Wednesday, March 25, 2015

All The Chapel Bells Are Ringing!

Category:  News

It is with unspeakable joy that I announce the 2015 Country Music Hall of Fame inductees.


OAK RIDGE BOYS (Modern era):  The quartet's induction is another case of the road to the Hall of Fame running through Knoxville.  Wally Fowler formed a group, Wally Fowler and the Georgia Clodhoppers, that appeared on the WNOX Midday Merry-Go-Round in the early 1940's (their backing musicians included a young Chester Atkins).  A splinter group, the Harmony Quartet, frequently performed in the highly-secretive area around the Oak Ridge nuclear facility, prompting Folwer to rename his group the Oak Ridge Quartet.  The Quartet focused solely on gospel music until the early 1970's, when the current line-up -- William Lee Golden (joined in 1965), Duane Allen (joined 1966), Richard Sterban (joined 1972), and Joe Bonsall (joined 1973) -- began performing country music primarily.  The hits began soon afterward:  "Y'all Come Back Saloon," "Sail Away," "Dream On," "Leaving Louisiana in the Broad Daylight," "Ozark Mountain Jubilee," and the massive crossover hit, "Elvira."

THE BROWNS (Veterans era):  Jim Edward Brown began singing with his sister Maxine.  Once Bonnie graduated from high school she joined her siblings.  Despite Jim Ed's stint in the Army the trio quickly generated a list of hits, including their own composition, "Lookin' Back to See," and the Ira & Charlie Louvin-penned "I Take the Chance."  In 1959 the Browns hit the top spot on the country and pop charts with "The Three Bells," a song that became their signature tune and earned them a Grammy nomination.  The trio continued to perform until Bonnie and Maxine retired in the mid-60's to spend more time with their children.  Jim Ed went on to a solo career with songs such as "Pop A Top," "Morning," and "Angel's Sunday," as well as duet hits with Helen Cornelius on such tunes as "I Don't Want to Have to Marry You" and "Fools."
L-R: Jim Ed, Bonnie, and Maxine Brown signing
autographs after the Midnite Jamboree, 2009.
c. 2015 K.F. Raizor



GRADY MARTIN (Musician [rotating category]):  Part of the famed "A Team" of Nashville studio musicians, Grady Martin (1929-2001) left his mark on country music with his guitar work on countless songs.  He could tell a story with his playing (such as his work on Marty Robbins' "El Paso") or perform subtly (on Ray Price's "For the Good Times").  He unintentionally created a new sound when a short in his guitar amplifier caused his guitar solo on Robbins' "Don't Worry" to come out distorted.  Martin played with everyone from Bing Crosby to Burl Ives to Roy Orbison to Joan Baez, leaving his indelible mark on guitar work along the way.

To the class of 2015, especially Jim Ed, Maxine, and Bonnie, I send my heartfelt congratulations on this crowning achievement of your career in country music!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Please Help Me, I'm Falling

Category:  News/Obituary 

Nashville Songwriters Hall of Famer Don Robertson has died.

Robertson, the man behind such megahits as "I Don't Hurt Anymore," Born to Be With You," and "Please Help Me, I'm Falling" died on March 16 in southern California.

Born in China while his father was a professor at Peking Union College, Robertson grew up in Chicago.  He learned piano from his mother and invented the so-called "slip-note" style of playing that Floyd Cramer later made world famous.  

Although Robertson only had one major hit under his own name -- 1956's "The Happy Whistler" -- he was responsible for countless country classics.  Among the songs he wrote or co-wrote:  "Condemned Without Trial" (Eddy Arnold), "Born to Be With You" (Sonny James [also a pop hit for the Chordettes]), "Does My Ring Hurt Your Finger" (Charley Pride), and "You're Free to Go" (Carl Smith).

Then there was "Please Help Me, I'm Falling," the massive hit for Hank Locklin from 1960.  The song ended up being the number one song of the year on Billboard magazine's country charts, staying at #1 for fourteen weeks.  It also spawned an answer song (Skeeter Davis' "[I Can't Help You] I'm Falling Too") and a parody (provided by Homer and Jethro).

In addition to his country compositions, Robertson was the piano player behind "Gomer," the piano-playing bear at Disney Land's "Country Bear Jamboree" program.

The great Don Robertson was 92.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

The Annual Hall of Fame Plea

CATEGORY:  News/Opinion 

The Country Music Hall of Fame "class of 2015" will be announced this coming Wednesday (3/25).  The people who are being inducted probably already know to be at the ceremonies at the Hall of Fame, but here's my annual wish list.

VETERANS:  If you read this blog with any regularity, you know the Wilburn Brothers are at the top of the list.  Additionally, the long list of overlooked superstars from years past in country music include the Maddox Brothers and Rose (I would hope to see them inducted this year because [a] Don Maddox, the only surviving member of the 40's west coast superstar band, is 93 and not getting any younger, and [b] to celebrate the Bakersfield sound, the exhibit for which just recently closed at the Hall of Fame), Al Dexter (the man whose popularity with "Pistol Packin' Mama" in 1943 necessitated the advent of the Billboard country music charts), Elton Britt (recipient of country's first gold record, for "There's a Star-Spangled Banner Waving Somewhere" in 1942), Archie Campbell (songwriter and star of Hee Haw for decades as well as the show's principal writer), the Browns, Hank Locklin (two major crossover artists from the late 50's), Ray Stevens, Jerry Reed (two names that are instantly familiar to people who know very little about country music), and Dottie West (country's first female Grammy winner).  Two long-deceased stars, Cowboy Copas and Johnny Horton, are also on the "deserving" list.  Please, CMA, NO curve balls like last year's surprising induction of bluegrass legend Mac Wiseman.

MODERN:  the list of people who deserve induction from the modern era is short and sweet.  Alan Jackson.  Randy Travis.  Ricky Skaggs.  That's about it.  I would add the Oak Ridge Boys to the list as well.  Part of me would like to see Rosanne Cash inducted just so her next Grammy Awards could be presented on-air.  (Her three awards this year were presented off-camera in the "pre-televised" ceremonies.)

ROTATING CATEGORY (MUSICIAN):  the musician is the category to be awarded this year in the rotating category (non-performer, songwriter, musician).  Look for another member of the famed "A" team to make it.  My hope would be Bob Moore, who, in addition to all those sessions he played on, had his own hit in the early 1960's with "Mexico."  Moore's "A-team" partner, Buddy Harman, the most recorded drummer in history thanks to all the sessions he played on throughout his life, is another good candidate.  My "left field" choice would be Buck Owens' right-hand man, "Dangerous" Don Rich, who played guitar and fiddle for the Buckaroos.

The announcement be carried live and streamed over the Hall of Fame's web site.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Dates of Note in Country Music, March 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; RR=country performer also inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.)

March 16:

Ray Walker of the Jordanaires (CM 01) born in Centerville, Mississippi, 1934 (now 81)
Jerry Jeff Walker (ne Ronald Clyde Crosby) born in Oneonta, New York, 1942 (now 73)
Ray Benson of Asleep at the Wheel born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1951 (now 64)
Tim O'Brien born in Wheeling, West Virginia, 1954 (now 61)
Stan Thorn of Shenandoah born in Kenosha, Wisconsin, 1959 (now 56)
Ronnie McCoury born in York County, Pennsylvania, 1967 (now 48)
Robert Whitstein born in Colfax, Louisiana, 1944 (died 2001)

Carlton Haney (BG 98) died in Greensboro, North Carolina (stroke), 2011 (was 82)
Plane crash at Otay Mountain near San Diego, California kills Reba McEntire band members Chris Austin, Kirk Capello, Joey Cigainero, Paula Kaye Evans, Terry Jackson, Michael Thomas, and Tony Saputo, 1991

March 17:

Jim Weatherly (NS 06) born in Pontotoc, Mississippi, 1943 (now 72)
Paul Overstreet (NS 03) born in Newton, Mississippi, 1955 (now 60)
Dick Curless born in Fort Fairfield, Maine, 1932 (died 1995)
Hugh Farr (CM 80) died in Casper, Wyoming (unknown causes), 1980 (was 77)
Jimmy Gately died in Madison, Tennessee (unknown causes), 1985 (was 53)
Sammy Pruett died in Birmingham, Alabama (unknown causes), 1988 (was 61)
Terry Stafford died in Amarillo, Texas (liver failure), 1996 (was 55)
Bill Carlisle (CM 02) died in Nashville, Tennessee (natural causes), 2003 (was 94)

Ferlin Husky (CM 10) died in Nashville, Tennessee (congestive heart failure/colon cancer), 2011 (was 85)

March 18:

Billy Armstrong born in Streator, Illinois, 1930 (now 85)
Charley Pride (CM 00) born in Sledge, Mississippi, 1938 (now 77)
Margie Bowes born in Roxboro, North Carolina, 1941 (now 74)
James McMurty born in Fort Worth, Texas, 1962 (now 53)
Smiley Burnette (NS 71) born in Summum, Illinois, 1911 (died 1967)

Dennis Linde (NS 05) born in Abilene, Texas, 1943 (died 2006)
John Phillips of the Mamas and Papas died in Los Angeles, California (heart failure), 2001 (was 65). His solo hit, "Mississippi," was a country hit in 1971.

March 19:

Henry "Friendly Henry" Maddox born in Boaz, Alabama, 1928 (died 1974)
Speck Rhodes died in Nashville, Tennessee (natural causes), 2000 (was 84)
Randall Hylton died in Nashville, Tennessee (brain aneurysm), 2001 (was 55)
Tootsie's Orchid Lounge opened in Nashville, 1960

March 20:

Tommy Hunter born in London, Ontario, 1937 (now 78)
Douglas B. Green (Ranger Doug) of Riders in the Sky born in Great Lakes, Illinois, 1946 (now 69)
Jim Seales of Shenandoah born in Hamilton, Alabama, 1954 (now 61)

Jerry Reed (NS 05) born in Atlanta, Georgia, 1937 (died 2008)
Ralph Mooney (Steel Guitar 83) died in Kennedale, Texas (kidney cancer), 2011 (was 82)

March 21:

Carol Lee Cooper born in West Virginia, 1942 (now 73)
Tommy Hill died in Nashville, Tennessee (liver and heart ailments), 2002 (was 72)

March 22:

Charlie Poole born in Randolph County, North Carolina, 1892 (died 1931)
Hoyle Nix of the West Texas Cowboys born in Azel, Texas, 1918 (died 1985)

Bobby Garrett (Steel Guitar 95) born in Dallas, Texas, 1935 (died 1999)
Uncle Dave Macon (CM 66) died in Murfreesboro, Tennessee (illness), 1952 (was 81)
Stoney Cooper died in Nashville, Tennessee (heart attack), 1977 (was 59)
Carl Perkins injured in automobile accident near Wilmington, Delaware, 1956

March 23:


David Grisman born in Passaic, New Jersey, 1945 (now 70)
Fiddlin' John Carson born in Fannin County, Georgia, 1868 (died 1949)
Jim Anglin born in Franklin, Tennessee, 1913 (died 1987)
Smokey Rogers born in McMinnville, Tennessee, 1917 (died 1993)
J.D. Miller died in Crowley, Louisiana (complications from heart bypass surgery), 1996 (was 73)
James Roy "Pop" Lewis (BG 06) of the Lewis Family died in Lincoln County, Georgia (natural causes), 2004 (was 98)
Cindy Walker (CM 97, NS 70) died in Mexia, Texas (natural causes), 2006 (was 88)

March 24:

Peggy Sue Webb born in Butcher Hollow, Kentucky, 1947 (now 68)
Carson Robison (NS 71) died in Poughkeepsie, New York (unknown causes), 1957 (was 66)
Howard Dixon died in East Rockingham, North Carolina (unknown - possible work accident), 1961 (was 57)

Maggie Cavender (NS 89) died in Nashville, Tennessee (stroke), 1996 (was 77)
Henson Cargill died in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (complications from surgery), 2007 (was 66)

March 25:

Bonnie Guitar born in Seattle, Washington, 1923 (now 92)
Robbie Fulks born in York, Pennsylvania, 1963 (now 52)

Shad Cobb born in Hazel Dale, Washington, 1973 (now 42)
Natchee the Indian (ne Lester Vernon Storer) born in Peebles, Ohio, 1916 (died 1970)
Hoyt Axton born in Duncan, Oklahoma, 1938 (died 1999)
Jack Kapp died in New York, New York (cerebral hemorrhage), 1949 (was 47)
Buck Owens (CM 96, NS 96) died in Bakersfield, California (heart attack), 2006 (was 76)

March 26:

Bud Isaacs (StG 84) born in Bedford, Indiana, 1928 (now 87)

John Starling of the Seldom Scene (BG 14) born in Durham, North Carolina, 1940 (now 75)
Vicki Lawrence born in Inglewood, California, 1949 (now 66). The Carol Burnett Show actress had one hit, "The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia," which made both the pop and country charts.
Ronnie McDowell born in Fountain Head, Tennessee, 1950 (now 65)
Michael Bonagura of Baillie & the Boys born in Newark, New Jersey, 1953 (now 62)
Dean Dillon (NS 02) born in Lake City, Tennessee, 1955 (now 59)
Charly McClain born in Jackson, Tennessee, 1956 (now 58)
Julian Tharpe (Steel Guitar 08) born in Skipperville, Alabama, 1937 (died 1994)

March 27:

Don Warden (StG 08) born in Mountain Grove, Missouri, 1929 (now 86)

Bill Callahan of the Callahan Brothers born in Madison County, North Carolina, 1912 (died 2002)
David Rogers born in Houston, Texas, 1936 (died 1993)

March 28:

Roy Dean Webb (BG 09) of the Dillards born in Independence, Missouri, 1937 (now 78)
Charlie McCoy (CM 09) born in Oak Hill, West Virginia, 1941 (now 74)
Reba McEntire (CM 11) born in Chockie, Oklahoma, 1955 (now 60)

Jay Livingston born in McDonald, Pennsylvania, 1915 (died 2001). The pop songwriter's many hits include "Silver Bells," which has been recorded by many country performers.
W.C. Handy (NS 83) died in New York, New York (bronchial pneumonia), 1958 (was 84)
Farrell "Rusty" Draper died in Bellevue, Washington (heart disease/throat cancer), 2003 (was 80)
Glenn Barber died in Gallatin, Tennessee (heart ailment), 2008 (was 73)

Earl Scruggs (CM 85, BG 91, NS 07) died in Nashville, Tennessee (natural causes), 2012 (was 88)

March 29:

Paul Humphrey (BG 09) of the Lonesome Pine Fiddlers born in Wytheville, Virginia, 1935 (now 80)

Brady Seals of Little Texas born in Hamilton, Ohio, 1969 (now 46)
Moon Mullican (NS 76) born in Corrigan, Texas, 1909 (died 1967)
Jerry Byrd (StG 78) born in Lima, Ohio, 1920 (died 2005)
Texas Ruby died in Nashville, Tennessee (house fire), 1963 (was 54)
Opry announcer Hal Durham died in Nashville, Tennessee (unknown cause), 2009 (was 77)

March 30:

Bobby Wright born in Charleston, West Virginia, 1942 (now 73)
Connie Cato born in Carlinville, Illinois, 1955 (now 60)

March 31:

John D. Loudermilk (NS 76) born in Durham, North Carolina, 1934 (now 81)
Greg Martin of the Kentucky Headhunters born in Louisville, Kentucky, 1954 (now 61)
Howdy Forrester born in Vernon, Tennessee, 1922 (died 1987)
Tommy Jackson born in Birmingham, Alabama, 1926 (died 1979)

Hoyt Hawkins (CM 01) of the Jordanaires born in Paducah, Kentucky, 1927 (died 1982)
William O. "Lefty" Frizzell (CM 82, NS 72) born in Corsicana, Texas, 1928 (died 1975)
Anita Carter born in Maces Springs, Virginia, 1933 (died 1999)
Skeets McDonald died in Inglewood, California (heart attack), 1968 (was 52)

Carl Story (BG 07) died in Greer, South Carolina (complications from heart bypass surgery), 1995 (was 78)
Mel McDaniel died in Hendersonville, Tennessee (lung cancer), 2011 (was 68)

Monday, March 09, 2015

Darling, You Know He Wouldn't Lie

Category:  Obituary

Nashville Songwriter Hall of Famer Wayne Kemp has died.

Kemp passed away today (3/9) in Lafayette, Tennessee, northeast of Nashville.  He had been suffering from various ailments, including kidney disease.

Wayne Kemp had a modest career as a singer.  His biggest charted hit was 1973's "Honky Tonk Wine," which peaked at #17 on the Billboard country charts. 

As a songwriter, however, Kemp made numerous trips to the top of the country charts.  His song "The Love Bug" was a 1965 hit for George Jones (and later it was covered by George Strait).  From there the Kemp-penned hits were all over country radio:  "One Piece At a Time" (Johnny Cash), "Feelin' Single, Seein' Double" (Emmylou Harris), "Next In Line," "The Image of Me," and "Darling, You Know I Wouldn't Lie" (Conway Twitty), "I'm the Only Hell (Mama Ever Raised)" (Johnny Paycheck), and another song for George Strait, "The Fireman." 

Kemp was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1979 based on the substantial body of hits he had amassed until that time.  People continue to record his songs, however, and not just country acts:  Elvis Costello covered "Darling, You Know I Wouldn't Lie" on his Almost Blue album.

Wayne Kemp was 74.


Saturday, February 28, 2015

Dates of Note in Country Music, March 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[s] enshrined.  CM=Country Music; BG=Bluegrass; NS=Nashville Songwriter SG=Southern Gospel; StG=Steel Guitar; RR=country act also in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame)


March 1:


Janis Oliver of Sweethearts of the Rodeo born in Manhattan Beach, California, 1954 (now 61)
Sara Hickman born in Jacksonville, North Carolina, 1963 (now 52)
Clinton Gregory born in Martinsville, Virginia, 1966 (now 49)
Cliffie Stone (CM 89) born in Stockton, California, 1917 (died 1998)
Pearl Butler died in Nashville, Tennessee (unknown cause), 1988 (was 61)
RCA Victor debuted a new record format -- the 45 RPM, 1949

Johnny Cash and June Carter Smith Nix married in Franklin, Kentucky, 1968
California governor Ronald Reagan issued a full pardon to Merle Haggard, 1972


March 2:


Larry Stewart born in Paducah, Kentucky, 1959 (now 55)

Doc Watson (BG 00) born in Deep Gap, North Carolina, 1923 (died 2012)
Dottie Rambo (NS 07, SG 97) born in Madisonville, Kentucky, 1934 (died 2008)
Lonnie Glosson died in Searcy, Arkansas (natural causes), 2001 (was 93)

March 3:


John Carter Cash born in Madison, Tennessee, 1970 (now 45)
Jimmy Heap born in Taylor, Texas, 1922 (died 1977)
Kyle Bailes died (unknown cause), 1996 (was 80)
Harlan Howard (CM 97, NS 73) died in Nashville, Tennessee (heart attack), 2002 (was 74)
Ernie Ashworth died in Hartsville, Tennessee (heart attack), 2009 (was 80)
Benefit concert for the family of DJ "Cactus" Jack Call held in Kansas City, Missouri, 1963. Among those performing: Roy Acuff, Patsy Cline, Hawkshaw Hawkins, Cowboy Copas, Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper, George Jones, and Billy Walker.

March 4:


Betty Jack Davis born in Corbin, Kentucky, 1932 (died 1953)
John Duffey (BG 96, BG 14) born in Washington, DC, 1934 (died 1996)
Scotty Stoneman died in Nashville, Tennessee (overdose of prescription medication), 1973 (was 40)
Minnie Pearl (CM 75) died in Nashville, Tennessee (complications from stroke), 1996 (was 83)
Eddie Dean died in Los Angeles, California (emphysema), 1999 (was 91)

March 5:


Raymond Fairchild born in Cherokee, North Carolina, 1939 (now 76)
Jimmy Bryant born in Moultrie, Georgia, 1925 (died 1980)
Patsy Cline (CM 73) died near Camden, Tennessee (plane crash), 1963 (was 30)
Cowboy Copas died 
near Camden, Tennessee (plane crash), 1963 (was 59)
Hawkshaw Hawkins died near Camden, Tennessee (plane crash), 1963 (was 41)
Randy Hughes died near Camden, Tennessee (plane crash), 1963 (was 34). Hughes was Patsy Cline's manager and Cowboy Copas' son-in-law as well as the pilot of the ill-fated plane.
Syd Nathan (BG 06, RR 97) died in Miami, Florida (heart disease/pneumonia), 1968 (was 63). The Cincinnati record store owner founded King Records in 1943, making it the first all-country music record label in history.
Anna Carter Davis (SG 05), original member of the Chuck Wagon Gang and widow of Jimmie Davis, died in Fort Worth, Texas (complications following a fall), 2004 (was 87)
Elvis Presley honorably discharged from the Army, 1960

March 6:


Red Simpson born in Higley, Arizona, 1934 (now 81)

Skip Ewing born in Red Lands, California, 1964 (now 51)
Cliff Carlisle born in Mount Eden, Kentucky, 1904 (died 1983)
Bob Wills (CM 68, NS 70, RR 99) born in Turkey, Texas, 1905 (died 1975)
Jean Chapel of the Coon Creek Girls born in Neon, Kentucky, 1925 (died 1995)

Don Stover (BG 02) born in Ameagle, West Virginia, 1928 (died 1996)
Doug Dillard (BG 09) of the Dillards born in East St. Louis, Missouri, 1937 (died 2012)
Elmer "Buddy" Charleton (StG 93) born in New Market, Virginia, 1938 (died 2011)
George Jones critically injured in single-vehicle accident, 1999
The siege of the Alamo ended, 1836. Davy Crockett, subject of legendary song, was among those who died during the battle. Johnny Cash would memorialize the fight in his song "Remember the Alamo."

March 7:


Townes Van Zandt born in Fort Worth Texas, 1944 (died 1997)
Jack Anglin died in Nashville, Tennessee (car wreck), 1963 (was 46). Anglin was on his way to Patsy Cline's memorial service at the time of his accident.
Pee Wee King (CM 74, NS 70) died in Louisville, Kentucky (heart attack), 2000 (was 86)

Charlie Lamb died in Nashville, Tennessee (pneumonia), 2012 (was 90)
Claude King died in Shreveport, Louisiana (natural causes), 2013 (was 90)

March 8:


Randy Meisner of Poco and the Eagles born in Scotts Bluff, Nebraska, 1946 (now 69)
Jimmy Dormire of Confederate Railroad born in Ann Arbor, Michigan, 1960 (now 55)
Johnny Dollar born in Kilgore, Texas, 1933 (died 1986)
Jimmy Stoneman of the Stoneman Family born in Washington, DC, 1937 (died 2002)

Stuart Hamblen (NS 70) died in Santa Monica, California (brain tumor), 1989 (was 80)
Hank Locklin died in Brewton, Alabama (natural causes), 2009 (was 90)

March 9:


Mickey Gilley born in Natchez, Mississippi, 1936 (now 79)
Jimmy Fadden of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band born in Long Beach, California, 1948 (now 67)

Jerry Byrd (StG 78) born in Lima, Ohio, 1920 (died 2005)
Ralph Sloan of the Ralph Sloan Dancers born in Wilson County, Tennessee, 1925 (died 1980)

Glen Sherley born in Oklahoma, 1936 (died 1978)
George Burns died in Beverly Hills, California (cardiac arrest), 1996 (was 100). The legendary comedian and actor had a country hit with "I Wish I Was Eighteen Again."
Chris LeDoux died in Casper, Wyoming (bile duct cancer), 2005 (was 56)
Final Saturday night Grand Ole Opry at the Ryman before the opening of the new Opry House, 1974

March 10:


Ralph Emery (CM 07) born in McEwen, Tennessee, 1933 (now 82)
Norman Blake born in Chattanooga, Tennessee, 1938 (now 77)
Johnnie Allan born in Rayne, Louisiana, 1938 (now 77)
Daryl Singletary born in Wigham, Georgia, 1971 (now 44)
Kenneth "Jethro" Burns (CM 01) born in Conasauga, Tennessee, 1920 (died 1989)
Soul singer James Brown guested on the Grand Ole Opry at the request of Porter Wagoner, 1979

March 11:


Jimmy Fortune (CM 08) born in Williamsburg, Virginia, 1955 (now 60)
W. Lee "Pappy" O'Daniel of the Light Crust Doughboys born in Malta, Ohio, 1890 (died 1969)
Jim Boyd of the Cowboy Ramblers died (unknown cause), 1993 (was 78)

March 12:


Marshall Wilborn of the Johnson Mountain Boys and the Lynn Morris Band born in Austin, Texas, 1952 (now 63)
James Taylor born in Belmont, Massachusetts, 1948 (now 67). The legendary pop/folk superstar wrote "Bartender's Blues" and sang with George Jones on Jones' recording of the tune.

Lew DeWitt (CM 08) born in Roanoke, Virginia, 1938 (died 1990)  
Ralph Sloan died in Nashville, Tennessee (unknown illness), 1980 (was 55)

March 13:


Jan Howard born in West Plains, Missouri, 1930 (now 85)

Liz Anderson born in Roseau, Minnesota, 1930 (died 2011) 
Benny Martin (BG 05) died in Nashville, Tennessee (nerve disorder/illness), 2001 (was 72)

Jack Greene died in Nashville, Tennessee (Alzheimer's disease), 2013 (was 83)
Ezra Carter married Maybelle Addington, 1926

March 14:


Michael Martin Murphy born in Oak Cliff, Texas, 1945 (now 70)
Doc Pomus died in New York, New York (lung cancer), 1991 (was 65)
Dale Potter died in Puxaco, Missouri (cancer), 1996 (was 66)
Tommy Collins (NS 99) died in Ashland City, Tennessee (emphysema), 2000 (was 69)

Bill Bolick of the Blue Sky Boys died in Hickory, North Carolina (natural causes), 2008 (was 90)

March 15:


D.J. Fontana born in Shreveport, Louisiana, 1931 (now 84)

Wayland Holyfield (NS 92) born in Malletttown, Arkansas, 1942 (now 73)
Gunilla Hutton of Hee Haw born in Goteborg, Sweden, 1946 (now 69)
Ry Cooder born in Los Angeles, California, 1947 (now 68)
Carl Smith (CM 03) born in Maynardville, Tennessee, 1927 (died 2010)
The final performance of the Friday Night Opry at the Ryman, 1974. The final song was the Opry cast singing "Will the Circle Be Unbroken."

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Spider Man

Category:  Obituary

They called him "Spider."  And for over 60 years his guitar rang true in Nashville.

James "Spider" Wilson died today (2/26) of cancer in Nashville.

He came to prominence in 1947 when he worked with Little Jimmy Dickens (whom we lost eight weeks ago).  In 1953 Wilson became a member of the Grand Ole Opry staff band and remained there until 2006, when he quit over what he called "humiliating treatment" by the Opry management concerning the Opry staff band not being used on the televised portion of the Grand Ole Opry.  

In addition to working with Dickens and on the Opry, Wilson was a prolific session guitarist.  His beautiful guitar work can be heard on songs such as "The End of the World," the legendary Skeeter Davis hit, Bill Anderson & Jan Howard's cover of "Someday We'll Be Together," Faron Young's version of "Sweet Dreams (Of You)" "Stateside" by Mel Tillis, and Ray Price's "My Shoes Keep Walking Back to You."   

Wilson was one of the true unsung heroes of Nashville session work and Opry live performances, and his talent will be sorely missed.

James "Spider" Wilson was 79.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Dates of Note in Country Music, February 16-28

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=country performer also inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame)

February 16:

Jo-Walker Meador (CM 95) born in Orlinda, Tennessee, 1924 (now 91)
Ronnie Milsap (CM 14) born in Robbinsville, North Carolina, 1944 (now 71)
Jimmy Wakely born in Mineola, Arkansas, 1914 (died 1982)
Smiley Burnette (NS 71) died in Encino, California (leukemia), 1967 (was 55)

February 17:

Johnny Bush born in Houston, Texas, 1935 (now 80)
Buck Trent born in Spartanburg, South Carolina, 1938 (now 77)
Jon Randall born in Dallas, Texas, 1969 (now 46)
Bryan White born in Shellman, Georgia, 1974 (now 41)
Billy Byrd born in Nashville, Tennessee, 1920 (died 2001)
Gene Pitney born in Hartford, Connecticut, 1940 (died 2006). The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer recorded two albums of duets with George Jones.
Uncle Jimmy Thompson died in Laguardo, Tennessee (natural causes), 1931 (was 82)
Eck Robertson died in Borger, Texas (natural causes), 1975 (was 87)
Gus Hardin died near Claremore, Oklahoma (car wreck), 1996 (was 50)

February 18:

Juice Newton born in Lakehurst Naval Station, New Jersey, 1952 (now 63)
Dudley Connell born in Scheer, West Virginia, 1956 (now 59)
Julius Frank "Pee Wee" King (ne Kuczynski) (CM 74, NS 70) born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 1914 (died 2000)
Tootsie Bess, owner of Tootsie's Orchid Lounge, died in Nashville, Tennessee (cancer), 1978 (was 61)
Johnny Paycheck died in Nashville, Tennessee (emphysema), 2003 (was 64)

February 19:

Lorianne Crook born in Wichita, Kansas, 1957 (now 58)
Cedric Rainwater (real name: Howard Watts) (BG 07) born in Monticello, Florida, 1913 (died 1970)
Lowell Blanchard died in Knoxville, Tennessee (heart attack), 1968 (was 57)
Grandpa Jones (CM 78) died in Nashville, Tennessee (stroke), 1998 (was 84)
Porter Wagoner and Dolly Parton officially break up their act, 1974

February 20:

Kathie Baillie of Baillie & the Boys born in Morristown, New Jersey, 1951 (now 64)
Claire Lynch born in Albany, New York, 1954 (now 61)

February 21:

Mary-Chapin Carpenter born in Princeton, New Jersey, 1958 (now 57)
Don Reno (BG 92) born in Spartanburg, South Carolina, 1926 (died 1984)
Carl T. Sprague died in Bryan, Texas (unknown cause), 1979 (was 83)

Ray Whitley (NS 81) died in California (unknown cause), 1979 (was 77)

February 22:

Del Wood born in Nashville, Tennessee, 1920 (died 1989)
George Younce of the Cathedrals (SG 98) born in Patterson, North Carolina, 1930 (died 2005)
Johnny Cash asked June Carter to marry him onstage during a concert in London, Ontario, 1968

February 23:

Rusty Young of Poco born in Long Beach, California, 1946 (now 69)
Buck Griffin born in Corsicana, Texas, 1923 (died 2009)
Penny DeHaven died in Atlanta, Georgia (cancer), 2014 (was 65)
Minnie Pearl married Henry Cannon, 1947

February 24:

Little Roy Lewis of the Lewis Family (BG 06) born in Lincoln County, Georgia, 1942 (now 73)
Don Law (CM 01) born in London, England, 1902 (died 1982)
Webb Pierce (CM 01) died in Nashville, Tennessee (cancer), 1991 (was 69)
Goldie Hill Smith died in Nashville, Tennessee (cancer), 2005 (was 72)
Dinah Shore died in Beverly Hills, California (ovarian cancer), 1994 (was 77). The legendary pop singer and TV hostess was part of the family of live performers on WSM radio.

February 25:

Dr. Ralph Stanley (BG 92) born in Stratton, Virginia, 1927 (now 88)
Faron Young (CM 00) born in Shreveport, Louisiana, 1932 (died 1996)

February 26:

Jan Crutchfield born in Paducah, Kentucky, 1936 (now 79)
Billy Jack Wills born in Hall County, Texas, 1926 (died 1991)
Johnny Cash (CM 80, NS 77, RR 92) born in Kingsland, Arkansas, 1932 (died 2003)
Tim Wilson died in Commerce, Georgia (heart failure), 2014 (was 52)

February 27:

Chuck Glaser of the Glaser Brothers born in Spalding, Nebraska, 1936 (now 79)
Joe Carson died in Wichita Falls, Texas (car wreck), 1964 (was 27)
Walter Bailes died in Sevierville, Tennessee (various health problems), 2000 (was 80)

February 28:

Jim Denny (CM 66) born in Silver Point, Tennessee, 1911 (died 1963)
Audrey Williams born in Banks, Alabama, 1923 (died 1975)
Don Helms born in New Brockton, Alabama, 1927 (died 2008)
Joe South (NS 79) born in Atlanta, Georgia, 1940 (died 2012)
Fiddlin' Arthur Smith died (unknown causes), 1971 (was 72)

Leap day, February 29:

Dinah Shore born in Winchester, Tennessee, 1916 (died 1994)
Vaughn Horton (NS 71) died in New Port Ritchey, Florida (heart attack), 1988 (was 76)

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Sick Call: Midnite Jamboree

Category:  News

I've thought that there was trouble at the long-running Midnite Jamboree, the free show held at the Ernest Tubb Record Shop on Saturday night following the Grand Ole Opry, for some time.  The show, which began in 1947, has undergone a number of changes in recent years.  Those changes include an unsuccessful attempt to tape the shows at 10 PM then play them back at midnight the following week and, most recently, weeks of archived shows instead of live broadcasts.

A post on the website of country singer Gary Hayes gives some indication as to just how severe the problem is.  Glenn Tubb, the nephew of Ernest Tubb, confirms that the Midnite Jamboree is in serious financial trouble.  Hayes reports that it costs approximately $2,500 per broadcast, which is money that the store on Music Valley Drive (where the show is broadcast from) is simply not recovering in sales.  Glenn Tubb states (per Hayes' quote), "The record shops can no longer support the MJ because people have quit buying records, thanks to the free downloads on the internet."  

The post goes on to say that a "Midnite Jamboree Association" is being formed.  Members will make an annual contribution in order to keep the radio show going.

I hate to say this, but I don't think this will help.  In the first place, most of the people who go to Nashville as a "country music tourist" no longer care for the history or traditions of country music.  This is why the Opry is in bad shape, and that problem is trickling down to the Midnite Jamboree.  Secondly, there are few artists who want to support the Midnite Jamboree.  When Charlie Louvin appeared on the show in 1993 he stated that the main artists did the show gratis.  I don't know if that's true anymore or not, but if it is, what artist is going to sacrifice a paying gig on Saturday night at one of the countless clubs in Nashville (or Branson, or Austin, or Pigeon Forge, or country music cruises or festivals) to do a free show?  Alan Jackson did a show downtown at the original store (more precisely, out in the middle of Broadway because of the huge crowd), but that was ages ago.  The superstars don't care, and the Opry stars don't care.  How can they attract an audience when the singers don't even show an interest?

There are other issues, too:  as the blog said, people can obtain music in other places far less expensively than the full list prices at the Ernest Tubb Record Shop.  Using a popular example, the new Garth Brooks CD is less than $12 at Amazon while nearly $13 at the Ernest Tubb Record Shop.  Digital download sights offer an even bigger discount.  Similarly, the wide array of country music at the stores holds little interest to modern country fans.

The February 14 show, featuring Glenn Douglas Tubb, is scheduled to be the last live Midnite Jamboree until after Memorial Day, well into the "tourist season."  Archived shows will run on Saturday night.

I hope the Midnite Jamboree can continue.  In order for this to happen, however, the stars and the fans have to band together and support the legendary program.

Sunday, February 08, 2015

Louvin Brothers Receive Lifetime Achievement Grammy

Category:  News

Throughout their career the Louvin Brothers always seemed to be a day late.  People heard them on the radio and began covering their songs, to the point where Charlie Louvin told biographer Charles K. Wolfe people thought it was the Louvins doing the cover.  Their career took off right at the wrong time, too, just as Elvis and rock and roll changed the musical landscape.  None of that, however, undermined the influence the two men from the Sand Mountain region of Alabama had on country music -- or all music for that matter, given that rock acts such as Mark Knopfler and the Byrds have covered their songs.

This weekend, that influence was recognized and awarded when the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences presented the Louvin Brothers a posthumous Lifetime Achievement Award as part of the 57th annual Grammy Awards celebration.

Ira's daughters, Kathy and Denise, and Charlie's son Charlie "Sonny," accepted the Lifetime Achievement Award at the ceremonies on Saturday night (2/7).

Other Lifetime Achievement Grammys for 2015 went to the Bee Gees, Pierre Boulez, Buddy Guy, former Beatle George Harrison, Flaco Jimenez, and Wayne Shorter.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

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 78)
Ray Sawyer of Dr. Hook born in Chicksaw, Alabama, 1937 (now 78)
Del McCoury (BG 11) born in Bakersville, North Carolina, 1939 (now 76)

Tom Gray of the Country Gentlemen (BG 96) born in Chicago, Illinois, 1941 (now 74)
Lisa Marie Presley born in Memphis, Tennessee, 1968 (now 47)

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 69)
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 79). 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 51)
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 53)
Chris McDaniel of Confederate Railroad born in Rock Springs, Georgia, 1965 (now 50)
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 44)
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 54)
Richie McDonald of Lonestar born in Lubbock, Texas, 1962 (now 53)
Anita Cochran born in Pontiac, Michigan, 1967 (now 48)

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 72)
Garth Brooks (CM 12, NS 11) born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, 1962 (now 53)
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 52)
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:


Red Lane (NS 93) born in Zona, Louisiana, 1939 (now 76)
Joe Ely born in Amarillo, Texas, 1947 (now 68)
Travis Tritt born in Marietta, Georgia, 1963 (now 52)
Ernest Tubb (CM 65, NS 70) born in Crisp, Texas, 1914 (died 1984)

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 81)

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

February 12:

Moe Bandy born in Meridian, Mississippi, 1944 (now 71)
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)

February 13:

David McLaughlin of the Johnson Mountain Boys born in Washington, DC, 1958 (now 57)
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 80)

Razzy Bailey born in Five Points, Alabama, 1939 (now 76)
Bill Nowlin, co-founder of Rounder Records, born in Boston, Massachusetts, 1945 (now 70)
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."

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Charlie Farquharson Signs Off

Category:  Obituary

One of the constants throughout the 25-year history of Hee Haw was the spoof of tiny-town radio news reports presented by KORN newscaster, Charlie Farquharson.

The actor and writer behind that character, Don Harron, has died.

Harron died Saturday (1/17) of cancer at his home in Toronto.

The character Charlie Farquharson began in Harron's native land in the 1950's.  It was only one facet of Harron's career at the time.  He was also a broadcaster for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, an actor, and producer.  He took the classic book Anne of Green Gables and helped turn it into a musical for the Canadian stage.

In 1968 he landed a job on the CBS summer replacement show, Hee Haw, alongside fellow Canadian Gordie Tapp.  He brought the folksy Farquharson character with him, this time making light of small-town America instead of small-town Canada.  It fit perfectly (given that Harron once said that the Farquharson character was inspired by time spent working on a farm in Canada), and the "Charlie Farquharson, KORN news reporting" segments became some of the most popular skits on the long-running series.

Harron was also an author.  He penned 17 books, including his memoirs, My Double Life:  Sexty Years of Farquharson Around With Don Harn.

Upon being advised that he had cancer, he opted to not pursue treatment.

Don Harron was 90.

Farewell, Miss Dixie

Category:  Obituary/News


"I forgot her name, but not her figure."  It's hard to believe that line, from Dave Dudley's top five hit "Truck Drivin' Son of a Gun," was written by a woman.  But it was -- by the woman lovingly known as "Miss Dixie."

Miss Dixie, better known as Dixie Hall, died Friday (1/16) after a lengthy battle with brain cancer.

Along with her husband, Country Music Hall of Famer Tom T. Hall, Miss Dixie devoted her life to song.  A wonderful quote from Hall in the Nashville Tennessean pointed out the difference Hall saw between his songwriting and his wife's:  "She sees the trees, while all I can see is the forest."

The couple was married for 46 years.  In the mid-70's Tom T. "experimented" with a bluegrass album, 1976's Magnificent Music Machine.  Who would know that would turn into an obsession of sorts:  Tom T. and Miss Dixie were among the most prolific songwriters in bluegrass music over the past 30 years.  The couple hosted after-hours hospitality suites at the International Bluegrass Music Association's annual World of Bluegrass convention and showcase.

In 2004 IBMA awarded Dixie Hall the "Distinguished Achievement Award" along with her husband for their years of dedication to bluegrass music, as writers, performers, and supporters.

Nothin' Fancy performing "Once Upon a Road,"
written by Tom T. and Dixie Hall

Dixie Hall was 80.


Thursday, January 15, 2015

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 72)
Jim Stafford born in Eloise, Florida, 1944 (now 71)
Sandy Pinkard of Pinkard & Bowden born in Abbeville, Louisiana, 1947 (now 68)

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 60)
Amanda Wilkinson of the Wilkinsons born in Belleville, Ontario, 1982 (now 33)
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:


Bobby Edwards born in Aniston, Alabama, 1926 (now 89)
Hargus "Pig" Robbins (CM 12) born in Spring City, Tennessee, 1938 (now 77)
Mark Collie born in Waynesboro, Tennessee, 1956 (now 59)

Linda Parker of the Cumberland Ridge Runners born in Covington, Kentucky, 1912 (died 1935)
Eddie Hill died (long-term illness), 1994 (was 74)

January 19:


Stu Phillips born in Montreal, Quebec, 1933 (now 82)
Dolly Parton (CM 99, NS 86) born in Locast Ridge, Tennessee, 1946 (now 69)
Stephanie Davis born in Bridger, Montana, 1958 (now 57)
Dennie Crouch of the Nashville Bluegrass Band born in Strawberry, Arkansas, 1967 (now 48)
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 50)

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 73)
Jim Ibbottson of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1947 (now 68)

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 66)

Teddy Gentry (CM 05) born in Fort Payne, Alabama, 1952 (now 63)
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 53)
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 79)
Jack Scott born in Windsor, Ontario, 1936 (now 79)
Ray Stevens (NS 80) born in Clarksdale, Georgia, 1939 (now 76)
Becky Hobbs born in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, 1950 (now 65)
Keech Rainwater of Lonestar born in Plano, Texas, 1963 (now 52)

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 83)
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 (SG 93) died in Austin, Texas (lung cancer), 2011 (was 72)

January 26:

Dave Rowland of Dave & Sugar born in Sanger, California, 1942 (now 73)
Lucinda Williams born in Lake Charles, Louisiana, 1953 (now 62)

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:

Buddy Emmons (SG 81) born in Mishawaka, Indiana, 1937 (now 78)
Lee Carroll of Exile born in Glasgow, Kentucky, 1953 (now 62)
Cheryl White of the Whites born in Wichita Falls, Texas, 1955 (now 60)
Richard Young of the Kentucky Headhunters born in Glasgow, Kentucky, 1955 (now 60)
Tracy Lawrence born in Atlanta, Texas, 1968 (now 47)
Joe Callahan of the Callahan Brothers born in Madison County, North Carolina, 1910 (died 1971)
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 50)
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 71)
Irlene Mandrell of the Mandrell Sisters born in Corpus Christi, Texas, 1957 (now 58)

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 78)
Norma Jean ("Pretty Miss Norma Jean") born in Wellston, Oklahoma, 1938 (now 77)
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 53)
Warren Smith died in Longview, Texas (heart attack), 1981 (was 47)

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

Friday, January 02, 2015

There's Been a Death in the Family

Category:  News/Obituary

Never has a man who was just 4'10" stood so tall in the world of country music.

The legendary Little Jimmy Dickens died today (1/2) in a Nashville hospital of heart failure.  He suffered a stroke on Christmas day, just six days after his 94th birthday.  Two weeks ago he made his final appearance on the Grand Ole Opry, performing in honor of his birthday.

James Cecil Dickens was born December 19, 1920 in Bolt, West Virginia.  He dropped out of college to pursue a career in country music.  He was signed to Columbia Records in the late 40's and joined the Opry in 1948.

The hits came early and often:  "Take an Old, Cold Tater (and Wait)" established him as a star and gave him his nickname of "Tater," courtesy of Hank Williams.  He mixed novelty songs (his biggest hit, 1965's "May the Bird of Paradise Fly Up Your Nose," crossed over to the pop charts) and serious tunes (his recitation about a man who visited his daughter's grave, "(You've Been Quite a Doll) Raggedy Ann") with onstage humor (usually introducing himself on the Opry as, "I'm Little Jimmy Dickens, or Willie Nelson after taxes") to become one of country's most enduring performers.  WSM DJ and Opry announcer Eddie Stubbs frequently said that Dickens was the only person who could follow Garth Brooks during Brooks' heyday in the 90's....and Dickens was in his mid-70's at the time!

Dickens was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1983.  His "hits" may have ended by then, but his career was far from exhausted.  He continued to tour extensively into the late 1990's, headlining at Opry tours and his own shows.  Even after he retired from the road he continued as one of the most beloved members of the Opry.

In the past few years Dickens has suffered numerous health problems, including a subdural hematoma and throat cancer.  He managed to continue to perform, although with increasing infrequency, until the end.

Survivors include his wife, Mona, two daughters, and generations of fans who enjoyed the music and entertainment of Little Jimmy Dickens.

As the Bill Anderson song that Dickens recorded in the early 70's said, "there's been a death in the family."  Country music's family has decreased by one incredibly gigantic talent.

Rest in peace, Tater.

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, 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) 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 89)
Dick Feller born in Bronaugh, Missouri, 1943 (now 72)
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 46)

Leon McAuliffe 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 60)
Kathy Forester of the Forester Sisters born in Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia, 1955 (now 60)
Patty Loveless born in Pikeville, Kentucky, 1957 (now 58)
Deana Carter born in Nashville, Tennessee, 1966 (now 49)

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 65)
Iris DeMent born in Paragould, Arkansas, 1961 (now 54)

Big Bill Lister born in Kenedy, Texas, 1923 (died 2009)
Sam Phillips (Sun Records owner) (CM 01) 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 66)
Jett Williams born in Montgomery, Alabama, 1953 (now 62)
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 72)
Marshall Chapman born in Spartanburg, South Carolina, 1949 (now 66)
David Lee Murphy born in Herrin, Illinois, 1959 (now 56)
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 75)

Holly Tashian born in New York, New York, 1946 (now 69)
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) 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 89)

Roy Head born in Three Rivers, Texas, 1943 (now 72)
Crystal Gayle born in Paintsville, Kentucky, 1951 (now 64)
Jimmy Day 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 69)
Robert Earl Keen born in Houston, Texas, 1956 (now 59)
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 born in Brewton, Alabama, 1939 (now 76)
Ricky Van Shelton born in Danville, Virginia, 1952 (now 63)
LaWanda Lindsey born in Tampa, Florida, 1953 (now 62)
Claudia Church Crowell born in Lenoir, North Carolina, 1962 (now 53)

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 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 53)

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 77)

David Lynn Jones born in Bexar, Arkansas, 1950 (now 65)
Kurt Howell of Southern Pacific born in Winter Haven, Florida, 1958 (now 57)

Billy Walker born in Ralls, Texas, 1929 (died 2006)
Jack Guthrie died in Livermore, California (tuberculosis), 1948 (was 32)
Vic Willis died in Hohenwald, Tennessee (car wreck), 1995 (was 72)