Thursday, March 31, 2016

Dates of Note in Country Music, April 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[s] enshrined.  CM=Country Music; BG=Bluegrass; NS=Nashville Songwriter SG=Southern Gospel; StG=Steel Guitar; GLA= Grammy Lifetime Achievement recipient; RR=country performer also in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame)

April 1:

Jules Verne Allen born in Waxahachie, Texas, 1883 (died 1945)
Arthur "Guitar Boogie" Smith born in Clinton, South Carolina, 1921 (died 2014)
Jimmy Logsdon born in Panther, Kentucky, 1922 (died 2001)
Jim Ed Brown (CM 15) born in Sparkman, Arkansas, 1934 (died 2015)
Paul Cohen (CM 76) died in Nashville, Tennessee (cancer), 1970 (was 71)
Rachel Veach joined Roy Acuff's Smoky Mountain Boys, 1939. Her presence gave rise to Pete Kirby's nickname "Bashful Brother Oswald:" a woman traveling with a group of men was scandalous, so Kirby was billed as Veach's "bashful brother" to quell any rumors.
The original Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum opened, 1967

April 2:

Warner Mack born in Nashville, Tennessee, 1938 (now 78)
Sonny Throckmorton (NS 87) born in Carlsbad, New Mexico, 1941 (now 75)
Emmylou Harris (CM 08) born in Birmingham, Alabama, 1947 (now 69)
Dean Townson of Pirates of the Mississippi born in Battle Creek, Michigan, 1959 (now 55)
Billy Dean born in Quincy, Florida, 1962 (now 54)
Mose Rager born in Muhlenberg County, Kentucky, 1911 (died 1986). The guitarist was a significant influence on the thumbpicking style of another guitarist from the region, Merle Travis.

Cliff Carlisle died in Lexington, Kentucky (unknown cause), 1983 (was 78)
Former Country Gentleman Doyle Lawson formed Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, 1979

April 3:

Richard Thompson born in Notting Hill, London, 1949 (now 67).  The legendary folk-rock singer/songwriter and guitarist wrote and originally recorded "1952 Vincent Black Lightning," later a bluegrass hit for Del McCoury, as well as Jo-El Sonnier's biggest hit, "Tear-Stained Letter" (which was also covered by Faith Hill).
Curtis Stone of Highway 101 (and son of Cliffie Stone) born in North Hollywood, California, 1950 (now 66)
Hank Newman of the Georgia Crackers born in Cochran, Georgia, 1905 (died 1978)
Don Gibson (CM 01, NS 73) born in Shelby, North Carolina, 1928 (died 2003)
Billy Joe Royal born in Valdosta, Georgia, 1942 (died 2015)
Ella Mae Cooley murdered, 1961. Her husband, self-proclaimed "King of Western Swing" Spade Cooley, was convicted of her murder and sentenced to life in prison.
David Keli'i (StG 90) died in Honolulu, Hawaii (unknown cause), 1983 (was 68)
Harley "Red" Allen (BG 05) died in Dayton, Ohio (cancer), 1993 (was 63)
Starday Records owner Don Pierce died in Nashville, Tennessee (heart attack), 2005 (was 89)
Arthur "Guitar Boogie" Smith died in Charlotte, North Carolina (natural causes), 2014 (was 93)
Louisiana Hayride debuted on KWKH, Shreveport, Louisiana, 1948. Among the artists who performed on the radio show were Elvis Presley, Hank Williams, Claude King, Johnny Horton, and one-time emcee Jim Reeves.

April 4:

Norro Wilson (NS 96) born in Scottsville, Kentucky, 1938 (now 78)
Steve Gatlin of the Gatlin Brothers born in Olney, Texas, 1951 (now 64)
Troy Gentry of Montgomery Gentry born in Lexington, Kentucky, 1967 (now 49)
Cy Coben (ne Cohen)  born in Jersey City, New Jersey, 1919 (died 2006)
Red Sovine died in Nashville, Tennessee (heart attack while driving), 1980 (was 61)

April 5:

Bill Clifton (BG 08) (ne William August Marburg) born in Riverwood, Maryland, 1931 (now 85). In addition to being a bluegrass performer, Clifton is also credited with starting the bluegrass festival, when he organized a July 4, 1961 show in Luray, Virginia.
June Stearns born in Alpha, Kentucky, 1939 (now 77)
Tommy Cash born in Dyess, Arkansas, 1940 (now 76)
Bob McDill (NS 85) born in Beaumont, Texas, 1944 (now 72)
Pat Green born in San Antonio, Texas, 1972 (now 44)

Lewis Phillips of the Lewis Family (BG 06) born in Washington, GA, 1972 (now 44)
Laura Rogers of the Secret Sisters born in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, 1986 (now 30)
Jack Clement (CM 13, NS 73) born in Whitehaven, Tennessee, 1931 (died 2013)
Charlie Collins of Roy Acuff's Smoky Mountain Boys born in Caryville, Tennessee, 1933 (died 2012)
Frenchy "Stoney" Edwards died in Oklahoma (stomach cancer), 1997 (was 67)
Gene Pitney died in Cardiff, Wales (heart disease), 2006 (was 65). In addition to his rock hits, Pitney recorded two albums of duets with George Jones.

April 6:

Merle Haggard (CM 94, NS 77, GLA 06) born in Bakersfield, California, 1937 (now 79) 
Vernon Dalhart (CM 81, NS 70) (ne Marion Try Slaughter) born in Marion County, Texas, 1883 (died 1948)
Dick Kaihue McIntire (StG 82) born in Honolulu, Hawaii, 1902 (died 1951)
Wade Ray born in Griffin, Indiana, 1913 (died 1998)
Tammy Wynette (CM 98, NS 09) died in Nashville, Tennessee (heart failure attributed to blood clot), 1998 (was 55)
Grand Ole Opry shows were canceled due to rioting in the wake of Martin Luther King's assassination earlier in the week, 1968

April 7:

Bobby Bare (CM 13) born in Ironton, Ohio, 1935 (now 81)
John Dittrich of Restless Heart born in New York, New York, 1951 (now 65)
Leon "Pappy" Selph born in Houston, Texas, 1914 (died 1999)
Cal Smith born in Gans, Oklahoma, 1932 (died 2013)
Clyde Moody died in Nashville, Tennessee (unknown cause), 1989 (was 73)
Henry Glover died in St. Albans, New York (heart attack), 1991 (was 69)
Jeff Newman (StG 99) died in Watertown, Tennessee (plane crash), 2004 (was 62)
George Shuffler (BG 11) died in Valdese, North Carolina (long illness), 2014 (was 88)

April 8:

John Schneider born in Mount Kisco, New York, 1960 (now 56)
Jimmy Osborne born in Winchester, Kentucky, 1923 (died 1957)

April 9:

Margo Smith born in Dayton, Ohio, 1942 (now 74)
Con Hunley born in Fountain City, Tennessee, 1945 (now 71)
Hal Ketchum born in Greenwich, New York, 1953 (now 63)
Mark Roberts of the Red Clay Ramblers born in Wareham, Massachusetts, 1957 (now 59)
Dave Innis of Restless Heart born in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, 1959 (now 57)
Carl Perkins (NS 85, RR 87) born in Tiptonville, Tennessee, 1932 (died 1998)
Darrell Glenn died in Fort Worth, Texas (cancer), 1990 (was 54)
Mae Boren Axton died in Nashville, Tennessee (natural causes), 1997 (was 82)
Tut Taylor died in North Wilkesboro, North Carolina (natural causes), 2015 (was 91)

April 10:

Fiddlin' Arthur Smith born in Bold Spring, Tennessee, 1898 (died 1971)
Sheb Wooley born in Enick, Oklahoma, 1921 (died 2003)
DeWitt "Scotty" Scott (StG 92) born in Amarillo, Texas, 1932 (died 2015)
Weldon Myrick (StG 97) born in Jayton, Texas, 1938 (died 2014)
Former home of Johnny and June Cash destroyed by fire, 2007. Barry Gibb of the Bee Gees owned the house at the time of the fire.  In 2010 the Gatlin Brothers referenced the fire in a song titled "Johnny Cash is Dead and His House Burned Down."

April 11:

Jim Lauderdale born in Troutman, North Carolina, 1957 (now 59)
Harty Taylor of Karl & Harty born in Mount Vernon, Kentucky, 1905 (died 1963)
Millie Good of the Girls of the Golden West born in Mount Carmel, Illinois, 1913 (died 1993)
George Shuffler (BG 11) born in Valdese, North Carolina, 1925 (died 2014)
Eddie Miller died in Nashville, Tennessee (unknown cause), 1977 (was 83). In addition to writing a number of songs, including "I've Loved and Lost Again" which was recorded by Patsy Cline during her stint on Four Star, Miller co-founded the Nashville Songwriters' Association International.
Lighnin' Chance died in Nashville, Tennessee (cancer/Alzheimer's), 2005 (was 79)
Jerry Byrd (StG 78) died in Honolulu, Hawaii (complications of Parkinson's disease), 2005 (was 85)

April 12:

Ron Elliott (StG 09) born in Salisbury, Maryland, 1936 (now 80)
Vince Gill (CM 07, NS 05) born in Norman, Oklahoma, 1957 (now 59)
Ernie Lee born in Berea, Kentucky, 1916 (died 1991)
Ned Miller born in Raines, Utah, 1925 (died 2016)
Judy Lynn born in Boise, Idaho, 1936 (died 2010)
Lewis Crook of the Crook Brothers died in Nashville, Tennessee (natural causes), 1997 (was 87)
Boxcar Willie died in Branson, Missouri (leukemia), 1999 (was 67)

April 13:

Sam Bush born in Bowling Green, Kentucky, 1952 (now 64)
Bob Nolan (CM 80, NS 71) of the Sons of the Pioneers born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, 1908 (died 1980)
Guy Willis of the Willis Brothers died in Nashville, Tennessee (unknown cause), 1981 (was 65)
Johnny Dollar died in Nashville, Tennessee (suicide), 1986 (was 53)

April 14:

Loretta Lynn (CM 88, NS 83, GLA 10) born in Butcher Holler, Kentucky, 1932 (now 84)
Stuart Duncan of the Nashville Bluegrass Band born in Quantico, Virginia, 1964 (now 52)
Vito Pelletteri died in Nashville, Tennessee (complications from a stroke), 1977 (was 87)
Burl Ives died in Anacortes, Washington (throat cancer), 1995 (was 85)

April 15:

Roy Clark (CM 09) born in Meherrin, Virginia, 1933 (now 83)
Chris Stapleton born in Lexington, Kentucky, 1978 (now 38)
J.L. Frank (CM 67) born in Limestone County, Alabama, 1900 (died 1952)
Bob Luman born in Nacogdoches, Texas, 1937 (died 1978)
Junior Barnard of Bob Wills' Texas Playboys died (car wreck), 1951 (was 30)
Rose Maddox died in Ashland, Oregon (kidney failure), 1998 (was 72)
Otto Kitsinger died in Nashville, Tennessee (heart attack), 1998 (was 54). Kitsinger was the historian and writer for CMT's Opry Backstage.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

The Bastille Has Been Stormed

Category:  News/Opinion

Part of me feels the safest thing to do is to simply post, without comment, the three Hall of Fame inductees for the class of 2016, announced this morning (3/29) in the Hall of Fame's rotunda.  But today's inductions beg for commentary.

First, the inductees:

FRED FOSTER (inducted in the rotating category - Non-Performer):  the founder of Monument Records, the label that gave the start to acts such as Dolly Parton, Kris Kristofferson, Connie Smith, and many more (including session ace Bob Moore's big instrumental hit "Mexico"), Foster served as producer for most of Roy Orbison's massive hits and others, including the classic album The Silver Tongued Devil and I by Kristofferson (which was featured in the film Taxi Driver) and the Grammy-winning You Don't Know Me: The Songs of Cindy Walker by Willie Nelson.  As a songwriter he co-wrote the legendary "Me and Bobbie McGee" with Kristofferson.

RANDY TRAVIS (inducted in the Modern category):  the "neo-traditional" movement of the 80s, the last gasp of traditional country music in the mainstream arena, was spearheaded by four major forces:  George Strait, Ricky Skaggs, Keith Whitley, and Randy Travis.  Strait was inducted in 2006; Travis joined him today.  In unquestionably one of the most poignant moments in recent memory Travis, who suffered a debilitating and near-fatal (as his wife mentioned in her speech) stroke in 2013, walked from his wheelchair to the podium and uttered two magical words:  "thank you."  It was heartwarming and heartbreaking simultaneously.  The man who gave us countless classic from "Diggin' Up Bones" and "Forever and Ever, Amen" to the award-winning "Three Wooden Crosses" is a most deserving inductee.

CHARLIE DANIELS (inducted in the Veterans category):  the Bastille has now officially been stormed as the first person from the southern rock genre has been welcomed into the Country Music Hall of Fame.  Daniels is best-known in country for his 1979 #1 hit "The Devil Went Down to Georgia."  Additionally, he hosted the Volunteer Jam, a music festival of southern rock stalwarts, for 40 years.

The question becomes, of course, does Charlie Daniels really belong in the Country Music Hall of Fame?  The traditionalists will argue that southern rock has no place here.  Just because a band or a singer was from "the south" doesn't mean they have an automatic association with country music, despite the fact that that attitude has been rather prevalent for the past 20 years or so (or, since people began re-defining country music from the textbook definition to a definition to fit their tastes).  People are arguing that Lynyrd Skynyrd was "country" (they did do "T For Texas" on One More From the Road and Merle Haggard's "Honky Tonk Night Time Man" on Street Survivors) for that reason:  they were from Jacksonville.  Daniels certainly has far more elements of country music in his songs that Skynyrd, so in that regard maybe I should be thankful it was him instead of Skynyrd inducted today.

There's another issue, however:  is Charlie Daniels' career and/or influence significant enough to warrant induction in any hall of fame?  Looking at the Billboard charts, one has to wonder.  He had two top ten songs in rock and three in country.  The 2008 Whitburn lists him as #204 in the all-time biggest singles artists in country music.  While that may seem admirable, people who have double the "points" (the formula that Whitburn developed, based on number of singles, longevity, success, and other factors) of Daniels who aren't in the Hall of Fame.  And, unlike Daniels, nobody is going to argue the authenticity of the country music of the Gatlin Brothers, Skaggs, Vern Gosdin, Gene Watson, Freddie Hart, or Dottie West.  Even people who might cause a controversy, such as Charlie Rich (who burned John Denver's "entertainer of the year" envelope at the CMAs one year, despite the fact that Rich was hardly the champion of traditional country music), Hank Williams Jr., and Jerry Reed are much higher ranked in terms of chart success than Daniels.

But, as I've often argued, chart success isn't all of the story (and never has been).  Does Daniels have the influence?  He was a member of the "first generation" of southern rockers, along with the Allman Brothers, the Marshall Tucker Band, and Skynyrd.  And, to his credit, he is the only southern rock act with a fiddle.  

Still, I cannot help but think that, like Mac Wiseman's induction a few years ago (a legendary bluegrass singer who was the fifth act inducted into the Bluegrass hall of fame where his career has mainly been focused but had little success in country music), Daniels was put in to keep someone else out.  It's very sad to think such a thing, but given that the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame does that (one year ignoring the fact that the Dave Clark Five got more votes than another act and inducting the act with fewer votes instead) one cannot help but wonder if there's inside-the-industry politics and/or personal vendettas/dislikes/old grudges keeping deserving acts out of the Hall of Fame.  Certainly Hank Jr. ruffled a few feathers with his political commentary; however, Daniels is also quite conservative in his political leanings and very vocal about those beliefs (writing them weekly in "Charlie's Soapbox" on his website).  Webb Pierce was shunned for years because he wasn't well-liked thanks to his unscrupulous way of changing one word or note in a song then claiming 50% songwriter credit, but he was finally inducted (ten years after his death).

The barn door has been kicked down now, and I'm sure we can expect more rock acts (or acts with prominence in rock) inducted in the future.  I'm sure the next few years will see the Band, the Eagles, Poco, and Gram Parsons put in the Country Music Hall of Fame.  In fact, as next year is the songwriter year, I'd bet money on Bob Dylan being the songwriter inductee.  

Larry Cordle famously wrote, "Ol' Hank wouldn't stand a chance on today's radio since they committed murder down on Music Row."  He probably wouldn't stand a chance in today's Hall of Fame, either.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Still Woman Enough

Category:  Album Review

In the Adam Ant song "Goody Two Shoes" he sang, "Look out or they'll tell you you're a superstar, two weeks and you're an all-time legend, I think the games have gone much too far."  (Yes, I did just quote Adam Ant in a review of a country music album.)  Superlatives are thrown around carelessly anymore, such as in the case of "legend."

There are some, however, completely deserving of the accolades, such as Loretta Lynn.  People who don't even like country music know who she is.  Her autobiography, Coal Miner's Daughter, became an Academy Award-winning film in 1980.

In 2004 Lynn released Van Lear Rose, a fresh and original album that featured a fan:  then-28-year-old Jack White, the leader of the rock band the White Stripes.  It took home the "Best Country Album" Grammy for 2004, and deservedly so.  Lynn, who was 72 at the time, chalked one up for the "old farts" (as Blake Shelton would infamously later call the classic country acts).

Poor ol' Blake and all those people who stuck their feet in their mouths last year (Gary Overton and his "if you're not on country radio you don't exist" and Keith Hill, who said that men were the driving force of country music sales and women were just "tomatoes") must be on suicide watch now.  Loretta Lynn's new album, Full Circle, is an amazing collection that shows she still has everything -- songwriting and singing -- and that people still want to hear it (it debuted on the Billboard country album charts this week at #4).  

The cover of Loretta Lynn's brilliant
new album
Full Circle.  Courtesy
Legacy Recordings.

I'll begin by admitting that Loretta is a favorite of mine.  I saw her in 2014, and tears ran down my cheek from the moment she walked on stage until she left.  Just being in the same venue as this truly amazing performer was enough, never mind that 90-minute romp through her classics.  

I'll admit when even my favorite singers do wrong.  Ask me about my least favorite Jim Reeves songs while you're inquiring about my favorites.  I wasn't too overly fond of things like "Rated 'X'" or "The Pill" in Loretta's collection of hit singles.

But I have no gripes this time around.  There's nothing wrong with this album.  It is classic Loretta.  "Everything It Takes" is the song that grabbed me the moment I heard it...then I discovered that subtle, quiet background singer is Elvis Costello!  Co-written with Todd Snider (one of five songs that she wrote or co-wrote on the album), it's everything that has made Loretta Lynn a household name.

Her cover of "Secret Love" is also superb.  One of my all-time favorite pop songs, Lynn delivers it like a country ballad.  Speaking of covers, she took a bold move in covering "Always On My Mind," a song that is almost inseparably associated with Willie Nelson (despite the fact that Elvis, Brenda Lee, and Gwen MacRae recorded it ten years before Willie).  She turns the song into her own, delivering the song with such conviction that you can almost see her looking at a picture of her late, beloved husband Dooley as she sings it.

"Fist City" is remade here with the same ferocity as the 1968 original.  Loretta may be pushing 84, but this version sounds like she can still "grab you by the hair of the head and lift you off the ground." 

The song that'll probably generate the most attention is the T. Graham Brown song "Wine Into Water."  Loretta sings this amazing tune about an alcoholic begging for spiritual ("Now I'm on my knees and I'm begging to you, Father, will you help me turn the wine back into water?") and personal forgiveness.  Given that her late husband was an alcoholic (which she wrote about in no uncertain terms in her songs ["Don't Come Home A-Drinkin'"] and her books) this song probably is as close to Loretta's heart as any song she has ever done.  

Full Circle is an album that shows that Loretta Lynn is nowhere near "past her prime."  Her voice is as strong and wonderful as ever, and this is an album that will not only solidify her in the hearts of her decades-long fans but will make her thousands of new fans in the process.  This album will unquestionably be on every year-end "best-of" list.

As the title of her follow-up to the Coal Miner's Daughter book said, she's STILL woman enough, and she shows it on all 14 tracks.  Don't miss this album.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Dates of Note in Country Music, March 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; RR=country performer also inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.)

March 16:

Ray Walker of the Jordanaires (CM 01) born in Centerville, Mississippi, 1934 (now 82)

Jerry Jeff Walker (ne Ronald Clyde Crosby) born in Oneonta, New York, 1942 (now 74)
Ray Benson of Asleep at the Wheel born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1951 (now 65)
Tim O'Brien born in Wheeling, West Virginia, 1954 (now 62)
Stan Thorn of Shenandoah born in Kenosha, Wisconsin, 1959 (now 57)
Ronnie McCoury born in York County, Pennsylvania, 1967 (now 49)
Robert Whitstein born in Colfax, Louisiana, 1944 (died 2001)

Carlton Haney (BG 98) died in Greensboro, North Carolina (stroke), 2011 (was 82)
Plane crash at Otay Mountain near San Diego, California kills Reba McEntire band members Chris Austin, Kirk Capello, Joey Cigainero, Paula Kaye Evans, Terry Jackson, Michael Thomas, and Tony Saputo, 1991

March 17:

Jim Weatherly (NS 06) born in Pontotoc, Mississippi, 1943 (now 73)
Paul Overstreet (NS 03) born in Newton, Mississippi, 1955 (now 61)
Dick Curless born in Fort Fairfield, Maine, 1932 (died 1995)
Hugh Farr (CM 80) died in Casper, Wyoming (unknown causes), 1980 (was 77)
Jimmy Gately died in Madison, Tennessee (unknown causes), 1985 (was 53)
Sammy Pruett died in Birmingham, Alabama (unknown causes), 1988 (was 61)
Terry Stafford died in Amarillo, Texas (liver failure), 1996 (was 55)
Bill Carlisle (CM 02) died in Nashville, Tennessee (natural causes), 2003 (was 94)

Ferlin Husky (CM 10) died in Nashville, Tennessee (congestive heart failure/colon cancer), 2011 (was 85)

March 18:

Billy Armstrong born in Streator, Illinois, 1930 (now 86)
Charley Pride (CM 00) born in Sledge, Mississippi, 1938 (now 78)
Margie Bowes born in Roxboro, North Carolina, 1941 (now 75)
James McMurty born in Fort Worth, Texas, 1962 (now 54)
Smiley Burnette (NS 71) born in Summum, Illinois, 1911 (died 1967)

Dennis Linde (NS 05) born in Abilene, Texas, 1943 (died 2006)
John Phillips of the Mamas and Papas died in Los Angeles, California (heart failure), 2001 (was 65). His solo hit, "Mississippi," was a country hit in 1971.

March 19:

Henry "Friendly Henry" Maddox born in Boaz, Alabama, 1928 (died 1974)
Speck Rhodes died in Nashville, Tennessee (natural causes), 2000 (was 84)
Randall Hylton died in Nashville, Tennessee (brain aneurysm), 2001 (was 55)
Tootsie's Orchid Lounge opened in Nashville, 1960

March 20:

Tommy Hunter born in London, Ontario, 1937 (now 79)
Douglas B. Green (Ranger Doug) of Riders in the Sky born in Great Lakes, Illinois, 1946 (now 70)
Jim Seales of Shenandoah born in Hamilton, Alabama, 1954 (now 62)

Jerry Reed (NS 05) born in Atlanta, Georgia, 1937 (died 2008)
Ralph Mooney (Steel Guitar 83) died in Kennedale, Texas (kidney cancer), 2011 (was 82)

March 21:

Carol Lee Cooper born in West Virginia, 1942 (now 74)
Tommy Hill died in Nashville, Tennessee (liver and heart ailments), 2002 (was 72)

March 22:

Charlie Poole born in Randolph County, North Carolina, 1892 (died 1931)
Hoyle Nix of the West Texas Cowboys born in Azel, Texas, 1918 (died 1985)

Bobby Garrett (Steel Guitar 95) born in Dallas, Texas, 1935 (died 1999)
Uncle Dave Macon (CM 66) died in Murfreesboro, Tennessee (illness), 1952 (was 81)
Stoney Cooper died in Nashville, Tennessee (heart attack), 1977 (was 59)
Carl Perkins injured in automobile accident near Wilmington, Delaware, 1956

March 23:

David Grisman born in Passaic, New Jersey, 1945 (now 71)
Fiddlin' John Carson born in Fannin County, Georgia, 1868 (died 1949)
Jim Anglin born in Franklin, Tennessee, 1913 (died 1987)
Smokey Rogers born in McMinnville, Tennessee, 1917 (died 1993)
J.D. Miller died in Crowley, Louisiana (complications from heart bypass surgery), 1996 (was 73)
James Roy "Pop" Lewis (BG 06) of the Lewis Family died in Lincoln County, Georgia (natural causes), 2004 (was 98)
Cindy Walker (CM 97, NS 70) died in Mexia, Texas (natural causes), 2006 (was 88)

March 24:

Peggy Sue Webb born in Butcher Hollow, Kentucky, 1947 (now 69)
Carson Robison (NS 71) died in Poughkeepsie, New York (unknown causes), 1957 (was 66)
Howard Dixon died in East Rockingham, North Carolina (unknown - possible work accident), 1961 (was 57)

Maggie Cavender (NS 89) died in Nashville, Tennessee (stroke), 1996 (was 77)
Henson Cargill died in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (complications from surgery), 2007 (was 66)

March 25:

Bonnie Guitar born in Seattle, Washington, 1923 (now 93)
Robbie Fulks born in York, Pennsylvania, 1963 (now 53)

Shad Cobb born in Hazel Dale, Washington, 1973 (now 43)
Natchee the Indian (ne Lester Vernon Storer) born in Peebles, Ohio, 1916 (died 1970)
Hoyt Axton born in Duncan, Oklahoma, 1938 (died 1999)
Jack Kapp died in New York, New York (cerebral hemorrhage), 1949 (was 47)
Buck Owens (CM 96, NS 96) died in Bakersfield, California (heart attack), 2006 (was 76)

March 26:

Bud Isaacs (StG 84) born in Bedford, Indiana, 1928 (now 88)

John Starling of the Seldom Scene (BG 14) born in Durham, North Carolina, 1940 (now 76)
Vicki Lawrence born in Inglewood, California, 1949 (now 67). The Carol Burnett Show actress had one hit, "The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia," which made both the pop and country charts.
Ronnie McDowell born in Fountain Head, Tennessee, 1950 (now 66)
Michael Bonagura of Baillie & the Boys born in Newark, New Jersey, 1953 (now 63)
Dean Dillon (NS 02) born in Lake City, Tennessee, 1955 (now 60)
Charly McClain born in Jackson, Tennessee, 1956 (now 60)

Julian Tharpe (StG 08) born in Skipperville, Alabama, 1937 (died 1994)

March 27:

Don Warden (StG 08) born in Mountain Grove, Missouri, 1929 (now 87)

Bill Callahan of the Callahan Brothers born in Madison County, North Carolina, 1912 (died 2002)
David Rogers born in Houston, Texas, 1936 (died 1993)

March 28:

Roy Dean Webb (BG 09) of the Dillards born in Independence, Missouri, 1937 (now 79)
Charlie McCoy (CM 09) born in Oak Hill, West Virginia, 1941 (now 75)
Reba McEntire (CM 11) born in Chockie, Oklahoma, 1955 (now 61)

Jay Livingston born in McDonald, Pennsylvania, 1915 (died 2001). The pop songwriter's many hits include "Silver Bells," which has been recorded by many country performers.
W.C. Handy (NS 83) died in New York, New York (bronchial pneumonia), 1958 (was 84)
Farrell "Rusty" Draper died in Bellevue, Washington (heart disease/throat cancer), 2003 (was 80)
Glenn Barber died in Gallatin, Tennessee (heart ailment), 2008 (was 73)

Earl Scruggs (CM 85, BG 91, NS 07) died in Nashville, Tennessee (natural causes), 2012 (was 88)

March 29:

Paul Humphrey (BG 09) of the Lonesome Pine Fiddlers born in Wytheville, Virginia, 1935 (now 81)

Brady Seals of Little Texas born in Hamilton, Ohio, 1969 (now 47)
Moon Mullican (NS 76) born in Corrigan, Texas, 1909 (died 1967)
Jerry Byrd (StG 78) born in Lima, Ohio, 1920 (died 2005)
Texas Ruby died in Nashville, Tennessee (house fire), 1963 (was 54)
Opry announcer Hal Durham died in Nashville, Tennessee (unknown cause), 2009 (was 77)

March 30:

Bobby Wright born in Charleston, West Virginia, 1942 (now 74)
Connie Cato born in Carlinville, Illinois, 1955 (now 61)

March 31:

John D. Loudermilk (NS 76) born in Durham, North Carolina, 1934 (now 82)
Greg Martin of the Kentucky Headhunters born in Louisville, Kentucky, 1954 (now 62)

Phil Leadbetter born in Knoxville, Tennessee, 1962 (now 54)
Howdy Forrester born in Vernon, Tennessee, 1922 (died 1987)
Tommy Jackson born in Birmingham, Alabama, 1926 (died 1979)

Hoyt Hawkins (CM 01) of the Jordanaires born in Paducah, Kentucky, 1927 (died 1982)
William O. "Lefty" Frizzell (CM 82, NS 72) born in Corsicana, Texas, 1928 (died 1975)
Anita Carter born in Maces Springs, Virginia, 1933 (died 1999)
Skeets McDonald died in Inglewood, California (heart attack), 1968 (was 52)

Carl Story (BG 07) died in Greer, South Carolina (complications from heart bypass surgery), 1995 (was 78)
Mel McDaniel died in Hendersonville, Tennessee (lung cancer), 2011 (was 68)

Saturday, March 05, 2016

Her "Dream Came True"

Category:  News/Obituary

The sad news that we've been anticipating for months came yesterday (3/4).  Joey Feek lost her battle with cervical cancer.

"My wife's dream came true," Rory wrote in his blog.  "She is in Heaven."

Diagnosed in 2014 with cervical cancer, treatments initially controlled the disease.  However, in 2015 tumors returned almost as quickly as they were treated, with new ones growing.  In October the doctors told the couple there was nothing that could be done, and Joey made the decision to stop treatment.

The family returned to Joey's native Indiana to spend the final holidays with her family.  After the second birthday of daughter Indiana Joey told Rory that she had accomplished everything she wanted to do (one last Thanksgiving, one last Christmas, one last birthday with Indy) and was tired of fighting.  She slipped into a coma at the end of February.

Joey put a real (and beautiful) face on the horrors of cancer in her fight.  Her decision to be very public with her battle (as opposed to others, such as rock legend David Bowie, whose death from liver cancer in January came as a complete shock to everyone) will undoubtedly be part of her legacy, with those words that Rory so bravely wrote serving as encouragement and solace for others going through a similar battle.  Additionally, their Hymns album reiterates their faith.  The album debuted at #1 on Billboard's country album charts last year despite the fact that the couple has never had a "hit single."

Joey Feek was 40.

Wednesday, March 02, 2016

Sick Call: Merle Haggard

Category:  News

The "Poet of the Common Man" needs some of that fightin' side the he once sang about.

Merle Haggard, the 78-year-old Hall of Famer who topped the country charts last year with his duet album with Willie Nelson, Django & Jimmie, has been hospitalized in California.

His publicist reported that Haggard has been hospitalized for was was called a "persistent recurring bout of double pneumonia."  

Haggard was hospitalized in December 2015 with double pneumonia and later told Rolling Stone magazine, "I'm lucky to be alive" after that bout.  Shortly after he was released from the hospital, tour dates in late January and early February were postponed because he wasn't feeling 100%.  Haggard still made some dates.  Now he has canceled all shows in March while he battles double pneumonia yet again.

Haggard also had a bout with pneumonia in 2012.

"I could've gone in another direction had I messed around a little more," he admitted in the Rolling Stone article.  "It's a terrible thing."

Here's wishing "The Hag" a quick and complete recovery.