Country music composer remembered
By By Carl Fitzgerald / special to The Star
Aug. 8, 2003
Redd Stewart, the pioneer composer and singer who co-wrote "Tennessee Waltz," has died in Louisville, Ky.
Stewart, along with his band-leader boss, Pee Wee King, co-authored the waltz classic in 1948 while they were traveling from Texas back to Nashville, where they lived for 10 years while King and his "Golden West Cowboys" appeared on Nashville's Grand Ole Opry. Redd Stewart joined the band in 1937, later replacing then-newcomer Eddy Arnold, who was King's vocalist.
King and Stewart also co-authored the million-seller song "Slow Poke" in the early 1950s and their own recording with RCA surpassed the million mark. King and Stewart along with Chilton Price wrote the standard "You Belong to Me."
Stewart told me in an interview in the 1970s, "Pee Wee and I wrote the lyrics down to Tennessee Waltz' on an old large matchbox that was empty, in the glove compartment of our vehicle." Stewart was King's lead vocalist for more than 50 years. Hamasa Temple Shriner James Skelton said, "Redd and Pee Wee were real buddies, as well as business associates. Their group, including the Collins Sisters dancers helped our Jimmie Rodgers Memorial Foundation shows a lot in the late 1970s."
Stewart's first country song to gain recognition was Ernest Tubb's World War II classic, "Soldier's Last Letter." Stewart was a member of the Songwriters Hall of Fame in Nashville and was also noted as a reading musician, writing his own music and playing guitar and violin.
King died in March 2000. Darlene Collins Stewart, Redd's wife, reportedly died a week prior to Redd's death.