American Idol losers and their Nudie Suits
I just watched seven minutes and 52 seconds of American Idol. By my count, that's 472 seconds I'll never get back.
Last week, Idol watchers voted Huntsville, Alabama native and current Nashville musician Paul McDonald off the show. Some will remember Paul for the songs he sang during his journey from Auditions to Top 8, from "Tutti Frutti" and "Maggie May" to Bob Seger's "Old Time Rock and Roll," with nods in between to Ryan Adams and Johnny Cash.
The "quirky and cool" Paul McDonald
Most, however, will remember him...for his Nudie Suit.
Hang with me here for another 125 seconds. It's a cool suit. As for as the dude wearing it... well the viewers, as mentioned, have spoken.
I reckon Paul McDonald will soon be forgotten but for over 64 years, the Nudie Suit has been king, from the originals first created by Nudie Cohn, the Rodeo Tailor, to those created by Nudie's apprentice Manuel Cuevas and his son, who created the suit worn by McDonald (which allegedly set him back $4,500, or almost twice his weekly Idol pay).
Nudie Cohn was born Nuta Kotlyarenko in Kiev in 1902, and at the age of 11 his parents sent him and his brother Julius to America to escape the pogroms of Czarist Russia. In his youth, he traveled the country working as a shoeshine boy and boxer, and after doing time in Leavenworth for drug trafficking, he settled in a boardinghouse in Minnesota.
It was here he met his wife Helen "Bobbie" Kruger, and after a wedding in Mankato, the couple moved to Manhattan, where they opened their first store, Nudie's for the Ladies, which sold custom-made g-strings and lingerie to showgirls. But they soon relocated to California, and began designing and manufacturing clothing in their garage.
In 1947, Nudie persuaded the then-struggling country singer Tex Williams to buy him a sewing machine with the money he'd made from an auctioned horse; in exchange, Nudie made Tex clothing, and the rest was history.
Nudie took the popular Western style of dress, already a bit loud, and sent it to a whole new level of flamboyancy - rhinestones, wagon wheels and pastel colors, cacti, critters and crosses. And of course, in addition to designing some ridiculous automobiles for those who could afford to buy them (or those who could cheat their way to winning them at cards, as Buck Owens allegedly did his), Nudie designed both Elvis Presley's $10,000 gold lamé suit, worn on the cover of the 50,000,000 Elvis Fans Can't Be Wrong album, and Gram Parsons' ominously foretelling white suit featuring pills, poppies, marijuana leaves, naked women and a cross, worn for the cover of the Flying Burrito Brothers' album The Gilded Palace of Sin.
Nudie died in 1984, but his legend lives on in the tens of thousands his suits still fetch at auction today, and in the Nudie-inspired designs sported by the likes of Paul McDonald.
And so, a few great Nudie (and Nudie-inspired) Suits from over the years:
Faron Young - "If That's the Fashion"
Porter Wagoner - "Carroll County Accident"
Tex Williams - "Smoke! Smoke! Smoke! (That Cigarette)"
Michael Nesmith - "Naked Persimmon"
Flying Burrito Brothers - "Christine's Tune"
Buck Owens - "Don't Let Her Know"
Webb Pierce - "There Stands the Glass"
Hank Williams - "Hey Good Lookin'"
And lest we forget... Darius Rucker preparing the nation for his eventual career as a country singer.
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