Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Country Music's Final Bows of 2013

Category:  Tribute

Here are the performers who sang their final notes in 2013:

Charlie Acuff (November 22, natural causes, age 94):  east Tennessee fiddler and radio star who, unlike his famous second cousin Roy Acuff, stayed in his home region and entertained for decades.

Keith Adkinson (June 18, unknown cause, age 69):  Nashville music attorney who successfully proved that Jett Williams was indeed the daughter of Hank Williams.  He was also Jett's husband.

Leon Ashley (October 20, illness, age 77):  a history-making singer:  he wrote, published and released a song on his own, and it went to #1.  The song was the classic "Laura (What's He Got I Ain't Got)."

Homer Bailes (December 3, natural causes, age 91):  the final surviving member of the legendary Bailes Brothers band, inductees in the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame and the first act from West Virginia to become members of the Grand Ole Opry.

Bob Beckham (November 11, unknown cause, age 86):  singer with the 1959 hit "Just As Much As Ever" who later became a publisher and mentor of acts such as Kris Kristofferson and Ray Stevens.

Don Bowman (June 5, complications from a stroke, age 75):  the comedian behind "Wildwood Weed" (the 1974 Jim Stafford hit) and "Chit Akins, Make Me a Star" also wrote serious songs with Waylon Jennings ("Just to Satisfy You") and served as the original host of radio's American Country Countdown.

Charles Carr (July 1, brief illness, age 79):  the man who, as an 18-year-old college freshman, drove Hank Williams from Montgomery to Knoxville, then into history when the legendary singer died during the night in the back seat of the car.

Cowboy Jack Clement (August 8, liver cancer, age 82):  one of the 2013 Country Hall of Fame inductees, Cowboy Jack's career spanned seven decades as a singer, songwriter, producer, publisher, studio owner....and just being Cowboy Jack.

Tony Douglas (January 22, lymphoma, age 82):  singer best known for his 1963 hit "His and Hers."

Chet Flippo (June 19, long illness, age 69):  a journalist's journalist, Flippo penned the first extensive biography of Hank Williams (Your Cheatin' Heart in 1981) and served for years as the country music writer for Billboard and CMT.

Jim Foglesong (July 9, natural causes, age 90):  Hall of Fame music executive who helped launch the careers of the likes of Don Williams, George Strait and Garth Brooks.

Tompall Glaser (August 13, long illness, age 75):  a performer who enjoyed a long career with his brothers (as Tompall & the Glaser Brothers) and was one-fourth of the quartet (with Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings and Jessi Colter) on the landmark Wanted!  The Outlaws, country's first platinum album, in 1976.

Chuck Goff (February 27, car wreck, age 54):  bassist and bandleader for singer Toby Keith.

Jack Greene (March 14, Alzheimer's disease, age 83):  from the "singing drummer" of Ernest Tubb's Texas Troubadours he rose to fame with the massive hits "Statue of a Fool" and "There Goes My Everything," the latter of which became the CMA's first "song of the year" award winner.

Sidney "Hardrock" Gunter (March 15, pneumonia, age 88):  Alabama-based pre-rockabilly singer who wrote the Red Foley smash hit "Birmingham Bounce."

Sherman Halsey (October 29, unknown cause, age 56):  son of Nashville managing legend Jim Halsey and video producer/director for several country artists including Dwight Yoakam, Brooks & Dunn and the Oak Ridge Boys.

Sammy Johns (January 4, unknown cause, age 66):  singer/songwriter who wrote songs such as Conway Twitty's "Desperado Love" and John Conlee's "Common Man," he also had a massive pop (and minor country) hit with "Chevy Van."

George Jones (April 26, hypoxic respiratory failure, age 81):  in the dictionary, next to the term "country music," it says, "See George Jones."

Claude King (March 7,  natural causes, age 90):  an original member of the Louisiana Hayride who shot to international success with his 1962 smash "Wolverton Mountain."

Nelson Larkin (November 18, unknown causes, age 70):  producer of Earl Thomas Conley's string of hits as well as a songwriter and publisher.

Johnny MacRae (July 3, heart disease, age 84):  songwriter who penned such hits as "Whiskey, If You Were a Woman" and "I'd Be Better Off in a Pine Box."

Lorene Mann (May 24, stroke, age 76):  a founding member of the Nashville Songwriters Association, the singer/songwriter wrote "Don't Go Near the Indians" (one of Rex Allen's biggest hits) and "Left to Right" (a hit for Kitty Wells), as well as recorded duets with Justin Tubb and Archie Campbell.

Mindy McCready (February 17, suicide [gunshot], age 37):  troubled modern country singer who took her own life a month after her boyfriend David Wilson killed himself.

Wayne Mills (November 25, shot to death, age 44):  a honky tonk singer who had performed dates with Jamey Johnson, he was nearing completion of a new album when he was shot by a Nashville bar owner during an argument.

Patti Page (January 1, long illness, age 85):  although primarily a pop vocalist, Pee Wee King & Redd Stewart's song "Tennessee Waltz" became her biggest hit and her signature tune -- along with one of the state songs of Tennessee.

Frank Page (January 10, pneumonia, age 87):  a DJ Hall of Fame member who spent decades on Shreveport's KWKH station, including working as an announcer on the Louisiana Hayride.

Jody Payne (August 10, heart disease, age 77):  guitarist for Willie Nelson's band.

Ray Price (December 16, pancreatic cancer, age 87):  a country singer's country singer, his career spanned eight decades and spawned countless hits including the Grammy-winning "For the Good Times."

Marvin Rainwater (September 17, heart failure, age 88):  singer with a string of hits in the 1950's, most famously, "Gonna Find Me a Bluebird."

Ramblin' Tommy Scott (September 30, injuries from an August 10 car wreck, age 96):  performer who worked with Charlie Monroe's Kentucky Partners, appeared frequently on the Grand Ole Opry in the 1940's and early 50's, and toured under the billing of "the Last Real Medicine Show."

Jim Shumate (September 30, natural causes, age 91):  Bill Monroe's Blue Grass Boys fiddler from 1943 until 1945.  He recommended Earl Scruggs to Monroe and later played on early Flatt & Scruggs sessions.

Johnny Sibert (December 21, long illness, age 80):  Steel Guitar Hall of Fame member who put the signature sound behind Carl Smith.

Cal Smith (October 10, unknown cause, age 81):  one of two former Texas Troubadours to die this year (with Jack Greene), Smith, like Greene, left Tubb and embarked on a CMA Award-winning career, highlighted by "Country Bumpkin," "The Lord Knows I'm Drinking," and "It's Time to Pay the Fiddler."

Gordon Stoker (March 27, long illness, age 88):  the tenor singer in the Hall of Fame vocal group the Jordanaires.

Rex Trailer (January 9, pneumonia, age 84):  a country music performer in the 50s who worked with Bill Haley, he later became well-known for his regional TV series Rex Trailer's Boomtown.

Tom Tall (ne Tommie Lee Guthrie) (June 14, unknown cause, age 75):  country and rockabilly singer best known for singing "Are You Mine" with Ginny Wright in the 1950's.

Slim Whitman (June 19, heart failure, age 90):  the southpaw guitar-playing yodeler who saved the world in Mars Attacks!, Whitman amassed nearly a dozen top ten hits and three gold singles in a career that spanned eight decades.

John Wilkinson (January 11, cancer, age 67):  guitarist for Elvis Presley's touring TCB band.

Farewell, and thank you for the music.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Let's Just Be Glad We Had Some Time to Spend Together

Category:  News/Obituary

One day after news erroneously circulated about the death of the legendary "Cherokee Cowboy" the sad inevitable occurred. 

Ray Price died today (12/16) at 4:43 p.m. central time at his ranch in eastern Texas, less than a week after being released into hospice care due to advanced pancreatic cancer.  According to reports from family and close friends the legendary singer lapsed into a coma on Saturday evening.

Noble Ray Price was born January 12, 1926.  As his nickname implies, he was indeed part Cherokee Indian.  Following his service as a Marine in World War II Price began working Texas honky tonks and made his first recordings in 1949.  He became friends with Hank Williams, and Williams' Drifting Cowboys became Price's band following Williams' death.

The hits came early and often.  "Talk to Your Heart," his first hit, reached #3 on the Billboard country charts in 1952.  His first #1 song was the classic "Crazy Arms," which stayed at #1 for five months in 1956.  Price was one of the major superstars of country music in the 1950's and 1960's.  He resisted the urge to follow the "Nashville sound" at first; however, as the 60's progressed he added more and more orchestration to songs such as "Danny Boy" and "Burning Memories."  In 1970 his version of the Kris Kristofferson song, "For the Good Times," earned Price a "best country male vocal" Grammy award.  In total, Price had 109 charted hits, eight of them going to #1 and two of those logging over two months at the top spot ("Crazy Arms" and "City Lights," the song that gave 20-year-old University of Georgia journalism major Bill Anderson his big break in country music).

Price was also a man who helped a number of legends get started.  In addition to being the first national star to record a Bill Anderson song, the flip, "Invitation to the Blues," was written by another up-and-coming struggling singer/songwriter by the name of Roger Miller.  Miller was part of Price's band, as were Willie Nelson and Johnny Paycheck at times.  Among the little-known songwriters at the time that Price brought attention to, in addition to Anderson and Miller, were Nelson (with his astonishing rendition of "Night Life"), Harlan Howard ("Heartaches By the Numbers"), and Mel Tillis ("Heart Over Mind").  Additionally, Price was a good songwriter himself, having written his hit "Soft Rain" after the death of his grandfather, and co-writing another hit, "I've Just Destroyed the World I'm Living In" with Nelson.

Through it all Ray Price remained a humble gentleman.  When he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1996 he began his acceptance speech by joking, "It's about time!  I was beginning to feel like Susan Lucci."  The laughter quickly turned to gratitude as he thanked his wife Janie, producers, and those who he said made his career.  In the end, however, Ray Price's Hall of Fame career was made possible thanks to that exceptional voice with the unmistakable tremolo.

Now that voice is gone and Ray Price belongs to the ages.  As his massive crossover hit said, "Let's just be glad we had some time to spend together."  

He was one of a kind.  One of the best.  And there's time enough for sadness now that he's left us.

Ray Price was 87.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Dates of Note in Country Music, December 16-31

Category: News

(Hall of Fame members in bold on birth/death date, followed by hall[s] of fame in which they are enshrined and the year enshrined.  CM=Country Music; BG=Bluegrass; DJ=Country Disc Jockey; NS=Nashville Songwriter; SG=Southern Gospel; WS=Western Swing)

December 16:

Jim Glaser of the Glaser Brothers born in Spalding, Nebraska, 1937 (now 76)
Jeff Carson born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, 1964 (now 49)
Shelby Singleton born in Waskom, Texas, 1931 (died 2009)
Jenny Lou Carson (NS 71) 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 83)
Sharon White Skaggs born in Wichita Falls, Texas, 1953 (now 60) 
Tracy Byrd born in Vidor, Texas, 1966 (now 47)
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 49)
Wilf Carter (Montana Slim) (NS 71) born in Port Hilford, Nova Scotia, 1904 (died 1996)
The first Louvin Brothers recording session (they recorded "Alabama") at Castle Studios, Nashville, 1947

December 19:

Little Jimmy Dickens (CM 83) born in Bolt, West Virginia, 1920 (now 93)
John McEuen of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Bang born in Long Beach, California, 1945 (now 68)
Janie Fricke born in South Whitney, Indiana, 1947 (now 66)
Jumpin' Bill Carlisle (CM 02) 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 (CM 89) died in Nashville, Tennessee (unknown cause), 1980 (was 68)
Don Law (CM 01) died in LaMarque, Texas (unknown cause), 1982 (was 80)

Hank Snow (CM 79, NS 78) died in Nashville, Tennessee (various illnesses), 1999 (was 85)

December 21:

Freddie Hart (NS 04) born in Lockapoke, Alabama, 1926 (now 87)
Lee Roy Parnell born in Abilene, Texas, 1956 (now 57)
Christy Forrester of the Forester Sisters born in Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia, 1962 (now 51)
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 76)
Chuck Mead of BR5-49 born in Nevada, Missouri, 1960 (now 53)
Paul Martin of Exile born in Winchester, Kentucky, 1962 (now 51)
Harold "Hawkshaw" Hawkins born in Huntington, West Virginia, 1921 (died 1963)
Dave Dudley died in Danbury, Wisconsin (heart attack), 2003 (was 75)
Dennis Linde (NS 01) died in Nashville, Tennessee (lung disease), 2006 (was 63)

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)
William J. "Billy" Hill (NS 82) died in Boston, Massachusetts (heart attack), 1940 (was 41)
Charlie Moore died in Maryland (illness), 1979 (was 44)

December 25:

J.R. "Curly" Seckler (BG 04) born in China Grove, North Carolina, 1919 (now 94)
Jimmy Buffett (NS 06) born in Pascagoula, Mississippi, 1946 (now 67)

Barbara Mandrell (CM 09, Steel Guitar 09) born in Houston, Texas, 1948 (now 65)
Steve Wariner born in Noblesville, Indiana, 1954 (now 59)
Alton Delmore (CM 01, NS 71) 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 75)
Bob Carpenter of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1946 (now 67)

Travis Lewis of the Lewis Family (BG 06) born in Greenwood, South Carolina, 1958 (now 55)
Audrey Wiggins born in Asheville, North Carolina, 1967 (now 46)
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 [gunshot]), 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 82)
Les Taylor of Exile born in Oneida, Kentucky, 1948 (now 65)
Darrin Vincent of Dailey & Vincent born in Kirkville, Missouri, 1969 (now 44)

Bob Luman died in Nashville, Tennessee (pneumonia), 1978 (was 41)
Hoagy Carmichael (NS 88) died in Rancho Mirage, California (heart ailment), 1981 (was 82)
Kent Robbins (NS 98) died in Clanton, Alabama (car wreck), 1997 (was 50)
Vestal Goodman (SG 02) 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 55)
Mike McGuire of Shenandoah born in Haleyville, Alabama, 1958 (now 55)
Marty Roe of Diamond Rio born in Lebanon, Ohio, 1960 (now 53)
Dorsey Burnette born in Memphis, Tennessee, 1932 (died 1979)
Mike Auldridge died in Silver Spring, Maryland (cancer), 2012 (was 73)
Hank Williams Jr.'s first recording session at age 14, 1963

December 29:

Rose Lee Maphis born in Baltimore, Maryland, 1922 (now 91)
Ed Bruce born in Keiser, Arkansas, 1940 (now 73)

December 30:

Melvin Goins (BG 09) born in Bramwell, West Virginia, 1933 (now 80)
Mike Auldridge born in Washington, DC, 1938 (died 2012)
Suzy Bogguss born in Aledo, Illinois, 1956 (now 57)
Joaquin Murphey (Steel Guitar 80) born in Hollywood, California, 1923 (died 1999)
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 (BG 10) born in New York, New York, 1937 (died 2001)
Elsie McWilliams (NS 79) died in Meridian, Mississippi (natural causes), 1985 (was 89)

December 31:

Talmade Lewis of the Lewis Family (BG 06) born in Lincolnton, Georgia, 1934 (now 79)
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 (CM 03) died in Nashville, Tennessee (lung cancer), 1997 (was 64)
Jim McReynolds of Jim & Jesse (BG 93) died in Gallatin, Tennessee (cancer), 2002 (was 75)
Charlie Louvin injured in car accident near Manchester, Tennessee, 2001
The original Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum building closed, 2000

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Ray Price Update

Category:  News

Earlier today (12/15) it was reported by numerous reputable media outlets that Ray Price had reached the end of his struggle with pancreatic cancer.  Tributes quickly appeared.  I even posted the obituary I had prepared here.

Ray's wife, Janie, took to the "Willie's Roadhouse" Sirius/XM station to refute the reports.  Price is "fading fast," she told legendary DJ Bill Mack, but he is still alive.  She further stated on her Facebook page that friends such as Willie Nelson, Larry Gatlin and Johnny Bush had called Price's home and sent their love to him as she held the phone to his ear.

Here is the most recent update this evening from Mack, who has been named by the Price family as the official "go-to" source once the inevitable happens:

Just another input at 8:00 PM, Central: Ray is still alive, thank God. Many of you have apologized for forwarding news of his "passing". Don't feel foolish or idiotic! Many announcements were made of Ray's death by various important avenues in the media because they had received the false information. It is very normal to "forward or "post" such news. It was just another bit of evidence that you love Ray and his music! Janie and the family are grateful for your precious love and concern. I'll continue to post you on any "changes". Thank you for being there. You'll never realize your value.

If one good thing has come from this incorrect announcement, it is the fact that the premature postings of tributes and the outpouring of sympathy have let Janie Price know exactly how loved, respected and admired Ray Price is, and how much his music means to people.  Hopefully she has relayed those sentiments to him.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Ray Price Goes Home With Hospice Care

Category:  News

One day after the sad announcement that Hall of Famer Ray Price's cancer has spread from his pancreas to his liver, lungs and intestines and he is now "terminal" the 87-year-old has left the hospital and returned to his home in east Texas.  There, under hospice care, he will spend his last days in the company of his wife Janie, family and friends in warm, familiar surroundings.  

Earlier today Janie posted Ray's "final message" of thanks and farewell to his fans:

"I love my fans and have devoted my life to reaching out to them. I appreciate their support all these years, and I hope I haven't let them down. I am at peace. I love Jesus. I'm going to be just fine. Don't worry about me. I'll see you again one day."

To paraphrase the opening of "Crazy Arms," blue ain't the word for the way that we feel.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Sick Call: Ray Price

Category:  News

Sadly, this will probably be the last "sick call" on country legend Ray Price.  The 87-year-old Hall of Fame singer has been battling pancreatic cancer for over a year.  Now, after a month-long bout with sepsis, his son released a statement saying that the famed "Cherokee Cowboy" is in his final days.

"My dad is very sick," Price's son wrote in a letter to Price's fans.  "He is at East Texas Medical Center at Tyler, Texas."  The note continued, "My dad is in the final stages of pancreatic cancer, and the general opinion is that he will not be going home."

Price was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in July 2012.  He made the diagnosis public in an interview with a San Antonio newspaper in October 2012, adding he felt good through the treatments.  He has been in and out of the hospital numerous times this year, and things took a dramatic turn for the worse when Price developed sepsis.  The blood infection nearly took his life, but he recovered and was released from the hospital in time to go home for Thanksgiving.  Now Price is back in the hospital, apparently for the final time, as the combination of battling sepsis and the advanced cancer have taken their toll on his body.

Here's hoping that Price gets to see Christmas.  And remember him, his family, and all his fans in your thoughts in prayers.

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Dates of Note in Country Music, December 1-15

Category: News

(Hall of Fame members in bold on birth/death date, followed by hall[s] of fame in which they are enshrined and the year enshrined.  CM=Country Music; BG=Bluegrass; DJ=Country Disc Jockey; NS=Nashville Songwriter; SG=Southern Gospel; WS=Western Swing)

December 1:

Darryl Ellis born in Norfolk, Virginia, 1964 (now 49)
Silm Willet born in Dublin, Texas, 1919 (died 1966)
Jim Nesbitt born in Bishopville, South Carolina, 1931 (died 2007)
Fred Rose (CM 61, NS 70) died in Nashville, Tennessee (heart failure), 1954 (was 57)
Carter Stanley (BG 92) died in Bristol, Tennessee (cirrhosis of the liver), 1966 (was 41)

December 2:

John Wesley Ryles born in Bastrop, Louisiana, 1950 (now 63)
Herman Crook born in Scottsboro, Tennessee, 1898 (died 1988)
Marvin Hughes died in Nashville, Tennessee (unknown cause), 1986 (was 75)
"Tennessee Waltz" recorded by Pee Wee King and Redd Stewart, 1947

December 3:

Paul Gregg of Restless Heart born in New York, New York, 1954 (now 59)
Ferlin Husky (CM 10) born in Flat River, Missouri, 1927 (died 2011)
Rabon Delmore (CM 01, NS 71) born in Dothan, Alabama, 1916 (died 1952)
Hubert Long (CM 79) born in Poteet, Texas, 1923 (died 1972)
Lew Childre died in Foley, Albama (various health issues), 1961 (was 60)
Grady Martin died (heart attack), 2001 (was 72)
Homer Bailes of the Bailes Brothers died in Ruston, Louisiana (natural causes), 2013 (was 91)
Bob Wills recorded "What Makes Bob Holler," 1973.  He suffered a stroke during the night after the recording session and never spoke or sang again.

December 4:

Chris Hillman born in Los Angeles, California, 1944 (now 69)
Rabon Delmore (CM 01, NS 71) died in Athens, Alabama (lung cancer), 1952 (was 36)
Connie B. Gay (CM 80) died in Fairfax, Virginia (cancer), 1989 (was 75)
Eddy Arnold's first record session as a solo artist, 1944
Sun Records' "Million Dollar Quartet" of Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, and Jerry Lee Lewis record together, 1956
Connie B. Gay elected inaugural president of the Country Music Association, 1958

December 5:

Don Robertson (NS 72) born in Peking, China, 1922 (now 91)
Jim Messina of Poco born in Harlingen, Texas, 1947 (now 66)
Ty England born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, 1963 (now 50)
Ray Whitley (NS 81) born in Atlanta, Georgia, 1901 (died 1979)
Eddie Alkire (Steel Guitar 83) born in Hacker, West Virginia, 1907 (died 1981)
Michael "Bea" Lilly (BG 02) born in Clear Creek, West Virginia, 1921 (died 2005)
Molly O'Day died in Huntington, West Virginia (cancer), 1987 (was 64)
Wilf Carter (Montana Slim) (NS 71) died in Scottsdale, Arizona (stomach cancer), 1996 (was 91)
The soundtrack to O Brother, Where Art Thou released, 2000

December 6:

Helen Cornelius born in Hannibal, Missouri, 1941 (now 72)
Bill Lloyd of Foster & Lloyd born in Ft. Hood, Texas, 1955 (now 58)
Hugh Farr (CM 80) born in Llano, Texas, 1903 (died 1980)
Jim Eanes born in Mountain Valley, Virginia, 1923 (died 1995)
Huddie "Lead Belly" Leadbetter (NS 80) died in New York, New York (Lou Gehrig's Disease), 1949 (was 60)
Roy Orbison (NS 87) died in Hendersonville, Tennessee (heart attack), 1989 (was 52)

December 7:

Bobby Osborne (BG 94) born in Hyden, Kentucky, 1931 (now 82)
Hugh X. Lewis born in Yeaddiss, Kentucky, 1932 (now 81)
Gary Morris born in Fort Worth, Texas, 1948 (now 65)
Ronnie Sessions born in Henrietta, Oklahoma, 1948 (now 65)
Slim Bryant born in Atlanta, Georgia, 1908 (died 2010)
Darrell Glenn born in Waco, Texas, 1935 (died 1990)
Bill Boyd died in Dallas, Texas (unknown cause), 1977 (was 67)

December 8:

Marty Raybon born in Stanford, Florida, 1959 (now 54)
Jack Stapp (CM 89) born in Nashville, Tennessee, 1912 (died 1980)
Floyd Tillman (CM 83, NS 70) born in Ryan, Oklahoma, 1914 (died 2003)
Marty Robbins (CM 82, NS 75) died in Nashville, Tennessee (heart attack), 1982 (was 57)

December 9:

Billy Edd Wheeler (NS 00) born in Whitesville, Virginia, 1932 (now 81)
David Kersh born in Humble, Texas, 1970 (now 43)

David Houston born in Bossier City, Louisiana, 1938 (died 1993)
Tommy Jackson died in Nashville, Tennessee (unknown cause), 1979 (was 53)

December 10:

Roy Ayers (Steel Guitar 07) born in Columbus, Mississippi, 1929 (now 84)
Johnny Rodriguez born in Sabinal, Texas, 1951 (now 62)
Eddie Miller (NS 75) born in Camargo, Oklahoma, 1919 (died 1977)
John Duffey (BG 96) died (heart attack), 1996 (was 62)
Faron Young (CM 00) died in Nashville, Tennessee (suicide [gunshot]), 1996 (was 64)
Jimmy Riddle died in Nashville, Tennessee (cancer), 1982 (was 64)
Before the evening's WSM Barn Dance began, announcer George D. Hay commented, "For the past hour, you've been listening to selections taken from grand opera. Now we present Grand Ole Opry," 1927.

December 11:

Brenda Lee (CM 97) born in Atlanta, Georgia, 1944 (now 69)
Charles Whitstein born in Colfax, Louisiana, 1945 (now 68)
Arthur Q. Smith (ne James Arthur Pritchett) born in Griffin, Georgia, 1909 (died 1963)
Cousin Jody (ne James Summey) born in Sevierville, Tennessee, 1914 (died 1975)
Tom Brumley (Steel Guitar 92) born in Stella, Missouri, 1935 (died 2009)
Fiddlin' John Carson died in Atlanta, Georgia (natural causes), 1949 (was 81)
Commercial plane with Tex Ritter aboard as a passenger hijacked to Cuba, 1968

December 12:

Maurice Anderson (Steel Guitar 06) born in Dallas, Texas, 1934 (now 79)
LaCosta Tucker born in Seminole, Texas, 1951 (now 62)
Shelton Hank Williams III born in Houston, Texas, 1972 (now 41)
Clifton Chenier died in Lafayette, Louisiana (kidney disease related to diabetes), 1987 (was 62)

December 13:

Buck White born in Oklahoma, 1930 (now 83)
Randy Owen of Alabama (CM 05) born in Fort Payne, Alabama, 1949 (now 64)
John Anderson born in Orlando, Florida, 1954 (now 59)
Wesley Tuttle born in Lamar, Colorado, 1917 (died 2003)
Wayne Walker (NS 75) born in Quapaw, Oklahoma, 1925 (died 1979)
Lulu Belle and Scotty Wiseman wed, 1934

December 14:

Walter Haynes (Steel Guitar 03) born in Kingsport, Tennessee, 1928 (now 85)
DeFord Bailey (CM 05) born in Smith County, Tennessee, 1899 (died 1982)
Charlie Rich born in Forest City, Arkansas, 1932 (died 1995)

December 15:

Doug Phelps of Kentucky Headhunters born in Leachville, Arkansas, 1960 (now 53)

Alvin Pleasant Carter (CM 70, NS 70, BG 01) born in Maces Spring, Virginia, 1891 (died 1960)
Jerry Wallace born in Guilford, Missouri, 1928 (died 2008)
Ernie Ashworth born in Huntsville, Alabama, 1928 (died 2009)
Nudie Cohn (ne Nuta Kotlyarenko) born in Kiev, Ukraine, 1902 (died 1984)
William Eugene "Red" Rector born in Marshall, North Carolina, 1929 (died 1990)

Hank Williams married Audrey Guy, 1944

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Sick Call: John Prine

Category:  News

Legendary singer/songwriter John Prine has been diagnosed with the early stage lung cancer.

In a release e-mailed today (11/21) the 67-year-old performer notified those on his mailing list that he is being forced to postpone some shows in order for him to undergo surgery.

Here is the release from Prine:

Iconic singer/songwriter to postpone several performances to recuperate from forthcoming surgery but looks forward to full 2014 touring schedule.
Earlier this month, famed singer/songwriter John Prine postponed two concerts due to illness. After further consultation with his doctors, he will have to also reschedule another two appearances.
“There’s nothing I hate more than canceling shows,” says John Prine, who wants his fans to know that all dates will be honored.
Mr. Prine continues, “I’ve been diagnosed with non-small cell carcinoma of the lung. Doctors here in Nashville have caught it early, and it is operable. They see no reason why I won’t fully recover.”
Prine says, “This is a different form of cancer, unrelated to what I had in 1997.”
John Prine will play the December 6 concert in Greensboro, NC and the December 7 show in Charlotte, NC as scheduled.
Prine’s pending surgery and recuperation will move his Louisville, KY performances at the Brown Theatre from December 13 to February 28, while the December 14 show will now take place on March 1.  All previously purchased tickets will be honored for the new performance dates. The previously-postponed November 9 Madison, WI show is now March 15, and the November 8 Green Bay date will also take place at a later date in 2014.

“For me, there’s nothing like performing”, says John. “I look forward to seeing all my friends and fans in 2014. We have some great cities and venues lined up.” 

Prine successfully recovered from throat cancer in 1997.

Please keep this national treasure in your thoughts and prayers.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Dates of Note in Country Music, November 16-30

Category: News

(Hall of Fame members in bold on birth/death date, followed by hall[s] of fame in which they are enshrined and the year enshrined.  CM=Country Music; BG=Bluegrass; DJ=Country Disc Jockey; NS=Nashville Songwriter; SG=Southern Gospel; WS=Western Swing)

November 16:

Troy Seals (NS 88) born in Bill Hill, Kentucky, 1938 (now 75)
Larry Cordel born in Cordell, Kentucky, 1949 (now 64)
Will Goleman of the Cactus Brothers born in Shreveport, Louisiana, 1963 (now 50)
Ernest Tubb biographer Ronnie Pugh born in Texas, year unknown
W.C. Handy (NS 83) born in Florence, Alabama, 1873 (died 1958)
Gene Sullivan (NS 71) born in Carbon Hill, Alabama, 1914 (died 1984)
Earl Bolick born in Hickory, North Carolina, 1919 (died 1998)
Sol Ho'opi'i (Steel Guitar 79) died in Seattle, Washington (extended illness), 1953 (was 48)
J.D. Sumner (SG 97) died in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina (heart attack), 1998 (was 73)

November 17:

Gordon Lightfoot born in Orilla, Ontario, Canada, 1938 (now 75). The legendary folk singer has written such hits as Marty Robbins' "Ribbon of Darkness" and Bill Anderson's "Did She Mention My Name," and a number of his own recordings have made the country chart.
Wiley Walker (NS 71) born in Laurel Hill, Florida, 1911 (died 1966)
Eva Foley (Red Foley's wife) died in Nashville, Tennessee (suicide), 1951 (was 33)
Don Gibson (CM 01, NS 73) died in Nashville, Tennessee (natural causes), 2003 (was 75)

November 18:

John McFee of Southern Pacific born in Santa Cruz, California, 1953 (now 60)
Jessi Alexander born in Jackson, Tennessee, 1976 (now 37)
Doug Sahm died in Taos, New Mexico (heart attack), 1999 (was 58)

November 19:

Jerry Foster (NS 94) born in Tallapoosa, Missouri, 1935 (now 78)
Joe Falcon died (unknown cause), 1965 (was 65). Falcon is credited with making the first recording of a Cajun song in 1928 with "Allons a Lafayette."
Bobby Russell (NS 94) died in Nicholasville, Kentucky (coronary artery disease), 1992 (was 52)
Buford Abner of the Swanee River Boys (SG 02) died in Ashland, Alabama (natural causes), 2011 (was 94)

November 20:

Curly Putman (NS 76) born in Princeton, Alabama, 1930 (now 83)
Roger Murrah (NS 05) born in Athens, Alabama, 1946 (now 67)
George Grantham of Poco and Ricky Skaggs' band born in Cordell, Oklahoma, 1947 (now 66)
Josh Turner born in Hannah, South Carolina, 1977 (now 36)
Judy Canova born in Starke, Florida, 1913 (died 1983)
Eck Robertson born in Madison County, Arkansas, 1897 (died 1975)
RCA buys the contract of Elvis Presley from Sun Records for $35,000, 1955

November 21:

Jean Shepard (CM 11) born in Paul Valley, Oklahoma, 1933 (now 80)
Joe Carson born in Holliday, Texas, 1936 (died 1964)

Jim Eanes died in Martinsville, Virginia (congestive heart failure), 1995 (was 71)
Bill Vernon (BG 04) died in Rocky Mount, Virginia (asthma-induced heart attack), 1996 (was 59)
Charlie Cline (BG 09) died in Jasper, Alabama (long-term illness), 2004 (was 73)
Paul Yandell, C.G.P. died in Hendersonville, Tennessee (cancer), 2011 (was 76)
Charlie Daniels refused to play the "Country Freedom Concert" after being told not to perform "This Ain't No Rag, It's a Flag," 2001

November 22:

Hoagy Carmichael (NS 88) born in Bloomington, Indiana, 1899 (died 1981)
Wiley Post born in Grand Saline, Texas, 1899 (died 1935)
Doye O'Dell born in Plainview, Texas, 1912 (died 2001)
First Disc Jockey Convention held in Nashville, 1952
Keith Whitley and Lorrie Morgan married, 1986

November 23:

Jerry Sullivan born in Wagarville, Alabama, 1933 (now 80)
Charlie Black (NS 91) born in Cheverly, Maryland, 1949 (now 64)
Charlie Sizemore born in Richmond, Kentucky, 1960 (now 53)
Spade Cooley died in Oakland, California (heart attack), 1969 (was 58)
Grady Nutt died in Vinemont, Alabama (plane crash), 1982 (was 48)
Roy Acuff (CM 62) died in Nashville, Tennessee (congestive heart failure), 1992 (was 89)
Smokey Rogers died (unknown cause), 1993 (was 76)

November 24:

Johnny Carver born in Jackson, Mississippi, 1940 (now 73)
Steve Nelson (NS 73) born in New York, New York, 1907 (died 1981)
Stoney Edwards born in Seminole, Oklahoma, 1929 (died 1997)
Teddy Wilburn died in Nashville, Tennessee (congestive heart failure), 2003 (was 71)
Charlie Douglas (DJ 94) died in Covington, Louisiana (unknown cause), 2011 (was 78)
Wanted! The Outlaws by Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Tompall Glaser, and Jessi Colter certified platinum, making it the first certified platinum country music album in history, 1976

November 25:

Amy Grant born in Augusta, Georgia, 1960 (now 53)
Eddie Stubbs (DJ 12) born in Gaithersburg, Maryland, 1961 (now 52)
Biff Collie born in Little Rock, Arkansas, 1926 (died 1992)
Ralph Emery debuted on WSM in overnight slot, 1957

November 26:

Hal Blair (NS 03) born in Kansas City, Missouri, 1915 (died 2001)

November 27:

Eddie Rabbitt (NS 98) born in Brooklyn, New York, 1941 (died 1998)
Charlene Arthur died in Idaho (atherosclerosis), 1987 (was 58)

November 28:

WSM Barn Dance (later known as the Grand Ole Opry) born, 1925 (now 88)
A.L. "Doodle" Owens (NS 99) born in Waco, Texas, 1930 (died 1999)
Carrie Rodgers, widow of Jimmie Rodgers, died in San Antonio, Texas (cancer), 1961

November 29:

Joel Whitburn born in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin, 1938 (now 75)
Jody Miller born in Phoenix, Arizona, 1941 (now 72)
Merle Travis (CM 77, NS 70) born in Rosewood, Kentucky, 1917 (died 1983)
Jim Nesbitt died in Florence, South Carolina (heart ailment), 2007 (was 75)

November 30:

Bob Moore born in Nashville, Tennessee, 1932 (now 81)
Jeannie Kendall born in St. Louis, Missouri, 1954 (now 59)
Teddy Wilburn born in Hardy, Arkansas, 1931 (died 2003)
Jack Reno born in Bloomfield, Iowa, 1935 (died 2008)
Mindy McCready born in Ft. Myers, Florida, 1975 (died 2013)
David Houston died in Bossier City, Louisiana (brain aneurysm), 1993 (was 54)
Howard "Happy" Goodman (SG 03) died in Nashville, Tennessee (unknown cause), 2002 (was 81)

National Enquirer Country

Category:  Comedy Show Review

It's a hard life in country music, and anyone who doubts it needs to see the Doyle and Debbie Show.  The 90-minute revue is currently playing on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at Zanie's Comedy Club in Nashville.

Doyle Mayfield was a big star "way back when" as part of a duet known as Doyle & Debbie.  Two Debbies (including one who was also Mrs. Doyle Mayfield) have come and gone, and now Doyle is trying the comeback trail with Debbie #3, whom Doyle discovered singing in a VFW post.  

They begin their set with "Whine, Whine, Twang, Twang."  After the song, about four or five words into his introduction of his singing partner it became blatantly obvious that Doyle is a jerk.  He introduced his third Debbie with such a misogynistic, condescending tone that the audience was tempted to throw something at him -- except they were laughing too hard.  

The relationship between Doyle and Debbie was one made in country music hell.  Doyle sat "backstage" (an area to the left of the stage) reading National Enquirer while Debbie sang a solo.  Debbie returned the favor when it was Doyle's turn to solo.  The glares the duo gave each other brought to mind the title of the Rodney Crowell song, "If Looks Could Kill."

Doyle had been on the wagon for a few weeks, but during the intermission he resorted to drinking while Debbie tended to her three children who were "out in the car" after hearing them arguing over a walkie-talkie she used to keep tabs on the youngsters.  Once they began the second set Doyle was more than a little tipsy, staggering onstage to the shock of his band leader Buddy.  The booze and the mention of his recently-deceased dad's favorite song "Snowbanks of Life" (as in "I peed your name in the....") changed Doyle, and he performed the morbid "Daddy's Hair," complete with a box containing the scalp of his dead dad (which caused Debbie to make good on her threat to leave).  The hair seemed to possess Doyle as it bled on his shirt, but Buddy saved the day by shooting the hair.  Debbie was eventually coaxed back to finish the set.

The comedy is side-splitting, provided by Bruce Arntson as Doyle, Jenny Littleton as Debbie and Matthew Carlton as Buddy.  Arnston created this farce and wrote all the music (except for "Whine Whine, Twang Twang," which he co-wrote with Pam Tillis).  These two are not only sharp in their delivery of the comedy (including the physical humor), they are both excellent singers.  The songs lampoon stereotypes in a way that hasn't been seen in country music since "The B-Side of Love" on National Lampoon's Goodbye Pop album.  "When You're Screwing Other Women (Think of Me)" summarizes cheating songs in the title -- and makes it far more comically obvious than others dare.  The medley of Doyle & Debbie hits concludes with "God Loves America Best," which takes dead aim at smarmy patriotism in a number of songs.  The closer, "Fat Women in Trailers," is a musical highlight, as is Debbie's "ABC's of Love," an ode to Patsy Cline-style ballads as well as nearly every commonly-utilized abbreviation today (you will LOL at this).

If you've never seen the Doyle and Debbie Show you need to put it on your "to-do" list.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Those Who Served

Category: Tribute

Veterans Day originated as Armistice Day in 1938 to honor the "Great War" (what we now call World War I) veterans on the anniversary of the signing of the armistice ending the first world war (which occurred on November 11, 1918 at 11:00 a.m.).  In 1954 the name of the holiday was changed to "Veterans Day" to honor the veterans of both world wars as well as the Korean war and those who served in peacetime.

Here is my annual list of some of the members of the world of country and bluegrass music who served in the armed forces, and (if applicable) the war during which they served.  Their music made them famous, but their service made them heroes.  

Country Music Hall of Famers in bold.


Jules Verne Allen (World War I)
Jack Anglin (World War II)
Bob Atcher (World War II)
Bobby Bare
Byron Berline
Pat Brady (World War II)
Jim Ed Brown
Tom Brumley
Horace "Aytchie" Burns (World War II) 
Kenneth "Jethro" Burns (World War II)
Tommy Cash
Harold "Curly" Chalker
Hank Cochran
Earl Thomas Conley
Tommy Duncan (World War II)
Jim Eanes (World War II)
Bob Ferguson (also served in the Marines)
Jack Greene
Tom T. Hall
Harold "Hawkshaw" Hawkins (World War II)
Red Hayes (World War II)

Henry "Homer" Haynes (World War II)
Fairley Holden (World War II)
Doyle Holly
Harlan Howard
Stonewall Jackson (primarily served in the Navy; briefly in Army but discharged after it was discovered he lied about his age)
Louis "Grandpa" Jones (World War II)
Doug Kershaw
Rusty Kershaw
Bradley Kincaid (World War I)
Kris Kristofferson 
John Lair
Charlie Louvin (Korea; was in the Army Air Corps during WW II)
Ira Louvin (World War II)
Darrell McCall
Del McCoury
Skeets McDonald
Jesse McReynolds (Korea)
Jim McReynolds (Korea)
Roger Miller
George Morgan
"Colonel" Tom Parker
Lloyd Perryman (World War II)
Webb Pierce
Elvis Presley
John Prine
Boots Randolph
Jerry Reed
Don Reno (World War II)
Cal Smith
James "Hal" Smith (World War II)
Ralph Stanley (World War II)
George Strait
Nat Stuckey (Korea)
Conway Twitty
T. Texas Tyler (David Myrick) (World War II)
Charlie Walker (World War II)
Roland White
Doyle Wilburn (Korea)
Teddy Wilburn (Korea)
Bob Wills (World War II)
Faron Young


Hoyt Axton
Kenny Baker (World War II)
Archie Campbell (World War II)
Jerry Clower
Cy Coben (World War II)
Larry Cordle
Alton Delmore (World War II)
Roy Drusky
Bill Emerson
Leon Everette
Werly Fairburn (World War II)
Benjamin "Whitey" Ford (Duke of Paducah) (World War I)
Howdy Forrester (World War II)
Ferlin Husky (Merchant Marines) (World War II)
Harold "Shot" Jackson
Stonewall Jackson (also briefly served in the Army but was discharged after it was discovered he lied about his age to enlist)
Mitch Jayne (World War II)
Doyle Lawson
Johnny Lee (Vietnam)
Leon McAuliffe (World War II)
Ronnie McDowell
Bill Nettles (World War I)
Dale Noe (World War II)
Johnny Paycheck (Donald Lytle)
Don Pierce (World War II)
Ray Pillow
Claude "Curly" Putman
Marvin Rainwater (World War II)
Red Rector (briefly joined the Navy in 1942, when he was 13, but was discharged once it was discovered he had lied about his age)
Marty Robbins (World War II)
Billy Joe Shaver
Carl Smith
Carl Story (World War II)
Hank Thompson (World War II)
Slim Whitman (World War II)

Air Force/Army Air Corps:

Randy Atcher (World War II)
Gene Autry (World War II)
Rod Brasfield (World War II)
Henry Cannon (Mr. Minnie Pearl) (World War II)
Johnny Cash
Jimmy Dean
Tennessee Ernie Ford (World War II)
Kendall Hayes
Tommy Jackson (World War II)
Jimmie Logsdon (World War II)
Charlie Louvin (World War II, was in the Army in Korea)
O.B. McClinton
Willie Nelson
Mike Nesmith
Del Reeves
Charlie Rich
Carter Stanley (World War II)
Mel Tillis


Red Allen
Wendy Bagwell (World War II)
Jack Clement
Bill Clifton
Tommy Collins (Leonard Sipes)
Don Everly
Phil Everly
Freddy Fender (Baldemar Huerta)
Bob Ferguson (Korea) (also served in the Army)
Josh Garcin
Wayne Hancock
Freddie Hart (World War II)
George Jones
Ned Miller 
Bobby Osborne
Ray Price (World War II)
Merle Travis (World War II)
Charles Whitstein
Robert Whitstein (Vietnam)

I would also like to recognize a couple of performers who tried to serve.  Chet Atkins was medically disqualified from serving in World War II because of asthma, and Jim Reeves failed his World War II Army physical because of a heart condition.

Thank you for your music; more importantly, thank you for your service.

Thursday, November 07, 2013

An Exclusive Club

Category:  News

Given that I focus on country music here, this isn't the place to discuss the "Country Music" Association awards that were held tonight (11/6) in Nashville.  With acts such as Jason Mraz and Nirvana drummer David Grohl appearing I don't think I need any other justification for not reporting on the event.  

However, they did something right tonight.  For only the second time in history, a Country Music Hall of Famer won the "Entertainer of the Year" award after his Hall of Fame induction.  That honor went to George Strait, who is in the midst of his "The Cowboy Rides Away" farewell tour.

Strait was overwhelmed as the audience remained standing, cheering what may well be Strait's final award (although his "Cowboy Rides Away" tour is scheduled to continue into May 2014, which would make him eligible again next year).  

In 1966 Eddy Arnold was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.  The next year, at the inaugural CMA Awards, he was named Entertainer of the Year.  Until Strait's triumph Arnold was the only performer to ever accomplish that feat.

Congratulations to country music's most successful artist.  Here's hoping for a repeat performance next year.

George Strait's 2013 Entertainer of the Year Award

Criminal. Positively Criminal.

Category:  Rant

I normally don't deal with rock and roll here in the country blog, but I'm making an exception for two reasons.  First, there is a strong country music connection in this instance.  Second, this is such a criminal action that it demands a scream.

In late October the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame announced its nominees for the "class of 2014."  Among the nominations was Linda Ronstadt.  If there were a musical courtroom the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame should be sentenced to life for this crime against musical humanity.

The main reason Linda Ronstadt received her first nomination this year, 21 years after she was first eligible to be nominated, is the main reason I'm furious.  In July the 67-year-old singer announced that she has Parkinson's Disease, resulting in her being unable to sing any longer.  So, in essence, this nomination is basically a pity party.  

Criminal.  Positively criminal.  The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominating committee should be ashamed of itself.

Ronstadt was rock's #1 female artist in the 1970's.  Nobody was close to her.  In fact, you're probably hard-pressed to name another successful female rock singer in the 1970's:  Bonnie Raitt and Tina Turner were years away from becoming household names, and Heart (led by sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson) only started in the late 70's and didn't hit their stride until the 80's.  The other major female acts in the 1970's were pop (such as Barbra Streisand), disco (Donna Summer) or R&B (Diana Ross).  Rock had but one major female voice, and it belonged to Linda Ronstadt.

Ronstadt, however, was never limited to just rock.  Her music tastes are quite diverse, and she reflected this in the songs she sang.  Her 1974 masterpiece Heart Like a Wheel successfully walked a line between rock and country, with her covers of "You're No Good" and "When Will I Be Loved" balanced against "I Can't Help It If I'm Still In Love With You" and "Faithless Love."  Her list of country hits date to that year, when her version of "Silver Threads and Golden Needles" made the Billboard country top 20.  Ronstadt won three country Grammy awards, including two for her collaboration with Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris in the Trio projects.   

She repeatedly walked that fine line throughout much of her career -- not always successfully (her cover of the Rolling Stones' "Tumbling Dice" is almost comical, and not in a good way)  -- but you could always count on Linda Ronstadt to knock you out with that voice of hers that Parton once labeled as one of only three "real" female voices in the world (the other two, according to Parton, belonging to Streisand and Connie Smith:  "the rest of us are just pretenders").  Now Parkinson's Disease has silenced that marvelous voice.  So, much like a sympathy vote (no doubt how Donna Summer gathered enough votes for a posthumous induction last year), Ronstadt has now received the first nomination to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in her life; and, as I predicted in my rock blog (and will reiterate here) I would bet the ranch if I owned one that she will be inducted.

Linda Ronstadt's music has enriched the lives of fans of country, rock, pop (check out her albums recorded with Nelson Riddle), Mexican Mariachi music, and Broadway.  She should have been inducted years ago, when she could have entertained the audience with her marvelous voice.

I would love nothing more than for God to grant her one last curtain call, so she could sing a farewell to her three generations of fans and, as a friend of mine put it, sing the rafters off the building in a middle-finger response of sorts to being overlooked for so long.  

Linda Ronstadt with Emmylou Harris (and Ricky Skaggs on guitar) 
performing "Gold Watch and Chain" in a tribute to Mother Maybelle 
Carter in 1979

Saturday, November 02, 2013

Dates of Note in Country Music, November 1-15

Category: News

(Hall of Fame members in bold on birth/death date, followed by hall[s] of fame in which they are enshrined and the year enshrined.  CM=Country Music; BG=Bluegrass; DJ=Country Disc Jockey; NS=Nashville Songwriter; SG=Southern Gospel; WS=Western Swing)

November 1:

Bill Anderson (CM 01, NS 75) born in Columbia, South Carolina, 1937 (now 76)
Keith Stegall born in Wichita Falls, Texas, 1954 (now 59)
Lyle Lovett born in Klein, Texas, 1957 (now 56)
Lew Childre born in Opp, Alabama, 1901 (died 1961)
Buddy Killen died in Nashville, Tennessee (cancer), 2006 (was 73)
Jack Reno died in Florence, Kentucky (brain cancer), 2008 (was 72)

November 2:

John David Souther born in Detroit, Michigan, 1945 (now 68)
Earl Yager of the Johnson Mountain Boys born in Gordonsville, Virginia, 1953 (now 60)
k.d. lang born in Consort, Alberta, 1961 (now 52)
Charlie Walker born in Copeville, Texas, 1926 (died 2008)
Elaine Tubb, former wife of Ernest Tubb and subject of the song "Blue-Eyed Elaine," died in Nashville, Tennessee, 2001 (was 85)

November 3:

Ray Edenton born in Mineral, Virginia, 1926 (now 87)
Fabor Robison born in Beebe, Arkansas, 1911 (died 1986)
Leon Huff born in Whitesboro, Texas, 1912 (died 1952)
John Maddox of the Maddox Brothers & Rose born in Boaz, Alabama, 1915 (died 1968)
The first inductees into the Country Music Hall of Fame -- Jimmie Rodgers, Fred Rose, and Hank Williams -- announced, 1961
Merle Haggard paroled from San Quentin prison, 1960

November 4:

Kim Forrester born in Oglethorpe, Georgia, 1960 (now 53)
Will Rogers born near Oologah, Oklahoma, 1879 (died 1935)
Audrey Williams died in Nashville, Tennessee (illness), 1975 (was 52)
Dale Noe died in Phoenix, Arizona (unknown cause), 2004 (was 76)

November 5:

Billy Sherrill (CM 10, NS 84) born in Phil Campbell, Alabama, 1936 (now 77)
Lowell Blanchard born in Palmer, Illinois, 1910 (died 1968). Blanchard was the program director at WNOX in the 1930's and began the Midday Merry-Go-Round.
Roy Rogers (ne Leonard Slye) (CM 80 and 88) born in Cincinnati, Ohio, 1911 (died 1998)
Roy Horton (CM 82) born in Broad Top, Pennsylvania, 1914 (died 2003)
Gram Parsons born in Winter Haven, Florida, 1946 (died 1973)
Johnny Horton died in Milano, Texas (car wreck), 1960 (was 35)
Jimmie Davis (CM 72, NS 71) died in Baton Rouge, Louisiana (natural causes), 2000 (was 101)
Dorothy Southworth Ritter died in Woodland Hills, California (natural causes), 2003 (was 88)
Author/biographer Patsi Bale-Cox died in Nashville, Tennessee (emphysema), 2011 (was 66)
My favorite country music fan, my dad, born in Louisville, Kentucky, 1930 (now 83)

November 6:

Stonewall Jackson born in Emerson, North Carolina, 1932 (now 81)
Guy Clark (NS 04) born in Monahan, Texas, 1941 (now 72)
Glenn Frey of the Eagles born in Detroit, Michigan, 1948 (now 65)
Doug Sahm born in San Antonio, Texas, 1941 (died 1999)
Hank Thompson (CM 89, NS 97) died in Fort Worth, Texas (lung cancer), 2007 (was 82)
Elvis Presley became a member of Louisiana Hayride, 1954

November 7:

Robin Lee born in Nashville, Tennessee, 1953 (now 60)
Red Ingle born in Toledo, Ohio, 1906 (died 1965)

Archie Campbell born in Bull's Gap, Tennessee, 1914 (died 1987)
Howard "Happy" Goodman (SG 98) born in northeast Alabama, 1921 (died 2002)
A.P. Carter (CM 70, NS 70) died in Kingsport, Tennessee (heart ailment), 1960 (was 68)
Gene Wooten died in Nashville, Tennessee (cancer), 2001 (was 49)
Red Foley's daughter, Shirley, married Pat Boone, 1953
Marty Robbins participated in his final NASCAR race, 1982

November 8:

Patti Page (Clara Fowler) born in Claremore, Oklahoma, 1927 (died 2013)
Scotty Wiseman (NS 71) born in Ingalls, North Carolina, 1909 (died 1981)
Ivory Joe Hunter died in Memphis, Tennessee (lung cancer), 1974 (was 60). A number of the R&B singer/songwriter's songs were turned into country hits by Sonny James, including "Since I Met You, Baby" and "Empty Arms."

November 9:

George D. Hay (CM 66) born in Attica, Indiana, 1895 (died 1968)
Curly Fox born in Graysville, Tennessee, 1910 (died 1995)
James "Spider" Rich, co-writer of "Yakety Sax," died (unknown cause), 2003 (was 80)

November 10:

Donna Fargo (Yvonne Vaughn) born in Mount Airy, North Carolina, 1940 (now 73)
Pat Severs of Pirates of the Mississippi born in Elmira, New York, 1952 (now 61)
Paul Cohen (CM 76) born in Chicago, Illinois, 1908 (died 1970)
Buford Abner of the Swanee River Boys (SG 02) born in Lineville, Alabama, 1917 (died 2011)
Onie Wheeler born in Senath, Missouri, 1921 (died 1984)
Dave "Stringbean" Akeman died in Ridgetop, Tennessee (murdered), 1973 (was 58)
Arnim "Curly" Fox died in Graysville, Tennessee (natural causes), 1995 (was 85)
The Edmund Fitzgerald sank in Lake Superior, killing all 29 aboard, 1975. The accident inspired Gordon Lightfoot's 1976 pop/country/folk hit "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald."

November 11:

Narvel Felts born near Keiser, Arkansas, 1938 (now 75)
Hank "Sugarfoot" Garland born in Cow Pens, South Carolina, 1930 (died 2004)
Don Stover (BG 02) died in Brandywine, Maryland (cancer), 1996 (was 68)
Wade Ray died in Sparta, Illinois (illness), 1998 (was 85)

Mary Reeves Davis, widow of Jim Reeves and manager of Jim Reeves Enterprises and the Jim Reeves Museum, died in Nashville, Tennessee (Alzheimer's disease), 1999 (was 70)

November 12:

Barbara Fairchild born in Lafe, Arkansas, 1950 (now 63)
Jo Stafford born in Coalinga, California, 1917 (died 2008). The pop singer was the girl singer on Red Ingle & Natural Seven's hit "Tem-Tay-Shun."
John Lair, Renfro Valley Barn Dance founder, died in Mount Vernon, Kentucky (natural causes), 1985 (was 91)
Homer and Jethro's legendary live album At the Country Club recorded in Nashville, 1959

Groundbreaking ceremonies held for construction of the Grand Ole Opry House (current home of the Opry), 1971
The IRS confiscated Willie Nelson's belongings as payment for his tax bill, 1990

November 13:

Ray Wylie Hubbard born in Soper, Oklahoma, 1946 (now 67)
Jack Guthrie born in Olive, Oklahoma, 1915 (died 1948)
Buddy Killen born in Florence, South Carolina, 1932 (died 2006)
Jerry Lee Lewis Jr. died near Hernando, Mississippi (car wreck), 1973 (was 20)
Steve Nelson (NS 73) died (unknown cause), 1981 (was 73)
Alvin "Junior" Samples died in Cumming, Georgia (heart attack), 1983 (was 57)

November 14:

Ken Carson born in Coalgate, Oklahoma, 1914 (died 1994)
Noel Boggs (Steel Guitar 81) born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, 1917 (died 1974)
Robert Whitstein died in Colfax, Louisiana (heart attack), 2001 (was 57)

November 15:

William Fries (C.W. McCall) born in Audubon, Iowa, 1928 (now 85)
Jack Ingram born in Houston, Texas, 1970 (now 43)
Albert E. Brumley (NS 70, SG 97) died in Powell, Missouri (unknown cause), 1977 (was 72)

Speedy West (Steel Guitar 81) died in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma (unknown cause), 2003 (was 79)