Monday, January 21, 2019

The Three Bells Ring No More

Category: News/Obituary

Back in the late 2000s I saw Jim Ed Brown at the Midnite Jamboree.  At the autograph/meet & greet after the show I told Jim Ed how much I wished the Browns would get inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. 

Brown smiled shyly, then said, "Well, if they're gonna do it, I wish they'd do it soon, because Maxine's health isn't good."

Who would know that Maxine Brown, the eldest of the singing trio that finally got that Hall of Fame induction in 2015, would outlive her two performing siblings.  Today comes the sad word that Maxine Brown has joined her famous brother and sister in death.  Maxine passed away today (1/21) in a Little Rock hospice with her family at her side.  She had been suffering from heart and kidney issues.

Maxine, along with younger brother Jim Edward, burst onto the country music scene in 1954 with a song that they wrote inspired by their youngest sister, Norma, excitedly trying to explain something to them and getting her words jumbled up.  That song was "Looking Back to See."  In addition to becoming the first brick in the road that would lead the Browns to the Country Music Hall of Fame "Looking Back to See" became one of the more popular songs for duos to record, with acts such as Justin Tubb and Goldie Hill and Buck Owens and Susan Raye also scoring charted hits with the song.  (The rhythm guitarist on the Browns' recording was Jim Ed's friend and Abbott Records label mate, Jim Reeves.  Reeves would later successfully lobby RCA Victor to sign the Browns.)

After Bonnie graduated from high school she joined her older siblings and "The Browns" became the legendary trio that we remember.  While there were many pit stops along the way in the 1950s (most notably, Jim Ed's Army service), the trio built a career with songs such as "I Heard the Bluebirds Sing" and the Ira and Charlie Louvin composition "I Take the Chance."

L-R: Jim Ed, Maxine, and Bonnie Brown celebrate the
anniversary of "The Three Bells" in 2009.
c. 2019 K.F. Raizor

With the advent of rock and roll in the mid 50s the Browns' career waned significantly, along with many other country stars.  They were about to call it a career when they recorded "The Three Bells."  From there, the floundering career soared to new heights, with the song topping country, easy listening, and "hot 100" charts.

In the mid-60s the family career ended, with Maxine singing lead on their final single release, "Big Daddy."  Bonnie and Maxine left to be with their young families, while Jim Ed continued with a successful solo and duet (Helen Cornelius) career.

The Browns would reunite on occasion at the Grand Ole Opry, including one memorable weekend in 2009, when the 50th anniversary of the release of "The Three Bells" was celebrated.  

In 2005 Maxine penned a bestselling autobiography, Looking Back to See, about her career in country music, focusing on the trials of performing in the 50s.  The book won the Ella Dickey Literary Award.

Shortly after the 2015 announcement that the Browns were being inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame Jim Ed died of lung cancer.  At the medallion ceremony later that year Bonnie announced that she, too, had lung cancer (although she never smoked).  She passed away two weeks before her birthday in 2016.

And so closes the book on another legendary country music act.  The three bells -- Jim Ed, Maxine, and Bonnie -- ring no more on earth.  Oh, what a legacy they left us.

Maxine Brown was 87.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Dates of Note in Country Music, January 16-31

Category: News

(Hall of Fame members in bold on birth/death date, followed by hall[s] of fame in which they are enshrined and the year enshrined.  CM=Country Music; BG=Bluegrass; NS=Nashville Songwriter; SG=Southern Gospel; StG=Steel Guitar; OTF=Old Time Fiddler; GLA=Grammy Lifetime Achievement recipient; RR=also inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame)

January 16:

Ronnie Milsap (CM 14) born in Robbinsville, North Carolina, 1943 (now 76)
Jim Stafford born in Eloise, Florida, 1944 (now 75)
Sandy Pinkard of Pinkard & Bowden born in Abbeville, Louisiana, 1947 (now 72)

Roy Lanham born in Corbin, Kentucky, 1923 (died 1991)
Ruby Falls born in Jackson, Tennessee, 1946 (died 1986)

Dizzy Dean born in Lucas, Arkansas, 1910 (died 1974). The legendary baseball player is credited with dubbing Roy Acuff "King of Country Music."
Carl Smith (CM 03) died in Nashville, Tennessee (stroke), 2010 (was 82)
Bill Monroe seriously injured in a car wreck, 1953. Monroe was away from performing for six months while recovering.

Jimmy Buffett's private plane was shot at by Jamaican authorities, 1996.  The Jamaican police mistook Buffett's plane for one belonging to a drug kingpin.  No one on board Buffett's plane was injured.

January 17:

Steve Earle born in Fort Monroe, Virginia, 1955 (now 64)

Amanda Wilkinson of the Wilkinsons born in Belleville, Ontario, 1982 (now 37)
Walter Bailes of the Bailes Brothers born in Kanawha County, West Virginia, 1920 (died 2000)
Grady Martin born in Marshall County, Tennessee, 1929 (died 2001)
Cliffie Stone (CM 89) died in his home in Saugus, California (heart attack), 1998 (was 80)
Frank "Hylo" Brown died in Mechanicsburg, Ohio (natural causes), 2003 (was 81)
The street in front of Graceland renamed "Elvis Presley Boulevard," 1972

January 18:

Hargus "Pig" Robbins (CM 12) born in Spring City, Tennessee, 1938 (now 81)
Mark Collie born in Waynesboro, Tennessee, 1956 (now 63)

Linda Parker of the Cumberland Ridge Runners born in Covington, Kentucky, 1912 (died 1935)
Bobby Edwards born in Aniston, Alabama, 1926 (died 2012)
Eddie Hill (DJ 75) died (long-term illness), 1994 (was 74)
Glenn Frey died in New York, New York (pneumonia/complications of ulcerative colitis surgery), 2016 (was 67)

January 19:

Stu Phillips born in Montreal, Quebec, 1933 (now 86)
Dolly Parton (CM 99, NS 86; GLA 11) born in Locast Ridge, Tennessee, 1946 (now 73)
Stephanie Davis born in Bridger, Montana, 1958 (now 61)
Dennie Crouch of the Nashville Bluegrass Band born in Strawberry, Arkansas, 1967 (now 42)
Leo Soileau born in Ville Platte, Louisiana, 1904 (died 1980)
Ken Nelson (CM 01) born in Caledonia, Minnesota, 1911 (died 2008)

Oscar Sullivan born in Edmonton, Kentucky, 1919 (died 2012)
Charlie Waller of the Country Gentlemen (BG 96) born in Joinerville, TX, 1935 (died 2004)
Phil Everly (CM 01, NS 01; RR 86; GLA 97) born in Chicago, Illinois, 1939 (died 2014)
Ralph Peer (CM 84) died in Los Angeles, California (pneumonia), 1960 (was 67)
Vic McAlpin (NS 70) died in Nashville, Tennessee (unknown cause), 1980 (was 61)
Carl Perkins (NS 85; RR 87) died in Jackson, Tennessee (complications of stroke/throat cancer), 1998 (was 65)

James O'Gwynn died in Hattiesburg, Mississippi (long-term illness), 2011 (was 82)
George Jones' first recording session (for Starday), 1954

January 20:

John Michael Montgomery born in Danville, Kentucky, 1965 (now 54)

Huddie "Leadbelly" Leadbetter (NS 80; RR 88) born in Mooringsport, Louisiana, 1889 (died 1949).  The year of Leadbelly's birth is open for debate, as is the actual day, with numerous sources citing January 20, January 21, or January 23, and years of 1888 or 1889.
George Burns born in New York, New York, 1896 (died 1996). The legendary comedian and actor had a top 20 country song in 1980 with "I Wish I Was Eighteen Again."
Slim Whitman born in Tampa, Florida, 1924 (died 2013)
Larry Butler died in Pensacola, Florida (natural causes), 2012 (was 69)

January 21:

Mac Davis (NS 00) born in Lubbock, Texas, 1942 (now 77)
Jim Ibbottson of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1947 (now 72)

Cedric Rainwater (BG 07) died in Nashville, Tennessee (heart attack), 1970 (was 56)
Jim Anglin died in Nashville, Tennessee (cancer), 1987 (was 73)
Colonel Tom Parker died in Las Vegas, Nevada (stroke), 1997 (was 87). In addition to Elvis, Parker managed Eddy Arnold, Hank Snow, and Minnie Pearl early in their careers.
Patsy Cline appeared on Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts and won the talent show,1957

January 22:

J.P. Pennington of Exile born in Berea, Kentucky, 1949 (now 70)

Teddy Gentry (CM 05) born in Fort Payne, Alabama, 1952 (now 67)
Dickie McBride of Cliff Bruner's Texas Wanderers born in New Baden, Texas, 1914 (died 1971)
Jimmy Day died in Buda, Texas (cancer), 1999 (was 65)
Janette Carter, the last surviving member of the Carter Family, died in Kingsport, Tennessee (Parkinson's disease/illness), 2006 (was 82)

January 23:

Etta May born in Bald Knob, Arkansas, 1962 (now 57)
Johnny Russell (NS 01) born in Sunflower County, Mississippi, 1940 (died 2001)
T. Texas Tyler died in Springfield, Missouri (stomach cancer), 1972 (was 55)

Rev. Thomas A. Dorsey (NS 79; SG 13) died in Chicago, Illinois (Alzheimer's disease), 1993 (was 93)
Art Stamper died in Louisville, Kentucky (throat cancer), 2005 (was 71)
Johnny Carson died in Hollywood, California (emphysema), 2005 (was 79). Carson had a number of country artists on The Tonight Show, including over two dozen appearances by Homer and Jethro, who Carson considered among his favorite guests.

Curtis Potter died in Abilene, Texas (pneumonia), 2016 (was 75)
Lari White died in Nashville, Tennessee (cancer), 2018 (was 52)
The Winter Dance Party began in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 1959. Three of the headliners, Buddy Holly, J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson, and Ritchie Valens, would die 11 days later.

January 24:

Doug Kershaw born in Tiel Ridge, Louisiana, 1936 (now 83)
Jack Scott born in Windsor, Ontario, 1936 (now 83)
Ray Stevens (NS 80) born in Clarksdale, Georgia, 1939 (now 80)
Becky Hobbs born in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, 1950 (now 69)
Keech Rainwater of Lonestar born in Plano, Texas, 1963 (now 56)

Shot Jackson died in Nashville, Tennessee (complications of stroke), 1991 (was 70)
Justin Tubb died in Nashville, Tennessee (aortic aneurysm), 1998 (was 62)

January 25:

Claude Gray born in Henderson, Texas, 1932 (now 87)
Farrell "Rusty" Draper born in Kirksville, Missouri, 1923 (died 2003)
Speedy West (StG 80) born in Springfield, Missouri, 1924 (died 2003)
Cactus Jack Call died in Kansas City, Missouri (car wreck), 1963 (was 39).  A benefit concert for the disc jockey five weeks later would be the final performances by Patsy Cline, Hawkshaw Hawkins, and Cowboy Copas.

Buddy Charleton (StG 93) died in Austin, Texas (lung cancer), 2011 (was 72)

January 26:

Lucinda Williams born in Lake Charles, Louisiana, 1953 (now 66)

Clayton McMichen born in Allatoona, Georgia, 1900 (died 1970)
James O'Gwynn born in Winchester, Mississippi, 1928 (died 2011)
Dave Rowland of Dave & Sugar born in Sanger, California, 1942 (died 2018)
Goebel Reeves died in Long Beach, California (heart attack), 1959 (was 59)

Charlie Louvin (CM 01, NS 79) died in Wartrace, Tennessee (pancreatic cancer), 2011 (was 83)
Hillary Clinton 
disparagingly invoked Tammy Wynette's "Stand By Your Man" during an interview, 1992

January 27:

Lee Carroll of Exile born in Glasgow, Kentucky, 1953 (now 66)
Cheryl White of the Whites born in Wichita Falls, Texas, 1955 (now 64)
Richard Young of the Kentucky Headhunters born in Glasgow, Kentucky, 1955 (now 64)
Tracy Lawrence born in Atlanta, Texas, 1968 (now 51)
Joe Callahan of the Callahan Brothers born in Madison County, North Carolina, 1910 (died 1971)

Buddy Emmons (SG 81) born in Mishawaka, Indiana, 1937 (died 2015)
Claude Akins died in Altadena, California (cancer), 1994 (was 67). Among the actor's roles was Sonny on the TV series Movin' On, which featured the title song performed by Merle Haggard.

January 28:

Greg Cook of Ricochet born in Vian, Oklahoma, 1965 (now 54)
Bill Phillips born in Canton, North Carolina, 1936 (died 2010)

Harlow Wilcox born in Norman, Oklahoma, 1943 (died 2002)
Skeeter Willis died in Nashville, Tennessee (lymph cancer), 1976 (was 58)
Al Dexter (NS 71) died in Denton, Texas (heart attack), 1984 (was 78)

Jim Bowles (OTF) died in Kentucky (pneumonia), 1993 (was 89)
Jimmy Fortune joined the Statler Brothers, 1982

January 29:

Patsy Sledd born in Falcon, Missouri, 1944 (now 75)
Irlene Mandrell of the Mandrell Sisters born in Corpus Christi, Texas, 1957 (now 62)

Lloyd Perryman of the Sons of the Pioneers born in Ruth, Arkansas, 1917 (died 1977)
Little Jimmy Sizemore born in Paintsville, Kentucky, 1928 (died 2014)

January 30:

Jeanne Pruett born in Pell City, Alabama, 1937 (now 82)
Norma Jean ("Pretty Miss Norma Jean") born in Wellston, Oklahoma, 1938 (now 81)
Harold Morrison born in High Lonesome, Missouri, 1931 (died 1993)
Melvin Endsley born in Drasco, Arkansas, 1934 (died 2004)
Ott Devine died in Nashville, Tennessee (unknown cause), 1994 (was 83)

January 31:

Lynwood Lunsford of Lost & Found born in Roxboro, North Carolina, 1962 (now 55)
Warren Smith died in Longview, Texas (heart attack), 1981 (was 47)

Doc Williams died in Wheeling, West Virginia (natural causes), 2011 (was 96)

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Does Fort Worth Ever Cross Your Mind

Category: News/Obituary

One of the things that has made George Strait such an enduring figure in country music is his ability to find the great songs by the great songwriters.  He did that with "Does Fort Worth Ever Cross Your Mind;" and, later, "All My Ex's Live in Texas."

The songwriter responsible for those songs, Sanger D. "Whitey" Shafer, died yesterday (1/12) after an illness.  His wife, Tracy, was at the funeral for her mother when Shafer passed, according to songwriting friend Corey Frizzell's Instagram post.

After serving in the Army, Sanger D. Shafer worked odd jobs and decided, finally, to move to Nashville, home of his favorite type of music.  He met other songwriters, including "Doodle" Owens and Dallas Frazier, and began writing songs.  The first major success was when George Jones recorded "Tell Me My Lying Eyes Are Wrong" in 1970, soon followed by Johnny Russell recording what has since become a country gospel classic, "The Baptism of Jesse Taylor."

A longtime Lefty Frizzell fan, Shafer struck up a friendship with the legendary singer.  Their collaborations included two of the most enduring songs of the 70s: "That's the Way Love Goes" (originally a hit for Johnny Rodriguez), and "I Never Go Around Mirrors," one of Frizzell's final top 40 country hits.

Shafer went through a series of divorces, leading to songs such as "Does Fort Worth Ever Cross Your Mind" and "All My Ex's Live in Texas."  George Strait turned both into country gold.  Another one of Sanger's heartbreak songs, "I Wonder Do You Think of Me," was a posthumous hit for Keith Whitley in 1989.

In 1989 Shafer was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters' Hall of Fame.  His songs continued to be covered by the greats, the up-and-comers, the local musicians, and anyone who appreciated a great song.

Whitey Shafer was 84.

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Country's Final Curtains for 2018

Category: News/Tribute 

Here are the people who sang their final song in 2018.

Sammy Allred (May 9, unknown cause, age 84):  known to a generation of fans as "Sam Geezinslaw" of the Geezinslaw Brothers, he was also a longtime, award-winning Austin, Texas DJ.

Casey Anderson (November 26, natural causes, age 92): the former husband and songwriter partner of Liz Anderson and the father of Lynn Anderson.

Rayburn Anthony (April 21, unknown cause, age 80): rockabilly singer/songwriter for Sun Records in its early days, he later became a member of Billy Walker's band and co-wrote Walker's #1 hit "Sing Me a Love Song to Baby."

Charles Aznavour (October 1, natural causes, age 94): the "French Frank Sinatra" was an accomplished singer and songwriter.  One of his best-known songs, "Hier Encore," was a 1969 country and pop hit for Roy Clark as "Yesterday, When I Was Young."

Stu Basore (February 5, Lewy Body dementia, age 80): steel guitarist who played with numerous greats, including providing the mournful steel on Dolly Parton's "I Will Always Love You."

Delia Bell (June 15, natural causes, age 83): longtime bluegrass performer as a solo act and as part of a duet with Bill Grant.

John T. Benson III (October 28, natural causes, age 90): Gospel Music Hall of Fame former head of the Benson Music Company, founded by Benson's grandfather and recognized as the oldest permanent music organization in Nashville.

Ponty Bone (July 13, progressive supranuclear palsy, age 78): legendary Texas accordion player who had his own band, the Squeezetones, as well as touring as a member of Joe Ely's band.

Jerry Chesnut (December 15, natural causes, age 87): Nashville Songwriters Hall of Famers who gave the world songs ranging from heartbreak ballads ("It's Four in the Morning," "A Good Year for the Roses") to vibrant foot-stompers ("T-R-O-U-B-L-E").

Brandon Church (June 29, seizure, age 36): brother of singer Eric Church and co-writer of his brother's hit "Without You Here."

Roger Clark (May 24, heart attack, age 67): Muscle Shoals session drummer who worked on albums by artists as diverse as Carl Perkins, Hank Williams Jr., Conway Twitty, and T.G. Sheppard.

Roy Clark (November 15, pneumonia, age 85): Country Music Hall of Fame singer, multi-instrumental wizard, and Hee Haw host who delighted audiences for decades.

Lorrie Collins (August 4, illness, age 76): half of rockabilly's Collins Kids, who appeared countless times on Town Hall Party.

Larry "Big D" Doolittle (October 17, unknown cause, age 61): the merchandising manager for Hank Williams Jr. for 40 years.

Nokie Edwards (March 12, long illness, age 82): Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member of the Ventures (of "Walk, Don't Run" fame) who also worked as a guitarist with Buck Owens in the early days of Owens' career.

Gene Eichelberger (October 9, long illness, age 77):  legendary Nashville recording engineer who worked with greats in country (Johnny Cash, Vern Gosdin, Randy Travis), rock (Bob Seger, Grand Funk), and folk (Joan Baez, Cat Stevens).

Phil Emmanuel (May 24, asthma, age 65): Australian guitarist who worked with numerous country guitarists (including Chet Atkins) as well as his brother, Tommy.

Helen Farmer (May 13, natural causes, age 92): longtime executive at the Country Music Association.

D.J. Fontana (June 14, natural causes, age 87): the last surviving member of Elvis' 1950s band was also an in-demand session drummer who worked with countless country and rock acts.

Bob Fuller (June 7, complications of diabetes/broken leg, age 84): Canadian country music singer and founder of the Old-Time Country Music Club of Canada.

Pete Goble (July 25, unknown cause, age 86): bluegrass songwriter who wrote such tunes as "Tennessee 1949" and "Blue Virginia Blues."

Dr. Billy Graham (February 21, natural causes, age 99): evangelist whose televised crusades included countless country singers, including Johnny Cash and Ricky Skaggs.

Dr. Burton Grant (June 30, long illness, age 86): father of Amy Grant and father-in-law of Vince Gill.

Steve Hall (December 28, natural causes, age 64): in addition to his work as a singer and comedian, he was the puppeteer behind Nashville Now's Shotgun Redd.

Freddie Hart (October 27, pneumonia, age 91): legendary country singer and songwriter with hits such as "The Key's in the Mailbox" and "Easy Loving."

Kersto Herston (December 4, unknown cause, age 87): country music executive at United Artists (where he helped promote the success of Del Reeves), Mercury (bringing Jerry Lee Lewis into country), and a producer for Sonny James' hits at Capitol.

Brandon Jenkins (March 2, complications of heart surgery, age 48): Red Dirt singer/songwriter.

Michael "Cookie Monster" Jones (February 8, unknown cause, age 65): pedal steel guitarist who worked with the Louvin Brothers, Barbara Mandrell, and Connie Smith. 

Mike Kennedy (August 31, car wreck, age 59): the drummer in George Strait's Ace in the Hole band for 30 years.

Roberta "Bert" LaBour (January 26, cancer, age 59): wife of Fred "Too Slim" LaBour of Riders in the Sky and Emmy-winning costumer designer for the Riders in the Sky's TV program.

Jake Landers (February 13, unknown cause, age 79): bluegrass musician and songwriter whose credits include "Walk Softly on This Heart of Mine."

Billy Ray Lantham (August 19, long illness, age 80): banjo player for the Dillards and, later, the Bluegrass Cardinals.

Polly Lewis (August 19, Parkinson's disease/Lewy Body dementia, age 81): member of the Bluegrass Hall of Fame group the Lewis Family.

Jim Malloy (July 5, natural causes, age 96): longtime recording engineer who worked with artists as diverse as Henry Mancini, Eddy Arnold, Charley Pride, and Doris Day.  He was also the sound engineer for Johnny Cash's TV series.

Steve Mandell (March 14, prostate cancer, age 76): bluegrass guitarist whose best-known work was as half of the duet who performed "Dueling Banjos" for the film Deliverance.

George McCeney (August 11, long illness, age 79):  co-founder of Bluegrass Unlimited magazine and a board member of the International Bluegrass Music Museum.

George McCormick (February 5, natural causes, age 84): longtime session guitarist who worked with Porter Wagoner and Dolly Parton (together and separately), as well has having his own recordings. 

Johnny Mosby (February 19, unknown cause, age 84): half of the 60s then-husband-and-wife country duo Johnny and Jonie Mosby, who gave us hits such as "Just Hold My Hand" and "Don't Call Me From a Honky Tonk."

Kenny O'Dell (March 29, natural causes, age 73): Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame member who composed a number of award-winning hits, including Charlie Rich's classic "Behind Closed Doors" and the Judds' hit "Mama, He's Crazy."

Floyd Parton (December 6, illness, age 61): the brother of Dolly Parton wrote songs, the best-known of which is "Rockin' Years."

Tom Perryman (January 11, long illness, age 90): Country DJ Hall of Fame disc jockey and one-time business partner with Jim Reeves.

Billy Poe (October 31, unknown cause, age 77):  steel guitarist whose work included time in Billy Walker's band.

Royce Porter (May 31, unknown cause, age 79):  50s rockabilly singer who became a hit country songwriter, penning songs such as "Ocean Front Property" and "Miami, My Amy."

Ronnie Prophet (March 2, multiple organ failure, age 80):  Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame inductee with a career that lasted five decades.

Felton Pruett (September 19, natural causes, age 89): steel guitarist on the Louisiana Hayride throughout the show's entire history, he also played steel with Hank Williams.

Eddie Reeves (November 18, unknown cause, age 79):  executive at Warner Brothers' Nashville office, he also co-wrote the song "Rings," a hit for Tompall and the Glaser Brothers.

Herb Remington (October 26, natural causes, age 92): Steel Guitar Hall of Fame member, Texas Playboy, and steel guitar designer (Remington Steel Guitars).

Burt Reynolds (September 6, heart attack, age 82): the legendary actor had several connections to country music, including co-starring with Jerry Reed in Smokey and the Bandit and Dolly Parton in The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (in which he also sang a duet with Parton).

Norm Rogers (February 19, cancer, age 61): former drummer for the Americana band the Jayhawks.

Dave Rowland (November 1, stroke, age 74): besides being the "Dave" in the late 70s trio Dave & Sugar, he was a member of the Four Guys and sang backup with Charley Pride.

Ronnie Samoset (July 29, unknown cause, age 71): songwriter who wrote hits such as "A Jukebox With a Country Song" and "Lying to the Moon."

Dave Schober (May 23, leukemia, age unknown): recording engineer who worked with the likes of Amy Grant, Vince Gill, Brad Paisley, and Josh Turner.

Randy Scruggs (April 17, short illness, age 64): Earl Scruggs' son and the namesake of "Randy Lynn Rag" had his own career as a Grammy-winning musician.

Wayne Secrest (June 2, illness, age 68): the founder and original guitarist for the band Confederate Railroad.

Ben Selecman (September 12, injuries from a fall, age 29):  son-in-law of Country Music Hall of Fame singer Alan Jackson.

Daryle Singletary (February 12, suspected heart attack, age 46): neo-traditionalist country singer who rose to prominence in the 1990s.

Beverly Sloan (August 27, unknown cause, age 79):  wife of Melvin Sloan, leader of the Opry's square dance troupe the Melvin Sloan Dancers, and part of the dance group.

Hazel Smith (March 18, heart failure, age 83): longtime country music journalist and publicist, she was credited with coining the term "outlaw music."

Glenn Snoddy (May 21, natural causes, age 96): longtime recording engineer in Nashville, he accidentally invented the "fuzz tone" sound on Marty Robbins' hit "Don't Worry," and later replicated the sound in a "fuzz pedal."

Neil Stretcher (August 16, unknown cause, age 80):  Grand Ole Opry staff band pianist for over a dozen years as well as a singer and songwriter.

Joe Taylor (May 14, unknown cause, age 85): one of Nashville's biggest booking agents, he promoted two generations' worth of country stars, from Dave Dudley to Sylvia.  He also worked for Martha White Flour as advertising manager when the brand became associated with bluegrass music.

Ernie Thacker (April 10, bone infection, age 46): bluegrass guitarist and singer who got his start in Ralph Stanley's Clinch Mountain Boys, and who overcame a near-fatal car wreck in 2006 to return to performing.

Fay Jennings Thompson (September 5, unknown cause, age 86):  member of the Anita Kerr Singers and an author of books on the history of shape note singing.

Billy ThunderKloud (ne Vincent Clifford) (June 5, complications of a stroke, age 70): Canadian country music singer, whose biggest hit was "What Time of Day" in the 70s, remembered for wearing costumes to highlight his native ancestry.

Bill Wagner (October 13, unknown cause, age 55): writer for Bluegrass Unlimited, Acoustic Guitar, and Old-Time Herald. 

Dean Webb (June 30, unknown cause, age 81):  mandolin player in the Bluegrass Hall of Fame group the Dillards.

Herman Webb (July 28, unknown cause, age 83):  brother of Loretta Lynn and Crystal Gayle.

Earl Webster (April 24, natural causes, age 85): half of the Webster Brothers, a Knoxville-based duet who performed in the same vein and era as the Louvins and the Brewsters.

Lari White (January 23, peritoneal cancer, age 52): 1990s-era country singer who also branched out into acting, appearing in the film Cast Away

Tony Joe White (October 24, heart attack, age 75): the "Swamp Fox" who blended country, blues, and R&B into a successful mixture with hits such as "Polk Salad Annie."

Jerry Wiggins (June 26, illness, age 73): drummer for Buck Owens during the Hee Haw days, he was also the husband of Owens' duet singer, Susan Raye.

Sam Wilson (February 25, stroke/kidney failure, age 69): guitarist in Ralph Stanley's Clinch Mountain Boys.

Les Woodie (March 23, natural causes, age 86): bluegrass fiddling great who is part of the Bluegrass Hall of Fame with the Stanley Brothers' band.

Jimmy Work (December 22, natural causes, age 94): songwriter who gave country music several hits, including "Tennessee Border" and, most memorably, "Making Believe."

Also, sadly:

Sean Adler, 48
Blake Dingman, 21
Jacob Dunham, 21
Cody Gifford-Coffman, 22
Sgt. Ron L. Helus, 54
Alaina Housley, 18
Dan Manrique, 33
Justin Meek, 23
Mark Meza, 20
Kristina Morisette, 20
Telemachus Orfanos, 27
Noel Sparks, 21

These twelve individuals were killed when a gunman opened fire inside the Borderline Bar and Grill, a country music venue in Thousand Oaks, California, on November 7.

And, finally:

Samuel Raizor (my dad) (February 9, long illness, age 87): the man who gave me my love of both the history and the sound of country music.

Farewell, and thank you for the music.

Dates of Note in Country Music, January 1-15

Category: News

(Hall of Fame members in bold on birth/death date, followed by hall[s] of fame in which they are enshrined and the year enshrined.  CM=Country Music; BG=Bluegrass; NS=Nashville Songwriter; SG=Southern Gospel; StG=Steel Guitar; WS=Western Swing; GLA=Grammy Lifetime Achievement recipient; RR=also in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame)

January 1:

Frank Kettering of the Hoosier Hot Shots born in Monmouth, Illinois, 1909 (died 1973)
Hank Williams (CM 61, NS 70, RR 87, GLA 87) died in the back seat of a car between Knoxville, Tennessee and Oak Hill, West Virginia (cardiac arrest), 1953 (was 29)
Aubrey "Moon" Mullican (NS 76) died in Beaumont, Texas (heart attack), 1967 (was 57)
Floyd "Salty" Holmes of the Prairie Ramblers died (unknown cause), 1970 (was 60)
Townes Van Zandt (NS 16) died in Mount Juliet, Tennessee (heart attack), 1997 (was 52)
Del Reeves died in Nashville, Tennessee (emphysema), 2007 (was 73)

Patti Page (Clara Fowler) died in Encinitas, California (long illness), 2013 (was 85)
Cousin Jody (ne James Summey) quit Roy Acuff's Smoky Mountain Boys (along with two other members), 1939.  Acuff replaced Cousin Jody with Beecher Ray Kirby, who was later nicknamed "Bashful Brother Oswald."
Johnny Cash played at San Quentin prison, 1959. Among the prisoners in attendance was Merle Haggard.

The first episode of The Porter Wagoner Show aired in syndication, 1961

January 2:

Harold Bradley (CM 06) born in Nashville, Tennessee, 1926 (now 93)
Dick Feller born in Bronaugh, Missouri, 1943 (now 76)
Roger Miller (CM 95, NS 73) born in Fort Worth, Texas, 1936 (died 1992)
Red Smiley (BG 92) died in Richmond, Virginia (complications from diabetes), 1972 (was 47)
Tex Ritter (CM 64, NS 71) died in Nashville, Tennessee (heart attack), 1974 (was 68)
Wayne Walker (NS 75) died in Nashville, Tennessee (cancer), 1979 (was 53)

Little Jimmy Dickens (CM 83) died in Nashville, Tennessee (heart failure/stroke), 2015 (was 94)

January 3:

Nikki Nelson of Highway 101 born in San Diego, California, 1969 (now 50)

Leon McAuliffe (StG 78) born in Houston, Texas, 1917 (died 1988)
Elwood Goins (BG 09) born in Bramwell, WV, 1936 (died 2007)
Felton Jarvis died in Nashville, Tennessee (stroke), 1981 (was 46)
Doye O'Dell died in Northridge, California (complications of a stroke), 2001 (was 88)

Quanah Talmadge Tubb (better known as Billy Talmadge Tubb) died in El Paso, Texas (unknown causes), 2007 (was 81)
Phil Everly (CM 01, RR 86) died in Burbank, California (COPD), 2014 (was 74)
Sam Lovullo died in Encino, California (natural causes), 2017 (was 88)
Grandpa Jones suffered stroke after performing on the Grand Ole Opry, 1998
Sam Phillips opened Sun Recording Studio, 1950

January 4:

Mike Henderson born in Independence, Missouri, 1955 (now 64)
Kathy Forester of the Forester Sisters born in Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia, 1955 (now 64)
Patty Loveless born in Pikeville, Kentucky, 1957 (now 62)
Deana Carter born in Nashville, Tennessee, 1966 (now 53)

Lorene Mann born in Huntland, Tennessee, 1937 (died 2013)
Clayton McMichen died in Battletown, Kentucky (unknown causes), 1970 (was 69)
Jake Hess (SG 97) died in Opelika, Alabama (complications of heart attack), 2004 (was 76)
First barn dance program in America airs on WBAP, Fort Worth, Texas, 1923

January 5:

Steve Ripley of the Tractors born in Boise, Idaho, 1950 (now 69)
Iris DeMent born in Paragould, Arkansas, 1961 (now 58)

Big Bill Lister born in Kenedy, Texas, 1923 (died 2009)
Sam Phillips (Sun Records owner) (CM 01, RR 86) born in Florence, Alabama, 1923 (died 2003)
Tug McGraw, former baseball pitcher and father of Tim McGraw, died in his son's home in Nashville, Tennessee (brain cancer), 2004 (was 59)

January 6:

Joey Miskulin ("Joey the Cow Polka King") of Riders in the Sky born in Chicago, Illinois, 1949 (now 70)
Jett Williams born in Montgomery, Alabama, 1953 (now 66)
Harry "Hap" Peebles born in Anthony, Kansas, 1913 (died 1993)

Earl Scruggs (CM 85, BG 91, NS 07; GLA 08) born in Flint Hill, North Carolina, 1924 (died 2012)
Autry Inman born in Florence, Alabama, 1929 (died 1988)
Bobby Lord born in Sanford, Florida, 1934 (died 2008)
Chubby Wise (BG 98) died in Bowie, Maryland (heart attack), 1996 (was 80)
Bobby Austin died in Camas, Washington (illness), 2002 (was 68)
Sneaky Pete Kleinkow died in Petaluma, California (complications of Alzheimer's disease), 2007 (was 72)
Ken Nelson (CM 01) died in Somis, California (natural causes), 2008 (was 96)

January 7:

Leona Williams born in Vienna, Missouri, 1943 (now 76)
Marshall Chapman born in Spartanburg, South Carolina, 1949 (now 70)
David Lee Murphy born in Herrin, Illinois, 1959 (now 60)
Bunny Biggs (Jamup of Jamup and Honey) born, 1897 (died 1948)

Jack Greene born in Maryville, Tennessee, 1930 (died 2013)
Owen Bradley (CM 74) died in Nashville, Tennessee (heart ailment/complications of flu), 1998 (was 82)

January 8:

Christy Lane born in Peoria, Illinois, 1940 (now 79)

Holly Tashian born in New York, New York, 1946 (now 73)
Hoke Rice of the Rice Brothers born in Gainesville, Georgia, 1909 (died 1974)
Luther Perkins born in Memphis, Tennessee, 1928 (died 1968)
Elvis Presley (CM 98, RR 86; GLA 71) born in Tupelo, Mississippi, 1935 (died 1977)
Randall Hylton born in Willis, Virginia, 1946 (died 2001)
Sara Carter (CM 70, BG 01; GLA 05) died in Lodi, California (lengthy illness), 1979 (was 79)
Maxwell Emmett "Pat" Buttram, died in Los Angeles, California (kidney failure), 1994 (was 78)

Red Simpson died in Bakersfield, California (heart attack), 2016 (was 81)
The U.S. Postal Service issues a 29c postage stamp featuring Elvis Presley, 1993. The stamp is the Postal Service's best-selling commemorative stamp of all-time, with sales of over 517,000,000.
Billboard magazine publishes first "Hillbilly Records" chart, 1944. The first #1 song was "Pistol Packin' Mama" -- the Bing Crosby & Andrews Sisters' version. Al Dexter's original would be the second #1 song in Billboard chart history.

January 9:

Henry Slaughter (SG 06) born in Roxboro, North Carolina, 1927 (now 91)

Roy Head born in Three Rivers, Texas, 1943 (now 76)
Crystal Gayle born in Paintsville, Kentucky, 1951 (now 68)
Jimmy Day (StG 82) born in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, 1934 (died 1999)
Big Al Downing born in Lenapah, Oklahoma, 1940 (died 2005)

Jimmy Boyd ("I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus") born in McComb, Mississippi, 1940 (died 2009)
Richard Nixon born in Yorba Linda, California, 1913 (died 1994). Nixon was the first sitting U.S. president to attend the Grand Ole Opry (1974).
Jon Hager of the Hager Twins died in Nashville, Tennessee (illness), 2009 (was 67)

January 10:

Curly Ray Cline (BG 09) born in Braisden, West Virginia, 1923 (died 1997)
Zeb Turner died (cancer), 1978 (was 62)
Loretta Webb married Oliver "Mooney" Lynn, 1948

January 11:

Naomi Judd born in Ashland, Kentucky, 1946 (now 73)
Robert Earl Keen born in Houston, Texas, 1956 (now 63)

Kelly Hogan born in Atlanta, Georgia, 1965 (now 53)
Tommy Duncan (WS 86) born in Hillsboro, Texas, 1911 (died 1967)
Goldie Hill Smith born in Kanes County, Texas, 1933 (died 2005)

Max D. Barnes (NS 92) died in Nashville, Tennesee (pneumonia), 2004 (was 67)
Jimmy Griffin of the Remingtons died in Franklin, Tennessee (cancer), 2005 (was 61)

Margaret Whiting died in Englewood, New Jersey (natural causes), 2011 (was 86)
Tommy Allsup died in Springfield, Missouri (complications from hernia surgery), 2017 (was 85)
Tom Perryman (DJ 88) died in Tyler, Texas (long illness), 2018 (was 90)
Stonewall Jackson filed $10 million age discrimination lawsuit against the Grand Ole Opry, 2007

January 12:

William Lee Golden of the Oak Ridge Boys (CM 15) born in Brewton, Alabama, 1939 (now 80)
Ricky Van Shelton born in Danville, Virginia, 1952 (now 67)
LaWanda Lindsey born in Tampa, Florida, 1953 (now 66)
Claudia Church Crowell born in Lenoir, North Carolina, 1962 (now 57)

Tex Ritter (CM 64, NS 71) born in Panola County, Texas, 1905 (died 1974)
Jack Rhodes (NS 72) born in Gedden, Texas, 1907 (died 1968)
Ray Price (CM 96) born in Perryville, Texas, 1926 (died 2013)
Paul Warren (BG 13) died in Nashville, Tennessee (illness), 1978 (was 59)
Charlie Collins died in Nashville, Tennessee (stroke), 2012 (was 78)
The film O Brother, Where Art Thou opened nationwide, 2001. The soundtrack won three Grammy awards: Album of the Year, Best Country Collaboration with Vocals (Dan Tyminski, "Man of Constant Sorrow"), and Best Male Country Vocal Performance (Dr. Ralph Stanley, "O Death"). It also sold over eight million copies and sparked a brief resurgence in the popularity of bluegrass and traditional country music.

January 13:

Trace Adkins born in Springhill, Louisiana, 1962 (now 57)

Ezra Cline (BG 09) born in Gilbert Creek, VA, 1907 (died 1984)
Jenny Lou Carson (NS 71) born in Decatur, Illinois, 1915 (died 1978)

Stephen Foster (NS 10) died in New York New York (complications of fever and blood loss from cut), 1864 (was 37)
Doyle Holly died in Nashville, Tennessee (prostate cancer), 2007 (was 70)

January 14:

Joseph Henry "T-Bone" Burnett born in St. Louis Missouri, 1948 (now 71).  An Americana music performer and producer (of albums by Los Lobos and the BoDeans), he was the producer of the award-winning soundtrack to O Brother, Where Art Thou.

Billie Jo Spears born in Beaumont, Texas, 1937 (died 2011) 

January 15:

David Lynn Jones born in Bexar, Arkansas, 1950 (now 68)

Kurt Howell of Southern Pacific born in Winter Haven, Florida, 1958 (now 60)
Billy Walker born in Ralls, Texas, 1929 (died 2006)
Peter Kuykendall (BG 96) born in Wasington, DC, 1938 (died 2017)
Ron Davies born in Shreveport, Louisiana, 1946 (died 2003)
Jack Guthrie died in Livermore, California (tuberculosis), 1948 (was 32)
Vic Willis died in Hohenwald, Tennessee (car wreck), 1995 (was 72)

Monday, December 17, 2018

Many Blooms Still Linger There

Category: Obituary/News

There are songwriters, then there are songwriters' songwriters.  Jerry Chesnut was a songwriter's songwriter.

Chesnut, the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Famer, died Saturday (12/15) in Nashville.  Music Row reported that Chesnut's death was unexpected despite the fact that he had been suffering from a respiratory illness for some time.

Born in the eastern Kentucky town of Loyall, Jerry Donald Chesnut enlisted in the Air Force during the Korean War, then settled in St. Augustine, Florida after his military service.  He worked as a railroad conductor by day and a country music performer by night.  Moving to Nashville in 1958, he continued a day job (vacuum cleaner salesman) while honing his craft.

And hone his craft, he did.  Beginning with "A Dime At a Time," the country music world became Jerry Chesnut's oyster throughout the late 60s and early 70s.  Among the highly-touted songwriters who turned to Chesnut for songs:  Del Reeves (the aforementioned hit and "Looking At the World Through a Windshield"), Bill Anderson ("Don't She Look Good"), Loretta Lynn ("They Don't Make 'Em Like My Daddy"), Johnny Cash ("Oney"), and Mel Tillis ("Best Way I Know How").

Then there was that little song about a man's world falling apart while the garden maintained its beauty:  "A Good Year for the Roses."  George Jones made the song a #2 smash in 1970 and set the stage for others, ranging from punk icon Elvis Costello to country outlaw Johnny Paycheck, to cover the tune.  "A Good Year for the Roses" is a powerful song of heartbreak ("many blooms still linger there, the lawn could stand another mowing, funny how I don't even care") and ranks right up there with "He Stopped Loving Her Today" as one of Jones' finest rip-your-heart-out sad songs.

Chesnut also penned another heartbreaking classic, Faron Young's later-era hit "It's Four in the Morning."  And, just to prove he wasn't solely a heartbreak song man, Chesnut penned the rocking "T-R-O-U-B-L-E," a hit for Elvis Presley in the 70s and Travis Tritt in the 90s.

Chesnut retired from songwriting in the early 1980s but would occasionally still perform.  He was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1996 and the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame in 2004, the second induction class for the state's music hall of fame.

Jerry Chesnut was 87.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Dates of Note in Country Music, December 16-31

Category: News

(Hall of Fame members in bold on birth/death date, followed by hall[s] of fame in which they are enshrined and the year enshrined.  CM=Country Music; BG=Bluegrass; DJ=Country Disc Jockey; NS=Nashville Songwriter; SG=Southern Gospel; StG=Steel Guitar WS=Western Swing; GLA=Grammy Lifetime Achievement recipient; RR=also in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame)

December 16:

Jim Glaser of the Glaser Brothers born in Spalding, Nebraska, 1937 (now 81)
Jeff Carson born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, 1964 (now 54)
Shelby Singleton born in Waskom, Texas, 1931 (died 2009)
Jenny Lou Carson (NS 71) died in Torrance, California (unknown causes), 1978 (was 63)
Martha Carson died in Nashville, Tennessee (natural causes), 2004 (was 83)
Gary Stewart died in Fort Pierce, Florida (suicide [gunshot]), 2003 (was 58)
Dan Fogelberg died in Deer Island, Maine (cancer), 2007 (was 56)

Ray Price (CM 96) died in Mount Pleasant, Texas (pancreatic cancer), 2013 (was 87)

December 17:

Frankie Miller born in Victoria, Texas, 1931 (now 87)
Sharon White Skaggs born in Wichita Falls, Texas, 1953 (now 65) 
Tracy Byrd born in Vidor, Texas, 1966 (now 52)
Karl Davis born in Mount Vernon, Kentucky, 1905 (died 1979)
Spade Cooley born in Grand, Oklahoma, 1910 (died 1969)
Nat Stuckey born in Cass County, Texas, 1933 (died 1988)
Roy Huskey Jr. born in Nashville, Tennessee, 1956 (died 1997)
Rex Allen Sr. died in Tuscon, Arizona (accidentally run over by car), 1999 (was 77)
Lance LeRoy (BG 00) died in Nashville, Tennessee (unknown cause), 2015 (was 84)
Commercial plane carrying Doug Stone crash-lands in Chicago, 1999. Stone was uninjured.

December 18:

Cledus T. Judd (real name: James Poole) born in Crowe Springs, Georgia, 1964 (now 54)
Wilf Carter (Montana Slim) (NS 71) born in Port Hilford, Nova Scotia, 1904 (died 1996)
Gordie Tapp died in Burlington, Ontario (pneumonia), 2016 (was 94)
The Louvin Brothers' first recording session (they recorded "Alabama") at Castle Studios, Nashville, 1947

December 19:

John McEuen of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Bang born in Long Beach, California, 1945 (now 73)
Janie Fricke born in South Whitney, Indiana, 1947 (now 71)
Jumpin' Bill Carlisle (CM 02) born in Wakefield, Kentucky, 1908 (died 2003)
Little Jimmy Dickens (CM 83) born in Bolt, West Virginia, 1920 (died 2015)
Marion Worth died in Madison, Tennessee (emphysema), 1999 (was 69)
Hank Williams' last show, given at the Skyline Club, Austin, Texas, 1952
Johnny Paycheck shot a man outside a bar in Greenfield, Ohio, 1985

December 20:

Skeeter Willis of the Willis Brothers born in Colton, Oklahoma, 1917 (died 1976)
Jack Stapp (CM 89) died in Nashville, Tennessee (unknown cause), 1980 (was 68)
Don Law (CM 01) died in LaMarque, Texas (unknown cause), 1982 (was 80)

Hank Snow (CM 79, NS 78) died in Nashville, Tennessee (various illnesses), 1999 (was 85)
Chip Young died in Nashville, Tennessee (complications from heart surgery), 2014 (was 76)

December 21:

Lee Roy Parnell born in Abilene, Texas, 1956 (now 62)
Christy Forrester of the Forester Sisters born in Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia, 1962 (now 56)
Vito Pellettieri born in Nashville, Tennessee, 1889 (died 1977)
Floyd "Lightnin'" Chance born in Como, Mississippi, 1925 (died 2005)

Freddie Hart (NS 04) born in Lockapoke, Alabama, 1926 (died 2018)
Natchee the Indian (ne Lester Vernon Storer) died in Santa Clara, California (unknown cause), 1970 (was 54)
John Bailes of the Bailes brothers died (unknown cause), 1989 (was 71)
Harold Morrison died in Springfield, Missouri (illness), 1993 (was 62)

December 22:

Red Stegall born in Gainesville, Texas, 1937 (now 81)
Chuck Mead of BR5-49 born in Nevada, Missouri, 1960 (now 58)
Paul Martin of Exile born in Winchester, Kentucky, 1962 (now 56)
Harold "Hawkshaw" Hawkins born in Huntington, West Virginia, 1921 (died 1963)
Dave Dudley died in Danbury, Wisconsin (heart attack), 2003 (was 75)
Dennis Linde (NS 01) died in Nashville, Tennessee (lung disease), 2006 (was 63)

December 23:

Murray "Buddy" Harman born in Nashville, Tennessee, 1928 (died 2008)

December 24:

Lulu Belle Wiseman born in Boone, North Carolina, 1913 (died 1999)
Zane Beck (StG 91) born in Clarksville, Arkansas, 1927 (died 1985)
Jake Hess (SG 97) born in Limestone County, Alabama, 1927 (died 2004)
Stoney Edwards born in Seminole, Oklahoma, 1929 (died 1997)
William J. "Billy" Hill (NS 82) died in Boston, Massachusetts (heart attack), 1940 (was 41)
Charlie Moore died in Maryland (illness), 1979 (was 44)

December 25:

Jimmy Buffett (NS 06) born in Pascagoula, Mississippi, 1946 (now 72)
Barbara Mandrell (CM 09, StG 09) born in Houston, Texas, 1948 (now 70)
Steve Wariner born in Noblesville, Indiana, 1954 (now 64)
Alton Delmore (CM 01, NS 71) born in Elkmont, Alabama, 1908 (died 1964)
J.R. "Curly" Seckler (BG 04) born in China Grove, North Carolina, 1919 (died 2017)
Billy Nelson, Willie Nelson's son, died in Nashville, Tennessee (suicide [hanged self]), 1991 (was 33)
Johnny Cash and family robbed and held at gunpoint in their Jamaica home, 1982

December 26:

Bob Carpenter of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1946 (now 72)
Travis Lewis of the Lewis Family (BG 06) born in Greenwood, South Carolina, 1958 (now 60)
Audrey Wiggins born in Asheville, North Carolina, 1967 (now 51)
Beecher Ray "Pete" "Bashful Brother Oswald" Kirby born in Sevier County, Tennessee, 1911 (died 2002)
Harry Choates born in Rayne, Louisiana, 1911 (died 1951)
Ronnie Prophet born in Calument, Quebec, 1938 (died 2018)
Jimmie Osborne died in Louisville, Kentucky (suicide [gunshot]), 1957 (was 34)
Miggie Lewis of the Lewis Family (BG 06) died in Augusta, Georgia (natural causes), 2017 (was 91)
Red Foley and wife Sally injured in a fire in their apartment in Nashhville, 1964

December 27:

Leonard T. "LT" Zinn (StG 05) born in Hanover, Pennsylvania, 1924 (now 94)
Les Taylor of Exile born in Oneida, Kentucky, 1948 (now 70)
Darrin Vincent of Dailey & Vincent born in Kirkville, Missouri, 1969 (now 49)

Scotty Moore (RR 00) born in Gadsden, Tennessee, 1931 (died 2016)
John Hughey (StG 96) born in Elaine, Arkansas, 1933 (died 2007)
Bob Luman died in Nashville, Tennessee (pneumonia), 1978 (was 41)
Hoagy Carmichael (NS 88) died in Rancho Mirage, California (heart ailment), 1981 (was 82)
Kent Robbins (NS 98) died in Clanton, Alabama (car wreck), 1997 (was 50)
Vestal Goodman (SG 02) died in Celebration, Florida (complications from the flu), 2003 (was 74)
Hank "Sugarfoot" Garland died in Orange Park, Florida (staph infection), 2004 (was 74)
J.R. "Curly" Seckler (BG 04) died in Nashville, Tennessee (natural causes), 2017 (was 98)

December 28:

Joe Diffie born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, 1958 (now 60)
Mike McGuire of Shenandoah born in Haleyville, Alabama, 1958 (now 60)
Marty Roe of Diamond Rio born in Lebanon, Ohio, 1960 (now 58)
Dorsey Burnette born in Memphis, Tennessee, 1932 (died 1979)
Mike Auldridge (BG 14) died in Silver Spring, Maryland (cancer), 2012 (was 73)
Hank Williams Jr.'s first recording session at age 14, 1963

December 29:

Rose Lee Maphis born in Baltimore, Maryland, 1922 (now 96)
Ed Bruce born in Keiser, Arkansas, 1939 (now 79)

December 30:

Suzy Bogguss born in Aledo, Illinois, 1956 (now 62)
Joaquin Murphey (StG 80) born in Hollywood, California, 1923 (died 1999)
Bob Ferguson born in Willow Spring, Missouri, 1927 (died 2001)
Orville "Red" Rhodes (StG 05) born in Alton, Illinois, 1930 (died 1995)
Skeeter Davis (nee Mary Frances Penick) born in Dry Ridge, Kentucky, 1931 (died 2004)
Melvin Goins (BG 09) born in Bramwell, West Virginia, 1933 (died 2016)
John Hartford (BG 10) born in New York, New York, 1937 (died 2001)
Mike Auldridge (BG 14) born in Washington, DC, 1938 (died 2012)
Elsie McWilliams (NS 79) died in Meridian, Mississippi (natural causes), 1985 (was 89)
Henry Strzelecki died in Nashville, Tennessee (hit by car), 2014 (was 75)

December 31:

Talmade Lewis of the Lewis Family (BG 06) born in Lincolnton, Georgia, 1934 (now 84)
Rex Allen Sr. born in Wilcox, Arizona, 1920 (died 1999)
Dale Noe born in New Boston, Ohio, 1927 (died 2005)
John Denver born in Roswell, New Mexico, 1943 (died 1997)
Rick Nelson died in DeKalb, Texas (plane crash), 1985 (was 45)
Floyd Cramer (CM 03) died in Nashville, Tennessee (lung cancer), 1997 (was 64)
Jim McReynolds of Jim & Jesse (BG 93) died in Gallatin, Tennessee (cancer), 2002 (was 75)
Hairl Hensley (DJ 95) died in Nashville, Tennessee (illness), 2017 (was 82)
Charlie Louvin injured in car accident near Manchester, Tennessee, 2001
The original Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum building closed, 2000