Mel Street Biography
Review The Artist (49)
"King Malachi Street was a big, irony-free galoot with a unique gift -- the vocal ability to rip your heart out of your chest and serve it to you on a platter" ------------Chris Dickinson - Editor, The Journal Of Country Music
Mel Street was born King Malachi Street on October 21, 1935(1) near Grundy, Virginia. The coal miner's son would emerge as one of the finest and most promising country singers of the 1970s. Mel began his career in the 1950s on Cecil Suratt's radio show on stations WELC and WBRW in Welch, West Virginia. He then married and spent the next decade raising a family and living in various towns in Ohio working as an electrician on radio transmitter towers. By 1960, the Streets had moved to Niagara Falls, where Mel worked in the auto body business and sang in nightclubs. Later, he moved to Bluefield, West Virginia and opened his own paint and body shop. While living in Bluefield, he performed as a member of the band called the "Swing Kings" on WHIS-TV's Country Jamboree. He then had his very own Saturday evening half-hour show, Country Showcase, on the same station from 1968 to 1972. The owners of a cable television company saw his work and suggested he cut a record on their small upstart Tandem label, so he recorded his four songs in Nashville in 1970. The first single, "House of Pride", was released twice with little success. The third time around it was decided to release the flip side of the record, Mel's own "Borrowed Angel". It got enough airplay to catch the attention of Royal American Records, who by 1972 signed a deal with Mel and catapulted the song all the way to the top ten on the country charts.
His career took off, and he was signed to Metromedia Country, a newly formed record label of the Metromedia conglomerate. Soon, his follow-up "Lovin' on Back Streets" hit the Top Five. Because of his success, and a heavy touring schedule, Mel closed his paint and body shop and moved his family to Nashville. In 1973, Mel had two Top 15 hits and through his affiliation with Metromedia, sang the theme song to the TV western comedy Dusty's Trail. The following year Metromedia left Nashville and he was shifted to GRT Records. Over the next two years, Street continued to make chart appearances and increased his already intense touring schedule. In 1976, he hit the Top Ten again with "I Met a Friend of Yours Today", (more recently recorded by George Strait). Afterward, he signed to a major label, Polydor, and scored a Top 20 hit with "Barbara, Don't Let Me Be the Last to Know" and at Top 10 hit with "If I Had a Cheating Heart" (later a hit for Ricky Lynn Gregg). In 1978 Polydor closed its Nashville division, and he gained a lucrative contract at Mercury Records.
Indeed, by 1978, Mel had been enjoying success in the music industry. Although he hadn't been a top record seller, he had a healthy fan base and considerable income from his shows - and by the latter part of his career he was doing a good many of them. Life on the road is typically not kind to a devoted family man, such as Mel was. As his career progressed and his status elevated, the stress and professional pressures became stronger. His depression, which he appeared to struggle much of his career, became deeper. With his major contract with Mercury it looked as if superstardom was just around the corner- but it was not to be. Mel Street took his own life on October 21, 1978, his forty-third birthday. He had been scheduled that day to record the final couple of tracks for his first album at Mercury, which was due to be released the next month. Upon his death, Mercury released the album, Mel Street, borrowing two tracks from his previous Polydor album to fill the void. A single from the album entered the country charts the very day he died. Its title-"Just Hangin' On"- turned out to be sadly prophetic. George Jones, whom Mel admired very much, was there to sing at his funeral.
Even after his death, Mel made a couple of appearances on the charts. By 1981, Mel Street's Greatest Hits had remarkably sold 400,000 copies. Today his music is still much sought after, over 20 years after he left us. All along the way he has won the respect and admiration of many fans and fellow country artists alike.
If you want to learn more about Mel Street, why not purchase the book Mel Street: A Country Legend Gone - But Not Forgotten?
Note: (1) Mel's birth date is most often shown as October 21, 1933. Some records even indicate 1936. However, his birth certificate indicates 1935 as the year he was born. This date is also given by his family.
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Mel's niece | Reviewer: Kim | 9/19/14
Mel was actually married to my aunt . I never met him he was always busy when she came to visit us in Richlands Va. All I remember was the station wagon was always full of kids. She went on to remarry and move to Colorado
Love Mels Music | Reviewer: Jason | 6/24/14
I grew up listening to Mel Streets music. My Dad would often have get togethers with other musician's and Mels music would always come up. Borrowed Angel, Smokey Mountain Memory's, Forbidden Angel and the list goes on. Now I am grown and have a Son of my own, I play guitar and sing some of Mels songs. I caught my son the other day who is only five singing I met a friend of yours today. Mel even though you are gone your music lives on in my family. Thanks so much for sharing your talent with us...
My memories of Mel | Reviewer: Rich Clever | 6/7/14
In the mid 70's I had the pleasure of playing drums for Mel on many occasions. I was very saddened by his death and realy miss those days. Mel had a special kind of voice you could,t help but love and always had time to say hello.
guest at sister's wedding. | Reviewer: Margaret Presley Myers | 11/5/13
Mel's wife, Betty, was a cousin of my mother. I remember baby sitting for them when their daughters were small. I remember him singing but never thought about him becoming a star. I recently was going through things of my mother's and found where he and Betty were registered in a guest book at my sister's wedding, Nov 16,1958. He is one more of so many talented people who die too young.
a true professional | Reviewer: johnnymonnky | 9/10/13
Mel Street was booked to play at the University in Texas where I was a sophomore and this was 1977 and my girlfriend was loco over Mel and she would melt every time she heard Smokey Mountain Memories and she had 3/4's Native Blood from both sides, Mother & Father [Comanche, Kiowa, Caddo] and Mel and his band were outside the auditorium they were to play in and she went skipping over to get an autograph and I could have been Elvis, Fabian, James Deen all in one and she wouldn't have given a hoot___He was a very handsome man and was super nice and what a singer/entertainer! There were less than 20 people there for the show but he and his music men played like they were in Dallas. Mel Street: A True Pro, 110%.___Concert was at Tarleton State University in Stephenville, Tx.___RIP Mr Street
country soul | Reviewer: tony | 8/15/13
I was a young country disc jockey in the 1970s when I first became familiar with Mel Street. he was the king of the double entendre and the most soulful country singer I have heard to this day. in my opinion he ranks only behind Hank Williams senior and George Jones as the best country singer ever.
I have lived it to | Reviewer: Don Dunford | 5/26/13
Met Mel At the Sky Club in Bluefield West Virginia, I was young and he help me figure out the sad songs to sing. So I have been singing and living songs that will tear your heart out all my life. Never made it big, but played a lot of honky tonks and sang a lot of sad songs thanks to Mel and the great ones left, and gone on. Who's gonna feel there shoes. Thanks
love sick | Reviewer: sally | 4/12/13
I love to here mel he could sing like no body elze he was the greats his songs has help me thorw a lot of bad times I wish I could have meet him and talk to him his love songs can make me cry some are vere sad and that is how I fill abouthim sad that he is gone he is still the greats
The greatest of 1972! | Reviewer: Suzie Phillips | 9/5/12
Mel Street was the greatest country singer of 1972 as far as I was concerned having just graduated college and tasting my first bites of country music for real. He made me a believer, and I was hooked on country from that time forward.
What a tragic loss of talent!
JUST WANT TO SAY IM SO SAD AND SORRY FOR HIS FAMILYS LOSS | Reviewer: BETTY FOUNTAIN | 7/31/12
WHEN MY HUSBAND AND I STARTED DATEING WE WENT TO THE DANCE EVERY WEEKEND AND THE BAND SPECIALIZED IN MELS AND GEORGE JONES SONGS . WE FELT LIKE MEL WAS FAMILY HIS SONG PASS ME BY IF YOUR ONLY PASSING THROUGH BECAME OUR SONG.I ALSO HAVE SUFFERED SEVERE DEPPRESION ALL MY LIFE.
The gentle man Mel Street | Reviewer: Angela | 7/14/12
I am from Alabama and was fortunate enough to meet Mel Street on a couple of occasions. A friend of mine had a very prominent band and was the opening act for Mel when he played the area. When I met him the firrst time we went backstage and talked to him before the show. He was so kind and gracious to us and treated us like old friends! He was very much the gentleman in every way. What a voice! It was soulful and mellow. His smile when he sang made you feelt like he was singing right to you. Thank you Mel! I miss you to this day and just wonder if you knew how your voice and songs touched our lives? God Bless always!
I wish he was still hereReviewer Cheryl | Reviewer: Cheryl | 6/7/12
I was still pretty young when Mel Street arrived on the music scene. My parents and I didn't like the same music, but we all loved Mel Street. I was heartbroken to learn that he had taken his own life, I miss his music and what he may have done with future recordings.
I got his autograph in Beckley WV | Reviewer: Jeff | 3/31/12
My family went down to Beckley WV back around 1970 or 71 and Mel Street and his Band was Playing there on the sidwalk of a large department store. I was able to walk up to Mr. Mel Street and ask for his autograph, he was so nice and a real Star and Hero of mine. We use to listen to his local TV show all the time. I still play his songs every day.
FOREVER MEL | Reviewer: Anonymous | 3/7/12
Mel Street touched all of the TRUE country music fans!!!I find myself listening to his wonderful songs and asking Why Mel Why---I met a friend of yours today is my favorite Mel song..I will forever miss this good-looking ole boy with that sad voice!!!Love you Mel and thanks for supplying many moments of joy with your heart-felt songs---I feel like you were my friend...This red-neck woman will forever save a corner of her heart for a kindred spirit!!!
Mel Is My Cousin | Reviewer: Leona Ratliff Sanders | 11/11/11
I grew up in the same exact area as Mel did. And he was a well respected person and was so loved by his family and friends and even now everyone plays his songs and he was from a small southwest area of the appalachian mountains called Rowe and the nearest town was Grundy Va. There is a Street Genealogy book put together by a local Man that took many many hours with some help of his family and made avaible a book for all of the Street families to buy. Mel like my Grandpa and Great Grandpa Grover Cleveland Street all from that area had dark hair and dark complexion.I am so proud to be Mels cousin. Leona Sanders
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