The Autry National Center of the American West takes you on a tour through the life and times of American Music with Sparkle and Twang: Marty Stuart’s American Musical Odyssey. The exhibition tells the story of country music icon Marty Stuart’s personal experiences with some of the most famous stars of American music, highlighting several of the greatest performers on the country, bluegrass, rockabilly, and Southern gospel scenes. Visitors are invited to join the journey of Stuart’s life and witness the road traveled by the beloved musicians encountered along the way. Discover what life on the road really meant, and learn about the struggles and triumphs these performers experienced in order to succeed.
This uniquely American collection underscores the importance of style and sound with performance costumes, handwritten lyrics, personal letters, musical instruments, and unpublished photographs of such legends as Patsy Cline, Hank Williams, Porter Wagoner, Johnny Cash, and Bob Dylan. The fashion-rich collection includes such items as Elvis Presley’s sweater, Jerry Lee Lewis’s black boots, Johnny Cash’s white tuxedo, a Bob Dylan outfit, and a Patsy Cline dress. The exhibition would not be complete without a life-size dressing room and interactive performance stage. Plus, listening stations, ambient audio, and video documentaries can be found throughout.
“I made it my mission to save the historic relics of country music, not just because they were things I loved, but to preserve them as cultural artifacts,” says Marty Stuart.
The exhibition features an entire section devoted to the life and career of Johnny Cash, including artifacts from Cash’s early career to the development of his singular style and sound. Several of Cash’s performance outfits are on display along with his handwritten lyrics, guitars, and artifacts from the infamous gig at Folsom Prison in 1968.
The exhibition’s grand finale is a section called The Masters, featuring a full-spectrum representation of the many pioneers of sound and style. It includes wardrobe, instruments, and personal belongings of Pasty Cline, Merle Haggard, Johnny Horton, George Jones, Porter Wagoner, Dolly Parton, Nudie and Manuel (fashion designers), Hank Williams, Jimmy Newton, Hank Snow, Marty Stuart, and Connie Smith. These and other objects in the exhibit help carry on the legacy and history of American music.
About Marty Stuart
Growing up in Philadelphia, Mississippi, Stuart was exposed to multiple musical influences like bluegrass, rhythm-and-blues, rockabilly, and Southern gospel within the tri-racial community made up of black, white, and Native Americans. “The Busy Bee Café in Philadelphia, Mississippi, was my entry into black music, rhythm-and-blues,” Stuart says. “The Busy Bee Café represented Saturday night to me. The Sunday morning side of me was the church house. Church was a major influence on my life. Like so many performers, I found that the church house was the most natural setting to begin a life of public performance.”
Embracing the diversity of his surroundings, Stuart picked up the guitar and mandolin and headed to Nashville on a Greyhound Bus at the age of 13. He had a job with Lester Flatt & the Nashville Grass a week after having landed just across the street from the Ryman Auditorium in 1972. What commenced was a lifelong journey down the American musical frontier. “I was accepted into the family of country music then and there. That was the beginning of an awesome odyssey,” reflects Stuart.
Stuart’s main musical influence was Johnny Cash. He joined his band in 1980. “There was a power and storytelling quality in his voice that took me around the world by way of imagination. He could take me to Indian reservations, to the life of a cowboy, or to life as a prisoner,” said Stuart. “He was my hero growing up, and I never dreamed I’d ever shake his hand, much less have him become a lifelong friend and mentor.”
In 1986, Stuart signed with his first major label, CBS, but it was his after his 1989 signing with MCA that his solo career took off with the song “Hillbilly Rock.” The title track became a top 10 hit on the R&R and Billboard charts, and the video was nominated for the Country Music Association’s Video of the Year award. Stuart says,“‘Hillbilly Rock’ was my first hit song, and I couldn’t have asked for a better one to get me started because its lyric and beat encompassed everything I had come from in Mississippi. It was country music but at the same time it was rockin’ country music. It gave me a reason to have a bus and a band, and made many of my dreams possible.”
About the Autry National Center of the American West
The Autry National Center of the American West is an intercultural history center that includes the Southwest Museum of the American Indian, the Museum of the American West (formerly the Autry Museum of Western Heritage), and the Institute for the Study of the American West. Each institution maintains its individual identity; however, the convergence of resources allows us to expand our understanding of the diverse peoples of the American West, connecting the past with the present to inform our shared future. The Autry National Center’s executive offices are located in Griffith Park.
Effective March 10, 2009, the Autry National Center of the American West’s hours of operation at its Griffith Park location will change. The new weekday hours for the Autry’s Museum of the American West are Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Museum Store’s new weekday hours are Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday hours for the Museum and the Museum Store are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. On Thursdays from June 1 to August 31, hours for the Museum and Museum Store are 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. The Museum and Museum Store will continue to be closed on Mondays.
Admission is $9 for adults, $5 for students and seniors 60+, $3 for children 3–12, and free for Autry members, veterans, and children 2 and under. Admission is free on the second Tuesday of every month.
Autry National Center of the American West
4700 Western Heritage Way
Los Angeles, CA 90027