Obie McClinton (Thursday 25 April 1940 - Wednesday 25 September 1987): An Appreciation
Obie Burnett McClinton was born on Thursday 25 April 1940 in Senatobia, Mississippi; he was the second-youngest child born to Reverend G. A. McClinton, a clergyman and farmer, who owned his own 700-acre ranch in Mississippi, not far from Memphis, Tennessee.
Obie McClinton listened to Hank Williams (Monday 17 September 1923 - Thursday 1 January 1953) as a child, thus sparking his initial interest in country music and subconsciously shaping his singing style.
After high school, Obie McClinton ran away from home and headed for San Francisco. However, he only reached Memphis; while there, in a Beale Street shop, he bought his first guitar.
With his travel money gone, Obie McClinton returned home; he won a choir scholarship to Rust College in Holly Springs, Mississippi where he sang in the acappella choir. In 1966, Obie McClinton graduated after four years of study. Soon after, he was drafted into the Army, but as this didn't please him, he volunteered for the Air Force during December 1966.
While in the Armed Forces, Obie McClinton began winning service talent shows and, as a result, he spent a lot of time entertaining and writing rhythm and blues songs; this led to a writing contract from Fame Publishing Company in Muscle Shoals, Alabama.
Obie McClinton remained in the services for four years and, following discharge, his original rhythm and blues songs became popular.
Otis Redding (Tuesday 9 September 1941 - Sunday 10 December 1967) recorded Obie McClinton's 'Keep Your Arms Around Me' and included the track on 'The Great Otis Redding Sings Soul Ballads' (Volt Records / Stax Records, 1965).
James Carr (Saturday 13 June 1942 - Sunday 7 January 2001) recorded Obie McClinton's 'You've Got My Mind Messed Up' and included the track on 'You Got My Mind Messed Up' (Goldwax Records, 1966); the track reached No.7 on the Billboard Rhythm & Blues Chart in 1966, and No.63 on the Billboard pop music singles chart in 1963.
James Carr (Saturday 13 June 1942 - Sunday 7 January 2001) recorded Obie McClinton's 'Lovable Girl' and included the track on 'You Got My Mind Messed Up' (Goldwax Records, 1966).
James Carr (Saturday 13 June 1942 - Sunday 7 January 2001) recorded Obie McClinton's 'Forgetting You' and included the track on 'You Got My Mind Messed Up' (Goldwax Records, 1966).
James Carr (Saturday 13 June 1942 - Sunday 7 January 2001) recorded Obie McClinton's 'She's Better Than You' and included the track on 'You Got My Mind Messed Up' (Goldwax Records, 1966).
James Carr (Saturday 13 June 1942 - Sunday 7 January 2001) recorded Obie McClinton's 'A Man Needs a Woman' and included the track on 'A Man Needs a Woman' (Goldwax Records, 1968); the track reached No.16 on the Billboard Rhythm & Blues Chart in 1968, and No.63 on the Billboard pop music singles chart in 1968.
Although Obie McClinton attempted to become a rhythm & blues singer, he was not successful in doing so.
While he was in the Air Force, a friend had introduced him to a Charley Pride album and this encouraged Obie to further his career. He wrote some country songs and then made a demo tape.
One day in a hotel, Obie McClinton met an ex-deejay friend of his named Al Bell, who had since become a top executive for Stax Records and Obie played him his demo tape of country songs.
The result of this chance meeting was a recording contract, which was signed on Tuesday 12 January 1971 and, as a result, Obie McClinton became the first country music artist on the Stax Country record label, Enterprise Records.
Between 1972 and 1975, Obie McClinton achieved seven Billboard country music chart hit singles on Enterprise Records, including the following:
'Six Pack of Trouble' (No.70, 1972)
'Don't Let The Green Grass Fool You' (No.37, 1972) / this track was included on Obie McClinton's 'Obie From Senatobie' (Enterprise Records, 1972)
'My Whole World is Falling Down' (No.36, 1973) / this track was included on Obie McClinton's 'Obie From Senatobie' (Enterprise Records, 1972)
'I Wish It Would Rain' (No.67, 1973)
'Something Better' (No.62, 1974)
'If You Loved Her That Way' (No.86, 1974)
'Yours & Mine' (No.77, 1974)
In 1975, Stax Records went out of business and, as a consequence, Obie McClinton moved over to Mercury Records in 1976, where he saw the release of the single 'It's So Good Lovin' You', which, sadly, only reached No.100 on the Billboard country music singles chart in 1976.
Billy 'Crash' Craddock recorded Obie McClinton's 'Footprints on The Windshield Upside Down' (co-written with Bill Carlisle) and included the track on 'Crash' (ABC Records / Dot Records, 1976).
For a number of years during the 1970s, Obie McClinton relied on his live work.
In 1978, Obie McClinton signed to Epic Records and saw the release of the following four Billboard country music singles:
'Hello, This is Anna' (No.90, 1978) / this track was a duet with Peggy Jo Adams
'Natural Love' (No.82, 1978)
'The Real Thing' (No.79, 1979)
'Soap' (No.58, 1979)
In 1980, Obie McClinton moved to Sunbird Records and had a moderate hit with 'Not Exactly Free' (No.62, 1980), which was included on 'The Chocolate Cowboy' (Sunbird Records, 1980); Obie McClinton was also credited as 'The Chocolate Cowboy'.
George Jones (Saturday 12 September 1931 - Friday 26 April 2013) recorded Obie McClinton's 'Ol' George Stopped Drinkin' Today' and included the track on 'Shine On' (Epic Records, 1983).
'Not Exactly Free' (No.62, 1980) was Obie McClinton's last Billboard chart record until 1984, when he achieved a Billboard hit single with 'Honky Tonk Tan' (No.69, 1984), which was releassed on Moonshine Records.
Gene Watson recorded Obie McClinton's 'The New York Times' and included the track on 'Memories to Burn' (Epic Records, 1985).
On Monday 9 May 2011, England's Hux Records released 'Memories to Burn' (Epic Records, 1985), along with 'Starting New Memories' (Epic Records, 1986), as a special '2-for-1' CD set; the '2-for-1' CD set was released world-wide on Tuesday 17 May 2011.
In 1986, Obie McClinton became ill as a result of abdominal cancer; members of the country music community, including Ricky Skaggs, Reba McEntire, Exile, Tom T. Hall, Ronnie McDowell, Buddy Killen (Sunday 13 November 1932 - Wednesday 1 November 2006), Ralph Emery, Billy Deaton, Kathy Mattea, Larry Gatlin & The Gatlin Brothers and Waylon Jennings (Tuesday 15 June 1937 - Wednesday 13 February 2002) rallied around and put on a star-studded benefit concert to help to defray his medical expenses.
At this time, 'The Chocolate Cowboy', as Obie McClinton styled himself, was on an upward swing and had just seen the release of a new television marketed album, 'The Only One' (Epic Records, 1987), which Obie McClinton considered his best album.
In 1987, Obie McClinton found himself back on Epic Records with a hit single on the Billboard country music singles chart, 'Turn The Music On' (No.61, 1987), a track from his highly acclaimed 'The Only One' (Epic Records, 1987), which is considered by many to be his finest album release.
Obie McClinton's 'The Only One' (Epic Records, 1987) also included the following tracks:
'The Only One'
'Still a Wanted Man'
'(Country Music is) American Soul'
'Love is Like a Leaf in the Wind'
'Good Morning Love Look'
'I Love Your Face'
'I Won't Let You Get Over Me'
Obie Burnett McClinton (Thursday 25 April 1940 - Wednesday 25 September 1987): Gravel Springs Cemetery, Tate County, Mississippi
Obie Burnett McClinton passed away on Wednesday 25 September 1987 after a year-long battle with abdominal cancer; his death was announced on The Nashville Network's 'Nashville Now' show, which was hosted by Ralph Emery.
Obie Burnett McClinton was buried in Gravel Springs Cemetery, Tate County, Mississippi.