Nudie Cohn wasn’t a musician. In fact, he was a Jewish tailor from eastern Europe who was well into his fifties when rock ‘n’ roll was born. Yet he played a vital role in rock history; his lavish “Nudie suits” became signature looks for Elvis Presley and Gram Parsons, and his designs graced the figures of music idols as diverse as John Lennon, Hank Williams and ZZ Top.
Nuta Kotlyarenko was born in Kiev, Ukraine; he began his clothiering career in New York, where he and his wife, Bobbie, opened Nudie’s for the Ladies, outfitting showgirls. In the late ’40s he headed west to open a shop in North Hollywood, Calif.; his opulent designs mounted rhinestone renditions of covered wagons and similarly bold images atop traditional cowboy attire. Nudie’s Rodeo Tailors would become a staple of L.A. culture for decades.
His best-known designs were for Elvis (who wore the infamous $10,000 gold-lamé suit on the cover of his “50,000,000 Elvis Fans Can’t Be Wrong” LP) and Gram Parsons, for whom he created the notorious suit, bearing a pot leaf, pill bottles, naked temptresses and a crucifix, seen on the cover of the Flying Burrito Bros’ “Gilded Palace of Sin” album.
Though he died in 1984, Nudie continues to exert a powerful influence on pop fashion and is an icon to the alternative-country movement.
CIRCA 1970: Photo of Nudie Cohn
Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
Dolly Parton & Porter Wagoner, 1967
Country singer Dolly Parton with her collaborator Porter Wagoner on the set of his TV show in circa 1967. Mr. Wagoner is wearing a Nudie Suit designed by Nudie Cohn of Nudie’s Rodeo Tailors.
(Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
Hank Locklin was a successful country performer and songwriter who is said to have sold over 15 million records. He was also a member of the Grand Ole Opry for the better part of 50 years and was his oldest member when he died. His songs have been recorded by the likes of Dolly Parton, Dean Martin, and Willie Nelson. His more than 70 hit singles included “Please Help Me I’m Falling,” “Send Me The Pillow That You Dream On,” and “Geisha Girl.” Locklin worked nearly up to the time of his death – he was 88 when he released 2006’s By The Grace of God: The Gospel Album. Hank Locklin, 91, passed away on March 8, 2009.
Thanks to Chris Harris at McCoury Music
Lawrence “Hank” Locklin
February 15, 1918 – March 8, 2009
Webb Pierce sings “There Stands the Glass” on the Grand Ole Opry TV show