Billy Grammer, the singer and guitarist best known for his million-selling 1959 hit ‘Gotta Travel On,’ passed away Wednesday after a long illness. He was 85.

A World War Two Army veteran, Grammer broke into country music only after losing his job as a toolmaker after the war. He scored big with his debut single, ‘Gotta Travel On,’ the first of four top 40 hits in a recording career that continued for a decade.

Even after the hits dried up, Grammer stayed active in Nashville, working as a session guitarist and sideman for a long list of artists. He was eventually inducted into the Illinois Country Music Hall of Fame, as well as the Grand Ole Opry. In fact, it was Grammer who delivered the invocation for the Opry House in 1974.

Grammer was also one of the founders of Grammer Guitar, the company that produced what he proudly called “the finest flat-top guitar on the market.” The Country Music Hall of Fame agreed, inducting the Grammer Guitar in 1969.