b. Robert Rainey Lunn, 28 November 1912, Franklin, Tennessee, USA, d. 1966. Little is known of Lunn’s early life, probably because of the fact that he apparently expected writers to pay for interviews. He may well have worked in vaudeville before he arrived on the Grand Ole Opry in 1930, with an act that included comedy and ventriloquism, but mainly the gimmick that led to him acquiring the pseudonym of ‘the Talking Blues Man’. A left-handed guitarist, he used a heavy guitar vamp as a backing, while he talked his way through recitations that sometimes contained countless verses (the practice had previously been used in the 20s by a vaudeville artist called Chris Bouchillon, whom Lunn may have seen). It is unlikely that comedy numbers such as ‘Tooth Picking Time In False Teeth Valley’ would ensure stardom today, but by the mid-30s, with his band the Talking Blue Boys, he was a very popularOpry act and remained so for many years (he also worked on occasions with Roy Acuff and his talking blues style was used later by folk-singer Woody Guthrie). A noted practical joker, Lunn would sometimes stand at the stage door and audition any would-be Opry members, who wrongly assumed him to be the stage manager, in the street. Apart from a break during military service in World War II, he remained on theOpry until 1958 and toured with Acuff to Australia and Hawaii in 1959. He very rarely sang and his recording career comprised a single Starday album. Lunn died following a heart attack in 1966.
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