Monday, June 30, 2008

Dates of Note in Country Music, July 1-15


July 1:

Keith Whitley born in Sandy Hook, KY, 1955 (died 1989)

July 2:

Marvin Rainwater born in Wichita, Kansas, 1925 (now 83)
Ken Curtis (one-time member of Sons of the Pioneers as well as Gunsmoke actor) born in Lamar, Colorado, 1916 (died 1991)

July 3:

Johnny Lee born in Texas City, Texas, 1946 (now 62)
Aaron Tippin born in Pensacola, Florida, 1958 (now 50)
Johnny Russell died (complications of diabetes), 2001 (was 61)

July 4:

Ray Pillow born in Lynchburg, Virginia, 1937 (now 71)
Charlie Monroe born in Rosine, Kentucky, 1903 (died 1975)
Marion Worth born in Birmingham, Alabama, 1930 (died 1999)
Big Al Downing died (leukemia), 2005 (was 65)

July 6:

Jeannie Seely born in Titusville, Pennsylvania, 1940 (now 68)
Roy Rogers died (heart failure), 1998 (was 86)

July 7:

Charlie Louvin born in Rainsville, Alabama, 1927 (now 81)
Lonzo Sullivan born in Edmonton, Kentucky, 1917 (died 1967)
Doyle Wilburn born in Hardy, Arkansas, 1930 (died 1982)
George Morgan died (heart attack), 1975 (was 50)

July 8:

Toby Keith born in Clinton, Oklahoma, 1961 (now 47)
Louis Jordan (a jazz artist who had two country #1 hits in 1944) born in Brinkley, Arkansas, 1908 (died 1975)

July 9:

Jesse McReynolds born in Coeburn, Virginia, 1929 (now 78)
David Ball born in Rock Hill, South Carolina, 1953 (now 55)
Eddie Dean born in Posey, Texas, 1907 (died 1999)
Molly O'Day born in Pike County, Kentucky, 1923 (died 1987)

July 10:

"Hawk" Shaw Wilson of BR5-49 born in Topeka, Kansas, 1960 (now 48)

July 12:

Jimmie Driftwood died (heart attack), 1998 (was 91)

July 13:

Rhonda Vincent born in Kirksville, Missouri, 1962 (now 46)
Bradley Kincaid born in Level, Kentucky, 1895 (died 1989)
Tim Spencer born in Webb City, Missouri, 1908 (died 1974)
Riley Puckett died (blood poisoning), 1946 (was 62)

July 14:

Woody Guthrie born in Okemah, Oklahoma, 1912 (died 1967)
Del Reeves born in Sparta, North Carolina, 1933 (died 2007)

July 15:

Johnny Sea born in Gulfport, Mississippi, 1940 (now 68)
Cowboy Copas born in Muskogee, Oklahoma, 1913 (died 1963)

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Samantha Brown Gets Kinky

Category: News/Review

Samantha Brown's new Travel Channel series is Passport to Great Weekends, where she continues her successful half-hour format (Passport to Europe and Passport to Latin America) with a new twist: weekend jaunts.

Her first two trips are Las Vegas and Austin. If you're a Kinky Friedman fan, do not miss the Austin episode. The legendary performer makes a quick appearance early in the show, and he's in typical Kinky form: smoking a cigar at 9 a.m. and responding to Brown's question about how he got the name "Kinky" by telling her his full name, complete with a bleeped part. There are also way too brief segments on the Austin music scene peppered throughout the episode.

The series airs frequently on the Travel Channel. Upcoming repeats are June 27 at 8:00 p.m., June 28 at midnight, June 29 at noon, and July 2 at 11:30 p.m. (all times eastern). A full list of air dates can be found at the Travel Channel's web site.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Dates of Note in Country Music, June 16-30

Category: News

June 16:

Billy "Crash" Craddock born in Greensboro, North Carolina, 1946 (now 62)
Bob Nolan of the Sons of the Pioneers died (heart attack), 1980 (was 72)

June 17:

Red Foley born in Blue Lick, Kentucky, 1910 (died 1968)
Stringbean (Dave Akeman) born in Annville, Kentucky, 1916 (died 1973)
Minnie Pearl suffered a stroke that ended her career, 1991

June 18:

Sir Paul McCartney born in Liverpool, England, 1942 (now 66). The legendary Beatle hit the country chart in 1974 with "Sally G." He was also introduced to a Friday Night Opry audience in 1974 by Roy Acuff, where McCartney proclaimed Nashville the "music capital of the universe."
Marty Haggard born in Bakersfield, California, 1958 (now 50)
Blake Shelton born in Ada, Oklahoma, 1976 (now 32)
Zeke Turner born in Lynchburg, Virginia, 1923 (died 2003)
Henry Maddox of the Maddox Brothers & Rose died (heart disease), 1974 (was 46)

June 19:

Doug Stone born in Marietta, Georgia, 1956 (now 52)
Howard Dixon of the Dixon Brothers born in Darlington, South Carolina, 1903 (died 1951)
Lester Flatt born in Sparta, Tennessee, 1914 (died 1979)
Pat Buttram born in Addison, Alabama, 1915 (died 1994)
Bobby Helms died (emphysema), 1997 (was 63)

June 20:

Anne Murray born in Springhill, Nova Scotia, 1945 (now 63)
Evelyn Mae Cox of the Cox Family born in Springhill, Louisiana, 1959 (now 49)
Jimmie Driftwood born in Mountain View, Arkansas, 1907 (died 1998)
T. Texas Tyler born in Mena, Arkansas, 1916 (died 1972)
Chet Atkins born in Luttrell, Tennessee, 1924 (died 2001)
Ira Louvin died (car wreck), 1965 (was 41)
Whitey Ford, the "Duke of Paducah," died (cancer), 1986 (was 85)

June 21:

Charlie Lamb born in Knoxville, Tennessee, 1921 (now 87)
Eddie Adcock born in Scottsville, Virginia, 1938 (now 70)
Leon Everette born in Aiken, South Carolina, 1948 (now 60)
Kathy Mattea born in Cross Lanes, West Virginia, 1959 (now 49)
Porter Howell of Little Texas born in Longview, Texas, 1964 (now 44)

June 22:

Peter Asher born in Williesden, Middlesex, England, 1944 (now 64). The former half of the pop duo Peter and Gordon was the producer of most of Linda Ronstadt's crossover hits.
Ralph S. Peer born in Independence, Missouri, 1892 (died 1960)
Kris Kristofferson born in Brownsville, Texas, 1936 (now 71)
Roy Drusky born in Atlanta, Georgia, 1930 (died 2004)
Elton Britt died (heart attack), 1972 (was 58)

June 23:

Zeb Turner born in Lynchburg, Virginia, 1915 (died 1978)
June Carter Cash born in Maces Springs, Virginia, 1929 (died 2003)

June 24:

Johnnie Bailes of the Bailes Brothers born in Kanawha County, West Virginia, 1918 (died 1989)
Foy Willing of Riders of the Purple Sage died (heart attack), 1978 (was 63)

June 25:

Jenifer Strait, daughter of George Strait, died (car wreck), 1986 (was 13)
Boudleaux Bryant died (cancer), 1987 (was 67)
Lew DeWitt retires from the Statler Brothers because of health issues, 1982
Billboard magazine renames the "Hillbilly" music chart the "Country and Western" chart, 1949

June 26:

Doc Williams born in Cleveland, Ohio, 1914 (now 94)
Kenny Baker born in Jenkins, Kentucky, 1926 (now 82)
Gretchen Wilson born in Granite City, Illinois, 1973 (now 35)
Colonel Tom Parker born in Breda, Netherlands, 1909 (died 1997). Before Elvis, Colonel Tom managed Hank Snow, Eddy Arnold, and Minnie Pearl.
Vernon Presley died (heart failure), 1979 (was 63)
Elvis Presley's final concert, at the Hoosier Dome in Indianapolis, 1977

June 27:

Lorrie Morgan born in Nashville, Tennessee, 1959 (now 49)
Elton Britt born in Marshall, Arkansas, 1913 (died 1972)
Rosalie Allen born in Old Forge, Pennsylavania, 1924 (died 2003)
Little Roy Wiggins born in Nashville, Tennessee, 1926 (died 1999)
Joe Maphis died (lung cancer), 1986 (was 65)
Bob Keeshan born in Lynbrook, New York, 1927 (died 2004). The Statler Brothers referenced Keeshan's best-known character in their hit "Flowers on the Wall:" "Smokin' cigarettes and watchin' Captain Kangaroo."

June 28:

George Morgan born in Waverly, Tennessee, 1924 (died 1975)
The WWVA Wheeling Jamboree began, 1940

June 29:

T. Tommy Cutrer born in Osyka, Mississippi, 1924 (died 1998)
Rosemary Clooney died (lung cancer), 2002 (was 74)

June 30:

Dwayne O'Brien of Little Texas born in Ada, Oklahoma, 1963 (now 45)
Doyle Holly born in Perkins, Oklahoma, 1936 (died 2007)
R.W. Blackwood of the Blackwood Brothers Quartet died (plane crash), 1954 (was 33)
Bill Lyles of the Blackwood Brothers Quartet died (plane crash), 1954 (age unknown)
Chet Atkins died (brain cancer), 2001 (was 77)

"None of Them Had Leo Jackson's Talent to Help"

Category: Obituary

One thing missing from the 16-CD box set on Jim Reeves from Bear Family, Welcome to My World, is the live album Jim Reeves on Stage, which was released in 1968. On that album, Reeves did some songs while impersonating the artists who made them famous. One of those songs was "One By One." Reeves introduced the song by saying his guitarist, Leo Jackson, was going to help out. "Lots of people have done this before," Reeves said, "but none of them had Leo Jackson's talent to help." Launching into the song, Reeves did Red Foley's part while Jackson impersonated Kitty Wells. It was funny -- and a very good impression.

George "Leo" Jackson died May 4th of a self-inflicted gunshot wound at his home in Nashville. Apparently, Jackson had been suffering from recurring back spasms that were terribly painful. He was given a medication that has listed, among its side effects, mental confusion. Friends and family are not sure whether it was the unbearable pain or the medication affecting his mental status that caused Jackson to end his life. Regardless, country music has lost a tremendous talent.

Leo Jackson was 18 when he was introduced to Jim Reeves shortly after Reeves' breakthrough hit "Mexican Joe." From that day until the day Reeves died in 1964 a musical partnership was forged, with only a temporary time-out for Jackson's stint in the Army interrupting things.

Following the plane crash that killed Reeves and his piano player/manager, Dean Manuel, Leo and the other surviving members of the Blue Boys toured in tribute to Jim and released albums on RCA. The band finally broke up in 1972, not because Reeves' popularity was waning but because Reeves' popularity was soaring thanks to re-releases and overdubs.

A gifted guitarist, Jackson became a very in-demand session musician. He performed on most of Alabama's albums and worked with Hank Williams, Jr. and Moe & Joe.

In the early 2000s Jackson was diagnosed with cancer, which he successfully fought. However, a back injury caused tremendous pain. According to one report, after a particularly nasty bout with the pain Jackson told a friend that he'd rather die than endure pain that terrible again.

Leo Jackson was 73.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Put Your Gun Away, Waylon

Category: Obituary

George Joseph Nowlan died Thursday, June 12th.


You may know him better by his stage name: Danny Davis.

Danny Davis wore many hats during his long career. He was a champion, professionally-trained trumpet player who performed with jazz great Gene Krupa while still a teenager. As he grew older, he also performed with the likes of Art Mooney and Bob Crosby. He also sang (Davis & the Brass released an album of vocal performances, How I Love Them Old Songs) with Merv Griffin's band.

Davis turned his attention to production in the 50s. One of his biggest successes was producing Connie Francis during her most successful periods for MGM. Davis was also credited with bringing Herman's Hermits to the attention of American record executives.

In the 60s, Davis was a producer in Nashville, leaning more and more toward country. Among his production credits were the album Jim Reeves...And Some Friends, the Don Gibson/Dottie West collaboration "Rings of Gold," and the song that nabbed Waylon Jennings a Grammy: "MacArthur Park."

Yes, that "MacArthur Park." The legend is that Jennings was so infuriated with the notion of recording the Jimmy Webb pop composition that, during the recording session, Jennings pulled a gun on Davis. (Waylon later denied the story.)

During the late 1960s Davis assembled a group of musicians to record instrumental versions of country songs. While that was not that unusual (Chet Atkins and Merle Travis released album after album of instrumental renditions of songs), what was unusual was the choice of instruments. Davis used trumpets and trombones, augmented with banjo, to create Danny Davis and the Nashville Brass.

The sound was well-received in the late 60s. Their second album, The Nashville Brass Featuring Danny Davis Play More Nashville Sounds, won a Grammy award. Davis also took home the "best instrumental group" CMA Award six years in a row from 1969 through 74.

Although the recorded popularity faded during the 70s, Davis and the Brass continued to tour. He only retired from performing a few years ago to his home in Nashville with his wife, Barbara, where he began work on a book.

A sad, "brassy down home" farewell to Danny Davis, who died June 12 of cardiac arrest at age 83.