Friday, December 31, 2010

Dates of Note in Country Music, January 1-15

Category: News

(Country Music Hall of Famers in bold)

January 1:

Frank Kettering of the Hoosier Hot Shots born in Monmouth, Illinois, 1909 (died 1973)
Hank Williams died in the back seat of a car between Knoxville, Tennessee and Oak Hill, West Virginia (cardiac arrest), 1953 (was 29)
Aubrey "Moon" Mullican died in Beaumont, Texas (heart attack), 1967 (was 57)
Floyd "Salty" Holmes of the Prairie Ramblers died (unknown cause), 1970 (was 60)
Townes Van Zandt died in Mount Juliet, Tennessee (heart attack), 1997 (was 52)
Del Reeves died in Nashville, Tennessee (emphysema), 2007 (was 73)
Johnny Cash played at San Quentin prison, 1959. Among the prisoners in attendance was Merle Haggard.

January 2:

Harold Bradley born in Nashville, Tennessee, 1926 (now 85)
Dick Feller born in Bronaugh, Missouri, 1943 (now 68)
Roger Miller born in Fort Worth, Texas, 1936 (died 1992)
Red Smiley died in Richmond, Virginia (complications from diabetes), 1972 (was 46)
Tex Ritter died in Nashville, Tennessee (heart attack), 1974 (was 68)
Wayne Walker died (unknown causes), 1979 (was 53)
Louise Scruggs, wife and manager of Earl Scruggs, died in Nashville, Tennessee (respiratory disease), 2006 (was 78)

January 3:

Nikki Nelson of Highway 101 born in San Diego, California, 1969 (now 42)

Leon McAuliffe born in Houston, Texas, 1917 (died 1988)
Felton Jarvis died in Nashville, Tennessee (stroke), 1981 (was 46)
Doye O'Dell died in Northridge, California (complications of a stroke), 2001 (was 88)

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

Sam Phillips opened Sun Recording Studio, 1950

January 4:

Lorene Mann born in Huntland, Tennessee, 1937 (now 74)
Mike Henderson born in Independence, Missouri, 1955 (now 56)
Kathy Forester of the Forester Sisters born in Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia, 1955 (now 56)
Patty Loveless born in Pikeville, Kentucky, 1957 (now 54)
Deana Carter born in Nashville, Tennessee, 1966 (now 45)
Clayton McMichen died in Battletown, Kentucky (unknown causes), 1970 (was 69)
Jake Hess died in Opelika, Alabama (complications of heart attack), 2004 (was 76)
First barn dance program in America airs on WBAP, Fort Worth, Texas, 1923

January 5:
Steve Ripley of the Tractors born in Boise, Idaho, 1950 (now 61)
Iris DeMent born in Paragould, Arkansas, 1961 (now 50)

Big Bill Lister born in Kenedy, Texas, 1923 (died 2009)
Sam Phillips (Sun Records owner) born in Florence, Alabama, 1923 (died 2003)
Tug McGraw, former baseball pitcher and father of Tim McGraw, died in his son's home in Nashville, Tennessee (brain cancer), 2004 (was 59)

January 6:
Earl Scruggs born in Flint Hill, North Carolina, 1924 (now 87)
Joey Miskulin ("Joey the Cow Polka King") of Riders in the Sky born in Chicago, Illinois, 1949 (now 62)
Jett Williams born in Montgomery, Alabama, 1953 (now 58)
Harry "Hap" Peebles born in Anthony, Kansas, 1913 (died 1993)

Autry Inman born in Florence, Alabama, 1929 (died 1988)
Bobby Lord born in Sanford, Florida, 1934 (died 2008)
Chubby Wise died in Bowie, Maryland (heart attack), 1996 (was 80)
Bobby Austin died in Camas, Washington (illness), 2002 (was 68)
Sneaky Pete Kleinkow died in Petaluma, California (complications of Alzheimer's disease), 2007 (was 72)
Ken Nelson died in Somis, California (natural causes), 2008 (was 96)

January 7:

Jack Greene born in Maryville, Tennessee, 1930 (now 81)
Leona Williams born in Vienna, Missouri, 1943 (now 68)
Marshall Chapman born in Spartanburg, South Carolina, 1949 (now 62)
David Lee Murphy born in Herrin, Illinois, 1959 (now 52)
John Rich born in Amarillo, Texas, 1974 (now 37)
Bunny Biggs (Jamup of Jamup and Honey) born, 1897 (died 1948)

Owen Bradley died in Nashville, Tennessee (heart ailment/complications of flu), 1998 (was 82)

January 8:

Christy Lane born in Peoria, Illinois, 1940 (now 71)

Holly Tashian born in New York, New York, 1946 (now 65)
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 in Kingsport, Tennessee (natural causes), 1979 (was 79)
Maxwell Emmett "Pat" Buttram, sidekick to Gene Autry, died in Los Angeles, California (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 magazine 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:

Roy Head born in Three Rivers, Texas, 1943 (now 68)
Crystal Gayle born in Paintsville, Kentucky, 1951 (now 60)
Jimmy Day born in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, 1934 (died 1999)
Big Al Downing born in Lenapah, Oklahoma, 1940 (died 2005)

Jimmy Boyd ("I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus") born in McComb, Mississippi, 1940 (died 2009)
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).
Jon Hager of the Hager Twins died in Nashville, Tennessee (illness), 2009 (was 67)

January 10:

Curly Ray Cline born in Braisden, West Virginia, 1923 (died 1997)
Zeb Turner died (cancer), 1978 (was 62)
Loretta Webb married Oliver "Mooney" Lynn, 1948

January 11:

Naomi Judd born in Ashland, Kentucky, 1946 (now 65)
Robert Earl Keen born in Houston, Texas, 1956 (now 55)
Tommy Duncan born in Hillsboro, Texas, 1911 (died 1967)
Goldie Hill Smith born in Kanes County, Texas, 1933 (died 2005)

Max D. Barnes died in Nashville, Tennesee (pneumonia), 2004 (was 67)
Jimmy Griffin of the Remingtons died in Franklin, Tennessee (cancer), 2005 (was 61)
Stonewall Jackson filed $10 million age discrimination lawsuit against the Grand Ole Opry, 2007

January 12:

Ray Price born in Perryville, Texas, 1926 (now 85)
William Lee Golden of the Oak Ridge Boys born in Brewton, Alabama, 1939 (now 72)
Ricky Van Shelton born in Danville, Virginia, 1952 (now 59)
LaWanda Lindsey born in Tampa, Florida, 1953 (now 58)
Claudia Church Crowell born in Lenoir, North Carolina, 1962 (now 49)
Tex Ritter born in Panola County, Texas, 1905 (died 1974)
Paul Warren died in Nashville, Tennessee (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 eight million copies and sparked a brief resurgence in the popularity of bluegrass and traditional country music.

January 13:

Trace Adkins born in Springhill, Louisiana, 1962 (now 49)
Jenny Lou Carson born in Decatur, Illinois, 1915 (died 1978)
Doyle Holly died in Nashville, Tennessee (prostate cancer), 2007 (was 70)

January 14:

Billie Jo Spears born in Beaumont, Texas, 1937 (now 74)
J. Henry "T-Bone" Burnett born in St. Louis Missouri, 1948 (now 63).  An Americana music performer and producer (of albums by Los Lobos and the BoDeans), he was the producer of the award-winning soundtrack to O Brother, Where Art Thou.

January 15:

David Lynn Jones born in Bexar, Arkansas, 1950 (now 61)
Kurt Howell of Southern Pacific born in Winter Haven, Florida, 1958 (now 53)

Billy Walker born in Ralls, Texas, 1929 (died 2006)
Jack Guthrie died in Livermore, California (tuberculosis), 1948 (was 32)
Vic Willis died in Hohenwald, Tennessee (car wreck), 1995 (was 72)

Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Final Notes of 2010

Category:  News

Here is the chronological list of those from the world of country music who performed their last song in 2010.

Chilton Price Searcy (January 14, age 96, natural causes):  a songwriter who wrote Pee Wee King & Redd Stewart's hit "Slow Poke" and the classic "You Belong to Me," covered by the likes of Jim Reeves and Patsy Cline (and lampooned by Homer & Jethro).

Carl Smith (January 16, age 82, complications of stroke):  Country Music Hall of Famer with a long and productive career (and father of Carlene Carter).

Richard A. "Pete" Peterson (February 8, age 77, unknown causes):  historian and author of the book Creating Country Music:  Fabricating Authenticity.

Michael Blosil (February 26, age 18, suicide [jumped to his death]):  the son of Marie Osmond.

Matt Wariner (April 16, age 28, car wreck):  the nephew of country singer/songwriter/guitarist Steve Wariner and local (Noblesville, Indiana) musician himself.

Hoot Borden (May 1, age and cause unknown):  the longtime bus driver for Ernest Tubb.

Ernie Harwell (May 6, age 92, cancer):  the voice of baseball's Detroit Tigers for decades was also a songwriter.  The first song of his that was ever recorded was "Upside Down," which appeared on Homer & Jethro's 1967 album Somethin' Stupid.

Judy Lynn (May 26, age 74, congestive heart failure):  an underrated singer who had one major hit, 1962's "Footsteps of a Fool," and gave up her career in 1980 to go into the ministry.

Thomas "Slim" Bryant (May 27, age 101, illness):  singer, songwriter, and guitarist whose talent went all the way back to the Skillet Lickers.  He was also the last living person who recorded with Father of Country Music Jimmie Rodgers (he played on Rodgers' recording "Miss the Mississippi and You").

Jimmy Dean (June 13, age 81, natural causes):  a pioneer in country music and Muppets (Jim Henson's creation Rowlf the dog was a regular on Dean's TV show), he had a long career as a singer ("Big Bad John," "PT 109") and as a sausage maker.  He was one of the 2010 Hall of Fame inductees.

Bill Porter (July 7, age 79, Alzheimer's disease):  when Chet Atkins was asked how he developed the Nashville Sound, he had a two-word answer:  "Bill Porter."  The legendary RCA engineer worked with rock's Presley and country's Reeves with equal, amazing results.

Hank Cochran (July 15, age 74, pancreatic cancer):  he wrote songs.  Boy, did he write songs:  "I Fall to Pieces," "A-11," "The Chair," "Don't Touch Me," "I'd Fight the World," "It's Not Love (But It's Not Bad)," and so many more.

Fred Carter, Jr. (July 17, age 76, stroke):  the father of Deana Carter was also a prolific session musician.

Margaret Ann Rich (July 22, age 76, Alzheimer's disease):  the widow of Charlie Rich was also the writer of his songs "Field of Yellow Daisies" and "Life Has Its Little Ups and Downs."

Grady "Tiny" Harris (July 23, age 81, blood clot):  the leader of the Tiny Harris Band, an outfit that played behind the likes of Freddie Hart and Tammy Wynette.

John L. "Johnny" Carson (July 27, age 77, heart failure):  the grandson of Fiddlin' John Carson helped to found the Georgia Music Hall of Fame.

Ben Keith (July 27, age 73, heart attack):  when Neil Young wanted a country sound he called on Keith's steel guitar prowess, which were evident on Patsy Cline's "I Fall to Pieces."

John Aylesworth (July 28, age 80, pneumonia):  he created a countrified version of Laugh-In for the CBS network.  He called it Hee Haw

Mitch Miller (July 31, age 99, illness):  the king of the "sing-along" records also produced sessions for Marty Robbins.

Mitch Jayne (August 2, age 80, cancer):  Mayberry's favorite band the Darlings were actually the Dillards, with Jayne on bass.  Jayne and the Dillards were inducted into the Bluegrass Hall of Fame in 2009.

Kenny Edwards (August 19, age 64, prostate cancer):  Edwards co-founded the Stone Poneys, a country-rock band with a young lead vocalist by the name of LInda Ronstadt.  After the band disbanded Edwards lent his talents on guitar, steel, and harmony to Ronstadt's music.

Bill Phillips (August 23, age 74, diabetes):  an underrated songwriter (he co-wrote "Falling Back to You," which Webb Pierce recorded) and singer, his biggest hit was "Put It Off Until Tomorrow," a song that introduced the world to co-author and background singer Dolly Parton.

Linda Hargrove (October 24, age 61, leukemia/complications of bone marrow transplant):  Nashville songwriter who gave us the classics "Tennessee Whiskey" (George Jones) and "Just Get Up and Close the Door" (Johnny Rodriguez). 

Ronny Scaife (November 3, age 63, brain hemorrhage):  the songwriter behind Travis Tritt's "The Whiskey Ain't Workin'."

Don Meredith (December 5, age 72, brain hemorrhage):  "Dandy Don," the color commentator on ABC's Monday Night Football, turned Willie Nelson's "The Party's Over" into a household song.

Nick ("Nick the Stick") Hunter (December 16, age 67, cancer):  he promoted the likes of Hank Williams Jr. and Dwight Yoakam and founded what is now known as Koch Records.

Farewell, and thanks for the music.

Hank Williams Party at Herzog

Category:  News

The Cincinnati Music Heritage Foundation hosted a "Hank Williams Christmas Party" on the second floor of the building at 811 Race Street in downtown Cincinnati on Wednesday (December 22).  The date and locale were significant in that it was on December 22, 1948 that Hank Williams entered the Herzog Studios, located on the second floor of the building, and recorded "Lovesick Blues."

The occasion also served as a listening party for the forthcoming Sol Records release Hank to Thank by the Dallas Moore Band.  Moore, who sings as though he is channeling Waylon Jennings, recorded the album in the old Herzog space, marking the first time since the official studios closed in the 1950s that the locale has been used to record an album (think Marty Stuart's Ghost Train:  The Studio B Sessions).  

Author Brian Turpen, who is a contributor to the Hank Williams Fan Club magazine and author of the book Ramblin' Man:  Short Stories From the Life of Hank Williams, was on hand for the event.  During his remarks he stated the Herzog site is the only building in which Williams recorded that has survived the wrecking ball or urban expansion.

Live music was provided by Cincinnati's honky tonk band Straw Boss, who roared through a number of classic country songs, some of which ("Blues Stay Away From Me" and the song the night honored) were recorded at Herzog.  They are a promising band, but they tend to suffer from the desire to modernize classic country songs with a rock sound (most noted on their forgettable version of "Blue Yodel #1 [T for Texas]").  When they stuck to singing the country songs like country songs they were a good highlight to the festivities.

Among the attendees were funk legend (and Cincinnati native/music scene supporter) Bootsy Collins and his wife.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Dates of Note in Country Music, December 16-31

Category: News

(Country Music Hall of Famers in bold)

December 16:

Jim Glaser of the Glaser Brothers born in Spalding, Nebraska, 1937 (now 73)
Jeff Carson born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, 1964 (now 46)
Shelby Singleton born in Waskom, Texas, 1931 (died 2009)
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 57)
Frankie Miller born in Victoria, Texas, 1930 (now 80)
Tracy Byrd born in Vidor, Texas, 1966 (now 44)
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 46)
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 90)
John McEuen of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Bang born in Long Beach, California, 1945 (now 65)
Janie Fricke born in South Whitney, Indiana, 1947 (now 63)
Jumpin' Bill Carlisle born in Wakefield, Kentucky, 1908 (died 2003)
Marion Worth died (emphysema), 1999 (was 69)
Hank Williams' last show, given at the 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)
Don Law died (unknown cause), 1982 (was 80)
Hank Snow died (various illnesses), 1999 (was 85)

December 21:

Freddie Hart born in Lockapoke, Alabama, 1926 (now 84)
Lee Roy Parnell born in Abilene, Texas, 1956 (now 54)
Christy Forrester of the Forester Sisters born in Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia, 1962 (now 48)
Vito Pellettieri born in Nashville, Tennessee, 1889 (died 1977)
Floyd "Lightnin'" Chance born in Como, Mississippi, 1925 (died 2005)

Natchee the Indian (ne Lester Vernon Storer) died in Santa Clara, California (unknown cause), 1970 (was 54)
John Bailes of the Bailes brothers died (unknown cause), 1989 (was 71)
Harold Morrison died (illness), 1994 (was 62)

December 22:

Red Stegall born in Gainesville, Texas, 1937 (now 73)
Chuck Mead of BR5-49 born in Nevada, Missouri, 1960 (now 50)
Paul Martin of Exile born in Winchester, Kentucky, 1962 (now 48)
Harold "Hawkshaw" Hawkins born in Huntington, West Virginia, 1921 (died 1963)
Dave Dudley died (heart attack), 2003 (was 75)

December 23:

Murray "Buddy" Harman born in Nashville, Tennessee, 1928 (died 2008)

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:

J.R. "Curly" Sechler born in China Grove, North Carolina, 1919 (now 91)
Jimmy Buffett born in Pascagoula, Mississippi, 1946 (now 64)

Barbara Mandrell born in Houston, Texas, 1948 (now 62)
Steve Wariner born in Noblesville, Indiana, 1954 (now 56)
Alton Delmore born in Elkmont, Alabama, 1908 (died 1964)
Billy Nelson, Willie Nelson's son, died (suicide), 1991 (was 33)
Johnny Cash and family robbed and held at gunpoint in their Jamaica home, 1982

December 26:

Ronnie Prophet born in Calument, Quebec, 1938 (now 72)
Bob Carpenter of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1946 (now 64)
Audrey Wiggins born in Asheville, North Carolina, 1967 (now 43)
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)

Red Foley and wife Sally injured in a fire in their apartment, 1964

December 27:

Scotty Moore born in Gadsden, Tennessee, 1931 (now 79)
Les Taylor of Exile born in Oneida, Kentucky, 1948 (now 62)
Darrin Vincent of Dailey & Vincent born in Kirkville, Missouri, 1969 (now 41)
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 52)
Mike McGuire of Shenandoah born in Haleyville, Alabama, 1958 (now 52)
Marty Roe of Diamond Rio born in Lebanon, Ohio, 1960 (now 50)
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 88)
Ed Bruce born in Keiser, Arkansas, 1940 (now 70)

December 30:

Suzy Bogguss born in Aledo, Illinois, 1956 (now 53)
Melvin Goins born in Bramwell, West Virginia, 1933 (now 76)
Mike Auldridge born in Washington, DC, 1938 (now 71)
Bob Ferguson born in Willow Spring, Missouri, 1927 (died 2001)
Skeeter Davis (nee Mary Frances Penick) 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
The old Country Music Hall of Fame closed, 2000

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Three Country Songs Added to Grammy Hall of Fame

Category:  News

The Grammy Hall of Fame announced its 2010 inductees this week.  Three country songs are included in the list of recordings:

"Lovesick Blues" - Hank Williams.  Recorded in 1948 at Cincinnati's Herzog Studios, Hank's version of the song is the second version of "Lovesick Blues" inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.  Emmett Miller & His Orchestra's 1928 version was inducted in 2007.  This is the fifth Williams song inducted, following "Hey Good Lookin'," "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry," "Jambalya (On the Bayou)," and "Your Cheatin' Heart."

"On the Road Again" - Willie Nelson.  This 1980 song is Nelson's third recording inducted (fourth if you count the collaboration Wanted!  The Outlaws with Waylon Jennings, Jessi Colter, and Tompall Glaser).  His other entries are his version of "Always on My Mind" and his album Red Headed Stranger.

"Steel Guitar Rag" - Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys.  Opening with Bob Wills saying, "Take it away, Leon!" this 1936 classic has finally been acknowledged by the Grammy Hall of Fame.  It is Wills' second recording in the Hall of Fame, the other being 1940's "New San Antonio Rose."

The Grammy web site states, "The Grammy Hall of Fame Award was established by the Recording Academy's National Trustees in 1973 to honor recordings of lasting qualitative or historical significance that are at least 25 years old.  Inductees are selected annually by a special member committee of eminent and knowledgeable professionals from all branches of the recording arts."  There are a total of 73 country recordings (most of them individual songs, not albums) in the Grammy Hall of Fame out of the 881 total inductees.  

Sunday, December 05, 2010

From Philosopher Tim Wilson....

Category:  News/Opinion

The Fox network will be unveiling yet another music awards show on Monday (12/6).  The "American Country Awards" will have its inaugural broadcast on the network that created it at 8 PM eastern time.  Keeping with the current trend of "we don't know what country is" (see Jewel's nomination for a country female performance Grammy earlier), that longtime country great, Bret Michaels, will be featured on the Fox show.

It's time to give a quote from comedian, songwriter, author, and philosopher Tim Wilson.  In his song "But I Could Be Wrong" he uttered this statement:

"I'm about fed up with Nashville's ass
And the 'hand me a trophy' awards."

Nashville's not responsible for this one, but the sentiment is dead-on accurate.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Dates of Note in Country Music, December 1-15

Category: News

(Country Music Hall of Famers in bold)

December 1:

Darryl Ellis born in Norfolk, Virginia, 1964 (now 46)
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 60)
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 83)
Paul Gregg of Restless Heart born in New York, New York, 1954 (now 56)
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 66)
Rabon Delmore died (lung cancer), 1952 (was 36)
Connie B. Gay died (cancer), 1989 (was 75)

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

December 5:

Don Robertson born in Peking, China, 1922 (now 88)
Jim Messina of Poco born in Harlingen, Texas, 1947 (now 63)
Ty England born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, 1963 (now 47)
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 69)
Bill Lloyd of Foster & Lloyd born in Ft. Hood, Texas, 1955 (now 55)
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:

Bobby Osborne born in Hyden, Kentucky, 1931 (now 79)
Hugh X. Lewis born in Yeaddiss, Kentucky, 1932 (now 78)
Gary Morris born in Fort Worth, Texas, 1948 (now 62)
Ronnie Sessions born in Henrietta, Oklahoma, 1948 (now 62)
Slim Bryant born in Atlanta, Georgia, 1908 (died 2010)
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 78)
David Kersh born in Humble, Texas, 1970 (now 40)
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 59)
Kevin Sharp born in Weiser, Idaho, 1970 (now 40)
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:

Brenda Lee born in Atlanta, Georgia, 1944 (now 66)
Charles Whitstein born in Colfax, Louisiana, 1945 (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 38)
LaCosta Tucker born in Seminole, Texas, 1951 (now 59)
Clifton Chenier died (kidney disease related to diabetes), 1987 (was 62)

December 13:

Buck White born in Oklahoma, 1930 (now 80)
Randy Owen of Alabama born in Fort Payne, Alabama, 1949 (now 61)
John Anderson born in Orlando, Florida, 1954 (now 56)
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 50)

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 married Audrey Guy, 1944

Monday, November 29, 2010

Traditional Music At Its Best

Category: 50 Songs to Hear

This is one of two songs that has two different versions in its review (the other is "Train Leaves Here This Morning," by both Dillard & Clark and the Eagles, in rock). Each version is superlative, which is why they are both mentioned.

SONG: Winter's Come and Gone
ARTISTS: Gillian Welch; Dailey & Vincent
SONGWRITER: Gillian Welch
ALBUMS: Hell Among the Yearlings; Brothers From Different Mothers
YEAR/LABEL: 1998, Acony; 2009, Rounder

It can be so valuable to be an outsider.
(Gillian Welch)

Gillian Welch has emerged as one of the best singer-songwriters of the past decade. Dailey and Vincent have quickly become the dominant band of bluegrass.  They have met musically twice:  the opening salvo of Dailey & Vincent's career after the two men joined up from their tenures in Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver and Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder, respectively, was the gospel masterpiece "By the Mark," which Welch wrote, and this song.

The song is a pure delight, a simple song with the three choruses aimed at three different birds: a redbird, a bluebird, and a blackbird.  While each verse is sung to the individual birds with a feel of the winter drabs ("been so lonesome shaking that morning chill"), the chorus turns to joy, reminding everyone that the return of the birds signals the return of spring:  "winter's come and gone, a little bird told me so."

This is a totally enjoyable song.  So are either of these two acts.

"By the Mark" (from Dailey & Vincent) -- another Gillian Welch composition that Dailey & Vincent recorded. This was their first hit and set their career on its successful course.
The entire Dailey & Vincent Sing the Statler Brothers album -- Dailey & Vincent manage to pull off an almost impossible feat: performing a tribute to the Statler Brothers that simultaneously presents the songs in a fresh light without being a note-for-note copy.
The entire Singing From the Heart album -- twelve a cappella gospel songs showing that the human voice is one of the best instruments in a band.

"Caleb Meyer" (from Hell Among the Yearlings) -- not for the squemish, rapist Caleb gets exactly what he deserves in this gem that a friend describes as "payback for all those 'Pretty Polly' songs in bluegrass."
"By the Mark" (from Revival) -- the Dailey & Vincent version is great, and so is the original.
"I'll Fly Away" (from the O Brother, Where Art Thou soundtrack) -- a stunning version of the classic gospel song.
"I Want to Sing That Rock and Roll" (from Time [The Revelator]) -- how can a song called "I Want to Sing That Rock and Roll" sound like a Carter Family song?  Listen and see.

Where Do I Go to Throw a Picture Away
When My Rowboat Comes In
When I Lift Up My Head
Rose of My Heart
Rock of Ages, Hide Thou Me
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

Train Leaves Here This Morning
Swallowed By the Cracks
Stealin' Time
Starting Tomorrow
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

Sunday, November 28, 2010

"Clean As a Whistle"

Category:  News

Charlie Louvin hosted the November 27 taping of the Midnight Jamboree at the Ernest Tubb Record Shop's Texas Troubadour Theater.  During the show he presented his fans with an early Christmas present:  his most recent medical report in his battle against pancreatic cancer pronounced him "clean as a whistle" from the disease.  Louvin was diagnosed earlier this year and spent his 83rd birthday preparing for surgery and treatment.

Louvin said he had lost 40 pounds and his appetite in the ordeal; however, the turning point came recently when he asked wife Betty to fix him some cornbread and onion and milk to drink.  This signaled a return in his appetite.  He looked far less frail than two months ago, when he and Betty celebrated their 61st wedding anniversary on the Midnight Jamboree.  He was also stronger physically, standing during most of the show and able to sing.  This, too, is in contrast to the September performance where he lacked the energy or the wind to sing or even rise from his seat.

Louvin is not fully recovered:  he was unable to attend the post-show autograph signing because he was tired and weak, but store owner David McCormick assured the fans it was because Louvin had failed to eat earlier, not a side-effect from his disease.

This is good news; however, continue to pray for this Hall of Fame great.  Cancer is a terrible disease that likes to come back on its victims.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Dates of Note in Country Music, November 16-30

Category: News

(Country Music Hall of Famers in bold)

November 16:

Troy Seals born in Bill Hill, Kentucky, 1938 (now 72)
Larry Cordel born in Cordell, Kentucky, 1949 (now 61)
Will Goleman of the Cactus Brothers born in Shreveport, Louisiana, 1963 (now 47)
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 72). The legendary folk singer has written such hits as Marty Robbins' "Ribbon of Darkness" and Bill Anderson's "Did She Mention My Name," and a number of his own recordings have made the country chart.
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 34)
John McFee of Southern Pacific born in Santa Cruz, California, 1953 (now 57)
Doug Sahm died (heart attack), 1999 (was 58)

November 19:

Billy Currington born in Savannah, Georgia, 1973 (now 37)
Jerry Foster born in Tallapoosa, Missouri, 1935 (now 75)
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 80)
George Grantham of Poco and Ricky Skaggs' band born in Cordell, Oklahoma, 1947 (now 63)
Dierks Bentley born in Phoenix, Arizona, 1975 (now 35)
Josh Turner born in Hannah, South Carolina, 1977 (now 33)
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 77)
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)
Doye O'Dell born in Plainview, Texas, 1912 (died 2001)
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 77)
Charlie Sizemore born in Richmond, Kentucky, 1960 (now 50)
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 70)
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 50)
Eddie Stubbs born in Gaithersburg, Maryland, 1961 (now 49)
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 34)

November 27:

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

November 28:

WSM Barn Dance (later known as the Grand Ole Opry) born, 1925 (now 85)
Carrie Rodgers, widow of Jimmie Rodgers, died (cancer), 1961

November 29:

Jody Miller born in Phoenix, Arizona, 1941 (now 69)
Joel Whitburn born in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin, 1938 (now 72)
Merle Travis born in Rosewood, Kentucky, 1917 (died 1983)
Jim Nesbitt died (heart ailment), 2007 (was 75)

November 30:

Bob Moore born in Nashville, Tennessee, 1932 (now 78)
Jeannie Kendall born in St. Louis, Missouri, 1954 (now 56)
Mindy McCready born in Ft. Myers, Florida, 1975 (now 35)
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)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A Thank You to the Veterans of Country Music

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.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Dates of Note in Country Music, November 1-15

Category: News

(Country Music Hall of Famers in bold)

November 1:

Bill Anderson born in Columbia, South Carolina, 1937 (now 73)
Lyle Lovett born in Klein, Texas, 1957 (now 53)
Keith Stegall born in Wichita Falls, Texas, 1954 (now 56)
Lew Childre born in Opp, Alabama, 1901 (died 1961)
Buddy Killen died (cancer), 2006 (was 73)
Jack Reno died (brain cancer), 2008 (was 72)

November 2:

John David Souther born in Detroit, Michigan, 1945 (now 65)
Earl Yager of the Johnson Mountain Boys born in Gordonsville, Virginia, 1953 (now 57)
k.d. lang born in Consort, Alberta, 1961 (now 49)
Charlie Walker born in Copeville, Texas, 1926 (died 2008)
Elaine Tubb, wife of Ernest Tubb and subject of the song "Blue-Eyed Elaine," died, 2001 (was 85)

November 3:

Ray Edenton born in Mineral, Virginia, 1926 (now 84)
Fabor Robison born in Beebe, Arkansas, 1911 (died 1986)
Leon Huff born in Whitesboro, Texas, 1912 (died 1952)
John Maddox of the Maddox Brothers & Rose born in Boaz, Alabama, 1915 (died 1968)
Jimmie Rodgers, Fred Rose, and Hank Williams become the first inductees into the Country Music Hall of Fame, 1961
Merle Haggard granted parole from San Quentin, 1960

November 4:

Kim Forrester born in Oglethorpe, Georgia, 1960 (now 50)
Will Rogers born near Oologah, Oklahoma, 1879 (died 1935)
Audrey Williams died (illness), 1975 (was 52)
Dale Noe died (unknown cause), 2004 (was 76)

November 5:

Billy Sherrill born in Phil Campbell, Alabama, 1936 (now 74)
Lowell Blanchard born in Palmer, Illinois, 1910 (died 1968). Blanchard was the program director at WNOX in the 1930s and began the Midday Merry-Go-Round.
Roy Rogers (Leonard Slye) born in Cincinnati, Ohio, 1911 (died 1998)
Roy Horton born in Broad Top, Pennsylvania, 1914 (died 2003)
Gram Parsons born in Winter Haven, Florida, 1946 (died 1973)
Johnny Horton died (car wreck), 1960 (was 35)
Jimmie Davis died (natural causes), 2000 (was 101)
Dorothy Southworth Ritter died (natural causes), 2003 (was 88)

November 6:

Stonewall Jackson born in Emerson, North Carolina, 1932 (now 78)
Guy Clark born in Monahan, Texas, 1941 (now 69)
Glenn Frey of the Eagles born in Detroit, Michigan, 1948 (now 62)
Doug Sahm born in San Antonio, Texas, 1941 (died 1999)
Hank Thompson died (lung cancer), 2007 (was 82)
Elvis Presley became a member of Louisiana Hayride, 1954

November 7:

Robin Lee born in Nashville, Tennessee, 1953 (now 56)
Red Ingle born in Toledo, Ohio, 1906 (died 1965)
Archie Campbell born in Bull's Gap, Tennessee, 1914 (died 1987)
A.P. Carter died (illness), 1960 (was 68)
Red Foley's daughter, Shirley, married Pat Boone, 1953
Gene Wooten died (cancer), 2001 (was 49)
Marty Robbins participated in his final NASCAR race, 1982

November 8:

Patti Page (Clara Fowler) born in Claremore, Oklahoma, 1927 (now 83)
Scotty Wiseman born in Ingalls, North Carolina, 1909 (died 1981)
Ivory Joe Hunter died (lung cancer), 1974 (was 60). A number of the R&B singer/songwriter's songs were turned into country hits by Sonny James, including "Since I Met You, Baby" and "Empty Arms."

November 9:

George D. Hay born in Attica, Indiana, 1895 (died 1968)
Curly Fox born in Graysville, Tennessee, 1910 (died 1995)
James "Spider" Rich, co-writer of "Yakety Sax," died (unknown cause), 2003 (was 80)

November 10:

Donna Fargo (Yvonne Vaughn) born in Mount Airy, North Carolina, 1940 (now 70)
Pat Severs of Pirates of the Mississippi born in Elmira, New York, 1952 (now 58)
Paul Cohen born in Chicago, Illinois, 1908 (died 1970)
Onie Wheeler born in Senath, Missouri, 1921 (died 1984)
Dave "Stringbean" Akeman died (murdered), 1973 (was 58)
Curly Fox died (natural causes), 1995 (was 85)
The Edmund Fitzgerald sank in Lake Superior, killing all 29 aboard, 1975. The accident inspired Gordon Lightfoot's 1976 pop/country/folk hit "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald."

November 11:

Narvel Felts born near Keiser, Arkansas, 1938 (now 72)
Hank "Sugarfoot" Garland born in Cow Pens, South Carolina, 1930 (died 2004)
Wade Ray died (illness), 1998 (was 85)

November 12:

Barbara Fairchild born in Lafe, Arkansas, 1950 (now 60)
Jo Stafford born in Coalinga, California, 1917 (died 2008). The pop singer was the girl singer on Red Ingle & Natural Seven hit "Tem-Tay-Shun."
John Lair, Renfro Valley Barn Dance founder, died (natural causes), 1985 (was 91)
Homer and Jethro's legendary live album At the Country Club recorded in Nashville, 1959
Groundbreaking ceremonies held for construction of the Grand Ole Opry House (current home of the Opry), 1971
The IRS confiscated Willie Nelson's belongings as payment for his tax bill, 1990

November 13:

Ray Wylie Hubbard born in Soper, Oklahoma, 1946 (now 64)
Jack Guthrie born in Olive, Oklahoma, 1915 (died 1948)
Buddy Killen born in Florence, South Carolina, 1932 (died 2006)
Jerry Lee Lewis Jr. died (car wreck), 1973 (was 20)
Junior Samples died (heart attack), 1983 (was 57)

November 14:

Ken Carson born in Coalgate, Oklahoma, 1914 (died 1994)
Robert Whitstein died (heart attack), 2001 (was 57)

November 15:

William Fries (C.W. McCall) born in Audubon, Iowa, 1928 (now 82)
Jack Ingram born in Houston, Texas, 1970 (now 40)
 Albert E. Brumley died (unknown cause), 1977 (was 72)

Thursday, October 28, 2010

It's That Time of the Year Again...

Category:  Opinion

By now the first ballots for the 2011 Hall of Fame selection have been sent out to the three hundred or so anonymous voters who get the privilege of selecting who goes in.  As these people are unknown except to a select few in the Country Music Association (which is understandable, it prevents vote buying by undeserving acts), this is a general appeal to those people.  Consider this one of those "for your consideration" ads that fill the trade papers at nomination/voting time for the Grammy, Emmy, and Oscar awards.

I will be the first to admit that there are a number of people who may or may not be a worthy candidate for induction.  I am also a realist:  just because I like someone does not mean they are automatically Hall of Fame quality.  We must never water down the criteria for induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame lest it become a parody (much the way the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame currently is, with this year's nominations of one-hit wonders and rap acts while excluding legitimately "famous" [it is a hall of fame, after all] acts from the nomination process).  Also, I would hate to see the voters act as though they have some birthright to the induction vote (the way people in the Baseball Writers Association seem to feel about their duty to the Baseball Hall of Fame:  some of them return blank ballots every year because they arrogantly claim nobody deserves a unanimous vote, and others claim that one steroid user will never get their vote while saying they'd vote for another steroid user in a heartbeat).  The people who are potential inductees, the country music industry in general, and all of the fans who not only like the artists but who walk through those doors in Nashville and lay down $20 (or $33 to go to Studio B as well) to view the plaques deserve educated, informed voters who take their responsibility seriously and will not just mark a ballot because someone died (sadly, Patsy Montana was inducted that way:  she died after the ballots were mailed in 1996) or because someone is the retiring president of the CMA (I lost count as to how many people were inducted this way).

With that, I humbly present "for your consideration" the following acts for induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2011:

Veterans Category:

Wilburn Brothers.  I know they were not well-liked in Nashville, for various reasons; however, both Teddy and Doyle are gone now, so bury the hatchet and those ill feelings and induct them!  Do they belong?  They had one of the most successful syndicated country music shows in existence in the 60s and early 70s (which still airs on RFD-TV) and a career that spanned four decades.  They also launched the career of a gal from Butcher Holler, Kentucky.

Elton Britt.  If we can induct (rightfully, in my opinion) Vernon Dalhart for having the first million-seller in country music history and Patsy Montana for being the first woman to sell a million, then Elton Britt can also be inducted for having the distinction of being the first recipient of a gold record awarded to a country song ("There's a Star-Spangled Banner Waving Somewhere," 1942).  Britt's career, however, was much more than that:  a superb yodeler and movie actor (he appeared in western films in the 40s) who continued to chart until shortly before his death in 1972.

Al Dexter.  Al Dexter is the reason Billboard magazine created a "hillbilly and western" chart in 1944.  The phenomenal success of "Pistol Packin' Mama" throughout the last part of 1943 bumped pop acts out of their position on the charts.  The Hall of Fame, as mentioned earlier, has acknowledged the historic firsts in country music.  This man's popularity in the 1940s gave us another historic first:  a chart to track the popularity of country music.

Cowboy Copas.  Eddie Stubbs says it every time he plays a Copas record:  "This man did so much more in country music than just die in a plane crash with Patsy Cline."  In fact, he was the superstar on that ill-fated plane in 1963:  Patsy had just had a few hits and Hawkshaw Hawkins' career was mostly as a good but "regional" or "minor" success. 

The Browns.  Along with Jean Shepard, they are (thanks to Ferlin Husky's induction this year) the final "superstar" act of the 1950s and early 1960s who need to be inducted .  They were so much more than "The Three Bells," although the success of that song in country and pop in an era of Elvis is in and of itself criteria enough for induction.

Archie Campbell.  There is no more deserving comedian who is not in than the mayor of Bull's Gap, Tennessee.  His popularity in Knoxville in the 1930s and 40s was such that he was thrown a parade when he was discharged from the Navy.  After that, he went on to success as a recording star of both comedic ("Rindercella" and other spoonerisms) and straight ("Trouble in the Amen Corner") material, a noted songwriter, and one of the writers and stars of Hee Haw from its inception until his death.

Modern Category:

Connie Smith.  Connie Smith still owns the record for the biggest #1 debut single ("Once a Day," 1964, which stayed at #1 for over a month).  Her string of hits is long and continues today with her work with her husband, Marty Stuart.

Reba McEntire.  I'm not a fan of her music for the most part, but to deny the success this woman has enjoyed in country music (and taking it to a larger audience courtesy of her successful television show) is to appear downright idiotic.

Ray Stevens.  Until "The Streak" came along in 1974, country music had only seen one million-selling comedy record (Homer and Jethro's "How Much is That Hound Dog in the Window" in 1953).  Stevens is now known primarily as a comedian; however, he netted two Grammy awards for "serious" material (including "Everything is Beautiful" in 1970).  He is also well-known outside the confines of country music for his material.


The third category alternates every year between musician (Charlie McCoy was the last inductee in that area), songwriter (Bill Sherrill this year), and non-performer.  Sadly, most of the time the "non-performer" is a CMA executive or someone in the Nashville industry, as if to say that country music never existed outside of Nashville (when, in reality, Nashville was a latecomer to the country music bandwagon).  I would love to see someone other than "the usual suspects" nominated/inducted this year:

Syd Nathan.  Nathan owned King Records, the Cincinnati-based record company that bears the distinction of being the first (and until Heart of Texas Records, the only) exclusively country music record label when it launched in 1943.  If that isn't worthy of induction, NOTHING is.  After all, "hillbilly music" was still dismissed as unimportant during the 1940s (to the point where the lack of stores carrying country records prompted Ernest Tubb to start his own record store in 1947), and Nathan took a huge gamble -- one that paid off handsomely with acts such as future Hall of Famers Grandpa Jones, Merle Travis, the Delmore Brothers, Homer & Jethro, and Bill Carlisle.

Bill C. Malone.  Dr. Malone literally wrote the book on country music when his doctoral thesis was published in 1968 as Country Music USA.  It is the reference book for scholars, writers, journalists, and anyone who wants to know the history of country music.  I am a fan, admittedly; but there is a good reason for that:  without Malone's ground-breaking work, there would be no books on country music today.

Lowell Blanchard.  Blanchard was the program director at WNOX in Knoxville.  Under his supervision, the station became the cradle of the Hall of Fame, featuring acts from Roy Acuff in the 1930s to Don Gibson in the 1950s. 

Horace Logan.  Don't recognize the name?  You will recognize the talent he introduced to the world:  Hank Williams, Elvis Presley, Johnnie & Jack, Kitty Wells, Faron Young, and Jim Reeves.  Logan was the founder of the Louisiana Hayride, one of the most important "barn dance" shows in America.

Nothing would make me happier than to see some of these names on the induction list when it is released in February.