Sunday, April 29, 2012

Dates of Note in Country Music, May 1-15

Category: News

Country Music Hall of Famers in bold

May 1:

Sonny James (ne James Loden) born in Hackleburg, Alabama, 1929 (now 83)
Rita Coolidge born in Nashville, Tennessee, 1944 (now 68). Although primarily a pop singer, Coolidge had a dozen songs chart in country. She is also the former wife of Kris Kristofferson.
Wayne Hancock born in Dallas, Texas, 1965 (now 47)
Sam McGee born in Williamson County, Tennessee, 1894 (died 1975)
Jimmy Gately born in Springfield, Missouri, 1931 (died 1985)
Ott Devine born in Gadsen, Alabama, 1910 (died 1994)
Spike Jones died in Bel Air, California (emphysema), 1965 (was 53). The novelty band leader recorded "Pal-Yat-Chee" with Homer and Jethro, and Red Ingle (of Red Ingle & Natural Seven, of "Temp-Tay-Shun" fame) was once a member of Jones' City Slickers.
Jim Hager of the Hager Twins died in Nashville, Tennessee (heart attack), 2008 (was 66)
Elvis Presley married Priscilla Beaulieu in Las Vegas, Nevada, 1967
A six-inch rainstorm hit Nashville, flooding the Grand Ole Opry House, the Opryland Hotel, the WSM-AM studios, the basement of the Country Music Hall of Fame, the Wildhorse Saloon, the instrument storage business Soundcheck, and a number of country singers' homes, 2010. The two-day total rainfall would surpass 13 inches and kill nearly two dozen.

May 2:

R.C. Bannon born in Dallas, Texas, 1945 (now 67)
Larry Gatlin born in Seminole, Texas, 1948 (now 64)
Ty Herndon born in Meridian, Mississippi, 1962 (now 50)
Roy Lee Centers of the Clinch Mountain Boys died in Jackson, Kentucky (shot to death -- details disputed between a fight, "road rage" or murder), 1974 (was 29)
"Slowly" by Webb Pierce hits #1 on the Billboard charts, 1954. It becomes the first #1 song to feature the pedal steel guitar.

May 3:

Jerry Chestnut born in Harlan County, Kentucky, 1931 (now 81)
Cactus Moser of Highway 101 born in Montrose, Colorado, 1957 (now 55)
Bing Crosby born in Tacoma, Washington, 1903 (died 1977). The pop crooner has the distinction of being the performer of the first #1 single in Billboard magazine's "Hillbilly and Western Singles" history with his rendition of Al Dexter's "Pistol Packin' Mama." Dexter's own recording was the second #1 song.
Dave Dudley born in Spencer, Wisconsin, 1928 (died 2003)
Patsy Montana died in San Jancinto, California (unknown cause), 1996 (was 83)
Dollywood theme park opened in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, 1986

May 4:

Stella Parton born in Sevierville, Tennessee, 1949 (now 63)
Robert Ellis Orrall born in Winthrop, Massachusetts, 1955 (now 57)
Randy Travis born in Marshville, North Carolina, 1959 (now 53)
Al Dexter (ne Clarence Albert Poindexter) born in Jacksonville, Texas, 1902 (died 1984)
Bobby Austin born in Wenatchee, Washington, 1933 (died 2002)
Joe L. Frank died in Chicago, Illinois (illness), 1952 (was 52)
Leo Jackson died in Nashville, Tennessee (suicide [gunshot]), 2008 (was 73)

May 5:

Ace Cannon born in Grenada, Mississippi, 1934 (now 78)
Roni Stoneman born in Washington, DC, 1938 (now 74)
Glen Duncan of Lonesome Standard Time born in Columbus, Indiana, 1955 (now 57)
Tammy Wynette born in Itawamba County, Mississippi, 1942 (died 1998)
J.D. Miller born in Iota, Louisiana, 1922 (died 1996)
Jerry Wallace died in Corona, California (congestive heart failure), 2008 (was 79)

May 6:

Jimmie Dale Gilmore born in Austin, Texas, 1945 (now 67)
Cliff Carlisle born in Taylorsville, Kentucky, 1904 (died 1983)

May 7:

Lorie Collins of the Collins Kids born in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, 1942 (now 70)
Riley Puckett born in Alpharetta, Georgia, 1894 (died 1946)
Horace "Aytchie" Burns born in Cisco, Georgia, 1918 (died 1974). Aytchie, the older brother of Jethro Burns, was a bass player at WNOX, in the Stringdusters with his brother and Homer Haynes, and at the Renfro Valley Barn Dance. While in the Army he was also the platoon sergeant of Roger Miller.
Eddie Rabbitt died in Nashville, Tennessee (lung cancer), 1998 (was 56)

May 8:

Homer Bailes of the Bailes Brothers born in Kanawha County, West Virginia, 1922 (now 90)
Jack Blanchard born in Buffalo, New York, 1942 (now 70)
Del Anthony Gray of Little Texas born in Hamilton, Ohio, 1968 (now 44)
Jimmie Tarlton of Darby & Tarlton born in Cheraw, South Carolina, 1892 (died 1979)
Benny Martin born in Sparta, Tennessee, 1928 (died 2001)
Rick Nelson born in Teaneck, New Jersey, 1940 (died 1985)
Leon Huff of the Light Crust Doughboys died (unknown cause), 1952 (was 39)
George D. Hay died in Virginia Beach, Virginia (unknown cause), 1968 (was 72)
Eddy Arnold died in Brentwood, Tennessee (complications from a fall), 2008 (was 89)

May 9:

Richie Furay of Poco born in Yellow Springs, Ohio, 1944 (now 68)
Bobby Lewis born in Hodgenville, Kentucky, 1946 (now 66)
Fuzzy Knight born in Fairmont, West Virginia, 1901 (died 1976). The actor appeared in several films as Tex Ritter's sidekick.
Hank Snow born in Halifax, Nova Scotia, 1914 (died 1999)
Nudie Cohn died in Hollywood, California (unknown cause), 1984 (was 81)
Keith Whitley died in Nashville, Tennessee (alcohol poisoning), 1989 (was 33)
Jimmie Davis elected governor of Louisiana, 1944

May 10:

Carl T. Sprague born in Houston, Texas, 1895 (died 1979)
Mother Maybelle Carter born in Nicklesville, Virginia, 1909 (died 1979)
Shel Silverstein died in Key West, Florida (heat attack), 1999 (was 68)

May 11:

Mark Herndon of Alabama born in Springfield, Massachusetts, 1955 (now 57)
Bob Atcher born in West Point, Kentucky, 1914 (died 1993)
Lester Flatt died in Nashville, Tennessee (heart failure), 1979 (was 64)

May 12:

Kix Brooks born in Shreveport, Louisiana, 1955 (now 57)
The Duke of Paducah, Benjamin "Whitey" Ford, born in DeSoto, Missouri, 1901 (died 1986)
Joe Maphis born in Suffolk, Virginia, 1921 (died 1986)
Leroy Pullins born in Berea, Kentucky, 1940 (died 1984)

W. Lee "Pappy" O'Daniel died in Dallas, Texas (unknown cause), 1969 (was 79)

May 13:

Ray Kennedy born in Buffalo, New York, 1954 (now 57)
Lari White born in Dunedin, Florida, 1965 (now 46)
Jack Anglin born in Columbia, Tennesee, 1916 (died 1963)

Johnnie Wright born in Mt. Juliet, Tennessee, 1914 (died 2011)
Gid Tanner died in Dacula, Georgia (unknown cause), 1960 (was 74)
Bob Wills died Fort Worth, Texas (pneumonia/complications of 1973 stroke), 1975 (was 70)

May 14:

Jimmy Martin died in Nashville, Tennessee (cancer), 2005 (was 77)

May 15:

K.T. Oslin born in Crossett, Arkansas, 1941 (now 71)
Eddy Arnold born in Henderson, Tennessee, 1918 (died 2008)
June Carter Cash died in Nashville, Tennessee (complications from open heart surgery), 2003 (was 73)

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Sick Call: Levon Helm

Category: News

Sadly, I must report that the great Levon Helm is dying.

Helm's web site reported today (4/17) that the 71-year-old Grammy winner "is in the final stages of his battle with cancer."

Levon Helm was the only American member of the legendary act The Band, and many credit him for giving The Band their country-ish flavor in songs like "The Night They Drove Ol' Dixie Down."  Helm and Band front man Robbie Robertson had a bitter feud over songwriting credits after the group split in 1976, to the point where Helm refused to attend The Band's induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994.

After The Band Helm affiliated himself with the country and Americana music scene.  He dabbled in acting, with his first role being Loretta Lynn's father in Coal Miner's Daughter.  His most recent three projects -- Dirt Farmer (featuring his version of the Carter Family's "Single Girl, Married Girl") in 2007, Electric Dirt in 2009, and Ramble at the Ryman from 2011, have all won Grammy awards.  

On Saturday during the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ceremonies Robertson sent "love and prayers" to his former bandmate.  Helm's wife Sandy and daughter Amy requested that fans "send your prayers and love to him as he makes his way through this part of his journey."

Monday, April 16, 2012

Dates of Note in Country Music, April 16-30

Category: News
Country Music Hall of Famers in bold

April 16:

Dusty Springfield born in London, England, 1939 (died 1999). The legendary Rock and Roll Hall of Fame singer hit the country charts in 1962 as part of the Springfields with "Silver Threads and Golden Needles."

April 17:

Craig Anderson of Heartland born in Huntsville, Alabama, 1973 (now 39)
Eddie Cochran died in Bath, England (injuries from an April 16 car wreck), 1960 (was 21). The rockabilly pioneer co-wrote "Summertime Blues," which Alan Jackson covered in country.
Dorsey Dixon died in Plant City, Florida (heart attack), 1968 (was 70)
Hank Penny died in Camarillo, California (heart failure), 1992 (was 73)
Linda McCartney died in Tuscon, Arizona (breast cancer), 1998 (was 56). Linda and husband Sir Paul McCartney's band, Wings, hit the country charts in 1974 with "Sally G."
Glenn Sutton died in Nashville, Tennessee (heart attack), 2007 (was 69)

April 18:

Walt Richmond of the Tractors born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, 1947 (now 65)
Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown born in Vinton, Louisiana, 1924 (died 2005)
Your blogger born in Louisville, Kentucky, 19(??) (wearing out shredder getting rid of AARP applications)
Milton Brown died in Fort Worth, Texas (pneumonia resulting from injuries in an April 13 car wreck), 1936 (was 32)

April 19:

Bill Rice born in Datto, Arkansas, 1939 (now 73)
Gary Brewer born in Louisville, Kentucky, 1965 (now 47)
Bobby Russell born in Nashville, Tennessee, 1941 (died 1992)
Earl Bolick of the Blue Sky Boys died in Tucker, Georgia (unknown cause), 1998 (was 78)
The "National Barn Dance" debuted on WLS, Chicago, 1924

April 20:

Johnny Tillotson born in Jacksonville, Florida, 1939 (now 73)
Doyle Lawson born in Ford Town, Tennessee, 1944 (now 68)
Wade Hayes born in Bethel Acres, Oklahoma, 1969 (now 43)
Frank "Hylo" Brown born in River, Kentucky, 1922 (died 2003)
Benny Hill found dead in his London flat (coronary thrombosis), 1992 (was 68). The British comedian's Benny Hill Show featured Boots Randolph's "Yakety Sax" as its theme song.

April 21:

Wade Mainer born in Buncombe, North Carolina, 1907 (died 2011)
Ira Louvin born in Section, Alabama, 1924 (died 1965)
Carl Belew born in Salina, Oklahoma, 1931 (died 1990)
Paul Davis born in Meridian, Mississippi, 1948 (died 2008)

April 22:

Glen Campbell born in Delight, Arkansas, 1936 (now 76)
Ray Griff born in Vancouver, British Columbia, 1940 (now 72)
Pat Enright of the Nashville Bluegrass Band born in Huntington, Indiana, 1945 (now 67)
Cleve Francis born in Jennings, Louisiana, 1945 (now 67)
Larry Groce born in Dallas, Texas, 1948 (now 64). The Mountain Stage host had one charted record, 1977's "Junk Food Junkie," which was a minor country hit.
Reuben Gosfield of Asleep at the Wheel born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1951 (now 61)
Heath Wright of Ricochet born in Vian, Oklahoma, 1967 (now 44)
Steve Sholes died in Nashville, Tennessee (heart attack), 1968 (was 57)
Felice Bryant died in Nashville, Tennessee (cancer), 2003 (was 77)
Paul Davis died in Meridian, Mississippi (heart attack), 2008 (was 60)
Richard Nixon died in New York, New York (stroke), 1994 (was 81). The former president's political troubles were chronicled in Tom T. Hall's song "Watergate Blues." Nixon also appeared on the Grand Ole Opry during its first night at the Opry House in 1974.
Hazel Dickens died in Washington, DC (pneumonia), 2011 (was 75)

April 23:

Roland White of the Nashville Bluegrass Band born in Madawaska, Maine, 1938 (now 74)
Roy Orbison born in Vernon, Texas, 1936 (died 1988)

April 24:
Shirley Boone born in Chicago, Illinois, 1934 (now 78). Pat Boone's wife is also the daughter of Red Foley.
Rebecca Lynn Howard born in Salyersville, Kentucky, 1979 (now 33)
Harry McClintock died in San Francisco, California (unknown cause), 1957 (was 74). His greatest success would come decades after his death when his recording of "Big Rock Candy Mountain" began the film O Brother, Where Art Thou.
Bonnie Owens died in Bakersfield, California (Alzheimer's disease), 2006 (was 73)

April 25:

Larry Robbins of the Johnson Mountain Boys born in Dickerson, Maryland, 1945 (now 67)
Karl Farr of the Sons of the Pioneers born in Rochelle, Texas, 1909 (died 1961)
Cliff Bruner born in Texas City, Texas, 1915 (died 2000)
Vassar Clements born in Kinard, South Carolina, 1928 (died 2005)
O.B. McClinton born in Senatobia, Mississippi, 1940 (died 1987)
The musical Big River opened on Broadway, 1985. It won a "Best Musical" Tony for songwriter Roger Miller, making him, to date, the only country performer to ever win a Tony Award.

April 26:

Johnny Mosby born in Fort Smith, Arkansas, 1933 (now 79)
Duane Eddy born in Corning, New York, 1938 (now 74)
Fiddlin' Doc Roberts born in Richmond, Kentucky, 1897 (died 1978)
Cecil Null born in East War, West Virginia, 1927 (died 2001)
Tim Spencer of the Sons of the Pioneers died in Apple Valley, California (long illness), 1974 (was 65)
Wesley Rose died in Nashville, Tennessee (unknown cause), 1990 (was 72)

April 27:

Maxine Brown of the Browns born in Campti, Louisiana, 1931 (now 81)
Herb Pedersen of the Dillards and Desert Rose Band born in Berkley, California, 1944 (now 67)
Sydney Nathan, founder of King Records, born in Cincinnati, Ohio, 1904 (died 1968)
Jimmie Skinner born in Blue Lick, Kentucky, 1909 (died 1979)

April 28:

Dale Potter born in Puxico, Missouri, 1929 (died 1996)
Tommy Caldwell of the Marshall Tucker Band died in Spartanburg, South Carolina (injuries from an April 21 car wreck), 1980 (was 30)
Ken Curtis died in Clovis, California (heart attack), 1991 (was 74). The Gunsmoke star was also a one-time member of the Sons of the Pioneers.

April 29:

Billy Mize born in Arkansas City, Kansas, 1929 (now 83)
Duane Allen of the Oak Ridge Boys born in Taylortown, Texas, 1943 (now 69)
Wayne Secrest of Confederate Railroad born in Alton, Illinois, 1950 (now 62)
Karen Brooks born in Dallas, Texas, 1954 (now 58)
Danny Davis (ne George Joseph Nowlan) of the Nashville Brass born in Dorchester, Massachusetts, 1925 (died 2008)
Eddie Noack born in Houston, Texas, 1930 (died 1978)
Vern Gosdin died in Nashville, Tennessee (stroke), 2009 (was 74)

April 30:

Fuzzy Owen born in Conway, Arkansas, 1929 (now 83)
Willie Nelson born in Abbott, Texas, 1933 (now 79)
Darrell McCall born in New Jasper, Ohio, 1940 (now 72)
Robert Earl Reynolds of the Mavericks born in Kansas City, Missouri, 1962 (now 50)
Johnny Horton born in Los Angeles, California, 1930 (died 1960)
Curly Chalker died in Hendersonville, Tennessee (brain cancer), 1998 (was 66)
WLS airs the final broadcast of the National Barn Dance, 1960, after 36 years on the air.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Brotherly Love?

Category:  Book Review

Ira Louvin, by all accounts, was a Jekyll and Hyde personality, due mostly to his battle with the bottle.  In his honor, this review will also be a little Jekyll and Hyde-like.

The new book on the career of the Louvin Brothers, Satan is Real:  The Ballad of the Louvin Brothers, is a masterpiece.  This book is not to be missed by anyone who loves great harmony or country music.  Benjamin Whitmer did a superb job in allowing every bit of Charlie Louvin's personality to come through the pages.  Whitmer never corrected any of Louvin's grammatical errors, making it feel as though Charlie is sitting in the living room with you, telling these stories.

To his credit, Whitmer also didn't correct any of Charlie's erroneous statements, which means that one needs to employ a good B.S. detector when reading this.  One might argue some of these problems are a case of an 83-year-old man who had far more significant things on his mind (such as battling pancreatic cancer), which would lead to him not remembering things from five decades ago correctly.  One mistake that stands out significantly is Charlie's claim that the Tommy Hill song, "I Can't Fly," was somehow "cursed," given that Ira recorded the song in March 1965 (under the title "You're Looking for an Angel"), two months before his death.  In the book Charlie claimed, "Jim Reeves recorded it and it wasn't two months until he was dead."  Not hardly:  Reeves recorded the song on November 13, 1956, which was eight years before his death.  As for the "curse," I don't think Goldie Hill (sister of the song's author) would have believed it, given that she recorded the song in 1960 and didn't die until 2005.  The songwriter himself didn't die until 2002.

Most bothersome in the book is Louvin's claim about Elvis.  Immediately after he admitted that he never saw Elvis after the 1956 tour (during which Elvis and Ira had a "friendly disagreement" [the way World War II was a "friendly disagreement"] over Elvis singing gospel music backstage after a show filled with rock and roll) he made the preposterous claim that Elvis committed suicide.  Louvin, after stating he didn't see Presley for the final 21 years of Presley's life, said, "There wasn't nobody, even doctors, that knew anything more about dope than Elvis did."  That's quite a statement to make about someone he saw for a few nights at the beginning of the career.  Furthermore, Louvin states that the reason Elvis "killed himself" was because "Elvis said all the time that he'd never live to be a day older than his mother was when she died.  If he had lived one more day," he concluded, "he would have been older than she was."  Elvis' mother, Gladys was born April 25, 1912 and died August 14, 1958 -- at the age of 46, or four years older than Elvis was when he died.  (Even if Louvin meant that Elvis wanted to die on the same day as his mother, Presley's date of death was August 16, 1977.)

There are also a number of places where Louvin pulled no punches in regard to who he liked and didn't like, which may be one of the reasons the book didn't come out until nearly one year after Louvin's death.  He also seemed to go out of his way to point out every minute flaw that his brother had while glossing over his own problems (Charlie was not the model of marital fidelity he painted himself out to be in the book).  Most people -- even Charlie in earlier works (such as Dr. Charles K. Wolfe's 1996 work In Close Harmony) -- acknowledged that Ira Louvin sober was a great guy, as much as Ira Louvin drunk was an s.o.b.  Charlie didn't mention that this time around.  Also Charlie was obviously irked by being painted as the "lesser half" of the Louvin Brothers.  "Ira was always convinced that he was at least eighty percent of the act, and I was only the other piddlin' twenty percent," Louvin said.  "And he wasn't alone in thinking that.  I know Chet Atkins and others have said the same."  Yet in previous biographies Charlie admitted that the Louvin Brothers' songwriting arrangement was "I held the paper while Ira wrote the words."

Regardless of those issues the book is exceptional from cover to cover.  The cover itself is worth the price of the book alone:  an actual cover instead of a dust jacket depicting the Louvins' album that gives the autobiography its title.

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 91)
Jim Ed Brown born in Sparkman, Arkansas, 1934 (now 78)
Jules Verne Allen born in Waxahachie, Texas, 1883 (died 1945)
Jimmy Logsdon born in Panther, Kentucky, 1922 (died 2001)
CMA President Paul Cohen died in Nashville, Tennessee (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 original Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum opened, 1967

April 2:

Warner Mack born in Nashville, Tennessee, 1935 (now 77)
Sonny Throckmorton born in Carlsbad, New Mexico, 1941 (now 71)
Emmylou Harris born in Birmingham, Alabama, 1947 (now 65)
Dean Townson of Pirates of the Mississippi born in Battle Creek, Michigan, 1959 (now 53)
Billy Dean born in Quincy, Florida, 1962 (now 50)
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 in Lexington, Kentucky(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 70)
Richard Thompson born in Notting Hill, London, 1949 (now 63).  The legendary folk-rock singer/songwriter and guitarist wrote and originally recorded "1952 Vincent Black Lightning," later a bluegrass hit for Del McCoury, as well as Jo-El Sonnier's biggest hit, "Tear-Stained Letter" (which was also covered by Faith Hill).
Curtis Stone of Highway 101 (and son of Cliffie Stone) born in North Hollywood, California, 1950 (now 62)
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 in Dayton, Ohio (cancer), 1993 (was 63)
Starday Records owner Don Pierce died in Nashville, Tennessee (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 74)
Steve Gatlin of the Gatlin Brothers born in Olney, Texas, 1951 (now 61)
Troy Gentry of Montgomery-Gentry born in Lexington, Kentucky, 1967 (now 45)
Cy Coben (ne Cohen)  born in Jersey City, New Jersey, 1919 (died 2006)
Red Sovine died in Nashville, Tennessee (heart attack while driving), 1980 (was 61)

April 5:

Jack Clement born in Whitehaven, Tennessee, 1931 (now 81)
Bill Clifton (ne William August Marburg) born in Riverwood, Maryland, 1931 (now 81). In addition to being a bluegrass performer, the 2008 Bluegrass Hall of Fame inductee 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 73)
Tommy Cash born in Dyess, Arkansas, 1940 (now 72)
Bob McDill born in Beaumont, Texas, 1944 (now 68)
Pat Green born in San Antonio, Texas, 1972 (now 40)

Charlie Collins of Roy Acuff's Smoky Mountain Boys born i Caryville, Tennessee, 1933 (died 2012)
Frenchy "Stoney" Edwards died in Oklahoma (stomach cancer), 1997 (was 67)
Gene Pitney died in Cardiff, Wales (heart disease), 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 75)
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 in Nashville, Tennessee (heart failure attributed to blood clot), 1998 (was 55)
Grand Ole Opry shows were 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 80)
Bobby Bare born in Ironton, Ohio, 1935 (now 77)
John Dittrich of Restless Heart born in New York, New York, 1951 (now 61)
Leon "Pappy" Selph born in Houston, Texas, 1914 (died 1999)
Clyde Moody died in Nashville, Tennessee (unknown cause), 1989 (was 73)
Steel guitarist Jeff Newman died in Watertown, Tennessee (plane crash), 2004 (was 62)

April 8:

John Schneider born in Mount Kisco, New York, 1960 (now 52)
Jimmy Osborne born in Winchester, Kentucky, 1923 (died 1957)

April 9:

Margo Smith born in Dayton, Ohio, 1942 (now 70)
Con Hunley born in Fountain City, Tennessee, 1945 (now 67)
Hal Ketchum born in Greenwich, New York, 1953 (now 59)
Mark Roberts of the Red Clay Ramblers born in Wareham, Massachusetts, 1957 (now 55)
Dave Innis of Restless Heart born in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, 1959 (now 53)
Carl Perkins born in Tiptonville, Tennessee, 1932 (died 1998)
Darrell Glenn died in Fort Worth, Texas (cancer), 1990 (was 54)
Mae Boren Axton died in Nashville, Tennessee (natural causes), 1997 (was 82)

April 10:

Weldon Myrick born in Jayton, Texas, 1938 (now 74). 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. Barry Gibb of the Bee Gees owned the house at the time of the fire.

April 11:

Jim Lauderdale born in Troutman, North Carolina, 1957 (now 55)
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 in Nashville, Tennessee (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 in Nashville, Tennessee (cancer/Alzheimer's), 2005 (was 79)
Jerry Byrd died in Honolulu, Hawaii (complications of Parkinson's disease), 2005 (was 85)

April 12:

Ned Miller born in Raines, Utah, 1925 (now 87)
Vince Gill born in Norman, Oklahoma, 1957 (now 55)
Ernie Lee born in Berea, Kentucky, 1916 (died 1991)
Judy Lynn born in Boise, Idaho, 1936 (died 2010)
Lewis Crook of the Crook Brothers died in Nashville, Tennessee (natural causes), 1997 (was 87)
Boxcar Willie died in Branson, Missouri (leukemia), 1999 (was 67)

April 13:

Sam Bush born in Bowling Green, Kentucky, 1952 (now 60)
Bob Nolan of the Sons of the Pioneers born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, 1908 (died 1980)
Guy Willis of the Willis Brothers died in Nashville, Tennessee (unknown cause), 1981 (was 65)
Johnny Dollar died in Nashville, Tennessee (suicide), 1986 (was 53)

April 14:

Loretta Lynn born in Butcher Holler, Kentucky, 1935 (now 77)
Stuart Duncan of the Nashville Bluegrass Band born in Quantico, Virginia, 1964 (now 48)
Vito Pelletteri died in Nashville, Tennessee (complications from a stroke), 1977 (was 87)
Burl Ives died in Anacortes, Washington (throat cancer), 1995 (was 85)

April 15:

Roy Clark born in Meherrin, Virginia, 1933 (now 79)
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 in Ashland, Oregon (kidney failure), 1998 (was 72)
Otto Kitsinger died in Nashville, Tennessee (heart attack), 1998 (was 54). Otto was the historian and writer for CMT's Opry Backstage.