Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Dates of Note in Country Music, April 1-15

Category: News
(Country Music Hall of Famers in bold)

April 1:

Arthur "Guitar Boogie" Smith born in Clinton, South Carolina, 1921 (now 89)
Jim Ed Brown born in Sparkman, Arkansas, 1934 (now 76)
Jules Verne Allen born in Waxahachie, Texas, 1883 (died 1945)
Jimmy Logsdon born in Panther, Kentucky, 1922 (died 2001)
CMA President Paul Cohen died (cancer), 1970 (was 71)
Rachel Veach joined Roy Acuff's Smoky Mountain Boys, 1939. Her presence gave rise to Pete Kirby's nickname "Bashful Brother Oswald:" a woman traveling with a group of men was scandalous, so Kirby was billed as Veach's "bashful brother" to quell any rumors.
The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum opened, 1967

April 2:

Warner Mack born in Nashville, Tennessee, 1935 (now 75)
Sonny Throckmorton born in Carlsbad, New Mexico, 1941 (now 69)
Emmylou Harris born in Birmingham, Alabama, 1947 (now 63)
Dean Townson of Pirates of the Mississippi born in Battle Creek, Michigan, 1959 (now 51)
Billy Dean born in Quincy, Florida, 1962 (now 48)
Mose Rager born in Muhlenberg County, Kentucky, 1911 (died 1986). The guitarist was a significant influence on the thumbpicking style of another guitarist from the region, Merle Travis.
Cliff Carlisle died (unknown cause), 1983 (was 78)
Former Country Gentleman Doyle Lawson formed Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, 1979

April 3:

Billy Joe Royal born in Valdosta, Georgia, 1942 (now 68)
Curtis Stone of Highway 101 (and son of Cliffie Stone) born in North Hollywood, California, 1950 (now 60)
Hank Newman of the Georgia Crackers born in Cochran, Georgia, 1905 (died 1978)
Don Gibson born in Shelby, North Carolina, 1928 (died 2003)
Ella Mae Cooley murdered, 1961. Her husband, self-proclaimed "King of Western Swing" Spade Cooley, was convicted of her murder and sentenced to life in prison.
Red Allen died (cancer), 1993 (was 63)
Starday Records owner Don Pierce died (heart attack), 2005 (was 89)
Louisiana Hayride debuted on KWKH, Shreveport, Louisiana, 1948. Among the artists who performed on the radio show were Elvis Presley, Hank Williams, Johnny Horton, and one-time emcee Jim Reeves.

April 4:

Norro Wilson born in Scottsville, Kentucky, 1938 (now 72)
Steve Gatlin of the Gatlin Brothers born in Olney, Texas, 1951 (now 59)
Troy Gentry of Montgomery-Gentry born in Lexington, Kentucky, 1967 (now 43)
Cy Coben born in Jersey City, New Jersey, 1919 (died 2006)
Red Sovine died (heart attack), 1980 (was 61)

April 5:

Jack Clement born in Whitehaven, Tennessee, 1931 (now 79)
Bill Clifton born in Riverwood, Maryland, 1931 (now 79). In addition to being a bluegrass performer, Clifton is also credited with starting the bluegrass festival, when he organized a July 4, 1961 show in Luray, Virginia.
June Stearns born in Albany, New York, 1939 (now 71)
Tommy Cash born in Dyess, Arkansas, 1940 (now 70)
Bob McDill born in Beaumont, Texas, 1944 (now 66)
Pat Green born in San Antonio, Texas, 1972 (now 38)
Stoney Edwards died (complications from diabetes), 1997 (was 67)
Gene Pitney died (natural causes), 2006 (was 65). In addition to his rock hits, Pitney recorded two albums of duets with George Jones.

April 6:

Merle Haggard born in Bakersfield, California, 1937 (now 73)
Vernon Dalhart (ne Marion Try Slaughter) born in Marion County, Texas, 1883 (died 1948)
Wade Ray born in Griffin, Indiana, 1913 (died 1998)
Tammy Wynette died (heart failure attributed to blood clot), 1998 (was 55)
The Grand Ole Opry was canceled due to rioting in the wake of Martin Luther King's assassination earlier in the week, 1968

April 7:

Cal Smith born in Gans, Oklahoma, 1932 (now 78)
Bobby Bare born in Ironton, Ohio, 1935 (now 75)
John Dittrich of Restless Heart born in New York, New York, 1951 (now 59)
Leon "Pappy" Selph born in Houston, Texas, 1914 (died 1999)
Clyde Moody died (unknown cause), 1989 (was 73)
Steel guitarist Jeff Newman died (plane crash), 2004 (was 62)

April 8:

John Schneider born in Mount Kisco, New York, 1960 (now 50)
Jimmy Osborne born in Winchester, Kentucky, 1923 (died 1957)

April 9:

Margo Smith born in Dayton, Ohio, 1942 (now 68)
Con Hunley born in Fountain City, Tennessee, 1945 (now 65)
Hal Ketchum born in Greenwich, New York, 1953 (now 57)
Mark Roberts of the Red Clay Ramblers born in Wareham, Massachusetts, 1957 (now 53)
Dave Innis of Restless Heart born in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, 1959 (now 51)
Carl Perkins born in Tiptonville, Tennessee, 1932 (died 1998)
Darrell Glenn died (unknown cause), 1990 (was 54)
Mae Boren Axton died (natural causes), 1997 (was 82)

April 10:

Weldon Myrick born in Jayton, Texas, 1938 (now 72). The steel guitar great co-wrote the Wilburn Brothers' "Hangin' Around" and suggested the town of Big Spring, Texas to Bill Anderson for the line "If you've never been to Paris, France / Big Spring, Texas will suit you fine" in "At the Time" (a hit for Jean Shepard).
Fiddlin' Arthur Smith born in Bold Spring, Tennessee, 1898 (died 1971)
Sheb Wooley born in Enick, Oklahoma, 1921 (died 2003)
Former home of Johnny and June Cash destroyed by fire, 2007. Bee Gee Barry Gibb owned the house at the time of the fire.

April 11:

Jim Lauderdale born in Troutman, North Carolina, 1957 (now 53)
Harty Taylor of Karl & Harty born in Mount Vernon, Kentucky, 1905 (died 1963)
Millie Good of the Girls of the Golden West born in Mount Carmel, Illinois, 1913 (died 1993)
Eddie Miller died (unknown cause), 1977 (was 83). In addition to writing a number of songs, including "I've Loved and Lost Again" which was recorded by Patsy Cline during her stint on Four Star, Miller co-founded the Nashville Songwriters' Association International.
Lighnin' Chance died (cancer/Alzheimer's), 2005 (was 79)
Jerry Byrd died (complications of Parkinson's disease), 2005 (was 85)

April 12:

Ned Miller born in Raines, Utah, 1925 (now 85)
Judy Lynn born in Boise, Idaho, 1936 (now 74)
Vince Gill born in Norman, Oklahoma, 1957 (now 53)
Ernie Lee born in Berea, Kentucky, 1916 (died 1991)
Lewis Crook of the Crook Brothers died (natural causes), 1997 (was 87)
Boxcar Willie died (leukemia), 1999 (was 67)

April 13:

Sam Bush born in Bowling Green, Kentucky, 1952 (now 58)
Bob Nolan of the Sons of the Pioneers born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, 1908 (died 1980)
Milton Brown died (injuries received in automobile accident on April 8), 1936 (was 32)
Guy Willis of the Willis Brothers died (unknown cause), 1981 (was 65)
Johnny Dollar died (unknown cause), 1986 (was 53)

April 14:

Loretta Lynn born in Butcher Holler, Kentucky, 1935 (now 75)
Stuart Duncan of the Nashville Bluegrass Band born in Quantico, Virginia, 1964 (now 46)
Vito Pelletteri died (complications from a stroke), 1977 (was 87)
Burl Ives died (cancer), 1995 (was 85)

April 15:

Roy Clark born in Meherrin, Virginia, 1933 (now 77)
J.L. Frank born in Limestone County, Alabama, 1900 (died 1952)
Bob Luman born in Nacogdoches, Texas, 1937 (died 1978)
Junior Barnard of Bob Wills' Texas Playboys died (car wreck), 1951 (was 30)
Rose Maddox died (various illnesses), 1998 (was 72)
Otto Kitsinger died (heart attack), 1998 (was 56). Otto was the historian and writer for CMT's Opry Backstage.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Dates of Note in Country Music, March 16-31

Category: News

(Country Music Hall of Famers in bold)

March 16:

Jerry Jeff Walker born in Oneonta, New York, 1942 (now 68)
Ray Benson of Asleep at the Wheel born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1951 (now 59)
Tim O'Brien born in Wheeling, West Virginia, 1954 (now 56)
Stan Thorn of Shenandoah born in Kenosha, Wisconsin, 1959 (now 51)
Ronnie McCoury born in York County, Pennsylvania, 1967 (now 43)
Robert Whitstein born in Colfax, Louisiana, 1944 (died 2001)
Plane crash kills Chris Austin, Kirk Capello, Joey Cigainero, Paula Kaye Evans, Terry Jackson, Michael Thomas, and Tony Saputo of Reba McEntire's band, 1991

March 17:

Jim Weatherly born in Pontotoc, Mississippi, 1943 (now 67)
Paul Overstreet born in Newton, Mississippi, 1955 (now 55)
Dick Curless born in Fort Fairfield, Maine, 1932 (died 1995)
Hugh Farr died (unknown causes), 1980 (was 77)
Jimmy Gately died (unknown causes), 1985 (was 53)
Sammy Pruett died (unknown causes), 1988 (was 61)
Terry Stafford died (liver failure), 1996 (was 55)
Bill Carlisle died (natural causes), 2003 (was 94)

March 18:

Billy Armstrong born in Streator, Illinois, 1930 (now 80)
Charley Pride born in Sledge, Mississippi, 1938 (now 72)
Margie Bowes born in Roxboro, North Carolina, 1941 (now 69)
James McMurty born in Fort Worth, Texas, 1962 (now 48)
Smiley Burnette born in Summum, Illinois, 1911 (died 1967)
John Phillips of the Mamas and Papas died (heart failure), 2001 (was 65). His solo hit, "Mississippi," was a country hit in 1971.

March 19:

Henry "Friendly Henry" Maddox born in Boaz, Alabama, 1928 (died 1974)
Speck Rhodes died (natural causes), 2000 (was 84)
Randall Hylton died (brain aneurysm), 2001 (was 55)
Tootsie's Orchid Lounge opened in Nashville, 1960

March 20:

Tommy Hunter born in London, Ontario, 1937 (now 73)
Douglas B. Green (Ranger Doug) of Riders in the Sky born in Great Lakes, Illinois, 1946 (now 64)
Jim Seales of Shenandoah born in Hamilton, Alabama, 1954 (now 56)
Jerry Reed born in Atlanta, Georgia, 1937 (died 2008)

March 21:

Carol Lee Cooper born in West Virginia, 1942 (now 70)
Tommy Hill died (liver and heart ailments), 2002 (was 72)

March 22:

Charlie Poole born in Randolph County, North Carolina, 1892 (died 1931)
Hoyle Nix of the West Texas Cowboys born in Azel, Texas, 1918 (died 1985)
Uncle Dave Macon died (illness), 1952 (was 81)
Stoney Cooper died (heart attack), 1977 (was 59)
Carl Perkins injured in automobile accident, 1956

March 23:

David Grisman born in Passaic, New Jersey, 1945 (now 65)
Fiddlin' John Carson born in Fannin County, Georgia, 1868 (died 1949)
Jim Anglin born in Franklin, Tennessee, 1913 (died 1987)
Smokey Rogers born in McMinnville, Tennessee, 1917 (died 1993)
J.D. Miller died (complications from heart bypass surgery), 1996 (was 73)
Ray "Pop" Lewis of the Lewis Family died (natural causes), 2004 (was 98)
Cindy Walker died (natural causes), 2006 (was 88)

March 24:

Peggy Sue Webb born in Butcher Hollow, Kentucky, 1947 (now 63)
Carson Robison died (unknown causes), 1957 (was 66)
Howard Dixon died (unknown - possible work accident), 1961 (was 57)
Henson Cargill died (complications from surgery), 2007 (was 66)

March 25:

Bonnie Guitar born in Seattle, Washington, 1923 (now 87)
Robbie Fulks born in York, Pennsylvania, 1963 (now 47)
Hoyt Axton born in Duncan, Oklahoma, 1938 (died 1999)
Jack Kapp died (cerebral hemorrhage), 1949 (was 47)
Buck Owens died (heart attack), 2006 (was 76)

March 26:

Bud Isaacs born in Bedford, Indiana, 1928 (now 82)
Vicki Lawrence born in Inglewood, California, 1949 (now 61). The Carol Burnett Show actress had one hit, "The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia," which made both the pop and country charts.
Ronnie McDowell born in Fountain Head, Tennessee, 1950 (now 60)
Michael Bonagura of Baillie & the Boys born in Newark, New Jersey, 1953 (now 57)
Dean Dillon born in Lake City, Tennessee, 1955 (now 55)
Charly McClain born in Jackson, Tennessee, 1956 (now 54)
Kenny Chesney born in Lutrell, Tennessee, 1968 (now 42)

March 27:

Bill Callahan of the Callahan Brothers born in Madison County, North Carolina, 1912 (died 2002)
David Rogers born in Houston, Texas, 1936 (died 1993)

March 28:

Roy Dean Webb of the Dillards born in Independence, Missouri, 1937 (now 73)
Charlie McCoy born in Oak Hill, West Virginia, 1941 (now 69)
Reba McEntire born in Chockie, Oklahoma, 1955 (now 55)
Jay Livingston born in McDonald, Pennsylvania, 1915 (died 2001). The pop songwriter's many hits include "Silver Bells," which has been recorded by many country performers.
Rusty Draper died (heart disease/throat cancer), 2003 (was 80)
Glenn Barber died (heart ailment), 2008 (was 73)

March 29:

Brady Seals of Little Texas born in Hamilton, Ohio, 1969 (now 41)
Moon Mullican born in Corrigan, Texas, 1909 (died 1967)
Jerry Byrd born in Lima, Ohio, 1920 (died 2005)
Texas Ruby died (house fire), 1963 (was 54)
Opry announcer Hal Durham died (unknown cause), 2009 (was 77)

March 30:

Bobby Wright born in Charleston, West Virginia, 1942 (now 68)
Connie Cato born in Carlinville, Illinois, 1955 (now 55)

March 31:

John D. Loudermilk born in Durham, North Carolina, 1934 (now 76)
Greg Martin of the Kentucky Headhunters born in Louisville, Kentucky, 1954 (now 56)
Howdy Forrester born in Vernon, Tennessee, 1922 (died 1987)
Tommy Jackson born in Birmingham, Alabama, 1926 (died 1979)
William O. "Lefty" Frizzell born in Corsicana, Texas, 1928 (died 1975)
Anita Carter born in Maces Springs, Virginia, 1933 (died 1999)
Skeets McDonald died (heart attack), 1968 (was 52)
Carl Story died (complications from heart bypass surgery), 1995 (was 78)

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Hey, Dude!

Category: Birthday Tribute

In 1926 a six-year-old boy picked up a mandolin that was lying around his home. His eight-year-old brother taught him the three chords of "Little Brown Jug." After that, the mandolin was never the same again.

The little boy was Kenneth Charles Burns, born nine decades ago March 10.

By the age of ten, Dude (pronounced "Dudie") Burns had learned every country song played on the radio in Knoxville. The music failed to challenge his playing sufficiently, so he turned to jazz; specifically, the brilliance of Django Reinhardt. The more he discovered the better he played. By the time he was twelve a talent judge threw him and his band out of an amateur contest because he sounded far too professional.

Something else heavily influenced the young Dude Burns: his father, who, prior to World War I, worked as a blackface Vaudeville comedian. The humor gene became very prevalent in the son a few years later on the radio, when he and his friend and musical partner Henry "Junior" Haynes began doing comical versions of pop songs. When WNOX announcer Lowell Blanchard forgot their names while introducing them for their segment on the Midday Merry-Go-Round he blurted out something else. The two boys liked the names Blanchard improvised and kept them. Those names were Homer and Jethro.

Homer and Jethro on the
National Barn Dance, 1957

Jethro Burns is a legend, and rightfully so. He was not only the master of the mandolin who could impersonate anyone's playing style (listen to him mimic Bill Monroe on Old Friends, the album he did with Red Rector) and play any genre of music, his humor was drier than the deserts he and Homer sang about in "The Sifting, Wimpering Sands."

And nobody was safe from Jethro's humor. When his daughter injured her toe at school the nurse suggested she go home after the toe turned purple. She phoned home and her father's reply to her plight was, "Do you want me to call you a toe truck?" He commented to a friend that he was perplexed as to why, when he came home from a tour, he always found the toilet seat up. And when an interviewer asked Jethro how he and brother-in-law Chet Atkins were able to differentiate between their wives, who were identical twins, Jethro commented, "We never try."

Jethro seemed to relish in letting people get in just nearly over their head -- then he'd throw them a cinder block. On one occasion, while touring with Steve Goodman, Goodman went after one of Jethro's less-than successful jokes. "Is that how these jokes went over when you told them back then?" Goodman said.

"No," Jethro replied sincerely. Sometimes they flopped."

Goodman laughed. "Homer stood here for forty years, huh?"

At that point Jethro executed his revenge. "We'd do all the old jokes. Ask this lady here, 'are you in show business?'"

As this joke was used in the film Blazing Saddles, Goodman should have seen what was coming; however, he obliged his friend. "Are you in show business?" he asked the woman in the audience. She shook her head.

"Then get your elbow off the stage!" Jethro commanded.

Goodman sank like a rock. "What I wanna know," he said through his laughter, "is how I got talked into setting that up!"

On another occasion Burns fenced with his longtime partner at 35,000 feet. While returning from one of Homer and Jethro's engagements in Las Vegas Jethro was called to the cockpit of the plane. When he arrived he found the captain waiting for him. The captain informed Jethro he needed to be searched, and Burns consented. After he was patted down and his personal effects returned to him, the pilot apologized, "I'm sorry, but we had it on good authority that you were smuggling drugs."

"No problem."

As Jethro started back for his seat the first thing he saw as he passed through the curtain was Homer, in his seat, doubled over in laughter. As Jethro neared Homer's seat Haynes asked innocently, "Anything wrong?"

"Nothing," Jethro replied. "The captain wanted my autograph, that's all."

Celebrate the 90th anniversary of the birth of Kenneth "Jethro" Burns by spinning a few Homer and Jethro albums (you have to use albums, since there are only two compilation CDs in print). Here's one to get your funny bone warmed up:

Enjoy the musical and comedy magic that is Homer and Jethro.