by Michael McCall
The amazing adventures of Angelman will delight Music Row no longer. And Bluewater Dave, the world’s oldest living entertainer, will never again send a jaded crowd into convulsive laughter.
Both were alter egos of songwriter Glenn Sutton, who died in his sleep of a heart attack on April 17. The 69-year-old wrote several country classics among his hundreds of cuts: David Houston’s “Almost Persuaded,” Jerry Lee Lewis’ “What Made Milwaukee Famous (Has Made a Loser Out of Me)” and Tammy Wynette’s “Your Good Girl’s Gonna Go Bad.” He also was a successful producer, with his credits including ex-wife Lynn Anderson’s pop-country standard “(I Never Promised You a) Rose Garden.”
But Sutton also will be remembered as the merriest of outrageous pranksters. At his funeral, and at a memorial service hosted by his daughter Lisa Sutton at the Station Inn, his friends and family—including two ex-wives and a former live-in girlfriend—told ribald stories of his exploits anchored by loving stories of his generosity, kindness and sweet spirit.
As mock-superhero Angelman, Sutton bore a silver mask, body-length blue tights and cape. He’d arrive at music industry offices for meetings and surprise visits, spouting the Angelman motto, “Put your hands on an angel, and I will bust your ass.”
As Bluewater Dave, he’d put on a craggy old man’s mask and riff through profane comic routines about the industry, politics and aging. The character even appeared as a presidential candidate in a homemade video that ended with the campaign slogan, “Shove Bluewater Dave up Washington’s ass and watch them squirm.”
Sutton once enlivened the grand opening of Music Row’s Spence Manor, attended by Governor Ray Blanton and held outdoors at the guitar-shaped pool, by stepping out of a limo in a Creature From the Black Lagoon mask, Esther Williams one-piece bathing suit and diving fins. He dove into the pool, swam its length, then got back in the limo and rode off without a word.
On another occasion, he and friend Hank Adam Locklin left a Hillsboro Village bar at 3 a.m. only to encounter a police DUI roadblock. When an officer peered in, Locklin explained that his passenger was a VIP. The officer, incredulous, asked who that might be. The white-haired Sutton leaned forward and said, “I’m Gov. Don Sundquist, you son of a bitch, and I’m trying to get home!” The officer, red-faced, told the other officers that the governor was on board, and they waved him through.
Anderson lovingly confirmed a few stories, such as the evening Sutton told her he was going to get them a pizza. He returned three days later, pizza in hand. Another time he arrived home drunk at dawn, once again, and Anderson threatened to leave next time that happened. The following morning Sutton arrived at daybreak and stripped down to his underwear, hid his clothes in the car trunk, picked up the newspaper in the front yard, and banged on the door loudly. When Anderson opened, he said, “My God, what took you so long? I walked out to get the paper, and the door locked behind me. I’ve been standing out here nearly naked!” She apologized and let him in.
“You can’t think of Glenn and not smile,” his friend Phil Thomas said at his funeral, which drew more people than the Woodlawn Memorial chapel could hold. “I don’t think any of us will ever meet another like him.”
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