. Country Music Hall of Famer Ferlin Husky, the innovative recording artist whose 1957 smash “Gone” helped usher in the pop-leaning Nashville Sound era, died Thursday at his daughter’s home in Westmoreland, Tenn. He was 85 and suffered from congestive heart failure.
Husky’s classic singles “Gone” and “Wings of a Dove” each topped country charts for 10 straight weeks, and each became Top 20 pop records. A well-rounded performer, Husky also starred in motion pictures and entertained with his comedic alter ego, “Simon Crum,” but he is best known for his contributions in sweetening the sound of Music Row in a way that allowed the music to appeal to twang-phobic audiences.
“By reaching No. 4 on the pop charts, ‘Gone’ demonstrated what became the ultimate goal for Nashville producers: A country hit that could ‘cross over’ to pop success,” wrote Rich Kienzle in the liner notes to Husky’s Vintage collection of Capitol Records material.
In addition to scoring hit records, Husky was a master of stagecraft, a dashing and energetic performer who impressed audiences and fellow artists.
“There were a lot of years when nobody in the business could follow Ferlin Husky,” Merle Haggard told The Tennessean last year. “He was the big live act of the day. A great entertainer.”