Thursday, February 27, 2014

"I'm Qualified to Teach Grammar to Your Children"

Category:  Tribute/Obituary

This is one of the hardest things I've ever had to post. 

Tim Wilson, the country comedian best known for his southern humor and songs "Jeff Gordon's Gay" and "But I Could Be Wrong," has died.  Wilson died of a heart attack in Nashville yesterday (2/26).

I first heard of Tim Wilson when someone, knowing my opinion of the most popular person in country music at the time, sent me a sound wav of "Garth Brooks Has Ruined My Life."  I went to see him in Louisville and was hooked immediately.  I bought all his cassettes, including "Tough Crowd," the one that featured "Garth Brooks Has Ruined My Life."  He signed it, "Yours in Garth hatingdom, Tim Wilson."

From that time in 1992 until last November, when I went to Nashville to see him at Zanie's, I didn't miss Tim's shows.

Timothy Collins Wilson was born August 5, 1961 in Columbus, Georgia ("the entertainment capital of the world, Columbus, Georgia!" Wilson would announce in the early days, then add, "Thank you, keep your seats!").  The son of two educators ("My dad was the assistant principal of a junior high school for 25 years....he whipped the preacher and three of the pallbearers at his funeral"), the "southern" was legitimate, if slightly exaggerated:  Wilson had a degree in English ("I'm qualified to teach grammar to your children") and was well-versed despite what you saw on stage.

That was reflected in one of his proudest accomplishments:  his book.  Happy New Year, Ted:  Theodore Bundy and the Columbus Stocking Stranglings, co-written with Roger Keiss, was Wilson's crusade, of sorts, to prove that a series of unsolved murders in his hometown were committed by notorious mass murderer Ted Bundy.  He was very passionate about the subject (frequently spending more time talking about the cases than his own comedy or music to fans after shows).  If you read the book you may come away with the same conclusion Wilson did:  Bundy did commit those murders.

Wilson was also a record producer.  He worked with the likes of Gregg Allman and Levon Helm on the underrated All-Night All Stars album, an album of covers that Wilson did after utilizing some of the musicians one another album. 

Over the years I saw Wilson nearly 80 times.  He once said from the stage he was confident that I could get up and do his entire routine from memory (which is probably true).  When he picked up the guitar to "sing you some stupid shit," as he put it, he'd always ask, "How many of you like country music?"  After the applause he would add, "Well, if you don't, you'd better start liking it, 'cause it's all I can play."  Our common bond was country music, and we spent many hours discussing the good, the bad, and the ugly (he had a song that I used in my ICMC presentation last year that proclaimed, "I like country better back when it was ugly") in the world of country music.  He'd tell people, on stage and off, that I know "more about country music than anybody."  (Tim really needed to get out more often.) 

The last two songs on that All-Night All Stars album are the traditional hymn, "Softly and Tenderly," and an instrumental by Jimmy Hall titled, "'Til We Meet Again."  Two fitting songs to play for the loss of a good musician, funny, funny man....and a dear friend.

Farewell, Tim.  I will miss you terribly.

Tim Wilson was 52.


According to news reports from Columbus, Georgia outlets Wilson died in his hometown, not in Nashville.  The reports state that he had suffered a heart attack and was taken to St. Francis hospital, where his aorta ruptured, killing him.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Dates of Note in Country Music, February 16-28

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)

February 16:

Jo-Walker Meador (CM 95) born in Orlinda, Tennessee, 1924 (now 90)
Ronnie Milsap born in Robbinsville, North Carolina, 1944 (now 70)
Jimmy Wakely born in Mineola, Arkansas, 1914 (died 1982)
Smiley Burnette (NS 71) died in Encino, California (leukemia), 1967 (was 55)

February 17:

Johnny Bush born in Houston, Texas, 1935 (now 79)
Buck Trent born in Spartanburg, South Carolina, 1938 (now 76)
Jon Randall born in Dallas, Texas, 1969 (now 45)
Bryan White born in Shellman, Georgia, 1974 (now 40)
Billy Byrd born in Nashville, Tennessee, 1920 (died 2001)
Gene Pitney born in Hartford, Connecticut, 1940 (died 2006). The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer recorded two albums of duets with George Jones.
Uncle Jimmy Thompson died in Laguardo, Tennessee (natural causes), 1931 (was 82)
Eck Robertson died in Borger, Texas (natural causes), 1975 (was 87)
Gus Hardin died near Claremore, Oklahoma (car wreck), 1996 (was 50)

February 18:

Juice Newton born in Lakehurst Naval Station, New Jersey, 1952 (now 62)
Dudley Connell born in Scheer, West Virginia, 1956 (now 58)
Julius Frank "Pee Wee" King (ne Kuczynski) (CM 74, NS 70) born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 1914 (died 2000)
Tootsie Bess, owner of Tootsie's Orchid Lounge, died in Nashville, Tennessee (cancer), 1978 (was 61)
Johnny Paycheck died in Nashville, Tennessee (emphysema), 2003 (was 64)

February 19:

Lorianne Crook born in Wichita, Kansas, 1957 (now 57)
Cedric Rainwater (real name: Howard Watts) (BG 07) born in Monticello, Florida, 1913 (died 1970)
Lowell Blanchard died in Knoxville, Tennessee (heart attack), 1968 (was 57)
Grandpa Jones (CM 78) died in Nashville, Tennessee (stroke), 1998 (was 84)
Porter Wagoner and Dolly Parton officially break up their act, 1974

February 20:

Kathie Baillie of Baillie & the Boys born in Morristown, New Jersey, 1951 (now 63)
Claire Lynch born in Albany, New York, 1954 (now 60)

February 21:

Mary-Chapin Carpenter born in Princeton, New Jersey, 1958 (now 56)
Don Reno (BG 92) born in Spartanburg, South Carolina, 1926 (died 1984)
Carl T. Sprague died in Bryan, Texas (unknown cause), 1979 (was 83)

Ray Whitley (NS 81) died in California (unknown cause), 1979 (was 77)

February 22:

Del Wood born in Nashville, Tennessee, 1920 (died 1989)
George Younce of the Cathedrals (SG 98) born in Patterson, North Carolina, 1930 (died 2005)
Johnny Cash asked June Carter to marry him onstage during a concert in London, Ontario, 1968

February 23:

Rusty Young of Poco born in Long Beach, California, 1946 (now 68)
Buck Griffin born in Corsicana, Texas, 1923 (died 2009)
Minnie Pearl married Henry Cannon, 1947

February 24:

Little Roy Lewis of the Lewis Family (BG 06) born in Lincoln County, Georgia, 1942 (now 72)
Don Law (CM 01) born in London, England, 1902 (died 1982)
Webb Pierce (CM 01) died in Nashville, Tennessee (cancer), 1991 (was 69)
Goldie Hill Smith died in Nashville, Tennessee (cancer), 2005 (was 72)
Dinah Shore died in Beverly Hills, California (ovarian cancer), 1994 (was 77). The legendary pop singer and TV hostess was part of the family of live performers on WSM radio.

February 25:

Dr. Ralph Stanley (BG 92) born in Stratton, Virginia, 1927 (now 87)
Faron Young (CM 00) born in Shreveport, Louisiana, 1932 (died 1996)

February 26:

Jan Crutchfield born in Paducah, Kentucky, 1936 (now 78)
Billy Jack Wills born in Hall County, Texas, 1926 (died 1991)
Johnny Cash (CM 80, NS 77) born in Kingsland, Arkansas, 1932 (died 2003)

February 27:

Chuck Glaser of the Glaser Brothers born in Spalding, Nebraska, 1936 (now 78)
Joe Carson died in Wichita Falls, Texas (car wreck), 1964 (was 27)
Walter Bailes died in Sevierville, Tennessee (various health problems), 2000 (was 80)

February 28:

Jim Denny (CM 66) born in Silver Point, Tennessee, 1911 (died 1963)
Audrey Williams born in Banks, Alabama, 1923 (died 1975)
Don Helms born in New Brockton, Alabama, 1927 (died 2008)
Joe South (NS 79) born in Atlanta, Georgia, 1940 (died 2012)
Fiddlin' Arthur Smith died (unknown causes), 1971 (was 72)

Leap day, February 29:

Dinah Shore born in Winchester, Tennessee, 1916 (died 1994)
Vaughn Horton (NS 71) died in New Port Ritchey, Florida (heart attack), 1988 (was 76)