by Sasha Dunavant

Earnest Bert ” Ernie” Ashworth started his career in radio, like so many others who, in time, would end up as Country music performers. For ten years from 1960 to 1970 every record Ernie released made the national charts. Of these, 12 were Top 10 Hits.

Originally from Huntsville, Alabama, performed on several local radio stations on the outskirts of Huntsville, including WBHP, where he was a featured artist by the age of 20.

His career escalated in the 1950s when he began writing songs for recording stars like Carl Smith, Johnny Horton, Jimmy Dickens, Wilma Lee Cooper and Paul Anka after being signed by Wesley Rose as a songwriter for Acuff-Rose Music. While living in Nashville and between 1949 and 1955 worked for several radio stations, including WLAC and WSIX. 

In 1957,  Ashworth returned to Huntsville to pursue a job working for the U.S. Army’s Redstone Arsenal. Decca Records picked Ashworth, and Ashworth dropped his first single, “Each Moment (Spent with You).” The song became a Top 5 hit. Ashworth then had a Top 10 hit in 1961 called “ You Can’t Pick A Rose in December.” 

Later, Ashworth had a Top 20 hit, “ Forever Gone.” He soon moved to Hickory Records, another company owned by Acuff- Rose. He soon recorded another Top 5 hit, “Everybody but Me” and another Top 10 hit, “I Take the Chance.”

His third hit, “ Talk Back Trembling Lips,” was dubbed as Ashworth’s signature song. The song was on the Country chart for 42 consecutive weeks. It also made the 101st place on the Pop chart. In Billboard, Cashbox, and Record World magazines, Ashworth was named him “Most Promising Male Artist.” In 1964 he was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry.

Ashworth recorded more hits such as, “The DJ Cried,” “At Ease Heart” and “I Love to Dance with Annie.” The country star purchased two radio stations in Flomaton, Alabama, and WSLV in Ardmore, Alabama. In between hits Ernie appeared on the Silver Screen in the movie “The Farmers Daughter” in 1965.

Ashworth has been inducted into the Alabama Hall of Fame. He also received the Pioneer Award, Living Legend Award and Country Music Outreach Award. Ashworth was awarded by BMI, Cashbox and Record World. 

He continued performing, and in 1999 he also had a No. 1 hit in the UK called “Lonely Only Bar.” He was referred to as “ Number One Most Programmed Independent Artist in Europe.” When he recorded for the 35th Grand Ole Opry Anniversary CD in 1999, one of the country songs on the CD “She Don’t Drink, She Don’t Smoke, But She Lies” hit the number No. 4 spot on the European Country Music Charts. One of the gospel songs on the CD, “Far Side Banks Of Jordan,” hit the number No. 35 spot on the Gospel Charts.

Ashworth has also been inducted into the Texas Hall of Fame and the Alabama Country Music Hall of Fame. Ashworth lost his beloved wife, Elizabeth “Bettye” Rose in November of 2007. 

On March 2, 2009, the man who obtained his childhood dream of becoming a Country music star, passed away. Ashworth had previously undergone a heart bypass surgery shortly before his death occurred in a hospital bound ambulance in Hartsville, Tennessee. He was 80 years old when he died, but he had made Grand Ole Opry appearances into his later years.

He was survived by his daughter, Rebecca Gail Parker, and three sons, John Michael Ashworth, Stephen Mark Ashworth and Paul Wesley Ashworth. Ashworth’s Honorary Pallbearers were family members and members of the Grand Ole Opry staff.