Saturday, May 31, 2008

Dates of Note in Country Music, June 1-15

Category: News

June 1:

Dale Warren of the Sons of the Pioneers born in Summerville, Kentucky, 1925 (now 83)
Andy Griffith born in Mount Airy, North Carolina, 1926 (now 82)
Pat Boone born in Jacksonville, Florida, 1934. The legendary pop crooner married Red Foley's daughter Shirley.
Hazel Dickens born in Mercer County, West Virginia, 1935 (now 73)
Wayne Kemp born in Greenwood, Arkansas, 1941 (now 67)
Ronnie Dunn of Brooks & Dunn born in Coleman, Texas, 1953 (now 55)
Elsie McWilliams born in Harperville, Mississippi, 1896 (died 1985)
Johnny Bond born in Enville, Oklahoma, 1915 (died 1978)
Lee Allen of the Allen Brothers born in Sewanee, Tennessee, 1906 (died 1981)
Jimmy Murphy died (unknown cause), 1981 (was 55)

June 2:

Carl Butler born in Knoxville, Tennessee, 1927 (died 1992)
Helen Carter died (heart failure), 1998 (was 70)
Adolph Hofner died (illness), 2000 (was 83)

June 3:

Fred "Too Slim" LeBour of Riders in the Sky born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1948 (now 60)
Jamie O'Neal born in Sydney, Australia, 1968 (now 40)
Curly Williams born in Cairo, Georgia, 1914 (died 1970)
Boots Randolph born in Paducah, Kentucky, 1927 (died 2007)
Wally Fowler died (drown), 1994 (was 77)
Van Stoneman of the Stoneman Family died (Parkinson's disease), 1995 (was 54)

June 4:

Linda Martell born in Leesville, South Carolina, 1941 (now 67). She was the first Black female artist to perform on the Grand Ole Opry.
Texas Ruby Owens born in Wise County, Texas, 1910 (died 1963)
Freddy Fender born in San Benito, Texas, 1937 (died 2006)
Zeke Clement died (unknown cause), 1994 (was 82)
John Hartford died (cancer), 2001 (was 63)
Alabama's annual "June Jam" concert began in Fort Payne, Alabama, 1982

June 5:

Don Reid of the Statler Brothers born in Staunton, Virginia, 1945 (now 63)
Gail Davies born in Broken Bow, Oklahoma, 1948 (now 60)
William "Hopalong Cassidy" Boyd born in Cambridge, Ohio, 1895 (died 1972)
Hal Lone Pine born in Pea Cove, Maine, 1916 (died 1977)
Lonzo Sullivan died (heart attack), 1967 (was 48)
Conway Twitty died (abdominal aneurysm), 1993 (was 59)
Ronald Reagan died (complications of Alzheimer's disease), 2004 (was 93). While governor of California, the former president signed a full pardon for former convict Merle Haggard.
Grand Ole Opry's first performance at the Ryman auditorium, 1943

June 6:

Joe Stampley born in Springhill, Louisiana, 1943 (now 65)
Gid Tanner of the Skillet Lickers born in Thomas Bridge, Georgia, 1885 (died 1960)
Asher Sizemore born in Manchester, Kentucky, 1906 (died 1973)
Charlie Cline of the Lonesome Pine Fiddlers born in Gilbert, West Virginia, 1931 (died 2004)
Claudette Orbison, wife of Roy Orbison, died (motorcycle accident), 1966 (was 24)
Grant Turner began his tenure as Grand Ole Opry announcer, 1944

June 7:

Sir Tom Jones born in Treforest, South Wales, 1940 (now 68). The legendary pop/rock singer had a hit with a cover of "Green, Green Grass of Home" in 1967 and hit the country charts with "Say You'll Stay Until Tomorrow" in 1977.
Larry Boone born in Cooper City, Florida, 1956 (now 52)
Dean Martin born in Steubenville, Ohio, 1917 (died 1995). The pop crooner recorded two albums of country music on Reprise in the early 60s and sang with Ricky Nelson in the John Wayne classic Rio Bravo in 1969.
Wynn Stewart born in Morrisville, Missouri, 1934 (died 1985)
Courtney Johnson of New Grass Revival died (lung cancer), 1996 (was 56)

June 8:

Vernon Oxford born in Rogers, Arkansas, 1941 (now 67)
Adolph Hofner born in Moulton, Texas, 1916 (died 2000)
Alton Delmore died (alcohol-related illness), 1964 (was 55)
Roba Stanley died (unknown cause), 1986 (was 76). She is credited as being the first female solo artist recorded in country music history (1924).
Tommy Perkins of the Texas Playboys died (car accident), 2003 (was 69)

June 9:

Les Paul born in Waukesha, Wisconsin, 1915 (now 93). In addition to his recordings with wife Mary Ford, Paul invented the solid-body electric guitar and multi-track recording.

June 10:

Herman Crook of the Crook Brothers died (heart attack), 1988 (was 89)
Steve Sanders, who replaced William Lee Golden in the Oak Ridge Boys for 15 years, died (suicide), 1998 (was 45)
Ray Charles died (complications of liver disease), 2004 (was 73). Charles made the country charts in the 80s with duets with George Jones and Willie Nelson, and his ground-breaking 1963 album Modern Sounds in Country Music presented country songs to a wide audience.

June 11:

Edwin Duhon of the Hackberry Ramblers born in Lafayette, Louisiana, 1910 (died 2006)
Brother Dave Gardner born in Jackson, Tennessee, 1926 (died 1983)
Jud Strunk born in Jamestown, New York, 1936 (died 1981)
Wilma Burgess born in Orlando, Florida, 1939 (died 2003)
John Wayne died (cancer), 1979 (was 72). The actor has been referenced in a number of country songs.

June 12:

Junior Brown born in Kirksville, Indiana, 1952 (now 55)
Rebecca Holden born in Austin, Texas, 1958 (now 50)
Penny Jay born in Monteagle Mountain, Tennessee, 1927 (died 2006)
Dr. Humphrey Bate of the Possum Hunters died (unknown cause), 1936 (was 61)
J.E. Mainer died (heart attack), 1971 (was 72)
Johnny Bond died (heart attack), 1978 (was 63)

June 13:

Howard Vokes born in Clearfield, Pennsylvania, 1931 (now 77)
Slim Dusty born in Kempsey, Australia, 1927 (died 2003)

June 14:

Burl Ives born in Newton, Illinois, 1909 (died 1995)
Lash LaRue born in Gretna, Louisiana, 1917 (died 1996). The Western actor was the first sidekick to western singer/actor/songwriter Eddie Dean and was mentioned in the Statler Brothers' "Whatever Happened to Randolph Scott."
Ernest V. "Pop" Stoneman died (illness), 1968 (was 75)
Patsy Cline suffered serious injuries in a car accident, 1961

June 15:

Terri Gibbs born in Miami, Florida, 1954 (now 54)
Blind Alfred Reed born in Floyd, Virginia, 1880 (died 1956)
Tex Owens born in Killeen, Texas, 1892 (died 1962)
Marvin Hughes born in Nashville, Tennessee, 1911 (died 1986)
Leon Payne born in Alba, Texas, 1917 (died 1969)
Waylon Jennings born in Littlefield, Texas, 1937 (died 2002)
Ruby Falls died (unknown cause), 1986 (was 40)
The summer replacement show for the CBS variety series The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour began airing, 1969. That show was Hee Haw.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Most Important Book

Category: News

The International Country Music Conference's (ICMC) Charles K. Wolfe Memorial Panel, held on Friday, May 23, celebrated the publishing of what can easily be considered the most important book on country music in the history of country music. The 40th anniversary of the publication of Country Music, USA was commemorated with a panel that included the book's author, Dr. Bill C. Malone.

With hundreds, if not thousands, of books on country music, rock and roll, punk, R&B, and all other forms of popular music sitting on the shelf at the book store or in's database, one might shrug and wonder just why one book is so important. The answer to that question is simple: before Country Music, USA, there simply were no books on country music. Malone chose the history of country music as the topic for his Ph.D. dissertation in 1962 at the University of Texas. To say his topic raised a few eyebrows is an understatement: in academia, writing about "music" meant one was writing about classical music. Popular music was unworthy of scholarly investigation and coverage.

Bill C. Malone autographs his ground-
breaking book
Country Music, USA
at ICMC.

Anyone, from the most educated scholar (the late Dr. Wolfe, for whom the panel was named) to the lowliest country music blogger (that would be me), who has ever put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard and combined the eight parts of speech into sentences and paragraphs about country music owes a debt of gratitude to Dr. Malone for his work. He did not just open the door for other books, he kicked the door down, splintering with it the stereotypes that country music (or any other genre) was unapproachable on an academic level. Because Dr. Malone's dissertation was published, people saw that Beethoven and Mozart or the Baroque and Romantic eras of classical music were not the default definition of "a book about music." Serious works on rock, jazz, the blues, and all sub-genres of popular music have been published because Malone showed it could be done (and successfully).

Nearly any work on country music published in the last four decades will have Country Music, USA referenced in the bibliography section. More than that, every work on country music exists because Malone had the foresight to chronicle country and western music for all to read about.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

A Big Ol' Ay-EEE!

Category: News

"ICMC is the only organization to acknowledge this," Kevin Fontenot said ruefully at the beginning of the keynote address he and Ryan Brasseaux presented at the International Country Music Conference on Thursday evening.

"This" is the celebration of the 80th anniversary of the recording of "Allons a Lafayette" (commonly called just "Lafayette"), Joe Falcon (pronounced "falc-OWN") and Cleoma Breaux's song from April 27, 1928 that is universally recognized as the first recording in Cajun music.

Why is this important? For starters, there would have been no "Down at the Twist and Shout" by Mary-Chapin Carpenter or "Tear Stained Letter" by Jo-El Sonnier. The first record ever broadcast from space would have been something other than Doug Kershaw's "Louisiana Man," because Cajun would not exist. Far above that, however, it is important for any genre to recognize its heritage. The first recording of Cajun music is just as important as the recording of "Sally Gooden" by Eck Robertson in 1922 is to country music or "Rocket 88" is to rock and roll.

Fontenot said he begged the New Orleans Jazz Festival to do something to acknowledge the 80th anniversary of "Lafayette." No one in Louisiana was interested, however, which is puzzling given Cajun music's unbreakable bond to the state.

The two authors gave a presentation that included a biography of Joe Falcon (September 28, 1900 - November 19, 1965) and his wife, Cleoma Breaux (May 27, 1906 - April 9, 1941) and samples of their music. The ground-breaking recording was played, of course. There is nothing quite as awe-inspiring for a fan of music to listen to historical recordings.

Fontenot and Brasseaux have published numerous works on Cajun music individually and collectively, including Accordions, Fiddles, Two-Step & Swing: A Cajun Music Reader (2006). Brasseaux has a book, Cajun Breakdown, due out next year.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

ICMC Opens on Thursday

Category: News

The 25th annual International Country Music Conference (ICMC) opens at 1 PM on Thursday, May 22. The three days will commemorate the following:

  • The 25th anniversary of ICMC, featuring two presenters from the first ICMC in 1984.
  • The 40th anniversary of Bill Malone's groundbreaking work Country Music USA. The book will be the subject of the Charles K. Wolfe Memorial Panel and will include Dr. Malone.
  • The 60th anniversary of Hank Williams' classic song "Lovesick Blues."
  • The 60th anniversary of the Louisiana Hayride.
  • The 75th anniversary of the death of Father of Country Music Jimmie Rodgers.
  • The 80th anniversary of the first Cajun recording.
Belmont University is the host site this year, and the "special feature" will be a tour of Owen Bradley's legendary Quonset Hut.

Presenters include host Dr. James Akenson, Ronnie Pugh, No Depression magazine's Barry Mazor, and Dr. John Rumble of the Country Music Hall of Fame. Other topics will include Kinky Friedman, the last years of Tommy Collins, Vernon Dalhart, and a comparison of the music of Faron Young and Marty Robbins.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Dates of Note in Country Music, May 16-31

Category: News

May 16:

Rick Trevino born in Austin, Texas, 1971 (now 37)

May 17:

Penny DeHaven born in Winchester, Virginia, 1948 (now 60)
Grant Turner born in Abeline, Texas, 1912 (died 1991)
Paul Warren born in Lyles, Tennessee, 1918 (died 1978)
Red Smiley of Reno & Smiley born in Marshall, North Carolina, 1925 (died 1984)
Wiley Walker of Wiley & Gene died (unknown causes), 1966 (was 54)
New Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum building opened, 2001

May 18:

Leon Ashley born in Newton County, Georgia, 1936 (now 72)
Rodney Dillard of the Dillards born in East St. Louis, Illinois, 1942 (now 66)
Joe Bonsall of the Oak Ridge Boys born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1948 (now 60)
Gary Scruggs born in Knoxville, Tennessee, 1949 (now 59)
George Strait born in Poteet, Texas, 1952 (now 56)

May 19:

Martha Carson born in Neon, Kentucky, 1921 (died 2004)
Mickey Newberry born in Houston, Texas, 1940 (died 2002)

May 20:

"Lonesome George" Gobel born in Chicago, Illinois, 1919 (died 1991). Although many may remember him as a comedian and regular on Hollywood Squares, one of Gobel's earliest jobs in entertainment was on the WLS National Barn Dance when he was a teenager in the 1930s.

May 21:

Charlie Poole died (heart failure), 1931 (was 39)
Billy Walker died (car wreck), 2006 (was 77)
Vaughn Monroe died (post-operative complications), 1973 (was 61). Among the pop singer's many hits was "(Ghost) Riders in the Sky."

May 22:

Miggie Lewis of the Lewis Family born in Richmond County, Georgia, 1926 (now 82)
Buddy Alan born in Mega, Arizona, 1948 (now 60)
Rich Alves of Pirates of the Mississippi born in Pleasanton, California, 1953 (now 55)
Ralph S. Peer born in Independence, Missouri, 1892 (died 1960)
Royce Kendall died (stroke), 1988 (was 63)

May 23:

Mac Wiseman born in Crimora, Virginia, 1925 (now 83)
Ken Irwin, co-founder of Rounder Records, born in New York, New York, 1944 (now 64)
Misty Morgan born in Buffalo, New York, 1945 (now 63)
Shelley West born in Cleveland, Ohio, 1958 (now 50)
Rosemary Clooney born in Maysville, Kentucky, 1928 (died 2002). The legendary pop singer recorded a number of country songs, including covering Carl Smith's hit "If Teardrops Were Pennies."
Rex Gosdin died (heart attack), 1983 (was 45)

May 24:

Mike Reid born in Aliquippa, Pennsylvania, 1947 (now 61)
Rosanne Cash born in Memphis, Tennessee, 1955 (now 53)
Billy Gilman born in Westerly, Rhode Island, 1988 (now 20). Gilman's "One Voice" hit #1 when he was 12, making him the youngest person in Billboard country chart history to have a #1 song.
Gene Clark of the Byrds and Dillard & Clark died (bleeding ulcer), 1991 (was 46)
Jimmie Rodgers recorded "Old Love Letters (Bring Memories of You)," "Mississippi Delta Blues," "Somewhere Down Below the Dixon Line," and "Years Ago" in New York City, 1933. Ravaged with tuberculosis, they would serve as the final recordings of the Father of Country Music.

May 25:

Tom T. Hall born in Olive Hill, Kentucky, 1936 (now 72)
Jessi Colter born in Phoenix, Arizona, 1947 (now 61)
Dr. Humphrey Bate of the Possum Hunters born in Castallian Springs, Tennessee, 1875 (died 1936)
Ernest V. "Pop" Stoneman born in Monarat, Virginia, 1893 (died 1968)

May 26:

Levon Helm of the Band born in Marvell, Arkansas, 1940 (now 68). The actor and drummer/singer for the Band made his acting debut in Coal Miner's Daughter.
Hank Williams Jr. born in Shreveport, Louisiana, 1949 (now 59)
Jimmie Rodgers died (tuberculosis), 1933 (was 35)
Onie Wheeler died (heart attack), 1984 (was 62). He died on the Grand Ole Opry stage during a performance of the post-Friday Night Opry show, Grand Ole Gospel.

May 27:

Don Williams born in Floydada, Texas, 1939 (now 69)
Redd Stewart born in Ashland City, Tennessee, 1921 (died 2003)
Kenny Price born in Florence, Kentucky, 1931 (died 1987)
Opryland opened, 1972 (died 1997)

May 28:

John Fogerty born in Berkeley, California, 1945 (now 63). The leader of Creedence Clearwater Revival recorded an album of country songs under the pseudonym Blue Ridge Rangers in 1973, hitting the country chart with his rendition of "Jambalaya."
Jerry Douglas born in Warren, Ohio, 1956 (now 52)
Phil Vassar born in Lynchburg, Virginia, 1965 (now 43)
Gary Stewart born in Jenkins, Kentucky, 1945 (died 2003)

May 29:

Carl Story born in Lenoir, North Carolina, 1916 (died 1995)
Hank and Audrey Williams divorce, 1952

May 30:

Lewis Crook of the Crook Brothers born in Trousdale County, Tennessee, 1909 (died 1996)
Karl Davis of Karl & Harty died (cancer), 1979 (was 73)

May 31:

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

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Bus Crash Claims Southern Gospel Legend

Category: Obituary

Joyce "Dottie" Rambo, a Southern Gospel legend and Hall of Fame member, was killed on Mother's Day when a wind gust estimated at 50 MPH blew her tour bus off the road in southwestern Missouri and into an embankment.

Rambo hailed from Morgantown, Kentucky. She contributed over 2,500 Gospel songs to the world, many of which were covered by country artists. The Browns recorded "When I Lift Up My Head" in the early 60s; Elvis recorded "If That Isn't Love" in 1973; and the Whites recorded two Dottie Rambo songs on their Doing It By the Book release in the late 90s. Dolly Parton, a big fan, both recorded Rambo's songs and sang duets with her.

An album that is tentatively scheduled for release this summer, Sheltered, includes a duet, "Sheltered in the Arms of God," with the late Porter Wagoner.

Dottie Rambo was 74.

Stubbs to Honor Eddy Arnold

Category: News

WSM's evening DJ and country music historian extraordinaire Eddie Stubbs will devote his May 14th show to Eddy Arnold. The show will air from 7-midnight central time.

The tribute can be heard on WSM's web site (click "listen live").

Saturday, May 10, 2008

A Bad Week for Country Music Gets Worse

Category: Obituary

For the third time this week, country music fans are in mourning.

Jerry Wallace, the man who had 1960s pop and 1970s country hits including "In the Misty Moonlight," died of congestive heart failure Monday (May 5) in Victorville, California.

Wallace scored a number of pop hits in the 1960s including the aforementioned Cindy Walker song, "Swingin' Down the Lane," "Shutters and Boards," and "Primrose Lane." In 1972, he recorded a song for an episode of Rod Serling's NIght Gallery. The song, "If You Leave Me Tonight, I'll Cry," was a #1 country hit and a top 40 pop hit and served to revive Wallace's career and transform him to primarily a country performer.

Jerry Wallace was 79.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Play "Humpback Mule," Daddy!

Category: Tribute

Gene King pointed to a picture on the cluttered wall of his cluttered King's Record Shop (the very one depicted on the cover of the Rosanne Cash album named in its honor). "You know who that is?" he asked, tapping the man in the white hat amid the musicians.

I squinted to see. The photo was an early 1940s picture of the Golden West Cowboys, the band fronted by Gene King's brother Pee Wee. "It's Eddy Arnold," I identified the man whose image was behind King's finger.

Calling Eddy Arnold just a country singer is like calling Billy Graham just a preacher. He was an American icon, a man whose importance to country music can be summarized in one of two simple ways.

First, he is, to date, the only person in country music history to be awarded the CMA "Entertainer of the Year" award after being inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. He was inducted in 1966 and won the award in 1967. That speaks volumes as to just how great his career was: in 1966, the year he was inducted into the Hall of Fame, he scored two #1 hits ("I Want to Go with You" and "Somebody Like Me"), plus had two more top five hits ("The Last Word in Lonesome is Me" and "The Tips of My Fingers"). He was also scoring pop hits (four of his songs made the pop top 40, the biggest being "Make the World Go Away" in 1965). To put this in perspective, remember just what was happening in music in 1966. It can be summed up in one word: Beatlemania. While other country artists were selling tens of thousands of copies (and were quite content with it), Arnold's sales were in the millions.

In good times and bad, both in the world of country music and the world in general, Eddy Arnold's records sold, and sold very well. The tally in the obits today is 85 million. Put that in perspective: Garth Brooks sold over 100 million in an era of videos, magazines, TV shows, cable channels, and records easily available everywhere. Eddy Arnold. on the other hand, had no CMT, no record store chains selling his records (for those who don't know, Ernest Tubb launched the famous Ernest Tubb Record Shop out of frustration over the fact that fans in the 1940s had a hard time locating country records in stores), no multimedia, internet blogging to help him along. To paraphrase John Houseman in that old commercial, Eddy Arnold did it the old-fashioned way: he earned it.

The second way to put Arnold's career in perspective is courtesy of Joel Whitburn, the author of numerous Billboard chart books. The Top Country Singles book has Eddy Arnold listed as the #1 singles artist on the country chart of all time. That's right, NO ONE -- not Billy Ray, Garth, or any hat-act-come-lately -- has overtaken him. The numbers are staggering, too: a total of 145 charted songs, 26 of which went to #1. In 1948, only six songs made it to #1 for the entire year. Five of them were by Eddy Arnold (the oddball was "One Has My Name (The Other Has My Heart)" by Jimmy Wakely): "Anytime," "Bouquet of Roses," "Texarkana Baby," "Just a Little Lovin' (Will God a Long Way)," and "A Heart Full of Love (For a Hand Full of Kisses)." He also had the last #1 song of 1947 ("I'll Hold You in My Heart [Till I Can Hold You in My Arms]"), so from November 1947 till November 1948, nobody but Eddy Arnold had a #1 song. Even the Beatles couldn't accomplish that at the height of their popularity.

I had two honored meetings with Eddy Arnold. First, I saw what may be the last time he sang on a stage, in May 2001. The Hall of Famers who were able attended the opening of the new Hall of Fame. As the ceremonies ended, Arnold started across the stage to leave and the band began playing "Anytime." Arnold stopped, went to a microphone, and began singing along. The band had to quickly change keys to accommodate Arnold's voice. It was short but magical.

The second came at last year's International Country Music Conference, when Eddy was the guest of honor for the Charles K. Wolfe Memorial Panel in a discussion of RCA's Studio B. He looked very good for an 89-year-old man, and he walked in under his own power. He regaled the crowd of 100 writers and students of country music with stories of his career and personal life. He spoke slowly, and he obviously had trouble hearing (longtime journalist Charlie Lamb, another panelist, repeated each question to Arnold after an audience member asked so Arnold could understand what was being asked). He did appear to have some problem (I've heard rumors that he had Alzheimer's), but it hardly mattered. He could have recited phone numbers and it would have been special. That may well be the last time Eddy Arnold made an "official" public appearance.

Eddy Arnold at ICMC, 2007

Apparently my first words in life were not "mommy" or "daddy." My parents both told me that, as a toddler, I would go to the record player and say, "Play 'Humpback Mule,' Daddy!" As a 2-year-old, I didn't know the title of the song was "The Richest Man in the World." Now, over 45 years later, I want to hear that song again. The lyrics would serve as a most fitting epitaph for a man who gladly shared his marvelous gift of music with the world:

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
I've got a humpback mule, a plow, and a tater patch

Eggs that are gonna hatch someday

I've got my Lord above and a good girl to love me

I'm the richest man in the world.

Richard Edward Arnold
May 15, 1918 - May 8, 2008

BREAKING: Eddy Arnold Dies

Category: News

Eddy Arnold has passed away, just one week short of his 90th birthday, according to his biographer.

Arnold died this morning (Thursday, May 8), less than two months after the passing of his wife of 65 years. Arnold injured his hip in a fall shortly after Sally Arnold's death in March.

More later, including a photo of Eddy at the ICMC Charles Wolfe Memorial Panel last year.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Half of "Hee Haw"'s Hager Twins Dies

Category: News/Obituary

Jim Hager, half of the singing/comedy duo the Hager Twins, died yesterday (May 1) in Nashville.

Hager collapsed at a Nashville coffee shop and died of an apparent heart attack according to Sam Lovullo, the producer of the long-running comedy/music program Hee Haw, where the Hager Twins made their name.

Jim and identical brother Jon Hager performed on Hee Haw for most of the show's history. They had five charted country songs (including an early version of Merle Haggard's song "Silver Wings"), but none made the top 40.

Jim Hager was 66.