Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Dates of Note in Country Music, October 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; StG=Steel Guitar; WS=Western Swing)

October 16:

Jim Ed Norman born in Ft. Myers, Florida, 1948 (now 66)
Stoney Cooper born in Harman, West Virginia, 1918 (died 1977)
Doyle Wilburn died in Nashville, Tennessee (cancer), 1982 (was 52)
Don Reno (BG 92) died in Charlottesville, Virginia(post-operative complications), 1984 (was 58)
Danny Dill (NS 75) died in Nashville, Tennessee (unknown cause), 2008 (was 84)
Naomi Judd retired from touring because of health issues, 1990

Ralph Stanley Museum opened, 2004

October 17:

Earl Thomas Conley born in Portsmouth, Ohio, 1941 (now 73)
Alan Jackson (NS 11) born in Newman, Georgia, 1958 (now 56)
Tennessee Ernie Ford (CM 90) died in Reston, Virginia (liver disease), 1991 (was 72)
Jay Livingston died in Los Angeles, California (pneumonia), 2001 (was 86). Among the songwriter's many credits were "Bonanza!," which Johnny Cash recorded, and "The Hanging Tree," which Marty Robbins recorded.
Bashful Brother Oswald (Beecher Ray Kirby) died in Nashville, Tennessee (cancer), 2002 (was 90)

October 18:

Chuck Berry (NS 82) born in San Jose, California, 1926 (now 88)
Keith Knudsen of Southern Pacific born in Ames, Iowa, 1952 (now 62)
Harty Taylor of Karl & Harty died (stroke), 1963 (was 58)
Don Hecht died in Miami, Florida (heart attack), 2002 (was 72)
Hank Williams married Billie Jean Jones in Minden, Louisiana, 1952. After Williams' death, she would marry Johnny Horton.

October 19:

Don Parmley of the Bluegrass Cardinals born in Oliver Springs, Tennessee, 1933 (now 81)
Ebo Walker (ne Harry Shelor) of Bluegrass Alliance and New Grass Revival born in Louisville, Kentucky, 1941 (now 73)
Jeannie C. Riley born in Anson, Texas, 1945 (now 69)
Charlie Chase born in Rogersville, Tennessee, 1952 (now 62)
Arthur E. "Uncle Art" Satherley (CM 71) born in Bristol, England, 1889 (died 1986)
Grant Turner (CM 81) died in Nashville, Tennessee (heart failure), 1991 (was 79)
The first CMA Awards were held in Nashville, 1967. The awards show was not televised.

October 20:

Wanda Jackson born in Maud, Oklahoma, 1937 (now 77)
Stuart Hamblin (NS 70) born in Kellyville, Texas, 1908 (died 1989)
Louis "Grandpa" Jones (CM 78) born in Niagara, Kentucky, 1913 (died 1998)
Merle Travis (CM 77, NS 70) died in Tahlequah, Oklahoma (heart attack), 1983 (was 65)
Leon Ashley died in Hendersonville, Tennessee (illness), 2013 (was 77)
Rounder Records founded by Ken Irwin, Bill Nowlin, and Marian Leighton, 1970. Mr. Nowlin says this "birth" of Rounder is based on the date of their first invoice.

October 21:

Steve Cropper (NS 10) born in Willow Springs, Missouri, 1941 (now 73)
Owen Bradley (CM 74) born in Westmoreland, Tennessee, 1915 (died 1998)
Bill Black died in Memphis, Tennessee (brain tumor), 1965 (was 39)
Mel Street born in Grundy, Virginia, 1933 (died 1978)
Mel Street died in Hendersonville, Tennessee (suicide), 1978 (45th birthday)
Sonny Burns died in Nacogdoches, Texas (unknown cause), 1992 (was 62)
Leona Johnson Atkins, member of WLW's Johnson Twins and widow of Chet Atkins, died in Nashville, Tennessee (illness), 2009 (was 85)

October 22:

Shelby Lynn born in Quantico, Virginia, 1968 (now 46)
Curly Chalker (StG 85) born in Enterprise, Alabama, 1931 (died 1998)
Leon Chappelear died in Gladewater, Texas (suicide), 1962 (was 53)
Dorothy Shay, the "Park Avenue Hillbillie," died in Santa Monica, California (heart attack), 1978 (was 57)

October 23:

Dwight Yoakam born in Pikeville, Kentucky, 1956 (now 58)
Junior Bryant of Ricochet born in Pecos, Texas, 1968 (now 46)
Eric Gibson of the Gibson brothers born in Clinton, New York, 1970 (now 44)
Mother Maybelle Carter (CM 70, BG 01) died in Nashville, Tennessee (respiratory arrest), 1978 (was 69)
Merle Watson died in Caldwell County, North Carolina (tractor accident), 1985 (was 36). His father Doc's long-lasting tribute to his late son is the annual bluegrass event known as "MerleFest."
Rusty Kershaw died in New Orleans, Louisiana (heart attack), 2001 (was 63)

October 24:

Sanger D. Shafer (NS 89) born in Whitney, Texas, 1934 (now 80)
John Bettis (NS 11) born in Long Beach, California, 1946 (now 68)
Mark Gray of Exile born in Vicksburg, Mississippi, 1952 (now 62)
Jiles Perry "The Big Bopper" Richardson born in Sabine Pass, Texas, 1930 (died 1959). Among his songwriter credits are "White Lightnin'" by friend George Jones and Hank Snow's "Beggar to a King."
Kirk McGee died in Nashville, Tennessee (natural causes), 1983 (was 83)
Gene Sullivan (NS 71) died in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (unknown cause), 1984 (was 70)
Rosey Nix Adams, daughter of June Carter Cash, died in Montgomery County, Tennessee (carbon monoxide poisoning), 2003 (was 45)

October 25:

Jeanne Black born in Pomona, California, 1937 (now 77)
Mark Miller of Sawyer Brown born in Dayton, Ohio, 1958 (now 56)
Cousin Minnie Pearl (Sarah Ophelia Colley Canon) (CM 75) born in Grinders Switch (actually, Centerville), Tennessee, 1912 (died 1996)
Johnnie Lee Willis died (heart ailment), 1984 (was 72)
Roger Miller (CM 95, NS 73) died in Los Angeles, California (throat cancer), 1992 (was 56)
Earl "Joaquin" Murphey (StG 80) died in Los Angeles, California (cancer), 1999 (was 75)
Johnny Cash's last concert performance, Flint Michigan, 1997

October 26:

Neal Matthews Jr. (CM 01) born in Nashville, Tennessee, 1929 (died 2000)
Hoyt Axton died in Victor, Montana (heart attack), 1999 (was 62)
Statler Brothers' final concert in their hometown of Salem, Virginia, 2002

October 27:

Dallas Frazier (NS 76) born in Spiro, Oklahoma, 1939 (now 75)
Lee Greenwood born in Southgate, California, 1942 (now 72)
Snuffy Jenkins born in Harris, North Carolina, 1908 (died 1990)
Floyd Cramer (CM 03) born in Campti, Louisiana, 1933 (died 1997)
Ruby Wright born in Nashville, Tennessee, 1939 (died 2009)
Allan "Rocky" Lane died in Woodland Hills, California (cancer), 1973 (was 72). He is mentioned in the Statler Brothers' "Whatever Happened to Randolph Scott."
Hoyt Hawkins (CM 01) died in Nashville, Tennessee (heart attack), 1982 (was 55)
Grand Ole Opry moves to the Hillsboro Theater, 1934
The Anaheim Angels won game seven of the World Series and their first (and to date, only) World Series title, 2002.  The Angels were owned by Gene Autry until his death, and the team dedicated the championship to his memory.

October 28:

Mitchell Torok born in Houston, Texas, 1929 (now 85)
Charlie Daniels born in Wilmington, North Carolina, 1936 (now 78)

Brad Paisley born in Glen Dale, West Virginia, 1972 (now 42)
Bill Bolick of the Blue Sky Boys born in Hickory, North Carolina, 1917 (died 2008)
Jimmy Skinner died in Nashville, Tennessee (heart attack), 1979 (was 70)
Mel Foree died (cancer), 1990 (age unknown)
Marijohn Wilkin (NS 75) died in Nashville, Tennessee (heart disease), 2006 (was 86)
Porter Wagoner (CM 02) died in Nashville, Tennessee (lung cancer), 2007 (was 80)

October 29:

Sonny Osborne (BG 94) born in Hyden, Kentucky, 1937 (now 77)
Charlie Monk born in Noma, Florida, 1938 (now 76)

Albert E. Brumley (NS 70) born in Spiro, Oklahoma, 1905 (died 1977)
Ramblin' Jimmie Dolan born in Gardena, California, 1916 (died 1994)
Fred Maddox died in Fresno, California (heart disease), 1992 (was 73)

October 30:

Timothy B. Schmit of Poco and the Eagles born in Sacramento, California, 1947 (now 67)
T. Graham Brown born in Atlanta, Georgia, 1954 (now 60)
Patsy Montana (nee Ruby Rose Blevins) (CM 96) born in Hope, Arkansas, 1908 (died 1996)
Billy Bowman (Steel Guitar 89) born in Johnson City, Tennessee, 1928 (died 1989)
Clifton Clowers born in Wolverton Mountain, Conway County, Arkansas, 1891 (died 1994)
Kitty Wells and Johnnie Wright wed, 1937 

October 31:

Anita Kerr born in Memphis, Tennessee, 1927 (now 87)
Richard "Kinky" Friedman born in Chicago, Illinois, 1944 (now 70)

Dale Evans born in Uvalde, Texas, 1912 (died 2001)
Tom Morrell (Steel Guitar 01) born in Dallas, Texas, 1938 (died 2007)
Carl Belew (NS 76) died in Salina, Oklahoma (cancer), 1990 (was 59)
Bob Atcher died in Prospect, Kentucky (unknown causes), 1993 (was 79)

Stringbean's Murderer Granted Parole


Almost 41 years to the day when he murdered a beloved country entertainer, John Brown will leave a Tennessee prison.

Brown, 64, has served 40 years of a 198-year prison sentence for the November 10, 1973 murders of David and Estelle Akeman during a robbery.  He and his cousin (who died in prison in 2003) waited at the Akemans' residence for Dave, best-known as the clawhammer banjo-playing comedian Stringbean, to finish his appearance on the Grand Ole Opry.

Akeman, who was a teenager during the Great Depression, was notorious for not trusting banks.  As a result, he always received his Opry pay in cash.  He was known to carry large sums of money, and the assumption (which later proved correct when his house was torn down:  over $20,000 was found in the walls of the fireplace) was that he had plenty of money hidden at his home.

When String, as he was commonly called by his friends, and wife Estelle returned home from the Opry the Brown cousins were waiting.  According to the news reports, Akeman was shot dead when he refused to surrender his Opry pay.  Estelle ran for her life but was quickly caught.  On her knees, pleading for her life, she was shot in the back of the head.  

Louis "Grandpa" Jones, a longtime friend of his fellow Kentuckian, found the bodies the next morning when he arrived to pick Stringbean up for a planned day of fishing.

The graves of Stringbean and Estelle
in Forest Lawn Memorial Gardens,
Goodlettesville, TN
c. 2014 K.F. Raizor
In John Fogerty's song "I Saw It on TV" he stated that, in the aftermath of Kennedy's assassination in 1963, "They buried innocence that year."  What JFK's death did for the world Stringbean's murder did to Nashville.  Prior to the murders Nashville was considered, more or less, a "big small town."  A number of country performers became frightened for their lives after the murders (and the subsequent robbery/murder of one of Hank Snow's band members the same month).  Roy Acuff had a home built on the Opryland USA property.  Grandpa and Ramona Jones moved to Arkansas.  The friendliness of country singers waving to tour buses as they went past a home was replaced with high walls, steel gates, and security systems.

Brown had been up for parole six times and denied each of the six previous times.  When he appeared before the parole board in 2011 he was reported to be ineligible for parole again until 2017.  Apparently that was erroneous. 

The late, great historian Dr. Charles K. Wolfe concluded his chapter on Stringbean in his book Kentucky Country by saying, "When he died, it was as if a long Kentucky summer had ended."  That's more or less how I felt.  I was 13 when this happened, and I was numb from the news as it broke on Monday morning.  I remember standing in the my junior high school yard, in tears as if a friend had died.  In a way, a friend had died -- senselessly murdered by opportunistic robbers.  

Reports state that Brown has found God and has a spotless prison record.  These statements apparently persuaded the parole board more than the pleas from Opry performers such as Jean Shepard and Jan Howard to keep Stringbean's murderer behind bars.  

I cannot help but think of that line from Lyle Lovett song where someone asks for forgiveness and is told, "God will, but I won't."  God forgive me. 

And God help us.

Sunday, October 05, 2014

Farewell to a Bluegrass Patriarch

CATEGORY:   Obituary

"Mom always says she took us off the bottle and put us on bluegrass," Rhonda Vincent told Heather Berry in a 2007 interview before the Sally Mountain Park Bluegrass Festival.  

The Vincent family has music in their souls.  It's obvious to the world thanks to the "Queen of Bluegrass," Rhonda Vincent, winner of countless awards in IBMA and SPBGMA, as well as her younger brother, Darrin, who is half of Dailey and Vincent (another multiple award-winning bluegrass act).  

People in Missouri knew it, too.  Johnny Vincent, the family patriarch, played banjo in a band called the Lazy River Boys with his dad and uncle.  Once Rhonda and Darrin were old enough to hold an instrument they played, too.  Johnny's wife, Carolyn, played bass in the family outfit.  The roots of the reigning "first family" of bluegrass were firmly planted and nurtured.

Johnny Vincent died this morning (10/5) after a long illness.

The elder Vincent was a frequent guest on his daughter's recordings.  He fulfilled his dream of hosting a bluegrass festival, which featured his famous children as headliners as well as the Vincent family band (Johnny and Carolyn, Rhonda, Darrin, and baby brother Brian) performing, as well as several top names in bluegrass music.

(Johnny Vincent on banjo plays with his children Brian [mandolin], Darrin [bass] and Rhonda on Rhonda's Grand Ole Opry debut)

Johnny Vincent's funeral will be held Wednesday.