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Artist Info

Troy Hess

Troy HessPowered by Audioscrobbler™Troy Hess was the son of Bennie Hess, a larger-than-life character standing 6'6'' and weighing 230 lbs who could only have come from Texas. Hillbilly musician, promoter, singing cowboy, recording executive, Bennie was all that and more. Bennie's father had worked on the railroad with the legendary Jimmie Rodgers, and Rodgers widow later gave his' guitar to Bennie. Some stories say that it was the the first Martin Guitar ever made, but it was probably one of the many great 000-45 "Blue Yodel" models that Rodgers played throughout his career.

Reportedly, Troy recorded his first record at the age of four. His live shows were popular at state and county fairs, with Bennie, ever the showman, acting as emcee, performing magic tricks, and backing Troy on guitar as well as performing duets with him.

If not for a BoingBoing posting and a disgruntled email from a Nashville songwriter, we might not ever have had the story behind "Topless." After BoingBoing posted a couple of its typical smarmy commentaries on the song, jokingly labeling it as "anti-porn art," songwriter Ron Hellard contacted them:

My name is Ron Hellard. I am a writer in Nashville for the last 35 years. One day a secretary at the publishing company I was signed to, asked me to write a song for her son, Troy. I did, as a favor to her, knowing that nothing would come of it. it was just a custom deal.

I sat down and wrote this extremely tongue in cheek crap in about five minutes. I slapped it on a cassette and gave it to her.

The best thing you can say about the record was that it was round.

Showland Records (owned by Troy's dad) probably pressed a thousand copies at most. I thought that would be the last I heard of this joke. But thirty years later it shows up on web sites and play lists here and across the great pond. I am amazed. I've read that the writer of this "song" must be a hick, and a lousy writer. That bothers me. as I said, it took ten minutes out of my life and it was a JOKE.

I am a pro writer with cuts by dozens of legit artists and have enjoyed success as a viable composer, but this thing sticks to me like glue. The original publisher was Acoustic Music, the catalog has been sold several times since.

I should clarify. One reviewer assumed that "Topless" was an attempt to write a serious country song, and slammed the writer for it. That's what got to me, it was meant to be, and most certainly is, a parody of country music.

regards
Ron Hellard

... and there we are, and of course part of the reason why we didn't get "Topless" on the "Mothers" episode or Troy's "Christmas on the Moon" on the Christmas show is that "Theme Time" isn't Dr. Demento and doesn't play parodies or novelty numbers... although the line sometimes gets close.

But, "Topless" is still a song worth hearing - at least once - and one with a great story and great characters behind it.
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Artist biography from last.fm




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