FORGOTTEN AMERICAN MUSIC MASTERS

Sly Budlam Country and Western Musician
SLY BUDLAM

June 30, 1936-December 13, 1972

Born Zÿlvztÿr Bÿzdlmzÿchsz (pronounced Zwil-vee-zee-tuh-eer Buh-duh-zeel-mah-zuh-[crunching noise]-kuh-suh-[crinkling sound]-zich) in 1936 in Brooklyn, New York to Croatian immigrant parents, Sly Budlam was an American country & western singer. He is often thought to have been a guitar player, however, despite having never been photographed without one, he could not play a single chord.

Budlam often wrote about the effects of alcohol on his ability to perform sexually, a theme that culminated in his 1963 Whiskey Dick album. The album got up on the “Country and Western Top 100” that year and held firm for fifty-six weeks before wilting off the charts. His flaccid follow-up to Whiskey Dick failed to even penetrate the “C&W Top 500” when it was ejaculated in 1965.

Budlam's rumored involvement with singer Wilma Tilly, who toured with Budlam extensively throughout the 1950s, was later confirmed by Wilma's sixth youngest daughter, Wilma Mae Margaret Tilly, in her tell-all book, Mama Weren't No Whore... Most Times. Tilly often stated publicly that Whiskey Dick referred, not to Budlam's sexual impairment, but to the fact that Sly was a total a-hole when drunk.

Early Years

Seeking an escape from suffocating city life, Sly's parents moved the family to Nut Springs, Tennessee in the early 1940s. Resentful of the fact that the other kids had vowels in their names, young Zÿlvztÿr changed his name to Zÿlvztÿr Büdlam and later to Slÿ Büdlam, eventually dropping the umlauts altogether. Budlam bought his first guitar for fifteen cents at a church rummage sale. "He never put that old gee-tar down, but he ain't never learnt to play it nohow neither (hiccup)," said Sly's long-time bass player and ignorant childhood friend, Whitey Lee Wayne "Bubba" Jones.

Death

On December 13, 1972, Budlam was found in his motel room outside of Nashville, dead of an apparent overdose of drugs and alcohol. Toxicology reports later confirmed the rumors that Sly had consumed twenty-six bottles of beer, one bottle of whiskey, two bottles of red wine, sixteen Quaaludes, a six pack of Bizzy Pop soda and one aspirin.

Chris Auman

 

Originally published in RW#22, 2014

RW #22


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