Saturday, December 29, 2012

Country Music's Final Bows of 2012

Category:  Tribute

The final curtain fell hard on country music in 2012.  Here are the losses we suffered:

Mike Auldridge (December 28, cancer, age 73):  the Dobro player for the legendary bluegrass band the Seldom Scene.

Doug Bounsall (September 1, car accident, age 61):  a former member of the Dillards.

Larry Butler (January 20, natural causes, age 69):  a man with many hats, including the songwriter of BJ Thomas' 1975 #1 country and pop hit "(Hey Won't You Play) Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song."  Butler also produced numerous country music acts, but his work with Kenny Rogers brought them both phenomenal success.  In 1980 Butler became the first, and to date the only, country music producer to win the "producer of the year" Grammy award.

Tony Cianciola (January 25, aneurysm, age 87):  a Knoxville-based accordion player who followed his cousin onto the WNOX Midday Merry-Go-Round, where he performed with the likes of Chet Atkins, Archie Campbell, Don Gibson, and Johnnie & Jack.  Atkins was such a fan that he used Cianciola on some recording sessions.

Susanna Clark (June 27, illness, age 73):  the wife of legendary songwriter Guy Clark was a songwriter herself, co-writing the classic "Easy From Now On" with Carlene Carter.  She was also a gifted painter.  Her artwork adorned the cover of Willie Nelson's Stardust album.

Eddie Clerto (February 2, natural causes, age 93):  based on the west coast for most of his career, Clerto managed one minor hit, "Flying Saucer Boogie."  His band the Roundup Boys worked with numerous west coast country performers including Rose Maddox.

Charlie Collins (January 12, stroke, age 78):  A well-known east Tennessee performer in his early life, Collins joined Roy Acuff's Smoky Mountain Boys in 1966.  After Acuff's death in 1992 Collins remained on the Grand Ole Opry as part of the square dance band.

Al DeLory (February 5, unknown causes, age 82):  a session musician (the Beach Boys' Pet Sounds album) who had one hit on his own, his rendition of the theme song to M*A*S*H, DeLory was the Grammy-winning producer and arranger for Glen Campbell during Campbell's rise to superstardom.

Doug Dillard (May 16, lung infection, age 75):  Sheriff Andy Taylor's favorite band was the Darlings, and Doug Darling was their banjo player.  The Dillards, of course, were a legitimate bluegrass band, inducted into the Bluegrass Hall of Fame in 2010.  Aside from his work with the Dillards, Doug also teamed up with one-time Byrd member Gene Clark for the duo Dillard & Clark.

Jimmy Elledge (June 10, stroke, age 69):  the man who had the first huge (million-selling) version of the Willie Nelson composition "Funny How Time Slips Away."

Chris Ethridge (April 23, pancreatic cancer, age 65):  the bassist for Gram Parson's influential country-rock band the Flying Burrito Brothers.

Andy Griffith (July 3, heart attack, age 86):  the folksy sheriff of Mayberry was a good guitarist and singer, having a comedy hit with "What It Was, Was Football" and a string of successful gospel recordings.  Griffith was one of three people from his 1960s TV series to die this year (along with Doug Dillard and George Lindsey).

Levon Helm (April 19, cancer, age 71):  from playing Loretta Lynn's father in Coal Miner's Daughter to the backbone of The Band, Helm's talent and reach spanned genres and decades.  His strong ties to country music led The Band to record songs such as "The Long Black Veil" and later earned Helm Grammy awards for his solo projects Dirt Farmer and Ramble at the Ryman.

Walt Hensley (November 25, cancer, age 76):  the "Banjo Baron of Baltimore" played with many bluegrass bands including the Lonesome Pine Fiddlers and the Country Gentlemen.

Stephen Hill (August 5, heart attack, age 55):  gospel singer/songwriter who frequently appeared on the Gaither Homecoming shows and taught at the Stamps Baxter School of Music.

Billy Johnson (February 27, unknown cause, age 51):  session and touring guitarist for the likes of Billy Walker, Jim Ed Brown and Porter Wagoner.

Tim Johnson (October 21, cancer, age 52):  a board member of the Nashville Songwriters Association International and author of over 100 songs including "Thank God for Believers," "I Let Her Lie" and "Do You Believe Me Now."

Dick Kniss (January 27, pulmonary disease, age 74):  a one-time bassist for folk music icons Peter, Paul & Mary, he went on to work with John Denver, including co-writing "Sunshine on My Shoulder."

Charlie Lamb (March 7, pneumonia, age 90):  the "mayor of Music Row" was a pioneering journalist, becoming one of the first Nashville-based reporters for trade publications.  He also coined the term "with a bullet" to signify songs that were making a rapid move up the charts.

George Lindsey (May 6, illness, age 83):  "Goober" on The Andy Griffith Show later became a regular on Hee Haw.

Danny Morrison (February 14, heart attack, age unknown):  songwriter behind "Blaze of Glory" and "Is It Cold in Here."

Frank Peppiatt (November 6, bladder cancer, age 85):  one of the co-creators of Hee Haw.

Frances Preston (June 13, congestive heart failure, age 83):  Hall of Famer who literally worked her way to the top, she was the first female president of BMI.

Tom "Cat" Reeder (June 30, heart attack, age 78):  WAMU's bluegrass host and a Disc Jockey Hall of Fame member.

Earl Scruggs (March 28, natural causes, age 88):  the man for whom the banjo seemed to be invented, his three-finger style of playing revolutionized bluegrass music.

Dick Shelton (January 17, pneumonia, age 71):  Blake Shelton's father.

John Shuffler (December 21, illness/complications of a stroke, age 81):  the bass player in the Shuffler Family bluegrass band began his career playing with the Stanley Brothers.

Joe South (September 5, heart attack, age 72):  while his recorded sound was more rock than country, his contributions to country music as a songwriter are numerous:  "Don't It Make You Wanna Go Home," "Games People Play," and "Rose Garden" are among the hits to come from his pen.

Rollin "Oscar" Sullivan (September 7, leukemia, age 93):  half of the Grand Ole Opry comedy duo Lonzo & Oscar, Sullivan was also a member of Eddy Arnold's band in the 1940s.  His mandolin work can be heard on Arnold's early recordings.

Herby Wallace (April 5, heart attack, age 64):  Steel Guitar Hall of Famer who played on over 2,000 sessions.

Doc Watson (May 29, complications from colon surgery and pneumonia, age 89):  one of the best friends a guitar could ever have.  His majestic playing thrilled audiences for decades, and his memorial to his late son, MerleFest, brought artists and fans together in North Carolina for a quarter of a century. 

Kitty Wells (July 16, stroke, age 92):  in 1952 she kicked the door down for female country singers with "It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels," rightfully earning her the title "Queen of Country Music."

Finally, a couple of deaths related to the 1982 film The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, which starred Dolly Parton.  On December 12 Lawrence King, the man who wrote the original 1973 article about the "chicken ranch" and later collaborated on the play, died from emphysema at the age of 83.  Twelve days later veteran character actor Charles Durning, who absolutely stole the film as the governor who would, as he sang, "dance a little sidestep," died of natural causes at the age of 89.

Farewell, and thank you for the music.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

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 75)
Jeff Carson born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, 1964 (now 48)
Shelby Singleton born in Waskom, Texas, 1931 (died 2009)
Jenny Lou Carson died in Torrance, California (unknown causes), 1978 (was 63)
Martha Carson died in Nashville, Tennessee (natural causes), 2004 (was 83)
Gary Stewart died in Fort Pierce, Florida (suicide [gunshot]), 2003 (was 58)
Dan Fogelberg died in Deer Island, Maine (cancer), 2007 (was 56)

December 17:

Frankie Miller born in Victoria, Texas, 1930 (now 82)
Sharon White Skaggs born in Wichita Falls, Texas, 1953 (now 59) 
Tracy Byrd born in Vidor, Texas, 1966 (now 46)
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 in Tuscon, Arizona (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 48)
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 92)
John McEuen of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Bang born in Long Beach, California, 1945 (now 67)
Janie Fricke born in South Whitney, Indiana, 1947 (now 65)
Jumpin' Bill Carlisle born in Wakefield, Kentucky, 1908 (died 2003)
Marion Worth died in Madison, Tennessee (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 in Nashville, Tennessee (unknown cause), 1980 (was 68)
Don Law died in LaMarque, Texas (unknown cause), 1982 (was 80)

Hank Snow died in Nashville, Tennessee (various illnesses), 1999 (was 85)

December 21:

Freddie Hart born in Lockapoke, Alabama, 1926 (now 86)
Lee Roy Parnell born in Abilene, Texas, 1956 (now 56)
Christy Forrester of the Forester Sisters born in Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia, 1962 (now 50)
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 in Springfield, Missouri (illness), 1993 (was 62)

December 22:

Red Stegall born in Gainesville, Texas, 1937 (now 75)
Chuck Mead of BR5-49 born in Nevada, Missouri, 1960 (now 52)
Paul Martin of Exile born in Winchester, Kentucky, 1962 (now 50)
Harold "Hawkshaw" Hawkins born in Huntington, West Virginia, 1921 (died 1963)
Dave Dudley died in Danbury, Wisconsin (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 in Maryland (illness), 1979 (was 44)

December 25:

J.R. "Curly" Seckler born in China Grove, North Carolina, 1919 (now 93)
Jimmy Buffett born in Pascagoula, Mississippi, 1946 (now 66)

Barbara Mandrell born in Houston, Texas, 1948 (now 64)
Steve Wariner born in Noblesville, Indiana, 1954 (now 58)
Alton Delmore born in Elkmont, Alabama, 1908 (died 1964)
Billy Nelson, Willie Nelson's son, died in Nashville, Tennessee (suicide [hanged self]), 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 74)
Bob Carpenter of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1946 (now 66)

Audrey Wiggins born in Asheville, North Carolina, 1967 (now 45)
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 in Louisville, Kentucky (suicide), 1957 (was 34)
Red Foley and wife Sally injured in a fire in their apartment in Nashhville, 1964

December 27:

Scotty Moore born in Gadsden, Tennessee, 1931 (now 81)
Les Taylor of Exile born in Oneida, Kentucky, 1948 (now 64)
Darrin Vincent of Dailey & Vincent born in Kirkville, Missouri, 1969 (now 43)

Bob Luman died in Nashville, Tennessee (pneumonia), 1978 (was 41)
Vestal Goodman died in Celebration, Florida (complications from the flu), 2003 (was 74)
Hank "Sugarfoot" Garland died in Orange Park, Florida (staph infection), 2004 (was 74)

December 28:

Joe Diffie born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, 1958 (now 54)
Mike McGuire of Shenandoah born in Haleyville, Alabama, 1958 (now 54)
Marty Roe of Diamond Rio born in Lebanon, Ohio, 1960 (now 52)
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 90)
Ed Bruce born in Keiser, Arkansas, 1940 (now 72)

December 30:

Melvin Goins born in Bramwell, West Virginia, 1933 (now 78)
Mike Auldridge born in Washington, DC, 1938 (now 74)
Suzy Bogguss born in Aledo, Illinois, 1956 (now 55)
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:

Rex Allen Sr. born in Wilcox, Arizona, 1920 (died 1999)
Dale Noe born in New Boston, Ohio, 1927 (died 2005)
John Denver born in Roswell, New Mexico, 1943 (died 1997)
Rick Nelson died in DeKalb, Texas (plane crash), 1985 (was 45)
Floyd Cramer died in Nashville, Tennessee (lung cancer), 1997 (was 64)
Jim McReynolds of Jim & Jesse died in Gallatin, Tennessee (cancer), 2002 (was 75)
Charlie Louvin injured in car accident near Manchester, Tennessee, 2001
The old Country Music Hall of Fame closed, 2000