Here are the country performers we lost in 2009.
Ernie Ashworth (March 3, heart attack, age 80): long-time member of the Grand Ole Opry who is best known for the 1961 hit "Talk Back Tremblin' Lips."
Leona Johnson Atkins (October 21, long-term illness, age 85): member of the Johnson Twins on WLW in the 1940s who gave up her career to be Mrs. Chet Atkins.
Barry Beckett (June 10, illness, age 65): producer of albums by Kenny Chesney.
Molly Bee (February 7, stroke, age 68): singer based on the west coast who played with Tennessee Ernie Ford and Jimmy Dean.
Jimmy Boyd (March 8, cancer, age 70): he sang "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus" as a child.
Tom Brumley (February 4, illness, age 73): son of gospel songwriter Albert Brumley, Tom was the original steel guitarist for Buck Owens' Buckaroos.
Whaley T. "Ric" Cartey (August 5, unknown cause, age 72): songwriter responsible for Sonny James' breakthrough hit "Young Love."
Jack Cooke (December 1, heart attack, age 72): one-time member of Ralph Stanley's Clinch Mountain Boys.
John Dawson (July 21, stomach cancer, age 64): co-founder of the 70s country-rock band New Riders of the Purple Sage.
Hal Durham (March 29, unknown cause, age 77): long-time Grand Ole Opry announcer and WSM DJ.
Steve Ferguson (October 7, cancer, age 60): founder of the band NRBQ, the band that included Skeeter Davis' husband Joey Spampinato.
Vern Gosdin (April 29, stroke, age 74): when you said "the voice," you said it all about Vern.
Buck Griffin (February 14, heart failure, age 85): underrated country and rockabilly singer.
Jon Hager (January 9, illness, age 67): surviving member of Hee Haw's Hager Twins died less than a year after identical twin brother Jim's death.
Duane Jarvis (April 1, colon cancer, age 51): session guitarist who played with the likes of Dwight Yoakam and Lucinda Williams.
Arthur Kent (January 26, natural causes, age 88): songwriter best remembered for penning Skeeter Davis' hit "The End of the World."
Tim Krekel (June 24, stomach cancer, age 57): in addition to writing songs for Jimmy Buffett and playing in Buffett's band, the singer/songwriter won two BMI awards for Martraca Berg's "You Can Feel Bad" and Crystal Gayle's "Turning Away."
Big Bill Lister (December 1, illness, age 86): a member of the "replacement" Drifting Cowboys Band who first commercially recorded "There's a Tear in My Beer."
Hank Locklin (March 8, natural causes, age 91): the should-be Hall of Famer who gave us "Please Help Me, I'm Falling," "Send Me the Pillow That You Dream On," and many others.
Irby Mandrell (March 5, unknown causes, age 84): the father and manager of Barbara Mandrell died shortly after his daughter was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.
Les Paul (August 13, pneumonia, age 94): the inventor of multi-track recording and the electric guitar, he also won a Grammy for Chester and Lester with Chet Atkins.
Aaron Schroeder (December 2, Alzheimer's, age 83): a songwriter who saw Elvis Presley turn his songs into hits ("Stuck on You," "Good Luck Charm").
Dan Seals (March 25, mantle cell lymphoma, 61): beginning as a pop singer (as part of England Dan and John Ford Coley) and the brother of pop singer Jim Seals of Seals & Crofts, he "Bop"ped to country in the 1980s.
Shelby Singleton (October 7, brain cancer, age 77): influential Nashville producer who signed Roger Miller to Smash Records and launched the career of Jeannie C. Riley. He also owned Sun Records starting in 1969.
Kyle Woodring (September 8, suicide [hanged self], age 42): session drummer who worked with Deana Carter.
Ruby Wright (September 29, heart disease, age 69): daughter of Kitty Wells and Johnnie Wright who had an "answer song" to "Dang Me" ("Dern Ya") become a hit.
Farewell, and thank you for the music.