Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The World's Most Famous Banjo is Now Silent

Category: Obituary

"The single most important musician in the history of the world, he revolutionized the sound of the banjo.  You'd be hard-pressed to find a banjo player who wasn't influenced by Earl."
--Eddie Stubbs in his tribute

Earl Eugene Scruggs
January 8, 1924 - March 28, 2012

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Dates of Note in Country Music, March 16-31

Category: News

(Country Music Hall of Famers in bold)

March 16:

Jerry Jeff Walker (ne Ronald Clyde Crosby) born in Oneonta, New York, 1942 (now 70)
Ray Benson of Asleep at the Wheel born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1951 (now 61)
Tim O'Brien born in Wheeling, West Virginia, 1954 (now 58)
Stan Thorn of Shenandoah born in Kenosha, Wisconsin, 1959 (now 53)
Ronnie McCoury born in York County, Pennsylvania, 1967 (now 45)
Robert Whitstein born in Colfax, Louisiana, 1944 (died 2001)
Plane crash at Otay Mountain near San Diego, California kills Reba McEntire band members Chris Austin, Kirk Capello, Joey Cigainero, Paula Kaye Evans, Terry Jackson, Michael Thomas, and Tony Saputo 1991

March 17:

Jim Weatherly born in Pontotoc, Mississippi, 1943 (now 69)
Paul Overstreet born in Newton, Mississippi, 1955 (now 57)
Dick Curless born in Fort Fairfield, Maine, 1932 (died 1995)
Hugh Farr died in Casper, Wyoming (unknown causes), 1980 (was 77)
Jimmy Gately died in Madison, Tennessee (unknown causes), 1985 (was 53)
Sammy Pruett died in Birmingham, Alabama (unknown causes), 1988 (was 61)
Terry Stafford died in Amarillo, Texas (liver failure), 1996 (was 55)
Bill Carlisle died in Nashville, Tennessee (natural causes), 2003 (was 94)

Ferlin Husky died in Nashville, Tennessee (congestive heart failure/colon cancer), 2011 (was 85)

March 18:

Billy Armstrong born in Streator, Illinois, 1930 (now 82)
Charley Pride born in Sledge, Mississippi, 1938 (now 74)
Margie Bowes born in Roxboro, North Carolina, 1941 (now 71)
James McMurty born in Fort Worth, Texas, 1962 (now 50)
Smiley Burnette born in Summum, Illinois, 1911 (died 1967)
John Phillips of the Mamas and Papas died in Los Angeles, California (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 in Nashville, Tennessee (natural causes), 2000 (was 84)
Randall Hylton died in Nashville, Tennessee (brain aneurysm), 2001 (was 55)
Tootsie's Orchid Lounge opened in Nashville, 1960

March 20:

Tommy Hunter born in London, Ontario, 1937 (now 75)
Douglas B. Green (Ranger Doug) of Riders in the Sky born in Great Lakes, Illinois, 1946 (now 66)
Jim Seales of Shenandoah born in Hamilton, Alabama, 1954 (now 58)

Jerry Reed born in Atlanta, Georgia, 1937 (died 2008)
Ralph Mooney died in Kennedale, Texas (kidney cancer), 2011 (was 82)

March 21:

Carol Lee Cooper born in West Virginia, 1942 (now 72)
Tommy Hill died in Nashville, Tennessee (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 in Murfreesboro, Tennessee (illness), 1952 (was 81)
Stoney Cooper died in Nashville, Tennessee (heart attack), 1977 (was 59)
Carl Perkins injured in automobile accident near Wilmington, Delaware, 1956

March 23:

David Grisman born in Passaic, New Jersey, 1945 (now 67)
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 in Crowley, Louisiana (complications from heart bypass surgery), 1996 (was 73)
James Roy "Pop" Lewis of the Lewis Family died in Lincoln County, Georgia (natural causes), 2004 (was 98)
Cindy Walker died in Mexia, Texas (natural causes), 2006 (was 88)

March 24:

Peggy Sue Webb born in Butcher Hollow, Kentucky, 1947 (now 65)
Carson Robison died in Poughkeepsie, New York (unknown causes), 1957 (was 66)
Howard Dixon died in East Rockingham, North Carolina (unknown - possible work accident), 1961 (was 57)
Henson Cargill died in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (complications from surgery), 2007 (was 66)

March 25:

Bonnie Guitar born in Seattle, Washington, 1923 (now 89)
Robbie Fulks born in York, Pennsylvania, 1963 (now 49)

Natchee the Indian (ne Lester Vernon Storer) born in Peebles, Ohio, 1916 (died 1970)
Hoyt Axton born in Duncan, Oklahoma, 1938 (died 1999)
Jack Kapp died in New York, New York (cerebral hemorrhage), 1949 (was 47)
Buck Owens died in Bakersfield, California (heart attack), 2006 (was 76)

March 26:

Bud Isaacs born in Bedford, Indiana, 1928 (now 84)
Vicki Lawrence born in Inglewood, California, 1949 (now 63). 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 62)
Michael Bonagura of Baillie & the Boys born in Newark, New Jersey, 1953 (now 59)
Dean Dillon born in Lake City, Tennessee, 1955 (now 57)
Charly McClain born in Jackson, Tennessee, 1956 (now 56)
Kenny Chesney born in Lutrell, Tennessee, 1968 (now 44)

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 75)
Charlie McCoy born in Oak Hill, West Virginia, 1941 (now 71)
Reba McEntire born in Chockie, Oklahoma, 1955 (now 57)

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.
Farrell "Rusty" Draper died in Bellevue, Washington (heart disease/throat cancer), 2003 (was 80)
Glenn Barber died in Gallatin, Tennessee (heart ailment), 2008 (was 73)

March 29:

Brady Seals of Little Texas born in Hamilton, Ohio, 1969 (now 43)
Moon Mullican born in Corrigan, Texas, 1909 (died 1967)
Jerry Byrd born in Lima, Ohio, 1920 (died 2005)
Texas Ruby died in Nashville, Tennessee (house fire), 1963 (was 54)
Opry announcer Hal Durham died in Nashville, Tennessee (unknown cause), 2009 (was 77)

March 30:

Bobby Wright born in Charleston, West Virginia, 1942 (now 70)
Connie Cato born in Carlinville, Illinois, 1955 (now 57)

March 31:

John D. Loudermilk born in Durham, North Carolina, 1934 (now 78)
Greg Martin of the Kentucky Headhunters born in Louisville, Kentucky, 1954 (now 58)
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 in Inglewood, California (heart attack), 1968 (was 52)

Carl Story died in Greer, South Carolina (complications from heart bypass surgery), 1995 (was 78)
Mel McDaniel died in Hendersonville, Tennessee (lung cancer), 2011 (was 68)

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Farewell to the Mayor of Music Row

Category:  News/Obituary

It is with great sadness that I report the death of pioneering country music journalist Charlie Lamb.  Lamb died Wednesday (3/7) from complications of pneumonia.

Charlie Lamb hailed from Knoxville, where his mother and father were performers.  Lamb was bitten by the bug early in his life and learned well from his parents.  Lamb perfected the art of "double talk" and worked in carnivals until World War II started.

After the war Lamb returned to Knoxville and became involved in the city's star-heavy country music scene, working as both a DJ at WROL and a music reporter for the Knoxville Journal.  He also served as a booking agent for several Knoxville-based performers such as Carl Smith and Flatt & Scruggs.

Nashville took notice of Lamb's talent and connections.  He landed a job as the country music reporter for Cash Box magazine.  As Lamb frequently told the International Country Music Conference audience, he would commute the 200-plus miles between Knoxville and Nashville, stopping along the road to shave in a creek.  Eventually he left Knoxville for good when Mercury Records offered him a position.

Lamb was a tireless worker for the advancement of country music.  He was one of the founding fathers of the Country Music Association and the first president of the Nashville chapter of NARAS.  He started the magazine Country Music Reporter (later just Music Reporter) to give the music a larger spotlight than it would find in the scant three or four pages Billboard devoted to it.  His efforts earned him the nickname "the Mayor of Music Row."

Even late in his life Lamb continued to promote country music.  He helped start the Jimmie Rodgers Memorial Festival in Meridian, and he attended ICMC every May to help recognize journalism excellence in country music with the Charlie Lamb Award.

His stories at ICMC were as legendary as the man himself.  He would regale the audience with tales of his days sharing a house with Elvis Presley in Hollywood or watching people such as Brenda Lee and Webb Pierce begin their Hall of Fame careers.  

ICMC will go on, of course, but from now on there will be a huge hole left in the conference by this 5'6" dynamo of country music journalism and history known as Charlie Lamb.

Charlie Lamb was 90.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

The Class of 2012

Category:  News

The 2012 class of inductees into the Country Music Hall of Fame was announced at the Hall of Fame today (3/6).  The announcements, made by Kix Brooks of Brooks and Dunn, were carried live on the Hall of Fame's web site.

This year's inductees:

Garth Brooks (modern era):  A couple of years ago the CMA's rules for consideration for induction in the "modern era" reduced the number of years in country music from 25 to 20.  I joked it was the "Garth rule," but it took three years of that rule being in place before country's king of the 1990s was finally inducted.  Brooks' speech was a remarkable one, in which he humbly accepted the crowning achievement of his career while at the same time pondering how he was inducted ahead of people such as Ricky Skaggs, Randy Travis and Keith Whitley (whom he called "the Haggard and Jones of my generation rolled into one person").  He concluded by saying he accepted on the condition that Skaggs, Travis and Whitley would soon be added to the Hall of Fame.

Connie Smith (veteran era):  Smith joked that she didn't feel like a veteran, given that she was still learning things every day even after 48 years in country music.  She was discovered by Bill Anderson, who wrote her first hit, "Once a Day."  That song set records for women in country music and, in effect, tore the door off the hinges after people such as Kitty Wells (whom Smith thanked in particular for her pioneering work for women in country music) had kicked the door down for women.  When announcing her Kix Brooks (who jokingly referred to Garth as "the other Brooks") quoted a memorable remark from Dolly Parton:  "You know, there are really only three real women singers:  Barbra Streisand, Linda Ronstadt, and Connie Smith.  The rest of us are just pretenders."  

Hargus "Pig" Robbins (rotating category: musician):  The individual members of the Nashville "A" team of studio session players in the Hall of Fame continues to grow as the legendary Pig Robbins was added to the Hall of Fame.  Blind since the age of 4, Robbins has graced countless records in country music.  It is him, not Charlie Rich, playing piano on Rich's #1 hit "Behind Closed Doors."  Robbins thanked many of the superstars who used him on their sessions as well as the musicians (especially "my hero, Floyd Cramer") he played next to on the songs that have become country classics.

Congratulations to Garth, Connie, and "Pig," the newest members of the Country Music Hall of Fame.