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