Don Robertson

Induction Year: 1972


Birth Name: Donald Irwin - Don Robertson
Birth Date: December 05, 1922
Place of Birth: Peking, China



Biography

A shrink I was seeing (for my suicidal depression when I was 19) stated, after I had given him a recording of some of my work, that in his opinion the only reason I wanted to be in the music business was to get out of doing any REAL work. Maybe he was right. I still sit at the keyboard and PLAY. Anyway, I owe him. It made me mad enough to set my jaw and go after success in music. Thinking back, I don't think he was doing that well himself. He was about 200 pounds overweight, a heavy cigar smoker, and I can never remember him cracking a smile in a year and a half."

"I am now 71 years old and deeply and enthusiastically involved in songwriting again, after a long lull. I was in my fiftes, with more than forty chart level songs and a hit record under my belt, before I finally gave up the idea of going back to the University of Chicago and finishing pre-med and going on through medical school to become a psychiatrist. At long last, I now think of myself as a songwriter, not an aborted pre-med student/potential jazz piano recording star/classical music composer-conductor/concert pianist/etc etc etc.....gone awry. I guess it's about time."  Don Robertson

Former Occupations:
Pre-med student (University of Chicago)
Delivery boy
Photo-copy service
Electronics lab assistant

Education:
Grade School--University of Chicago Laboratory School
High School--University High School, Chicago (from 1934-1939)
College--University of Chicago (from 1939-1943)
College--Chicago Music College (as student-at-large) (from 1941-1943); studied orchestration, composition, and piano
 

 



Discography / Career Highlights

Career Milestones:

1936--became professional musician at age 14, playing local dance bands
1945--moved to Los Angeles
1953--got first songs published and cut by Hill and Range
1954--first major hit, "I Really Don't Want to Know," recorded by Eddy Arnold
1955--first totally self-penned (words and music) hit song, "Hummingbird"
1956--first hit record as an artist, "The Happy Whistler"
1956--established publishing firm Birchwood Music Company (name later changed to Don Robertson Music Corporation)
1959-1960--hit song "Please Help Me I'm Falling" launched new piano style (via Floyd Cramer) and led to an artist contract with RCA
1961--met Elvis Presley, leading to a friendship as well as a working relationship
1964--first #1 hit (Pop), "Ringo"
1967--received a Grammy nomination for "Does My Ring Hurt Your Finger" (Best Country & Western Song)
 


Awards:

1964--Billboard\#1 Pop Hit\Ringo


Catalog Highlights:

"I Really Don't Want to Know"- Co-writer: Howard Barnes, Artists: Eddy Arnold (1954), Elvis Presley (1970), Tommy Edwards (1960), Ronnie Dove (1966), Little Esther Phillips (1963), Solomon Burke (1962), Charlie McCoy (1972), Yoichi Sugawara (1967), Dolly Parton & Willie Nelson, Anne Murray, Ronnie Milsap, Boots Randloph, Perry Como, Andy Williams, Roy Clark, Al Martino, Kay Starr, Freddy Fender, Eydie Gorme, Connie Francis, Dinah Shore, Al Hirt, Ann Margret, Vic Damone, Rosemary Clooney, Danny Davis, Glen Campbell, Gene Pitney & George Jones, The McGuire Sisters, Red Foley, Tennessee Ernie Ford, Les Paul & Mary Ford, Skeeter Davis, Jimmy Wakely, The Flamingos, The Dominoes, John Davidson

"I Don't Hurt Anymore"- Co-writer: Jack Rollins, Artists: Hank Snow (1954), Dinah Washington (1954), Prairie Oyster (1990), Narvel Felts (1977), Linda Cassady (1977), Dottie West, Eddy Arnold, Red Foley, Eddy Fisher, Ann Margret, Brook Benton, Homer & Jethro, Connie Francis

"Please Help Me, I'm Falling" - Co-writer: Hal Blair, Artists: Hank Locklin (1960), Janie Fricke (1978), Rusty Draper (1960), Hank Locklin and Danny Davis & The Nashville Brass (1970), Conway Twitty and Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton and Tammy Wynette & Loretta Lynn, Freddy Fender, Red Foley, Bobby Darin, Charley Pride, Webb Pierce, Dave Dudley, The Everly Brothers, Duane Eddy, The Clebanoff Strings, Patti Page, Billy Swan, Nino Tempo & April Stevens, Tommy Edwards, Gogi Grant, Connie Francis and Hank Williams Jr., Slim Whitman, The Blue Ridge Rangers (John Fogerty), Lawrence Welk, Anita Bryant, Sweethearts of the Rodeo

"Ringo" - Co-writer: Hal Blair, Artists: Lorne Greene (1964)

"I Love You More and More Every Day" - Artists: Al Martino (1964), Sonny James (1973), Kitty Wells, Pat Boone, Connie Smith, Lawrence Welk, Marilyn Sellars

"Born to Be With You" - Artists: The Chordettes (1956), Sonny James (1968), Sandy Posey (1978), Patti Page, Leo Kottke, Dave Edmunds, Anne Murray, Frankie Laine, Billy Vaughn, Duane Eddy, The Young Americans, Jim Ed Brown & Helen Cornelius, Kitty Wells, The Wilburn Brothers

"Hummingbird"- Artists: Les Paul and Mary Ford (1955), The Chordettes (1955), Frankie Laine (1955), Glenn Yarbrough, Rose Maddox, The Timberland Four

"Does My Ring Hurt Your Finger" - Co-writer: Doris Clement, John Crutchfield, Artists: Charley Pride (1967)

"I'm Counting on You" - Artists: Elvis Presley (1956), Kitty Wells (1957), Red Foley, Johnny Nash, Buddy Ace, Sheila MacRae, Sonny Burgess

"Ninety Miles an Hour (Down a Dead End Street)" Co-writer: Hal Blair, Artists: Hank Snow (1963), Bob Dylan, Katy Moffett, John Berry

"You're Free to Go" - Co-writer: Lou Herscher, Artists: Carl Smith (1955), Sonny James (1977), Emmylou Harris, Jim Reeves, Rick Nelson, Julie London, Goldie Hill, Les Paul & Mary Ford

"Anything That's Part of You" - Artists: Elvis Presley (1962), Eddy Arnold, Billy J. Kramer, Lawrence Welk, Billy "Crash" Craddock

"There's Always Me" - Artists: Elvis Presley (1967), Ray Price (1979), Jim Reeves (1981), Dickie Rock (1963), Eddy Arnold


Comments:

Name displayed on the "Walkway of Stars" at the Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum in Nashville, TN

Has played piano, organ, trumpet, trombone and tenor horn; also an arranger and conductor

Created the "country style" of piano playing, later popularized by Floyd Cramer, and an adaptation of the Bluegrass banjo pickin' sound for the keyboard

Received 2 BMI performance awards and 18 ASCAP performance awards

The song "Pianjo," written and recorded by Robertson, is the opening tune of the Country Bear Jamboree at Disney Parks around the world
 

 

 

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