Rex Griffin

Induction Year: 1970

Birth Name: Alsie Griffin

Birth Date: 08-12-1912

Place of Birth: Sand Valley, Alabama

Death Date: 10-07-1958

Place of Death: New Orleans, Louisiana

Like many country performers of his generation, Rex Griffin was captivated by Jimmie Rodgers. Raised near Gadsden, Alabama, Griffin left farming and foundry work behind and began performing in the style of his idol around 1930. He traveled throughout the South, performing on radio stations during the next few years.

In 1935, Griffin signed a recording contract with Decca Records. During his next few years with the label, he supplemented his yodeling, Rodgers-style imitations with freshly original material.

In 1937, Rex Griffin struck gold with his suicide-themed "The Last Letter." If there had been country popularity charts in 1937, "The Last Letter" would surely have been listed as a #1 hit. The 1939 Jimmie Davis version of the song was also a big seller.

Western swing bandleader Hank Penny was the first to popularize Griffin's "Won't You Ride in My Little Red Wagon." It is now a country standard.

One of Griffin's key contributions to country music history was with a song he did not write. In 1939, he recorded a new version of Emmett Miller's 1928 hit "Lovesick Blues." It was Griffin's version of the song that Hank Williams later imitated and immortalized.

One of Rex Griffin's most popular songs is clouded by authorship confusion. Today Carl Perkins is listed as the writer of "Everybody's Tryin' to Be My Baby," but Rex Griffin wrote it, recorded it and released it as a single in 1936. Perkins was four years old at that time. The 1938 Roy Newman version of the song also credits Griffin as the song's writer.

World War II and its aftermath ushered in the hard-edged, electrified honky-tonk style of country music. Leaving his acoustic style behind, Griffin recorded with a full, electrified country band for King Records in 1946. But that session marked his recording swan song.

Plagued by diabetes, he went through extended periods of ill health during the next few years. In the 1950s, Ray Price recorded a number of Griffin songs. In 1955, Eddy Arnold introduced one more Griffin classic, "Just Call Me Lonesome."

As his health continued to fail, Griffin was assisted financially by longtime friend Ernest Tubb. Griffin was diagnosed with tuberculosis in 1957 and died a year later. Six years after the songwriter's passing, Tubb recorded an entire album of his friend's compositions. Titled Just Call Me Lonesome and Other Great Songs by Rex Griffin, it was released by Decca Records in 1964.

"An Old Faded Photograph"

Rex Griffin1936 
Hank Thompson1960 
Ernest Tubb1964 

"Answer to the Last Letter"

Rex Griffin1939 
Ray Price1951 

"Beyond the Last Mile"

Rex Griffin1939 
Ray Price1951 
Ernest Tubb1964 
Ray Price (remake)1967 

"Everybody's Tryin' to Be My Baby"

Rex Griffin1936 
Roy Newman1938 
Carl Perkins1957 
The Beatles1964 
George Harrison & Carl Perkins1986 
Lee Rocker1999 
Johnny Cash2003 
Eric Clapton & Friends2006 

"How Can I Be Sure"

(written with Ernest Tubb)

Rex Griffin1946 
Ernest Tubb1964 

"I Don't Love Anybody But You"

Rex Griffin1935 
Roy Newman1938 
Hank Penny1940 

"I Loved You Once"

(written with Jimmie Davis)

Ernest Tubb1964 

"I Think I'll Give Up"

Rex Griffin1939 
Ernest Tubb1964 

"I Told You So"

(written with Jimmie Davis)

Jimmie Davis1941 
Bob Crosby1941 
Ernest Tubb1964 

"I'll Never Tell You That I Love You"

Rex Griffin1939 
Ernest Tubb1964 

"I'm as Free as the Breeze"

(written with Ernest Tubb)

Rex Griffin1946 
Ernest Tubb1964 

"If You Call That Gone, Goodbye"

Rex Griffin1936 
Ernest Tubb1964 

"Just Call Me Lonesome"

Eddy Arnold1955 #2 country
Wanda Jackson1958 
Jim Reeves1959 
Kitty Wells & Red Foley1961 
The Wilburn Brothers1961 
Slim Whitman1963 
Jean Shepard1964 
Ernest Tubb1964 
Ray Price1965 
Dave Dudley1966 
Don Gibson1966 
Elvis Presley1967 
Billy Walker1967 
Dottie West1968 
Willie Nelson & Ray Price1980 

"Just Partners"

Rex Griffin1939 
Ernest Tubb1964 

"Let Forgiveness In"

(written with Webb Pierce)

Webb Pierce1961 #5 country
Mel Tillis1971 

"My Hillbilly Baby"

Rex Griffin1939 
Ernest Tubb1957 

"Over the River"

Rex Griffin1937 
Ernest Tubb1945 

"The Last Letter"

Rex Griffin1937 
Jimmie Davis1939 
Billy Cox & Cliff Hobbs1939 
Morris Brothers1939 
The Sons of Acadians1939 
Gene Autry1940 
Wilf Carter1940 
Hawkshaw Hawkins1948 
Hank Snow1951 
Tennessee Ernie Ford1955 
The Carter Family1956 
George Hamilton IV1960 
Tommy Collins1960 
Don Gibson1961 
Wanda Jackson1961 
Ramblin' Jack Elliott1961 
Willie Nelson1963 
Ernest Tubb1964 
The Blue Sky Boys1964 
Ray Price1965 
Faron Young1965 
Roy Clark1966 
Chet Atkins1965 
Grady Martin1967 
Marty Robbins1968 
Connie Smith1968 
Glen Campbell1968 
Jack Greene1969 
George Jones1972 
Asleep at the Wheel1974 
Willie Nelson (reissue)1976 #46 country
Waylon Jennings1976 
Merle Haggard1977 
The Osborne Brothers1991 

"The Walkin' Blues"

Rex Griffin1936 
Roy Newman1938 

"Won't You Ride in My Little Red Wagon"

Hank Penny1939 
Tex Williams1947 
Merle Travis1956 
Jimmy Wakely1958 
Hank Thompson1973 
Willie Nelson1981 
Ray Pennington1997 
Buddy Emmons1997 

Rex Griffin

Induction Year: 1970