Final verse for musician, ‘big old cut-up’ Marlow Tackett
Well-known country singer and humanitarian Marlow Tackett died Saturday in Elizabethton, where he had made his home for several years.
He was 70.
Tackett, a native of Dorton, Ky., lived in Carter County for several years and is remembered as someone who enjoyed people and entertaining them with his music.
Arvel Livingston of Elizabethton has known Tackett for nearly 40 years, and his memories of the singer are good ones.
“I played music with him a little at his house one time years and years ago,” Livingston recalled. “I went to about all of his concerts. He had a lot of friends around here.”
In days gone by, Livingston said Tackett would often take a flatbed truck up to Stoney Creek and park it in a field, making a temporary stage.
“He’d get up there on that flatbed, and sing to the people by himself or with anybody who wanted to sing with him,” Livingston said. “He was a good old boy.”
Tackett is also remembered for his generosity, something that earned him the nickname of “Mountain Santa Claus” in Pike County, where he threw an annual Christmas party for poor families at his Pikeville nightclub, Marlow’s Country Palace, for nearly 30 years.
According to interviews, Tackett said the idea of the party started after he received a letter from a 12-year-old girl asking him to help her and her five brothers and sisters at Christmas time. After visiting the girl’s home – one that had no electricity or running water – he said he realized there were even more children in need. The next year, he and his family and friends helped 340 needy families.
Tackett’s love of entertaining earned him a strong following – especially in the Southeast. However, his popularity also grew because of the way he treated people, according to Livingston.
“He was just a big old cut-up,” Livingston said. “He was a lot of fun.”
Tackett’s generosity and concern for his fellow man was not limited to his native Kentucky, but was also displayed in Carter County.
Angie Odom, director of the TLC Community Center, shared her memories of meeting Tackett and how he came to help the service agency she founded.
A chance meeting brought Odom and Tackett together, but they formed a friendship founded on a shared goal. “We shared the same passion to reach out to families and kids,” Odom said.
“He wanted to help more in Carter County. He did a benefit concert for us,” Odom said, adding that she and Tackett went to WBEJ to advertise the event and he performed live on the air. “He raised more than $1,000 for our Center from the concert he did, and would not keep a penny for himself.”
Tackett combined his desire to help others with his passion for music and used his talent to help and enrich the lives of those he came into contact with, Odom said.
“His heart was in music,” she said. “Not just singing and playing, but in writing music.”
Odom described Tackett as a “very sweet man” and said that his loss will be felt by the community and those he strived to help during his life.
Funeral services will be held Thursday at the University of Pikeville gymnasium with visitation at the Pilgrim Prayer Old Regular Baptist Church.
Hall & Jones Funeral Home in Virgie, Ky., is in charge of arrangements.