Friday, May 29, 2015


Category:  News/Opinion 

Earlier this year Sony Records executive Gary Overton caused a commotion when he told a group of radio programmers in an attempt to overemphasize the importance of commercial radio stations, "If you're not on country radio, you don't exist."  He was fired a month later (the official word is it was a "mutual agreement" resignation)...probably not because of what he said but because he let a "trade secret" out.  That is the way the mainstream world looks at people from Dale Watson to Wayne the Train the Sturgill Simpson:  despite the sold-out concerts they aren't played on the radio so they "don't exist," meaning Nashville's "establishment" doesn't have to deal with people who are still making real, legitimate country music.

Oh, but that's nothing compared to the newest outrage.  Keith Hill, a "radio consultant," made comments earlier this week that said country radio stations need to stop playing female singers.

This began in Country Aircheck magazine, where Hill, who states on his web site that he "has unparalleled knowledge of all music scheduling systems" and "brings insight into the strategic strengths and weaknesses of every station in your market," said that country radio stations lose listeners when they play female singers.  His advice:  "If you want to make ratings in country radio, take the females out."  He then moved his foot from his mouth all the way down his throat when he added, "I play great female records, and we've got some right now.  They're just not the lettuce in our salad.  The lettuce is Luke Bryan and Blake Shelton, Keith Urban and artists like that.  The tomatoes of our salad are the females."

Rising Americana superstar Jason Isbell was blunt in a tweet:  "Country music's Idiot of the Year Award snatched away from Gary Overton by Keith Hill."  Given how Overton is now in the unemployment line, Isbell added, "Keep those interviews coming!", probably in hopes that Hill will soon join Overton there.

I don't know what's more upsetting:  the fact that this guy thinks women country singers are irrelevant or even detrimental to music, or that he uses sexist terminology like "tomatoes" to define women's roles in music in 2015.

Let me be clear on something:  I do not call 99% of the garbage they play on country radio today "country music."  Having said that, let's look at some facts regarding what is passing for "country music" today.  The only million-selling album last year was by a woman who used to be called "country" (Taylor Swift).  In 2014 Kacey Musgraves beat out three guys to win the "Country Album of the Year" Grammy for Same Trailer, Different Park.  Kevin John Coyne points out in his Country Universe retort that the only person to sell 5 million copies or more of an album in the past 20 years who wasn't a woman was Garth Brooks.

What Keith Hill said is reprehensible, and he shouldn't get a pass for it under any circumstances (and he portrayed himself as a "victim" of "social media"-fueled "emotion" in a feeble attempt to clarify his comments in RadioInk).  The bigger issue, however, is the fact that "radio consultants" have a job to begin with.

If radio stations would listen to the individuals who are actually listening to the stations and not some nationally-based numbers cruncher the stations would probably be more diverse and have more listeners.  But no, all the stations want to play the same songs every hour on the hour.  Most stations no longer have a request line to hear what their listeners want, basically allowing consultant firms to make that decision for them.

They get what they pay for.  And what they may be paying for is boycotts of the stations and the advertisers thanks to the ridiculous comments by their high-priced "consultant" who effectively just insulted 50-70% of their listening audience.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The Midnite Jamboree's Return Slated for June 6

Category:  News 

The Ernest Tubb Record Shop's web site, which was missing in action for most of April, is back up and running.  The headline on the site says that the Midnite Jamboree will resume on Saturday, June 6, with Tubb's nephew Glenn Douglas Tubb hosting.  

Other hosts scheduled in the near future, per the site, include Hall of Famer Mel Tillis, Texas honky tonk great Justin Trevino, "the Survivors" (Tony Booth, Darrell McCall, and Curtis Potter), and Gail Davies.

The show will return to WSM, broadcast as usual at midnight.  However, the show will be taped, with taping beginning at 10 PM.  This may be an attempt to be more "family-friendly" to allow for bigger audiences than what the midnight starting time for a live show would provide.

In addition to the Midnite Jamboree, a special "Heart of Texas Records" show, featuring McCall, Norma Jean, Frankie Miller, Booth, Potter, and Bobby G. Rice, will be held at the Texas Troubadour Theater in July.

I'm thankful the 65-year-old show is coming back, and I hope it is around for another 65 years!

Friday, May 15, 2015

Dates of Note in Country Music, May 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)

May 16:

Rick Trevino born in Austin, Texas, 1971 (now 44)
Laura Lee Owens, the "Queen of Western Swing," born in Kansas City, Missouri, 1920 (died 1989)

Wallace Lewis of the Lewis Family (BG 06) died in Washington, Georgia (complications of Parkinson's disease), 2007 (was 78)
Doug Dillard of the Dillards (BG 09) died in Nashville, Tennessee (lung infection), 2012 (was 75)

May 17:

Pat Flynn of the New Grass Revival born in Los Angeles, California, 1952 (now 63)
Grant Turner (CM 81) born in Abeline, Texas, 1912 (died 1991)
Paul Warren born in Lyles, Tennessee, 1918 (died 1978)
Arthur Lee "Red" Smiley (BG 92) born in Marshall, North Carolina, 1925 (died 1984)

Penny DeHaven born in Winchester, Virginia, 1948 (died 2014)
Wiley Walker of Wiley & Gene (NS 71) died in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (cancer), 1966 (was 54)
New Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum building opened, 2001.  Nearly every living Hall of Famer was present at the opening ceremonies, and the audience was treated to a tour of the new facilities for free.

May 18:

Rodney Dillard of the Dillards (BG 09) born in East St. Louis, Illinois, 1942 (now 73)
Joe Bonsall of the Oak Ridge Boys born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1948 (now 67).  The Oak Ridge Boys are one of the "class of 2015" Country Music Hall of Fame inductees.
Gary Scruggs born in Knoxville, Tennessee, 1949 (now 66)

Tom Shapiro (NS 08) born in Kansas City, Missouri, 1950 (now 65)
George Strait (CM 06) born in Poteet, Texas, 1952 (now 63)

Leon Ashley born in Newton County, Georgia, 1936 (died 2013)

May 19:

Martha Carson born in Neon, Kentucky, 1921 (died 2004)
Rex Gosdin born in Woodland, Alabama, 1938 (died 1983)
Mickey Newberry (NS 80) born in Houston, Texas, 1940 (died 2002)

May 20:

"Lonesome George" Gobel born in Chicago, Illinois, 1919 (died 1991). Although many may remember him as a comedian and regular on Hollywood Squares, one of Gobel's earliest jobs in entertainment was on the WLS National Barn Dance when he was a teenager in the 1930s.
Jack Cash, brother of Johnny Cash, died in Dyess, Arkansas (injuries from accident with table saw), 1944 (was 15)

May 21:

Henry Glover born in Hot Springs, Arkansas, 1921 (died 1991). The R&B songwriter and pioneering black record company executive co-wrote "Blues, Stay Away From Me" with the Delmore Brothers and Wayne Raney in 1949.
Charlie Poole died in Spray, North Carolina (alcohol-related heart failure), 1931 (was 39)
Billy Walker died in Fort Deposit, Alabama (car wreck), 2006 (was 77)
Vaughn Monroe died in Stuart, Florida (post-operative complications), 1973 (was 61). Among the pop singer's many hits was "(Ghost) Riders in the Sky."

May 22:

Miggie Lewis of the Lewis Family (BG 06) born in Richmond County, Georgia, 1926 (now 89)
Buddy Alan born in Mega, Arizona, 1948 (now 67)
Rich Alves of Pirates of the Mississippi born in Pleasanton, California, 1953 (now 62)
Dana Williams of Diamond Rio born in Dayton, Ohio, 1961 (now 54)
Ralph S. Peer (CM 84) born in Independence, Missouri, 1892 (died 1960)
Royce Kendall died in LaCrosse, Wisconsin (stroke), 1988 (was 63)

May 23:

Mac Wiseman (CM 14, BG 93) born in Crimora, Virginia, 1925 (now 90)
Ken Irwin, co-founder of Rounder Records, born in New York, New York, 1944 (now 71)
Misty Morgan born in Buffalo, New York, 1945 (now 70)
Shelley West born in Cleveland, Ohio, 1958 (now 57)

Leroy Troy born in Goodlettesville, Tennessee, 1966 (now 49)
Rosemary Clooney born in Maysville, Kentucky, 1928 (died 2002). The legendary pop singer recorded a number of country songs, including covering Carl Smith's hit "If Teardrops Were Pennies."
Rex Gosdin died (heart attack), 1983 (was 45)

May 24:

Mike Reid (NS 05) born in Aliquippa, Pennsylvania, 1947 (now 68)
Rosanne Cash born in Memphis, Tennessee, 1955 (now 60)
Billy Gilman born in Westerly, Rhode Island, 1988 (now 27). Gilman's "One Voice" hit #1 when he was 12, making him the youngest person in Billboard country chart history to have a #1 song.
Gene Clark of the Byrds and Dillard & Clark died in Sherman Oaks, California (bleeding ulcer), 1991 (was 46)
Vivian Liberto died in Ventura, California (cancer), 2005 (was 71). Vivian was Johnny Cash's first wife and Rosanne Cash's mother.
Jimmie Rodgers recorded "Old Love Letters (Bring Memories of You)," "Mississippi Delta Blues," "Somewhere Down Below the Dixon Line," and "Years Ago" in New York City, 1933. Ravaged with tuberculosis, they would be the final recordings of the Father of Country Music.

May 25:

Tom T. Hall (CM 08, NS 78) born in Olive Hill, Kentucky, 1936 (now 79)
Jessi Colter born in Phoenix, Arizona, 1947 (now 68)
Dr. Humphrey Bate of the Possum Hunters born in Castallian Springs, Tennessee, 1875 (died 1936)
Ernest V. "Pop" Stoneman (CM 08) born in Monarat, Virginia, 1893 (died 1968)

Hal David (NS 84) born in New York, New York, 1921 (died 2012)
Dick Curless died in Bangor, Maine (stomach cancer), 1995 (was 63)

May 26:

Lance LeRoy (BG 00) born in Tingall, Georgia, 1930 (now 85)

Randall Hank Williams Jr. (NS 07) born in Shreveport, Louisiana, 1949 (now 66)
Richard Leigh (NS 94) born in Washington, DC, 1951 (now 64)
Levon Helm born in Marvell, Arkansas, 1940 (died 2012). The actor and drummer/singer for the Band made his acting debut in Coal Miner's Daughter.
Jimmie Rodgers (CM 61, NS 70, RR 86) died in New York, New York (tuberculosis), 1933 (was 35)
Onie Wheeler died in Nashville, Tennessee (heart attack), 1984 (was 62). He died on the Grand Ole Opry stage during a performance of the post-Friday Night Opry show, Grand Ole Gospel.
Judy Lynn died in New Albany, Indiana (congestive heart failure), 2010 (was 74)
The first International Country Music Conference held in Meridian, Mississippi, 1983. The three-day event began as a memorial to Jimmie Rodgers and coincides with the anniversary of his death.

May 27:

Don Williams (CM 10) born in Floydada, Texas, 1939 (now 76)
Redd Stewart (NS 70) born in Ashland City, Tennessee, 1921 (died 2003)
Kenny Price born in Florence, Kentucky, 1931 (died 1987)
Slim Bryant died in Mt. Lebanon, Pennsylvania (long-term illness), 2010 (was 101)
Opryland opened, 1972 (closed 1997)

May 28:

John Fogerty born in Berkeley, California, 1945 (now 70). The leader of Creedence Clearwater Revival recorded an album of country songs under the pseudonym Blue Ridge Rangers in 1973, hitting the country chart with his rendition of "Jambalaya," and several songs Fogerty has written have been recorded by country singers.
Jerry Douglas born in Warren, Ohio, 1956 (now 59)
Phil Vassar born in Lynchburg, Virginia, 1965 (now 50)

Gary Stewart born in Jenkins, Kentucky, 1945 (died 2003)

May 29:

Carl Story (BG 07) born in Lenoir, North Carolina, 1916 (died 1995)

Danny Davis (ne George Joseph Nowlan) of the Nashville Brass born in Dorchester, Massachusetts, 1925 (died 2008)
Doc Watson (BG 00) died in Winston-Salem, North Carolina (complications from abdominal surgery), 2012 (was 89)
Mother Maybelle and the Carter Family became members of the Grand Ole Opry, 1950
Hank and Audrey Williams divorced, 1952

May 30:

Mike Snider born in Gleason, Tennessee, 1960 (now 55)
Lewis Crook of the Crook Brothers born in Trousdale County, Tennessee, 1909 (died 1996)

Johnny Gimble born in Tyler, Texas, 1926 (died 2015)
Don Wayne (NS 78) born in Nashville, Tennessee, 1933 (died 2011)
Karl Davis of Karl & Harty died in Chicago, Illinois (cancer), 1979 (was 73)
Bobby Harden of the Harden Trio died in Nashville, Tennessee (unknown cause), 2006 (was 70)

May 31:

Vic Willis of the Willis Brothers born in Schulter, Oklahoma, 1922 (died 1995)
Johnny Paycheck (ne Donald Eugene Lytle) born in Greenfield, Ohio, 1938 (died 2003)

Bud Carter (StG 09) born in Sullivan, Missouri, 1931 (died 2015)
William "Red" Rector died in Knoxville, Tennessee (heart attack), 1990 (was 60)

Lloyd Perryman of the Sons of the Pioneers (CM 80) died in Burbank, California (complications of heart surgery), 1977 (was 60)
Jerry Sullivan of the Sullivan Family died in Alabama (illness), 2014 (was 80)

Update on Bill Anderson

Category:  News 

Whisperin' Bill Anderson recently reported on his Facebook page that he had surgery for skin cancer (original post here), and that the surgery went very well.  Yesterday (5/14) he posted that his doctor is amazed with how rapidly the 77-year-old is healing following removal of basal cell carcinoma from his nose.

"Be assured," Anderson wrote, "your prayers were both heard and answered."  

Anderson said he hopes to be back on the Grand Ole Opry the weekend of May 30-31.

Prayers and best wishes for continued recovery and no complications to this great Hall of Famer!

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Legendary Fiddler Johnny Gimble Dies

Category:  News/Obituary 

Johnny Gimble, the one-time member of Bob Wills' Texas Playboys who went on to work numerous sessions in country music, has died.

Gimble passed away Saturday (5/9) in Marble Falls, Texas.  He had been in poor health for years after a series of strokes.

John Paul Gimble was born in Tyler, Texas in 1926.  He was on the radio playing music before he got out of high school.  After high school he joined the Shelton Brothers' band before the Army took him to Germany during World War II.

Once out of the Army Gimble became a member of Bob Wills' Texas Playboys, where he worked for over a decade.  Following his stint in the Texas Playboys Gimble became an in-demand session fiddler for two generations of country music performers, from Marty Robbins and Connie Smith to a large majority of George Strait's 1980's albums.  He also was part of the Hee Haw "Million Dollar Band."

His son, Dick, told the Waco Tribune, "He's free of that worn-out body of his.  And what a life he had."

What a life, indeed.

Johnny Gimble was 88.

Thursday, May 07, 2015

Sick Call: Bill Anderson

Category:  News 

Country Music Hall of Fame singer/songwriter "Whisperin'" Bill Anderson is recovering following surgery for removal of skin cancer.

Anderson reported on his Facebook wall that he underwent facial surgery to remove basal cell carcinoma on Wednesday (5/6).  "It was not as deeply rooted as first feared," Anderson wrote.  The doctors have ordered him to take it easy for the next two weeks ("read, watch TV, and rest" as Bill put it).

The 77-year-old country music legend hopes he can return to the Opry by the end of the month.

Here's wishing Whisperin' Bill a speedy and complete recovery!

Friday, May 01, 2015

Dates of Note in Country Music, May 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=country act also inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.)

May 1:

Sonny James (ne James Loden) (CM 06) born in Hackleburg, Alabama, 1929 (now 86)
Rita Coolidge born in Nashville, Tennessee, 1944 (now 71). Although primarily a pop singer, Coolidge had a dozen songs chart in country. She is also the former wife of Kris Kristofferson.
Wayne Hancock born in Dallas, Texas, 1965 (now 50)
Sam McGee born in Williamson County, Tennessee, 1894 (died 1975)
Jimmy Gately born in Springfield, Missouri, 1931 (died 1985)
Ott Devine born in Gadsen, Alabama, 1910 (died 1994)
Spike Jones died in Bel Air, California (emphysema), 1965 (was 53). The novelty band leader recorded "Pal-Yat-Chee" with Homer and Jethro, and Red Ingle (of Red Ingle & Natural Seven, of "Temp-Tay-Shun" fame) was once a member of Jones' City Slickers.
Jim Hager of the Hager Twins died in Nashville, Tennessee (heart attack), 2008 (was 66)
Elvis Presley married Priscilla Beaulieu in Las Vegas, Nevada, 1967
A six-inch rainstorm hit Nashville, 2010.  The massive flood damaged the Grand Ole Opry House, the Opryland Hotel, the WSM-AM studios, the basement of the Country Music Hall of Fame, the Wildhorse Saloon, the instrument storage business Soundcheck, and a number of country singers' homes. Over 13 inches of rain fell in two days and killed nearly two dozen.

May 2:

R.C. Bannon born in Dallas, Texas, 1945 (now 70)
Larry Gatlin born in Seminole, Texas, 1948 (now 67)
Ty Herndon born in Meridian, Mississippi, 1962 (now 53)
Roy Lee Centers of the Clinch Mountain Boys died in Jackson, Kentucky (shot to death -- details disputed between a fight, "road rage" or murder), 1974 (was 29)
"Slowly" by Webb Pierce hits #1 on the Billboard charts, 1954. It becomes the first #1 song to feature the pedal steel guitar.

May 3:

Cactus Moser of Highway 101 born in Montrose, Colorado, 1957 (now 58)
Bing Crosby born in Tacoma, Washington, 1903 (died 1977). The pop crooner has the distinction of being the performer of the first #1 single in Billboard magazine's "Hillbilly and Western Singles" history with his rendition of Al Dexter's "Pistol Packin' Mama." Dexter's own recording was the second #1 song.
Dave Dudley born in Spencer, Wisconsin, 1928 (died 2003)
Patsy Montana (CM 96) died in San Jancinto, California (unknown cause), 1996 (was 83)
Dollywood theme park opened in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, 1986

May 4:

Stella Parton born in Sevierville, Tennessee, 1949 (now 65)
Robert Ellis Orrall born in Winthrop, Massachusetts, 1955 (now 59)
Randy Travis born in Marshville, North Carolina, 1959 (now 55)
Al Dexter (ne Clarence Albert Poindexter) (NS 71) born in Jacksonville, Texas, 1902 (died 1984)
Bobby Austin born in Wenatchee, Washington, 1933 (died 2002)
Joe L. Frank (CM 67) died in Chicago, Illinois (complications of throat infection), 1952 (was 52)
Leo Jackson died in Nashville, Tennessee (suicide [gunshot]), 2008 (was 73)

May 5:

Ace Cannon born in Grenada, Mississippi, 1934 (now 81)
Roni Stoneman born in Washington, DC, 1938 (now 77)

Wayne Carson (NS 97) born in Denver, Colorado, 1942 (now 73)
Glen Duncan of Lonesome Standard Time born in Columbus, Indiana, 1955 (now 60)
Tammy Wynette (CM 98, NS 09) born in Itawamba County, Mississippi, 1942 (died 1998)
J.D. Miller born in Iota, Louisiana, 1922 (died 1996)
Jerry Wallace died in Corona, California (congestive heart failure), 2008 (was 79)

May 6:

Jimmie Dale Gilmore born in Austin, Texas, 1945 (now 70)
Cliff Carlisle born in Taylorsville, Kentucky, 1904 (died 1983)

Otis Blackwell (NS 86) died in Nashville, Tennessee (heart attack), 2002 (was 71)
George "Goober" Lindsey died in Nashville, Tennessee (brief illness), 2012 (was 83)

May 7:

Jerry Chesnut (NS 96) born in Loyall, Kentucky, 1931 (now 84)

Lorie Collins of the Collins Kids born in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, 1942 (now 73)
Riley Puckett born in Alpharetta, Georgia, 1894 (died 1946)
Horace "Aytchie" Burns born in Cisco, Georgia, 1918 (died 1974). Aytchie, the older brother of Jethro Burns, was a performer at the WNOX Midday Merry-Go-Round and the Renfro Valley Barn Dance. While in the Army he was also the platoon sergeant of Roger Miller.
Eddie Rabbitt (NS 98) died in Nashville, Tennessee (lung cancer), 1998 (was 56)

May 8:

Jack Blanchard born in Buffalo, New York, 1942 (now 73)
Del Anthony Gray of Little Texas born in Hamilton, Ohio, 1968 (now 47)
Jimmie Tarlton of Darby & Tarlton born in Cheraw, South Carolina, 1892 (died 1979)

Homer Bailes of the Bailes Brothers born in Kanawha County, West Virginia, 1922 (died 2013)
Benny Martin (BG 05) born in Sparta, Tennessee, 1928 (died 2001)
Rick Nelson born in Teaneck, New Jersey, 1940 (died 1985)
Leon Huff of the Light Crust Doughboys died (unknown cause), 1952 (was 39)
George D. Hay (CM 66) died in Virginia Beach, Virginia (unknown cause), 1968 (was 72)
Eddy Arnold (CM 66) died in Brentwood, Tennessee (complications from a fall), 2008 (was 89)

Charles "Everett" Lilly (BG 02) died in Clear Creek, West Virginia (aneurysm/heart attack), 2012 (was 87)

May 9:

Richie Furay of Poco born in Yellow Springs, Ohio, 1944 (now 71)
Bobby Lewis born in Hodgenville, Kentucky, 1946 (now 69)
Fuzzy Knight born in Fairmont, West Virginia, 1901 (died 1976). The actor appeared in several films as Tex Ritter's sidekick.
Hank Snow (CM 79, NS 78) born in Brooklyn, Nova Scotia, 1914 (died 1999)
Nudie Cohn died in Hollywood, California (unknown cause), 1984 (was 81)
Keith Whitley died in Nashville, Tennessee (alcohol poisoning), 1989 (was 33)
Jimmie Davis elected governor of Louisiana, 1944

May 10:

Carl T. Sprague born in Houston, Texas, 1895 (died 1979)
Mother Maybelle Carter (CM 70, BG 01) born in Nicklesville, Virginia, 1909 (died 1979)
Shel Silverstein (NS 02) died in Key West, Florida (heat attack), 1999 (was 68)

May 11:

Bobby Black (StG 04) born in Prescott, Arizona, 1934 (now 81)

Mark Herndon of Alabama (CM 05) born in Springfield, Massachusetts, 1955 (now 60)
Bob Atcher born in West Point, Kentucky, 1914 (died 1993)
Dick Overbey (StG 10) born in Detroit, Michigan, 1942 (died 2014)
Glen Sherley died in Salinas, California (suicide [gunshot]), 1978 (was 42)
Lester Flatt (CM 85, BG 91, NS 07) died in Nashville, Tennessee (heart failure), 1979 (was 64)
Dottie Rambo (SG 97, NS 07) died in Mt. Vernon, Missouri (bus crash), 2008 (was 74)

May 12:

Kix Brooks born in Shreveport, Louisiana, 1955 (now 60)
The Duke of Paducah, Benjamin "Whitey" Ford, (CM 86) born in DeSoto, Missouri, 1901 (died 1986)
Joe Maphis born in Suffolk, Virginia, 1921 (died 1986)
Leroy Pullins born in Berea, Kentucky, 1940 (died 1984)

W. Lee "Pappy" O'Daniel died in Dallas, Texas (unknown cause), 1969 (was 79)

May 13:

Ray Kennedy born in Buffalo, New York, 1954 (now 60)
Lari White born in Dunedin, Florida, 1965 (now 49)
Jack Anglin born in Columbia, Tennesee, 1916 (died 1963)

Johnnie Wright born in Mt. Juliet, Tennessee, 1914 (died 2011)
Gid Tanner died in Dacula, Georgia (unknown cause), 1960 (was 74)
Bob Wills (CM 68, NS 70) died Fort Worth, Texas (pneumonia/complications of stroke), 1975 (was 70)

May 14:

Jimmy Martin (BG 95) died in Nashville, Tennessee (bladder cancer), 2005 (was 77)

May 15:

K.T. Oslin born in Crossett, Arkansas, 1941 (now 74)
Eddy Arnold (CM 66) born in Henderson, Tennessee, 1918 (died 2008)
June Carter Cash died in Nashville, Tennessee (complications from open heart surgery), 2003 (was 73)

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Midnite Jamboree Update: Reprieve or Reality?

Category:  News 

Less than a month ago the news broke that the Ernest Tubb Record Shops' long-running radio program the "Midnite Jamboree" was suspended indefinitely.  Along with that, the largest of the stores, the Music Valley Drive location (next to the Texas Troubadour Theater where the Midnite Jamboree was held), closed.  (You can read the original blog here .)

There is conflicting news about the fate of the store and the show.  Initially the Ernest Tubb Record Shop's web site said that the show would return in May, then on June 6.  A sign posted on the marquee of the Texas Troubadour Theater also gave a June date for the show's return.  Glenn Douglas Tubb, the nephew of Ernest Tubb (and co-writer of the huge hit "Skip a Rope"), posted a Facebook comment about the subject:  "All is not lost.  The MJ will be coming back, and the ETRS will also be restored.  Maybe folks are not buying records anymore, but they are still buying all kinds of merchandise.  And we can give them some great stuff they can't get anywhere else."

The hopes of a reprieve of the legendary show, which began in 1947, must be balanced against reality.  Last week the Ernest Tubb Record Shops' web site went down; and, as of this writing (4/21) it is still offline.  There is still the question of whether the Midnite Jamboree will return to WSM; and, if so, how the outstanding debts to the station will be settled.

The future of the Midnite Jamboree is still very much in doubt, and the combined dwindling interest in traditional country music and "brick and mortar" record shops seems, sadly, to point toward this great show's obituary.

Boy, do I hope I'm wrong.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Dates of Note in Country Music, April 16-30

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 inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame)

April 16:

Dusty Springfield born in London, England, 1939 (died 1999). The legendary Rock and Roll Hall of Fame singer hit the country charts in 1962 as part of the Springfields with "Silver Threads and Golden Needles."

April 17:

Craig Anderson of Heartland born in Huntsville, Alabama, 1973 (now 42)
Eddie Cochran died in Bath, England (injuries from an April 16 car wreck), 1960 (was 21). The rockabilly pioneer co-wrote "Summertime Blues," which Alan Jackson covered in country.
Dorsey Dixon died in Plant City, Florida (heart attack), 1968 (was 70)
Hank Penny died in Camarillo, California (heart failure), 1992 (was 73)
Linda McCartney died in Tuscon, Arizona (breast cancer), 1998 (was 56). Linda and husband Sir Paul McCartney's band, Wings, hit the country charts in 1974 with "Sally G."
Glenn Sutton (NS 99) died in Nashville, Tennessee (heart attack), 2007 (was 69)

April 18:

Walt Richmond of the Tractors born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, 1947 (now 68)
Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown born in Vinton, Louisiana, 1924 (died 2005)
Your blogger born in Louisville, Kentucky, 19(??!) (now in need of a wheelchair and a fan and a bottle of Serutan)
Milton Brown died in Fort Worth, Texas (pneumonia resulting from injuries in an April 13 car wreck), 1936 (was 32)

April 19:

Jody Carver (StG 04) born in Brooklyn, New York, 1929 (now 86)
Bill Rice (NS 94) born in Datto, Arkansas, 1939 (now 76)
Gary Brewer born in Louisville, Kentucky, 1965 (now 50)
Bobby Russell (NS 94) born in Nashville, Tennessee, 1941 (died 1992)
Earl Bolick of the Blue Sky Boys died in Tucker, Georgia (unknown cause), 1998 (was 78)
Levon Helm died in New York, NY (throat cancer), 2012 (was 71)
The "National Barn Dance" debuted on WLS, Chicago, 1924

April 20:

Johnny Tillotson born in Jacksonville, Florida, 1939 (now 76)
Doyle Lawson (BG 12) born in Ford Town, Tennessee, 1944 (now 71)
Wade Hayes born in Bethel Acres, Oklahoma, 1969 (now 46)
Frank "Hylo" Brown born in River, Kentucky, 1922 (died 2003)
Benny Hill found dead in his London flat (coronary thrombosis), 1992 (was 68). The British comedian's Benny Hill Show featured Boots Randolph's "Yakety Sax" as its theme song.

April 21:

Wade Mainer born in Buncombe, North Carolina, 1907 (died 2011)
Ira Louvin (CM 01, NS 79) born in Section, Alabama, 1924 (died 1965)
Carl Belew born in Salina, Oklahoma, 1931 (died 1990)
Paul Davis (NS 10) born in Meridian, Mississippi, 1948 (died 2008)
Neal Matthews Jr. (CM 01) died in Nashville, Tennessee (heart attack), 2000 (was 70)

April 22:

Glen Campbell (CM 05) born in Delight, Arkansas, 1936 (now 79)
Ray Griff born in Vancouver, British Columbia, 1940 (now 75)
Pat Enright of the Nashville Bluegrass Band born in Huntington, Indiana, 1945 (now 70)
Cleve Francis born in Jennings, Louisiana, 1945 (now 70)
Larry Groce born in Dallas, Texas, 1948 (now 67). The Mountain Stage host had one charted record, 1977's "Junk Food Junkie," which was a minor country hit.
Reuben Gosfield of Asleep at the Wheel born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1951 (now 64)
Heath Wright of Ricochet born in Vian, Oklahoma, 1967 (now 46)
Steve Sholes (CM 67) died in Nashville, Tennessee (heart attack), 1968 (was 57)
Felice Bryant (CM 91, NS 72) died in Nashville, Tennessee (cancer), 2003 (was 77)
Paul Davis (NS 10) died in Meridian, Mississippi (heart attack), 2008 (was 60)
Richard Nixon died in New York, New York (stroke), 1994 (was 81). The former president's political troubles were chronicled in Tom T. Hall's song "Watergate Blues." Nixon also appeared on the Grand Ole Opry during its first night at the Opry House in 1974.
Hazel Dickens died in Washington, DC (pneumonia), 2011 (was 75)

April 23:

Roland White of the Nashville Bluegrass Band born in Madawaska, Maine, 1938 (now 77)
Roy Orbison (NS 87) born in Vernon, Texas, 1936 (died 1988)
Kent Robbins (NS 98) born in Mayfield, Kentucky, 1947 (died 1997)

April 24:

Shirley Boone born in Chicago, Illinois, 1934 (now 81). Pat Boone's wife is also the daughter of Red Foley.
Rebecca Lynn Howard born in Salyersville, Kentucky, 1979 (now 36)
Harry McClintock died in San Francisco, California (unknown cause), 1957 (was 74). His greatest success would come decades after his death when his recording of "Big Rock Candy Mountain" began the film O Brother, Where Art Thou.
Bobby Garrett (StG 95) died in Tyler, Texas (cancer), 1999 (was 64)
Bonnie Owens died in Bakersfield, California (Alzheimer's disease), 2006 (was 73)

April 25:

Larry Robbins of the Johnson Mountain Boys born in Dickerson, Maryland, 1945 (now 70)
Karl Farr (CM 80) born in Rochelle, Texas, 1909 (died 1961)
Cliff Bruner born in Texas City, Texas, 1915 (died 2000)
Vassar Clements born in Kinard, South Carolina, 1928 (died 2005)
O.B. McClinton born in Senatobia, Mississippi, 1940 (died 1987)
The musical Big River opened on Broadway, 1985. It won a "Best Musical" Tony for songwriter Roger Miller, making him, to date, the only country performer to ever win a Tony Award.

April 26:

Johnny Mosby born in Fort Smith, Arkansas, 1933 (now 82)
Duane Eddy born in Corning, New York, 1938 (now 77)
Fiddlin' Doc Roberts born in Richmond, Kentucky, 1897 (died 1978)
Cecil Null born in East War, West Virginia, 1927 (died 2001)
Tim Spencer (CM 80) died in Apple Valley, California (long illness), 1974 (was 65)
Wesley Rose (CM 86) died in Nashville, Tennessee (unknown cause), 1990 (was 72)
George Jones (CM 92) died in Nashville, Tennessee (respiratory failure), 2013 (was 81)

April 27:

Maxine Brown of the Browns (CM 15) born in Campti, Louisiana, 1931 (now 84).  The Browns are one of the "class of 2015" inductees into the Country Music Hall of Fame.
Herb Pedersen of the Dillards and Desert Rose Band born in Berkley, California, 1944 (now 71)
Sydney Nathan (BG 06; RR 97) born in Cincinnati, Ohio, 1904 (died 1968)
Jimmie Skinner born in Blue Lick, Kentucky, 1909 (died 1979)

April 28:

Dale Potter born in Puxico, Missouri, 1929 (died 1996)
Tommy Caldwell of the Marshall Tucker Band died in Spartanburg, South Carolina (injuries from an April 21 car wreck), 1980 (was 30)
Ken Curtis died in Clovis, California (heart attack), 1991 (was 74). The Gunsmoke star was also a one-time member of the Sons of the Pioneers.

April 29:

Billy Mize born in Arkansas City, Kansas, 1929 (now 86)
Duane Allen of the Oak Ridge Boys (CM 15) born in Taylortown, Texas, 1943 (now 72).  The Oak Ridge Boys are one of the new inductees into the Country Music Hall of Fame.
Wayne Secrest of Confederate Railroad born in Alton, Illinois, 1950 (now 65)
Karen Brooks born in Dallas, Texas, 1954 (now 61)
Eddie Noack born in Houston, Texas, 1930 (died 1978)
Vern Gosdin died in Nashville, Tennessee (stroke), 2009 (was 74)
Kenny Roberts died in Alton, Massachusetts (natural causes), 2012 (was 85)

April 30:

Fuzzy Owen born in Conway, Arkansas, 1929 (now 86)
Willie Nelson (CM 93, NS 73) born in Abbott, Texas, 1933 (now 82)
Darrell McCall born in New Jasper, Ohio, 1940 (now 75)
Johnny Farina (StG 02) born in Brooklyn, New York, 1941 (now 74)
Robert Earl Reynolds of the Mavericks born in Kansas City, Missouri, 1962 (now 53)
Johnny Horton born in Los Angeles, California, 1930 (died 1960)
Curly Chalker (StG 85) died in Hendersonville, Tennessee (brain cancer), 1998 (was 66)
WLS airs the final broadcast of the National Barn Dance, 1960, after 36 years on the air.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Dates of Note in Country Music, April 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 performer also in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame)

April 1:

Jim Ed Brown (CM 15) born in Sparkman, Arkansas, 1934 (now 81).  As an early birthday present Jim Ed was one of the inductees into the Country Music Hall of Fame's "class of 2015."
Jules Verne Allen born in Waxahachie, Texas, 1883 (died 1945)
Arthur "Guitar Boogie" Smith born in Clinton, South Carolina, 1921 (died 2014)
Jimmy Logsdon born in Panther, Kentucky, 1922 (died 2001)
Paul Cohen (CM 76) died in Nashville, Tennessee (cancer), 1970 (was 71)
Rachel Veach joined Roy Acuff's Smoky Mountain Boys, 1939. Her presence gave rise to Pete Kirby's nickname "Bashful Brother Oswald:" a woman traveling with a group of men was scandalous, so Kirby was billed as Veach's "bashful brother" to quell any rumors.
The original Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum opened, 1967

April 2:

Warner Mack born in Nashville, Tennessee, 1938 (now 77)
Sonny Throckmorton (NS 87) born in Carlsbad, New Mexico, 1941 (now 74)
Emmylou Harris (CM 08) born in Birmingham, Alabama, 1947 (now 68)
Dean Townson of Pirates of the Mississippi born in Battle Creek, Michigan, 1959 (now 56)
Billy Dean born in Quincy, Florida, 1962 (now 53)
Mose Rager born in Muhlenberg County, Kentucky, 1911 (died 1986). The guitarist was a significant influence on the thumbpicking style of another guitarist from the region, Merle Travis.

Cliff Carlisle died in Lexington, Kentucky (unknown cause), 1983 (was 78)
Former Country Gentleman Doyle Lawson formed Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, 1979

April 3:

Billy Joe Royal born in Valdosta, Georgia, 1942 (now 73)
Richard Thompson born in Notting Hill, London, 1949 (now 66).  The legendary folk-rock singer/songwriter and guitarist wrote and originally recorded "1952 Vincent Black Lightning," later a bluegrass hit for Del McCoury, as well as Jo-El Sonnier's biggest hit, "Tear-Stained Letter" (which was also covered by Faith Hill).
Curtis Stone of Highway 101 (and son of Cliffie Stone) born in North Hollywood, California, 1950 (now 65)
Hank Newman of the Georgia Crackers born in Cochran, Georgia, 1905 (died 1978)
Don Gibson (CM 01, NS 73) born in Shelby, North Carolina, 1928 (died 2003)
Ella Mae Cooley murdered, 1961. Her husband, self-proclaimed "King of Western Swing" Spade Cooley, was convicted of her murder and sentenced to life in prison.
David Keli'i (StG 90) died in Honolulu, Hawaii (unknown cause), 1983 (was 68)
Harley "Red" Allen (BG 05) died in Dayton, Ohio (cancer), 1993 (was 63)
Starday Records owner Don Pierce died in Nashville, Tennessee (heart attack), 2005 (was 89)
Arthur "Guitar Boogie" Smith died in Charlotte, North Carolina (natural causes), 2014 (was 93)
Louisiana Hayride debuted on KWKH, Shreveport, Louisiana, 1948. Among the artists who performed on the radio show were Elvis Presley, Hank Williams, Claude King, Johnny Horton, and one-time emcee Jim Reeves.

April 4:

Norro Wilson (NS 96) born in Scottsville, Kentucky, 1938 (now 77)
Steve Gatlin of the Gatlin Brothers born in Olney, Texas, 1951 (now 63)
Troy Gentry of Montgomery Gentry born in Lexington, Kentucky, 1967 (now 48)
Cy Coben (ne Cohen)  born in Jersey City, New Jersey, 1919 (died 2006)
Red Sovine died in Nashville, Tennessee (heart attack while driving), 1980 (was 61)

April 5:

Bill Clifton (BG 08) (ne William August Marburg) born in Riverwood, Maryland, 1931 (now 84). In addition to being a bluegrass performer, Clifton is also credited with starting the bluegrass festival, when he organized a July 4, 1961 show in Luray, Virginia.
June Stearns born in Alpha, Kentucky, 1939 (now 76)
Tommy Cash born in Dyess, Arkansas, 1940 (now 75)
Bob McDill (NS 85) born in Beaumont, Texas, 1944 (now 71)
Pat Green born in San Antonio, Texas, 1972 (now 42)

Lewis Phillips of the Lewis Family (BG 06) born in Washington, GA, 1972 (now 43)
Laura Rogers of the Secret Sisters born in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, 1986 (now 29)
Jack Clement (CM 13, NS 73) born in Whitehaven, Tennessee, 1931 (died 2013)
Charlie Collins of Roy Acuff's Smoky Mountain Boys born in Caryville, Tennessee, 1933 (died 2012)
Frenchy "Stoney" Edwards died in Oklahoma (stomach cancer), 1997 (was 67)
Gene Pitney died in Cardiff, Wales (heart disease), 2006 (was 65). In addition to his rock hits, Pitney recorded two albums of duets with George Jones.

April 6:

Merle Haggard (CM 94, NS 77) born in Bakersfield, California, 1937 (now 78) 
Vernon Dalhart (CM 81, NS 70) (ne Marion Try Slaughter) born in Marion County, Texas, 1883 (died 1948)
Dick Kaihue McIntire (StG 82) born in Honolulu, Hawaii, 1902 (died 1951)
Wade Ray born in Griffin, Indiana, 1913 (died 1998)
Tammy Wynette (CM 98, NS 09) died in Nashville, Tennessee (heart failure attributed to blood clot), 1998 (was 55)
Grand Ole Opry shows were canceled due to rioting in the wake of Martin Luther King's assassination earlier in the week, 1968

April 7:

Bobby Bare (CM 13) born in Ironton, Ohio, 1935 (now 80)
John Dittrich of Restless Heart born in New York, New York, 1951 (now 64)
Leon "Pappy" Selph born in Houston, Texas, 1914 (died 1999)
Cal Smith born in Gans, Oklahoma, 1932 (died 2013)
Clyde Moody died in Nashville, Tennessee (unknown cause), 1989 (was 73)
Henry Glover died in St. Albans, New York (heart attack), 1991 (was 69)
Jeff Newman (StG 99) died in Watertown, Tennessee (plane crash), 2004 (was 62)

April 8:

John Schneider born in Mount Kisco, New York, 1960 (now 55)
Jimmy Osborne born in Winchester, Kentucky, 1923 (died 1957)

April 9:

Margo Smith born in Dayton, Ohio, 1942 (now 73)
Con Hunley born in Fountain City, Tennessee, 1945 (now 70)
Hal Ketchum born in Greenwich, New York, 1953 (now 62)
Mark Roberts of the Red Clay Ramblers born in Wareham, Massachusetts, 1957 (now 58)
Dave Innis of Restless Heart born in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, 1959 (now 56)
Carl Perkins (NS 85, RR 87) born in Tiptonville, Tennessee, 1932 (died 1998)
Darrell Glenn died in Fort Worth, Texas (cancer), 1990 (was 54)
Mae Boren Axton died in Nashville, Tennessee (natural causes), 1997 (was 82)

April 10:

DeWitt Scott (StG 92) born in Amarillo, Texas, 1932 (now 83)
Fiddlin' Arthur Smith born in Bold Spring, Tennessee, 1898 (died 1971)
Sheb Wooley born in Enick, Oklahoma, 1921 (died 2003)
Weldon Myrick (StG 97) born in Jayton, Texas, 1938 (died 2014)
Former home of Johnny and June Cash destroyed by fire, 2007. Barry Gibb of the Bee Gees owned the house at the time of the fire.  In 2010 the Gatlin Brothers referenced the fire in a song titled "Johnny Cash is Dead and His House Burned Down."

April 11:

Jim Lauderdale born in Troutman, North Carolina, 1957 (now 58)
Harty Taylor of Karl & Harty born in Mount Vernon, Kentucky, 1905 (died 1963)
Millie Good of the Girls of the Golden West born in Mount Carmel, Illinois, 1913 (died 1993)
George Shuffler (BG 11) born in Valdese, North Carolina, 1925 (died 2014)
Eddie Miller died in Nashville, Tennessee (unknown cause), 1977 (was 83). In addition to writing a number of songs, including "I've Loved and Lost Again" which was recorded by Patsy Cline during her stint on Four Star, Miller co-founded the Nashville Songwriters' Association International.
Lighnin' Chance died in Nashville, Tennessee (cancer/Alzheimer's), 2005 (was 79)
Jerry Byrd (StG 78) died in Honolulu, Hawaii (complications of Parkinson's disease), 2005 (was 85)

April 12:

Ned Miller born in Raines, Utah, 1925 (now 90)
Ron Elliott (Steel Guitar 09) born in Salisbury, Maryland, 1936 (now 79)
Vince Gill (CM 07, NS 05) born in Norman, Oklahoma, 1957 (now 58)
Ernie Lee born in Berea, Kentucky, 1916 (died 1991)
Judy Lynn born in Boise, Idaho, 1936 (died 2010)
Lewis Crook of the Crook Brothers died in Nashville, Tennessee (natural causes), 1997 (was 87)
Boxcar Willie died in Branson, Missouri (leukemia), 1999 (was 67)

April 13:

Sam Bush born in Bowling Green, Kentucky, 1952 (now 63)
Bob Nolan (CM 80, NS 71) of the Sons of the Pioneers born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, 1908 (died 1980)
Guy Willis of the Willis Brothers died in Nashville, Tennessee (unknown cause), 1981 (was 65)
Johnny Dollar died in Nashville, Tennessee (suicide), 1986 (was 53)

April 14:

Loretta Lynn (CM 88, NS 83) born in Butcher Holler, Kentucky, 1932 (now 83)
Stuart Duncan of the Nashville Bluegrass Band born in Quantico, Virginia, 1964 (now 51)
Vito Pelletteri died in Nashville, Tennessee (complications from a stroke), 1977 (was 87)
Burl Ives died in Anacortes, Washington (throat cancer), 1995 (was 85)

April 15:

Roy Clark (CM 09) born in Meherrin, Virginia, 1933 (now 82)
J.L. Frank (CM 67) born in Limestone County, Alabama, 1900 (died 1952)
Bob Luman born in Nacogdoches, Texas, 1937 (died 1978)
Junior Barnard of Bob Wills' Texas Playboys died (car wreck), 1951 (was 30)
Rose Maddox died in Ashland, Oregon (kidney failure), 1998 (was 72)
Otto Kitsinger died in Nashville, Tennessee (heart attack), 1998 (was 54). Kitsinger was the historian and writer for CMT's Opry Backstage.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Midnite Jamboree Suspended and Music Valley Drive ET Record Store Closes

Category:  News 

Now the Opry is gone
And the streets are bare
Ernest Tubb's Record Shop is dark 

In 1972 John Hartford wrote those words as the chorus to his song "Nobody Eats At Linebaugh's Anymore," a track from his album Morning Bugle.  When he released the song the Grand Ole Opry was still nearly two years away from moving from the Ryman Auditorium to the Grand Ole Opry House on the Opryland Theme Park grounds, yet he wrote, "Somewhere in the suburbs the Opry plays tonight, but the people come around to take the rides."  

Oh, what a prophet Hartford turned out to be.

Today longtime country music fans were hit with a double whammy.  The Midnite Jamboree, the legendary post-Opry radio show that Ernest Tubb began in 1947 shortly after opening his record store, has suspended all broadcasts, including the archival shows that had been running.  "We hope to be back in May or June 2015," the message on the wall of the Ernest Tubb Record Shop says regarding the program.  The radio show is behind in payments to WSM for carrying the show, according to the story on Saving Country Music's web site.

When (IF) it returns, it will be held somewhere else.  The Music Valley Drive location of the Ernest Tubb Record Shop has been closed.  That store, the largest of the stores, housed the Texas Troubadour Theater (where the Midnite Jamboree was held) as well as a bronze statue of Ernest Tubb (with his legendary "thanks" on the back of his guitar) and the last Tubb tour bus, the "Green Hornet."  Memorabilia from other country stars, all friends of Tubb's (who hardly ever met a stranger), was also located there.

Glenn Douglas Tubb, the singer/songwriter nephew of the man who founded the record store in 1947 because fans continually told ET they couldn't find his records (hillbilly records weren't en vogue then), says there's three things causing the problem.  First, the easy accessibility to downloads.  The Music Valley Drive store has scant traffic anymore because fewer and fewer people are going to the Opry (the one-time program that ran from 6:30 till midnight [central time] every Saturday night but is now less than two hours long), and those who do stop by the store are merely browsing, not buying.  As I said last month in my "sick call" post, very few people will pay $16.98 for an album when they can download it off iTunes for $12.

Secondly, the lack of interest by modern singers.  The last "new" singer I heard on the Midnite Jamboree was Teea Goans (and as a quick aside, you must hear this lady sing, as she is a wonderfully talented traditional artist).  Most of the newer singers wouldn't go near that place because they would be expected to have some resemblance of "country music" in their sound (and knowing who Ernest Tubb and Jimmie Rodgers [Tubb's idol and the first recorded song traditionally played on the show] were is also a requirement).

Finally, the money has become too big an issue.  The space on Music Valley Drive is rented, and when the store isn't getting more than 20 or 30 customers (many of whom don't buy anything because there's no non-country music there) a day, it's not economically feasible to stay open.  Between paying the announcers, the employees to work until 2 AM, a sound and technical crew, and songwriter royalty fees to the publishers, plus owing money to WSM for the show, it cost an estimated $2,200-$2,500 per that was simply not being recovered by product sales at the store before and after the show.

The unspoken fourth problem is the fact that Nashville has shut its doors to traditional country music, preferring modern music that sounds more like a Bon Jovi song than a Mel Tillis tune.  The overwhelming majority of fans who listen to that are not interested in what country music sounds like (I would say "sounded," past tense, like; however, there are way too many neo-traditionalists out there who still sound country to say that real country music sounds are a thing of the past), and therefore they aren't going to the Texas Troubadour Theater to see someone like Stonewall Jackson or the Oak Ridge Boys on a Saturday night show, even if it's free.

One other thing must be said.  If the apathy among modern country fans who come to Nashville with no interest in the traditions of country music and the rejected traditional fans who have been driven away from Nashville to Branson (and now, more likely, to the Smokies or to Austin, Texas) to find their real country music can combine to shut down a 77-year-old record store and its signature radio show (also 77 years old), can the 89-year-old Grand Ole Opry be kept on its life support system much longer?

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)