim & Jesse, Charlie Walker, The Flying Burrito Brothers, George Hamilton IV, Glen Campbell, New Riders of the Purple Sage, Willie Nelson, Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen, Anthony Field, Plainsong, David Allan Coe, Leon Russell, Toby Keith, Aaron Tippin, Robert Walker, the J. Geils Band, and Canadian musician Dick Nolan. "Truck Drivin' Man" is also covered by Nordre Sving Blandede Mannskor og Orkester as "Trailersjåfør", with Norwegian lyric by Finn Sidselrud.

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