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Country Pioneer Ferlin Husky Dies At 85

Our Country

It's time to say goodbye to another country music legend in 2011. Ferlin Husky has passed away on St. Patrick's Day at the age of 85.

According to a report in the Tennessean, Husky, who suffered from congestive heart failure, died at his daughter's house in Westmoreland, Tennessee. He had a long history of heart issues, and was admitted to the hospital in critical condition early last week due to breathing problems.

Husky, who signed his first record deal in 1949 and charted nearly 50 singles from the '50s through the '70s, was consistently described as an innovator by peers and critics.

Born in Missouri, he moved to Bakersfield, California to become a DJ, and is credited with helping to build a country music scene in the state. His eventual foray into recording resulted in his long string of hits, including favorites "A Dear John Letter," "Gone," and "Wings of a Dove."

Additionally, Husky was one of the first country musicians to have a presence on television. A seasoned actor, he appeared in more than 18 movies over his lifetime, and has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Husky became a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame last year, with the legendary Charley Pride conducting his induction.

"There were a lot of years when nobody in the business could follow Ferlin Husky," Merle Haggard is quoted as saying. "He was the big live act of the day. A great entertainer."

"The main thing I'm proud of this is for my family and for the many people who want to see me go in there before I die," Ferlin said of his induction into the Hall. "It's a great honor."

Rest in peace, Ferlin. You will be missed. In his memory, here is a performance of his classic "Wings Of A Dove."

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