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Thursday, April 30, 2009

Porter Wagoner's Ties

“I like the ties Porter Wagoner used to wear. Where can I buy ones like them?” This was an interesting multi-faceted question; who is Porter Wagoner and what did his ties look like?

Wagoner was a country music star, who got his start singing on the local radio station three times a week from the grocery store where he worked [The Comprehensive Country Music Encyclopedia p.405]. Known as the “Thin Man From West Plains” (Missouri); he is famous for his grand showmanship and his rhinestone suits []. After signing Dolly Parton’s to his television show, they were duet partners for seven years [Comprehensive Country…p.406]. He died on October 28, 2007 at the age of 80.

The Internet was a great resource for photos of Wagoner and the ones on clearly showed examples of his ties. Some were small narrow bow ties with long tails; others appeared to be a neckerchief style also with long tails. Some of the latter had what looked to have a scarf slide at the neck. Searching for country western ties and neckerchiefs helped to identify the types Wagoner wore. The bow tie is known as a Kentucky bow tie or a Kentucky colonel bow tie. The other style is a western scarf tie, and seems to be reminiscent of neckerchiefs worn by cowboys. The style with the slide is the apache scarf tie. Our library patron will be able to search online or at stores that carry these ties. Wagoner also wore rhinestone covered, diamond shaped pieces between the openings of his collars. These had no tails and matched his jackets. We were unable to find any information about this type, and assume since they seem to match his rhinestone jackets, that they were custom made for him. Another popular style worn by many country singing stars is the bolo string tie.

For more information about Porter Wagoner, the library has a variety of books including Definitive Country: the ultimate encyclopedia of country music and its performers by Barry McCloud and A Century of Country: an illustrated history of country music by Robert K. Oermann. Ultimate Dolly Parton [sound recording] by Dolly Parton features a duet by her and Wagoner. The library can also borrow through interlibrary loan Popular and Collectible Neckties: 1955 to the present by Roseann Ettinger to satisfy curiosity about the many varieties of ties.

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