The Story Behind The Song: ”El Paso City” – Marty Robbins

Marty Robbins

Once country music drifted away from the “country and western” concept, Marty Robbins remained one of the few artists who continued to use western cowboy tales as a primary element of his repertoire.


Cowboy star Gene Autry had been a source of inspiration during Robbins’ formative years, and Marty went on to appear in a number of westerns of his own.

Among at least eleven films, his credits include the 1957 picture “Raiders Of Old California”, 1973’s “Guns Of A Stranger” with Chill Wills, and the 1963 movie “Ballad Of A Gunfighter” based on Robbins’ recordings “San Angelo” and “El Paso.”

With Spanish guitar licks by Grady Martin (a member of Nashville’s elite “A-Team” group of musicians) and back-up vocals by Tompall & the Glaser Brothers, 1959’s “El Paso” was a landmark recording in country music.

It ran over four minutes in length (unheard of at the time) and occupied the top spot on Billboard’s country chart for seven weeks. It also topped the Billboard pop chart for two weeks, becoming the first #1 pop single of the 1960s.

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