Tex Morton was not from Texas. He is not the only country star to illegitimately adopt the name Tex, of course; Tex Williams, for example is from Illinois. Mr. Morton was born in 1916, in Nelson, New Zealand. That beats Illinois for distance from one’s namesake, as does Sydney, Australia.—that’s where Nelson emigrated when he was 18 to pursue a recording career. Legend has it that that wasn’t Morton’s first time leaving home, having attempted to do so when he was 14 with aims to join the circus; he was found busking on the street and sent back home.
By 1936, he was recording with Columbia Record’s Regal Zonophone, for whom he’d record 93 discs over the course of the next seven years. His version of “Barnacle Bill, the Sailor” is a good example of Morton’s vocal ingenuity, what with his “fair young maiden” voice and whistling.
1940’s “Beautiful Queensland” was a clever cover of “Beautiful Texas,” which was first made popular by Lee O’Daniel and then later by Willie Nelson. Note the yodeling at the end. More of that coming right up.