Sunday, January 31, 2016

When the Winds Blow From the South It Means...

Category:  Opinion 

...Either there will be an unusually warm winter, or it's time to start thinking about the Country Music Hall of Fame voting.  This blog is about the latter.

There is no set time for the announcements for the new inductees into the Country Music Hall of Fame.  Last year the inductees were announced on March 25.  In 2012, it was March 6.  In 2014, the announcement didn't come until late April.  

Regardless of when it is done, here is what I'd love to see in the "Class of 2016:"


The list of deserving individuals who have yet to be inducted continues to be too long.  The Browns' induction last year filled a large hole (although, sadly, Jim Ed Brown died two and a half months after the announcement of his induction with his sisters was made).  The list continues to include what I consider the biggest oversight in the annual induction, the Wilburn Brothers, along with other stalwarts from the 40's-50's as Elton Britt (recipient of the first "gold record" in country music history), Al Dexter (a man so popular that his "Pistol Packin' Mama" led to the creation of the Billboard country music singles chart), the Stanley Brothers (who, along with Flatt & Scuggs and Bill Monroe, were the chief founding pioneers of bluegrass), Johnny Horton, Cowboy Copas, and Hank Locklin (whose 1960 hit "Please Help Me, I'm Falling" was the fourth biggest song of the entire decade of the 1960's).  

However, if I had a vote, this year it would go to the Maddox Brothers and Rose.

The Hall of Fame closed an exhibit on the "Bakersfield sound" at the conclusion of 2014.  That exhibit started with the Maddox Brothers and Rose and meandered through their career and their significance as pioneers who put Bakersfield on the country music map.  Don Maddox, the final surviving member, turned 93 in December, and it would be wonderful to see the Maddox Brothers & Rose receive enshrinement while he's still alive to see and enjoy it.  Once he's gone, so's the history.


This is another place where a backlog is starting to pile up, thanks to long-ignored superstars from the 60's-80's such as Ray Stevens (one of only two recipients of a gold record for a country comedy song ["The Streak," 1974), Jerry Reed (known worldwide thanks to his acting and singing in Smoky and the Bandit), Freddie Hart (one of four "20 biggest acts of the 70's" listed in the Whitburn who hasn't been inducted yet, he did the #1 song of the 70's, "My Hang-Up Is You" as well and became the first person to win the CMA "Song of the Year" two consecutive years for "Easy Lovin'"), and Charlie Rich.  From the "neo-traditional" resurgence of the 80's acts such as Randy Travis, Ricky Skaggs, and Dwight Yoakam, and Keith Whitley (all of whom Garth Brooks mentioned in his induction speech in 2012).

My vote would go to -- and, oh, is my dad going to kill me for saying this -- Hank Williams Jr.

A lot of people -- myself included -- argue that Hank Jr. paved that slippery slope of "more-rock-than-country" country music that led Nashville down the pit it's in now (and cannot seem to climb out of).  But if Hank Jr. paved that road Garth drove it, and he's in the Hall of Fame.  If you go back to the late 60's and well into the 70's you'll see Hank Jr. was just as country as anyone; and, in many cases (the "countrypolitan" pop of acts like Olivia Newton-John and Bobby Goldsboro), more country, thanks to songs like "I Walked Out on Heaven" and "Cajun Baby."  Earlier I mentioned those "top artists" listed in the back of the country Whitburn.  Hank Jr. is lucky #13 on the ALL-TIME list of successful country singers based on singles chart success as listed in the 1944-1993 Whitburn.  The twelve acts listed above him are all Hall of Famers.  As for the acts below him, you have to go to #36 -- Tanya Tucker -- to find another person not in the Hall of Fame.  Yes, I know he has ruffled a few feathers.  However, much like the Wilburn Brothers, it's not supposed to be a hall of personal or corporate vendettas or CMA pets.  It's a hall of fame, and -- like it or not -- Hank Jr. qualifies.


This is the year for the non-performers to be acknowledged.  Again, there are a wide variety of areas to look to find worthy people.  Being a writer, I gravitate toward people such as Dr. Bill C. Malone, the man who literally wrote the book on country music (1968's Country Music U.S.A.), or legendary author and scholar Charles K. Wolfe, who wrote books on everything from the fiddle to the early days of the Grand Ole Opry (A Good Natured Riot) and everyone from Leadbelly to the Louvin Brothers.  There are no historians inducted in the Hall of Fame, and that really needs to change.  

However, again this year (and every third year until the Hall of Fame eventually wipes the egg off its face and inducts him), my vote would go to Sydney Nathan.

In the early 40's the hotbed of country music wasn't Nashville, it was Cincinnati.  While publishing companies and record labels pooh-poohed the idea of signing "hillbilly" singers or, worse, publishing their songs, Syd Nathan used his keen businessman's sense and noticed that "hillbilly" records were selling very, very well in his Cincinnati record store.  With a deep well of talent to draw from in the area (including future hall of famers Merle Travis, Grandpa Jones, Homer & Jethro, and the Delmore Brothers, and should-be hall of famers such as Moon Mullican and Cowboy Copas), Sydney Nathan founded the nation's first all-hillbilly music label in 1943, King Records.  Nathan has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for the label's work with pioneering R&B acts such as James Brown, and into the Bluegrass Hall of Fame because of the presence of the Stanley Brothers and Reno & Smiley.  He did much more for country music than either of those genres, and yet he continues to be ignored by the genre of music he helped popularize thanks to easy access to recordings.

The 2016 Hall of Fame inductees will be announced in the spring.

Dates of Note in Country Music, February 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, StG=Steel Guitar; OTF=Old Time Fiddler; RR=also in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame)

February 1:

Don Everly (CM 01, NS 01, RR 86) born in Brownie, Kentucky, 1937 (now 79)
Ray Sawyer of Dr. Hook born in Chicksaw, Alabama, 1937 (now 79)
Del McCoury (BG 11) born in Bakersville, North Carolina, 1939 (now 77)

Tom Gray of the Country Gentlemen (BG 96) born in Chicago, Illinois, 1941 (now 75)
Lisa Marie Presley born in Memphis, Tennessee, 1968 (now 48)

Jason Isbell born in Green Hill, Alabama, 1979 (now 37)
Scotty Wiseman (NS 71) died in Gainesville, Florida (heart attack), 1981 (was 71)

February 2:

Howard Bellamy of the Bellamy Brothers born in Darby, Florida, 1946 (now 70)
Emmett Miller born in Macon, Georgia, 1900 (died 1962)
Lester McFarland of Mac & Bob born in Gray, Kentucky, 1902 (died 1984)

Glenn Barber born in Hollis, Oklahoma, 1935 (died 2008)
Rusty Kershaw born in Tiel Ridge, Louisiana, 1938 (died 2001)
Jimmie Crawford (StG 00) died in Nashville, Tennessee (unknown cause), 2005 (was 69)
Louise Scruggs (BG 10) died in Nashville Tennessee, 2006 (was 78)

February 3:

Dave Rich born in Briar Creek, Kentucky, 1936 (now 80). Ernest Tubb heard a recording of Rich's and hounded friend Ray Price throughout a game of golf to record the song. The song? "City Lights."
Matraca Berg (NS 08) born in Nashville, Tennessee, 1964 (now 52)
Betty Foley, daughter and one-time duet partner of Red Foley, born in Chicago, Illinois, 1933 (died 1990)
Jiles Perry "J.P." Richardson ("The Big Bopper") died near Clear Lake, Iowa (plane crash), 1959 (was 28)
Buddy Holly (NS 94, RR 86) died near Clear Lake, Iowa (plane crash), 1959 (was 22)
James Blackwood of the Blackwood Brothers Quartet (SG 97) died in Memphis, Tennessee (stroke), 2002 (was 83). He was the last original member of the legendary quartet.

February 4:

Clint Black born in Long Branch, New Jersey, 1962 (now 54)
Chris McDaniel of Confederate Railroad born in Rock Springs, Georgia, 1965 (now 51)
Vic McAlpin (NS 70) born in Defeated Creek, Tennessee, 1918 (died 1980)
Kenneth "Jethro" Burns (CM 01) died in Evanston, Illinois (prostate cancer), 1989 (was 68)
Tom Brumley (StG 92) of Buck Owens' Buckaroos died in San Antonio, Texas (heart ailment), 2009 (was 62)

February 5:

Sara Evans born in Boonville, Missouri, 1971 (now 45)

Shelby David "Tex" Atchison born in Rosine, Kentucky, 1912 (died 1982)
Claude King born in Shreveport, Louisiana, 1923 (died 2013)
Henson Cargill born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, 1941 (died 2007)
Eddy Noack died (cerebral hemorrhage), 1978 (was 47)

February 6:

Dale Reno of the Reno Brothers born in Roanoke, Virginia, 1961 (now 55)
Richie McDonald of Lonestar born in Lubbock, Texas, 1962 (now 54)
Anita Cochran born in Pontiac, Michigan, 1967 (now 49)

Jim Bowles (OTF) born in Rock Bridge, Kentucky, 1903 (died 1993)
Violet Koehler of the original Coon Creek Girls born in Wilton, Wisconsin, 1916 (died 1973)

Merle Kilgore (NS 98) died in Nashville, Tennessee (cancer), 2005 (was 70)
Frankie Laine died in San Diego, California (complications from hip replacement surgery), 2007 (was 93)

February 7:

Tony Booth born in Tampa, Florida, 1943 (now 73)
Garth Brooks (CM 12, NS 11) born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, 1962 (now 54)
Wilma Lee Cooper born in Valley Head, West Virginia, 1921 (died 2011)
Warren Smith born in Humphreys County, Mississippi, 1933 (died 1980)
Ambrose Allen of the Allen Brothers born in Sewanee, Tennessee, 1901 (died 1959)
Dale Evans died in Happy Valley, California (congestive heart failure), 2001 (was 88)
Molly Bee died in Oceanside, California (complications of a stroke), 2009 (was 68)
Patsy Cline's last recording session, Nashville, 1963. The last song she recorded was a cover of Moon Mullican's "I'll Sail My Ship Alone."
Jim Reeves recorded "Four Walls" in Nashville, 1957. This song is said by many to be the beginning of the "Nashville Sound."

February 8:

Don Wayne Reno of the Reno Brothers born in Roanoke, Virginia, 1963 (now 53)
Pappy Daily born in Yoakum, Texas, 1902 (died 1987)
Bob Dunn (StG 92) born in Fort Gibson, Oklahoma, 1908 (died 1971). Dunn is credited as being the first country musician to use amplification for his instrument.

Dan Seals born in McCamey, Texas, 1948 (died 2009)
Merle Watson born in Deep Gap, North Carolina, 1949 (died 1985)
Lulu Belle Wiseman died (Alzheimer's disease), 1999 (was 84)

Pauline "Mom" Lewis of the Lewis Family (BG 06) died in Washington, Georgia (illness), 2003 (was 92)
Keith Knudsen of Southern Pacific died in California (chronic pneumonia), 2005 (was 56)

February 9:

Joe Ely born in Amarillo, Texas, 1947 (now 69)
Travis Tritt born in Marietta, Georgia, 1963 (now 53)
Ernest Tubb (CM 65, NS 70) born in Crisp, Texas, 1914 (died 1984)

Red Lane (NS 93) born in Zona, Louisiana, 1939 (died 2015)
Charles K. Wolfe (BG 09) died in Murfreesboro, Tennessee (complications of diabetes), 2006 (was 62)

February 10:

George York of the York Brothers born in Louisa, Kentucky, 1910 (died 1974)

Arthur Satherley (CM 71) died in Fountain Valley, California (natural causes), 1986 (was 96)
Kendall Hayes died in Louisville, Kentucky (cancer), 1995 (was 59)
Jim Varney died in White House, Tennessee (lung cancer), 2000 (was 50)

February 11:

Wayma "Pee Wee" Whitewing (StG 02) born in Reichert, Oklahoma, 1934 (now 82)

Wesley Rose (CM 86) born in Chicago, Illinois, 1918 (died 1980)

February 12:

Moe Bandy born in Meridian, Mississippi, 1944 (now 72)
Stephen Sholes (CM 67) born in Washington, DC, 1911 (died 1968)
Harley "Red" Allen (BG 05) born in Pigeon Roost, Kentucky, 1930 (died 1993)
Lorne Greene born in Ottawa, Ontario, 1915 (died 1987). The legendary actor hit the Billboard top 40 country charts in 1964 with "Ringo."

Barney Isaacs Jr. (StG 99) died (unknownd cause), 1996 (was 69)
Sammi Smith died in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (emphysema), 2005 (was 61)

Mosie Lister (SG 97) died in Spring Hill, Tennessee (natural causes), 2015 (was 93)

February 13:

David McLaughlin of the Johnson Mountain Boys born in Washington, DC, 1958 (now 58)
Tennessee Ernie Ford (CM 90) born in Bristol, Tennessee, 1919 (died 1991)
Boudleaux Bryant (CM 91, NS 72) born in Shellman, Georgia, 1920 (died 1987)
Jim McReynolds of Jim & Jesse (BG 93) born in Coeburn, Virginia, 1927 (died 2003)
Charlie Moore born in Piedmont, South Carolina, 1935 (died 1979)
Buddy Lee died in Nashville, Tennessee (cancer), 1998 (was 65)
Waylon Jennings (CM 01, NS 95) died in Chandler, Arizona (complications of diabetes), 2002 (was 64)

February 14:

Tom Bradshaw (StG 06) born in Skiatook, Oklahoma, 1935 (now 81)

Razzy Bailey born in Five Points, Alabama, 1939 (now 77)
Bill Nowlin, co-founder of Rounder Records, born in Boston, Massachusetts, 1945 (now 71)
Harry Stone born in Jacksonville, Florida, 1898 (died 1968)
Lonnie Glosson born in Judsonia, Arkansas, 1908 (died 2001)
Buck Griffin died in Oklahoma (heart failure), 2009 (was 85)

February 15:

Wally Fowler born in Adairsville, Georgia, 1917 (died 1994)

Hank Locklin born in McLellan, Florida, 1918 (died 2009)
Louise Scruggs (BG 10) born in Lebanon, Tennessee, 1927 (died 2006)
Dorris Macon died (suicide), 1981 (was 71)
Nat "King" Cole died in Santa Montica, California (lung cancer), 1965 (was 45). The legendary pop crooner hit #1 on the Billboard country charts in 1944 (with the King Cole Trio) with the song "Straighten Up and Fly Right."

Monday, January 18, 2016

We Can Never Know About Tomorrow

Category:  News/Obituary

It is with deep, almost unfathomable, sadness that I announce the death of Glenn Frey.

Frey died today (1/18) in New York of pneumonia following surgery in November for ulcerative colitis.  He had suffered for decades with intestinal problems, including surgery in the early 90's to remove a significant part of his colon. 

Glenn Lewis Frey was born November 6, 1948 in that country music mecca, Detroit.  He grew up loving R&B music and playing it in local bands.  In 1968 he got his first "break," when he sang backup on Bob Seger's "Ramblin' Gamblin' Man."

When Frey moved to Los Angeles in 1969 he found a different kind of music was popular:  country-rock.  Spearheaded by Gram Parsons' groundbreaking work with the Byrds on Sweetheart of the Rodeo and Poco's Pickin' Up the Pieces album celebrating "a little bit of magic in the country music we're singing," the country-rock movement was gaining significant momentum.  Frey found a kindred spirit in another Detroit native, John David Souther.  The two formed a duet called Longbranch/Pennywhistle and released one album on Amos Records.  

The album went nowhere, but Frey soon met another person who'd had a country-rock album released on Amos records.  That man was Don Henley, the drummer for Shiloh.  The two met at the Troubadour nightclub in L.A. and talked about their dreams.  Soon Linda Ronstadt picked them and a few other musicians for her backing band.  

Henley and Frey soon took a couple of the musicians who'd played with Ronstadt -- bassist Randy Meisner, who had played on the first Poco album, and former Flying Burrito Brother Bernie Leadon -- and formed the Eagles.

With the exception of the Beatles, no other band has had as big an impact on American popular music as the Eagles.  Their 1975 greatest hits album is the biggest-selling album in history.   And that impact was in country as well as rock.  Their 1975 hit "Lyin' Eyes" made the country top ten as well as reaching #2 on the pop charts -- in the age of disco!  That song won them a Grammy, as did another one of their country-flavored singles, 1977's "New Kid in Town."

When the Eagles disbanded in 1980 the individual members moved far away from country music, with Henley taking a modern sound approach and Frey returning to his Detroit roots. He also was featured on a number of soundtracks ("The Heat is On" on Beverly Hills Cop and "Part of Me, Part of You" on Thelma and Louise) and dabbled in acting, appearing in an episode of Miami Vice and an extremely short-lived (as in, cancelled after one episode) series, South of Sunset.

In 2007 the Eagles' final album, Long Road Out of Eden, was released.  The single "How Long" (a J.D. Souther tune from 1972) won them another country Grammy award.

In addition to their commercial success, the Eagles were notorious for their excessive lifestyle.  Frey blamed those days for his longstanding intestinal problems.  Although he took the healthy route in the 80's, the problems continued to dog him.

The Eagles were to receive a Kenndy Center Honors award in December, but Frey's surgery postponed their participation.  Now, sadly, he won't get to see it.

When I started listening to rock and roll, it was difficult to jump from Buck Owens to Alice Cooper.  The Eagles were there, with their country-rock, helping that transition.  They were my first rock concert, in 1978.  (I got to see them as a band twice.)  Additionally, I got to meet Glenn Frey in 1982, when he started his post-Eagles solo tour in Philadelphia.  

The music of the Eagles is, as that Thelma & Louise song said, "part of me."  And that song, written by Frey and Jack Tempchin, is a fitting tribute:

I can feel it when I hear that lonesome highway
So many miles to go before I die
We can never know about tomorrow
Still we have to choose which way to go

Glenn Frey was 67.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Sick Call: Mel Tillis

Category:  News

Country Music Hall of Fame singer/songwriter Mel Tillis is in a Nashville hospital following colon surgery.

Family and friends of Tillis, 83, took to social media earlier today (1/15) to request prayers for him, saying he was "in critical condition."  Tillis' manager said those reports are "exaggerated" in a statement late in the evening, but did acknowledge that Tillis is still in the hospital.  A statement from a country music cruise Tillis was to have participated in said that Tillis has canceled, adding he needs "several weeks" to recover. 

Among his massive hits written for others are "Detroit City" by Bobby Bare, "Honey (Open That Door)" by Ricky Skaggs, "I'm Tired" by Ray Price, and "Ruby, Don't Take Your Love to Town" by Kenny Rogers & the First Edition.  His own string of hits include "Sawmill," "Coca Cola Cowboy," and "Good Woman Blues."  

Tillis was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters' Hall of Fame in 1976 and the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2007.  He has been a member of the Grand Ole Opry since 2007.

Best wishes and prayers for a complete and speedy recovery to this legend!

Dates of Note in Country Music, January 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; StG=Steel Guitar; OTF=Old Time Fiddler; RR=also inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame)

January 16:

Ronnie Milsap (CM 14) born in Robbinsville, North Carolina, 1943 (now 73)
Jim Stafford born in Eloise, Florida, 1944 (now 72)
Sandy Pinkard of Pinkard & Bowden born in Abbeville, Louisiana, 1947 (now 69)

Roy Lanham born in Corbin, Kentucky, 1923 (died 1991)
Ruby Falls born in Jackson, Tennessee, 1946 (died 1986)

Dizzy Dean born in Lucas, Arkansas, 1910 (died 1974). The legendary baseball player is credited with dubbing Roy Acuff "King of Country Music."
Carl Smith (CM 03) died in Nashville, Tennessee (stroke), 2010 (was 82)
Bill Monroe seriously injured in a car wreck, 1953. Monroe was away from performing for six months while recovering.

Jimmy Buffett's private plane was shot at by Jamaican authorities, 1996.  The Jamaican police mistook Buffett's plane for one belonging to a drug kingpin.  No one on board Buffett's plane was injured.

January 17:

Steve Earle born in Fort Monroe, Virginia, 1955 (now 61)
Amanda Wilkinson of the Wilkinsons born in Belleville, Ontario, 1982 (now 34)
Walter Bailes of the Bailes Brothers born in Kanawha County, West Virginia, 1920 (died 2000)
Grady Martin born in Marshall County, Tennessee, 1929 (died 2001)
Cliffie Stone (CM 89) died in his home in Saugus, California (heart attack), 1998 (was 80)
Frank "Hylo" Brown died in Mechanicsburg, Ohio (natural causes), 2003 (was 81)
The street in front of Graceland renamed "Elvis Presley Boulevard," 1972

January 18:

Hargus "Pig" Robbins (CM 12) born in Spring City, Tennessee, 1938 (now 78)
Mark Collie born in Waynesboro, Tennessee, 1956 (now 60)

Linda Parker of the Cumberland Ridge Runners born in Covington, Kentucky, 1912 (died 1935)
Bobby Edwards born in Aniston, Alabama, 1926 (died 2012)
Eddie Hill (DJ 75) died (long-term illness), 1994 (was 74)

January 19:

Stu Phillips born in Montreal, Quebec, 1933 (now 83)
Dolly Parton (CM 99, NS 86) born in Locast Ridge, Tennessee, 1946 (now 70)
Stephanie Davis born in Bridger, Montana, 1958 (now 58)
Dennie Crouch of the Nashville Bluegrass Band born in Strawberry, Arkansas, 1967 (now 49)
Leo Soileau born in Ville Platte, Louisiana, 1904 (died 1980)
Ken Nelson (CM 01) born in Caledonia, Minnesota, 1911 (died 2008)

Oscar Sullivan born in Edmonton, Kentucky, 1919 (died 2012)
Charlie Waller of the Country Gentlemen (BG 96) born in Joinerville, TX, 1935 (died 2004)
Phil Everly (CM 01, NS 01; RR 86) born in Chicago, Illinois, 1939 (died 2014)
Ralph Peer (CM 84) died in Los Angeles, California (pneumonia), 1960 (was 67)
Vic McAlpin (NS 70) died in Nashville, Tennessee (unknown cause), 1980 (was 61)
Carl Perkins (NS 85; RR 87) died in Jackson, Tennessee (complications of stroke/throat cancer), 1998 (was 65)

James O'Gwynn died in Hattiesburg, Mississippi (long-term illness), 2011 (was 82)
George Jones' first recording session (for Starday), 1954

January 20:

John Michael Montgomery born in Danville, Kentucky, 1965 (now 51)

Huddie "Leadbelly" Leadbetter (NS 80; RR 88) born in Mooringsport, Louisiana, 1889 (died 1949).  The year of Leadbelly's birth is open for debate, as is the actual day, with numerous sources citing January 20, January 21, or January 23, and years of 1888 or 1889.
George Burns born in New York, New York, 1896 (died 1996). The legendary comedian and actor had a top 20 country song in 1980 with "I Wish I Was Eighteen Again."
Slim Whitman born in Tampa, Florida, 1924 (died 2013)
Larry Butler died in Pensacola, Florida (natural causes), 2012 (was 69)

January 21:

Mac Davis (NS 00) born in Lubbock, Texas, 1942 (now 74)
Jim Ibbottson of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1947 (now 69)

Cedric Rainwater (BG 07) died in Nashville, Tennessee (heart attack), 1970 (was 56)
Jim Anglin died in Nashville, Tennessee (cancer), 1987 (was 73)
Colonel Tom Parker died in Las Vegas, Nevada (stroke), 1997 (was 87). In addition to Elvis, Parker managed Eddy Arnold, Hank Snow, and Minnie Pearl early in their careers.
Patsy Cline appeared on Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts and won the talent show,1957

January 22:

J.P. Pennington of Exile born in Berea, Kentucky, 1949 (now 67)

Teddy Gentry (CM 05) born in Fort Payne, Alabama, 1952 (now 64)
Dickie McBride of Cliff Bruner's Texas Wanderers born in New Baden, Texas, 1914 (died 1971)
Jimmy Day died in Buda, Texas (cancer), 1999 (was 65)
Janette Carter, the last surviving member of the Carter Family, died in Kingsport, Tennessee (Parkinson's disease/illness), 2006 (was 82)

January 23:

Etta May born in Bald Knob, Arkansas, 1962 (now 54)
Johnny Russell (NS 01) born in Sunflower County, Mississippi, 1940 (died 2001)
T. Texas Tyler died in Springfield, Missouri (stomach cancer), 1972 (was 55)

Rev. Thomas A. Dorsey (NS 79; SG 13) died in Chicago, Illinois (Alzheimer's disease), 1993 (was 93)
Art Stamper died in Louisville, Kentucky (throat cancer), 2005 (was 71)
Johnny Carson died in Hollywood, California (emphysema), 2005 (was 79). Carson had a number of country artists on The Tonight Show, including over two dozen appearances by Homer and Jethro, who Carson considered among his favorite guests.
The Winter Dance Party begins in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 1959. Three of the headliners, Buddy Holly, J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson, and Richie Valens, would die 11 days later.

January 24:

Doug Kershaw born in Tiel Ridge, Louisiana, 1936 (now 80)
Jack Scott born in Windsor, Ontario, 1936 (now 80)
Ray Stevens (NS 80) born in Clarksdale, Georgia, 1939 (now 77)
Becky Hobbs born in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, 1950 (now 66)
Keech Rainwater of Lonestar born in Plano, Texas, 1963 (now 53)

Warren Zevon born in Chicago, Illinois, 1947 (died 2001).  The folk-rock singer wrote "Poor Poor Pitiful Me," which was a hit on the country charts by both Linda Ronstadt and Terri Clark.  Zevon also had Dwight Yoakam on two albums and appeared in South of Heaven, West of Hell, which Yoakam directed and starred in.
Shot Jackson died in Nashville, Tennessee (complications of stroke), 1991 (was 70)
Justin Tubb died in Nashville, Tennessee (aortic aneurysm), 1998 (was 62)

January 25:

Claude Gray born in Henderson, Texas, 1932 (now 84)
Farrell "Rusty" Draper born in Kirksville, Missouri, 1923 (died 2003)
Speedy West (StG 80) born in Springfield, Missouri, 1924 (died 2003)
Cactus Jack Call died in Kansas City, Missouri (car wreck), 1963 (was 39).  A benefit concert for the disc jockey five weeks later would be the final performances by Patsy Cline, Hawkshaw Hawkins, and Cowboy Copas.

Buddy Charleton (StG 93) died in Austin, Texas (lung cancer), 2011 (was 72)

January 26:

Dave Rowland of Dave & Sugar born in Sanger, California, 1942 (now 74)
Lucinda Williams born in Lake Charles, Louisiana, 1953 (now 63)

James O'Gwynn born in Winchester, Mississippi, 1928 (died 2011)
Clayton McMichen born in Allatoona, Georgia, 1900 (died 1970)
Goebel Reeves died in Long Beach, California (heart attack), 1959 (was 59)

Charlie Louvin (CM 01, NS 79) died in Wartrace, Tennessee (pancreatic cancer), 2011 (was 83)
Hillary Clinton 
disparagingly invoked Tammy Wynette's "Stand By Your Man" during an interview, 1992

January 27:

Lee Carroll of Exile born in Glasgow, Kentucky, 1953 (now 63)
Cheryl White of the Whites born in Wichita Falls, Texas, 1955 (now 61)
Richard Young of the Kentucky Headhunters born in Glasgow, Kentucky, 1955 (now 61)
Tracy Lawrence born in Atlanta, Texas, 1968 (now 48)
Joe Callahan of the Callahan Brothers born in Madison County, North Carolina, 1910 (died 1971)

Buddy Emmons (SG 81) born in Mishawaka, Indiana, 1937 (died 2015)
Claude Akins died in Altadena, California (cancer), 1994 (was 67). Among the actor's roles was Sonny on the TV series Movin' On, which featured the title song performed by Merle Haggard.

January 28:

Greg Cook of Ricochet born in Vian, Oklahoma, 1965 (now 51)
Bill Phillips born in Canton, North Carolina, 1936 (died 2010)

Harlow Wilcox born in Norman, Oklahoma, 1943 (died 2002)
Skeeter Willis died in Nashville, Tennessee (lymph cancer), 1976 (was 58)
Al Dexter (NS 71) died in Denton, Texas (heart attack), 1984 (was 78)

Jim Bowles (OTF) died in Kentucky (pneumonia), 1993 (was 89)
Jimmy Fortune joined the Statler Brothers, 1982

January 29:

Patsy Sledd born in Falcon, Missouri, 1944 (now 72)
Irlene Mandrell of the Mandrell Sisters born in Corpus Christi, Texas, 1957 (now 59)

Lloyd Perryman of the Sons of the Pioneers born in Ruth, Arkansas, 1917 (died 1977)
Little Jimmy Sizemore born in Paintsville, Kentucky, 1928 (died 2014)

January 30:

Jeanne Pruett born in Pell City, Alabama, 1937 (now 79)
Norma Jean ("Pretty Miss Norma Jean") born in Wellston, Oklahoma, 1938 (now 78)
Harold Morrison born in High Lonesome, Missouri, 1931 (died 1993)
Melvin Endsley born in Drasco, Arkansas, 1934 (died 2004)
Ott Devine died in Nashville, Tennessee (unknown cause), 1994 (was 83)

January 31:

Lynwood Lunsford of Lost & Found born in Roxboro, North Carolina, 1962 (now 54)
Warren Smith died in Longview, Texas (heart attack), 1981 (was 47)

Doc Williams died in Wheeling, West Virginia (natural causes), 2011 (was 96)

Monday, January 11, 2016

Roll, Truck, Roll

Category:  Obituary

The great Red Simpson has died.

Simpson died Friday (1/8) in a Bakersfield hospital of an apparent heart attack.  He was home recovering from a December heart attack he had suffered while performing in the Pacific northwest.

Joseph "Red" Simpson is hardly a household name, but his influence was enormous.  Along with the Maddox Brothers and Rose and Wynn Stewart, Simpson helped put the unique stamp on west-coast country music that later became known as the Bakersfield Sound, paving the way for Bakersfield superstars Buck Owens, Merle Haggard, and Dwight Yoakam.  As a songwriter, his songs "Gonna Have Love" and "Sam's Place" were hits for Buck Owens.

In addition to his songs, his guitar was featured on several recording sessions for Owens, including Buck's great instrumental classic "Buckaroo" and his Christmas song "Santa Looked a Lot Like Daddy."  Simpson also played on Merle Haggard sessions, including the hit "I Take a Lot of Pride in What I Am."  Haggard pointed out in a farewell tweet that Simpson was "one of the original musicians on 'Okie From Muskogee,'" adding that Simpson was "a friend for over 50 years."

One other thing that Simpson helped bring into the forefront of country music was the "trucker song."  His 1966 song "Roll, Truck, Roll," along with other songs such as Dave Dudley's "Six Days on the Road" and the Willis Brothers' "Give Me 40 Acres," helped popularize songs with truck driving themes in country music, creating a deep and ongoing bond between the two.  Simpson's biggest charted hit as a singer was another trucker song, "Hello, I'm a Truck," a humorous look at truckers from the perspective of the semi, complete with good-natured jabs at his buddies ("he's gonna take out that tape cartridge of Buck Owens and play it again...I don't know why he don't get a Merle Haggard tape!").

Simpson had finished his first album in decades, Soda Pop and Saturdays, scheduled for release next month.  He was also slated to received the "Founder of the Sound" award at the annual Ameripolitan Music Awards in Austin.

Simpson was 81.