Sunday, December 30, 2007

Dates of Note in Country Music, January 1-15

Category: News

January 1:

Hank Williams died (cardiac arrest), 1953 (was 29)
Moon Mullican died (heart attack), 1967 (was 57)
Townes Van Zandt died (heart attack), 1997 (was 52)
Del Reeves died (emphysema), 2007 (was 73)

January 2:

Harold Bradley born in Nashville, Tennessee, 1926 (now 82)
Dick Feller born in Bronaugh, Missouri, 1943 (now 65)
Roger Miller born in Fort Worth, Texas, 1936 (died 1992)
Red Smiley died (complications from diabetes), 1972 (was 46)
Tex Ritter died (heart attack), 1974 (was 68)
Wayne Walker died (unknown causes), 1979 (was 53)

January 3:

Nikki Nelson of Highway 101 born in San Diego, California, 1969 (now 39)
Leon McAuliffe born in Houston, Texas, 1917 (died 1988)
Felton Jarvis died (stroke), 1981 (was 46)
Quanah Talmadge Tubb (better known as Billy Talmadge Tubb) died (unknown causes), 2007 (was 81)
Grandpa Jones suffered stroke after performing on the Grand Ole Opry, 1998

January 4:

Lorene Mann born in Huntland, Tennessee, 1937 (now 71)
Mike Henderson born in Independence, Missouri, 1955 (now 53)
Kathy Forester of the Forester Sisters born in Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia, 1955 (now 52)
Patty Loveless born in Pikeville, Kentucky, 1957 (now 51)
Deana Carter born in Nashville, Tennessee, 1966 (now 42)
Clayton McMichen died (unknown causes), 1970 (was 69)
Jake Hess died (complications of heart attack), 2004 (was 76)
First barn dance program in America airs on WBAP, Fort Worth, Texas, 1923

January 5:

Big Bill Lister born in Kenedy, Texas, 1923 (now 85)
Steve Ripley of the Tractors born in Boise, Idaho, 1950 (now 58)
Iris DeMent born in Paragould, Arkansas, 1961 (now 47)
Sam Phillips (Sun Records owner) born in Florence, Alabama, 1923 (died 2003)
Tug McGraw, former baseball pitcher and father of Tim McGraw, died (brain cancer), 2004 (was 59)

January 6:

Earl Scruggs born in Flint Hill, North Carolina, 1924 (now 84)
Bobby Lord born in Sanford, Florida, 1934 (now 74)
Joey Miskulin ("Joey the Cow Polka King") of Riders in the Sky born in Chicago, Illinois, 1949 (now 59)
Jett Williams born in Montgomery, Alabama, 1953 (now 55)
Autry Inman born in Florence, Alabama, 1929 (died 1988)
Chubby Wise died (heart attack), 1996 (was 80)
Bobby Austin died (illness), 2002 (was 68)
Sneaky Pete Kleinkow died (complications of Alzheimer's disease), 2007 (was 72)

January 7:

Jack Greene born in Maryville, Tennessee, 1930 (now 78)
Leona Williams born in Vienna, Missouri, 1943 (now 65)
Marshall Chapman born in Spartanburg, South Carolina, 1949 (now 59)
David Lee Murphy born in Herrin, Illinois, 1959 (now 49)
Bunny Biggs (Jamup of Jamup and Honey) born, 1897 (died 1948)
Owen Bradley died (heart ailment/complications of flu), 1998 (was 82)

January 8:

Christy Lane born in Peoria, Illinois, 1940 (now 68)
Holly Tashian born in New York, New York, 1946 (now 62)
Hoke Rice of the Rise Brothers born in Gainesville, Georgia, 1909 (died 1974)
Luther Perkins born in Memphis, Tennessee, 1928 (died 1968)
Elvis Presley born in Tupelo, Mississippi, 1935 (died 1977)
Sara Carter died (natural causes), 1979 (was 79)
Maxwell Emmett "Pat" Buttram, sidekick to Gene Autry, died (kidney failure), 1994 (was 78)
Elvis Presley postage stamp (29c) issued by the U.S. Postal Service, 1993. The stamp is the Postal Service's best-selling commemorative stamp of all-time, with sales of over 517,000,000.
Billboard 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:

Little Jimmy Boyd born in McComb, Mississippi, 1940 (now 68)
Roy Head born in Three Rivers, Texas, 1943 (now 65)
Crystal Gayle born in Paintsville, Kentucky, 1951 (now 57)
Jimmy Day born in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, 1934 (died 1999)
Big Al Downing born in Lenapah, Oklahoma, 1940 (died 2005)
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).

January 10:

Curly Ray Cline born in Braisden, West Virginia, 1923 (now 85)
Zeb Turner died (cancer), 1978 (was 62)
Loretta Webb married Oliver "Mooney" Lynn, 1948

January 11:

Naomi Judd born in Ashland, Kentucky, 1946 (now 62)
Robert Earl Keen born in Houston, Texas, 1956 (now 52)
Tommy Duncan born in Hillsboro, Texas, 1911 (died 1967)
Goldie Hill Smith born in Kanes County, Texas, 1933 (died 2005)
Max D. Barnes died (pneumonia), 2004 (was 67)
Stonewall Jackson filed $10 million age discrimination lawsuit against the Grand Ole Opry, 2007

January 12:

Ray Price born in Perryville, Texas, 1926 (now 82)
William Lee Golden of the Oak Ridge Boys born in Brewton, Alabama, 1939 (now 69)
Ricky Van Shelton born in Danville, Virginia, 1952 (now 55)
LaWanda Lindsey born in Tampa, Florida, 1953 (now 55)
Claudia Church Crowell born in Lenoir, North Carolina, 1962 (now 46)
Tex Ritter born in Panola County, Texas, 1905 (died 1974)
Paul Warren died (illness), 1978 (was 59)
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 five million copies and sparked a resurgence in the popularity of bluegrass music.

January 13:

Trace Adkins born in Springhill, Louisiana, 1962 (now 46)
Jenny Lou Carson born in Decatur, Illinois, 1915 (died 1978)
Doyle Holly died (prostate cancer), 2007 (was 70)

January 14:

Billie Jo Spears born in Beaumont, Texas, 1937 (now 71)
J. Henry "T-Bone" Burnett born in St. Louis Missouri, 1948 (now 60)

January 15:

David Lynn Jones born in Bexar, Arkansas, 1950 (now 58)
Kurt Howell of Southern Pacific born in Winter Haven, Florida, 1958 (now 50)
Jack Guthrie died (tuberculosis), 1948 (was 32)
Vic Willis died (car wreck), 1995 (was 72)
Billy Walker born in Ralls, Texas, 1929 (died 2006)

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Country Music's Final Stanzas of 2007

Category: News

Here is a list of the people in country music who performed their final song in 2007:

Del Reeves (January 1, emphysema, 73). Eddie Stubbs said of Del, "Give him a microphone, a 60-watt bulb for lighting, and an audience, and he would entertain." Reeves had a string of hits including "Good Time Charlie's," "Girl on the Billboard," and "The Belles of Southern Bell." He was also an underrated songwriter: one listen to "I'll Have Made It to the Bridge," on Charlie Louvin's 1964 solo debut album Less and Less and I Don't Love You Anymore, proves that.

Sneaky Pete Kleinkow (January 6, complications of Alzhemier's disease, 72). Kleinkow performed with the Flying Burrito Brothers and a number of other rock acts on pedal steel. Easily the best (one of the few) pedal steel guitarists in rock and roll, he was good enough to stand with the best in country as well.

Doyle Holly (January 13, prostate cancer, 70). Holly was bassist for Buck Owens' Buckaroos in the 60s. He had his own limited solo career in the 70s, including his recording of the Kristofferson/Silverstein song "Queen of the Silver Dollar," which was produced by and featured backing vocals by Waylon Jennings.

Jerry Hayes (January 21, unknown causes, 61). Country songwriter who penned Charlie Rich's "Rolling with the Flow" and "Charly McClain's (and later, Alan Jackson's) Who's Cheatin' Who."

Tom Morrell (January 29, emphysema, 68). A member of Bob Wills' Texas Playboys.

Frankie Laine (February 6, complications from hip replacement surgery, 93). Laine's career may be considered primarily pop, but he recorded songs such as "Rawhide," "Mule Train," "High Noon," and the theme to Blazing Saddles.

C's Record Store, Louisville, Kentucky (February 17, demise of interest in vinyl, 25). The last true record store in Louisville closed its doors for the last time. The owner, Clarence Lidster, is one of the great historians of country music -- or any music.

Henson Cargill (March 24, complications from surgery, 66). Cargill had ten top 40 country hits, but it is the 1967 crossover "Skip a Rope" for which he is best remembered.

Glenn Sutton (April 17, heart attack, 70). The former husband of Lynn Anderson, he produced many of her hits including "Rose Garden." He also wrote a number of hits including "Your Good Girl's Gonna Go Bad" and "Almost Persuaded."

Boots Randolph (July 3, subdural hematoma, 80). A member of country music's "A List" of session musicians and the performer of "Yakety Sax." Boots, according to Chet Atkins, also "knew just enough on guitar to be bad," so he did the guitar solos in Don Bowman's hit "Chit Akins, Make Me a Star."

Lawton Williams (July 26, respiratory illness, 85). "Fraulein" by Bobby Helms, "Blue Grass Skit" by Hank Locklin, George Jones' "Color of the Blues," and Gene Watson's "Farewell Party" are but a few of the songs this great songwriter penned in his career.

Larry Fuller (September 22, fire on tour bus, 55). Bluegrass performer, known as "Pike County's own living bluegrass legend."

Porter Wagoner (October 28, lung cancer, 80). Country Music Hall of Fame performer, showman, ambassador for the Grand Ole Opry, former official "Ambassador for Opryland Theme Park," songwriter, "king of southern gospel," and one of the most recognizable names by people outside of country music.

Hank Thompson (November 6, lung cancer, 82). Western swing/country performer who had a seven-decade career that eventually took him to the Country Music Hall of Fame.

John Hughy (November 18, heart attack, age unknown). A country steel guitarist who spent many years playing for Conway Twitty.

Jim Nesbitt (November 29, heart ailment, 75). Country novelty singer, best known for his song "Please Mr. Kennedy."

My Mother (December 9, complications from brain aneurysm, 75). The greatest mother in the world. She had no rhythm but a love of music from Elvis and the Platters to Jim Reeves and Marty Robbins. That eclectic taste contributed to my varied record collection.

Dan Fogelberg (December 16, prostate cancer, 56). Folk-rock singer with a string of pop hits and a critically-acclaimed bluegrass album (High Country Snows) in the mid-80s.

A list of all music memorials for 2007 (including those listed here) can be found at my music/entertainment blog.

Farewell, and thanks for the music.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Vital, Necessary, and Rewarding Work

Category: Book Review

Air Castle of the South: WSM and the Making of Music City
Craig Havighurst
2007: University of Illinois Press
Available through

In May 2007, Craig Havighurst addressed the lunchtime crowd at the International Country Music Conference regarding his forthcoming book on radio station WSM. He told the audience he was surprised to discover that no comprehensive history of the legendary radio station had ever been published.

Havighurst has solved that problem, and remarkably. His "biography" on WSM, Air Castle of the South: WSM and the Making of Music City is a vital and necessary look at the home of the Grand Ole Opry. The histories of WSM, the Grand Ole Opry, and indeed radio, television, and country music's rise to prominence as a major contributor to Nashville's economy are explained in thorough, loving detail.

The story of WSM isn't always rosy, as Havighurst points out by beginning his work with the account of protests in favor of WSM's country format in January, 2002, when new management at Gaylord (WSM's owner) decided to drop the music in favor of an ESPN affiliation. For fans of WSM and the Opry, the epilogue ("Signal Fade") is painful to read, as it chronicles the way impersonal corporate owners destroyed the Opryland theme park (a move that they now admit what people knew all along: it was a bad move) and in the process the livelihood of a number of musicians, and nearly destroyed WSM in the process. There were other internal battles throughout the station's history, most notably a dispute between management and Jim Denny that caused a major rift between the Opry and several members.
When any detail about the controversy is subject to debate, Havighurst merely tells all sides and notes which story has most credibility or corroboration.

This rewarding book is a must-read for fans of WSM and the Grand Ole Opry. It is also a history lesson in Nashville over the 80-plus years of the radio station's existence. It should also be read by people who have no interest in anything but the most modern of country music, because this book explains just how we arrived to today in country music -- and why so many die-hard traditionalists are the way they are.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Dan Fogelberg Dies

Category: News

Dan Fogelberg died this morning (12/16) after a three-year battle with advanced prostate cancer. He was 56.

Besides his folk-rock hits such as "Part of the Plan," "Longer," and "Run for the Roses," Fogelberg released a bluegrass album, High Country Snows, which featured songs written by Flatt and Scruggs ("Down the Road") and Carter Stanley ("Think of What You've Done").

A full obituary can be viewed at my music/entertainment blog.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Dates of Note in Country Music, December 16-31

Category: News

December 16:

Jim Glaser of the Glaser Brothers born in Spalding, Nebraska, 1937 (now 70)
Jeff Carson born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, 1964 (now 43)
Shelby Singleton born in Waskom, Texas, 1931 (now 76)
Jenny Lou Carson died (unknown causes), 1978 (was 63)
Martha Carson died (natural causes), 2004 (was 83)
Gary Stewart died (suicide), 2003 (was 58)

December 17:

Sharon White Skaggs born in Wichita Falls, Texas, 1953 (now 54)
Frankie Miller born in Victoria, Texas, 1930 (now 77)
Karl Davis born in Mount Vernon, Kentucky, 1905 (died 1979)
Spade Cooley born in Grand, Oklahoma, 1910 (died 1969)
Nat Stuckey born in Cass County, Texas, 1933 (died 1988)
Roy Huskey Jr. born in Nashville, Tennessee, 1956 (died 1997)
Tracy Byrd born in Vidor, Texas, 1966 (now 41)
Rex Allen Sr. died (accidentally run over by car), 1999 (was 77)
Commercial plane carrying Doug Stone crash-lands in Chicago, 1999. Stone was uninjured.

December 18:

Wilf Carter (Montana Slim) born in Port Hilford, Nova Scotia, 1904 (died 1996)
Cledus T. Judd (real name: James Poole) born in Crowe Springs, Georgia, 1964 (now 43)
Louvin Brothers' first recording session (recorded "Alabama") at Castle Studios, Nashville, 1947

December 19:

Little Jimmy Dickens born in Bolt, West Virginia, 1920 (now 87)
Janie Fricke born in South Whitney, Indiana, 1947 (now 60)
Jumpin' Bill Carlisle born in Wakefield, Kentucky, 1908 (died 2003)
Hank Williams' last show at Skyline Club, Austin, Texas, 1952
Marion Worth died (emphysema), 1999 (was 69)
Johnny Paycheck shot a man outside a bar in Greenfield, Ohio, 1985

December 20:

Skeeter Willis of the Willis Brothers born in Colton, Oklahoma, 1917 (died 1976)
Jack Stapp died (unknown cause), 1980 (was 68)
Hank Snow died (various illnesses), 1999 (was 85)

December 21:

Freddie Hart born in Lockapoke, Alabama, 1926 (now 81)
Lee Roy Parnell born in Abilene, Texas, 1956 (now 51)
Christy Forrester of the Forester Sisters born in Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia, 1962 (now 45)
Harold Morrison died (illness), 1994 (was 62)
Vito Pellettieri born in Nashville, Tennessee, 1889 (died 1977)

December 22:

Harold "Hawkshaw" Hawkins born in Huntington, West Virginia, 1921 (died 1963)
Red Stegall born in Gainesville, Texas, 1937 (now 70)
Chuck Mead of BR5-49 born in Nevada, Missouri, 1960 (now 47)
Paul Martin of Exile born in Winchester, Kentucky, 1962 (now 45)
Dave Dudley died (heart attack), 2003 (was 75)

December 24:

Lulu Belle Wiseman born in Boone, North Carolina, 1913 (died 1999)
Jake Hess born in Limestone County, Alabama, 1927 (died 2004)
Stoney Edwards born in Seminole, Oklahoma, 1929 (died 1997)
Charlie Moore died (illness), 1979 (was 44)

December 25:

Alton Delmore born in Elkmont, Alabama, 1908 (died 1964)
Jimmy Buffett born in Pascagoula, Mississippi, 1946 (now 61)
Barbara Mandrell born in Houston, Texas, 1948 (now 59)
Steve Wariner born in Noblesville, Indiana, 1954 (now 53)
Billy Nelson, Willie Nelson's son, died (suicide), 1991 (was 33)

December 26:

Beecher Ray "Pete" "Bashful Brother Oswald" Kirby born in Sevier County, Tennessee, 1911 (died 2002)
Harry Choates born in Rayne, Louisiana, 1911 (died 1951)
Ronnie Prophet born in Calument, Quebec, 1938 (now 69)
Audrey Wiggins born in Asheville, North Carolina, 1967 (now 40)
Jimmie Osborne died (suicide), 1957 (was 34)

December 27:

Scotty Moore born in Gadsden, Tennessee, 1931 (now 76)
Bob Luman died (pneumonia), 1978 (was 41)
Vestal Goodman died (complications from the flu), 2003 (was 74)
Hank "Sugarfoot" Garland died (staph infection), 2004 (was 74)

December 28:

Dorsey Burnette born in Memphis, Tennessee, 1932 (died 1979)
Joe Diffie born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, 1958 (now 49)
Mike McGuire of Shenandoah born in Haleyville, Alabama, 1958 (now 49)
Marty Roe of Diamond Rio born in Lebanon, Ohio, 1960 (now 47)
Hank Williams Jr.'s first recording session at age 14, 1963

December 29:

Rose Lee Maphis born in Baltimore, Maryland, 1922 (now 85)
Ed Bruce born in Keiser, Arkansas, 1940 (now 67)

December 30:

Suzy Bogguss born in Aledo, Illinois, 1956 (now 51)
Bob Ferguson born in Willow Spring, Missouri, 1927 (died 2001)
Skeeter Davis born in Dry Ridge, Kentucky, 1931 (died 2004)
John Hartford born in New York, New York, 1937 (died 2001)
Melvin Goins born in Bramwell, West Virginia, 1933 (now 74)
Mike Auldridge born in Washington, DC, 1938 (now 69)

December 31:

Dale Noe born in New Boston, Ohio, 1927 (died 2005)
Rex Allen Sr. born in Wilcox, Arizona, 1920 (died 1999)
John Denver born in Roswell, New Mexico, 1943 (died 1997)
Rick Nelson died (plane crash), 1985 (was 45)
Floyd Cramer died (lung cancer), 1997 (was 64)
Jim McReynolds of Jim & Jesse died (cancer), 2002 (was 75)
Charlie Louvin injured in car accident, 2001

Monday, December 10, 2007

God Bless Her 'Cause She's My Mother

Category: Personal

Mom at Porter Wagoner's dressing room door, 1997

After 17 days of suffering, my mom has been rewarded with healing and life eternal. At about 1 PM Sunday afternoon, the life support machines were turned off. Thankfully, she survived for about ten hours off the respirator (which removes that psychological guilt when one signs the papers to authorize a patient's living will be carried out).

My family and I thank you for the prayers and well-wishes, and we would appreciate continued prayers in the days ahead as we adjust to life without her.

She was the first to ever love me
The first to hold me to her breast
God bless her 'cause she is my mother
And she'll be the last one I'll forget
--Ira & Charlie Louvin, "God Bless Her ('Cause She's My Mother)"

Friday, December 07, 2007

All News is Bad News

Category: Personal

The past fifteen days have felt more like fifteen years. We saw some progress in my mother last weekend. However, something happened between Sunday evening and Tuesday that started her on what we fear is the final downward spiral. Her brain is swollen, she's had a midline shift that is affecting the left side of her body (the side that wasn't bothered by the aneurysm), there's no reaction to something as violent as being suctioned down her throat, and tonight I learned she has pneumonia.

Mom and Billy Walker at the Opry, 1997

Monday morning at 8 AM we will meet with the doctor to discuss my mom's living will and seeing that her wishes are honored.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Trivia for December 3

Category: News/Trivia

On December 3, 1973, Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys held a recording session at Sumet-Burnet Studio in Dallas, Texas. Wills, in weak health because of a 1969 stroke, conducted the Playboys band, a combination of old and new members, from a wheelchair. Because of his health he was unable to play or sing. He performed on only one song, a Cindy Walker composition that referred to Wills' trademark "ah-ha!" calls in songs, on which he did a recitation.

"What Makes Bob Holler" was the final song Bob Wills ever recorded. During the night he suffered a massive stroke and remained comatose until he died fifteen months later.