Saturday, December 31, 2016

Country's Final Bows of 2016

Category:  Tribute 

Here are the performers who sang their final song in 2016.

Bonnie Brown (July 16, lung cancer, age 77):  one-third of the Country Music Hall of Fame sibling trio the Browns, she lost her battle with lung cancer 13 months after her brother Jim Ed's death from the same disease.

Rick Christian (May 3, unknown cause, age 61):  songwriter best known for writing Kenny Rogers' hit "I Don't Need You."

Guy Clark (May 17, long illness, age 74):  far beyond a "songwriter's songwriter," he was more of a novelist's novelist.  One of the most brilliant, heart-touching, detailed storytelling songwriters of this -- or any other -- generation.

Jack Davis (July 27, natural causes, age 91): the co-founder of Mad magazine lent his brilliant artistic skills to a number of country music album covers, including those by Ben Colder, Johnny Cash, and nine Homer & Jethro albums.

Andrew Dorff (December 19, unknown causes, age 40): songwriter with a number of modern hits including Kenny Chesney's "Save It for a Rainy Day."

Holly Dunn (November 15, ovarian cancer, age 59):  singer/songwriter with a string of hits in the 90s including "You Really Had Me Going" and her signature song, "Daddy's Hands."

Richard Fagan (August 5, liver cancer, age 69): country songwriter who wrote hits for Mel McDaniel ("Real Good Feel Good Song"), George Strait ("Overnight Male"), and John Michael Montgomery ("Sold [The Grundy County Auction Incident]").  His "Overnight Male" co-writer, Kim Williams, also died this year.

Joey Feek (March 4, cervical cancer, age 40):  half of the husband-and-wife duo Joey + Rory who had a TV series on RFD TV and saw their album, Hymns, debut at #1 on the Billboard country charts despite being "too country" and never having a "hit."

Brien Fisher (March 11, unknown cause, age 82):  Nashville music producer whose best-known work included hits with the Kendalls such as "Heaven's Just a Sin Away" and Vern Gosdin's "Today My World Slipped Away."

Joey Floyd (February 15, cancer, age 54):  longtime guitarist in Toby Keith's band.

Glenn Frey (January 18, pneumonia/acute ulcerative colitis, age 67):  co-founder of the legendary Eagles, the band that personified country-rock in the 70's, and lead singer on their biggest country hit, "Lyin' Eyes."

Gogi Grant (March 10, natural causes, age 91):  pop singer who recorded what is probably the best-known version of the classic song "The Wayward Wind."

Mark Gray (December 2, unknown cause, age 64): one-time member of the country-rock band Exile and songwriter of Alabama's hits "The Closer You Get" and "Take Me Down."

Ray Griff (March 9, post-operative pneumonia, age 75):  Canadian-born country singer with a string of hits in the 70's including "If I Let Her Come In," "Patches," and "You Ring My Bell."

Merle Haggard (April 6, pneumonia, age 79):  the legendary "poet of the common man" who sang of prison, blue collar life, and heartache died on his 79th birthday.

Bill Ham (June 22, natural causes, age 79):  Texas-based manager of rock legends ZZ Top as well as the man who discovered and managed country superstar Clint Black.

Hoot Hester (August 30, cancer, age 66):  fiddler for the Opry staff band for years who backed acts as diverse as the Manhattan Transfer and Ray Charles.  He helped co-found the Time Jumpers.  And, on a personal note, he was my aunt's cousin.

Dan Hicks (February 6, liver cancer, age 74):  eclectic and quirky singer/songwriter, best known for the song "I Scare Myself," who incorporated elements of country, western swing, and jazz into his performances.

Pete Huttlinger (January 15, stroke, age 54):  noted flat picker guitarist who made several solo albums as well as toured with LeAnn Rimes and John Denver.

Bud Isaacs (September 4, natural causes, age 88): the Steel Guitar Hall of Famer who played on the first #1 song to feature a pedal steel ("Slowly" by Webb Pierce in 1953), he was a steel guitar master and innovator.

Sonny James (February 22, natural causes, age 86):  Country Music Hall of Famer who went from playing fiddle as a session musician to international superstardom with hits such as "Young Love," "True Love's a Blessing," and "Born to Be With You."

Kacey Jones (September 1, colon cancer, age 66):  humorist, singer, musician, leader of the country humor act Ethel and the Shameless Hussies, and a writer of songs such as Mickey Gilley's hit "I'm the One Mama Warned You About."

James King (May 19, liver disease, age 58):  bluegrass singer who went from an unofficial member of Ralph Stanley's Clinch Mountain Boys to leader of the James King Band and member of the supergroup Longview, known for his heartfelt story songs such as "Thirty Years of Farming" and "Bed By the Window."

John D. Loudermilk (September 21, bone cancer, age 82): Nashville Songwriters Hall of Famer who wrote countless songs from lighthearted novelty songs ("Road Hog") to love songs (Bob Luman's "The Great Snowman") to protest songs ("Indian Reservation [Lament of the Cherokee Reservation Indian]").

Charlie "Sonny" Louvin Jr. (January 27, unknown causes, age 61):  the son of Hall of Fame member Charlie Louvin frequently played guitar with his father on the road and on the Grand Ole Opry.

Lana Meisner (March 6, accidental shooting, age 63):  wife of original Eagles bassist/vocalist Randy Meisner.

Ned Miller (March 18, natural causes, age 90):  singer and songwriter whose best-known composition was "From a Jack to a King," a hit for himself and Ricky Van Shelton and covered by acts from Jim Reeves to Elvis Presley.

Chips Moman (June 13, long illness, age 79):  Grammy-winning songwriter (for BJ Thomas' hit "[Hey, Won't You Play] Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song") who also contributed songs as diverse as "The Dark End of the Street" (an R&B hit covered by Archie Campbell) and "Luckenbach, Texas (Back to the Basics of Love)."  Morman died the day after his 79th birthday.

Don Parmley (July 30, long illness, age 82): banjo player and founder of the bluegrass band the Bluegrass Cardinals.

Joyce Paul (February 15, unknown cause, age 78):  60's country singer who had songs such as "Phone Call to Mama" and "I'm the Girl on the Billboard."

Gary S. Paxton (July 16, unknown cause, age 77): singer, songwriter, and producer who went from a member of the Hollywood Argyles ("Alley Oop") to country hits songwriter ("Woman (Sensuous Woman)" for Don Gibson) to Grammy-winning gospel songwriter and performer.

Curtis Potter (January 23, pneumonia, age 75):  a member of Hank Thompson's Brazos Valley Boys, he enjoyed his own career as well as performing with Tony Booth and Darrell McCall as The Survivors.

Curly Putman (October 30, long illness, age 85):  Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame member who wrote or co-wrote countless hits, including "Green, Green Grass of Home," "He Stopped Loving Her Today," "D-I-V-O-R-C-E," and "War Is Hell (On the Homefront Too)."

Jim Ridley (April 8, cardiac arrest, age 50):  longtime editor and journalist at the Nashville Scene music paper.

Floyd Robinson (May 28, long illness, age 79):  songwriter and singer who had one charted hit, the controversial 1959 country crossover song "Makin' Love."

Mildred Haynes Rymer (November 10, stroke, age 86): sister of Henry "Homer" Haynes of Homer & Jethro.

Jean Shepard (September 25, Parkinson's disease, age 82): Country Music Hall of Fame singer who began as the duet partner on "A Dear John Letter" and went on to legendary status with a career that spanned seven decades.

Red Simpson (January 8, heart attack, age 81):  one of the unsung heroes of the Bakersfield sound, he had one of the great "truck driving" songs with "Roll, Truck, Roll," wrote hits for Buck Owens ("Sam's Place"), and played on Merle Haggard's legendary "Okie From Muskogee."

Icey Sloan-Hawkins (December 17, stabbed to death, age 18): granddaughter of Jean Shepard and Hawkshaw Hawkins.  She was killed by her ex-boyfriend, who was then shot by Shepard's widower Benny Birchfield (who also suffered stab wounds).

Carol Smith (December 24, natural causes, age 94):  songwriter who collaborated on a number of Sonny James hits including "True Love's a Blessing," "A Little Bit South of Saskatoon," and "Don't Keep Me Hanging On."

Dr. Ralph Stanley (June 23, skin cancer, age 89):  one of the most important and significant figures in bluegrass history, Ralph overcame the 1966 death of his brother and music partner Carter to become the standard by which bluegrass performers are measured.

Kay Starr (November 3, Alzheimer's disease, age 94): singer with a long string of pop and jazz hits, she also had two top ten country hits in 1950 singing with Tennessee Ernie Ford.

Gordie Tapp (December 18, pneumonia, age 94): the head writer and one of the mainstays of the long running TV series Hee Haw.

Bob Tubert (April 10, natural causes, age 90):  Ozark Jubilee scriptwriter, music publisher who helped found the Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI) and helped establish Belmont University's Music Business program.

Janet Watson (February 8, unknown cause, age 70):  a Broadway choreographer who worked on the play Big River, which earned Roger Miller a Tony.

Kim Williams (February 11, unknown cause, age 68):  2012 Nashville Songwriters' Hall of Fame inductee who gave us, among others, Joe Diffie's "If the Devil Danced in Empty Pockets," George Strait's "Overnight Male," and Randy Travis' classic "Three Wooden Crosses."

Mentor Williams (November 16, unknown cause, age 70): country music singer/songwriter who teamed up with Troy Seals for a number of country hits ("A Few Ole Country Boys") but will be best remembered for his oft-covered song, "Drift Away" (which was a country hit for Narvel Felts in 1973).  He was also the longtime partner of Lynn Anderson.

Rick Wright (February 7, car wreck, age 57):  guitarist for Connie Smith's band for nearly two decades.

Steve Young (March 17, complications from a brain injury, age 73):  "outlaw" singer/songwriter best known for writing the classics "Lonesome, Orn'ry and Mean" and "Seven Bridges Road."

Farewell, and thank you for the music.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Where, Oh Where Are You Tonight

Category: News/Obituary

If it surprises anyone, we've lost yet another well-known name from country music.

Gordie Tapp, the Canadian comic and storyteller who became one of the mainstays on Hee Haw, died Sunday (12/18) of pneumonia in Burlington, Ontario.

By the time he came to Hee Haw in 1968 Gordon Robert Tapp was already a well-known country performer in his native country.  He was featured on several programs on the CBC, including Country Hoedown.  That's where he debuted the "Cousin Clem" character, the hayseed man who later became one of his most enduring roles on Hee Haw.

In addition to Cousin Clem, Tapp was Archie Campbell's duet partner on the oft-seen "Pfft! You Were Gone" routine.  Tapp would stand, leaning against a pitchfork while Archie Campbell (who actually had a 45 of the song released on RCA) sang a verse.  Campbell would then nudge Tapp, who'd look up with a distraught face and join in the chorus of, "Where, oh where are you tonight?  Why did you leave me here all alone?  I searched the world over and I thought I'd found true love.  You met another and pfft! you was [sic] gone."  Occasionally guest stars (ranging from Johnny Cash to Loretta Lynn) would take Tapp's place, surprising Campbell.

Tapp was also the lead writer for Hee Haw.

In 1990 Gordie Tapp was inducted into the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame.  He was also awarded the Order of Canada in 1998.

Survivors include his wife, Helen, to whom he was married for 73 years.

Farewell to Gordie Tapp, who was 94.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Jean Shepard's Granddaughter Murdered

Category: News

Just weeks after the death of Country Music Hall of Fame legend Jean Shepard the family has had a second tragedy inflicted on them.

In the early morning hours of Friday night/Saturday morning (12/17) Icey Sloan-Hawkins, the granddaughter of Jean Shepard, was stabbed to death during an altercation with her one-time boyfriend.  Shepard's widower, Benny Birchfield, was also stabbed.  He shot and killed the 21-year-old who attacked him and Sloan-Hawkins, according to a report in the Nashville Tennessean.

The incident happened about 3 AM Nashville time.  The man attacked Sloan-Hawkins, who had been living at her grandmother's to provide assistance as Shepard's health deteriorated due to Parkinson's disease, then attacked Birchfield when he came to investigate the commotion.  Birchfield retrieved a gun and killed the man.

Birchfield was released from the hospital today (12/19).  Sloan-Hawkins will be buried in Goodlettesville next to her grandfather, Hawkshaw Hawkins, who died in 1963 in a plane crash with Patsy Cline and Cowboy Copas.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

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; StG=Steel Guitar WS=Western Swing; GLA=Grammy Lifetime Achievement recipient; RR=also in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame)

December 16:

Jim Glaser of the Glaser Brothers born in Spalding, Nebraska, 1937 (now 79)
Jeff Carson born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, 1964 (now 52)
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)

Ray Price (CM 96) died in Mount Pleasant, Texas (pancreatic cancer), 2013 (was 87)

December 17:

Frankie Miller born in Victoria, Texas, 1931 (now 85)
Sharon White Skaggs born in Wichita Falls, Texas, 1953 (now 63) 
Tracy Byrd born in Vidor, Texas, 1966 (now 50)
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)
Lance LeRoy (BG 00) died in Nashville, Tennessee (unknown cause), 2015 (was 84)
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 52)
Wilf Carter (Montana Slim) (NS 71) born in Port Hilford, Nova Scotia, 1904 (died 1996)
The Louvin Brothers' first recording session (they recorded "Alabama") at Castle Studios, Nashville, 1947

December 19:

John McEuen of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Bang born in Long Beach, California, 1945 (now 71)
Janie Fricke born in South Whitney, Indiana, 1947 (now 69)
Jumpin' Bill Carlisle (CM 02) born in Wakefield, Kentucky, 1908 (died 2003)
Little Jimmy Dickens (CM 83) born in Bolt, West Virginia, 1920 (died 2015)
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)
Chip Young died in Nashville, Tennessee (complications from heart surgery), 2014 (was 76)

December 21:

Freddie Hart (NS 04) born in Lockapoke, Alabama, 1926 (now 90)
Lee Roy Parnell born in Abilene, Texas, 1956 (now 60)
Christy Forrester of the Forester Sisters born in Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia, 1962 (now 54)
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 79)
Chuck Mead of BR5-49 born in Nevada, Missouri, 1960 (now 56)
Paul Martin of Exile born in Winchester, Kentucky, 1962 (now 54)
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)
Zane Beck (StG 91) born in Clarksville, Arkansas, 1927 (died 1985)
Jake Hess (SG 97) 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 97)
Jimmy Buffett (NS 06) born in Pascagoula, Mississippi, 1946 (now 70)

Barbara Mandrell (CM 09, StG 09) born in Houston, Texas, 1948 (now 68)
Steve Wariner born in Noblesville, Indiana, 1954 (now 62)
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 78)
Bob Carpenter of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1946 (now 70)

Travis Lewis of the Lewis Family (BG 06) born in Greenwood, South Carolina, 1958 (now 58)
Audrey Wiggins born in Asheville, North Carolina, 1967 (now 49)
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:

Leonard T. "LT" Zinn (StG 05) born in Hanover, Pennsylvania, 1924 (now 92)
Les Taylor of Exile born in Oneida, Kentucky, 1948 (now 68)
Darrin Vincent of Dailey & Vincent born in Kirkville, Missouri, 1969 (now 47)

Scotty Moore (RR 00) born in Gadsden, Tennessee, 1931 (died 2016)
John Hughey (StG 96) born in Elaine, Arkansas, 1933 (died 2007)
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 58)
Mike McGuire of Shenandoah born in Haleyville, Alabama, 1958 (now 58)
Marty Roe of Diamond Rio born in Lebanon, Ohio, 1960 (now 56)
Dorsey Burnette born in Memphis, Tennessee, 1932 (died 1979)
Mike Auldridge (BG 14) 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 94)
Ed Bruce born in Keiser, Arkansas, 1939 (now 77)

December 30:

Suzy Bogguss born in Aledo, Illinois, 1956 (now 60)
Joaquin Murphey (StG 80) born in Hollywood, California, 1923 (died 1999)
Bob Ferguson born in Willow Spring, Missouri, 1927 (died 2001)
Orville "Red" Rhodes (StG 05) born in Alton, Illinois, 1930 (died 1995)
Skeeter Davis (nee Mary Frances Penick) born in Dry Ridge, Kentucky, 1931 (died 2004)
Melvin Goins (BG 09) born in Bramwell, West Virginia, 1933 (died 2016)
John Hartford (BG 10) born in New York, New York, 1937 (died 2001)
Mike Auldridge (BG 14) born in Washington, DC, 1938 (died 2012)
Elsie McWilliams (NS 79) died in Meridian, Mississippi (natural causes), 1985 (was 89)
Henry Strzelecki died in Nashville, Tennessee (hit by car), 2014 (was 75)

December 31:

Talmade Lewis of the Lewis Family (BG 06) born in Lincolnton, Georgia, 1934 (now 82)
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

Thursday, December 01, 2016

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; StG=Steel Guitar; WS=Western Swing; GLA=Grammy Lifetime Achievement recipient; RR=country performer also in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame)

December 1:

Darryl Ellis born in Norfolk, Virginia, 1964 (now 52)
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 66)
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 62)
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 72)
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)
Bob Montgomery died in Lee's Summit, Missouri (Parkinson's disease), 2014 (was 77)
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:

Jim Messina of Poco born in Harlingen, Texas, 1947 (now 69)
Ty England born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, 1963 (now 53)
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)
Don Robertson (NS 72) born in Peking, China, 1922 (died 2015)
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 75)
Bill Lloyd of Foster & Lloyd born in Ft. Hood, Texas, 1955 (now 61)
Hugh Farr (CM 80) born in Llano, Texas, 1903 (died 1980)
Eddie Alkire (StG 83) born in Hacker Valley, West Virginia, 1907 (died 1981)
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 85)
Hugh X. Lewis born in Yeaddiss, Kentucky, 1932 (now 84)
Gary Morris born in Fort Worth, Texas, 1948 (now 68)
Ronnie Sessions born in Henrietta, Oklahoma, 1948 (now 68)
Slim Bryant born in Atlanta, Georgia, 1908 (died 2010)
Darrell Glenn born in Waco, Texas, 1935 (died 1990)
Dawn Sears born in East Grand Forks, Minnesota, 1961 (died 2014)
Bill Boyd died in Dallas, Texas (unknown cause), 1977 (was 67)

December 8:

Marty Raybon born in Stanford, Florida, 1959 (now 57)
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)
Bonnie Lou (Mary Joan Kath) died in Cincinnati, Ohio (natural causes), 2015 (was 91)

December 9:

Billy Edd Wheeler (NS 00) born in Whitesville, Virginia, 1932 (now 84)
David Kersh born in Humble, Texas, 1970 (now 46)
David Houston born in Bossier City, Louisiana, 1938 (died 1993)
Tommy Jackson died in Nashville, Tennessee (unknown cause), 1979 (was 53)

December 10:

Johnny Rodriguez born in Sabinal, Texas, 1951 (now 65)
Eddie Miller (NS 75) born in Camargo, Oklahoma, 1919 (died 1977)
Roy Ayers (StG 07) born in Columbus, Mississippi, 1929 (died 2012)
John Duffey (BG 96, BG 14) 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, RR 02; GLA 09) born in Atlanta, Georgia, 1944 (now 72)
Charles Whitstein born in Colfax, Louisiana, 1945 (now 71)
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 (StG 92) born in Stella, Missouri, 1935 (died 2009)
Fiddlin' John Carson died in Atlanta, Georgia (natural causes), 1949 (was 81)
Dawn Sears died in Nashville, Tennessee (lung cancer), 2014 (was 53)
Commercial plane with Tex Ritter aboard as a passenger hijacked to Cuba, 1968

December 12:

LaCosta Tucker born in Seminole, Texas, 1951 (now 65)
Shelton Hank Williams (Hank III) born in Houston, Texas, 1972 (now 44)
Maurice Anderson (StG 06) born in Dallas, Texas, 1934 (died 2013)
Clifton Chenier died in Lafayette, Louisiana (kidney disease related to diabetes), 1987 (was 62)

December 13:

Buck White born in Oklahoma, 1930 (now 86)
Randy Owen of Alabama (CM 05) born in Fort Payne, Alabama, 1949 (now 67)
John Anderson (NS 14) born in Orlando, Florida, 1954 (now 62)
Wesley Tuttle born in Lamar, Colorado, 1917 (died 2003)
Wayne Walker (NS 75) born in Quapaw, Oklahoma, 1925 (died 1979)
Millie Kirkham of the Anita Kerr Singers died in Nashville, Tennessee (complications of a stroke), 2015 (was 91)
Lulu Belle and Scotty Wiseman wed, 1934

December 14:

DeFord Bailey (CM 05) born in Smith County, Tennessee, 1899 (died 1982)
Walter Haynes (StG 03) born in Kingsport, Tennessee, 1928 (died 2009)
Charlie Rich born in Forest City, Arkansas, 1932 (died 1995)
Billie Jo Spears died in Vidor, Texas (cancer), 2011 (was 73)

December 15:

Doug Phelps of Kentucky Headhunters born in Leachville, Arkansas, 1960 (now 56)
Alvin Pleasant Carter (CM 70, NS 70, BG 01; GLA 05) 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

Here's to Dolly!

Category: News

Like millions of Americans, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park holds a treasured place in my heart.  I've had countless great vacations and memories there.  As a result, the tragic news about the wildfires that started Monday night (11/28) and roared through the Smokies foothills town of Gatlinburg, Tennessee hit me quite hard.

Two towns over is the town of Sevierville, the county seat of Sevier County.  In addition to the nearby attractions, both natural and man-made, it's known as the birthplace of Dolly Parton.  

The statue of Dolly Parton in front of the
county courthouse in Sevierville, TN.
c.2016 K.F. Raizor
Several of Dolly's songs speak of her humble roots in this small town, including the iconic "Coat of Many Colors."  Although she's gone on to worldwide acclaim as a singer, songwriter, actor, and multi-instrumentalist, she has never forgotten her roots.  

In 1986 Parton purchased an interest in what was then Silver Dollar City in Pigeon Forge (the town between Sevierville and Gatlinburg), and the park was renamed "Dollywood."  Other entertainment attractions bearing Parton's name include a sister water park (Dolly's Splash Country) and the Dixie Stampede, a dinner-and-a-show theater.  Dollywood is the largest employer in Sevier County.

With these deep roots, it is no surprise that Parton released a statement Tuesday saying how hard the fires in and around Gatlinburg are hitting her emotionally.  "I am heartbroken," she said.

Unlike so many others who have a part of the lovely towns in their hearts and memories thanks to vacations there, however, Parton's name ensures she can do much, much more.

Last last night (11/30) she announced the creation of the "My People" Fund (named after a play, Dolly Parton's My People, that ran at the theme park).  The fund, she announced, will give $1,000 a month for six months to every family in the area who lost their homes to the wildfires.  

"We want to provide a hand up to those families who have lost everything in the fires," Parton said in a video released to Knoxville news stations.  "I know it has been a trying time for my people, and this assistance will help them back on their feet."

What can you say but "Wow."

Here's to Dolly!  Thanks for being a positive light in the world (not just the entertainment world).