First off I want to THANK my buddy Dave Dowda, many people from the Country Music Hall Of Fame, and many more. There were countless emails and phone calls picking people’s brains about this article. This man was quite an obscure contributor to Country Music and Rockabilly alike, and I knew very little about him..and now I know a LOT about him.
He was especially intriguing to me because he was very close to Hank and Audrey Williams and often visited their home on Franklin Road in Nashville. He was present at their home when Hank Williams finished the song ‘I Saw The Light” and was the first person to ever hear Hank play the song in person, and as a result of that he began a ministry in the Georgia area in 1957 and continued to preach the Gospel until his passing on January 13th 2016 at age 90.
He began playing the guitar and mandolin at the age of twelve in Georgia where he was born, his father was always supportive of him. He began recording and writing music at age seventeen and was featured on many radio programs in his local area. He noted that Roy Acuff was his absolute idol and up to his death he admired and molded his style to imitate Roy Acuff’s.
He began performing live in 1952 which was right around the beginning of the decline of another of his musical heroes, one whom is often heralded to be the greatest songwriter of all time..Hank Williams. Hank Williams invited Hoyt and his wife to spend the day with them and he also was invited to spend time with Carl Smith who was then married to June Carter, as a result of these invitations he remained good friends with both people.
In 1954 America came to an abrupt halt as word poured out of Ohio on New Year’s Eve that Hank Williams was found dead in the back of an automobile en route to Ohio for a show. Having been given a sedative for his pain he was pronounced dead of heart failure at only thirty. Hoyt Scoggins was one of the few that were invited to speak at Hank’s service which is still one of the largest public gathering in Alabama history.
His recording career began shortly after in 1954 for one of the most beloved labels in Country Music..Starday. He released seven songs he wrote at that time, and I recalled several of the co writers like Walter Bailes and Jim Odom.
Jesus Watches Over Me
The Old Chain Gang
One Heart One Love
Pathway Is Not Crowded
Walking In The Light
What’s The Price To Set Me Free
He was offered a national touring sponsorship and turned it down to pursue his ministry and began it in 1957. However I was told he did indeed open for national acts like Eddy Arnold and Porter Waggoner, Monroe Blaylock, Patsy cline, Archie Campbell and many more. All of his children had many musical talents and for four decades he served many churches and preached to millions of people.
Hoyt owned many labels and in his day and time had creative control over his own music, something many artists do today. Later in his life Hoyt sold his labels and his masters to the Starday label, as he was very close to the owner of that label. And in 2009 he was inducted into the Atlanta Country Music Hall Of Fame I also found a complete discography of his work so you can delve into him deeper now.