Friday, August 16, 2013

Dates of Note in Country Music, August 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)

August 16:

Billy Joe Shaver (NS 04) born in Corsica, Texas, 1939 (now 74)
Kathie Lee Gifford born in Paris, France, 1953 (now 60). Gifford began her career as one of the "Hee Haw honeys."
Emory Martin born in Hickman County, Tennessee, 1889 (died 2006). Martin was the one-armed banjo player at the Renfro Valley Barn Dance.
Elvis Presley (CM 98) died at Graceland, Memphis, Tennessee (heart failure), 1977 (was 42)
Vassar Clements died in Nashville, Tennessee (lung cancer), 2005 (was 77)
Patsy Montana recorded "I Want to Be a Cowboy's Sweetheart," 1935. The song would become country music's first million-seller by a female.

August 17:

E.W. "Bud" Wendell (CM 98) born in Akron, Ohio, 1927 (now 86)
Wayne Raney (DJ 93) born in Wolf Bayou, Arkansas, 1920 (died 1993)

August 18:

Allen Reynolds (NS 00) born in North Little Rock, Arkansas, 1938 (now 75)
Hank Penny born in Birmingham, Alabama, 1918 (died 1992)
Molly Bee born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, 1939 (died 2009)
Johnny Preston born in Port Arthur, Texas, 1939 (died 2011). Preston is best known for "Running Bear," the 1959 hit written by J.P. Richardson and featuring guitar work and backing vocals by George Jones.
Charlie Waller (BG 96) died in Gordonsville, Virginia (heart attack), 2004 (was 69)
The Louvin Brothers play their last official show as a duo (opening for Ray Price) in Watseka, Illinois, 1963. According to Charles Wolfe's biography, the duo that once commanded over $1,100 per show as headliners received $250 for the performance.

August 19:

Roger Cook (NS 97) born in Bristol, England, 1940 (now 73)
Eddy Raven born in Lafayette, Louisiana, 1944 (now 69)
Lee Ann Womack born in Jacksonville, Texas, 1966 (now 47)
Clay Walker born in Beaumont, Texas, 1969 (now 44)
Curly Ray Cline (BG 09) died in Rockhouse, Kentucky (illness), 1997 (was 74)

August 20:

Rudy Gatlin born in Olney, Texas, 1952 (now 61)
John Hiatt (NS 08) born in Indianapolis, Indiana, 1952 (now 61)
Ralph Stanley II born in Coeburn, Virginia, 1958 (now 54)
Jim Reeves born in Galloway, Texas, 1923 (died 1964)
Justin Tubb born in San Antonio, Texas, 1935 (died 1998)
Louis Innis died (heart attack), 1982 (was 63)
Leon McAuliffe (Steel Guitar 78) died in Tulsa, Oklahoma (illness), 1988 (was 71)

 August 21:

Kenny Rogers (CM 13) born in Houston, Texas, 1938 (now 75)
Harold Reid (CM 08) born in Staunton, Virginia, 1939 (now 74)
Nick Kane of the Mavericks born in Jerusalem, Georgia, 1954 (now 59)
Teea Goans born in Lowry City, Missouri, year unknown
Sam McGee died in Williamson County, Tennessee (tractor accident on his farm), 1975 (was 81)
Murray "Buddy" Harman died in Nashville, Tennessee (congestive heart failure), 2008 (was 79)

August 22:

Rounder Records co-founder Marian Leighton-Levy born in Harrington, Maine, 1948 (now 65)
Holly Dunn born in San Antonio, Texas, 1957 (now 56)

Collin Raye born in DeQueen, Arkansas, 1959 (now 54)
Rod Brasfield (CM 87) born in Smithville, Arkansas, 1910 (died 1958)
Connie B. Gay (CM 80) born in Lizard Lick, North Carolina, 1914 (died 1989)
Horace "Aytchie" Burns died in Knoxville, Tennessee (heart attack), 1974 (was 56). Aytchie was a bass player at Knoxville's WNOX and on the Renfro Valley Barn Dance. He was also the older brother of Jethro Burns.
Elizabeth Haynes born in Greenville, Kentucky, 1920 (died 1976)
Elizabeth Haynes died in Hammond, Indiana (kidney disease), 1976 (56th birthday). The one-time bass player and "red-headed yodeling gal" on the Renfro Valley Barn Dance was the wife of Homer Haynes.
Leon Chappelear died in Gladewater, Texas (suicide [gunshot]), 1962 (was 53)
Mooney Lynn, the husband of Loretta Lynn, died in Hurricane Mills, Tennessee (heart failure/diabetes), 1996 (was 69)

Floyd Tillman (CM 83, NS 70) died in Houston, Texas (leukemia), 2003 (was 88)

August 23:

Rex Allen, Jr. born in Chicago, Illinois, 1947 (now 66)
Woody Paul of Riders in the Sky born in Nashville, Tennessee, 1949 (now 64)
Tex Williams born in Anvil, Illinois, 1917 (died 1985)
Leslie York of the York Brothers born in Louisa, Kentucky, 1917 (died 1984)

"It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels" hit #1 on the Billboard charts, 1952. The song, the first #1 hit for a female singer, was very controversial in its day, with many country stations refusing to play the song and the Grand Ole Opry management prohibiting Kitty Wells from performing the tune on the Opry.

August 24:

Fred Rose (CM 61, NS 70) born in Evansville, Indiana, 1897 (died 1954)
Jerry Clower died in Jackson, Mississippi (complications from heart surgery), 1998 (was 71)
Nat Stuckey died in Nashville, Tennessee (lung cancer), 1988 (was 54)

August 25:

Elvis Costello born in London, England, 1954 (now 59). The punk pioneer and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member has performed with numerous country legends including George Jones, Ricky Skaggs, Emmylou Harris, and Charlie Louvin. Johnny Cash recorded Costello's song "The Big Light" on Johnny Cash is Coming to Town.
Jo Dee Messina born in Holliston, Massachusetts, 1970 (now 43)
Jerry Rivers born in Miami, Florida, 1928 (died 1996)
Cliff Bruner died in Texas City, Texas (cancer), 2000 (was 85)

August 26:

Jimmy Olander of Diamond Rio born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, 1961 (now 52)
Don Bowman born in Lubbock, Texas, 1937 (died 2013)
Bob Miller (NS 70) died in Nyack, New York (unknown cause), 1955 (was 59)
Wilma Burgess died in Nashville, Tennessee (heart attack), 2003 (was 64)

August 27:

Jimmy C. Newman born in Big Mamou, Louisiana, 1927 (now 86)
J.D. Crowe (BG 03) born in Lexington, Kentucky, 1937 (now 76)
Jeff Cook of Alabama (CM 05) born in Fort Payne, Alabama, 1949 (now 63)

Carter Stanley (BG 92) born in Dickenson County, Virginia, 1925 (died 1966)
Oliver "Mooney" Lynn, husband of Loretta Lynn, born in Butcher Holler, Kentucky, 1926 (died 1996)
Frances Preston (CM 92) born in Nashville, Tennessee, 1928 (died 2012)
'David "Bunny" Biggs of Jamup & Honey died in Nashville, Tennessee (unknown causes), 1948 (was 52)
Jim Denny (CM 66) died in Nashville, Tennessee (cancer), 1963 (was 52). For his Hall of Fame career, Denny may be most infamous for telling a guest artist after an appearance on the Grand Ole Opry, "You ain't goin' nowhere, son. You ought to go back to driving a truck." The person on the receiving end of Denny's criticism was Elvis Presley.

August 28:

LeAnn Rimes born in Jackson, Mississippi, 1982 (now 31)
Billy Grammer born in Benton, Illinois, 1925 (died 2011)

August 29:

Don Schlitz (NS 93) born in Durham, North Carolina, 1952 (now 61)

Dan Truman of Diamond Rio born in St. George, Utah, 1956 (now 57)
Grady Cole born in Lafayette, Georgia, 1909 (died 1981)

Archie Campbell died in Knoxville, Tennessee (heart attack), 1987 (was 67)

August 30:

Kitty Wells (CM 76) born in Nashville, Tennessee, 1919 (died 2012)
Jon Hagar born in Chicago, Illinois, 1946 (died 2009)
Jim Hagar born in Chicago, Illinois, 1946 (died 2008)

August 31:

Noel Boggs (Steel Guitar 81) died in Los Angeles, California (heart attack), 1974 (was 56)

Thursday, August 08, 2013

I Don't Like It But I Guess Things Happen That Way

Category:  Obituary

Cowboy Jack Clement has died.

The legendary songwriter and producer died this morning (8/8), four months after being announced as one of the members of the "Class of 2013" Country Music Hall of Fame inductees.

Cowboy Jack then
The legendary Jack Clement
Courtesy of

Jack Henderson Clement was born April 5, 1931 in Whitehaven, Tennessee, near Memphis.  He served in the Marines during the early 50's ("And I have the tattoos to prove it," he once quipped).  After his discharge he returned to Memphis.  He became an engineer and producer at Sun Records, where he worked with most of the legendary roster artists.  He also began writing songs.  One of Sun's artists, Johnny Cash, had hits with Clement compositions "Guess Things Happen That Way" and "Ballad of a Teenage Queen."  Soon people lined up to record Clement's tunes:  "I Know One" (Jim Reeves), "Miller's Cave" (two different hit versions by Hank Snow and Bobby Bare), and "A Girl I Used to Know" (George Jones), which was later reworked as a duet ("Just Someone I Used to Know") by Porter Wagoner and Dolly Parton.

Clement moved to Nashville in the early 1960's and continued to write songs, both serious ("She Thinks I Still Care") and silly ("Egg Sucking Dog" and "The One on the Right Was on the Left," both of which were recorded by Johnny Cash and Homer & Jethro).  While his prolific songwriting career was enough to solidify his status as a future Hall of Famer Clement turned back to record producing.  His most successful stint was as the producer of Charley Pride albums, beginning with Pride's first release in 1966.

Clement also recorded his own material, although his stint as a performer was the least successful area of his career.  He had three songs make the Billboard chart in 1978, but none reached higher than #84.

Johnny Cash, one of Clement's most frequent songwriting customers, credited Clement with solidifying one of the most legendary openings of a country song.  Cash said he woke in the middle of the night from a dream in which mariachi horns peppered the song he was recording.  He told the dream to Cowboy Jack, who arranged the horns just as Cash had heard them in his dreams.  The result:  the classic "Ring of Fire."

Clement had a home studio in his attic, which numerous artists utilized.  Sam Bush recorded his 2009 album Circles Around Me at Cowboy Jack's studio.  In June 2011 the home, studio, and most of Clement's memorabilia from a lifetime of country music were destroyed in a fire.

On April 10 Bill Anderson introduced Cowboy Jack as one of the three 2013 inductees into the Country Music Hall of Fame (along with Bare and Kenny Rogers).  Clement was ostensibly inducted in the "Non-Performer" category, which struck me as strange at the time, given that Clement was most definitely a performer (Elvis Presley once opened for him during their Sun Records days) as well as a songwriter.  However, given this morning's news that Clement had been suffering from liver cancer it could be that the Hall of Fame simply wanted to ensure his induction while he was still alive.

Colorful, legendary, beloved -- all these words have been used to describe Cowboy Jack Clement in the tributes that have poured in since the news of his passing was made public this morning.  They are all fitting.  He was, as many have said, one of a kind; and we will never see another one like him.

Cowboy Jack Clement was 82.

Friday, August 02, 2013

Randy Travis in Physical Rehab Facility

Category:  News

Superstar Randy Travis has been moved from Baylor Heart Hospital in Plano, Texas, three weeks after suffering a stroke.  According to a press release from his fiancee, Travis was transferred to a rehab facility where he will undergo physical therapy to assist him "on the road to recovery."

The 54-year-old singer was initially admitted on July 7 with congestive heart failure.  He suffered a stroke three days later after a surgical procedure to install a pump.  He had been listed in critical condition for several days.

No information has been released as to the severity of Travis' stroke, although earlier press reports indicated that he was awake, alert and communicating with his family.

Please continue to keep this country great in your thoughts and prayers.

Press Release From Randy Travis' Web Site