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.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Dates of Note in Country Music, September 1-15

Category: News
(Hall of Fame members in bold)

September 1

Boxcar Willie born in Sterratt, Texas, 1931 (died 1999)
Johnny Mack Brown born in Dothan, Alabama, 1904 (died 1974). The western actor was the namesake of Lester "Roadhog" Moran and the Cadillac Cowboy's Live at the Johnny Mack Brown High School album.
Conway Twitty born in Friars Point, Mississippi, 1933 (died 1993)
Jerry Reed died (emphysema), 2008 (was 71)

September 2

Johnny Lee Wills born in Jewell, Texas, 1912 (died 1984)
Charline Authur born in Henrietta, Texas, 1929 (died 1987)
Grady Nutt born in Amarillo, Texas, 1934 (died 1982)

September 3

Tompall Glaser born in Spalding, Nebraska, 1933 (now 75)
Jimmy Riddle born in Dyersburg, Tennessee, 1918 (now 90)
Hank Thompson born in Waco, Texas, 1925 (died 2007)

September 4

Shot Jackson born in Wilmington, North Carolina, 1920 (died 1991)
Dottie West died (injuries from a car wreck), 1991 (was 58)
Carl Butler died (heart attack), 1992 (was 65)

September 5

The Country Music Association was founded, 1958

September 6

Mark Chesnutt born in Beaumont, Texas, 1963 (now 45)
David Allan Coe born in Akron, Ohio, 1939 (now 69)
Jeff Foxworthy born in Atlanta, Georgia, 1958 (now 50)
Mel McDaniel born in Checotah, Oklahoma, 1942 (now 66)
Zeke Clements born in Warrior, Alabama, 1911 (died 1994)
Ernest Tubb died (complications from emphysema), 1984 (was 70)
Autry Inman died (unknown cause), 1988 (was 59)
Roy Huskey Jr. died (cancer), 1997 (was 41)

September 7

Ronnie Dove born in Herndon, Virginia, 1940 (now 68)
Hubert Long died (brain tumor), 1972 (was 48)

September 8

Milton Brown born in Stephenville, Texas, 1903 (died 1936)
Patsy Cline born in Winchester, Virginia, 1932 (died 1963)
Harlan Howard born in Lexington, Kentucky, 1929 (died 2002)
Jimmie Rodgers born in Meridian, Mississippi, 1897 (died 1933)

September 9

Freddy Weller born in Atlanta, Georgia, 1947 (now 61)
Rodger Dale Tubb died (car wreck), 1938 (was 7 weeks old)
Bill Monroe died (stroke), 1996 (was 84)

September 10

Tommy Overstreet born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, 1937 (now 71)
Rosie Flores born in San Antonio, Texas, 1956 (now 52)
Luke Wills born in Memphis, Texas, 1920 (died 2000)

September 11

Jimmie Davis born in Beech Springs, Louisiana, 1899 (died 2000)
Randy Hughes born in Gum, Tennessee, 1928 (died 1963)
Lorne Greene died (pneumonia), 1987 (was 72). The actor's recitation "Ringo" was a top 25 country hit in 1964.
Leon Payne died (heart attack), 1969 (was 52)
Bill (ne Homer) Callahan of the Callahan Brothers died (congestive heart failure), 2002 (was 90)

September 12

George Jones born in Saratoga, Texas, 1931 (now 77)
Leona Johnson Atkins of the Johnson Twins born in Jackson Township, Ohio, 1924 (now 84). One of WLW's "Johnson Twins," married Chet Atkins.
Lois Johnson Burns of the Johnson Twins born in Jackson Township, Ohio, 1924 (died 1989). One of WLW's "Johnson Twins," she married Jethro Burns of Homer & Jethro.
Helen Carter born in Maces Springs, Virginia, 1927 (died 1998)
Rod Brasfield died (heart failure), 1958 (was 48)
Johnny Cash died (Shy-Drager syndrome complications, diabetes, lung disease), 2003 (was 71)
John Ritter died (heart ailment), 2003 (was 54). The actor was the son of Western legend Tex Ritter.

September 13

Bobbie Cryner born in Woodland, California, 1961 (now 47)
Bill Monroe born in Rosine, Kentucky, 1911 (died 1996)
U.S. Postal Service issues a Roy Acuff postage stamp, 2003

September 14

John Berry born in Aiken, South Carolina, 1959 (now 49)
Mae Boren Axton born in Bardwell, Texas, 1914 (died 1997)
Don Walser born in Brownfield, Texas, 1934 (died 2006)
Vernon Dalhart died (heart attack), 1948 (was 65)

September 15

Roy Acuff born in Maynardsville, Tennesssee, 1903 (died 1992)

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

You Won't Have This Day Again 'Cause Every Road Has Got to End

Category: Obituary/Tribute

Standing outside the Comedy Caravan one night after a Tim Wilson performance, Tim and I were discussing various country singers. "I've met a few Hall of Famers," Wilson said. "Of course, I did that song with Jerry Reed."

"Jerry's not in the Hall of Fame yet," I mused.

"You're kidding!" Wilson said. He paused a moment. "Well, he should be."

Jerry Reed suffered from Roger Miller syndrome. Much like the late Hall of Famer, Reed's "serious" work was overlooked.
He was known for lighthearted, dare I say "silly" or "novelty" songs like "She Got the Gold Mine (I Got the Shaft)," "Amos Moses," "When You're Hot, You're Hot," and "I'm a Slave." The song that Tim Wilson referenced was "I Married a Woman Who Talks Like Jerry Reed" from Wilson's album Tuned Up. Wilson's great song told the tale of a woman with a great body but a horrid voice. Reed did the voice of the wife.

A lot of people would be surprised to know that Reed wrote Porter Wagoner's 1962 hit "Misery Loves Company" or Johnny Cash's 1972 hit "A Thing Called Love" (no relation to the song penned by John Hiatt that brought Bonnie Raitt a wheelbarrow full of Grammy awards in the late 80s).

And, of course, there was the guitar playing. When I was doing my internship at the Country Music Foundation, I ran into Chet Atkins (very literally -- I came out of the record storage stacks with an armload of albums and guess who was on the other side of the door?). There were a number of "generations" photos around the reading room, one of which was Merle Travis and Jerry Reed. "That's a great picture," Atkins commented. He was right. It was a great picture because it featured two great guitarists. Of Reed's three Grammy Awards, two were for his guitar playing, both for recordings with Atkins (Me and Jerry, 1970, and Sneakin' Around, 1992). He only won two CMA awards -- as "Instrumentalist of the Year."

The other sad "Roger Miller syndrome" that Reed had is that he has now passed without seeing his induction into the Hall of Fame. This is why it is so critical to put the deserving people in and NOW -- if Reed is inducted tomorrow, it's too late for him.

One of Jerry Reed's greatest songs is a minor hit from 1972 called "Smell the Flowers." Its lyrics on living life would make a most fitting epitaph to this giant of country music:

Got a troubled mind?
Friend, if you let too much worry rule your days

When you look back,

Do you feel like something precious slipped away

Oh my friend, are you the man

Who let the world slip through your hands

Can you remember when you smelled the flowers?

Smell the flowers while the roses bloom

Take the time, my frien
d and sing a happy tune
You won't have this day again
'cause every road has got to end
So don't forget my friend
to smell the flowers.

Farewell to Jerry Reed Hubbard
March 20, 1937 - September 1, 2008

FLASH: Jerry Reed Dies

Category: News/Obituary

Singer Jerry Reed has died. He died Monday of complications of emphysema at age 71.

More details later.