Ellis Nassour, noted arts journalist and author who has donated an ever-growing exhibition of performing arts history, will be appearing at his alma mater for a book signing of his international best-seller biography: “Honky Tonk Angel: The Intimate Story of Patsy Cline.”
The book signing will take place at the Ole Miss Bookstore at the Union on Tuesday, January 20 from 4:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. Nassour will read from the book also for those who have not heard of the musical legend: Patsy Cline.
“I didn’t know of Patsy Cline until 1970s,” said Nassour. He then worked as vice president of artistic relations for MCA Music after working as a reporter at the New York Times. He recalled that since he was a Mississippian his company thought it was a good idea for him to go to Nashville to find an up-and-coming country star.
It was then that he met Loretta Lynn who then connected him to the late Patsy Cline’s second husband Charlie Dick as well as Cline’s mother Hilda Hensley. From them he learned about Patsy Cline who he featured seven years later in a magazine series to commemorate her forty-fifth birthday. He held several interviews with her mother and her second husband during the series but it was after Lynn’s acclaimed autobiography-turned-film The Coal Miner’s Daughter that Nassour saw “an explosion of interest in Patsy Cline.”
He spent the summer of 1980 traveling between Nashville, Tennessee; Dallas and Houston, Texas; and the Virginia – Maryland area where Patsy Cline lived as he interviewed “a hundred family members and friends” from the late singer’s childhood to her final years in the spotlight.
“Those who I talked to remarked to me that I was honest and straightforward in my writing about Patsy Cline,” said Nassour, “They shared more stories with me which led me to name the book, ‘The Intimate Story…'”
He published the biography on Patsy Cline in 1981 but his interest did not end there. He edited the book to include exclusive photos and an afterword of additional stories after Cline left the world. He also adapted an original stage musical based on the biography, Honky Tonk Angel with original music from George Leonard which will feature at the Meek Hall Thursday at 8:00 p.m.
“Even now the book is still selling,” said Nassour.
His in-depth journalistic work of the late singer spanning 25 years is recognized not only from numerous reviews but by television shows that featured him as a source for anything Patsy Cline. He was featured with k.d. lang on Bravo TV’s The Voice segment on Patsy Cline. He also provided material for many television and radio tributes of the late singer including the Virginia Public Television documentary Patsy Cline: The Lady Behind the Legend.
Callie Daniel is a staff reporter for HottyToddy.com. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.