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.)

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