Wednesday, February 21, 2018

It Is No Secret

Category: Obituary

You may be a little surprised to see a country music blog paying tribute to evangelist Billy Graham, but this is actually one of the best places to mention the late minister.

Dr. Graham died this morning (2/21) at his home in Charlotte, North Carolina.  Friends who appeared on TV station WCNC in Charlotte said that the minister had been in failing health, with "poor quality of life," for a number of years.

William Franklin Graham was born in 1918 Charlotte when Charlotte was more country than town.  He was raised on a dairy farm and knew hard work, growing up in the 1920s and into the Great Depression.  

He felt the calling into ministry and obeyed.  His first "crusade" was held in 1947 in Los Angeles, which is where his connection to country music also began.  Among the people attending his revival in a circus tent was Stuart Hamblin, who later wrote the country gospel classic "It Is No Secret."

Additionally, Graham appeared in a 1951 film, Mr. Texas, which he billed as "the first Christian western" movie.  The film co-starred Hall of Fame songwriter Cindy Walker.

As the popularity of television rose in the 50s and 60s Graham's multi-night crusades were carried on numerous television stations.  Among the country legends who frequently guested on the shows were Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash, Charlie Daniels, and Ricky Skaggs.  Cash, much like President George W. Bush, credited Graham's friendship with helping him overcome his addictions.

Billy Graham was 99.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Dates of Note in Country Music, February 16-28

Category: News

(Hall of Fame members in bold on birth/death date, followed by hall[s] of fame in which they are enshrined and the year enshrined.  CM=Country Music; BG=Bluegrass; NS=Nashville Songwriter; SG=Southern Gospel; StG=Steel Guitar; RR=country performer also inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame)

February 16:

Jimmy Wakely born in Mineola, Arkansas, 1914 (died 1982)
Jo-Walker Meador (CM 95) born in Orlinda, Tennessee, 1924 (died 2017)
Smiley Burnette (NS 71) died in Encino, California (leukemia), 1967 (was 55)

February 17:

Johnny Bush born in Houston, Texas, 1935 (now 83)
Buck Trent born in Spartanburg, South Carolina, 1938 (now 80)
Jon Randall born in Dallas, Texas, 1969 (now 49)
Bryan White born in Shellman, Georgia, 1974 (now 44)
Billy Byrd born in Nashville, Tennessee, 1920 (died 2001)
Gene Pitney born in Hartford, Connecticut, 1940 (died 2006). The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer recorded two albums of duets with George Jones.
Uncle Jimmy Thompson died in Laguardo, Tennessee (natural causes), 1931 (was 82)
Eck Robertson died in Borger, Texas (natural causes), 1975 (was 87)
Gus Hardin died near Claremore, Oklahoma (car wreck), 1996 (was 50)

February 18:

Juice Newton born in Lakehurst Naval Station, New Jersey, 1952 (now 66)
Dudley Connell born in Scheer, West Virginia, 1956 (now 62)
Julius Frank "Pee Wee" King (ne Kuczynski) (CM 74, NS 70) born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 1914 (died 2000)
Tootsie Bess, owner of Tootsie's Orchid Lounge, died in Nashville, Tennessee (cancer), 1978 (was 61)
Johnny Paycheck died in Nashville, Tennessee (emphysema), 2003 (was 64)

February 19:

Lorianne Crook born in Wichita, Kansas, 1957 (now 61)
Cedric Rainwater (real name: Howard Watts) (BG 07) born in Monticello, Florida, 1913 (died 1970)
Lowell Blanchard died in Knoxville, Tennessee (heart attack), 1968 (was 57)
Grandpa Jones (CM 78) died in Nashville, Tennessee (stroke), 1998 (was 84)
Porter Wagoner and Dolly Parton officially break up their act, 1974

February 20:

Kathie Baillie of Baillie & the Boys born in Morristown, New Jersey, 1951 (now 67)
Claire Lynch born in Albany, New York, 1954 (now 64)

February 21:

Mary-Chapin Carpenter born in Princeton, New Jersey, 1958 (now 60)
Don Reno (BG 92) born in Spartanburg, South Carolina, 1926 (died 1984)
Carl T. Sprague died in Bryan, Texas (unknown cause), 1979 (was 83)

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

February 22:

Del Wood born in Nashville, Tennessee, 1920 (died 1989)
George Younce of the Cathedrals (SG 98) born in Patterson, North Carolina, 1930 (died 2005)
Sonny James (CM 06) died in Nashville, Tennessee (natural causes), 2016 (was 87)
Johnny Cash asked June Carter to marry him onstage during a concert in London, Ontario, 1968

February 23:

Rusty Young of Poco born in Long Beach, California, 1946 (now 72)
Buck Griffin born in Corsicana, Texas, 1923 (died 2009)
Penny DeHaven died in Atlanta, Georgia (cancer), 2014 (was 65)
Minnie Pearl married Henry Cannon, 1947

February 24:

Little Roy Lewis of the Lewis Family (BG 06) born in Lincoln County, Georgia, 1942 (now 76)
Don Law (CM 01) born in London, England, 1902 (died 1982)
Webb Pierce (CM 01) died in Nashville, Tennessee (cancer), 1991 (was 69)
Goldie Hill Smith died in Nashville, Tennessee (cancer), 2005 (was 72)
Dinah Shore died in Beverly Hills, California (ovarian cancer), 1994 (was 77). The legendary pop singer and TV hostess was part of the family of live performers on WSM radio.

February 25:

Dr. Ralph Stanley (BG 92) born in Stratton, Virginia, 1927 (died 2016)
Faron Young (CM 00) born in Shreveport, Louisiana, 1932 (died 1996)

February 26:

Billy Jack Wills born in Hall County, Texas, 1926 (died 1991)
Johnny Cash (CM 80, NS 77, RR 92) born in Kingsland, Arkansas, 1932 (died 2003)
Jan Crutchfield born in Paducah, Kentucky, 1936 (died 2012)
Tim Wilson died in Commerce, Georgia (heart failure), 2014 (was 52)

February 27:

Chuck Glaser of the Glaser Brothers born in Spalding, Nebraska, 1936 (now 82)
Joe Carson died in Wichita Falls, Texas (car wreck), 1964 (was 27)
Walter Bailes died in Sevierville, Tennessee (various health problems), 2000 (was 80)

February 28:

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

Leap Day, February 29:

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

Monday, February 12, 2018

Daryle Singletary Dies

Category: News/Obituary 

Daryle Singletary, a "maverick" in that he dared to be true to country music in an era when most were moving toward a pop/rock feel in the 90s, has died.

Singletary died unexpectedly this morning (2/12) at his home in suburban Nashville.  He had performed in Louisiana over the weekend.

Born in Georgia in 1971, Daryle Singletary held fast to the traditions of country music at a time when it was difficult to do so.  In 2002 he released an album titled That's Why I Sing This Way, paying tribute to (and featuring) many of his music heroes such as Johnny Paycheck, George Jones, and Merle Haggard.

After years of struggling Singletary finally scored a hit in the mid-90s with "I Let Her Lie," which was a throwback to the more traditional country songs that had been swept aside.  Singletary didn't change his style once he became successful, continuing with other hits such as "Amen Kind of Love" (his highest-charting single) and "The Note," echoing greats of the past such as Lefty Frizzell and Keith Whitley.

Although he hadn't had a charted record since 2002 Singletary continued to record and perform, remaining a favorite with traditionalists and fans.  Last year he recorded a duet album with bluegrass queen Rhonda Vincent, American Grandstand.  Vincent told No Depression in an interview about the collaboration, "Daryle is one of the greatest singers, and I love to sing with him whenever I have the opportunity."

Survivors include Singletary's wife, four children, and his parents.  Plus, a lot of country music fans.

Daryle Singletary was just 46.

Daryle and Rhonda performing "After the Fire is Gone":

Friday, February 09, 2018

I Don't Have to Hang My Head Over Things I Wish I'd Said

Category: Personal

If you've noticed, I haven't been the busiest beaver on this blog in the past year or so.  There's a reason:  my dad's health began taking the inevitable downward spiral that those in their late 80s face.  

Today (2/9) that downward spiral ended at about 2 AM, peacefully in a southern Indiana nursing home.  (Ironically, he was scheduled to be released later today.)  He had so many issues, from dementia to renal failure to congestive heart failure, that it would be difficult for me as a layperson to guess a cause of death.

Samuel Raizor gave me more than an unusual last name and a big brother whom I still admire with that kid sister hero-worship mentality.  Born in the early part of the Depression, in 1930, my dad grew up knowing hard work.  As a child, I remember taking trips to his dad's and brother's farms to hang tobacco (this is Kentucky, remember), quite the laborious chore.  As I came along he put up chain link fences as his primary job.  He was also in the Kentucky National Guard.

What I have firmly engrained in my DNA from my father is a love of country music.  And I mean country music.  If you notice on the bi-monthly list of birthdays and death dates, there's hardly a newer mainstream country act listed.  That's because my dad would have told you that their music, in the words of Bob at the Country Bunker in The Blues Brothers, "ain't no Hank Williams song!"  And I heartily concur.

Dad got to see all the big acts who came through Louisville in the 40s and 50s, when they'd play at the old Armory.  He saw a raw Faron Young, he told me once, and said he knew almost immediately that Faron would become big.  

Our relationship, admittedly, was -- as the Facebook status says -- complicated.  Certainly it wasn't anything on the order of what the great songwriter Rodney Crowell detailed in his book Chinaberry Sidewalks, but we had our moments.  Fences were broken and the bridges were burned more than once in our lives, and yet love and time allowed new bridges and new fences.  Despite the fact that we had "issues" (and it's a rare person in this world who doesn't have them with one or both parents at one point in their lives), I can sit here today and thank God that I never feared some of the horrible things that fathers do to their children (daughters especially) these days.

I also thank God that we did have the opportunities to mend those fences and rebuild those bridges.  As Crowell wrote in "Things I Wish I'd Said," the touching song about his father's death:

And I thank my lucky stars
We had a chance to heal our scars
Now I don't have to hang my head
Over things I wish I'd said.

Samuel Raizor was 87.