"His name was 'Texas' Bob Heckle. He had two little books of poetry he would sell. I used to sing him church songs and he would tell me stories. A lot of the songs I've written, with the exception of "El Paso", were brought about because of stories he told me. Like "Big Iron" I wrote because he was a Texas Ranger. At least he told me he was."One of his early idols was Gene Autry. Marty worked mornings picking cotton at a field ten miles away from home to earn enough money to see the his newest film. When he got there, he would sit in the first row "close enough so I could have gotten sand in the eyes and powder burns from the guns… I wanted to be the cowboy singer, simply because Autry was my favorite singer. No one else inspired me."
(Print on right by Betty Harper)
"later maintained that his father hated him and that his early childhood was unhappy. Reports indicate that John Robinson suffered from a drinking problem that led to him abusing his family before eventually leaving his wife, Emma, to cope alone with their seven children plus the two from her previous marriage. At one time, they lived in a tent in the desert, but in 1937 his parents divorced and Emma and the children moved to a shack in Glendale, where she took in laundry to support the family."As a young teenager, Marty broke horses with older brother on a ranch near Phoenix. He attended school in Glendale, but he never graduated. By the early 1940's he left home and to live as a hobo, frequently engaging in petty crime. Then in May 1943, at the age of 19, he joined the US Navy for three years. He saw action in the Pacific. It was at this time that he acquired a love for Hawaiian music, learning to play guitar and writing and singing songs.
"..…Columbia, fearing racial repercussions, would not let him release them. However, his guitarist and backing vocalist, Bobby Sykes' recordings of the songs were released on the Sims label. He used the pseudonym Johnny Freedom, but sounded so much like his boss that for years many people have believed the recordings were Robbins himself. (Marty's own recordings were later released by Bear Family on the album 'Pieces of Your Heart'.)"In 1969 Frankie Laine had a pop hit with "You Gave Me a Mountain" and Johnny Bush had the country version. Maty's own version was never released as a single. Marty appeared in the TV Series "The Drifter" in the 1960's. He starred in eight films including "Hell on Wheels," "The Nashville Story," "Ballad of a Gunfighter," "Road to Nashville" and "From Nashville with Music." He also wrote a western novel, "The Small Man."
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