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Over the next 25 years, Robbins remained a staple of Grand Ole Opry cast, starring alongside such other country music greats as Chet Akins, Jimmie Rodgers and Mother Maybelle and the Carter Sisters.
Robbins' first No. 1 single was the 1956 hit "Singing the Blues." He followed with two more No. 1's in 1957, "A White Sport Coat" and "The Story of My Life," as well as two other major hits in the same year, "Knee Deep in the Blues" and "Please Don't Blame Me." In 1959, Robbins released an album called Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs, featuring two of his most popular and enduring songs: "El Paso" and "Big Iron." "El Paso" won the Grammy Award for Best Country and Western recording. With a big, resonant voice and a flair for storytelling in the old Western mode of his grandfather, Robbins continued to churn out chart-topping songs through the 1960s. His most famous tracks of the era include "Devil Woman," "Beggin' to You," "The Cowboy in the Continental Suit," "Ruby Ann" and "Ribbon of Darkness."
Meanwhile, Robbins was indulging a lifelong fascination with auto racing. He began in the early 1960s by racing stock cars on small dirt tracks; by the end of the decade, he had progressed from small, local races to the NASCAR Grand National division where he competed with the likes of Richard Petty and Cale Yarbrough.
A major heart attack near the end of the 1960s hardly sidelined Robbins for long. By the end of 1969, he had scored his biggest hit in years with the ballad "My Woman, My Woman, My Wife," winning him his second Grammy award. Robbins also continued NASCAR racing, but after three near fatal crashes in 1975 he finally decided to give up driving to focus once again on his music. In the worst of these crashes, an incident that proved both Robbins' fearlessness and his compassion, he swerved into a concrete wall at 145 mph to avoid smashing into a fellow racer's car that had stalled in front of him.
Robbins' 1970s hits included "Jolie Girl," "El Paso City," "Among My Souvenirs" and "I Don't Know Why (I Just Do)."
Robbins married Marizona Baldwin Robbins in 1948. They had two children and remained married until his death. In 1982, Robbins was elected into the Country Music Hall of Fame. Although he had fallen very ill, Robbins managed to release one last single that year, fittingly titled "Some Memories Won't Die," before he passed away on December 8, 1982 at the age of 57.
Marty Robbins enjoyed one of the most illustrious careers in the history of country music. He recorded over 500 songs and 60 albums, won two Grammy Awards, and placed at least one song on the Billboard singles charts for a remarkable 19 consecutive years. Most remarkably, according to Robbins himself, he accomplished all this without any special musical talent. "I've done what I wanted to do," he said in an interview near the end of his life. "I'm not a real good musician, but I can write [a song] pretty well. I experiment once in a while to see what I can do. I find out the best I can do is stay with ballads."
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