HomeEntertainmentMusicCountry MusicCountry Music Hall of Fame Opens New Exhibit: ‘Dick Curless – Hard Traveling Man From Maine’

Country Music Hall of Fame Opens New Exhibit: ‘Dick Curless – Hard Traveling Man From Maine’

by Jim Casey
Country Music Hall of Fame Dick Curless Exhibit
(photo courtesy of Country Music Hall of Fame)

The Country Music Hall of Fame opened its first museum exhibit of 2023 on January 13, Dick Curless: Hard Traveling Man From Maine. Even for ardent fans of the country genre, the name Dick Curless may not ring an immediate bell. Perhaps that’s why the Hall of Fame decided to spotlight Curless, who is probably best known for his 1965 truck-driving anthem, “A Tombstone Every Mile.” Curless charted more than two dozens songs in the 1960s and 1970s. However, “A Tombstone Every Mile” (No. 5) remains his only Top 10 hit.

Following his death in 1995, Curless developed something of a cult following, thanks, in part, to his rich baritone voice and blue-collar songwriting. He was part Johnny Cash, part Merle Haggard. Curless never achieved the success of the aforementioned Cash or Haggard. However, he was respected by his peers, notably Buck Owens.

“Dick Curless sang country music with conviction and commitment,” said Kyle Young, CEO of the Country Music Hall of Fame. “Though he was not a household name, he was admired by his musical peers from Nashville to Bakersfield. And, of course, by his many fans nationwide. He created memorable and distinctive music that reflected his working-class roots and life experiences.”

Dick Curless Artifacts on Display

Dick Curless: Hard Traveling Man From Maine features artifacts donated to the Museum’s collection by the Curless family.

  • Regal Archtop Guitar – Curless’ first childhood guitar, which was given to him by his father’s friend Emery Fields. Emery taught him how to play the instrument.
  • Martin Guitar – The 1964 Martin D-28 guitar, with rosewood back and sides, was owned and used extensively by Curless.
  • Jacket – Markedly, Curless wore the blue and black floral brocade jacket on the cover of The Soul of Dick Curless. His 1966 album of bluesy material reflected the influence of blues guitarist and singer Josh White.
  • Stage wear – The three-piece, pinstriped Western suit was designed for Curless by rodeo tailor Nathan Turk.
  • Leather Boots – Accordingly, Curless wore the custom-made patent leather boots, which are embellished with his nickname, “The Baron.”
  • Adamas Acoustic-Electric Guitar – Curless owned and played the Adamas 1687 acoustic-electric guitar often in the latter part of his career.
  • Suede Jacket and Hat – Finally, Curless wore the Pioneer-brand suede jacket with fringe and Stetson hat on the cover of his last album, Traveling Through (1995).

In addition, the Hall of Fame’s Curless exhibit will run through Jan. 7, 2024.