Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Dates of Note in Country Music, August 1-15

Category: News

Country Music Hall of Famers in bold

August 1:

Leon Chappelear born in Tyler, Texas, 1909 (died 1962)
Howard "Howdy" Forrester of the Smoky Mountain Boys died in Nashville, Tennessee (unknown cause), 1987 (was 65)
The AFM called a strike against record companies, 1942. The strike, combined with the shortage of shellac because of World War II, severely limited the record companies' output for two years.

August 2:

Hank Cochran born in Isola, Mississippi, 1935 (died 2010)
Betty Jack Davis died in Cincinnati, Ohio (car wreck), 1953 (was 21)
Joe Allison died in Nashville, Tennessee (illness), 2002 (was 77)
Redd Stewart died in Louisville, Kentucky (complications from a head injury), 2003 (was 82)
The wreckage of Jim Reeves' plane discovered, 1964. The two-day search of wooded areas in and around Nashville for the plane included many country music performers. Eddy Arnold was among those in the party that found Reeves' body.

August 3:

Dorothy Dillard of the Anita Kerr Singers born in Springfield, Missouri, 1923 (now 89)
Gordon Stoker of the Jordanaires born in Gleason, Tennessee, 1924 (now 88)
Randy Scruggs born in Nashville, Tennessee, 1953 (now 59)
Dean Sams of Lonestar born in Garland, Texas, 1966 (now 46)
Little Roy Wiggins died in Sevierville, Tennessee (heart disease and diabetes complications), 1999 (was 73)

August 4:

Vicki Hackerman of Dave & Sugar born in Louisville, Kentucky, 1950 (now 62)
Louis Armstrong born in New Orleans, 1901 (died 1971). The legendary jazz trumpet player and singer recorded with Jimmie Rodgers.
Carson J. Robison born in Oswego, Kansas, 1890 (died 1957)
James Blackwood of the Blackwood Brothers born in Ackerman, Mississippi, 1919 (died 2002)
Scotty Stoneman born in Galax, Virginia, 1932 (died 1973)
Fiddlin' Doc Roberts died in Richmond, Kentucky (unknown cause), 1978 (was 81)
Kenny Price died in Nashville, Tennessee (heart attack), 1987 (was 56)

August 5:

Bobby Braddock born in Lakeland, Florida, 1940 (now 72)
Tim Wilson born in Columbus, Georgia, 1961 (now 51)
Terri Clark born in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, 1968 (now 44)
Hal Durham born in McMinnville, Tennessee, 1931 (died 2009)

Vern "The Voice" Gosdin born in Woodland, Alabama, 1934 (died 2009)
Sammi Smith born in Orange, California, 1943 (died 2005)
Luther Perkins died in Nashville, Tennessee (injuries from a house fire), 1968 (was 40)

August 6:

Patsy and Peggy Lynn born in Hurricane Mills, Tennessee, 1964 (now 48)
Lisa Stewart born in Louisville, Mississippi, 1968 (now 44)
Old Joe Clark (Manuel Clark), longtime Renfro Valley performer, born in Erwin, Tennessee, 1922 (died 1998)
Colleen Carroll Brooks died in Yukon, Oklahoma (throat cancer), 1999 (was 70). The former Ozark Mountain Jubilee singer was the mother of Garth Brooks.
Marshall Grant died in Jonesboro, Arkansas (brain aneurysm), 2011 (was 83)

August 7:

B.J. Thomas born in Hugo, Oklahoma, 1942 (now 70)
Rodney Crowell born in Houston, Texas, 1950 (now 62)
Raul Malo of the Mavericks born in Miami, Florida, 1965 (now 47)
Felice Bryant born in Milwaukee, Wisconcin, 1925 (died 2003)
Henry "Homer" Haynes died in Hammond, Indiana (heart attack), 1971 (was 51)
Billy Byrd died in Nashville, Tennessee (natural causes), 2001 (was 81)

August 8:

Mel Tillis born in Tampa, Florida, 1932 (now 80)
Phil Balsley of the Statler Brothers born in Staunton, Virginia, 1939 (now 73)
Jamie O'Hara born in Toledo, Ohio, 1950 (now 62)
Webb Pierce born in West Monroe, Louisiana, 1926 (died 1991)
Hank Williams Jr. critically inured in a fall while mountain climbing on Ajax Mountain in Montana, 1975. Williams' head was split open, his face was shattered, and he lost an eye in the 500-foot fall.

August 9:

Merle Kilgore born in Chickasha, Oklahoma, 1934 (died 2005)

August 10:

Jerry Kennedy born in Shreveport, Louisiana, 1940 (now 72)
Jonie Mosby born in Van Nuys, California, 1940 (now 72)
Gene Johnson of Diamond Rio born in Jamestown, New York, 1949 (now 63)
Delia Upchurch born in Gainesboro, Tennessee, 1891 (died 1976). Upchurch was known as "the Den Mother of Nashville Stars" because she ran a boarding house where struggling musicians and songwriters could stay and pay what they could afford.
Jimmy Martin born in Sneedville, Tennessee, 1927 (died 2005)
Jimmy Dean born in Plainview, Texas, 1928 (died 2010)
Alvin "Junior" Samples born in Buena Park, California, 1926 (died 1983)
Billy Grammer died in Benton, Illinois (long-term illness), 2011 (was 85)

August 11:

John Conlee born in Versailles, Kentucky, 1946 (now 66)
Don Helms died in Nashville, Tennessee (heart attack), 2008 (was 81)
Hank Williams fired from the Grand Ole Opry, 1952

August 12:

Mark Knopfler born in Glasgow, Scotland, 1949 (now 63). Knopfler, best known as guitarist and lead singer of Dire Straits, won a "Best Country Vocal Collaboration" Grammy with Chet Atkins in 1990 for the song "Poor Boy Blues."  He also recorded an album of country songs under the pseudonym the Notting Hillbillies.
Rex Griffin born in Gadsden, Alabama, 1912 (died 1958)
Porter Wagoner born in Poplar Bluff, Missouri, 1927 (died 2007)
Buck Owens born in Sherman, Texas, 1929 (died 2006)
Linda Parker of the WLS National Barn Dance died in Mishawaka, Indiana (peritonitis), 1935 (was 23)

August 13:

Dan Fogelberg born in Peoria, Illinois, 1951 (died 2007)
Les Paul died (pneumonia), 2009 (was 94). The legendary guitarist won a Grammy for his work with Chet Atkins on the album Chester and Lester.
Vernon Dalhart recorded "The Prisoner's Song," 1924. The song would sell an estimated seven million copies as country's first million-selling song.

August 14:

Connie Smith born in Elkhart, Indiana, 1941 (now 71).  Connie is one of the members of the Country Music Hall of Fame's induction class of 2012.
Charles K. Wolfe born in Sedalia, Missouri, 1943 (died 2006)
Johnny Duncan died in Fort Worth, Texas (heart attack), 2006 (was 67)

August 15:

Rose Maddox born in Boaz, Alabama, 1925 (died 1998)
Bobby Helms born in Bloomington, Indiana, 1933 (died 1997)
Don Rich born in Olympia, Washington, 1941 (died 1974)

Lew DeWitt died in Waynesboro, Virginia (complications from Chron's disease), 1990 (was 52)
Will Rogers died near Port Barrow, Alaska (plane crash with Wiley Post), 1935 (was 55)

Monday, July 16, 2012

As I Sit Here Tonight the Jukebox's Playing

Category:  News/Obituary

Country music has lost its Queen.

Kitty Wells died today (7/16) at her Madison, Tennessee home from complications of a stroke.

Her death comes less than one year after the death of Johnnie Wright, her husband of nearly 74 years.  Wright died last September.

Born Ellen Muriel Deason in Nashville on August 30, 1919, Wells hooked up with another local musician, Johnnie Wright, who was performing with his brother-in-law, Jack Anglin.  The musical partnership soon became a lifetime partnership, as Johnnie and Kitty became husband and wife on October 30, 1937.  Johnnie gave his bride her world-famous stage name, Kitty Wells, taken from a song titled "Sweet Kitty Wells."

Kitty toured with Johnnie & Jack and had a few songs with some degree of popularity in the late 1940s and early 1950s.  Thanks to Johnnie & Jack's popularity on RCA Wells got a contract on the label.  Her best-known song from her short stay on RCA was the tear-jerking "How Far is Heaven."

Kitty moved to Decca (where Johnnie [later spelled "Johnny"] & Jack would land in the early 1960s) and in the process turned country music on its ear.  In 1952, on her first Decca session, Kitty recorded a J.D. Miller composition written in answer to the massively popular Hank Thompson hit "The Wild Side of Life."  Miller's song, "It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels," addressed the problem of cheating from a woman's point of view.  The song became extremely popular when released despite the fact that the men behind the scenes didn't care for the "in-your-face" answer song (despite the fact that it was written by a man!).  Several country stations refused to play the song, and Wells was told point-blank by Opry manager Jim Denny that she was NOT to sing the song on the Opry if she wanted to remain an Opry member.  She did anyway.

The gutsy move paid off.  "It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels" went to #1 on the Billboard country charts, marking the first time a woman held the top spot on the chart.  Furthermore, it stayed there, for a total of six weeks.  While that was hardly a record in terms of overall chart success (Hank Snow, Eddy Arnold, and Webb Pierce had songs that stayed #1 for 3-4 months), it was a first time a woman had joined the club.  

She was quickly reconciled to those who objected to the song and given the title "Queen of Country Music."  The hits continued to flow and her career quickly eclipsed her husband's.  She toured continually as part of the Kitty Wells-Johnny Wright Family Show until 2000.  In 1976 she was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, becoming only the fourth woman (after Sara and Maybelle Carter and Patsy Cline) to be so honored.

It would be an understatement to say that Kitty Wells' success opened the door for the likes of Loretta Lynn, Tammy Wynette, and countless female singers who would follow.  Kitty didn't open the door, she kicked it down.

A sad but grateful farewell to the Queen of Country Music, who was 92.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Dates of Note in Country Music, July 16-31

Category: News

Country Music Hall of Famers in bold

July 16:
Ronny Robbins born in Phoenix, Arizona, 1949 (now 63)
Harry Chapin died in East Meadow, New York (heart attack resulting in car wreck), 1981 (was 38). Chapin, a folk music icon, wrote "Cat's in the Cradle," which gave Ricky Skaggs one of his last country hits.
Jo Stafford died in Century City, California (congestive heart failure), 2008 (was 90). The pop singer also did country, including appearing on Red Ingle & Natural Seven's hit "Tem-Tay-Shun."

July 17:
Woodrow Wilson "Red" Sovine born in Charleston, West Virginia, 1918 (died 1980)
Harry Choates died in Austin, Texas (head injury, possibly self-inflicted), 1951 (was 29)
Dizzy Dean died in Reno, Nevada (heart attack), 1974 (was 63). Dizzy was credited with giving Roy Acuff the nickname "King of Country Music."
Don Rich died in Bakersfield, California (motorcycle accident), 1974 (was 32)
Wynn Stewart died in Nashville, Tennessee (heart attack), 1985 (was 51)
Ozark Jubilee debuts on KWTO radio, 1954

July 18:
Ricky Skaggs born in Cordell, Kentucky, 1954 (now 58)
Mark Jones of Exile born in Harlan, Kentucky, 1954 (now 58)

July 19:
Sue Thompson born in Nevada, Missouri, 1926 (now 86)
George Hamilton IV born in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, 1937 (now 75)
Bernie Leadon of the Eagles, Flying Burrito Brothers, and Run C&W born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, 1947 (now 65)
William "Lefty" Frizzell died in Nashville, Tennessee (stroke), 1975 (was 47)

July 20:
Thomas "Sleepy" LaBeef born in Smackover, Arkansas, 1935 (now 77)
T.G. Sheppard born in Humbolt, Tennessee, 1942 (now 70)
Radney Foster born in Del Rio, Texas, 1959 (now 53)
Joseph Emmett "J.E." Mainer born in Weaverville, North Carolina, 1898 (died 1971)
Cindy Walker born near Mart, Texas, 1918 (died 2006)

July 21:
Sara Carter of the Carter Family
 born in Wise County, Virginia, 1899 (died 1979)
Eddie Hill born in Delano, Tennessee, 1921 (died 1994)

July 22:
Don Henley of the Eagles born in Gilmer, Texas, 1947 (now 65). In addition to the Eagles, Henley was in a band, Shiloh, in the late 60s with Richard Bowden (later of Pinkard and Bowden) and Jim Ed Norman.
Margaret Whiting born in Detroit, Michigan, 1924 (died 2011). Although primarily a pop singer, Whiting had a series of duets with Jimmy Wakely in the 40s and 50s.
Bob Ferguson died in Jackson, Mississippi (cancer), 2001 (was 73)
Jack Lynn, son of Loretta Lynn, died in Hurricane Mills, Tennessee (drowned), 1984 (was 34)
Ralph S. Peer arrived in Bristol to make recordings for RCA, 1927

July 23:
Alison Krauss born in Decatur, Illinois, 1971 (now 41)
Johnny Darrell born in Hopewell, Alabama, 1940 (died 1997)

July 24:
Donald "Red" Blanchard of the WLS National Barn Dance born in Pittsville, Wisconsin, 1914 (died 1980)
Lawton Williams born in Troy, Tennessee, 1922 (died 2007)
Max D. Barnes born in Hardscratch, Iowa, 1936 (died 2004)

July 25:
Roy Acuff Jr. born in Nashville, Tennessee, 1943 (now 69)
Marty Brown born in Maceo, Kentucky, 1965 (now 47)
Walter Brennan born in Swmapscott, Massachusetts, 1894 (died 1974). The actor had a major country hit with "Old Rivers" in 1962.
Steve Goodman born in Chicago, Illinois, 1948 (died 1984)
Tommy Duncan died in San Diego, California (heart attack), 1967 (was 56)
Charlie Rich died in Hammond, Louisiana (blood clot in lung), 1995 (was 62)

July 26:
Jim Foglesong born in Lundale, West Virginia, 1922 (now 90)
Fred Foster born in Rutherford County, North Carolina, 1931 (now 81)

July 27:
Bobbie Gentry born in Chickasaw, Mississippi, 1944 (now 68)

Bill Engvall born in Galveston, Texas, 1957 (now 55)
Henry "Homer" Haynes born in Knoxville, Tennessee, 1920 (died 1971)

July 28:
Frank Loesser died in New York, New York (lung cancer), 1969 (was 59). The composer was the "victim" of Homer and Jethro's first major hit, "Baby, It's Cold Outside," in 1949 (which featured a young June Carter singing the female part). Although RCA officials worried about Loesser's reaction, Loesser loved the parody and only asked that the songwriter credit read, "With apologies to Frank Loesser."

July 29:
Martina McBride born in Sharon, Kansas, 1966 (now 46)
Pete Drake died in Brentwood, Tennessee (lung disease), 1988 (was 55)
Anita Carter died in Goodlettesville, Tennessee (illness), 1999 (was 66)

July 30:
Sam Phillips died in Memphis, Tennessee (respiratory failure), 2003 (was 80)

July 31:
Bonnie Brown of the Browns born in Sparkman, Arkansas, 1937 (now 75)
Jim Reeves died in Nashville, Tennessee (plane crash), 1964 (was 40)
Dean Manuel died in Nashville, Tennessee (plane crash), 1964 (was 30)