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Flashback: NFL Great Terry Bradshaw Has a Hit With a Hank Williams Classic

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback cut “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” in 1976, and revisited it on the Opry this week

In 1976, NFL quarterback Terry Bradshaw and the Pittsburgh Steelers earned their second consecutive Super Bowl trophy. Yet while his football career would eventually ensure him a spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Bradshaw was also moonlighting in another profession, that of country singer. Just two weeks after a fourth-quarter rally gave the Steelers a 21-17 victory over the Dallas Cowboys, Bradshaw debuted on the charts with what would become his best-selling single and the title cut of his debut LP, a crooning rendition of the Hank Williams classic “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry.”

Signed to Nashville’s Mercury Records — after auditioning for a label executive over the phone by singing another Williams classic, “Your Cheatin’ Heart” — Bradshaw’s NFL off-season included appearances at nightclubs and festivals catering to the country crowd. But his passion for music was hardly new. Growing up in Shreveport, Louisiana, Bradshaw sang sacred music in the choir at Shreveport’s Calvary Baptist Church, and heard country music on the hugely popular Louisiana Hayride, emanating from local radio station KWKH. His high-profile day job and a smooth vocal style reminiscent of Glen Campbell led “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” to Number 17 on the charts. As the single began climbing, he made the TV rounds, including an appearance on the syndicated music series Pop! Goes the Country.

In addition to the Williams tunes, Bradshaw’s album featured his takes on four Roger Miller songs, including “The Last Word in Lonesome Is Me.” Released as the follow-up to his hit, the single stiffed, landing at Number 90 before falling off the chart. Bradshaw would soon lose that record deal but in 1980 returned to the chart with one last minor hit.

Other aspects of Bradshaw’s foray into country music proved problematic — as when he performed in Dallas not long after the Steelers beat the Cowboys in Super Bowl X. Making his stage entrance, Bradshaw doffed a cowboy hat and waved a white flag, eliciting laughter from the crowd. But in 1979, following another Dallas defeat at the hands of the Steelers in Super Bowl XIII, Bradshaw was invited by country star Larry Gatlin to sing at his concert in Shreveport. This time, the Super Bowl MVP’s hometown crowd, which included a large number of Cowboys fans turned hostile, booing Bradshaw before he even sang a note. “I was stunned,” Bradshaw told UPI after the incident. “I realize this is a Dallas Cowboys’ town, but gosh, it’s only football.”

Proving he doesn’t take himself quite so seriously, earlier this year Bradshaw put on a Deer costume to perform Florida Georgia Line’s “Get Your Shine On” on the bizarre Fox music competition series The Masked Singer. But for the past several years he has also performed frequently with gospel artists the Isaacs. Nominated for a Grammy as executive producer of the eclectic family act’s 2016 LP Nature’s Symphony in 432, Bradshaw also sang on the record. On Tuesday night’s edition of the Grand Ole Opry (during which Luke Combs was asked to join the Opry), he appeared with the Isaacs to perform both “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” and a cover of the Eagles’ “Peaceful Easy Feeling,” which Bradshaw and the Isaacs performed together acoustically in 2016.

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