Thursday, February 28, 2008

Dates of Note in Country Music, March 1-15

Category: News

March 1:

Janis Oliver of Sweethearts of the Rodeo born in Manhattan Beach, California, 1954 (now 54)
Sara Hickman born in Jacksonville, North Carolina, 1963 (now 45)
Clinton Gregory born in Martinsville, Virginia, 1966 (now 42)
Cliffie Stone born in Stockton, California, 1917 (died 1998)
Pearl Butler died (unknown cause), 198 (was 61)
Johnny Cash wed June Carter Smith Nix in Franklin, Kentucky, 1968
California governor Ronald Reagan issues a full pardon to Merle Haggard, 1972

March 2:

Doc Watson born in Deep Gap, North Carolina, 1923 (now 85)
Larry Stewart born in Paducah, Kentucky, 1959 (now 49)
Lonnie Glosson died (natural causes), 2001 (was 93)

March 3:

John Carter Cash born in Madison, Tennessee, 1970 (now 38)
Jimmy Heap born in Taylor, Texas, 1922 (died 1977)
Kyle Bailes died (unknown cause), 1996 (was 80)
Harlan Howard died (heart attack), 2002 (was 74)
Benefit concert for DJ "Cactus" Jack Call held in Kansas City, Missouri, 1963. Among those performing: Patsy Cline, Hawkshaw Hawkins, Cowboy Copas, Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper, George Jones, and Billy Walker.

March 4:

Betty Jack Davis born in Corbin, Kentucky, 1932 (died 1953)
John Duffey of the Country Gentlemen and Seldom Scene born in Washington, DC, 1934 (died 1996)
Scotty Stoneman died (overdose of prescription medication), 1973 (was 40)
Minnie Pearl died (complications from stroke), 1996 (was 83)
Eddie Dean died (emphysema), 1999 (was 91)

March 5:

Raymond Fairchild born in Cherokee, North Carolina, 1939 (now 69)
Jimmy Bryant born in Moultrie, Georgia, 1925 (died 1980)
Patsy Cline died (plane crash), 1963 (was 30)
Cowboy Copas died (plane crash), 1963 (was 59)
Hawkshaw Hawkins died (plane crash), 1963 (was 41)
Randy Hughes died (plane crash), 1963 (was 34). Hughes was Patsy Cline's manager and Cowboy Copas' son-in-law as well as the pilot of the ill-fated plane.
Anna Carter Davis, original member of the Chuck Wagon Gang and widow of Jimmie Davis, died (complications following a fall), 2004 (was 87)

March 6:

Red Simpson born in Higley, Arizona, 1934 (now 74)
Doug Dillard of the Dillards born in East St. Louis, Missouri, 1937 (now 71)
Skip Ewing born in Red Lands, California, 1964 (now 44)
Cliff Carlisle born in Mount Eden, Kentucky, 1904 (died 1983)
Bob Wills born in Turkey, Texas, 1905 (died 1975)
Jean Chapel of the Coon Creek Girls born in Neon, Kentucky, 1925 (died 1995)
George Jones critically injured in single-vehicle accident, 1999
The siege of the Alamo ended, 1836. Davy Crockett, subject of legendary song, was among those who died during the battle. Johnny Cash would memorialize the fight in his song "Remember the Alamo."

March 7:

Townes Van Zandt born in Fort Worth Texas, 1944 (died 1997)
Jack Anglin died (car wreck), 1963 (was 46)
Pee Wee King died (heart attack), 2000 (was 86)

March 8:

Jimmy Dormire of Confederate Railroad born in Ann Arbor, Michigan, 1960 (now 48)
Randy Meisner of Poco and the Eagles born in Scotts Bluff, Nebraska, 1946 (now 62)
Johnny Dollar born in Kilgore, Texas, 1933 (died 1986)
Jimmy Stoneman born of the Stoneman Family born in Washington, DC, 1937 (died 2002)
Lew DeWitt of the Statler Brothers born in Roanoke, Virginia, 1939 (died 1990)
Stuart Hamblen died (brain tumor), 1989 (was 80)

March 9:

Mickey Gilley born in Natchez, Mississippi, 1936 (now 72)
Jimmy Fadden of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band born in Long Beach, California, 1948 (now 60)
Ralph Sloan of the Ralph Sloan Dancers born in Wilson County, Tennessee, 1925 (died 1980)
George Burns died (natural causes), 1996 (was 100). The legendary actor had a country hit with "I Wish I Was Eighteen Again."
Chris LeDoux died (bile duct cancer), 2005 (was 56)
Final Saturday night Opry at the Ryman before the opening of the new Opry House, 1974

March 10:

Ralph Emery born in McEwen, Tennessee, 1933 (now 75)
Norman Blake born in Chattanooga, Tennessee, 1938 (now 70)
Johnnie Allan born in Rayne, Louisiana, 1938 (now 70)
Daryl Singletary born in Wigham, Georgia, 1971 (now 37)
Jethro Burns born in Knoxville, Tennessee, 1920 (died 1989)
Soul singer James Brown guests on the Grand Ole Opry at the request of Porter Wagoner, 1979

March 11:

Jimmy Fortune of the Statler Brothers born in Williamsburg, Virginia, 1955 (now 53)
W. Lee "Pappy" O'Daniel of the Light Crust Doughboys born in Malta, Ohio, 1890 (died 1969)
Jim Boyd of the Cowboy Ramblers died (unknown cause), 1993 (was 78)

March 12:

Marshall Wilborn of the Johnson Mountain Boys and the Lynn Morris Band born in Austin, Texas, 1952 (now 56)
James Taylor born in Belmont, Massachusetts, 1948 (now 60). The legendary rock superstar wrote "Bartender's Blues" and sang with George Jones on Jones' recording of the tune.
Ralph Sloan died (unknown illness), 1980 (was 55)

March 13:

Liz Anderson born in Roseau, Minnesota, 1930 (now 78)
Jan Howard born in West Plains, Missouri, 1930 (now 78)
Benny Martin died (nerve disorder/illness), 2001 (was 72)
Ezra Carter marries Maybelle Addington, 1926

March 14:

Michael Martin Murphy born in Oak Cliff, Texas, 1945 (now 63)
Doc Pomus died (lung cancer), 1991 (was 65)
Dale Potter died (cancer), 1996 (was 66)
Tommy Collins died (emphysema), 2000 (was 69)
Jimmy Martin died (cancer), 2005 (was 77)

March 15:

Carl Smith born in Maynardville, Tennessee, 1927 (now 81)
D.J. Fontana born in Shreveport, Louisiana, 1931 (now 77)
Gunilla Hutton of Hee Haw born in Goteborg, Sweden, 1946 (now 62)
Ry Cooder born in Los Angeles, California, 1947 (now 61)
The final Friday night Opry at the Ryman, 1974. The final song was the Opry cast singing "Will the Circle Be Unbroken."

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Death of a Forgotten Opry Star

Category: Obituary

Bobby Lord died February 16th after a lengthy illness. For most, if it was mentioned it was an afterthought, a long-forgotten Opry star with a few hits back in the 50s.

Bobby Lord has one top ten hit, "Without Your Love" in 1956. He had four other top 40 hits: "Yesterday's Letters," "Rainbow Girl," "You and Me Against the World," and "Wake Me Up Early in the Morning." He also had a syndicated television show, The Bobby Lord Show, in the late 60s and early 70s.

Lord retired from the business to his native Florida. There he became a successful real estate entrepreneur. He helped develop Nettles Island and Indian River Plantation estates. He also founded Stuart Insurance.

Although he had not been actively involved in country music for nearly 30 years, his passing is still a loss to the country music world.

Farewell to Bobby Lord, who passed away just six weeks after his 74th birthday.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

At LONG LAST It Has Happened!!

Category: News

For some reason, the announcement for the "class of 2008" Country Music Hall of Fame inductions was made today, rather than in August (when it has usually been, closer to the CMA nomination annoucements).

I am thrilled to death to post the class of 2008:

ERNEST V. STONEMAN: Shout bama-lama, it finally happened! A man whose popularity in the 1920s was crucial to the advacement of country music has finally gotten his just desserts.

THE STATLER BROTHERS: Another long overdue induction. One of country music's most enduring quartets, and one that transcended "country" for popular culture. Their song "Flowers on the Wall" was awarded a "contemporary ('rock and roll')" Grammy in 1965, which speaks volumes to their impact (and to the bewildering voting of the NARAS).

TOM T. HALL: I feared he would have to die to get inducted; however, the legendary "storyteller" is being inducted for his decades of hits of his own as well as writing others' hits (e.g., "Harper Valley P.T.A." by Jeannie C. Riley, "The Pool Shark," Dave Dudley's only #1 hit, and "(Margie's At the) Lincoln Park Inn" by Bobby Bare).

EMMYLOU HARRIS. Emmylou belongs in if for no other reason than, during the 1970s, she made it "cool" to proudly proclaim to listen to country music. Forget her career (which is significant enough to warrant induction). She was an ambassador for country music when most people were defining country as "I Honestly Love You."

Congratulations to the inductees.

And, THANK YOU, Hall of Fame voters!!!!

Dates of Note in Country Music, February 16-29

Category: News

February 16:

Ronnie Milsap born in Robbinsville, North Carolina, 1944 (now 64)
Jo-Walker Meador born in Orlinda, Tennessee, 1924 (now 84)
Jimmy Wakely born in Mineola, Arkansas, 1914 (died 1982)
Smiley Burnette died (leukemia), 1967 (was 55)

February 17:

Buck Trent born in Spartanburg, South Carolina, 1938 (now 70)
Johnny Bush born in Houston, Texas, 1935 (now 73)
Jon Randall born in Dallas, Texas, 1969 (now 39)
Bryan White born in Shellman, Georgia, 1974 (now 34)
Billy Byrd born in Nashville, Tennessee, 1920 (died 2001)
Gene Pitney born in Hartford, Connecticut, 1940 (died 2006). The rock and roll legend recorded two albums of duets with George Jones.
Uncle Jimmy Thompson died (natural causes), 1931 (was 82)
Eck Robertson died (natural causes), 1975 (was 87)
Gus Hardin died (car wreck), 1996 (was 50)

February 18:

Juice Newton born in Lakehurst Naval Station, New Jersey, 1952 (now 56)
Dudley Connell of the Johnson Mountain Boys born in Scheer, West Virginia, 1956 (now 52)
Pee Wee King born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 1914 (died 2000)
Tootsie Bess, owner of Tootsie's Orchid Lounge, died (cancer), 1978 (was 61)
Johnny Paycheck died (emphysema), 2003 (was 64)

February 19:

Lorianne Crook born in Wichita, Kansas, 1957 (now 51)
Cedric Rainwater (real name: Howard Watts) born in Monticello, Florida, 1913 (died 1970)
Grandpa Jones died (stroke), 1998 (was 84)
Porter Wagoner and Dolly Parton officially break up, 1974

February 20:

Kathie Baillie of Baillie & the Boys born in Morristown, New Jersey, 1951 (now 57)
Claire Lynch born in Albany, New York, 1954 (now 54)

February 21:

Mary-Chapin Carpenter born in Princeton, New Jersey, 1958 (now 50)
Don Reno born in Spartanburg, South Carolina, 1926 (died 1984)

February 22:

Del Wood born in Nashville, Tennessee, 1920 (died 1989)
During a concert in London, Ontario, Johnny Cash asked June Carter to marry him, 1968

February 23:

Buck Griffin born in Corsicana, Texas, 1923 (now 85)
Rusty Young of Poco born in Long Beach, California, 1946 (now 62)
Minnie Pearl married Henry Cannon, 1947

February 24:

Little Roy Lewis of the Lewis Family born in Lincoln County, Georgia, 1942 (now 66)
Don Law born in London, England, 1902 (died 1982)
Webb Pierce died (cancer), 1991 (was 69)
Goldie Hill Smith died (cancer), 2005 (was 72)
Dinah Shore died (cancer), 1994 (was 77). The legendary pop singer and TV hostess was part of the family of live performers on WSM radio.

February 25:

Dr. Ralph Stanley born in Stratton, Virginia, 1927 (now 81)
Faron Young born in Shreveport, Louisiana, 1932 (died 1996)

February 26:

Jan Crutchfield born in Paducah, Kentucky, 1936 (now 72)
Billy Jack Wills born in Hall County, Texas, 1926 (died 1991)
Johnny Cash born in Kingsland, Arkansas, 1932 (died 2003)

February 27:

Chuck Glaser of the Glaser Brothers born in Spalding, Nebraska, 1936 (now 72)
Walter Bailes died (various health problems), 2000 (was 80)

February 28:

Don Helms born in New Brockton, Alabama, 1927 (now 81)
Joe South born in Atlanta, Georgia, 1940 (now 68)
James R. Denney born in Silver Point, Tennessee, 1911 (died 1963)
Audrey Williams born in Banks, Alabama, 1923 (died 1975)
Bunny Biggs of Jamup & Honey died (unknown causes), 1948 (was 52)
Fiddlin' Arthur Smith died (unknown causes), 1971 (was 72)

February 29:

Dinah Shore born in Winchester, Tennessee, 1916 (died 1994)

Monday, February 11, 2008

Charlie Louvin Good Quote of the Day

Category: News

If anyone should have a "book of quotes" published, it's Country Hall of Famer Charlie Louvin. He's come up with some doozies in his time (including one of my personal favorites, "Anymore, CMA stands for 'country, my ass!'").

This one was from the February 10th Nashville Tennessean:

"You have to go by your taste. I don't believe you're required to say why you like banana pudding or why you like Red Foley. If you don't like it, you shouldn't sing it."

Amen, Brother Charlie.

Missing From the CD Reissues

Category: Review

Last week I was transferring some albums onto CD. One of my favorites was in the pile, and it made me wonder: why do I have to put this on CD? Why hasn't it been reissued?

The album in question is At the Country Club, the 1960 live album by Homer and Jethro. This album is a riot. It begins with Archie Campbell introducing the duo as "one of the biggest has-beens in the business" before Homer and Jethro take the stage, with Jethro introducing themselves as "the Everly Brothers of the Stone Age." From there, it only gets funnier. "The Billboard Song," "The Battle of Kookamonga," and "How Much is That Hound Dog in the Window" are all here, along with many others and marvelous between-song banter (barbs and jabs) that shows just why these two extremely underrated musicians and funny men were inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2001.

That brings up an interesting point. Homer and Jethro stand as the one Hall of Fame act with the fewest issues on CD. When Richard Weitz attended the ICMC conference in 2007, I specifically asked him about the possibility of a Homer and Jethro box set. He replied, "No, I can't. I'd lose money." That's sad, because people need to know just where Weird Al learned to spoof.

Perhaps someday some record label, be it RCA (their original label) or an overseas reissue company will see fit to put one or two of Homer and Jethro's albums out on CD. If so, here's hoping they begin with At the Country Club. This is not just a funny Homer and Jethro album, it's a great, funny album by anyone's standards.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

The Day the Music Died and Affected Country Music

Category: Memorial

But something touched me deep inside
The day the music died

-- Don McLean, "American Pie"

February 3, 1959 is still regarded, 49 years after the fact, as one of the darkest days in the history of rock and roll. Three stars, 17-year-old Ritchie Valens, 22-year-old Buddy Holly, and 28-year-old J.P. "Big Bopper" Richardson, perished in a plane crash en route to the next stop on their "Winter Dance Party" tour. What many people don't talk about is what a loss to country music occurred that fateful early morning near Mason City, Iowa.

Jiles Perry Richardson was a disc jockey and a songwriter. He wrote a number of songs that have become staples in country music, chief among them, "White Lightnin'." J.P. Richardson and George Jones were very good friends. Jones played guitar and sang background vocals (along with Richardson) on Johnny Preston's only #1 hit, "Running Bear" (which Richardson wrote). Ten years after Preston's version was a pop hit, Sonny James made a #1 country hit out of the song.

Richardson may be dismissed as a novelty songwriter because of songs like "Running Bear," "White Lightnin'," and his own hit as "The Big Bopper" (the song that put him on the ill-fated tour), "Chantilly Lace." That's a gross misrepresentation of the man's talents. Only 28 when he died, he left a treasure trove of songs he had written. He also wrote Jones' song "The Treasure of Love" and Hank Snow's beautiful ballad, "Beggar to a King."

It is unfair to refer to "the day the music died" as a "rock and roll" tragedy, for country music lost an important songwriter as well. Indeed, all of music suffered that day.