Thursday, January 31, 2008

Dates of Note in Country Music, February 1-15

Category: News

February 1:

Don Everly born in Brownie, Kentucky, 1937 (now 71)
Ray Sawyer of Dr. Hook born in Chicksaw, Alabama, 1937 (now 70)
Del McCoury born in Bakersville, North Carolina, 1939 (now 69)
Lisa Marie Presley born in Memphis, Tennessee, 1968 (now 40)
Scotty Wiseman died (heart attack), 1981 (was 71)

February 2:

Glenn Barber born in Hollis, Oklahoma, 1935 (now 73)
Howard Bellamy of the Bellamy Brothers born in Darby, Florida, 1946 (now 62)
Emmett Miller born in Macon, Georgia, 1900 (died 1962)
Lester McFarland of Mac & Bob born in Gray, Kentucky, 1902 (died 1984)
Rusty Kershaw born in Tiel Ridge, Louisiana, 1938 (died 2001)
Louise Scruggs, wife and manager of Earl Scruggs, died, 2006 (was 78)

February 3:

Dave Rich born in Briar Creek, Kentucky, 1936 (now 72). Ernest Tubb heard a recording of Rich's and hounded friend Ray Price throughout a game of golf to record the song. The song? "City Lights."
Matraca Berg born in Nashville, Tennessee, 1964 (now 44)
Betty Foley, daughter and one-time duet partner of Red Foley, born in Chicago, Illinois, 1933 (died 1990)
Jiles Perry "J.P." Richardson died (plane crash), 1959 (was 28)
Buddy Holly died (plane crash), 1959 (was 22)
James Blackwood of the Blackwood Brothers Quartet died (stroke), 2002 (was 83). He was the last member of the original legendary Southern Gospel quartet.

February 4:

Clint Black born in Long Branch, New Jersey, 1962 (now 46)
Chris McDaniel of Confederate Railroad born in Rock Springs, Georgia, 1965 (now 43)
Vic McAlpin born in Defeated Creek, Tennessee, 1918 (died 1980)
Jethro Burns died (cancer), 1989 (was 68)

February 5:

Claude King born in Shreveport, Louisiana, 1933 (now 75).
Sara Evans born in Boonville, Missouri, 1971 (now 37)
Henson Cargill born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, 1941 (died 2007)
Eddy Noack died (cerebral hemorrhage), 1978 (was 47)

February 6:

Dale Reno of the Reno Brothers born in Roanoke, Virginia, 1961 (now 47)
Richie McDonald of Lonestar born in Lubbock, Texas, 1962 (now 46)
Anita Cochran born in Pontiac, Michigan, 1967 (now 41)
Violet Koehler of the original Coon Creek Girls born in Wilton, Wisconsin, 1916 (died 1973)
Merle Kilgore died (cancer), 2005 (was 70)
Frankie Laine died (complications from hip replacement surgery), 2007 (was 93)

February 7:

Wilma Lee Cooper born in Valley Head, West Virginia, 1921 (now 87)
Garth Brooks born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, 1962 (now 46)
Tony Booth born in Tampa, Florida, 1943 (now 65)
Warren Smith born in Humphreys County, Mississippi, 1933 (died 1980)
Ambrose Allen of the Allen Brothers born in Sewanee, Tennessee, 1901 (died 1959)
Dale Evans died (congestive heart failure), 2001 (was 88)
Patsy Cline's last recording session, Nashville, 1963. The last song she recorded was a cover of Moon Mullican's "I'll Sail My Ship Alone."
Jim Reeves recorded "Four Walls" in Nashville, 1957. This song is said by many to be the beginning of the "Nashville Sound."

February 8:

Joe South born in Atlanta, Georgia, 1942 (now 66)
Dan Seals born in McCamey, Texas, 1948 (now 60)
Don Wayne Reno of the Reno Brothers born in Roanoke, Virginia, 1963 (now 45)
Pappy Daily born in Yoakum, Texas, 1902 (died 1987)
Bob Dunn born in Fort Gibson, Oklahoma, 1908 (died 1971). Dunn is credited as being the first country musician to use amplification for his instrument.
Merle Watson born in Deep Gap, North Carolina, 1949 (died 1985)
Lulu Belle Wiseman died (Alzheimer's disease), 1999 (was 84)
Keith Knudsen of Southern Pacific died (chronic pneumonia), 2005 (was 56)

February 9:

Joe Ely born in Amarillo, Texas, 1947 (now 61)
Travis Tritt born in Marietta, Georgia, 1963 (now 45)
Ernest Tubb born in Crisp, Texas, 1914 (died 1984)

February 10:

George York of the York Brothers born in Louisa, Kentucky, 1910 (died 1974)
Arthur Satherley died (natural causes), 1986 (was 96)
Kendall Hayes died (cancer), 1995 (was 59)
Jim Varney died (lung cancer), 2000 (was 50)

February 11:

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

February 12:

Moe Bandy born in Meridian, Mississippi, 1944 (now 64)
Stephen Sholes born in Washington, DC, 1911 (died 1968)
Red Allen born in Pigeon Roost, Kentucky, 1930 (died 1993)
Lorne Greene born in Ottawa, Ontario, 1915 (died 1987). The legendary actor hit the Billboard top 40 country charts in 1964 with "Ringo."
Sammi Smith died (emphysema), 2005 (was 61)

February 13:

David McLaughlin of the Johnson Mountain Boys born in Washington, DC, 1958 (now 50)
Tennessee Ernie Ford born in Bristol, Tennessee, 1919 (died 1991)
Boudleaux Bryant born in Shellman, Georgia, 1920 (died 1987)
Jim McReynolds of Jim & Jessee born in Coeburn, Virginia, 1927 (died 2003)
Charlie Moore born in Piedmont, South Carolina, 1935 (died 1979)
Buddy Lee died (cancer), 1998 (was 65)
Waylon Jennings died (complications of diabetes), 2002 (was 64)

February 14:

Razzy Bailey born in Five Points, Alabama, 1939 (now 69)
Bill Nowlin, co-founder of Rounder Records, born in Boston, Massachusetts, 1945 (now 63)
Harry Stone born in Jacksonville, Florida, 1898 (died 1968)
Lonnie Glosson born in Judsonia, Arkansas, 1908 (died 2001)

February 15:

Hank Locklin born in McLellan, Florida, 1918 (now 90)
Wally Fowler born in Adairsville, Georgia, 1917 (died 1994)
Louise Scruggs born in Lebanon, Tennessee, 1927 (died 2006)
Dorris Macon died (suicide), 1981 (was 71)
Nat "King" Cole died (lung cancer), 1965 (was 45). The legendary pop crooner hit #1 on the Billboard country charts in 1944 (with the King Cole Trio) with the song "Straighten Up and Fly Right."

Monday, January 21, 2008

Joining the Ranks of Abe Vigoda and Claude King...

Category: News

Slim Whitman turned 84 on Sunday. On Monday, the Nashville Tennessean declared him dead.

Well, he's NOT. The president of Slim Whitman Collectors International was quick to refute the news of Whitman's passing. (The fact that no other news outlet has picked this up should also clarify his non-death.)

This isn't the first time that someone has required the Mark Twain "rumors of my death are greatly exaggerated" treatment. The first edition of the otherwise marvelous country music encyclopedia Definitive Country listed Claude King's death as 1985 -- a terrible shock to the still very-much-alive Claude King.

But perhaps the best (?) example of media-induced premature death was People magazine reporting the passing of actor Abe Vigoda in 1982. That little faux pas has taken on a life of its own, thanks to a web site that keeps everyone updated on Vigoda's status. Without question, this is one of the funniest web sites you'll ever visit. Vigoda also enjoyed a little humor at his own expense, posing in a coffin with a copy of the magazine that erroneously declared him dead.

Whitman told Loren Knapp, president of Slim Whitman Collectors International, that he feels like he's 40 -- one day after turning 84! We'll have to report this legend's obituary eventually -- but thankfully, today is not that day.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

John Stewart Dies

Category: News

From the Kingston Trio's web site comes the sad news that John Stewart has passed away after suffering a massive stroke on Thursday, January 17.

For those who do not know, the Kingston Trio's "Tom Dooley" was awarded the very first "Best Country Song" Grammy award -- despite the fact that the song never made the country charts. Stewart joined the group three years after that success, in 1961, and remained with them for seven years. He was also an acclaimed songwriter, having written "Daydream Believer," the Monkees hit that Anne Murray made into a country top ten record in 1980.

John Stewart was 68. His rock information can be seen at my rock blog.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Dates of Note in Country Music, January 16-31

Category: News

January 16:

Ronnie Milsap born in Robbinsville, North Carolina, 1943 (now 65)
Jim Stafford born in Eloise, Florida, 1944 (now 64)
Sandy Pinkard of Pinkard & Bowden born in Abbeville, Louisiana, 1947 (now 61)
Roy Lanham of the Sons of the Pioneers born in Corbin, Kentucky, 1923 (died 1991)
Ruby Falls born in Jackson, Tennessee, 1946 (died 1986)

Dizzy Dean born in Lucas, Arkansas, 1910 (died 1974). The legendary baseball player is credited with dubbing Roy Acuff "King of Country Music."
Bill Monroe seriously injured in a car wreck, 1953. Monroe was away from performing for six months while recovering.

January 17:

Amanda Wilkinson of the Wilkinsons born in Belleville, Ontario, 1982 (now 26)
Steve Earle born in Fort Monroe, Virginia, 1955 (now 53)
Walter Bailes of the Bailes Brothers born in Kanawha County, West Virginia, 1920 (died 2000)
Grady Martin born in Marshall County, Tennessee, 1929 (died 2001)
Cliffie Stone died (heart attack), 1998 (was 80)
Frank "Hylo" Brown died (natural causes), 2003 (was 81)
The street in front of Graceland renamed "Elvis Presley Boulevard," 1972

January 18:

Bobby Edwards born in Aniston, Alabama, 1926 (now 82)
Hargus "Pig" Robbins born in Spring City, Tennessee, 1938 (now 70)
Mark Collie born in Waynesboro, Tennessee, 1956 (now 52)
Linda Parker of the Cumberland Ridge Runners born in Covington, Kentucky, 1912 (died 1935)
Eddie Hill died (long-term illness), 1994 (was 74)

January 19:

Oscar Sullivan born in Edmonton, Kentucky, 1919 (now 89)
Stu Phillips born in Montreal, Quebec, 1933 (now 75)
Phil Everly born in Chicago, Illinois, 1939 (now 69)
Dolly Parton born in Locast Ridge, Tennessee, 1946 (now 62)
Stephanie Davis born in Bridger, Montana, 1958 (now 50)
Dennie Crouch of the Nashville Bluegrass Band born in Strawberry, Arkansas, 1967 (now 41)
Leo Soileau born in Ville Platte, Louisiana, 1904 (died 1980)
Ken Nelson born in Caledonia, Minnesota, 1911 (died 2008)
Ralph Peer died (unknown cause), 1960 (was 67)
Vic McAlpin died (unknown cause), 1980 (was 61)
Carl Perkins died (stroke), 1998 (was 65)

January 20:

Slim Whitman born in Tampa, Florida, 1924 (now 84)
John Michael Montgomery born in Danville, Kentucky, 1965 (now 43)
George Burns born in New York, New York, 1896 (died 1996). The legendary comedian and actor had a top 20 country song in 1980 with "I Wish I Was Eighteen Again."

January 21:

Mac Davis born in Lubbock, Texas, 1942 (now 66)
Jim Ibbottson of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1947 (now 61)
Huddie "Leadbelly" Leadbetter born in Mooringsport, Louisiana, 1889 (died 1949). The year of Leadbelly's birth is open for debate, as is the actual day, with numerous sources citing January 20, January 21, or January 23, and years of 1888 or 1889.
Cedric Rainwater died (heart attack), 1970 (was 56)
Jim Anglin died (cancer), 1987 (was 73)
Colonel Tom Parker died (stroke), 1997 (was 87). In addition to Elvis, Parker managed Eddy Arnold, Hank Snow, and Minnie Pearl early in their careers.
Patsy Cline appeared on Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts and won the talent show,1957

January 22:

Teddy Gentry of Alabama born in Fort Payne, Alabama, 1952 (now 56)
J.P. Pennington of Exile born in Berea, Kentucky, 1949 (now 59)
Dickie McBride of Cliff Bruner's Texas Wanderers born in New Baden, Texas, 1914 (died 1971)
Jimmy Day died (cancer), 1999 (was 65)
Janette Carter, the last surviving member of the Carter Family, died (Parkinson's disease/illness), 2006 (was 82)

January 23:

Etta May born in Bald Knob, Arkansas, 1962 (now 46)
Johnny Russell born in Sunflower County, Mississippi, 1940 (died 2001)
T. Texas Tyler died (cancer), 1972 (was 55)
Art Stamper (fiddler in the Clinch Mountain Boys) died (throat cancer), 2005 (was 71)
The Winter Dance Party begins in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 1959. Three of the headliners, Buddy Holly, J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson, and Richie Valens, would die 11 days later.

January 24:

Doug Kershaw born in Tiel Ridge, Louisiana, 1936 (now 72)
Jack Scott born in Windsor, Ontario, 1936 (now 72)
Ray Stevens born in Clarksdale, Georgia, 1939 (now 69)
Becky Hobbs born in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, 1950 (now 58)
Keech Rainwater of Lonestar born in Plano, Texas, 1963 (now 45)
Shot Jackson died (complications of stroke), 1991 (was 70)
Justin Tubb died (aortic aneurysm), 1998 (was 62)

January 25:

Claude Gray born in Henderson, Texas, 1932 (now 76)
Rusty Draper born in Kirksville, Missouri, 1923 (died 2003)
Speedy West born in Springfield, Missouri, 1924 (died 2003)
Cactus Jack Call died (car wreck), 1963. A benefit concert for him five weeks later was the final performances by Patsy Cline, Hawkshaw Hawkins, and Cowboy Copas.

January 26:

James O'Gwynn born in Winchester, Mississippi, 1928 (now 80)
Dave Rowland of Dave & Sugar born in Sanger, California, 1942 (now 66)
Lucinda Williams born in Lake Charles, Louisiana, 1953 (now 55)
Clayton McMichen born in Allatoona, Georgia, 1900 (died 1970)
Goebel Reeves died (heart attack), 1959 (was 59)
Hillary Clinton
disparagingly invoked Tammy Wynette's "Stand By Your Man" during an interview, 1992

January 27:

Buddy Emmons born in Mishawaka, Indiana, 1937 (now 71)
Lee Carroll of Exile born in Glasgow, Kentucky, 1953 (now 55)
Cheryl White of the Whites born in Wichita Falls, Texas, 1955 (now 53)
Richard Young of the Kentucky Headhunters born in Glasgow, Kentucky, 1955 (now 53)
Tracy Lawrence born in Atlanta, Texas, 1968 (now 40)
Joe Callahan of the Callahan Brothers born in Madison County, North Carolina, 1910 (died 1971)
Claude Akins died (cancer), 1994 (was 67). Among the actor's roles was Sonny on the TV series Movin' On, which featured the title song performed by Merle Haggard.

January 28:

Bill Phillips born in Canton, North Carolina, 1936 (now 71)
Greg Cook of Ricochet born in Vian, Oklahoma, 1965 (now 43)
Skeeter Willis died (lymph cancer), 1976 (was 58)
Al Dexter died (heart attack), 1984 (was 78)
Jimmy Fortune joins the Statler Brothers, 1982

January 29:
Patsy Sledd born in Falcon, Missouri, 1944 (now 64)
Irlene Mandrell of the Mandrell Sisters born in Corpus Christi, Texas, 1957 (now 51)
Lloyd Perryman of the Sons of the Pioneers born in Ruth, Arkansas, 1917 (died 1977)
Little Jimmy Sizemore born in Paintsville, Kentucky, 1928 (died 1985)

January 30:

Jeanne Pruett born in Pell City, Alabama, 1937 (now 71)
Norma Jean ("Pretty Miss Norma Jean") born in Wellston, Oklahoma, 1938 (now 70)
Harold Morrison born in High Lonesome, Missouri, 1931 (died 1993)
Melvin Endsley born in Drasco, Arkansas, 1934 (died 2004)
Ott Devine died (unknown cause), 1994 (was 83)

January 31:

Lynwood Lunsford of Lost & Found born in Roxboro, North Carolina, 1962 (now 46)
Warren Smith died (heart attack), 1981 (was 47)

Monday, January 07, 2008

A Producer's Producer

Category: News

From California comes the sad news that Ken Nelson, the brilliant Capitol Records producer responsible for sounds as diverse as the Louvin Brothers' "When I Stop Dreaming" and Sonny James' "Young Love," has died.

Nelson was originally an A&R man at Capitol, but he moved into music production in the 1940s. He produced most of the Louvin Brothers' Capitol Records songs. Nelson was also an important figure in the creation of the Country Music Association.

However, as a producer, Nelson may best be remembered for his work on the west coast instead of in Nashville. As Capitol's headquarters were in Hollywood, Nelson was headquartered there and found no shortage of classic artists to work with. He produced Hank Thompson, Wynn Stewart, Merle Haggard, Buck Owens, Rose Maddox, Ferlin Husky, Jean Shepard, and many others who were California-based in the 1950s.

Charlie Louvin also told Louvin Brothers biographer that Nelson contributed to the undoing of the Louvin Brothers. Before the session that produced the song "My Baby's Gone" in 1957, Nelson complained about Ira Louvin's mandolin playing, blaming the sound of the mandolin -- not the advent of rock and roll -- for the declining sales of Louvin Brothers records. Ira took it personally. He confined his mandolin playing to Gospel recordings and live shows after Nelson's remark. Unfortunately, according to Charlie, Ira replaced his mandolin with booze and began drinking much worse after Nelson's comment.

Ken Nelson retired from producing records in the mid-1970s. In 2001, he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame (along with the Louvin Brothers and eight other acts).

Ken Nelson was 96.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Trivia for January 6

Category: News

January 6 is the 84th birthday of Earl Eugene Scruggs.

To say that Earl Scruggs revolutionized banjo playing is an understatement. If every country guitarist wanted to be like Chet, it's a shoo-in that every bluegrass banjo player wants to be Earl.

Happy birthday, Earl, and many more!

Earl's web site

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Cherryholmes, Newest Kentucky Colonels, Chase Away Post-Holiday Blues

Category: Review

There's nothing like bluegrass music to drive away the holiday blahs. The Cherryholmes family brought their traditional bluegrass to the Shepherdsville, Kentucky Country Music Place on December 28 and provided a late Christmas present.

Watching Cherryholmes perform live is almost like attending a "figure 8" stock car race: with the dancing and moving around one another to reach one of three microphone to take a solo or chime in harmony, one is just waiting for someone to bump into another. No accidents occur, however, which is probably the result of many years of practice around the house.

Jere Cherryholmes, his wife Sandy, and four children have matured considerably since they first played at the Shepherdsville Country Music Place in 2003. This i
s no longer a "novelty" act with the "cute kids" playing music. The children are growing up (especially Molly Kate, who has developed a beautiful, delicate voice) and have moved from "child prodigies" to simply "great musicians." People can no longer just classify this as a family playing bluegrass. They are a bona fide, superb bluegrass band that happens to be a family unit. Their IBMA awards (2005's Entertainers of the Year) and Grammy nominations (including a new nomination for their most recent release, Black and White) proclaim their greatness as an act.

Another bright accolade for the band is their strong songwriting skills. They have moved from performing covers (as many bluegrass bands do on initial releases) to an album where most of the material was written by members in the band. "My True Love," which Sandy wrote (Jere said he couldn't understand his wife writing a song like this and not mentioning him, to which she replied, "I couldn't find any words that rhymed with 'bald' and 'gray beard'!"), is particularly enjoyable.

The twin fiddles of Molly Kate and B.J. (who, according to Jere, now wants to be known as "Esteban" or "Mr. X") are still the highlight of the show. Many bluegrass bands perform "Orange Blossom Special," but not with two fiddlers. It was an absolute show-stopper. An a cappella version of "Oh Mary Don't You Weep" was also outstanding, and Molly Kate's rendition of "Sweet Hour of Prayer" was positively spine-tingling.

With all the musical presents Cherryholmes handed out, they also received a belated holiday present: all six members were made members of the Order of Kentucky Colonels. Molly Kate is the youngest songwriter in BMI history, and she now also stands as the youngest Kentucky Colonel in the history of that organization.

Members of Cherryholmes receiving their certificates
as Kentucky Colonels during show intermission

Jere Cherryholmes thanked the capacity crowd (a major improvement from their first performance in Shepherdsville, when fewer than 50 people showed up) for supporting "Jere's kids." With the outstanding music and energy this group gives, there is no reason to not support them, now and for years to come.

Kentucky Colonels website
Cherryholmes Family website