Sunday, January 31, 2016

When the Winds Blow From the South It Means...

Category:  Opinion 

...Either there will be an unusually warm winter, or it's time to start thinking about the Country Music Hall of Fame voting.  This blog is about the latter.

There is no set time for the announcements for the new inductees into the Country Music Hall of Fame.  Last year the inductees were announced on March 25.  In 2012, it was March 6.  In 2014, the announcement didn't come until late April.  

Regardless of when it is done, here is what I'd love to see in the "Class of 2016:"

VETERANS:

The list of deserving individuals who have yet to be inducted continues to be too long.  The Browns' induction last year filled a large hole (although, sadly, Jim Ed Brown died two and a half months after the announcement of his induction with his sisters was made).  The list continues to include what I consider the biggest oversight in the annual induction, the Wilburn Brothers, along with other stalwarts from the 40's-50's as Elton Britt (recipient of the first "gold record" in country music history), Al Dexter (a man so popular that his "Pistol Packin' Mama" led to the creation of the Billboard country music singles chart), the Stanley Brothers (who, along with Flatt & Scuggs and Bill Monroe, were the chief founding pioneers of bluegrass), Johnny Horton, Cowboy Copas, and Hank Locklin (whose 1960 hit "Please Help Me, I'm Falling" was the fourth biggest song of the entire decade of the 1960's).  

However, if I had a vote, this year it would go to the Maddox Brothers and Rose.

The Hall of Fame closed an exhibit on the "Bakersfield sound" at the conclusion of 2014.  That exhibit started with the Maddox Brothers and Rose and meandered through their career and their significance as pioneers who put Bakersfield on the country music map.  Don Maddox, the final surviving member, turned 93 in December, and it would be wonderful to see the Maddox Brothers & Rose receive enshrinement while he's still alive to see and enjoy it.  Once he's gone, so's the history.

MODERN ERA:

This is another place where a backlog is starting to pile up, thanks to long-ignored superstars from the 60's-80's such as Ray Stevens (one of only two recipients of a gold record for a country comedy song ["The Streak," 1974), Jerry Reed (known worldwide thanks to his acting and singing in Smoky and the Bandit), Freddie Hart (one of four "20 biggest acts of the 70's" listed in the Whitburn who hasn't been inducted yet, he did the #1 song of the 70's, "My Hang-Up Is You" as well and became the first person to win the CMA "Song of the Year" two consecutive years for "Easy Lovin'"), and Charlie Rich.  From the "neo-traditional" resurgence of the 80's acts such as Randy Travis, Ricky Skaggs, and Dwight Yoakam, and Keith Whitley (all of whom Garth Brooks mentioned in his induction speech in 2012).

My vote would go to -- and, oh, is my dad going to kill me for saying this -- Hank Williams Jr.

A lot of people -- myself included -- argue that Hank Jr. paved that slippery slope of "more-rock-than-country" country music that led Nashville down the pit it's in now (and cannot seem to climb out of).  But if Hank Jr. paved that road Garth drove it, and he's in the Hall of Fame.  If you go back to the late 60's and well into the 70's you'll see Hank Jr. was just as country as anyone; and, in many cases (the "countrypolitan" pop of acts like Olivia Newton-John and Bobby Goldsboro), more country, thanks to songs like "I Walked Out on Heaven" and "Cajun Baby."  Earlier I mentioned those "top artists" listed in the back of the country Whitburn.  Hank Jr. is lucky #13 on the ALL-TIME list of successful country singers based on singles chart success as listed in the 1944-1993 Whitburn.  The twelve acts listed above him are all Hall of Famers.  As for the acts below him, you have to go to #36 -- Tanya Tucker -- to find another person not in the Hall of Fame.  Yes, I know he has ruffled a few feathers.  However, much like the Wilburn Brothers, it's not supposed to be a hall of personal or corporate vendettas or CMA pets.  It's a hall of fame, and -- like it or not -- Hank Jr. qualifies.

ROTATING CATEGORY:  NON-PERFORMER:

This is the year for the non-performers to be acknowledged.  Again, there are a wide variety of areas to look to find worthy people.  Being a writer, I gravitate toward people such as Dr. Bill C. Malone, the man who literally wrote the book on country music (1968's Country Music U.S.A.), or legendary author and scholar Charles K. Wolfe, who wrote books on everything from the fiddle to the early days of the Grand Ole Opry (A Good Natured Riot) and everyone from Leadbelly to the Louvin Brothers.  There are no historians inducted in the Hall of Fame, and that really needs to change.  

However, again this year (and every third year until the Hall of Fame eventually wipes the egg off its face and inducts him), my vote would go to Sydney Nathan.

In the early 40's the hotbed of country music wasn't Nashville, it was Cincinnati.  While publishing companies and record labels pooh-poohed the idea of signing "hillbilly" singers or, worse, publishing their songs, Syd Nathan used his keen businessman's sense and noticed that "hillbilly" records were selling very, very well in his Cincinnati record store.  With a deep well of talent to draw from in the area (including future hall of famers Merle Travis, Grandpa Jones, Homer & Jethro, and the Delmore Brothers, and should-be hall of famers such as Moon Mullican and Cowboy Copas), Sydney Nathan founded the nation's first all-hillbilly music label in 1943, King Records.  Nathan has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for the label's work with pioneering R&B acts such as James Brown, and into the Bluegrass Hall of Fame because of the presence of the Stanley Brothers and Reno & Smiley.  He did much more for country music than either of those genres, and yet he continues to be ignored by the genre of music he helped popularize thanks to easy access to recordings.

The 2016 Hall of Fame inductees will be announced in the spring.

Dates of Note in Country Music, February 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; OTF=Old Time Fiddler; RR=also in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame)


February 1:

Don Everly (CM 01, NS 01, RR 86) born in Brownie, Kentucky, 1937 (now 79)
Ray Sawyer of Dr. Hook born in Chicksaw, Alabama, 1937 (now 79)
Del McCoury (BG 11) born in Bakersville, North Carolina, 1939 (now 77)

Tom Gray of the Country Gentlemen (BG 96) born in Chicago, Illinois, 1941 (now 75)
Lisa Marie Presley born in Memphis, Tennessee, 1968 (now 48)

Scotty Wiseman (NS 71) died in Gainesville, Florida (heart attack), 1981 (was 71)

February 2:

Howard Bellamy of the Bellamy Brothers born in Darby, Florida, 1946 (now 70)
Emmett Miller born in Macon, Georgia, 1900 (died 1962)
Lester McFarland of Mac & Bob born in Gray, Kentucky, 1902 (died 1984)

Glenn Barber born in Hollis, Oklahoma, 1935 (died 2008)
Rusty Kershaw born in Tiel Ridge, Louisiana, 1938 (died 2001)
Jimmie Crawford (StG 00) died in Nashville, Tennessee (unknown cause), 2005 (was 69)
Louise Scruggs (BG 10) died in Nashville Tennessee, 2006 (was 78)

February 3:

Dave Rich born in Briar Creek, Kentucky, 1936 (now 80). Ernest Tubb heard a recording of Rich's and hounded friend Ray Price throughout a game of golf to record the song. The song? "City Lights."
Matraca Berg (NS 08) born in Nashville, Tennessee, 1964 (now 52)
Betty Foley, daughter and one-time duet partner of Red Foley, born in Chicago, Illinois, 1933 (died 1990)
Jiles Perry "J.P." Richardson ("The Big Bopper") died near Clear Lake, Iowa (plane crash), 1959 (was 28)
Buddy Holly (NS 94, RR 86) died near Clear Lake, Iowa (plane crash), 1959 (was 22)
James Blackwood of the Blackwood Brothers Quartet (SG 97) died in Memphis, Tennessee (stroke), 2002 (was 83). He was the last original member of the legendary quartet.

February 4:

Clint Black born in Long Branch, New Jersey, 1962 (now 54)
Chris McDaniel of Confederate Railroad born in Rock Springs, Georgia, 1965 (now 51)
Vic McAlpin (NS 70) born in Defeated Creek, Tennessee, 1918 (died 1980)
Kenneth "Jethro" Burns (CM 01) died in Evanston, Illinois (prostate cancer), 1989 (was 68)
Tom Brumley (StG 92) of Buck Owens' Buckaroos died in San Antonio, Texas (heart ailment), 2009 (was 62)

February 5:


Sara Evans born in Boonville, Missouri, 1971 (now 45)

Shelby David "Tex" Atchison born in Rosine, Kentucky, 1912 (died 1982)
Claude King born in Shreveport, Louisiana, 1923 (died 2013)
Henson Cargill born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, 1941 (died 2007)
Eddy Noack died (cerebral hemorrhage), 1978 (was 47)

February 6:

Dale Reno of the Reno Brothers born in Roanoke, Virginia, 1961 (now 55)
Richie McDonald of Lonestar born in Lubbock, Texas, 1962 (now 54)
Anita Cochran born in Pontiac, Michigan, 1967 (now 49)

Jim Bowles (OTF) born in Rock Bridge, Kentucky, 1903 (died 1993)
Violet Koehler of the original Coon Creek Girls born in Wilton, Wisconsin, 1916 (died 1973)

Merle Kilgore (NS 98) died in Nashville, Tennessee (cancer), 2005 (was 70)
Frankie Laine died in San Diego, California (complications from hip replacement surgery), 2007 (was 93)

February 7:

Tony Booth born in Tampa, Florida, 1943 (now 73)
Garth Brooks (CM 12, NS 11) born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, 1962 (now 54)
Wilma Lee Cooper born in Valley Head, West Virginia, 1921 (died 2011)
Warren Smith born in Humphreys County, Mississippi, 1933 (died 1980)
Ambrose Allen of the Allen Brothers born in Sewanee, Tennessee, 1901 (died 1959)
Dale Evans died in Happy Valley, California (congestive heart failure), 2001 (was 88)
Molly Bee died in Oceanside, California (complications of a stroke), 2009 (was 68)
Patsy Cline's last recording session, Nashville, 1963. The last song she recorded was a cover of Moon Mullican's "I'll Sail My Ship Alone."
Jim Reeves recorded "Four Walls" in Nashville, 1957. This song is said by many to be the beginning of the "Nashville Sound."

February 8:

Don Wayne Reno of the Reno Brothers born in Roanoke, Virginia, 1963 (now 53)
Pappy Daily born in Yoakum, Texas, 1902 (died 1987)
Bob Dunn (StG 92) born in Fort Gibson, Oklahoma, 1908 (died 1971). Dunn is credited as being the first country musician to use amplification for his instrument.

Dan Seals born in McCamey, Texas, 1948 (died 2009)
Merle Watson born in Deep Gap, North Carolina, 1949 (died 1985)
Lulu Belle Wiseman died (Alzheimer's disease), 1999 (was 84)

Pauline "Mom" Lewis of the Lewis Family (BG 06) died in Washington, Georgia (illness), 2003 (was 92)
Keith Knudsen of Southern Pacific died in California (chronic pneumonia), 2005 (was 56)

February 9:


Joe Ely born in Amarillo, Texas, 1947 (now 69)
Travis Tritt born in Marietta, Georgia, 1963 (now 53)
Ernest Tubb (CM 65, NS 70) born in Crisp, Texas, 1914 (died 1984)

Red Lane (NS 93) born in Zona, Louisiana, 1939 (died 2015)
Charles K. Wolfe (BG 09) died in Murfreesboro, Tennessee (complications of diabetes), 2006 (was 62)

February 10:

George York of the York Brothers born in Louisa, Kentucky, 1910 (died 1974)

Arthur Satherley (CM 71) died in Fountain Valley, California (natural causes), 1986 (was 96)
Kendall Hayes died in Louisville, Kentucky (cancer), 1995 (was 59)
Jim Varney died in White House, Tennessee (lung cancer), 2000 (was 50)


February 11:

Wayma "Pee Wee" Whitewing (StG 02) born in Reichert, Oklahoma, 1934 (now 82)

Wesley Rose (CM 86) born in Chicago, Illinois, 1918 (died 1980)

February 12:

Moe Bandy born in Meridian, Mississippi, 1944 (now 72)
Stephen Sholes (CM 67) born in Washington, DC, 1911 (died 1968)
Harley "Red" Allen (BG 05) born in Pigeon Roost, Kentucky, 1930 (died 1993)
Lorne Greene born in Ottawa, Ontario, 1915 (died 1987). The legendary actor hit the Billboard top 40 country charts in 1964 with "Ringo."

Barney Isaacs Jr. (StG 99) died (unknownd cause), 1996 (was 69)
Sammi Smith died in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (emphysema), 2005 (was 61)

Mosie Lister (SG 97) died in Spring Hill, Tennessee (natural causes), 2015 (was 93)

February 13:

David McLaughlin of the Johnson Mountain Boys born in Washington, DC, 1958 (now 58)
Tennessee Ernie Ford (CM 90) born in Bristol, Tennessee, 1919 (died 1991)
Boudleaux Bryant (CM 91, NS 72) born in Shellman, Georgia, 1920 (died 1987)
Jim McReynolds of Jim & Jesse (BG 93) born in Coeburn, Virginia, 1927 (died 2003)
Charlie Moore born in Piedmont, South Carolina, 1935 (died 1979)
Buddy Lee died in Nashville, Tennessee (cancer), 1998 (was 65)
Waylon Jennings (CM 01, NS 95) died in Chandler, Arizona (complications of diabetes), 2002 (was 64)

February 14:

Tom Bradshaw (StG 06) born in Skiatook, Oklahoma, 1935 (now 81)

Razzy Bailey born in Five Points, Alabama, 1939 (now 77)
Bill Nowlin, co-founder of Rounder Records, born in Boston, Massachusetts, 1945 (now 71)
Harry Stone born in Jacksonville, Florida, 1898 (died 1968)
Lonnie Glosson born in Judsonia, Arkansas, 1908 (died 2001)
Buck Griffin died in Oklahoma (heart failure), 2009 (was 85)

February 15:

Wally Fowler born in Adairsville, Georgia, 1917 (died 1994)

Hank Locklin born in McLellan, Florida, 1918 (died 2009)
Louise Scruggs (BG 10) born in Lebanon, Tennessee, 1927 (died 2006)
Dorris Macon died (suicide), 1981 (was 71)
Nat "King" Cole died in Santa Montica, California (lung cancer), 1965 (was 45). The legendary pop crooner hit #1 on the Billboard country charts in 1944 (with the King Cole Trio) with the song "Straighten Up and Fly Right."

Monday, January 18, 2016

We Can Never Know About Tomorrow

Category:  News/Obituary

It is with deep, almost unfathomable, sadness that I announce the death of Glenn Frey.

Frey died today (1/18) in New York of pneumonia following surgery in November for ulcerative colitis.  He had suffered for decades with intestinal problems, including surgery in the early 90's to remove a significant part of his colon. 

Glenn Lewis Frey was born November 6, 1948 in that country music mecca, Detroit.  He grew up loving R&B music and playing it in local bands.  In 1968 he got his first "break," when he sang backup on Bob Seger's "Ramblin' Gamblin' Man."

When Frey moved to Los Angeles in 1969 he found a different kind of music was popular:  country-rock.  Spearheaded by Gram Parsons' groundbreaking work with the Byrds on Sweetheart of the Rodeo and Poco's Pickin' Up the Pieces album celebrating "a little bit of magic in the country music we're singing," the country-rock movement was gaining significant momentum.  Frey found a kindred spirit in another Detroit native, John David Souther.  The two formed a duet called Longbranch/Pennywhistle and released one album on Amos Records.  

The album went nowhere, but Frey soon met another person who'd had a country-rock album released on Amos records.  That man was Don Henley, the drummer for Shiloh.  The two met at the Troubadour nightclub in L.A. and talked about their dreams.  Soon Linda Ronstadt picked them and a few other musicians for her backing band.  

Henley and Frey soon took a couple of the musicians who'd played with Ronstadt -- bassist Randy Meisner, who had played on the first Poco album, and former Flying Burrito Brother Bernie Leadon -- and formed the Eagles.

With the exception of the Beatles, no other band has had as big an impact on American popular music as the Eagles.  Their 1975 greatest hits album is the biggest-selling album in history.   And that impact was in country as well as rock.  Their 1975 hit "Lyin' Eyes" made the country top ten as well as reaching #2 on the pop charts -- in the age of disco!  That song won them a Grammy, as did another one of their country-flavored singles, 1977's "New Kid in Town."

When the Eagles disbanded in 1980 the individual members moved far away from country music, with Henley taking a modern sound approach and Frey returning to his Detroit roots. He also was featured on a number of soundtracks ("The Heat is On" on Beverly Hills Cop and "Part of Me, Part of You" on Thelma and Louise) and dabbled in acting, appearing in an episode of Miami Vice and an extremely short-lived (as in, cancelled after one episode) series, South of Sunset.

In 2007 the Eagles' final album, Long Road Out of Eden, was released.  The single "How Long" (a J.D. Souther tune from 1972) won them another country Grammy award.

In addition to their commercial success, the Eagles were notorious for their excessive lifestyle.  Frey blamed those days for his longstanding intestinal problems.  Although he took the healthy route in the 80's, the problems continued to dog him.

The Eagles were to receive a Kenndy Center Honors award in December, but Frey's surgery postponed their participation.  Now, sadly, he won't get to see it.

When I started listening to rock and roll, it was difficult to jump from Buck Owens to Alice Cooper.  The Eagles were there, with their country-rock, helping that transition.  They were my first rock concert, in 1978.  (I got to see them as a band twice.)  Additionally, I got to meet Glenn Frey in 1982, when he started his post-Eagles solo tour in Philadelphia.  

The music of the Eagles is, as that Thelma & Louise song said, "part of me."  And that song, written by Frey and Jack Tempchin, is a fitting tribute:

I can feel it when I hear that lonesome highway
So many miles to go before I die
We can never know about tomorrow
Still we have to choose which way to go

Glenn Frey was 67.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Sick Call: Mel Tillis

Category:  News

Country Music Hall of Fame singer/songwriter Mel Tillis is in a Nashville hospital following colon surgery.

Family and friends of Tillis, 83, took to social media earlier today (1/15) to request prayers for him, saying he was "in critical condition."  Tillis' manager said those reports are "exaggerated" in a statement late in the evening, but did acknowledge that Tillis is still in the hospital.  A statement from a country music cruise Tillis was to have participated in said that Tillis has canceled, adding he needs "several weeks" to recover. 

Among his massive hits written for others are "Detroit City" by Bobby Bare, "Honey (Open That Door)" by Ricky Skaggs, "I'm Tired" by Ray Price, and "Ruby, Don't Take Your Love to Town" by Kenny Rogers & the First Edition.  His own string of hits include "Sawmill," "Coca Cola Cowboy," and "Good Woman Blues."  

Tillis was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters' Hall of Fame in 1976 and the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2007.  He has been a member of the Grand Ole Opry since 2007.

Best wishes and prayers for a complete and speedy recovery to this legend!

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; RR=also inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame)


January 16:

Ronnie Milsap (CM 14) born in Robbinsville, North Carolina, 1943 (now 73)
Jim Stafford born in Eloise, Florida, 1944 (now 72)
Sandy Pinkard of Pinkard & Bowden born in Abbeville, Louisiana, 1947 (now 69)

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 61)
Amanda Wilkinson of the Wilkinsons born in Belleville, Ontario, 1982 (now 34)
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 78)
Mark Collie born in Waynesboro, Tennessee, 1956 (now 60)

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)

January 19:


Stu Phillips born in Montreal, Quebec, 1933 (now 83)
Dolly Parton (CM 99, NS 86) born in Locast Ridge, Tennessee, 1946 (now 70)
Stephanie Davis born in Bridger, Montana, 1958 (now 58)
Dennie Crouch of the Nashville Bluegrass Band born in Strawberry, Arkansas, 1967 (now 49)
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) 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 51)

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 74)
Jim Ibbottson of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1947 (now 69)

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 67)

Teddy Gentry (CM 05) born in Fort Payne, Alabama, 1952 (now 64)
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 54)
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.
The Winter Dance Party begins in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 1959. Three of the headliners, Buddy Holly, J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson, and Richie Valens, would die 11 days later.

January 24:

Doug Kershaw born in Tiel Ridge, Louisiana, 1936 (now 80)
Jack Scott born in Windsor, Ontario, 1936 (now 80)
Ray Stevens (NS 80) born in Clarksdale, Georgia, 1939 (now 77)
Becky Hobbs born in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, 1950 (now 66)
Keech Rainwater of Lonestar born in Plano, Texas, 1963 (now 53)

Warren Zevon born in Chicago, Illinois, 1947 (died 2001).  The folk-rock singer wrote "Poor Poor Pitiful Me," which was a hit on the country charts by both Linda Ronstadt and Terri Clark.  Zevon also had Dwight Yoakam on two albums and appeared in South of Heaven, West of Hell, which Yoakam directed and starred in.
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 84)
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:

Dave Rowland of Dave & Sugar born in Sanger, California, 1942 (now 74)
Lucinda Williams born in Lake Charles, Louisiana, 1953 (now 63)

James O'Gwynn born in Winchester, Mississippi, 1928 (died 2011)
Clayton McMichen born in Allatoona, Georgia, 1900 (died 1970)
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 63)
Cheryl White of the Whites born in Wichita Falls, Texas, 1955 (now 61)
Richard Young of the Kentucky Headhunters born in Glasgow, Kentucky, 1955 (now 61)
Tracy Lawrence born in Atlanta, Texas, 1968 (now 48)
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 51)
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 72)
Irlene Mandrell of the Mandrell Sisters born in Corpus Christi, Texas, 1957 (now 59)

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 79)
Norma Jean ("Pretty Miss Norma Jean") born in Wellston, Oklahoma, 1938 (now 78)
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 54)
Warren Smith died in Longview, Texas (heart attack), 1981 (was 47)

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

Monday, January 11, 2016

Roll, Truck, Roll

Category:  Obituary

The great Red Simpson has died.

Simpson died Friday (1/8) in a Bakersfield hospital of an apparent heart attack.  He was home recovering from a December heart attack he had suffered while performing in the Pacific northwest.

Joseph "Red" Simpson is hardly a household name, but his influence was enormous.  Along with the Maddox Brothers and Rose and Wynn Stewart, Simpson helped put the unique stamp on west-coast country music that later became known as the Bakersfield Sound, paving the way for Bakersfield superstars Buck Owens, Merle Haggard, and Dwight Yoakam.  As a songwriter, his songs "Gonna Have Love" and "Sam's Place" were hits for Buck Owens.

In addition to his songs, his guitar was featured on several recording sessions for Owens, including Buck's great instrumental classic "Buckaroo" and his Christmas song "Santa Looked a Lot Like Daddy."  Simpson also played on Merle Haggard sessions, including the hit "I Take a Lot of Pride in What I Am."  Haggard pointed out in a farewell tweet that Simpson was "one of the original musicians on 'Okie From Muskogee,'" adding that Simpson was "a friend for over 50 years."

One other thing that Simpson helped bring into the forefront of country music was the "trucker song."  His 1966 song "Roll, Truck, Roll," along with other songs such as Dave Dudley's "Six Days on the Road" and the Willis Brothers' "Give Me 40 Acres," helped popularize songs with truck driving themes in country music, creating a deep and ongoing bond between the two.  Simpson's biggest charted hit as a singer was another trucker song, "Hello, I'm a Truck," a humorous look at truckers from the perspective of the semi, complete with good-natured jabs at his buddies ("he's gonna take out that tape cartridge of Buck Owens and play it again...I don't know why he don't get a Merle Haggard tape!").

Simpson had finished his first album in decades, Soda Pop and Saturdays, scheduled for release next month.  He was also slated to received the "Founder of the Sound" award at the annual Ameripolitan Music Awards in Austin.

Simpson was 81.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

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; 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) 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 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 90)
Dick Feller born in Bronaugh, Missouri, 1943 (now 73)
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 47)

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)
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 61)
Kathy Forester of the Forester Sisters born in Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia, 1955 (now 61)
Patty Loveless born in Pikeville, Kentucky, 1957 (now 59)
Deana Carter born in Nashville, Tennessee, 1966 (now 50)

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 66)
Iris DeMent born in Paragould, Arkansas, 1961 (now 55)

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 67)
Jett Williams born in Montgomery, Alabama, 1953 (now 63)
Harry "Hap" Peebles born in Anthony, Kansas, 1913 (died 1993)

Earl Scruggs (CM 85, BG 91, NS 07) 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 73)
Marshall Chapman born in Spartanburg, South Carolina, 1949 (now 67)
David Lee Murphy born in Herrin, Illinois, 1959 (now 57)
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 76)

Holly Tashian born in New York, New York, 1946 (now 70)
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) born in Tupelo, Mississippi, 1935 (died 1977)
Randall Hylton born in Willis, Virginia, 1946 (died 2001)
Sara Carter (CM 70, BG 01) died in Lodi, California (lengthy illness), 1979 (was 79)
Maxwell Emmett "Pat" Buttram, died in Los Angeles, California (kidney failure), 1994 (was 78)

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, 1926 (now 90)

Roy Head born in Three Rivers, Texas, 1943 (now 73)
Crystal Gayle born in Paintsville, Kentucky, 1951 (now 65)
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 70)
Robert Earl Keen born in Houston, Texas, 1956 (now 60)

Kelly Hogan born in Atlanta, Georgia, 1965 (now 50)
Tommy Duncan 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)
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 77)
Ricky Van Shelton born in Danville, Virginia, 1952 (now 64)
LaWanda Lindsey born in Tampa, Florida, 1953 (now 63)
Claudia Church Crowell born in Lenoir, North Carolina, 1962 (now 54)

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 54)

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 67).  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:

Peter Kuykendall (BG 96), co-founder of Bluegrass Unlimited magazine, born in Wasington, DC, 1938 (now 78)

David Lynn Jones born in Bexar, Arkansas, 1950 (now 66)
Kurt Howell of Southern Pacific born in Winter Haven, Florida, 1958 (now 58)

Billy Walker born in Ralls, Texas, 1929 (died 2006)
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)

The Final Notes of 2015

Category:  Tribute

Here are the people in country music who sang their final song in 2015.


Roy Acuff Jr. (November 5, unknown causes, age 72):  the son of "King of Country Music" Roy Acuff was also a country singer in the 1960's.


Lynn Anderson (July 30, heart attack, age 67):  daughter of songwriter/singer Liz Anderson who went on to a Grammy-winning career with hits that included the 1970 smash "Rose Garden."


Bonnie Lou (real name: Mary Joan Kath) (December 8, natural causes, age 91):  a staple on the Cincinnati-based Midwestern Hayride radio show and television program, she had several recordings on King as a country singer before migrating to rockabilly in the mid-50's.


Jerry Brightman (March 9, heart attack, age 63):  steel guitar player for Buck Owens and the Buckaroos during the Hee Haw days.


Jim Ed Brown (June 11, cancer, age 81):  one of the 2015 Hall of Fame inductees, Brown's career began with his sisters with hits such as "The Three Bells" and "Lookin' Back to See" and continued through a hit-filled solo career.


Al Bunetta (March 22, cancer, age 72):  the manager for folk-country acts John Prine and Steve Goodman, and the co-founder of Prine's label, Oh Boy Records.


Wayne Carson (July 20, various illnesses, age 72):  Songwriters Hall of Fame member who penned pop classics such as "The Letter" and "Soul Deep" but will always be remembered for giving the world "Always On My Mind."


Bud Carter (March 12, illness, age 83):  Steel Guitar Hall of Fame member who made countless contributions to the production of pedal steel guitars.


Boomer Castleman (September 1, cancer, age 70):  inventor of the palm pedal effect for guitars was also a singer ("Judy Mae"), songwriter, and guitarist for the likes of Michael Martin Murphy, George Jones, and Tammy Wynette.


Charlie Dick (November 8, natural causes, age 81):  the widower of Patsy Cline was a tireless champion of keeping her legacy alive.


Little Jimmy Dickens (January 2, heart failure/stroke, age 94):  a Hall of Famer with a long history of hits, he was the oldest member and longest tenured member of the Opry at the time of his death.


Dorothy "Dottie" Dillard (May 6, natural causes, age 91):  a member of the Anita Kerr Singers, who backed countless singers on recordings in the "Nashville Sound" era of country music.  She is one of three members of the Anita Kerr Singers to die this year (with Dolores Dinning and Millie Kirkham).


Donna Douglas (January 2, pancreatic cancer, age 81):  "Ellie May" from The Beverly Hillbillies, a show that featured Flatt & Scruggs and Roy Clark in guest roles.


Dolores Dinning Edgin (June 17, natural causes, age 86):  Nashville session vocalist in the Anita Kerr Singers and member of Hee Haw's "Nashville Edition" vocal group.   She was one of three members of the Anita Kerr Singers to pass away this year, along with Millie Kirkham and Dottie Dillard.


Bobby Emmons (February 23, illness, age 72):  piano player (played on Elvis songs and Dusty Springfield's "Son of a Preacher Man") and songwriter who wrote hits such as "The Wurlitzer Prize (I Don't Want to Get Over You)" and "Luckenbach, Texas (Back to the Basics of Love)."


Buddy Emmons (July 29, unknown, age 78):  a steel guitar player's steel guitar player, Emmons worked in country music for over five decades and helped develop the production of the pedal steel guitar through his co-founding the Sho-Bud company.


Monroe Fields (February 21, lung cancer, age 86):  bluegrass and country multi-instrumentalist who played bass with Bill Monroe and Jim & Jesse, and mandolin and tenor vocals with Charlie Louvin in the 90's.


Tom "Snuff" Garrett (December 17, unknown cause, age 76):  an all-purpose record producer who sat behind the controls on sessions by the likes of Gary Lewis & the Playboys and Cher to Tanya Tucker, Ronnie Milsap, and Eddie Rabbitt.


Johnny Gimble (May 9, complications of stroke, age 88):  one of country music's most important fiddlers ever, from his stint as a Texas Playboy to session work to his work in the Hee Haw "Million Dollar Band."


Dixie Hall (January 16, brain cancer, age 80):  the wife of Tom T. Hall was his partner in songwriting as well as life, penning over 500 songs for bluegrass and country acts.


Ted Harris (November 22, unknown cause, age 78):  Nashville Songwriters Hall of Famer who wrote, among others, the classic "Crystal Chandeliers" and Dottie West's hit "Paper Mansions."


Don Harron (January 17, cancer, age 90):  Canadian actor and writer who spent a quarter of a century making people laugh on Hee Haw as KORN announcer Charlie Farquharson.


John Jennings (October 16, kidney cancer, age 61):  singer and guitarist who produced albums for artists such as Mary-Chapin Carpenter and Iris DeMent.


Wade Jessen (March 5, heart attack, age 53):  Billboard magazine country music editor and host of "Rear View: The History of Country Music" on the Willie's Roadhouse Sirius/XM channel.  


Bob Johnston (August 14, heart failure, age 83):  Columbia Records producer who worked on several albums including Dylan's Nashville Skyline Johnny Cash's classic At Folsom Prison and At San Quentin albums.


Ramona Jones (November 17, heart attack, age 91):  the widow of Grandpa Jones was a singer and instrumentalist herself.


Wayne Kemp (March 9, various illnesses, age 73):  Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame member who wrote hits recorded by George Jones ("The Love Bug"), Conway Twitty ("Next In Line"), and George Strait ("The Fireman"), among many others.


Millie Kirkham (December 13, complications of a stroke, age 91):  a Nashville session vocalist who put her mark on history by singing the classic part of Elvis's "Blue Christmas."  She worked with the Jordanaires and the Anita Kerr Singers, singing background on songs such as "Gone" and "Heaven Says Hello."  She was the third member of the Anita Kerr Singers to die in 2015 (along with Dolores Dinning and Dottie Dillard).


Red Lane (July 1, cancer, age 76):  Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame member with a long list of hits for acts from Waylon Jennings ("Walk On Out of My Mind") to Willie Nelson ("Black Jack County Chain") to John Conlee ("Miss Emily's Picture").  He co-wrote "Darlin' You Know I Wouldn't Lie" with Wayne Kemp, who also died this year.


Lance Leroy (December 17, unknown causes, age 84):  Bluegrass Hall of Fame music promotor who worked tirelessly for all of his clients, from the superstars (he booked Lester Flatt and the Nashville Grass) to the upstarts.


Neil LeVang (January 26, natural causes, age 83):  multi-instrumentalist who was the primary country musician on The Lawrence Welk Show as well as a session musician for the likes of Elvis, Glen Campbell, and the Judds.


Mosie Lister (February 12, natural causes, age 93):  member of the legendary southern gospel group the Statesmen Quartet and author of a number of gospel songs including "Where No One Stands Alone."


Bill Littleton (January 17, pneumonia, age 75):  songwriter, musician, and journalist who covered country music for Performance magazine.


Benjamin "Tex" Logan (April 24, renal failure, age 85):  renown fiddler who played with Bill Monroe and wrote Monroe's holiday classic "Christmas Time's a-Comin'."


Julia Mainer (January 21, natural causes, age 95):  Wade Mainer's wife of 73 years performed bluegrass and gospel with him for decades.


Sandy Mason (April 1, pancreatic cancer, age 71):  songwriter of such hits as "Two Pina Coladas" by Garth Brooks and Crystal Gayle's "When I Dream."


A.J. Masters (January 19, prostate cancer, age 64):  country songwriter best-known for co-writing "Change My Mind," recorded by both the Oak Ridge Boys and John Berry.


Alan Mayor (February 23, dementia/complications of stroke, age 65):  one of Nashville's best-known photographer of country music stars.


Daron Norwood (July 22, unknown cause, age 49):  90's singer best known for the song "Cowboys Don't Cry."


Tommy Overstreet (November 2, heart disease/lung disease, age 78):  country singer in the early 70's with hits such as "Gwen (Congratulations)," "I Don't Know You (Anymore)," and "Heaven Is My Woman's Love."


Don Pfrimmer (December 7, leukemia, age 78):  country songwriter whose list of hits include Mickey Gilley's "The Power of Positive Drinking," "Meet in the Middle" by Diamond Rio, and Lonestar's hit "My Front Porch Looking In."


Ruth Poe (April 26, natural causes, age 88):  one of the Poe Sisters, members of the Grand Ole Opry in the 1940's, she was one of the last links to the 1940's-era Opry.


Chuck Pyle (November 6, unknown cause, age 70):  singer/songwriter whose songs were recorded by the likes of Jerry Jeff Walker ("Jaded Lover") and Chris LeDoux ("Cadillac Cowboy").


Tandy Rice (August 4, respiratory failure, age 76):  past CMA board of directors president and country music promotor at Top Billing International for acts such as Dolly Parton, Tom T. Hall, and Porter Wagoner.


Jean Ritchie (June 1, natural causes, age 92):  Appalachian folk music singer, songwriter, and historian, her song "Blue Diamond Mines" was covered by the Johnson Mountain Boys.


Don Robertson (March 16, natural causes, age 92):  Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame member responsible for writing hits such as "I Really Don't Want to Know," "Please Help Me, I'm Falling," and "I Don't Hurt Anymore."


Billy Joe Royal (October 6, unknown causes, age 73):  60's pop/rock singer ("Down in the Boondocks," "Hush") who successfully transitioned to country singer in the 80's and 90's.


Kenny Seratt (August 25, unknown causes, age 80):  country songwriter and singer with several minor hits, the biggest of which was "Until the Bitter End" in 1980.


Billy Sherrill (August 4, short illness, age 78):  Country Music Hall of Fame songwriter ("Almost Persuaded," "A Very Special Love Song") and producer (George Jones, Tammy Wynette, Elvis Costello) and the man behind the controls when one of country's greatest hits, "He Stopped Loving Her Today," was recorded.


Tom Skinner (July 12, heart disease, age 61):  the former bassist for Garth Brooks' band became a red dirt singer/songwriter later in his career.


Bob Stegall (May 27, Lewy Body disease, age 85):  Louisiana-based country singer and musician who played steel guitar for Johnny Horton.  His son, Keith, is also a country singer.


Patsy Stoneman (July 23, natural causes, age 90):  one of the members of the Stoneman Family and daughter of Hall of Famer Ernest V. "Pop" Stoneman.


John Stuart (April 9, unknown cause, age 83):  the father of country/bluegrass singer Marty Stuart.


Tut Taylor (April 9, natural causes, age 91):  legendary bluegrass Dobro player who played with everyone from John Hartford to backing Roy Acuff on the King of Country Music's final Opry performance. 


Sid Tepper (April 24, natural causes, age 96):  songwriter who teamed up with Roy Bennett to write several Elvis songs ("G.I. Blues," "Song of the Shrimp") as well as hits like "Red Roses for a Blue Lady."


Allen Toussaint (November 9, heart attack, age 77):  legendary singer/songwriter whose long string of credits include Glen Campbell's 1977 #1 hit "Southern Nights."


Elbert West (May 18, illness, age 47):  songwriter who wrote Tracy Lawrence's hits "Sticks and Stones" and "Can't Break It to My Heart."


Hal Willis (September 4, unknown cause, age 82):  Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame member who had an international hit with "The Lumberjack" and also wrote songs such as "Just Ain't" for Flatt & Scruggs and "Don't Tell Me" for Jim Reeves.


James "Spider" Wilson (February 26, cancer, age 79):  Opry staff band guitarist for over 50 years, a member of Little Jimmy Dickens' Country Boys, and prolific session guitarist who worked with the likes of Faron Young, Mel Tillis, Bill Anderson, and Skeeter Davis.


Hugh Wright (September 25, natural causes, age 63):  drummer and co-founder of the band Boy Howdy.


Finally, Craig Strickland, the lead singer for an up-and-coming country-rock band called Backroad Anthem, is missing and feared dead after he and a friend left for a hunting trip on December 27 in the midst of a severe winter storm.  His friend's body was found on December 28, along with a capsized boat.

Farewell, and thank you for the music.




Tuesday, December 15, 2015

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; RR=also in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame)

December 16:

Jim Glaser of the Glaser Brothers born in Spalding, Nebraska, 1937 (now 78)
Jeff Carson born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, 1964 (now 51)
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 84)
Sharon White Skaggs born in Wichita Falls, Texas, 1953 (now 62) 
Tracy Byrd born in Vidor, Texas, 1966 (now 49)
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)
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 51)
Wilf Carter (Montana Slim) (NS 71) born in Port Hilford, Nova Scotia, 1904 (died 1996)
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 70)
Janie Fricke born in South Whitney, Indiana, 1947 (now 68)
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:

Freddie Hart (NS 04) born in Lockapoke, Alabama, 1926 (now 89)
Lee Roy Parnell born in Abilene, Texas, 1956 (now 59)
Christy Forrester of the Forester Sisters born in Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia, 1962 (now 53)
Vito Pellettieri born in Nashville, Tennessee, 1889 (died 1977)
Floyd "Lightnin'" Chance born in Como, Mississippi, 1925 (died 2005)

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 78)
Chuck Mead of BR5-49 born in Nevada, Missouri, 1960 (now 55)
Paul Martin of Exile born in Winchester, Kentucky, 1962 (now 53)
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:

J.R. "Curly" Seckler (BG 04) born in China Grove, North Carolina, 1919 (now 96)
Jimmy Buffett (NS 06) born in Pascagoula, Mississippi, 1946 (now 69)

Barbara Mandrell (CM 09, StG 09) born in Houston, Texas, 1948 (now 67)
Steve Wariner born in Noblesville, Indiana, 1954 (now 61)
Alton Delmore (CM 01, NS 71) born in Elkmont, Alabama, 1908 (died 1964)
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:

Ronnie Prophet born in Calument, Quebec, 1938 (now 77)
Bob Carpenter of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1946 (now 69)

Travis Lewis of the Lewis Family (BG 06) born in Greenwood, South Carolina, 1958 (now 57)
Audrey Wiggins born in Asheville, North Carolina, 1967 (now 48)
Beecher Ray "Pete" "Bashful Brother Oswald" Kirby born in Sevier County, Tennessee, 1911 (died 2002)
Harry Choates born in Rayne, Louisiana, 1911 (died 1951)
Jimmie Osborne died in Louisville, Kentucky (suicide [gunshot]), 1957 (was 34)
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 91)
Scotty Moore born in Gadsden, Tennessee, 1931 (now 84)
Les Taylor of Exile born in Oneida, Kentucky, 1948 (now 67)
Darrin Vincent of Dailey &Vincent born in Kirkville, Missouri, 1969 (now 46)

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)

December 28:

Joe Diffie born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, 1958 (now 57)
Mike McGuire of Shenandoah born in Haleyville, Alabama, 1958 (now 57)
Marty Roe of Diamond Rio born in Lebanon, Ohio, 1960 (now 55)
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 93)
Ed Bruce born in Keiser, Arkansas, 1939 (now 76)

December 30:

Melvin Goins (BG 09) born in Bramwell, West Virginia, 1933 (now 82)
Suzy Bogguss born in Aledo, Illinois, 1956 (now 59)
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)
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 81)
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)
Charlie Louvin injured in car accident near Manchester, Tennessee, 2001
The original Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum building closed, 2000

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Dates of Note in Country Music, December 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; DJ=Country Disc Jockey; NS=Nashville Songwriter; SG=Southern Gospel; StG=Steel Guitar; WS=Western Swing; RR=country performer also in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame)


December 1:


Darryl Ellis born in Norfolk, Virginia, 1964 (now 51)

Silm Willet born in Dublin, Texas, 1919 (died 1966)
Jim Nesbitt born in Bishopville, South Carolina, 1931 (died 2007)
Fred Rose (CM 61, NS 70) died in Nashville, Tennessee (heart failure), 1954 (was 57)
Carter Stanley (BG 92) died in Bristol, Tennessee (cirrhosis of the liver), 1966 (was 41)

December 2:


John Wesley Ryles born in Bastrop, Louisiana, 1950 (now 65)

Herman Crook born in Scottsboro, Tennessee, 1898 (died 1988)
Marvin Hughes died in Nashville, Tennessee (unknown cause), 1986 (was 75)
"Tennessee Waltz" recorded by Pee Wee King and Redd Stewart, 1947

December 3:


Paul Gregg of Restless Heart born in New York, New York, 1954 (now 61)

Ferlin Husky (CM 10) born in Flat River, Missouri, 1927 (died 2011)
Rabon Delmore (CM 01, NS 71) born in Dothan, Alabama, 1916 (died 1952)
Hubert Long (CM 79) born in Poteet, Texas, 1923 (died 1972)
Lew Childre died in Foley, Albama (various health issues), 1961 (was 60)
Grady Martin died (heart attack), 2001 (was 72)
Homer Bailes of the Bailes Brothers died in Ruston, Louisiana (natural causes), 2013 (was 91)
Bob Wills recorded "What Makes Bob Holler," 1973.  He suffered a stroke during the night after the recording session and never spoke or sang again.

December 4:


Chris Hillman born in Los Angeles, California, 1944 (now 71)

Rabon Delmore (CM 01, NS 71) died in Athens, Alabama (lung cancer), 1952 (was 36)
Connie B. Gay (CM 80) died in Fairfax, Virginia (cancer), 1989 (was 75)
Bob Montgomery died in Lee's Summit, Missouri (Parkinson's disease), 2014 (was 77)
Eddy Arnold's first record session as a solo artist, 1944
Sun Records' "Million Dollar Quartet" of Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, and Jerry Lee Lewis record together, 1956
Connie B. Gay elected inaugural president of the Country Music Association, 1958


December 5:


Jim Messina of Poco born in Harlingen, Texas, 1947 (now 68)
Ty England born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, 1963 (now 52)
Ray Whitley (NS 81) born in Atlanta, Georgia, 1901 (died 1979)
Eddie Alkire (Steel Guitar 83) born in Hacker, West Virginia, 1907 (died 1981)
Michael "Bea" Lilly (BG 02) born in Clear Creek, West Virginia, 1921 (died 2005)
Don Robertson (NS 72) born in Peking, China, 1922 (died 2015)
Molly O'Day died in Huntington, West Virginia (cancer), 1987 (was 64)
Wilf Carter (Montana Slim) (NS 71) died in Scottsdale, Arizona (stomach cancer), 1996 (was 91)
The soundtrack to O Brother, Where Art Thou released, 2000

December 6:


Helen Cornelius born in Hannibal, Missouri, 1941 (now 74)

Bill Lloyd of Foster & Lloyd born in Ft. Hood, Texas, 1955 (now 60)
Hugh Farr (CM 80) born in Llano, Texas, 1903 (died 1980)
Eddie Alkire (StG 83) born in Hacker Valley, West Virginia, 1907 (died 1981)
Jim Eanes born in Mountain Valley, Virginia, 1923 (died 1995)
Huddie "Lead Belly" Leadbetter (NS 80) died in New York, New York (Lou Gehrig's Disease), 1949 (was 60)
Roy Orbison (NS 87) died in Hendersonville, Tennessee (heart attack), 1989 (was 52)

December 7:


Bobby Osborne (BG 94) born in Hyden, Kentucky, 1931 (now 84)

Hugh X. Lewis born in Yeaddiss, Kentucky, 1932 (now 83)
Gary Morris born in Fort Worth, Texas, 1948 (now 67)
Ronnie Sessions born in Henrietta, Oklahoma, 1948 (now 67)
Slim Bryant born in Atlanta, Georgia, 1908 (died 2010)
Darrell Glenn born in Waco, Texas, 1935 (died 1990)
Dawn Sears born in East Grand Forks, Minnesota, 1961 (died 2014)
Bill Boyd died in Dallas, Texas (unknown cause), 1977 (was 67)

December 8:


Marty Raybon born in Stanford, Florida, 1959 (now 56)

Jack Stapp (CM 89) born in Nashville, Tennessee, 1912 (died 1980)
Floyd Tillman (CM 83, NS 70) born in Ryan, Oklahoma, 1914 (died 2003)
Marty Robbins (CM 82, NS 75) died in Nashville, Tennessee (heart attack), 1982 (was 57)

December 9:


Billy Edd Wheeler (NS 00) born in Whitesville, Virginia, 1932 (now 83)
David Kersh born in Humble, Texas, 1970 (now 45)

David Houston born in Bossier City, Louisiana, 1938 (died 1993)
Tommy Jackson died in Nashville, Tennessee (unknown cause), 1979 (was 53)

December 10:


Johnny Rodriguez born in Sabinal, Texas, 1951 (now 64)

Eddie Miller (NS 75) born in Camargo, Oklahoma, 1919 (died 1977)
Roy Ayers (StG 07) born in Columbus, Mississippi, 1929 (died 2012)
John Duffey (BG 96, BG 14) died (heart attack), 1996 (was 62)
Faron Young (CM 00) died in Nashville, Tennessee (suicide [gunshot]), 1996 (was 64)
Jimmy Riddle died in Nashville, Tennessee (cancer), 1982 (was 64)
Before the evening's WSM Barn Dance began, announcer George D. Hay commented, "For the past hour, you've been listening to selections taken from grand opera. Now we present Grand Ole Opry," 1927.

December 11:


Brenda Lee (CM 97, RR 02) born in Atlanta, Georgia, 1944 (now 71)

Charles Whitstein born in Colfax, Louisiana, 1945 (now 70)
Arthur Q. Smith (ne James Arthur Pritchett) born in Griffin, Georgia, 1909 (died 1963)
Cousin Jody (ne James Summey) born in Sevierville, Tennessee, 1914 (died 1975)
Tom Brumley (StG 92) born in Stella, Missouri, 1935 (died 2009)
Fiddlin' John Carson died in Atlanta, Georgia (natural causes), 1949 (was 81)
Dawn Sears died in Nashville, Tennessee (lung cancer), 2014 (was 53)
Commercial plane with Tex Ritter aboard as a passenger hijacked to Cuba, 1968

December 12:


LaCosta Tucker born in Seminole, Texas, 1951 (now 64)

Shelton Hank Williams (Hank III) born in Houston, Texas, 1972 (now 43)
Maurice Anderson (StG 06) born in Dallas, Texas, 1934 (died 2013)
Clifton Chenier died in Lafayette, Louisiana (kidney disease related to diabetes), 1987 (was 62)

December 13:


Buck White born in Oklahoma, 1930 (now 85)

Randy Owen of Alabama (CM 05) born in Fort Payne, Alabama, 1949 (now 66)
John Anderson (NS 14) born in Orlando, Florida, 1954 (now 61)
Wesley Tuttle born in Lamar, Colorado, 1917 (died 2003)
Wayne Walker (NS 75) born in Quapaw, Oklahoma, 1925 (died 1979)
Lulu Belle and Scotty Wiseman wed, 1934

December 14:


DeFord Bailey (CM 05) born in Smith County, Tennessee, 1899 (died 1982)

Walter Haynes (StG 03) born in Kingsport, Tennessee, 1928 (died 2009)
Charlie Rich born in Forest City, Arkansas, 1932 (died 1995)
Billie Jo Spears died in Vidor, Texas (cancer), 2011 (was 73)

December 15:


Doug Phelps of Kentucky Headhunters born in Leachville, Arkansas, 1960 (now 55)

Alvin Pleasant Carter (CM 70, NS 70, BG 01) born in Maces Spring, Virginia, 1891 (died 1960)
Jerry Wallace born in Guilford, Missouri, 1928 (died 2008)
Ernie Ashworth born in Huntsville, Alabama, 1928 (died 2009)
Nudie Cohn (ne Nuta Kotlyarenko) born in Kiev, Ukraine, 1902 (died 1984)
William Eugene "Red" Rector born in Marshall, North Carolina, 1929 (died 1990)

Hank Williams married Audrey Guy, 1944