Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Dates of Note in Country Music, January 1-15

Category: News

(Hall of Fame members in bold)

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 83)
Dick Feller born in Bronaugh, Missouri, 1943 (now 66)
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 40)
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 72)
Mike Henderson born in Independence, Missouri, 1955 (now 54)
Kathy Forester of the Forester Sisters born in Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia, 1955 (now 54)
Patty Loveless born in Pikeville, Kentucky, 1957 (now 52)
Deana Carter born in Nashville, Tennessee, 1966 (now 43)
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 86)
Steve Ripley of the Tractors born in Boise, Idaho, 1950 (now 59)
Iris DeMent born in Paragould, Arkansas, 1961 (now 48)
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)
Joey Miskulin ("Joey the Cow Polka King") of Riders in the Sky born in Chicago, Illinois, 1949 (now 60)
Jett Williams born in Montgomery, Alabama, 1953 (now 56)
Autry Inman born in Florence, Alabama, 1929 (died 1988)
Bobby Lord born in Sanford, Florida, 1934 (died 2008)
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)
Ken Nelson died (natural causes), 2008 (was 96)

January 7:

Jack Greene born in Maryville, Tennessee, 1930 (now 79)
Leona Williams born in Vienna, Missouri, 1943 (now 66)
Marshall Chapman born in Spartanburg, South Carolina, 1949 (now 60)
David Lee Murphy born in Herrin, Illinois, 1959 (now 50)
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 69)
Holly Tashian born in New York, New York, 1946 (now 63)
Hoke Rice of the Rice 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)
Randall Hylton born in Willis, Virginia, 1946 (died 2001)
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 69)
Roy Head born in Three Rivers, Texas, 1943 (now 66)
Crystal Gayle born in Paintsville, Kentucky, 1951 (now 58)
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 86)
Zeb Turner died (cancer), 1978 (was 62)
Loretta Webb married Oliver "Mooney" Lynn, 1948

January 11:

Naomi Judd born in Ashland, Kentucky, 1946 (now 63)
Robert Earl Keen born in Houston, Texas, 1956 (now 53)
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 83)
William Lee Golden of the Oak Ridge Boys born in Brewton, Alabama, 1939 (now 70)
Ricky Van Shelton born in Danville, Virginia, 1952 (now 57)
LaWanda Lindsey born in Tampa, Florida, 1953 (now 56)
Claudia Church Crowell born in Lenoir, North Carolina, 1962 (now 47)
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 47)
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 72)
J. Henry "T-Bone" Burnett born in St. Louis Missouri, 1948 (now 61)

January 15:

David Lynn Jones born in Bexar, Arkansas, 1950 (now 59)
Kurt Howell of Southern Pacific born in Winter Haven, Florida, 1958 (now 51)
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 30, 2008

Country Music, 1922-2008

Category: Rant

Farewell, country music. You were much too young to die.

Kid Rock is "country" now. That means there's something seriously wrong with either country music or my hearing. Is country music so desperate for fans -- or too weak-kneed to stand up for its integrity -- to call "All Summer Long" the same genre of music as "Your Cheatin' Heart?"

Poco, whom I have loved for 30 years but always considered a rock band with country flavor, would never get airplay today because they are TCFCR (Too Country For Country Radio). John Prine's masterpiece, "Paradise," would probably be labeled TBFBR (Too Bluegrass For Bluegrass Radio) by today's standards.

Yes, I put the members of Poco and Prine's birthdays in the calendar. But you know what? "Paradise" (and a number of other Prine songs, such as "Yes I Guess They Ought to Name a Drink After You" and his superb a capella reading of the Carter Family's "Diamonds in the Rough") doesn't sound the least bit out of place after a Carl Smith song. Try playing "All Summer Long" after "Let Ol' Mother Nature Have Her Way." No one could hear the songs played back-to-back and conclude they are from the same genre of music.

Why does country music have to be the catch-all phrase anymore? Why is it not sufficient to call Kid Rock's song "pop," or "rock," or "stealing from 'Sweet Home Alabama' and 'Werewolves of London'" instead of having to insult country music?

If he were here today, "Father of Country Music" Jimmie Rodgers would be demanding paternity tests on some of these people claiming to be his "children." Meanwhile,
John Prine may have given us a good litmus test: anyone who wants to be considered "country" has to sing "Diamonds in the Rough."

Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Final Notes of 2008

Category: Obituary/News

Here are the country music performers we saw play their final notes in 2008.

Eddy Arnold (May 8, complications from a fall, age 89). Billboard's #1 country singles artist according to Joel Whitburn's books, his voice delighted country and pop audiences for seven decades. Arnold remains, to date, the only artist to be named the Country Music Association's "Entertainer of the Year" after being inducted into the Hall of Fame. We will never see the likes of him again, sadly.

Sally Arnold (March 11, Alzheimer's disease, age 87). Eddy Arnold's loving wife passed away two months before her husband.

Bill Bolick (March 14, natural causes, age 90). The elder of the great brother duet the Blue Sky Boys.

Danny Davis (June 12, cardiac arrest, age 83). A man with many hats, Davis brought his trumpet and background in pop production to Nashville, formed the Nashville Brass with Grammy-winning success, and produced a number of country acts (including Waylon Jennings).

Paul Davis
(April 22, heart attack, age 60). Pop songwriter and singer, best known for his 1977 hit "I Go Crazy." He also had two #1 country hits, "You're Still New to Me" with Marie Osmond and "I Won't Take Less Than Your Love" with Paul Overstreet and Tanya Tucker.

Danny Dill (October 16, unknown causes, age 84). Prolific country songwriter. Bill Anderson said at Dill's passing that if he had only written that one song he'd still be one of the greatest songwriters in country music history. "That one song" in question is Lefty Frizzell's immortal "The Long Black Veil."

Earle Hagen (May 26, illness, age 88). The man who gave us "The Fishin' Hole," the theme song to The Andy Griffith Show. Griffith himself recorded the song for Capitol Records.

Jim Hager (May 1, heart attack, age 66). With identical twin Jon, Jim delighted audiences for years on Hee Haw with their singing and comedy.

Buddy Harmon (August 21, congestive heart failure, age 79). Billed as "the most recorded drummer in Nashville," Harmon was on just about every one's records in the 50s, 60s, and 70s. He was also the Opry Staff Band drummer.

Don Helms (August 11, heart attack, age 81). The last member of Hank Williams' Drifting Cowboys Band. Helms co-wrote and recorded a song, "The Ballad of Hank Williams," about life in the band with Hank Williams Jr. for The Pressure is On.

Leo Jackson (May 4, suicide [gunshot], age 73). Jackson's career began at age 17 as guitarist for Jim Reeves and went into session work for decades for numerous artists including Alabama.

Bobby Lord (February 16, illness, age 74). One-time member of the Grand Ole Opry, best-known for his 1956 top ten hit "Without Your Love," Lord retired from the music business for life as a real estate agent.

Ken Nelson (January 6, natural causes, age 96). A one-time A&R man at Capitol Records, his Hall of Fame resume turned to record production for the Louvin Brothers, Jean Shepard, and countless others on the Capitol label.

Jerry Reed (September 1, emphysema, age 71). Son! Singer, guitarist, actor -- and a very underrated songwriter (he wrote Porter Wagoner's "Misery Loves Company").

Jack Reno (November 1, brain cancer, age 72). A country singer who racked up a dozen charted records between 1967 and 1974 including his biggest hit, "Repeat After Me."

Charlie Ryan (February 16, heart disease, age 92). The man who gave us one of the greatest road race songs in history, "Hot Rod Lincoln."

Jo Stafford (
July 16, congestive heart failure, age 90). A legendary pop singer, she was the "girl singer" on Red Engals & Natural Seven's hit "Tem-Tay-Shun."

Charlie Walker (September 12, colon cancer, age 81). Country singer with a Texas swing, Walker gave the legendary Harlan Howard his first #1 song as a songwriter with "Pick Me Up on Your Way Down."

Jerry Wallace (May 5, congestive heart failure, age 79). Like many others, Wallace traded a successful pop career ("Primrose Lane," "In the Misty Moonlight") for a country career, scoring 35 charted hits. The biggest was a song he recorded for an episode of Rod Serling's Night Gallery TV series: "If You Leave Me Tonight, I'll Cry."

Farewell, and thank you for your music.

(The entire list of musical farewells of all genres can be found at the other blog.)

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Dates of Note in Country Music, December 16-31

Category: News

(Hall of Fame members in bold)

December 16:

Jim Glaser of the Glaser Brothers born in Spalding, Nebraska, 1937 (now 71)
Jeff Carson born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, 1964 (now 44)
Shelby Singleton born in Waskom, Texas, 1931 (now 77)
Jenny Lou Carson died (unknown causes), 1978 (was 63)
Martha Carson died (natural causes), 2004 (was 83)
Gary Stewart died (suicide), 2003 (was 58)
Dan Fogelberg died (cancer), 2007 (was 56)

December 17:

Sharon White Skaggs born in Wichita Falls, Texas, 1953 (now 55)
Frankie Miller born in Victoria, Texas, 1930 (now 78)
Tracy Byrd born in Vidor, Texas, 1966 (now 42)
Karl Davis born in Mount Vernon, Kentucky, 1905 (died 1979)
Spade Cooley born in Grand, Oklahoma, 1910 (died 1969)
Nat Stuckey born in Cass County, Texas, 1933 (died 1988)
Roy Huskey Jr. born in Nashville, Tennessee, 1956 (died 1997)
Rex Allen Sr. died (accidentally run over by car), 1999 (was 77)
Commercial plane carrying Doug Stone crash-lands in Chicago, 1999. Stone was uninjured.

December 18:

Cledus T. Judd (real name: James Poole) born in Crowe Springs, Georgia, 1964 (now 43)
Wilf Carter (Montana Slim) born in Port Hilford, Nova Scotia, 1904 (died 1996)
The first recording session for the Louvin Brothers (they recorded "Alabama") at Castle Studios, Nashville, 1947

December 19:

Little Jimmy Dickens born in Bolt, West Virginia, 1920 (now 88)
Janie Fricke born in South Whitney, Indiana, 1947 (now 61)
Jumpin' Bill Carlisle born in Wakefield, Kentucky, 1908 (died 2003)
Marion Worth died (emphysema), 1999 (was 69)
Hank Williams' last show at Skyline Club, Austin, Texas, 1952
Johnny Paycheck shot a man outside a bar in Greenfield, Ohio, 1985

December 20:

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

December 21:

Freddie Hart born in Lockapoke, Alabama, 1926 (now 82)
Lee Roy Parnell born in Abilene, Texas, 1956 (now 52)
Christy Forrester of the Forester Sisters born in Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia, 1962 (now 46)
Vito Pellettieri born in Nashville, Tennessee, 1889 (died 1977)
Harold Morrison died (illness), 1994 (was 62)

December 22:

Red Stegall born in Gainesville, Texas, 1937 (now 71)
Chuck Mead of BR5-49 born in Nevada, Missouri, 1960 (now 48)
Paul Martin of Exile born in Winchester, Kentucky, 1962 (now 46)
Harold "Hawkshaw" Hawkins born in Huntington, West Virginia, 1921 (died 1963)
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:

Jimmy Buffett born in Pascagoula, Mississippi, 1946 (now 62)
Barbara Mandrell born in Houston, Texas, 1948 (now 60)
Steve Wariner born in Noblesville, Indiana, 1954 (now 54)
Alton Delmore born in Elkmont, Alabama, 1908 (died 1964)
Billy Nelson, Willie Nelson's son, died (suicide), 1991 (was 33)

December 26:

Ronnie Prophet born in Calument, Quebec, 1938 (now 70)
Audrey Wiggins born in Asheville, North Carolina, 1967 (now 41)
Beecher Ray "Pete" "Bashful Brother Oswald" Kirby born in Sevier County, Tennessee, 1911 (died 2002)
Harry Choates born in Rayne, Louisiana, 1911 (died 1951)
Jimmie Osborne died (suicide), 1957 (was 34)

December 27:

Scotty Moore born in Gadsden, Tennessee, 1931 (now 77)
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:

Joe Diffie born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, 1958 (now 50)
Mike McGuire of Shenandoah born in Haleyville, Alabama, 1958 (now 50)
Marty Roe of Diamond Rio born in Lebanon, Ohio, 1960 (now 48)
Dorsey Burnette born in Memphis, Tennessee, 1932 (died 1979)
Hank Williams Jr.'s first recording session at age 14, 1963

December 29:

Rose Lee Maphis born in Baltimore, Maryland, 1922 (now 86)
Ed Bruce born in Keiser, Arkansas, 1940 (now 68)

December 30:

Suzy Bogguss born in Aledo, Illinois, 1956 (now 52)
Melvin Goins born in Bramwell, West Virginia, 1933 (now 75)
Mike Auldridge born in Washington, DC, 1938 (now 69)
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)

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

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Dates of Note in Country Music, December 1-15

Category: News

(Hall of Fame members in bold)

December 1:

Darryl Ellis born in Norfolk, Virginia, 1964 (now 44)
Silm Willet born in Dublin, Texas, 1919 (died 1966)
Jim Nesbitt born in Bishopville, South Carolina, 1931 (died 2007)
Fred Rose died (heart failure), 1954 (was 57)
Carter Stanley died (cirrhosis of the liver), 1966 (was 41)

December 2:

John Wesley Ryles born in Bastrop, Louisiana, 1950 (now 58)
Herman Crook born in Scottsboro, Tennessee, 1898 (died 1988)
Marvin Hughes died (unknown cause), 1986 (was 75)
"Tennessee Waltz" recorded by Pee Wee King and Redd Stewart, 1947

December 3:

Ferlin Husky born in Flat River, Missouri, 1927 (now 81)
Paul Gregg of Restless Heart born in New York, New York, 1954 (now 54)
Rabon Delmore born in Dothan, Alabama, 1916 (died 1952)
Hubert Long born in Poteet, Texas, 1923 (died 1972)
Lew Childre died (various health issues), 1961 (was 60)
Grady Martin died (heart attack), 2001 (was 72)
Bob Wills recorded his last song, a Cindy Walker number, "What Makes Bob Holler," 1973

December 4:

Chris Hillman born in Los Angeles, California, 1944 (now 63)
Rabon Delmore died (lung cancer), 1952 (was 36)
Eddy Arnold's first record session as a solo artist, 1944
Sun Records' "Million Dollar Quartet" of Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, and Jerry Lee Lewis record together, 1956
Connie B. Gay elected inaugural president of the Country Music Association, 1958
Connie B. Gay died (cancer), 1989 (was 75)

December 5:

Don Robertson born in Peking, China, 1922 (now 86)
Jim Messina of Poco born in Harlingen, Texas, 1947 (now 61)
Ty England born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, 1963 (now 45)
Molly O'Day died (cancer), 1987 (was 64)
Wilf Carter (Montana Slim) died (stomach tumor), 1996 (was 91)
The soundtrack to O Brother, Where Art Thou released, 2000

December 6:

Helen Cornelius born in Hannibal, Missouri, 1941 (now 67)
Bill Lloyd of Foster & Lloyd born in Ft. Hood, Texas, 1955 (now 53)
Hugh Farr born in Llano, Texas, 1903 (died 1980)
Jim Eanes born in Mountain Valley, Virginia, 1923 (died 1995)
Roy Orbison died (heart attack), 1989 (was 52)

December 7:

Slim Bryant born in Atlanta, Georgia, 1908 (now 100)
Bobby Osborne born in Hyden, Kentucky, 1931 (now 77)
Gary Morris born in Fort Worth, Texas, 1948 (now 60)
Hugh X. Lewis born in Yeaddiss, Kentucky, 1932 (now 76)
Bill Boyd died (unknown cause), 1977 (was 67)

December 8:

Marty Raybon born in Stanford, Florida, 1959 (now 49)
Jack Stapp born in Nashville, Tennessee, 1912 (died 1980)
Floyd Tillman born in Ryan, Oklahoma, 1914 (died 2003)
Marty Robbins died (heart attack), 1982 (was 57)

December 9:

Billy Edd Wheeler born in Whitesville, Virginia, 1932 (now 76)
David Houston born in Bossier City, Louisiana, 1938 (died 1993)
Tommy Jackson died (unknown cause), 1979 (was 53)

December 10:

Johnny Rodriguez born in Sabinal, Texas, 1951 (now 57)
Kevin Sharp born in Weiser, Idaho, 1970 (now 38)
Eddie Miller born in Camargo, Oklahoma, 1919 (died 1977)
John Duffey of the Seldom Scene died (heart attack), 1996 (was 62)
Faron Young died (suicide), 1996 (was 64)
Jimmy Riddle died (cancer), 1982 (was 64)
Before the evening's WSM Barn Dance began, announcer George D. Hay commented, "For the past hour, you've been listening to selections taken from grand opera. Now we present Grand Ole Opry," 1927.

December 11:

Charles Whitstein born in Colfax, Louisiana, 1945 (now 63)
Brenda Lee born in Atlanta, Georgia, 1944 (now 64)
Arthur Q. Smith born in Griffin, Georgia, 1909 (died 1963)
Fiddlin' John Carson died (natural causes), 1949 (was 81)
Commercial plane with Tex Ritter aboard as a passenger hijacked to Cuba, 1968

December 12:

Hank Williams III born in Houston, Texas, 1972 (now 36)
LaCosta Tucker born in Seminole, Texas, 1951 (now 57)
Clifton Chenier died (kidney disease related to diabetes), 1987 (was 62)

December 13:

Buck White born in Oklahoma, 1930 (now 78)
Randy Owen of Alabama born in Fort Payne, Alabama, 1949 (now 59)
John Anderson born in Orlando, Florida, 1954 (now 54)
Wesley Tuttle born in Lamar, Colorado, 1917 (died 2003)
Lulu Belle and Scotty Wiseman wed, 1934

December 14:

DeFord Bailey born in Smith County, Tennessee, 1899 (died 1982)
Charlie Rich born in Forest City, Arkansas, 1932 (died 1995)

December 15:

Ernie Ashworth born in Huntsville, Alabama, 1928 (now 80)
Doug Phelps of Kentucky Headhunters born in Leachville, Arkansas, 1960 (now 48)
Alvin Pleasant Carter born in Maces Spring, Virginia, 1891 (died 1960)
Jerry Wallace born in Guilford, Missouri, 1928 (died 2008)
Nudie Cohn (ne Nuta Kotlyarenko) born in Kiev, Ukraine, 1902 (died 1984)
Hank Williams marries Audrey Guy, 1944

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

Category: Personal

"But tell me, what are riches
But contentment after all?
Other folks may think I'm poor
But I know it's not so
'Cause when I count my blessings
I'm the richest man I know"
--"The Richest Man in the World," written by Boudleaux Bryant (made famous by Eddy Arnold)

Have a happy Thanksgiving, filled with the contentment that'll make you the richest man (or woman) in the world!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Dates of Note in Country Music, November 16-30

Category: News

(Hall of Fame members in bold)

November 16:

Troy Seals born in Bill Hill, Kentucky, 1938 (now 70)
Larry Cordel born in Cordell, Kentucky, 1949 (now 59)
Will Goleman of the Cactus Brothers born in Shreveport, Louisiana, 1963 (now 45)
Ronnie Pugh, Ernest Tubb's biographer, born in Texas, year unknown
Earl Bolick born in Hickory, North Carolina, 1919 (died 1998)
J.D. Sumner died (heart attack), 1998 (was 73)

November 17:

Gordon Lightfoot born in Orilla, Ontario, Canada, 1938 (now 70). The legendary folk singer has written such hits as Marty Robbins' "Ribbon of Darkness" and Bill Anderson's "Did She Mention My Name."
Eva Foley (Red Foley's wife) died (suicide), 1951 (was 33)
Don Gibson died (natural causes), 2003 (was 75)

November 18:

Jessi Alexander born in Jackson, Tennessee, 1976 (now 32)
John McFee of Southern Pacific born in Santa Cruz, California, 1953 (now 55)
Doug Sahm died (heart attack), 1999 (was 58)

November 19:

Billy Currington born in Savannah, Georgia, 1973 (now 35)
Jerry Foster born in Tallapoosa, Missouri, 1935 (now 73)
Bobby Russell died (coronary artery disease), 1992 (was 51)

November 20:

Curly Putman born in Princeton, Alabama, 1930 (now 78)
George Grantham of Poco and Ricky Skaggs' band born in Cordell, Oklahoma, 1947 (now 61)
Dierks Bentley born in Phoenix, Arizona, 1975 (now 33)
Josh Turner born in Hannah, South Carolina, 1977 (now 31)
Judy Canova born in Starke, Florida, 1913 (died 1983)
Eck Robertson born in Madison County, Arkansas, 1897 (died 1975)
RCA buys the contract of Elvis Presley from Sun Records for $35,000, 1955

November 21:

Jean Shepard born in Paul Valley, Oklahoma, 1933 (now 75)
Jim Eanes died (congestive heart failure), 1995 (was 71)
Charlie Daniels pulls out of "Country Freedom Concert" after being told not to perform "This Ain't No Rag, It's a Flag," 2001

November 22:

Wiley Post born in Grand Saline, Texas, 1899 (died 1935)
First Disc Jockey Convention held in Nashville, 1952
Keith Whitley and Lorrie Morgan married, 1986

November 23:

Jerry Sullivan born in Wagarville, Alabama, 1933 (now 75)
Charlie Sizemore born in Richmond, Kentucky, 1960 (now 48)
Spade Cooley died (heart attack), 1969 (was 58)
Grady Nutt died (plane crash), 1982 (was 48)
Roy Acuff died (congestive heart failure), 1992 (was 89)
Smokey Rogers died (unknown cause), 1993 (was 76)

November 24:

Johnny Carver born in Jackson, Mississippi, 1940 (now 68)
Stoney Edwards born in Seminole, Oklahoma, 1929 (died 1997)
Teddy Wilburn died (congestive heart failure), 2003 (was 71)

November 25:

Amy Grant born in Augusta, Georgia, 1960 (now 48)
Eddie Stubbs born in Gaithersburg, Maryland, 1961 (now 47)
Biff Collie born in Little Rock, Arkansas, 1926 (died 1992)
Ralph Emery debuts on WSM in overnight slot, 1957

November 26:

Joe Nichols born in Rogers, Arkansas, 1976 (now 32)

November 27:

Eddie Rabbitt born in Brooklyn, New York, 1941 (died 1998)
Charlene Arthur died (illness), 1987 (was 58)

November 28:

WSM Barn Dance (later known as the Grand Ole Opry) born, 1925 (now 83)
Carrie Rodgers, widow of Jimmie Rodgers, died (cancer), 1961

November 29:

Merle Travis born in Rosewood, Kentucky, 1917 (died 1983)
Jody Miller born in Phoenix, Arizona, 1941 (now 67)
Joel Whitburn born in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin, 1938 (now 70)

November 30:

Bob Moore born in Nashville, Tennessee, 1932 (now 76)
Jeannie Kendall born in St. Louis, Missouri, 1954 (now 54)
Mindy McCready born in Ft. Myers, Florida, 1975 (now 33)
Teddy Wilburn born in Hardy, Arkansas, 1931 (died 2003)
David Houston died (brain aneurysm), 1993 (was 54)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

I Still Miss Someone

Category: Tribute/Personal

The laugh. I really miss that laugh.

Robert Whitstein didn't have a guffaw-type of laugh; rather, it started as a smile, then a chuckle, and built up from there. He loved to laugh, too. Sometimes a memory running through his mind would trigger the smile, and you knew what was next. He wouldn't always pass along just what was on his personal highlight reel, although when he did the results were more laughter.

Bob had a long list of jokes, some of which were so notorious that all he had to do to break people up was deliver the punch line. My favorite:

A little boy went to a holiness church with his grandfather. The grandfather, having arthritis and a cold, went to the altar to have the elders pray over him for healing. The elders gathered around, laid hands on him, and began singing "The Old Ship of Zion." The little boy jumped up, screamed, and ran out of the church and all the way home. When he arrived his mother asked what was wrong. He replied, "Grandpa went up to the front of the church, and they're beating him up and singing, 'The Old Shit's a-Dyin'!'"

To this day, I cannot see the title of "The Old Ship of Zion" without breaking up laughing. Thanks a lot, Robert, you ruined a great song for me.

The Whitstein Brothers went all over the world with their wonderful Louvinesque harmonies, earning a Grammy nomination in 1990 for Old Time Duets. The old adage of "you can take the boy out of the country but you can't take the country out of boy" was never more true than for Robert and Charles Whitstein. The pains of being a professional musician were too much for Robert, who would have been as content sitting on his front porch playing all day if he had never received the Grammy nod. He retired from the business and returned to his farm in Louisiana, not unlike the one depicted in the Jimmie Davis song "Where the Old Red River Flows" (which the Whitsteins recorded for their first album on Rounder Records, Rose of My Heart). Although I saw him very little after that, we talked frequently. He even thought to call me while I was in the hospital recovering from surgery. I had to warn him, though, to not make me laugh because my freshly-cut abdomen didn't need the exercise just yet.

Robert Whitstein, outside the Opry House,
following a performance of the Whitstein
Brothers on the Grand Ole Opry

In the seven years since a heart attack claimed Robert Whitstein's life at 57 on November 14, 2001, I have found that I miss that jocularity the most. The one good thing about art is that it lasts and enriches long after the artist leaves us, which enables people whose grandparents were not alive when Jimmie Rodgers died to discover his music. (Barry Mazor has a great book on that subject coming out next year.) I have the Whitstein Brothers' music: all the commercially-released material, a video of their reunion showcase at IBMA in 1993, and lots and lots of live tapes. But that laugh of Robert's is silent now, and I miss it. That laugh was the essence of the man: a warm, funny, happy guy who was a friend first, and a musician second.

The hole in our lives is still as large as that laugh.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Don't You Know Him, He's Your Native Son

Category: Book Review

Last year when I mentioned Steve Goodman in my "dates of note in country music," I received a reply from author Clay Eals. He thanked me for remembering Steve and mentioned he had a biography due. That biography is now out.

To call Steve Goodman: Facing the Music just a biography is to do Eals' book a disservice. Yes, it is a detailed look at Steve Goodman's life. It's also, secularly speaking, one of the most life-affirming books you can hope to read.
This book is not to be missed. Goodman fans, and indeed fans of country or folk music, will eat it up; however, the book is a must for anyone who loves life.

Steve Goodman: Facing the Music

For those who aren't familiar with Steve Goodman, he wrote "City of New Orleans," first a hit by fellow folk singer Arlo Guthrie in 1972 then a Grammy-winning country version by Willie Nelson in 1984. He also penned (along with fellow Chicago native, folk/country icon, and lunatic John Prine) "You Never Even Called Me By My Name," in which they "tried to cram everything that had been in every country and western song into one song." The David Allan Coe version stands as Coe's biggest hit as a singer, and even non-country fans know the punch line verse about mother, prison, trucks, and trains. If you watch Cubs baseball games on WGN, it is Goodman's voice you hear at the conclusion of victories: his "Go Cubs Go" is played after every win at Wrigley.

In a loving, thoroughly researched narrative, Eals takes the reader through Goodman's life and career. The book begins with an account of Goodman's final concert in Kansas City, where he struggled through his set because of the ravages of leukemia and the medication he had to take. The reader knows from the onset that the story has no happy ending (the complications of a bone marrow operation to treat the leukemia claimed Goodman's life at the far-too-young age of 36), which is a risk for a biographer to take. Yet, Eals builds the story masterfully through Goodman's childhood in Chicago, where he learned a love of music and performing at his synagogue, through the horrid diagnosis and the initial prognosis of "maybe three years" into the remission and recurrences, and a career where Goodman became a "songwriter's songwriter" (with artists such as Kris Kristofferson singing his praises).

Yes, the story is sad. It would be a cold-hearted individual who could read the passage about Goodman's life support machines being disconnected on that fateful September day in 1984 without being at least misty-eyed (or, as some of Goodman's friends and fans admitted to, crying openly). However, Goodman's life was one of jockularity, and Eals follows that trail as far as it leads, even to near the bitter end when Jimmy Buffett played some songs in Goodman's hospital room and reported that all of the alarms on the machines keeping the comatose Goodman alive started going off and concluded Steve didn't care for the latest Buffett tune. (Buffett has recorded a number of Goodman compositions, including "This Hotel Room," "Banana Republics," "Door Number Three," and one of my personal favorite Goodman songs, "California Promises.") Given that Goodman, like his lifelong friend Prine, could break your heart with one song ("My Old Man," about the death of his father) then have you crying from laughing with the next (such as "Sdrawkcab Klat [Talk Backwards]"), it would only stand to reason that Eals' work would follow that theme. You will cry, but you will also laugh out loud in response to Goodman's lyrics, his antics, and even his friends carrying out the lyrics to "A Dying Cub Fan's Last Request" for Goodman (scattering some of his ashes at Wrigley Field).

The book, currently in its second printing, is over 800 pages in length, meticulously cross-referenced. That is not a drawback. This is an easy book to read, because the writing is as warm and friendly as one of Steve Goodman's perpetual smiles.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Dates of Note in Country Music, November 1-15

Category: News

(Hall of Fame members in bold)

November 1:

Bill Anderson born in Columbia, South Carolina, 1937 (now 71)
Lyle Lovett born in Klein, Texas, 1957 (now 51)
Keith Stegall born in Wichita Falls, Texas, 1954 (now 54)
Lew Childre born in Opp, Alabama, 1901 (died 1961)
Buddy Killen died (cancer), 2006 (was 73)

November 2:

k.d. lang born in Consort, Alberta, 1961 (now 47)
John David Souther born in Detroit, Michigan, 1945 (now 63)
Charlie Walker born in Copeville, Texas, 1926 (died 2008)
Elaine Tubb, wife of Ernest and subject of the song "Blue-Eyed Elaine," died, 2001 (was 85)

November 3:

Fabor Robison born in Beebe, Arkansas, 1911 (died 1986)
Leon Huff born in Whitesboro, Texas, 1912 (died 1952)
John Maddox (Maddox Brothers & Rose) born in Boaz, Alabama, 1915 (died 1968)
Jimmie Rodgers, Fred Rose, and Hank Williams become the first inductees into the Country Music Hall of Fame, 1961
Merle Haggard granted parole from San Quentin, 1960

November 4:

Kim Forrester born in Oglethorpe, Georgia, 1960 (now 48)
Will Rogers born near Oologah, Oklahoma, 1879 (died 1935)
Audrey Williams died (illness), 1975 (was 52)
Dale Noe died (unknown cause), 2004 (was 76)

November 5:

Billy Sherrill born in Phil Campbell, Alabama, 1936 (now 72)
Gram Parsons born in Winter Haven, Florida, 1946 (died 1973)
Roy Rogers born in Cincinnati, Ohio, 1911 (died 1998)
Roy Horton born in Broad Top, Pennsylvania, 1914 (died 2003)
Johnny Horton died (car wreck), 1960 (was 35)
Jimmie Davis died (natural causes), 2000 (was 101)
Dorothy Southworth Ritter died (natural causes), 2003 (was 88)

November 6:

Stonewall Jackson born in Emerson, North Carolina, 1932 (now 76)
Guy Clark born in Monahan, Texas, 1941 (now 67)
Glenn Frey of the Eagles born in Detroit, Michigan, 1948 (now 60)
Hank Thompson died (lung cancer), 2007 (was 82)
Elvis Presley becomes member of Louisiana Hayride, 1954

November 7:

Robin Lee born in Nashville, Tennessee, 1953 (now 55)
Archie Campell born in Bull's Gap, Tennessee, 1914 (died 1987)
A.P. Carter died (illness), 1960 (was 68)
Red Foley's daughter, Shirley, married Pat Boone, 1953
Gene Wooten died (cancer), 2001 (was 49)

November 8:

Patti Page born in Claremore, Oklahoma, 1927 (now 81)
Scotty Wiseman born in Ingalls, North Carolina, 1909 (died 1981)
Ivory Joe Hunter died (lung cancer), 1974 (was 60). A number of the R&B singer/songwriter's songs were turned into country hits by Sonny James, including "Since I Met You, Baby" and "Empty Arms."

November 9:

George D. Hay born in Attica, Indiana, 1895 (died 1968)
Curly Fox born in Graysville, Tennessee, 1910 (died 1995)
James "Spider" Rich, co-writer of "Yakety Sax," died (unknown cause), 2003 (was 80)

November 10:

Donna Fargo born in Mount Airy, North Carolina, 1940 (now 68)
Pat Severs of Pirates of the Mississippi born in Elmira, New York, 1952 (now 56)
Paul Cohen born in Chicago, Illinois, 1908 (died 1970)
Onie Wheeler born in Senath, Missouri, 1921 (died 1984)
Dave "Stringbean" Akeman died (murdered), 1973 (was 58)
Curly Fox died (natural causes), 1995 (was 85)
The Edmund Fitzgerald sinks in Lake Superior, killing all 29 aboard, 1975. The accident inspired Gordon Lightfoot's 1976 pop/country/folk hit "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald."

November 11:

Narvel Felts born near Keiser, Arkansas, 1938 (now 70)
Hank "Sugarfoot" Garland born in Cow Pens, South Carolina, 1930 (died 2004)

November 12:

Barbara Fairchild born in Lafe, Arkansas, 1950 (now 58)
John Lair, Renfro Valley Barn Dance founder, died (natural causes), 1985 (was 91)
Ground broken for construction of the Grand Ole Opry House (current home of the Opry), 1971

November 13:

Jack Guthrie born in Olive, Oklahoma, 1915 (died 1948)
Buddy Killen born in Florence, South Carolina, 1932 (died 2006)
Jerry Lee Lewis Jr. died (car wreck), 1973 (was 20)
Junior Samples died (heart attack), 1983 (was 57)

November 14:

Ken Carson born in Coalgate, Oklahoma, 1914 (died 1994)
Robert Whitstein died (heart attack), 2001 (was 57)

November 15:

William Fries (C.W. McCall) born in Audubon, Iowa, 1928 (now 80)
Jack Ingram born in Houston, Texas, 1970 (now 38)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Ten Years Ago, On a Cold Dark Night...

Category: Obituary

Country music has lost one of its greatest songwriters.

So has folk music and rock and roll.

Danny (Hoarce Eldred) Dill died October 16th at a Nashville hospital. No cause of death was given.

Bill Anderson said of Danny Dill, "If all he'd done was help write 'The Long Black Veil,' he'd still go down as one of the all-time great songwriters." Ain't it the truth.

Danny Dill, along with the late Marijohn Wilkin, composed the song about a man who went to his death on the gallows rather than confess his affair with the wife of his best friend. The song is legendary, thanks in no small part to Lefty Frizzell's haunting recording in 1959.

Since Frizzell's hit, artists ranging from the Country Gentlemen to Johnny Cash to the Band to Jason & the Scorchers to Burl Ives to the Kingston Trio to Joan Baez have covered the song. Without question, one of the most ambitous versions was by the Edisons, a band based in Tennessee who wrote an album of original songs based on the song, covering the events mentioned in the original tune from different perspectives (e.g., the judge who condemned the man to death, the hangman, the jury, etc.).

Fortunately for country music, "The Long Black Veil" was not Dill's only contribution to country music. He also co-wrote "Detroit City," one of Bobby Bare's classic songs. He wrote another tale of murder, "Partners," which Jim Reeves recorded (and Eddy Arnold later covered). Other Danny Dill compositions include "The Comeback" (Faron Young), "Let Me Talk to You" (Ray Price), and "So Wrong" (Patsy Cline).

Danny Dill was 84.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Dates of Note in Country Music, October 16-31

Category: News

(Hall of Fame members in bold)

October 16:

Jim Ed Norman born in Ft. Myers, Florida, 1948 (now 60)
Stoney Cooper born in Harman, West Virginia, 1918 (died 1977)
Doyle Wilburn died (cancer), 1982 (was 52)
Don Reno died (post-operative complications), 1984 (was 58)
Ralph Stanley Museum opened, 2004

October 17:

Earl Thomas Conley born in Portsmouth, Ohio, 1941 (now 67)
Alan Jackson born in Newman, Georgia, 1958 (now 50)
Tennessee Ernie Ford died (liver disease), 1991 (was 72)
Jay Livingston died (pneumonia), 2001 (was 86). Among the songwriter's many credits were "Bonanza!," which Johnny Cash recorded, and "The Hanging Tree," which Marty Robbins recorded.
Bashful Brother Oswald (Beecher Ray Kirby) died (cancer), 2002 (was 90)

October 18:

Chuck Berry born in San Jose, California, 1926 (now 82). Among the rock and roll legend's hits that have made it to the country chart are "Memphis" (#10 hit for Fred Knoblock, 1981), "Brown Eyed Handsome Man" (#3 hit for Waylon Jennings, 1970), "The Promised Land" (#3 hit for Freddy Weller, 1970), and "Johnny B. Goode" (#1 hit for Buck Owens, 1969).
Keith Knudsen of Southern Pacific born in Ames, Iowa, 1952 (now 56)
Harty Taylor of Karl & Harty died (stroke), 1963 (was 58)
Hank Williams married Billie Jean Jones, 1952. After Williams' death, she would marry Johnny Horton.
Don Hecht died (heart attack), 2002 (was 72)

October 19:

Charlie Chase born in Rogersville, Tennessee, 1952 (now 56)
Don Parmley of the Bluegrass Cardinals born in Oliver Springs, Tennessee, 1933 (now 75)
Ebo Walker (ne Harry Shelor) of Bluegrass Alliance and New Grass Revival born in Louisville, Kentucky, 1941 (now 67)
Jeannie C. Riley born in Anson, Texas, 1945 (now 63)
Arthur E. "Uncle Art" Satherley born in Bristol, England, 1889 (died 1986)
Grant Turner died (heart failure), 1991 (was 79)
The first CMA Awards program was held, 1967. It was not televised.

October 20:

Wanda Jackson born in Maud, Oklahoma, 1937 (now 71)
Stuart Hamblin born in Kellyville, Texas, 1908 (died 1989)
Grandpa Jones born in Niagara, Kentucky, 1913 (died 1998)
Merle Travis died (heart attack), 1983 (was 65)
Rounder Records founded by Ken Irwin, Bill Nowlin, and Marian Leighton, 1970. Mr. Nowlin says this "birth" of Rounder is based on the date of their first invoice.

October 21:

Owen Bradley born in Westmoreland, Tennessee, 1915 (died 1998)
Bill Black died (brain tumor), 1965 (was 39)
Mel Street born in Grundy, Virginia, 1933 (died 1978)
Mel Street died (suicide), 1978 (45th birthday)

October 22:

Leon Chappelear died (suicide), 1962 (was 53)
Shelby Lynn born in Quantico, Virginia, 1968 (now 39)
Dorothy Shay, the "Park Avenue Hillbillie," died (heart attack), 1978 (was 57)

October 23:

Dwight Yoakam born in Pikeville, Kentucky, 1956 (now 52)
Junior Bryant of Ricochet born in Pecos, Texas, 1968 (now 40)
Mother Maybelle Carter died (respiratory arrest), 1978 (was 68)
Merle Watson died (tractor accident), 1985 (was 36). His father Doc's long-lasting tribute to his late son is the annual bluegrass event known as "MerleFest."
Rusty Kershaw died (heart attack), 2001 (was 63)

October 24:

Mark Gray (former member of Exile) born in Vicksburg, Mississippi, 1952 (now 56)
Jiles Perry "The Big Bopper" Richardson born in Sabine Pass, Texas, 1930 (died 1959). Among his songwriter credits is "White Lightnin'" by friend George Jones and Hank Snow's "Beggar to a King."
Kirk McGee died (natural causes), 1983 (was 83)
Rosey Nix Adams, daughter of June Carter Cash, died (carbon monoxide poisoning), 2003 (was 45)

October 25:

Mark Miller (Sawyer Brown) born in Dayton, Ohio, 1958 (now 50)
Jeanne Black born in Pomona, California, 1937 (now 71)
Chely Wright born in Kansas City, Missouri, 1970 (now 38)
Cousin Minnie Pearl born in Grinders Switch (actually, Centerville), Tennessee, 1912 (died 1996)
Roger Miller died (throat cancer), 1992 (was 56)
Johnnie Lee Willis died (heart ailment), 1984 (was 72)
Johnny Cash's last concert performance, Flint Michigan, 1997

October 26:

Keith Urban born in Whangarei, New Zeland, 1967 (now 41)
Hoyt Axton died (heart attack), 1999 (was 62)
Statler Brothers' final concert in their hometown of Salem, Virginia, 2002

October 27:

Dallas Frazier born in Spiro, Oklahoma, 1939 (now 69)
Ruby Wright born in Nashville, Tennessee, 1939 (now 69)
Lee Greenwood born in Southgate, California, 1942 (now 66)
Snuffy Jenkins born in Harris, North Carolina, 1908 (died 1990)
Floyd Cramer born in Campti, Louisiana, 1933 (died 1997)
Allan "Rocky" Lane died (cancer), 1973 (was 72). He is mentioned in the Statler Brothers' "Whatever Happened to Randolph Scott."
Grand Ole Opry moves to the Hillsboro Theater, 1934

October 28:

Charlie Daniels born in Wilmington, North Carolina, 1936 (now 72)
Brad Paisley born in Glen Dale, West Virginia, 1972 (now 36)
Bill Bolick of the Blue Sky Boys born in Hickory, North Carolina, 1917 (died 2008)
Jimmy Skinner died (heart attack), 1979 (was 70)
Mel Foree died (cancer), 1990 (age unknown)
Porter Wagoner died (lung cancer), 2007 (was 80)

October 29:

Sonny Osborne born in Hyden, Kentucky, 1937 (now 71)
Charlie Monk born in Noma, Florida, 1938 (now 70)
Albert E. Brumley born in Spiro, Oklahoma, 1905 (died 1977)
Ramblin' Jimmie Dolan born in Gardena, California, 1916 (died 1994)
Fred Maddox died (heart disease), 1992 (was 73)

October 30:

Timothy B. Schmit of Poco and the Eagles born in Sacramento, California, 1947 (now 61)
T. Graham Brown born in Atlanta, Georgia, 1954 (now 54)
Patsy Montana born in Hope, Arkansas, 1908 (died 1996)
Clifton Clowers born in Wolverton Mountain, Conway County, Arkansas, 1891 (died 1994)
Kitty Wells and Johnnie Wright married, 1937 (71 years!!)

October 31:

Kinky Friedman born in Chicago, Illinois, 1944 (now 63)
Dale Evans born in Uvalde, Texas, 1912 (died 2001)
Carl Belew died (cancer), 1990 (was 59)
Bob Atcher died (unknown causes), 1993 (was 79)

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Update on Hank Cochran

Category: News

With all the bad news that comes after a cancer diagnosis (as evident by the passing of Porter Wagoner and Hank Thompson last year), I am delighted to pass on some GREAT news.

Hank Cochran, the legendary songwriter (and singer -- remember he had a hit with his song, "Sally Was a Good Ol' Girl"), has received excellent news regarding his recent pancreatic cancer diagnosis. According to his publicist, Martha Moore, Cochran is out of the hospital and received an "all clear" on a CT scan last week. He is scheduled to start chemotherapy this week (don't think that's bad news: it's standard to give chemo or radiation to people who have had surgery for cancer, even when the doctors declare they "got it all" during the operation).

The great Hank Cochran

Cochran said, "This is the best news we could hope for." He offers his thanks for the prayers and well-wishes from country music fans around the world, saying, "It's what kept me going."

Continue to pray for this should-be-Hall-of-Fame legend as he continues his treatment. Most of us have been touched by cancer (either a family or a friend or, God forbid, a personal bout), and we know what a devil that horrid disease can be.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Dates of Note in Country Music, October 1-15

Category: News
(Hall of Fame members in bold)

October 1:

Kelly Willis born in Lawton, Oklahoma, 1968 (now 40)
Skeets McDonald born in Greenway, Arkansas, 1915 (died 1968)
Bonnie Owens born in Blanchard, Oklahoma, 1932 (died 2006)

October 2:

Jo-El Sonnier born in Rayne, Louisiana, 1946 (now 62)
Tammy Sullivan born in Wagarville, Alabama, 1964 (now 44)
Chris LeDoux born in Biloxi, Mississippi, 1948 (died 2005)
Chubby Wise born in Lake City, Florida, 1915 (died 1996)
Gene Autry died (lymphoma), 1998 (was 91). The "Singing Cowboy" owned the Anaheim Angels, who dedicated their 2002 World Series victory to his memory.
Elvis Presley played the Grand Ole Opry, 1954

October 3:

Joe Allison born in McKinney, Texas, 1924 (died 2002)
Woody Guthrie died (Huntington's disease), 1967 (was 55). Among the folk singer's compositions were the Maddox Brothers and Rose's hit "Philadelphia Lawyer."
Del Wood died (stroke), 1989 (was 69)

October 4:

Leroy Van Dyke born in Spring Fork, Missouri, 1929 (now 79)
Larry Collins of the Collins Kids born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, 1944 (now 64)
Greg Hubbard of Sawyer Brown born in Orlando, Florida, 1960 (now 48)
Jerry Rivers died (cancer), 1996 (was 69)
A.L. "Doodle" Owens died (heart attack), 1999 (was 69)
Tammy Wynette's ordeal where she claimed to have been kidnapped and beaten began, 1978

October 5:

Radio station WSM born in Nashville at 650 on the AM dial, 1925 (now 83)
Margie Singleton born in Coushatta, Louisiana, 1935 (now 73)
Johnny Duncan born in Dublin, Texas, 1938 (died 2006)

October 6:

Tim Rushlow of Little Texas born in Arlington, Texas, 1966 (now 41)
Kendall Hayes born in Perryville, Kentucky, 1935 (died 1995)
Ted Daffan died (natural causes), 1996 (was 84)

October 7:

Jim Halsey born in Independence, Kansas, 1930 (now 78)
Dale Watson born in Birmingham, Alabama, 1962 (now 46)
Kieran Kane born in Queens, New York, 1949 (now 59)
Uncle Dave Macon born in Warren County, Tennessee, 1870 (died 1952)
Gordon Terry born in Decatur, Alabama, 1931 (died 2006)
Hugh Cherry born in Louisville, Kentucky, 1922 (died 1998)
Buddy Lee born in Brooklyn, New York, 1932 (died 1998)
Johnny Darrell died (diabetes complications), 1997 (was 57)
Jimmie Logsdon died (unknown cause), 2001 (was 79)

October 8:

Ricky Lee Phelps of the Kentucky Headhunters born in Paragould, Arkansas, 1953 (now 55)
Susan Raye born in Eugene, Oregon, 1944 (now 64)
Lynn Morris born in Lamesa, Texas, 1948 (now 60)
Jackie Frantz of Dave & Sugar born in Sidney, Ohio, 1950 (now 58)
Pete Drake born in Atlanta, Georgia, 1932 (died 1988)

October 9:

Goebel Reeves born in Sherman, Texas, 1899 (died 1969)

October 10:

John Prine born in Maywood, Illinois, 1946 (now 62). The folk singer has written a number of tunes that have become country and bluegrass standards, most notably, "Paradise."
Tanya Tucker born in Seminole, Texas, 1958 (now 50)

October 11:

Gene Watson born in Palestine, Texas, 1943 (now 65)
Paulette Carlson of Highway 101 born in Northfield, Minnesota, 1952 (now 56)
Dottie West born in McMinnville, Tennessee, 1932 (died 1991)
Rex Griffin died (tuberculosis), 1958 (was 46)
Tex Williams died (cancer), 1985 (was 68)
T. Tommy Cutrer died (heart attack), 1998 (was 74)

October 12:

Shane McAnally born in Mineral Wells, Texas, 1974 (now 34)
John Denver died (plane crash), 1997 (was 53)

October 13:

Rhett Akins born in Valdosta, Georgia, 1969 (now 39)
Lacy J. Dalton born in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania, 1946 (now 62)
Anita Kerr born in Memphis, Tennessee, 1927 (now 81)
John Wiggins born in Nashville, Tennessee, 1962 (now 46)
Hoarce Lee Logan died (respiratory disease), 2002. The founder of the Louisiana Hayride also coined one of the most oft-repeated phrases in American popular culture: trying to calm down an audience after one Louisiana Hayride performer wowed the crowd, Logan announced, "Elvis has left the building."

October 14:

Kenny Roberts born in Lenoir City, Tennessee, 1926 (now 82)
Melba Montgomery born in Iron City, Tennessee, 1938 (now 70)
Bing Crosby died (heart attack), 1977. The legendary pop crooner has the distinction of being the first artist to have a #1 single on Billboard magazine's Country and Western charts, with his rendition of Al Dexter's "Pistol Packin' Mama," 1944.

October 15:

Dean Miller born in Los Angeles, California, 1965 (now 43)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Dates of Note in Country Music, September 16-30

Category: News
(Hall of Fame members in bold)

September 16:

Ralph Mooney born in Duncan, Oklahoma, 1928 (now 80)
David Bellamy of the Bellamy Brothers born in Darby, Florida, 1950 (now 58)
Sheb Wooley died (leukemia), 2003 (was 82)

September 17:

Hank Williams born in Mount Olive, Alabama, 1923 (died 1953)
John Ritter, son of Tex Ritter, born in Burbank, California, 1948 (died 2003)
Steve Sanders (William Lee Golden's one-time replacement in the Oak Ridge Boys) born in Richland, Georgia, 1952 (died 1998)
Bill Black born in Memphis, Tennessee, 1926 (died 1965)
RCA's 33 1/3 RPM "long-playing" (LP) record born, 1931

September 18:

Priscilla Mitchell born in Marietta, Georgia, 1941 (now 67)
Carl Jackson born in Louisville, Mississippi, 1953 (now 55)
Ervin T. Rouse born in Craven County, North Carolina, 1917 (died 1981)

September 19:

Trisha Yearwood born in Monticello, Georgia, 1964 (now 44)
Clyde Moody born in Cherokee, North Carolina, 1915 (died 1989)
Red Foley died (heart attack), 1968 (was 58)
Gram Parsons died (drug overdose), 1973 (was 26)
Skeeter Davis died (cancer), 2004 (was 72)
Slim Dusty ("Australian king of country music") died (cancer), 2003 (was 76)

September 20:

Pearl Butler born in Nashville, Tennessee, 1927 (died 1988)
Karl Farr died (heart attack), 1961 (was 52)
Steve Goodman died (post-bone marrow transplant kidney failure), 1984 (was 36). The folk singer/songwriter was posthumously awarded a Grammy for "Best Country Song" for Willie Nelson's version of "City of New Orleans."

September 21:

Faith Hill born in Jackson, Mississippi, 1967 (now 41)
Dickey Lee born in Memphis, Tennessee, 1936 (now 72)
Ronna Reeves born in Big Spring, Texas, 1966 (now 42)
Kenny Starr born in Topeka, Kansas, 1952 (now 56)
Don Felder, former guitarist/steel guitarist for the Eagles, born in Gainesville, Florida, 1947 (now 61)
Ted Daffan born in Beauregard Parish, Louisiana, 1912 (died 1996)
Walter Brennan died (emphysema), 1974 (was 80). Among the actor's charted hits were "Old Rivers" and a version of Bill Anderson's "Mama Sang a Song."

September 22:

Debby Boone born in Hackensack, New Jersey, 1956 (now 51). The "You Light Up My Life" singer is Red Foley's granddaughter.

September 23:

Roy Drusky died (emphysema), 2004 (was 74)
Bradley Kincaid died (natural causes), 1989 (was 94)
O.B. McClinton died (cancer), 1987 (was 45)
Jimmy Wakely died (emphysema), 1982 (was 68)

September 24:

Rosalie Allen died (congestive heart failure), 2003 (was 79)

September 25:

Larry Sparks born in Lebanon, Ohio, 1947 (now 61)
Royce Kendall born in St. Louis, Missouri, 1934 (died 1998)

September 26:

David Frizzell born in El Dorado, Arkansas, 1941 (now 67)
Lynn Anderson born in Grand Forks, North Dakota, 1947 (now 61)
Carlene Carter born in Madison, Tennessee, 1955 (now 53)
Doug Supernaw born in Bryan, Texas, 1960 (now 48)
Marty Robbins born in Glendale, Arizona, 1925 (died 1982)

September 27:

Uncle Josh Graves born in Tellico Plains, Tennessee, 1928 (died 2006)
Charlie Monroe died (cancer), 1975 (was 72)

September 28:

Johnny Mathis born in Maud, Texas, 1933 (now 65). Because of the rise of a pop singer by the same name, Mathis became known as "Country Johnny Mathis."
Ronnie Reno born in Buffalo, South Carolina, 1947 (now 61)
Laurie Lewis born in Long Beach, California, 1950 (now 58)
Mandy Barnett born in Crossville, Tennessee, 1975 (now 33)
Jerry Clower born in Liberty, Mississippi, 1926 (died 1998)
Tommy Collins born in Bethany, Oklahoma, 1930 (died 2000)
Joseph Falcon born in Rayne, Louisiana, 1900 (died 1965). Falcon is credited with the first Cajun recording, "Allons a Lafayette," in 1928.
Jim Boyd (of Bill Boyd and the Cowboy Ramblers) born in Fannin County, Texas, 1914 (died 1993)
Johnny Horton married Billie Jean Williams (widow of Hank Williams), 1953

September 29:

Jerry Lee Lewis born in Ferriday, Louisiana, 1935 (now 73)
Gene Autry born in Tioga Springs, Texas, 1907 (died 1998)
Bill Boyd born in Fannin County, Texas, 1910 (died 1977)
Tillman Franks born in Stamps, Arkansas, 1920 (died 2006)
Wesley Tuttle died (natural causes), 2003 (was 85)
Mickey Newbury died (lung disease), 2002 (was 62)

September 30:

Richard Bowden born in Linden, Texas, 1945 (now 63)
Deborah Allen born in Memphis, Tennessee, 1953 (now 55)
Marty Stuart born in Philadelphia, Mississippi, 1958 (now 50)
Mary Ford died (diabetes complications), 1977 (was 53)
Billboard magazine changed the name of the "Hillbilly and Western" chart to the "Country and Western" chart, 1950. Ernest Tubb is considered by many to be one of the people responsible for this, as he claimed that "hillbilly" was a derogatory term.

Thursday, September 18, 2008


Category: News

Hurricane Ike hit on Sunday, knocking out power to nearly 80% of Louisville.

Yes, Louisville. As in Kentucky. Thankfully, my property has no damage -- but no power, either.

The estimated time of power restoration for everyone is two weeks. Everything will be updated as soon as power is restored.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Pick Me Up on Your Way Down

Category: Obituary

The Grand Ole Opry's fans and members, and indeed all of country music, are in mourning at the news of the death of Charlie Walker. Walker died Friday (9/12). Newspaper reports state he had recently been diagnosed with colon cancer.

Charlie Walker, like a number of other country music performers (Bill Anderson, Wayne Raney, Jim Reeves) began as a disc jockey and graduated to being one of the performers whose records were played on radio stations across the country. He had one single on Decca, "Only You, Only You," in 1956 before moving to Columbia where he scored his biggest hits. The highlight of his career was his 1958 recording of a Harlan Howard song, "Pick Me Up on Your Way Down." The song went to #2 on the Billboard country charts for a month and established Walker as a star in the Texas-based honky tonk country music. Other hits included "Who Will Buy the Wine," "Wild as a Wildcat," "Close All the Honky Tonks," and his last top ten record, 1967's "Don't Squeeze My Sharmon" (a take-off on the Charmin toilet paper commercials that featured Mr. Whipple pleading with people not to squeeze the Charmin). The B-side of "Sharmon" was an outstanding Bill Anderson composition, "You Lied to Me," which was later covered by Tracy Byrd.

Walker spent 41 years as a member of the Grand Ole Opry, where he would perform his hits as well as other country classics. A favorite cover of his was Tex Williams' "Smoke! Smoke! Smoke! (That Cigarette)," which Walker introduced as "the first rap hit -- in 1946."

Walker began his career as a disc jockey in the early 1950s in San Antonio, Texas. His popularity in the profession earned him induction into the Country Music Disc Jockey Hall of Fame in 1981. While working as a DJ he recorded on local labels, including the song "Tell Her Lies and Feed Her Candy" (later recorded by Porter Wagoner).

Walker's local success netted him a brief stint on Decca Records before he signed to Columbia (and later a Columbia subsidiary label, Epic). His trademark was the traditional hard-driving Texas honky-tonk sound, frequently punctuated by humorous songs (such as the aformentioned "Don't Squeeze My Sharmon" and "I Wouldn't Take Her to a Dogfight"). His last charted record came in 1974.

Walker landed the role of Hawkshaw Hawkins in the mid-80s film about the life of Patsy Cline, Sweet Dreams. He also appeared in some of the low-budget country music films of the mid-60s.

Charlie Walker was 81.