Marlon Dale Hargis is used to his fingers touching keys — as in, what he plays on the keyboard.
It’s only fitting then that he became the first person to hold in his hands a key to the City of Somerset awarded by Mayor Eddie Girdler.
Hargis was recognized along with the rest of the rock-country band he belongs to, Exile, by the city in a special ceremony Saturday at SomerSport Park, followed by one of very few concerts the band has performed in Somerset since the 1960s.
“Marlon (said in a recent interview that) he’d never received a key to the city, never received a lot of the acknowledgments some of the other members of Exile have received from their hometowns,” said emcee John Alexander at the event. “Well, ladies and gentlemen, tonight, we’re going to take care of that.”
Exile capped off a day spent in perfect weather at the lush, green park facilities, with additional performances by guest artists Cindy Standage, a country singer, and rock ‘n roll cover band The Devonshires.
George Wilson, Economic Development Director for the City of Somerset, told of reading the article in the Commonwealth Journal’s “Southern Kentucky Health & Family” magazine with Hargis and feeling like it was indeed time the town did something to honor Hargis, a Pulaski County High School graduate, who has been with Exile for the bulk of their more than 50 year span of success.
“I told the mayor, ‘We’ve got one of our own and we’ve never reached out to him to tell him what a great job he did.’ The mayor said, ‘Well, we’re really waiting to see if he proved himself,’” Wilson joked. “You know what? I think he has.”
Exile formed in 1963, originally known as The Exiles, with many members from Madison County. In the days before their many radio hits, including the smash no. 1 single “Kiss You All Over” in 1978, the band played many gigs here in Somerset.