Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Dates of Note in Country Music, January 1-15

Category: News

(Hall of Fame members in bold)

January 1:

Hank Williams died (cardiac arrest), 1953 (was 29)
Moon Mullican died (heart attack), 1967 (was 57)
Townes Van Zandt died (heart attack), 1997 (was 52)
Del Reeves died (emphysema), 2007 (was 73)

January 2:

Harold Bradley born in Nashville, Tennessee, 1926 (now 83)
Dick Feller born in Bronaugh, Missouri, 1943 (now 66)
Roger Miller born in Fort Worth, Texas, 1936 (died 1992)
Red Smiley died (complications from diabetes), 1972 (was 46)
Tex Ritter died (heart attack), 1974 (was 68)
Wayne Walker died (unknown causes), 1979 (was 53)

January 3:

Nikki Nelson of Highway 101 born in San Diego, California, 1969 (now 40)
Leon McAuliffe born in Houston, Texas, 1917 (died 1988)
Felton Jarvis died (stroke), 1981 (was 46)
Quanah Talmadge Tubb (better known as Billy Talmadge Tubb) died (unknown causes), 2007 (was 81)
Grandpa Jones suffered stroke after performing on the Grand Ole Opry, 1998

January 4:

Lorene Mann born in Huntland, Tennessee, 1937 (now 72)
Mike Henderson born in Independence, Missouri, 1955 (now 54)
Kathy Forester of the Forester Sisters born in Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia, 1955 (now 54)
Patty Loveless born in Pikeville, Kentucky, 1957 (now 52)
Deana Carter born in Nashville, Tennessee, 1966 (now 43)
Clayton McMichen died (unknown causes), 1970 (was 69)
Jake Hess died (complications of heart attack), 2004 (was 76)
First barn dance program in America airs on WBAP, Fort Worth, Texas, 1923

January 5:

Big Bill Lister born in Kenedy, Texas, 1923 (now 86)
Steve Ripley of the Tractors born in Boise, Idaho, 1950 (now 59)
Iris DeMent born in Paragould, Arkansas, 1961 (now 48)
Sam Phillips (Sun Records owner) born in Florence, Alabama, 1923 (died 2003)
Tug McGraw, former baseball pitcher and father of Tim McGraw, died (brain cancer), 2004 (was 59)

January 6:

Earl Scruggs born in Flint Hill, North Carolina, 1924 (now 84)
Joey Miskulin ("Joey the Cow Polka King") of Riders in the Sky born in Chicago, Illinois, 1949 (now 60)
Jett Williams born in Montgomery, Alabama, 1953 (now 56)
Autry Inman born in Florence, Alabama, 1929 (died 1988)
Bobby Lord born in Sanford, Florida, 1934 (died 2008)
Chubby Wise died (heart attack), 1996 (was 80)
Bobby Austin died (illness), 2002 (was 68)
Sneaky Pete Kleinkow died (complications of Alzheimer's disease), 2007 (was 72)
Ken Nelson died (natural causes), 2008 (was 96)

January 7:

Jack Greene born in Maryville, Tennessee, 1930 (now 79)
Leona Williams born in Vienna, Missouri, 1943 (now 66)
Marshall Chapman born in Spartanburg, South Carolina, 1949 (now 60)
David Lee Murphy born in Herrin, Illinois, 1959 (now 50)
Bunny Biggs (Jamup of Jamup and Honey) born, 1897 (died 1948)
Owen Bradley died (heart ailment/complications of flu), 1998 (was 82)

January 8:

Christy Lane born in Peoria, Illinois, 1940 (now 69)
Holly Tashian born in New York, New York, 1946 (now 63)
Hoke Rice of the Rice Brothers born in Gainesville, Georgia, 1909 (died 1974)
Luther Perkins born in Memphis, Tennessee, 1928 (died 1968)
Elvis Presley born in Tupelo, Mississippi, 1935 (died 1977)
Randall Hylton born in Willis, Virginia, 1946 (died 2001)
Sara Carter died (natural causes), 1979 (was 79)
Maxwell Emmett "Pat" Buttram, sidekick to Gene Autry, died (kidney failure), 1994 (was 78)
Elvis Presley postage stamp (29c) issued by the U.S. Postal Service, 1993. The stamp is the Postal Service's best-selling commemorative stamp of all-time, with sales of over 517,000,000.
Billboard publishes first "Hillbilly Records" chart, 1944. The first #1 song was "Pistol Packin' Mama" -- the Bing Crosby & Andrews Sisters version. Al Dexter's original would be the second #1 song in Billboard chart history.

January 9:

Little Jimmy Boyd born in McComb, Mississippi, 1940 (now 69)
Roy Head born in Three Rivers, Texas, 1943 (now 66)
Crystal Gayle born in Paintsville, Kentucky, 1951 (now 58)
Jimmy Day born in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, 1934 (died 1999)
Big Al Downing born in Lenapah, Oklahoma, 1940 (died 2005)
Richard Nixon born in Yorba Linda, California, 1913 (died 1994). Nixon was the first sitting U.S. president to attend the Grand Ole Opry (1974).

January 10:

Curly Ray Cline born in Braisden, West Virginia, 1923 (now 86)
Zeb Turner died (cancer), 1978 (was 62)
Loretta Webb married Oliver "Mooney" Lynn, 1948

January 11:

Naomi Judd born in Ashland, Kentucky, 1946 (now 63)
Robert Earl Keen born in Houston, Texas, 1956 (now 53)
Tommy Duncan born in Hillsboro, Texas, 1911 (died 1967)
Goldie Hill Smith born in Kanes County, Texas, 1933 (died 2005)
Max D. Barnes died (pneumonia), 2004 (was 67)
Stonewall Jackson filed $10 million age discrimination lawsuit against the Grand Ole Opry, 2007

January 12:

Ray Price born in Perryville, Texas, 1926 (now 83)
William Lee Golden of the Oak Ridge Boys born in Brewton, Alabama, 1939 (now 70)
Ricky Van Shelton born in Danville, Virginia, 1952 (now 57)
LaWanda Lindsey born in Tampa, Florida, 1953 (now 56)
Claudia Church Crowell born in Lenoir, North Carolina, 1962 (now 47)
Tex Ritter born in Panola County, Texas, 1905 (died 1974)
Paul Warren died (illness), 1978 (was 59)
The film O Brother, Where Art Thou opened nationwide, 2001. The soundtrack won three Grammy awards: Album of the Year, Best Country Collaboration with Vocals (Dan Tyminski, "Man of Constant Sorrow"), and Best Male Country Vocal Performance (Dr. Ralph Stanley, "O Death"). It also sold over five million copies and sparked a resurgence in the popularity of bluegrass music.

January 13:

Trace Adkins born in Springhill, Louisiana, 1962 (now 47)
Jenny Lou Carson born in Decatur, Illinois, 1915 (died 1978)
Doyle Holly died (prostate cancer), 2007 (was 70)

January 14:

Billie Jo Spears born in Beaumont, Texas, 1937 (now 72)
J. Henry "T-Bone" Burnett born in St. Louis Missouri, 1948 (now 61)

January 15:

David Lynn Jones born in Bexar, Arkansas, 1950 (now 59)
Kurt Howell of Southern Pacific born in Winter Haven, Florida, 1958 (now 51)
Jack Guthrie died (tuberculosis), 1948 (was 32)
Vic Willis died (car wreck), 1995 (was 72)
Billy Walker born in Ralls, Texas, 1929 (died 2006)

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Country Music, 1922-2008

Category: Rant

Farewell, country music. You were much too young to die.

Kid Rock is "country" now. That means there's something seriously wrong with either country music or my hearing. Is country music so desperate for fans -- or too weak-kneed to stand up for its integrity -- to call "All Summer Long" the same genre of music as "Your Cheatin' Heart?"

Poco, whom I have loved for 30 years but always considered a rock band with country flavor, would never get airplay today because they are TCFCR (Too Country For Country Radio). John Prine's masterpiece, "Paradise," would probably be labeled TBFBR (Too Bluegrass For Bluegrass Radio) by today's standards.

Yes, I put the members of Poco and Prine's birthdays in the calendar. But you know what? "Paradise" (and a number of other Prine songs, such as "Yes I Guess They Ought to Name a Drink After You" and his superb a capella reading of the Carter Family's "Diamonds in the Rough") doesn't sound the least bit out of place after a Carl Smith song. Try playing "All Summer Long" after "Let Ol' Mother Nature Have Her Way." No one could hear the songs played back-to-back and conclude they are from the same genre of music.

Why does country music have to be the catch-all phrase anymore? Why is it not sufficient to call Kid Rock's song "pop," or "rock," or "stealing from 'Sweet Home Alabama' and 'Werewolves of London'" instead of having to insult country music?

If he were here today, "Father of Country Music" Jimmie Rodgers would be demanding paternity tests on some of these people claiming to be his "children." Meanwhile,
John Prine may have given us a good litmus test: anyone who wants to be considered "country" has to sing "Diamonds in the Rough."

Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Final Notes of 2008

Category: Obituary/News

Here are the country music performers we saw play their final notes in 2008.

Eddy Arnold (May 8, complications from a fall, age 89). Billboard's #1 country singles artist according to Joel Whitburn's books, his voice delighted country and pop audiences for seven decades. Arnold remains, to date, the only artist to be named the Country Music Association's "Entertainer of the Year" after being inducted into the Hall of Fame. We will never see the likes of him again, sadly.

Sally Arnold (March 11, Alzheimer's disease, age 87). Eddy Arnold's loving wife passed away two months before her husband.

Bill Bolick (March 14, natural causes, age 90). The elder of the great brother duet the Blue Sky Boys.

Danny Davis (June 12, cardiac arrest, age 83). A man with many hats, Davis brought his trumpet and background in pop production to Nashville, formed the Nashville Brass with Grammy-winning success, and produced a number of country acts (including Waylon Jennings).

Paul Davis
(April 22, heart attack, age 60). Pop songwriter and singer, best known for his 1977 hit "I Go Crazy." He also had two #1 country hits, "You're Still New to Me" with Marie Osmond and "I Won't Take Less Than Your Love" with Paul Overstreet and Tanya Tucker.

Danny Dill (October 16, unknown causes, age 84). Prolific country songwriter. Bill Anderson said at Dill's passing that if he had only written that one song he'd still be one of the greatest songwriters in country music history. "That one song" in question is Lefty Frizzell's immortal "The Long Black Veil."

Earle Hagen (May 26, illness, age 88). The man who gave us "The Fishin' Hole," the theme song to The Andy Griffith Show. Griffith himself recorded the song for Capitol Records.

Jim Hager (May 1, heart attack, age 66). With identical twin Jon, Jim delighted audiences for years on Hee Haw with their singing and comedy.

Buddy Harmon (August 21, congestive heart failure, age 79). Billed as "the most recorded drummer in Nashville," Harmon was on just about every one's records in the 50s, 60s, and 70s. He was also the Opry Staff Band drummer.

Don Helms (August 11, heart attack, age 81). The last member of Hank Williams' Drifting Cowboys Band. Helms co-wrote and recorded a song, "The Ballad of Hank Williams," about life in the band with Hank Williams Jr. for The Pressure is On.

Leo Jackson (May 4, suicide [gunshot], age 73). Jackson's career began at age 17 as guitarist for Jim Reeves and went into session work for decades for numerous artists including Alabama.

Bobby Lord (February 16, illness, age 74). One-time member of the Grand Ole Opry, best-known for his 1956 top ten hit "Without Your Love," Lord retired from the music business for life as a real estate agent.

Ken Nelson (January 6, natural causes, age 96). A one-time A&R man at Capitol Records, his Hall of Fame resume turned to record production for the Louvin Brothers, Jean Shepard, and countless others on the Capitol label.

Jerry Reed (September 1, emphysema, age 71). Son! Singer, guitarist, actor -- and a very underrated songwriter (he wrote Porter Wagoner's "Misery Loves Company").

Jack Reno (November 1, brain cancer, age 72). A country singer who racked up a dozen charted records between 1967 and 1974 including his biggest hit, "Repeat After Me."

Charlie Ryan (February 16, heart disease, age 92). The man who gave us one of the greatest road race songs in history, "Hot Rod Lincoln."

Jo Stafford (
July 16, congestive heart failure, age 90). A legendary pop singer, she was the "girl singer" on Red Engals & Natural Seven's hit "Tem-Tay-Shun."

Charlie Walker (September 12, colon cancer, age 81). Country singer with a Texas swing, Walker gave the legendary Harlan Howard his first #1 song as a songwriter with "Pick Me Up on Your Way Down."

Jerry Wallace (May 5, congestive heart failure, age 79). Like many others, Wallace traded a successful pop career ("Primrose Lane," "In the Misty Moonlight") for a country career, scoring 35 charted hits. The biggest was a song he recorded for an episode of Rod Serling's Night Gallery TV series: "If You Leave Me Tonight, I'll Cry."

Farewell, and thank you for your music.

(The entire list of musical farewells of all genres can be found at the other blog.)

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Dates of Note in Country Music, December 16-31

Category: News

(Hall of Fame members in bold)

December 16:

Jim Glaser of the Glaser Brothers born in Spalding, Nebraska, 1937 (now 71)
Jeff Carson born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, 1964 (now 44)
Shelby Singleton born in Waskom, Texas, 1931 (now 77)
Jenny Lou Carson died (unknown causes), 1978 (was 63)
Martha Carson died (natural causes), 2004 (was 83)
Gary Stewart died (suicide), 2003 (was 58)
Dan Fogelberg died (cancer), 2007 (was 56)

December 17:

Sharon White Skaggs born in Wichita Falls, Texas, 1953 (now 55)
Frankie Miller born in Victoria, Texas, 1930 (now 78)
Tracy Byrd born in Vidor, Texas, 1966 (now 42)
Karl Davis born in Mount Vernon, Kentucky, 1905 (died 1979)
Spade Cooley born in Grand, Oklahoma, 1910 (died 1969)
Nat Stuckey born in Cass County, Texas, 1933 (died 1988)
Roy Huskey Jr. born in Nashville, Tennessee, 1956 (died 1997)
Rex Allen Sr. died (accidentally run over by car), 1999 (was 77)
Commercial plane carrying Doug Stone crash-lands in Chicago, 1999. Stone was uninjured.

December 18:

Cledus T. Judd (real name: James Poole) born in Crowe Springs, Georgia, 1964 (now 43)
Wilf Carter (Montana Slim) born in Port Hilford, Nova Scotia, 1904 (died 1996)
The first recording session for the Louvin Brothers (they recorded "Alabama") at Castle Studios, Nashville, 1947

December 19:

Little Jimmy Dickens born in Bolt, West Virginia, 1920 (now 88)
Janie Fricke born in South Whitney, Indiana, 1947 (now 61)
Jumpin' Bill Carlisle born in Wakefield, Kentucky, 1908 (died 2003)
Marion Worth died (emphysema), 1999 (was 69)
Hank Williams' last show at Skyline Club, Austin, Texas, 1952
Johnny Paycheck shot a man outside a bar in Greenfield, Ohio, 1985

December 20:

Skeeter Willis of the Willis Brothers born in Colton, Oklahoma, 1917 (died 1976)
Jack Stapp died (unknown cause), 1980 (was 68)
Hank Snow died (various illnesses), 1999 (was 85)

December 21:

Freddie Hart born in Lockapoke, Alabama, 1926 (now 82)
Lee Roy Parnell born in Abilene, Texas, 1956 (now 52)
Christy Forrester of the Forester Sisters born in Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia, 1962 (now 46)
Vito Pellettieri born in Nashville, Tennessee, 1889 (died 1977)
Harold Morrison died (illness), 1994 (was 62)

December 22:

Red Stegall born in Gainesville, Texas, 1937 (now 71)
Chuck Mead of BR5-49 born in Nevada, Missouri, 1960 (now 48)
Paul Martin of Exile born in Winchester, Kentucky, 1962 (now 46)
Harold "Hawkshaw" Hawkins born in Huntington, West Virginia, 1921 (died 1963)
Dave Dudley died (heart attack), 2003 (was 75)

December 24:

Lulu Belle Wiseman born in Boone, North Carolina, 1913 (died 1999)
Jake Hess born in Limestone County, Alabama, 1927 (died 2004)
Stoney Edwards born in Seminole, Oklahoma, 1929 (died 1997)
Charlie Moore died (illness), 1979 (was 44)

December 25:

Jimmy Buffett born in Pascagoula, Mississippi, 1946 (now 62)
Barbara Mandrell born in Houston, Texas, 1948 (now 60)
Steve Wariner born in Noblesville, Indiana, 1954 (now 54)
Alton Delmore born in Elkmont, Alabama, 1908 (died 1964)
Billy Nelson, Willie Nelson's son, died (suicide), 1991 (was 33)

December 26:

Ronnie Prophet born in Calument, Quebec, 1938 (now 70)
Audrey Wiggins born in Asheville, North Carolina, 1967 (now 41)
Beecher Ray "Pete" "Bashful Brother Oswald" Kirby born in Sevier County, Tennessee, 1911 (died 2002)
Harry Choates born in Rayne, Louisiana, 1911 (died 1951)
Jimmie Osborne died (suicide), 1957 (was 34)

December 27:

Scotty Moore born in Gadsden, Tennessee, 1931 (now 77)
Bob Luman died (pneumonia), 1978 (was 41)
Vestal Goodman died (complications from the flu), 2003 (was 74)
Hank "Sugarfoot" Garland died (staph infection), 2004 (was 74)

December 28:

Joe Diffie born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, 1958 (now 50)
Mike McGuire of Shenandoah born in Haleyville, Alabama, 1958 (now 50)
Marty Roe of Diamond Rio born in Lebanon, Ohio, 1960 (now 48)
Dorsey Burnette born in Memphis, Tennessee, 1932 (died 1979)
Hank Williams Jr.'s first recording session at age 14, 1963

December 29:

Rose Lee Maphis born in Baltimore, Maryland, 1922 (now 86)
Ed Bruce born in Keiser, Arkansas, 1940 (now 68)

December 30:

Suzy Bogguss born in Aledo, Illinois, 1956 (now 52)
Melvin Goins born in Bramwell, West Virginia, 1933 (now 75)
Mike Auldridge born in Washington, DC, 1938 (now 69)
Bob Ferguson born in Willow Spring, Missouri, 1927 (died 2001)
Skeeter Davis born in Dry Ridge, Kentucky, 1931 (died 2004)
John Hartford born in New York, New York, 1937 (died 2001)

December 31:

Dale Noe born in New Boston, Ohio, 1927 (died 2005)
Rex Allen Sr. born in Wilcox, Arizona, 1920 (died 1999)
John Denver born in Roswell, New Mexico, 1943 (died 1997)
Rick Nelson died (plane crash), 1985 (was 45)
Floyd Cramer died (lung cancer), 1997 (was 64)
Jim McReynolds of Jim & Jesse died (cancer), 2002 (was 75)
Charlie Louvin injured in car accident, 2001