Saturday, March 30, 2013

Dates of Note in Country Music, April 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; NS=Nashville Songwriter; SG=Southern Gospel)

April 1:

Arthur "Guitar Boogie" Smith born in Clinton, South Carolina, 1921 (now 92)
Jim Ed Brown born in Sparkman, Arkansas, 1934 (now 79)
Jules Verne Allen born in Waxahachie, Texas, 1883 (died 1945)
Jimmy Logsdon born in Panther, Kentucky, 1922 (died 2001)
Paul Cohen (CM 76) 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, 1938 (now 75)
Sonny Throckmorton (NS 87) born in Carlsbad, New Mexico, 1941 (now 72)
Emmylou Harris (CM 08) born in Birmingham, Alabama, 1947 (now 66)
Dean Townson of Pirates of the Mississippi born in Battle Creek, Michigan, 1959 (now 54)
Billy Dean born in Quincy, Florida, 1962 (now 51)
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 71)
Richard Thompson born in Notting Hill, London, 1949 (now 64).  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 63)
Hank Newman of the Georgia Crackers born in Cochran, Georgia, 1905 (died 1978)
Don Gibson (CM 01, NS 73) 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.
Harley "Red" Allen (BG 05) 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, Claude King, Johnny Horton, and one-time emcee Jim Reeves.

April 4:

Norro Wilson (NS 96) born in Scottsville, Kentucky, 1938 (now 75)
Steve Gatlin of the Gatlin Brothers born in Olney, Texas, 1951 (now 62)
Troy Gentry of Montgomery Gentry born in Lexington, Kentucky, 1967 (now 46)
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 (NS 73) born in Whitehaven, Tennessee, 1931 (now 82)
Bill Clifton (BG 08) (ne William August Marburg) born in Riverwood, Maryland, 1931 (now 82). In addition to being a bluegrass performer, Clifton is also credited with starting the bluegrass festival, when he organized a July 4, 1961 show in Luray, Virginia.
June Stearns born in Alpha, Kentucky, 1939 (now 74)
Tommy Cash born in Dyess, Arkansas, 1940 (now 73)
Bob McDill (NS 85) born in Beaumont, Texas, 1944 (now 69)
Pat Green born in San Antonio, Texas, 1972 (now 41)

Lewis Phillips of the Lewis Family (BG 06) born in Washington, GA, 1972 (now 41)
Charlie Collins of Roy Acuff's Smoky Mountain Boys born in 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 (CM 94, NS 77) born in Bakersfield, California, 1937 (now 76)
Vernon Dalhart (CM 81, NS 70) (ne Marion Try Slaughter) born in Marion County, Texas, 1883 (died 1948)
Wade Ray born in Griffin, Indiana, 1913 (died 1998)
Tammy Wynette (CM 98, NS 09) 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 81)
Bobby Bare born in Ironton, Ohio, 1935 (now 78)
John Dittrich of Restless Heart born in New York, New York, 1951 (now 62)
Leon "Pappy" Selph born in Houston, Texas, 1914 (died 1999)
Clyde Moody died in Nashville, Tennessee (unknown cause), 1989 (was 73)
Henry Glover died in St. Albans, New York (heart attack), 1991 (was 69)
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 53)
Jimmy Osborne born in Winchester, Kentucky, 1923 (died 1957)

April 9:

Margo Smith born in Dayton, Ohio, 1942 (now 71)
Con Hunley born in Fountain City, Tennessee, 1945 (now 68)
Hal Ketchum born in Greenwich, New York, 1953 (now 60)
Mark Roberts of the Red Clay Ramblers born in Wareham, Massachusetts, 1957 (now 56)
Dave Innis of Restless Heart born in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, 1959 (now 54)
Carl Perkins (NS 85) 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 75). 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.  In 2010 the Gatlin Brothers referenced the fire in a song titled "Johnny Cash is Dead and His House Burned Down."

April 11:

George Shuffler (BG 11) born in Valdese, North Carolina, 1925 (now 88)
Jim Lauderdale born in Troutman, North Carolina, 1957 (now 56)
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 88)
Vince Gill (CM 07, NS 05) born in Norman, Oklahoma, 1957 (now 56)
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 61)
Bob Nolan (CM 80, NS 71) 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 (CM 88, NS 83) born in Butcher Holler, Kentucky, 1935 (now 78)
Stuart Duncan of the Nashville Bluegrass Band born in Quantico, Virginia, 1964 (now 49)
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 (CM 09) born in Meherrin, Virginia, 1933 (now 80)
J.L. Frank (CM 67) 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.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Those Voices

Category:  Obituary

They were everywhere.  Jim Reeves' "Four Walls," Patsy Cline's "Crazy," Homer & Jethro's "The Battle of Kookamonga"....and oh, yes, that Presley fella.  The Jordanaires were the premiere vocal group for two generations.  

Gordon Stoker, the tenor singer in the Jordanaires, died today (3/27) at his home in Brentwood, Tennessee.  He had been ill for some time.

Gordon Stoker first joined the singing group not as a singer but as a piano player, but his voice soon brought him to the microphone.  In addition to all the backing vocals they did (the list is almost literally endless) they also recorded a number of albums, mostly gospel, on their own.  It was their work with Elvis Presley, however, that earned them worldwide fame.

In 2001 the Jordanaires were part of the largest class of Country Music Hall of Fame inductees to date.  A number of the acts who were also inducted that year recorded with the quartet.  Another 2001 inductee, Charlie Louvin, credited Stoker with showing Ira Louvin where the "true tenor" parts were while working on their legendary Christmas album Christmas With the Louvin Brothers.

The great Gordon Stoker was 88.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Countrier Than Thou

Category:  Birthday tribute

I’ll begin with a confession:  I have grown to HATE the word “genius” used in relation to music.  It is so overused and misused that I wish we had a music law that would prohibit defining the lower-than-lowest common denominator, cookie-cutter factory manufactured, you-know-what’s-gonna-happen-by-the-fourth-word-in-the-song lyrics modern commercial music as “genius.”  Just because it sells doesn't mean it’s “genius.”

With that preface, I’d like to take this opportunity to wish a very happy fiftieth birthday on March 25th to a REAL musical genius:  Robbie Fulks.

For the 99.9999% of the world who has no clue as to who I just mentioned, imagine Dwight Yoakam’s neo-traditionalist music style backing Warren Zevon’s lyrics and you’re getting close to the ball park.  Twisted and sick....and oh, is he country.

Like a lot of people, I discovered Fulks courtesy of his brilliant "She Took a Lot of Pills (and Died)."  Superficially there's nothing earth-shattering about that.  After all, country is the music of death:  Moon Mullican lamented dead mama in "Sweeter Than the Flowers," Charlie Louvin and Lefty Frizzell sang of visits to the grave from the perspective of the people in the grave ("Will You Visit Me on Sundays" and "The Long Black Veil," respectively), and how many people named Willie have killed or been killed in country music history (e.g., "Katie Dear" and "Knoxville Girl" from the Louvins' Tragic Songs of Life album) -- so much so that someone spotted a bumper sticker at a bluegrass festival that said, "Stop Willie before he kills again!"

Ah, but there's more to Fulks' tune than you find in the average country song.  Instrumental backing that would sound right at home on a Challenge-era Wynn Stewart track accompanied Fulks' superb tale of a has-been actress and her suicide.  Most country songs dealing with death don't really tell you that the subject of the song is dead (opting for nice euphemisms instead), so the abrupt giveaway as to what happens in the title is a surprise.  You know she's dead before you listen, and you know how.  That's enough to grab you to listen so you find out why.  The fall from Hollywood superstar to has-been living in a rat-infested "hovel on the lower east side" is chronicled in a way that betrays the kiss-off nature of the title.

As I listened more to and more to Robbie's music I found the proverbial wild side of life that Hank Thompson once sang about presented in two remarkably fresh ways for modern country music.  First, in the era of "auto-tune-the-beautiful-but-untalented-superstar" and "southern-rock-is-now-country" music that made the 80's neo-traditional movement all but a memory Fulks' music is about as country as you could get.  And good:  his flatpicking is some of the best you're going to hear.  Fulks loves Doc Watson and it shows in his guitar playing.

He is also brutally honest.  While affairs and one-night stands have been common subject matter in country music about as long as country music has been around, you have rarely heard them described the way Fulks does.  Homer & Jethro once searched for "another way of singing the sweet words 'I love you.'"  Fulks has found several different ways, most of them brilliant, some of them hilarious...and occasionally they are explicit.  The double entendre in "Cigarette State" is a great example:  you know he ain't talkin' about no cigarette!  Fulks also shares something in common with the protagonist of "Dirty Mouth Flo," he "cusses like a sailor" (and take it from a former squid, that descriptor is not a stereotype!).  He's way behind Pacino in Scarface for use of the F-word, but it's still present.  (Like people pay $15 to hear it in a movie but object to it in a song?)

Honestly, that, to me, is not necessarily a detriment.   Life isn't G-rated, so why should the songs that are part of what Harlan Howard famously described as "three chords and the truth" be?  And, like the aforementioned "excitable boy," who was unjustly labeled "the Sam Peckinpah of rock and roll" based on the violence depicted in three songs (out of twenty songs Zevon had released at that point), Fulks may be mislabeled as an "alt-country smartass" simply because he said Music City could go perform an act of self-procreation, to politely paraphrase the title of one of his songs.  Not everything he does is funny or rude.  "The Buck Starts Here," for instance, requires at least one keg of beer to cry into and easily could have been a massive hit (except for the fact that most modern fans wouldn't get the reference to Buck and "Cryin' Time;" and, of course, it was far TCFCR [too country for country radio] when it was released).  "Can't Win for Losing You" or "Rock Bottom, Pop. 1" could easily have a home on an Alan Jackson or George Strait CD without raising an eyebrow.

One thing that is not a mislabel, however, is the outright intelligence in Robbie Fulks songs.  He's not singing at you, he is singing to you.  He is smart and he knows his fans are, too.  They'll get the jokes, and he won't have to stop the show while someone pulls out their cellphone to look up a word like dilletante on the web if he uses it in a song (which he did, in "Countrier Than Thou," his answer to people [mostly northerners] who complained about his rock-edged songs such as those that comprised most of his 1998 gem Let's Kill Saturday Night).  That probably explains why he never became a superstar.  Anymore music is made to be background noise for a video, not to be so lyrically vivid and visual that a video would only detract from the lyrics (such as the incredible "Night Accident," a song that will give you goosebumps even after the 50th listen).

I'm going to see Robbie Fulks next month as a birthday present to myself.  I'm sorry it's going to be in a 100-seat bar.  If the world isn't ready for a guy who covers songs by Michael Jackson and by Johnny Paycheck, references Hank Williams and Joan Jett in his lyrics, or does shows where he pits Jerry Reed against Lou Reed, doing Lou Reed's songs while impersonating Jerry Reed and having Jerry's songs set to Lou's punk sounds (can't wait for the Bessie Smith versus Connie Smith night!), then it's their loss.  Meanwhile, I'll wish a very happy half-century birthday to a man who has set the bar for being a genius in the world of music extremely high.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Put on Your Marching Boots

Category:  Opinion

Nashville may be a little hotter than usual next month, and it will have nothing to do with the spring weather.  

As previously reported, there has been considerable backlash to Blake Shelton's snide remarks about those who love old country music being "old farts and jackasses."  Ray Price jumped on the singer immediately, and other boots soon pounded on him (including Merle Haggard, who said that Shelton is "drinking his own bath water").  Willie Nelson renamed his tour the "Old Farts & Jackasses" tour.  And lo and behold, a group called "Old Farts and Jackasses" popped up on Facebook, currently (as of this writing) with over 29,000 members.

And now a protest march is scheduled for April 17 in Nashville.  The primary focus is to get Shelton removed from the membership of the Opry.  Although the people sponsoring the protest have been using the "old farts & jackasses" term, the Facebook group emphasizes that they are not affiliated with the march.

I must admit that I have mixed feelings about the march.  In 1973 Skeeter Davis was suspended by the Grand Ole Opry for a year for criticizing the arrest of some evangelical Christians at a Nashville shopping center and dedicating "One Tin Soldier" (the song at the conclusion of the film Billy Jack, which Davis had a hit version of) to the arrested Christians during her portion of the Opry.  So yes, the Opry management does suspend members when they open mouth and insert foot.  Given the fact that the Opry appears to be on pretty thin ice, with fewer and fewer (and shorter) shows playing to less-than-full houses (something the Opry of the 1960's and 70's never had a problem with) one would think that Opry management wouldn't take too kindly to the blatant criticism of people who have for generations had the reputation of being "the most loyal fans" anywhere.  It is hard to believe that people who rely on fans purchasing tickets will just shrug off an insult such as this.  I absolutely believe Shelton should pay for his words, because it wasn't just Ray Price or Merle Haggard he insulted, it was you and me and everyone who decides they're going to make a pilgrimage to Nashville for the purpose of paying tribute to country music.

Also, I am the first in line when it comes to being a staunch supporter of country music, and of the notion that something called country music should sound like country music.  Last year I wrote an article in which I opined that it is time for modern music to give itself a different name than "country," because the modern "country" music is decidedly NOT country.  I pointed out that new names are frequently given to new styles of music.  "Punk," for instance, described a style of music completely different from what was being played on the radio in 1977.  Yes, I will admit that people can go overboard with names ("math rock"?) and sub-sub-sub-sub genres of music, but we also must admit that this ain't your daddy's country music.  (I believe Mr. Shelton made that point clear.)  Bill Monroe gave his music a new name; they gave what Elvis and Buddy Holly were doing a new name; even Sam Bush's style of music has a different name (newgrass as opposed to bluegrass).  So why not give it a different name?

Having said that, the march itself is something I might take a little issue with.  By now we all know that the days of the music industry being about music are long dead and gone.  That was obvious 20 years ago, when an unnamed record company CEO in Nashville said that, if he were given the option of signing someone who was tremendously talented but didn't have looks (think Lyle Lovett) or someone with no talent but great looks (think just about anyone in the past 20 years), he would opt for the latter.  That's hard to fathom:  visual sensory overruling the audio in a form of art that is designed to be ingested by the ears.  Still, when Michael Jackson spent more money making a video than he did the entire album the song for the video came from you knew there was trouble brewing, and it was only time until it caught up to country music.

So will the march do any good?  My gut says no.  As the Eagles put it in "The Sad CafĂ©, "We thought we could change this world with words like 'love' and 'freedom.'"  Didn't work then, and I don't think it'll work now.  My brain says they won't listen, not even if 29,000 people show up and march down 16th Avenue.  

I think, instead, the much louder message can be sent through a boycott than a march, because, as the old saying goes, "money talks."  If the money stops flowing in (as I pointed out in my other blog, the average amount of money spent on music last year was $17, which is enough for a couple of downloads and nothing else) then they would probably be far more appreciative of the message.

I do hope the march is successful, but I'm not holding my breath.  I think a far more successful campaign is to give someone a Dale Watson or Amber Digby or Justin Trevino CD.  One listen to any of those great artists and they will soon be saying, "Blake WHO?"

UPDATE:  After receiving the comment below I have modified this to remove the statement that Old Farts & Jackasses is sponsoring the march to be held April 17.  They are not the sponsors for the march, and as I understand it they are not affiliated with it in any way.  Thank you very much to the anonymous poster who pointed this out.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Dates of Note in Country Music, March 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; NS=Nashville Songwriter; SG=Southern Gospel)

March 16:

Ray Walker of the Jordanaires (CM 01) born in Centerville, Mississippi, 1934 (now 79)
Jerry Jeff Walker (ne Ronald Clyde Crosby) born in Oneonta, New York, 1942 (now 71)
Ray Benson of Asleep at the Wheel born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1951 (now 62)
Tim O'Brien born in Wheeling, West Virginia, 1954 (now 59)
Stan Thorn of Shenandoah born in Kenosha, Wisconsin, 1959 (now 54)
Ronnie McCoury born in York County, Pennsylvania, 1967 (now 46)
Robert Whitstein born in Colfax, Louisiana, 1944 (died 2001)

Carlton Haney (BG 98) died in Greensboro, North Carolina (stroke), 2011 (was 82)
Plane crash at Otay Mountain near San Diego, California kills Reba McEntire band members Chris Austin, Kirk Capello, Joey Cigainero, Paula Kaye Evans, Terry Jackson, Michael Thomas, and Tony Saputo 1991

March 17:

Jim Weatherly (NS 06) born in Pontotoc, Mississippi, 1943 (now 70)
Paul Overstreet (NS 03) born in Newton, Mississippi, 1955 (now 58)
Dick Curless born in Fort Fairfield, Maine, 1932 (died 1995)
Hugh Farr (CM 80) died in Casper, Wyoming (unknown causes), 1980 (was 77)
Jimmy Gately died in Madison, Tennessee (unknown causes), 1985 (was 53)
Sammy Pruett died in Birmingham, Alabama (unknown causes), 1988 (was 61)
Terry Stafford died in Amarillo, Texas (liver failure), 1996 (was 55)
Bill Carlisle (CM 02) died in Nashville, Tennessee (natural causes), 2003 (was 94)

Ferlin Husky (CM 10) died in Nashville, Tennessee (congestive heart failure/colon cancer), 2011 (was 85)

March 18:

Billy Armstrong born in Streator, Illinois, 1930 (now 83)
Charley Pride (CM 00) born in Sledge, Mississippi, 1938 (now 75)
Margie Bowes born in Roxboro, North Carolina, 1941 (now 72)
James McMurty born in Fort Worth, Texas, 1962 (now 51)
Smiley Burnette (NS 71) born in Summum, Illinois, 1911 (died 1967)

Dennis Linde (NS 05) born in Abilene, Texas, 1943 (died 2006)
John Phillips of the Mamas and Papas died in Los Angeles, California (heart failure), 2001 (was 65). His solo hit, "Mississippi," was a country hit in 1971.

March 19:

Henry "Friendly Henry" Maddox born in Boaz, Alabama, 1928 (died 1974)
Speck Rhodes died in Nashville, Tennessee (natural causes), 2000 (was 84)
Randall Hylton died in Nashville, Tennessee (brain aneurysm), 2001 (was 55)
Tootsie's Orchid Lounge opened in Nashville, 1960

March 20:

Tommy Hunter born in London, Ontario, 1937 (now 76)
Douglas B. Green (Ranger Doug) of Riders in the Sky born in Great Lakes, Illinois, 1946 (now 67)
Jim Seales of Shenandoah born in Hamilton, Alabama, 1954 (now 59)

Jerry Reed (NS 05) born in Atlanta, Georgia, 1937 (died 2008)
Ralph Mooney died in Kennedale, Texas (kidney cancer), 2011 (was 82)

March 21:

Carol Lee Cooper born in West Virginia, 1942 (now 71)
Tommy Hill died in Nashville, Tennessee (liver and heart ailments), 2002 (was 72)

March 22:

Charlie Poole born in Randolph County, North Carolina, 1892 (died 1931)
Hoyle Nix of the West Texas Cowboys born in Azel, Texas, 1918 (died 1985)
Uncle Dave Macon (CM 66) died in Murfreesboro, Tennessee (illness), 1952 (was 81)
Stoney Cooper died in Nashville, Tennessee (heart attack), 1977 (was 59)
Carl Perkins injured in automobile accident near Wilmington, Delaware, 1956

March 23:

David Grisman born in Passaic, New Jersey, 1945 (now 68)
Fiddlin' John Carson born in Fannin County, Georgia, 1868 (died 1949)
Jim Anglin born in Franklin, Tennessee, 1913 (died 1987)
Smokey Rogers born in McMinnville, Tennessee, 1917 (died 1993)
J.D. Miller died in Crowley, Louisiana (complications from heart bypass surgery), 1996 (was 73)
James Roy "Pop" Lewis (BG 06) of the Lewis Family died in Lincoln County, Georgia (natural causes), 2004 (was 98)
Cindy Walker (CM 97, NS 70) died in Mexia, Texas (natural causes), 2006 (was 88)

March 24:

Peggy Sue Webb born in Butcher Hollow, Kentucky, 1947 (now 66)
Carson Robison (NS 71) died in Poughkeepsie, New York (unknown causes), 1957 (was 66)
Howard Dixon died in East Rockingham, North Carolina (unknown - possible work accident), 1961 (was 57)

Maggie Cavender (NS 89) died in Nashville, Tennessee (stroke), 1996 (was 77)
Henson Cargill died in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (complications from surgery), 2007 (was 66)

March 25:

Bonnie Guitar born in Seattle, Washington, 1923 (now 90)
Robbie Fulks born in York, Pennsylvania, 1963 (now 50)

Natchee the Indian (ne Lester Vernon Storer) born in Peebles, Ohio, 1916 (died 1970)
Hoyt Axton born in Duncan, Oklahoma, 1938 (died 1999)
Jack Kapp died in New York, New York (cerebral hemorrhage), 1949 (was 47)
Buck Owens (CM 96, NS 96) died in Bakersfield, California (heart attack), 2006 (was 76)

March 26:

Bud Isaacs born in Bedford, Indiana, 1928 (now 85)
Vicki Lawrence born in Inglewood, California, 1949 (now 64). The Carol Burnett Show actress had one hit, "The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia," which made both the pop and country charts.
Ronnie McDowell born in Fountain Head, Tennessee, 1950 (now 63)
Michael Bonagura of Baillie & the Boys born in Newark, New Jersey, 1953 (now 60)
Dean Dillon (NS 02) born in Lake City, Tennessee, 1955 (now 57)
Charly McClain born in Jackson, Tennessee, 1956 (now 56)
Kenny Chesney born in Lutrell, Tennessee, 1968 (now 45)

March 27:

Bill Callahan of the Callahan Brothers born in Madison County, North Carolina, 1912 (died 2002)
David Rogers born in Houston, Texas, 1936 (died 1993)

March 28:

Roy Dean Webb (BG 09) of the Dillards born in Independence, Missouri, 1937 (now 76)
Charlie McCoy (CM 09) born in Oak Hill, West Virginia, 1941 (now 72)
Reba McEntire (CM 11) born in Chockie, Oklahoma, 1955 (now 58)

Jay Livingston born in McDonald, Pennsylvania, 1915 (died 2001). The pop songwriter's many hits include "Silver Bells," which has been recorded by many country performers.
W.C. Handy (NS 83) died in New York, New York (bronchial pneumonia), 1958 (was 84)
Farrell "Rusty" Draper died in Bellevue, Washington (heart disease/throat cancer), 2003 (was 80)
Glenn Barber died in Gallatin, Tennessee (heart ailment), 2008 (was 73)

Earl Scruggs (CM 85, BG 91, NS 07) died in Nashville, Tennessee (natural causes), 2012 (was 88)

March 29:

Paul Humphrey (BG 09) of the Lonesome Pine Fiddlers born in Wytheville, Virginia, 1935 (now 78)

Brady Seals of Little Texas born in Hamilton, Ohio, 1969 (now 44)
Moon Mullican (NS 76) born in Corrigan, Texas, 1909 (died 1967)
Jerry Byrd born in Lima, Ohio, 1920 (died 2005)
Texas Ruby died in Nashville, Tennessee (house fire), 1963 (was 54)
Opry announcer Hal Durham died in Nashville, Tennessee (unknown cause), 2009 (was 77)

March 30:

Bobby Wright born in Charleston, West Virginia, 1942 (now 71)
Connie Cato born in Carlinville, Illinois, 1955 (now 58)

March 31:

John D. Loudermilk (NS 76) born in Durham, North Carolina, 1934 (now 79)
Greg Martin of the Kentucky Headhunters born in Louisville, Kentucky, 1954 (now 59)
Howdy Forrester born in Vernon, Tennessee, 1922 (died 1987)
Tommy Jackson born in Birmingham, Alabama, 1926 (died 1979)

Hoyt Hawkins (CM 01) of the Jordanaires born in Paducah, Kentucky, 1927 (died 1982)
William O. "Lefty" Frizzell (CM 82, NS 72) born in Corsicana, Texas, 1928 (died 1975)
Anita Carter born in Maces Springs, Virginia, 1933 (died 1999)
Skeets McDonald died in Inglewood, California (heart attack), 1968 (was 52)

Carl Story (BG 07) died in Greer, South Carolina (complications from heart bypass surgery), 1995 (was 78)
Mel McDaniel died in Hendersonville, Tennessee (lung cancer), 2011 (was 68)

...And Name It After Me

Category:  Obituary

Another great has left us for Hillbilly Heaven.

Jack Greene passed away Thursday (3/14) after years of suffering with Alzheimer's disease.

Born in Maryville, Tennessee in 1930, Jack Greene first gained national attention as a member of Ernest Tubb's Texas Troubadours.  He was primarily the drummer, although he also played guitar and served as the emcee.  Tubb always showcased his band members' talents, so Greene's singing caught the attention of many, including Tubb's label, Decca Records.  

In 1966 his song "There Goes My Everything" established Greene as a star on his own.  It stayed at #1 for seven weeks and became the first "song of the year" honored by the Country Music Association.  More hits followed through the remainder of the 1960's, including another legendary song, "Statue of a Fool."  Additionally, Greene teamed up with Jeannie Seely for a number of duets, the biggest of which was "Wish I Didn't Have to Miss You" in 1969.

Greene joined the Grand Ole Opry in 1967.  Greene continued to tour and perform until Alzheimer's disease made it impossible for him to entertain in public, even though he still sang with friends and family at home.

Farewell to the "Jolly Greene Giant," Jack Greene.  He was 83.

Thursday, March 07, 2013

I Don't Care About Clifton Clowers

Category:  Obituary

I have the sad duty of reporting that country singer Claude King has died.

The reports of King's death stated he was found unresponsive in bed at his Shreveport home this morning (3/7).

Claude King was an overnight success ten years in the making.  He was one of the original members of the Louisiana Hayride, performing in his native Louisiana and regionally.  In 1962 he became a household name when the Merle Kilgore composition about a protective Ozark mountain father, "Wolverton Mountain," became a huge country and pop hit.  He continued with hits including a cover of Johnny Horton's "All of the Love of a Girl" in 1969, with a total of 30 songs hitting the Billboard country chart.

Claude King turned 90 last month, and also recently celebrated his 67th wedding anniversary.  Farewell to this great talent.

Sunday, March 03, 2013

What's Next? Renaming the Will Rogers Airport?

Category:  News/Rant

Minnie Pearl has been bumped off.

The iconic comedian, who is so well-known that the punk rock band the Dead Milkmen evoked her name in their song "Punk Rock Girl," has apparently lost her luster, at least according to the "powers that be" at the former Minnie Pearl Cancer Foundation in Nashville.  It is now called PearlPoint.  They are dropping Minnie's name and signature hat with the dangling $1.98 price tag from its name, logo, and everything else.

Here is the "Minnie Pearl Cancer Foundation" history:
In 1987, Dr. Thomas Frist, Sr., and Dr. Steven Stroup formed The Cancer Education and Research Council. After Sarah Cannon, also known as comedienne “Minnie Pearl”, was successfully treated for breast cancer, she became a passionate supporter in the fight against cancer and in 1992 offered her stage name to the Foundation, a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization. Funded through corporate and private donations as well as events supported by Minnie Pearl’s friends and fans, The Minnie Pearl Cancer Foundation is an active organization whose guiding principles honor Minnie Pearl’s generosity and caring spirit.

And here is what "PearlPoint" has to say now, about dropping the name:
The changes are intended to help the organization expand its reach, said Chief Executive Officer Susan Earl Hosbach. She worked with the New York-based firm Straightline on the rebranding. The firm determined that people outside the South, including younger generations, do not recognize Minnie Pearl. But that’s not the reason for the name change.
“For us, the bigger issue was that there was no connection between Minnie Pearl and cancer,” Hosbach said. “It wasn’t that people didn’t know who Minnie Pearl was. ... The research showed us there was truly no connection between Minnie Pearl and cancer because Minnie never had cancer. Sarah Cannon did.”
So some New York focus group thinks that a 20-something with cancer would rather die with it than go to the "Minnie Pearl Cancer Center" because he/she doesn't know who Minnie Pearl was?  Gee, what's next?  Is Oklahoma City going to rename the Will Rogers Airport because younger people don't know who he is?  Rogers died in 1935, when my dad was five years old, so it's a safe bet that the same people who don't have a clue who Minnie Pearl was also don't know diddly poo about Will Rogers.  

Of course, if Minnie Pearl had been a politician, it wouldn't matter who did or did not know her name, there would be no name change.

By the way, there is an organization that does research for pulmonary-related diseases based in California.  It is called the Will Rogers Institute.  I don't see them changing their name because Rogers' influence and generation goes back eight decades.  Maybe "PearlPoint" should learn from that.

Dates of Note in Country Music, March 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; NS=Nashville Songwriter; SG=Southern Gospel)

March 1:

Janis Oliver of Sweethearts of the Rodeo born in Manhattan Beach, California, 1954 (now 59)
Sara Hickman born in Jacksonville, North Carolina, 1963 (now 50)
Clinton Gregory born in Martinsville, Virginia, 1966 (now 47)
Cliffie Stone (CM 89) born in Stockton, California, 1917 (died 1998)
Pearl Butler died in Nashville, Tennessee (unknown cause), 1988 (was 61)
RCA Victor debuted a new record format -- the 45 RPM, 1949

Johnny Cash and June Carter Smith Nix married in Franklin, Kentucky, 1968
California governor Ronald Reagan issued a full pardon to Merle Haggard, 1972

March 2:

Larry Stewart born in Paducah, Kentucky, 1959 (now 53)

Doc Watson (BG 00) born in Deep Gap, North Carolina, 1923 (died 2012)
Dottie Rambo (NS 07, SG 97) born in Madisonville, Kentucky, 1934 (died 2008)
Lonnie Glosson died in Searcy, Arkansas (natural causes), 2001 (was 93)

March 3:

John Carter Cash born in Madison, Tennessee, 1970 (now 43)
Jimmy Heap born in Taylor, Texas, 1922 (died 1977)
Kyle Bailes died (unknown cause), 1996 (was 80)
Harlan Howard (CM 97, NS 73) died in Nashville, Tennessee (heart attack), 2002 (was 74)
Ernie Ashworth died in Hartsville, Tennessee (heart attack), 2009 (was 80)
Benefit concert for the family of DJ "Cactus" Jack Call held in Kansas City, Missouri, 1963. Among those performing: Patsy Cline, Hawkshaw Hawkins, Cowboy Copas, Wilma Lee &  Stoney Cooper, George Jones, and Billy Walker.

March 4:

Betty Jack Davis born in Corbin, Kentucky, 1932 (died 1953)
John Duffey (BG 96) born in Washington, DC, 1934 (died 1996)
Scotty Stoneman died in Nashville, Tennessee (overdose of prescription medication), 1973 (was 40)
Minnie Pearl (CM 75) died in Nashville, Tennessee (complications from stroke), 1996 (was 83)
Eddie Dean died in Los Angeles, California (emphysema), 1999 (was 91)

March 5:

Raymond Fairchild born in Cherokee, North Carolina, 1939 (now 74)
Jimmy Bryant born in Moultrie, Georgia, 1925 (died 1980)
Patsy Cline (CM 73) died near Camden, Tennessee (plane crash), 1963 (was 30)
Cowboy Copas died 
near Camden, Tennessee (plane crash), 1963 (was 59)
Hawkshaw Hawkins died near Camden, Tennessee (plane crash), 1963 (was 41)
Randy Hughes died near Camden, Tennessee (plane crash), 1963 (was 34). Hughes was Patsy Cline's manager and Cowboy Copas' son-in-law as well as the pilot of the ill-fated plane.
Syd Nathan (BG 06) died in Miami, Florida (heart disease/pneumonia), 1968 (was 63). The Cincinnati record store owner founded King Records in 1943, making it the first all-country music record label in history.
Anna Carter Davis (SG 05), original member of the Chuck Wagon Gang and widow of Jimmie Davis, died in Fort Worth, Texas (complications following a fall), 2004 (was 87)
Elvis Presley honorably discharged from the Army, 1960

March 6:

Red Simpson born in Higley, Arizona, 1934 (now 79)
Skip Ewing born in Red Lands, California, 1964 (now 49)
Cliff Carlisle born in Mount Eden, Kentucky, 1904 (died 1983)
Bob Wills (CM 68, NS 70) born in Turkey, Texas, 1905 (died 1975)
Jean Chapel of the Coon Creek Girls born in Neon, Kentucky, 1925 (died 1995)

Don Stover (BG 02) born in Ameagle, West Virginia, 1928 (died 1996)
Doug Dillard (BG 09) of the Dillards born in East St. Louis, Missouri, 1937 (died 2012)
George Jones critically injured in single-vehicle accident, 1999
The siege of the Alamo ended, 1836. Davy Crockett, subject of legendary song, was among those who died during the battle. Johnny Cash would memorialize the fight in his song "Remember the Alamo."

March 7:

Townes Van Zandt born in Fort Worth Texas, 1944 (died 1997)
Jack Anglin died in Nashville, Tennessee (car wreck), 1963 (was 46). Anglin was on his way to Patsy Cline's memorial service at the time of his accident.
Pee Wee King (CM 74, NS 70) died in Louisville, Kentucky (heart attack), 2000 (was 86)

Charlie Lamb died in Nashville, Tennessee (pneumonia), 2012 (was 90)

March 8:

Randy Meisner of Poco and the Eagles born in Scotts Bluff, Nebraska, 1946 (now 67)
Jimmy Dormire of Confederate Railroad born in Ann Arbor, Michigan, 1960 (now 53)
Johnny Dollar born in Kilgore, Texas, 1933 (died 1986)
Jimmy Stoneman of the Stoneman Family born in Washington, DC, 1937 (died 2002)

Stuart Hamblen (NS 70) died in Santa Monica, California (brain tumor), 1989 (was 80)
Hank Locklin died in Brewton, Alabama (natural causes), 2009 (was 90)

March 9:

Mickey Gilley born in Natchez, Mississippi, 1936 (now 77)
Jimmy Fadden of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band born in Long Beach, California, 1948 (now 65)
Ralph Sloan of the Ralph Sloan Dancers born in Wilson County, Tennessee, 1925 (died 1980)
George Burns died in Beverly Hills, California (cardiac arrest), 1996 (was 100). The legendary comedian and actor had a country hit with "I Wish I Was Eighteen Again."
Chris LeDoux died in Casper, Wyoming (bile duct cancer), 2005 (was 56)
Final Saturday night Grand Ole Opry at the Ryman before the opening of the new Opry House, 1974

March 10:

Ralph Emery (CM 07) born in McEwen, Tennessee, 1933 (now 80)
Norman Blake born in Chattanooga, Tennessee, 1938 (now 75)
Johnnie Allan born in Rayne, Louisiana, 1938 (now 75)
Daryl Singletary born in Wigham, Georgia, 1971 (now 42)
Kenneth "Jethro" Burns (CM 01) born in Conasauga, Tennessee, 1920 (died 1989)
Soul singer James Brown guested on the Grand Ole Opry at the request of Porter Wagoner, 1979

March 11:

Jimmy Fortune (CM 08) born in Williamsburg, Virginia, 1955 (now 58)
W. Lee "Pappy" O'Daniel of the Light Crust Doughboys born in Malta, Ohio, 1890 (died 1969)
Jim Boyd of the Cowboy Ramblers died (unknown cause), 1993 (was 78)

March 12:

Marshall Wilborn of the Johnson Mountain Boys and the Lynn Morris Band born in Austin, Texas, 1952 (now 61)
James Taylor born in Belmont, Massachusetts, 1948 (now 65). The legendary pop/folk superstar wrote "Bartender's Blues" and sang with George Jones on Jones' recording of the tune.

Lew DeWitt (CM 08) born in Roanoke, Virginia, 1938 (died 1990)  
Ralph Sloan died in Nashville, Tennessee (unknown illness), 1980 (was 55)

March 13:

Jan Howard born in West Plains, Missouri, 1930 (now 83)

Liz Anderson born in Roseau, Minnesota, 1930 (died 2011) 
Benny Martin (BG 05) died in Nashville, Tennessee (nerve disorder/illness), 2001 (was 72)

Ezra Carter married Maybelle Addington, 1926

March 14:

Michael Martin Murphy born in Oak Cliff, Texas, 1945 (now 68)
Doc Pomus died in New York, New York (lung cancer), 1991 (was 65)
Dale Potter died in Puxaco, Missouri (cancer), 1996 (was 66)
Tommy Collins (NS 99) died in Ashland City, Tennessee (emphysema), 2000 (was 69)

Bill Bolick of the Blue Sky Boys died in Hickory, North Carolina (natural causes), 2008 (was 90)

March 15:

D.J. Fontana born in Shreveport, Louisiana, 1931 (now 82)

Wayland Holyfield (NS 92) born in Malletttown, Arkansas, 1942 (now 71)
Gunilla Hutton of Hee Haw born in Goteborg, Sweden, 1946 (now 67)
Ry Cooder born in Los Angeles, California, 1947 (now 66)
Carl Smith (CM 03) born in Maynardville, Tennessee, 1927 (died 2010)
The final performance of the Friday Night Opry at the Ryman, 1974. The final song was the Opry cast singing "Will the Circle Be Unbroken."