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Lest We Forget

Posted on March 28, 2003

Rusty Draper

Original Performer – “Eating Goober Peas”

1923-2003

Rusty Draper, best known for 1950s and 1960s country hits “Gambler’s Guitar,” “Night Life,” and the Greene County Gold favorite, “Eating Goober Peas,” died of pneumonia Friday, March 28, 2003 at Overlake Hospital Medical Center in Bellevue. Draper suffered from a 20-year battle with heart disease, strokes and most recently throat cancer, which stole his famous voice. He was 80. Born Farrell Draper in Kirksville, Mo., on Jan. 25, 1923, Mr. Draper was already singing and strumming on the radio by age 12, his thick head of red hair lending him his stage name. As a teen he sang his way through Oklahoma, Iowa and Illinois before ending up in San Francisco. There he landed gigs as master of ceremonies and singer at up-and-coming music clubs. In the 1950s his career skyrocketed as his best-known songs approached the top of the pop charts. He had his own radio show in San Francisco and Los Angeles, and he made regular TV appearances. He performed on Ed Sullivan’s show twice. He acted small parts in TV series like “Rawhide.” People started calling him “Mr. Nightlife” for his version of a Willie Nelson tune that hit the charts in 1963.

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