1931 - 1999
Born Lecil Travis Martin in a small wooden house close to the railroad tracks in a small Texas town, Lecil grew up during the depression years, and had strong early memories of the hobos who rode the rails - sometimes stopping at his house asking for work.
He had been singing all his life, and by age 10 made his first radio broadcast. By the time he was a teenager he was found playing at honky tonks and jamborees. All of which ended when he chose a career in the United States Air Force where he logged some 10,000 hours as a flier during his 22 year hitch.
After retiring from the service in the 70's, he returned to performing with a new persona- Lecil looked back at his roots and developed a "Singing Hobo" look, complete with overalls, a battered jacket, old hat and beard and proceeded to go out and entertain in the style of his hard core country heroes like Jimmy Rodgers, Hank Williams Sr. and Lefty Frizzell. The idea came to him as he was stuck at a traffic light in Lincoln Nebraska:
"And there was an
old boy sitting on a boxcar, dressed the way I dress today, and he looked just
like a buddy of mine named Willie Wilson...""I said, There's Willie in
a boxcar, and that's where it came from"
Box Car Willie - 1997
Although Box Car Willie never had a hit single in the United States, his popularity was immense in Europe and by the early 80's finally joined the Grand Ole Opry and began to an increase in U.S. record sales.
Box Car Willie passed away April 12, 1999 of leukemia. He was 67.
His gentle country voice evoked memories, and will continue to do so.
© 1999 Eddie Bear Productions