Sunday, November 29, 2009

Dates of Note in Country Music, December 1-15

Category: News

(Hall of Famers in bold)

December 1:

Darryl Ellis born in Norfolk, Virginia, 1964 (now 45)
Silm Willet born in Dublin, Texas, 1919 (died 1966)
Jim Nesbitt born in Bishopville, South Carolina, 1931 (died 2007)
Fred Rose died (heart failure), 1954 (was 57)
Carter Stanley died (cirrhosis of the liver), 1966 (was 41)

December 2:

John Wesley Ryles born in Bastrop, Louisiana, 1950 (now 59)
Herman Crook born in Scottsboro, Tennessee, 1898 (died 1988)
Marvin Hughes died (unknown cause), 1986 (was 75)
"Tennessee Waltz" recorded by Pee Wee King and Redd Stewart, 1947

December 3:

Ferlin Husky born in Flat River, Missouri, 1927 (now 82)
Paul Gregg of Restless Heart born in New York, New York, 1954 (now 55)
Rabon Delmore born in Dothan, Alabama, 1916 (died 1952)
Hubert Long born in Poteet, Texas, 1923 (died 1972)
Lew Childre died (various health issues), 1961 (was 60)
Grady Martin died (heart attack), 2001 (was 72)
Bob Wills recorded his last song, a Cindy Walker number, "What Makes Bob Holler," 1973

December 4:

Chris Hillman born in Los Angeles, California, 1944 (now 64)
Rabon Delmore died (lung cancer), 1952 (was 36)
Eddy Arnold's first record session as a solo artist, 1944
Sun Records' "Million Dollar Quartet" of Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, and Jerry Lee Lewis record together, 1956
Connie B. Gay elected inaugural president of the Country Music Association, 1958
Connie B. Gay died (cancer), 1989 (was 75)

December 5:

Don Robertson born in Peking, China, 1922 (now 87)
Jim Messina of Poco born in Harlingen, Texas, 1947 (now 62)
Ty England born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, 1963 (now 46)
Molly O'Day died (cancer), 1987 (was 64)
Wilf Carter (Montana Slim) died (stomach tumor), 1996 (was 91)
The soundtrack to O Brother, Where Art Thou released, 2000

December 6:

Helen Cornelius born in Hannibal, Missouri, 1941 (now 68)
Bill Lloyd of Foster & Lloyd born in Ft. Hood, Texas, 1955 (now 54)
Hugh Farr born in Llano, Texas, 1903 (died 1980)
Jim Eanes born in Mountain Valley, Virginia, 1923 (died 1995)
Roy Orbison died (heart attack), 1989 (was 52)

December 7:

Slim Bryant born in Atlanta, Georgia, 1908 (now 101)
Bobby Osborne born in Hyden, Kentucky, 1931 (now 78)
Gary Morris born in Fort Worth, Texas, 1948 (now 61)
Ronnie Sessions born in Henrietta, Oklahoma, 1948 (now 61)
Hugh X. Lewis born in Yeaddiss, Kentucky, 1932 (now 77)
Darrell Glenn born in Waco, Texas, 1935 (died 1990)
Bill Boyd died (unknown cause), 1977 (was 67)

December 8:

Marty Raybon born in Stanford, Florida, 1959 (now 50)
Jack Stapp born in Nashville, Tennessee, 1912 (died 1980)
Floyd Tillman born in Ryan, Oklahoma, 1914 (died 2003)
Marty Robbins died (heart attack), 1982 (was 57)

December 9:

Billy Edd Wheeler born in Whitesville, Virginia, 1932 (now 77)
David Kersh born in Humble, Texas, 1970 (now 39)
David Houston born in Bossier City, Louisiana, 1938 (died 1993)
Tommy Jackson died (unknown cause), 1979 (was 53)

December 10:

Johnny Rodriguez born in Sabinal, Texas, 1951 (now 58)
Kevin Sharp born in Weiser, Idaho, 1970 (now 39)
Eddie Miller born in Camargo, Oklahoma, 1919 (died 1977)
John Duffey of the Seldom Scene died (heart attack), 1996 (was 62)
Faron Young died (suicide [gunshot]), 1996 (was 64)
Jimmy Riddle died (cancer), 1982 (was 64)
Before the evening's WSM Barn Dance began, announcer George D. Hay commented, "For the past hour, you've been listening to selections taken from grand opera. Now we present Grand Ole Opry," 1927.

December 11:

Charles Whitstein born in Colfax, Louisiana, 1945 (now 64)
Brenda Lee born in Atlanta, Georgia, 1944 (now 65)
Arthur Q. Smith born in Griffin, Georgia, 1909 (died 1963)
Cousin Jody (ne James Summey) born in Sevierville, Tennessee, 1914 (died 1975)
Fiddlin' John Carson died (natural causes), 1949 (was 81)
Commercial plane with Tex Ritter aboard as a passenger hijacked to Cuba, 1968

December 12:

Hank Williams III born in Houston, Texas, 1972 (now 37)
LaCosta Tucker born in Seminole, Texas, 1951 (now 58)
Clifton Chenier died (kidney disease related to diabetes), 1987 (was 62)

December 13:

Buck White born in Oklahoma, 1930 (now 79)
Randy Owen of Alabama born in Fort Payne, Alabama, 1949 (now 60)
John Anderson born in Orlando, Florida, 1954 (now 55)
Wesley Tuttle born in Lamar, Colorado, 1917 (died 2003)
Lulu Belle and Scotty Wiseman wed, 1934

December 14:

DeFord Bailey born in Smith County, Tennessee, 1899 (died 1982)
Charlie Rich born in Forest City, Arkansas, 1932 (died 1995)

December 15:

Doug Phelps of Kentucky Headhunters born in Leachville, Arkansas, 1960 (now 49)

Alvin Pleasant Carter born in Maces Spring, Virginia, 1891 (died 1960)
Jerry Wallace born in Guilford, Missouri, 1928 (died 2008)
Ernie Ashworth born in Huntsville, Alabama, 1928 (died 2009)
Nudie Cohn (ne Nuta Kotlyarenko) born in Kiev, Ukraine, 1902 (died 1984)
William Eugene "Red" Rector born in Marshall, North Carolina, 1929 (died 1990)
Hank Williams marries Audrey Guy, 1944

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Old Time Religion

Category: 50 Songs to Hear

SONG: Rock of Ages, Hide Thou Me
ARTIST: Browns Ferry Four
ALBUM: None, released on 78
YEAR/LABEL: 1946; King

The "Hee Haw Quartet" was just an attempt to try to imitate the Browns Ferry Four.
(Grandpa Jones)

King Recor
ds was the place to be for hillbilly recordings in the immediate aftermath of World War II. The roster reads like a "who's who" of Hall of Fame members or people who should be there. The Browns Ferry Four was a group that literally was a who's who of Hall of Famers: Alton and Rabon Delmore (2001 inductees), Grandpa Jones (1978), and rotating bass singers, usually Red Foley (1967) or Merle Travis (1977). These secular artists joined forces occasionally to record gospel sides for release. The results were usually good, but the standout was "Rock of Ages, Hide Thou Me."

There was nothing complicated about the Browns Ferry Four.
All they did was sing, and oh how they sang. The diverse vocal styles of the acts blended together perfectly to create a lovely sound reminiscent of a southern church house on Sunday morning. Red Foley was the bass singer on the session that produced this song. One guitar provided the musical accompaniment. On the chorus the quartet changed from singing together to a call-and-response style with Alton and Rabon taking turns while Foley provided the superb bass singing.

The Browns Ferry Four left too few (44) gospel recordings and no secular work. Their last recording session was in August 1952, less than four months before junior Delmore Brother Rabon lost his battle with lung cancer. The beautiful harmonies they left on this and the other tracks they did record show that they could have been the first "supergroup" in country music.


Our Town
Old Memories Mean Nothing to Me
Not That I Care
Nobody Eats at Linebaugh's Anymore
My Book of Memories
Lost to a Stranger
A Little Bitty Heart
Life Has Its Little Ups and Downs
Life is Too Short
I Want a Home in Dixie
I Lost Today
Down to the River to Pray
Don't Let the Stars Get in Your Eyeballs
A Death in the Family
Dark as a Dungeon
Bottomless Well

Sleep's Dark and Silent Gate
She's a Runaway
Painted Bells
Out to Sea
One More Song
New Delhi Freight Train
Long Way Home
Heart of Rome
Harriet Tubman's Gonna Carry Me Home
Entella Hotel
Desperados Under the Eaves
Crossing Muddy Waters
Cliffs of Dooneen
Bruised Orange (Chain of Sorrow)
Baby Mine

Where the Legends Sang

Category: News

"We did it, Cincinnati!" R&B and funk superstar Bootsy Collins proclaimed. "We did it! We did it!!"

What was the bass player of P-Funk so excited about? The erection of a plaque about a hillbilly.

A crowd stood outside 811 Race Street in downtown Cincinnati on Sunday (11/22) afternoon as a plaque commemorating the location of Herzog Studios, the legendary studios that saw recordings by Flatt & Scruggs, the Delmore Brothers, Homer & Jethro, Cowboy Copas, Patti Page, Rex Allen, and many others, was unveiled.

The Herzog Studios marker

The other side of the marker salutes one recording star in particular: Hank Williams. Hank's "Lovesick Blues" was recorded at Herzog Studios in December 1948, and eight other sides were recorded in August 1949. With the tunes recorded at Herzog, Williams became an established superstar in country music.

The marker discussing Hank
Williams' recordings at Herzog

Among the distinguished guest were Zella Nathan, widow of King Records founder Syd Nathan, Debby Delmore, daughter of Alton Delmore of the Delmore Brothers, Cincinnati music ambassador and native Bootsy Collins, and Bucky Herzog's son Buck, who read the side of the plaque about his father's studio to the crowd.

Following the unveiling a reception was held on the second floor, which housed the Herzog Studios for a decade. Photos and stories of the acts who recorded at Herzog adorned the walls and a band played several songs that were cut there. Cincinnati Public Library music librarian and King Records historian Brian Powers put tape on the floors, working from a diagram provided by a studio musician who had worked there, to indicate where the control booth, storage room, and other elements of the original studio had been.

Congratulations to Brian Powers, who lobbied long and hard to have the Herzog Studios officially recognized as an historical site by the city of Cincinnati. Congratulations, too, to the "Queen City" for celebrating its rich musical heritage.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Dates of Note in Country Music, November 16-30

Category: News

(Hall of Famers in bold)

November 16:

Troy Seals born in Bill Hill, Kentucky, 1938 (now 71)
Larry Cordel born in Cordell, Kentucky, 1949 (now 60)
Will Goleman of the Cactus Brothers born in Shreveport, Louisiana, 1963 (now 46)
Ernest Tubb biographer Ronnie Pugh born in Texas, year unknown
Earl Bolick born in Hickory, North Carolina, 1919 (died 1998)
J.D. Sumner died (heart attack), 1998 (was 73)

November 17:

Gordon Lightfoot born in Orilla, Ontario, Canada, 1938 (now 71). The legendary folk singer has written such hits as Marty Robbins' "Ribbon of Darkness" and Bill Anderson's "Did She Mention My Name."
Eva Foley (Red Foley's wife) died (suicide), 1951 (was 33)
Don Gibson died (natural causes), 2003 (was 75)

November 18:

Jessi Alexander born in Jackson, Tennessee, 1976 (now 33)
John McFee of Southern Pacific born in Santa Cruz, California, 1953 (now 56)
Doug Sahm died (heart attack), 1999 (was 58)

November 19:

Billy Currington born in Savannah, Georgia, 1973 (now 36)
Jerry Foster born in Tallapoosa, Missouri, 1935 (now 74)
Joe Falcon died (unknown cause), 1965 (was 65). Falcon is credited with making the first recording of a Cajun song in 1928 with "Allons a Lafayette."
Bobby Russell died (coronary artery disease), 1992 (was 51)

November 20:

Curly Putman born in Princeton, Alabama, 1930 (now 79)
George Grantham of Poco and Ricky Skaggs' band born in Cordell, Oklahoma, 1947 (now 62)
Dierks Bentley born in Phoenix, Arizona, 1975 (now 34)
Josh Turner born in Hannah, South Carolina, 1977 (now 32)
Judy Canova born in Starke, Florida, 1913 (died 1983)
Eck Robertson born in Madison County, Arkansas, 1897 (died 1975)
RCA buys the contract of Elvis Presley from Sun Records for $35,000, 1955

November 21:

Jean Shepard born in Paul Valley, Oklahoma, 1933 (now 76)
Joe Carson born in Holliday, Texas, 1936 (died 1964)
Jim Eanes died (congestive heart failure), 1995 (was 71)
Charlie Daniels pulls out of "Country Freedom Concert" after being told not to perform "This Ain't No Rag, It's a Flag," 2001

November 22:

Wiley Post born in Grand Saline, Texas, 1899 (died 1935)
First Disc Jockey Convention held in Nashville, 1952
Keith Whitley and Lorrie Morgan married, 1986

November 23:

Jerry Sullivan born in Wagarville, Alabama, 1933 (now 76)
Charlie Sizemore born in Richmond, Kentucky, 1960 (now 49)
Spade Cooley died (heart attack), 1969 (was 58)
Grady Nutt died (plane crash), 1982 (was 48)
Roy Acuff died (congestive heart failure), 1992 (was 89)
Smokey Rogers died (unknown cause), 1993 (was 76)

November 24:

Johnny Carver born in Jackson, Mississippi, 1940 (now 69)
Stoney Edwards born in Seminole, Oklahoma, 1929 (died 1997)
Teddy Wilburn died (congestive heart failure), 2003 (was 71)
Wanted! The Outlaws by Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Tompall Glaser, and Jessi Colter certified platinum, making it the first certified platinum album in country music

November 25:

Amy Grant born in Augusta, Georgia, 1960 (now 49)
Eddie Stubbs born in Gaithersburg, Maryland, 1961 (now 48)
Biff Collie born in Little Rock, Arkansas, 1926 (died 1992)
Ralph Emery debuts on WSM in overnight slot, 1957

November 26:

Joe Nichols born in Rogers, Arkansas, 1976 (now 33)

November 27:

Eddie Rabbitt born in Brooklyn, New York, 1941 (died 1998)
Charlene Arthur died in Idaho (atherosclerosis), 1987 (was 58)

November 28:

WSM Barn Dance (later known as the Grand Ole Opry) born, 1925 (now 84)
Carrie Rodgers, widow of Jimmie Rodgers, died (cancer), 1961

November 29:

Merle Travis born in Rosewood, Kentucky, 1917 (died 1983)
Jody Miller born in Phoenix, Arizona, 1941 (now 68)
Joel Whitburn born in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin, 1938 (now 71)
Jim Nesbitt died (heart ailment), 2007 (was 75)

November 30:

Bob Moore born in Nashville, Tennessee, 1932 (now 77)
Jeannie Kendall born in St. Louis, Missouri, 1954 (now 55)
Mindy McCready born in Ft. Myers, Florida, 1975 (now 34)
Teddy Wilburn born in Hardy, Arkansas, 1931 (died 2003)
Jack Reno born in Bloomfield, Iowa, 1935 (died 2008)
David Houston died (brain aneurysm), 1993 (was 54)

Friday, November 13, 2009

Knee Slapper

Category: Tribute

Robert Whitstein was a knee-slapper.

Not in a painful or vicious way, but that was his way of letting his friends know he was joking.

Robert could be as straight-faced as the best dramatic actor while pulling their leg. Then he'd slap the poor victim's knee and everyone was in on the joke.

One of my favorite times was at the 1994 IBMA convention. Robert and Charles had just reunited after Robert took some time off because he didn't like the road. (That's understandable when you're in St. Louis tonight, Boise the next night, and Minneapolis the night after!) After their showcase performance we were heading up to the Rounder Records suite in the elevator. A young boy, maybe 10 years old, was in the elevator with us. He gazed up at Robert for a long time and finally said, "You guys were good."

"Thanks," Robert replied politely.

When we got to the suite things changed.

"You know what I should've told that boy?" Robert asked me with a solemn face. "When he said, 'You guys were good?' I should've said, 'Hell, I know it!'"

Then came the knee slap.

Robert Whitstein at City Stages in
Birmingham, Alabama, 1998

There are probably a lot of people in Heaven who've had their knees slapped in the eight years since Robert left us on November 14, 2001.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Thanks to Country Music's Veterans

Category: Tribute

We pause on Veterans Day to pay tribute to the men and women who have served our nation by service in the Armed Forces.

Here is a list of some of the country music singers and songwriters who have blessed us with their music and their military service.

ARMY: Jules Verne Allen (World War I), Bobby Bare, Jim Ed Brown, Aytchie Burns (World War II), Jethro Burns (World War II), Tommy Cash, Homer Haynes (World War II), Harlan Howard, Kris Kristofferson, Charlie Louvin (World War II and Korea), Ira Louvin, Darrell McCall, Skeets McDonald, Jesse McReynolds (Korea), Jim McReynolds (Korea), Roger Miller, Webb Pierce, Elvis Presley, John Prine, Boots Randolph, Jerry Reed, Don Reno (World War II), Ralph Stanley (World War II), George Strait, Nat Stuckey (Korea), Conway Twitty, Charlie Walker, Doyle Wilburn (Korea), Teddy Wilburn (Korea), Faron Young.

NAVY: Archie Campbell (World War II), Cy Coben (World War II), Larry Cordle, Stonewall Jackson, Johnny Lee (Vietnam), Bill Nettles (World War I), Johnny Paycheck, Ray Pillow, Marty Robbins (World War II), Carl Smith, Hank Thompson (World War II).

AIR FORCE/ARMY AIR CORPS: Gene Autry (World War II), Johnny Cash, Jimmy Dean, Tennessee Ernie Ford (World War II), Willie Nelson, Mike Nesmith, Del Reeves, Charlie Rich, Carter Stanley (World War II), Mel Tillis.

MARINES: Wendy Bagwell (World War II), Tommy Collins, Don Everly, Phil Everly, Freddy Fender, Josh Garcin, Freddie Hart (World War II), George Jones, Ray Price (World War II), Charles Whitstein, Robert Whitstein (Vietnam).

MERCHANT MARINES: Ferlin Husky (World War II).

TWO BRANCHES: Bob Ferguson (first Army, then Marines; in the Korean War as a Marine).

Thank you.