NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Porter Wagoner was known for a string of
country hits in the '60s, perennial appearances at the Grand Ole Opry in his trademark rhinestone suits, and for launching the career of Dolly Parton.
Like many older performers, his star had faded in recent years. But his death from lung cancer Sunday, at 80, came only after a remarkable late-career revival that won him a new generation of fans.
The Missouri-born Wagoner signed with RCA Records in 1955 and joined the Opry in 1957, "the greatest place in the world to have a career in country music," he said in 1997. His showmanship, suits and pompadoured hair made him famous.
He had his own syndicated TV show, "The Porter Wagoner Show," for 21 years beginning in 1960. It was one of the first syndicated shows to come out of Nashville and set a pattern for many others.
"Some shows are mechanical, but ours was not polished and slick," he said in 1982.
Among his hits, many of which he wrote or co-wrote, were "Carroll County Accident," "A Satisfied Mind," "Company's Comin'," "Skid Row Joe," "Misery Loves Company" and "Green Green Grass of Home."
The songs often told stories of tragedy or despair. In "Carroll County Accident," a married man having an affair is killed in a car crash; "Skid Row Joe" deals with a once-famous singer who's lost everything.
In 2002, he was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame.
To many music fans, Wagoner was best known as the man who boosted Parton's career. He had hired the 21-year-old singer as his duet partner in 1967, when she was just beginning to gain notice through songs such as "Dumb Blonde."
(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)