Thursday, January 31, 2019

Just Running Scared

Category: News/Obituary

The Country Music Hall of Fame has suffered its second loss in January with the death of Harold Bradley.

The legendary A Team session guitarist, who played on thousands of sessions, died Thursday morning (1/31) in his sleep, according to his daughter's post on Facebook.

Harold Ray Bradley was, is, and ever shall be a "musician's musician."  Born in Nashville, he served in the Navy in World War II before majoring in music at Peabody College.  His first instrument was banjo, but brother and fellow Hall of Fame inductee Owen (they are the only brothers in the Hall of Fame not inducted as a performing act) convinced him to switch to guitar.

The music world was better for it.  Bradley's guitar work ranged from simple, subtle rhythm on songs like Roy Orbison's classic hit "Running Scared" to the driving rhythm of Don Gibson's "Sea of Heartbreak."  Whether it was country, pop (he did sessions with the likes of Paul Anka, Perry Como, and Ann-Margaret), rock (Elvis, Orbison, Leon Russell), or R&B (Brook Benton, Ivory Joe Hunter), Harold Bradley's work was exactly what a song needed, and nothing more.

In addition to his work as a session man, Harold and Owen were producers (although Owen was the far more successful of the two in that regard) and businessmen.  In 1954 the two opened the Bradley Film and Recording Studio.  That became internationally known as "The Quonset Hut," and it changed both country music (with the "Nashville Sound") and the area where it was located (16th Avenue), transforming it into "Music Row."

Owen Bradley, who died in January 1998, was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1974.  Harold's induction came in 2006 in recognition for his long, illustrious career as one of country music's most consistent session men.

Harold Bradley was a longtime friend of the International Country Music Conference.  I was honored to meet him on a number of occasions when he served as a panelist for Studio B keynote sessions that focused on the great history of country music that happened in that studio, and in Nashville in general.  One of my most treasured memories was when he sat on the piano bench, cradling his guitar, and moderator and Country Music Foundation librarian John Rumble played "Running Scared," the great Roy Orbison song that Bradley had provided the guitar work for in 1960.  In the studio, as the recorded version began to play, Bradley strummed along with the work he had created 50 years earlier.  

Farewell to the great Harold Bradley, who was 93.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

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, GLA 97) born in Brownie, Kentucky, 1937 (now 82)
Del McCoury (BG 11) born in Bakersville, North Carolina, 1939 (now 80)

Tom Gray of the Country Gentlemen (BG 96) born in Chicago, Illinois, 1941 (now 78)
Lisa Marie Presley born in Memphis, Tennessee, 1968 (now 51)

Jason Isbell born in Green Hill, Alabama, 1979 (now 40)
Ray Sawyer of Dr. Hook born in Chicksaw, Alabama, 1937 (died 2018)
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 73)
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 83). 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 55)
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; GLA 97) 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 57)
Chris McDaniel of Confederate Railroad born in Rock Springs, Georgia, 1965 (now 54)
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 48)

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)

George McCormick died in Cookeville, Tennessee (natural causes), 2018 (was 84)

February 6:

Dale Reno of the Reno Brothers born in Roanoke, Virginia, 1961 (now 58)
Richie McDonald of Lonestar born in Lubbock, Texas, 1962 (now 57)
Anita Cochran born in Pontiac, Michigan, 1967 (now 52)

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 76)
Garth Brooks (CM 12, NS 11) born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, 1962 (now 57)
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 56)
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 72)
Travis Tritt born in Marietta, Georgia, 1963 (now 56)
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 85)

Wesley Rose (CM 86) born in Chicago, Illinois, 1918 (died 1980)
Kim Williams (NS 12) died in Panama City, Florida (unknown cause), 2016 (was 68)

February 12:

Moe Bandy born in Meridian, Mississippi, 1944 (now 75)
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)
Daryle Singletary died in Nashville, Tennessee (heart attack), 2018 (was 46)

February 13:

David McLaughlin of the Johnson Mountain Boys born in Washington, DC, 1958 (now 61)
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 84)

Razzy Bailey born in Five Points, Alabama, 1939 (now 80)
Bill Nowlin (BG 16), co-founder of Rounder Records, born in Boston, Massachusetts, 1945 (now 74)
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 21, 2019

The Three Bells Ring No More

Category: News/Obituary

Back in the late 2000s I saw Jim Ed Brown at the Midnite Jamboree.  At the autograph/meet & greet after the show I told Jim Ed how much I wished the Browns would get inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. 

Brown smiled shyly, then said, "Well, if they're gonna do it, I wish they'd do it soon, because Maxine's health isn't good."

Who would know that Maxine Brown, the eldest of the singing trio that finally got that Hall of Fame induction in 2015, would outlive her two performing siblings.  Today comes the sad word that Maxine Brown has joined her famous brother and sister in death.  Maxine passed away today (1/21) in a Little Rock hospice with her family at her side.  She had been suffering from heart and kidney issues.

Maxine, along with younger brother Jim Edward, burst onto the country music scene in 1954 with a song that they wrote inspired by their youngest sister, Norma, excitedly trying to explain something to them and getting her words jumbled up.  That song was "Looking Back to See."  In addition to becoming the first brick in the road that would lead the Browns to the Country Music Hall of Fame "Looking Back to See" became one of the more popular songs for duos to record, with acts such as Justin Tubb and Goldie Hill and Buck Owens and Susan Raye also scoring charted hits with the song.  (The rhythm guitarist on the Browns' recording was Jim Ed's friend and Abbott Records label mate, Jim Reeves.  Reeves would later successfully lobby RCA Victor to sign the Browns.)

After Bonnie graduated from high school she joined her older siblings and "The Browns" became the legendary trio that we remember.  While there were many pit stops along the way in the 1950s (most notably, Jim Ed's Army service), the trio built a career with songs such as "I Heard the Bluebirds Sing" and the Ira and Charlie Louvin composition "I Take the Chance."

L-R: Jim Ed, Maxine, and Bonnie Brown celebrate the
anniversary of "The Three Bells" in 2009.
c. 2019 K.F. Raizor

With the advent of rock and roll in the mid 50s the Browns' career waned significantly, along with many other country stars.  They were about to call it a career when they recorded "The Three Bells."  From there, the floundering career soared to new heights, with the song topping country, easy listening, and "hot 100" charts.

In the mid-60s the family career ended, with Maxine singing lead on their final single release, "Big Daddy."  Bonnie and Maxine left to be with their young families, while Jim Ed continued with a successful solo and duet (Helen Cornelius) career.

The Browns would reunite on occasion at the Grand Ole Opry, including one memorable weekend in 2009, when the 50th anniversary of the release of "The Three Bells" was celebrated.  

In 2005 Maxine penned a bestselling autobiography, Looking Back to See, about her career in country music, focusing on the trials of performing in the 50s.  The book won the Ella Dickey Literary Award.

Shortly after the 2015 announcement that the Browns were being inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame Jim Ed died of lung cancer.  At the medallion ceremony later that year Bonnie announced that she, too, had lung cancer (although she never smoked).  She passed away two weeks before her birthday in 2016.

And so closes the book on another legendary country music act.  The three bells -- Jim Ed, Maxine, and Bonnie -- ring no more on earth.  Oh, what a legacy they left us.

Maxine Brown was 87.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

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; GLA=Grammy Lifetime Achievement recipient; RR=also inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame)

January 16:

Ronnie Milsap (CM 14) born in Robbinsville, North Carolina, 1943 (now 76)
Jim Stafford born in Eloise, Florida, 1944 (now 75)
Sandy Pinkard of Pinkard & Bowden born in Abbeville, Louisiana, 1947 (now 72)

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 64)

Amanda Wilkinson of the Wilkinsons born in Belleville, Ontario, 1982 (now 37)
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 81)
Mark Collie born in Waynesboro, Tennessee, 1956 (now 63)

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)
Glenn Frey died in New York, New York (pneumonia/complications of ulcerative colitis surgery), 2016 (was 67)

January 19:

Stu Phillips born in Montreal, Quebec, 1933 (now 86)
Dolly Parton (CM 99, NS 86; GLA 11) born in Locast Ridge, Tennessee, 1946 (now 73)
Stephanie Davis born in Bridger, Montana, 1958 (now 61)
Dennie Crouch of the Nashville Bluegrass Band born in Strawberry, Arkansas, 1967 (now 42)
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; GLA 97) 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 54)

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 77)
Jim Ibbottson of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1947 (now 72)

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 70)

Teddy Gentry (CM 05) born in Fort Payne, Alabama, 1952 (now 67)
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 57)
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.

Curtis Potter died in Abilene, Texas (pneumonia), 2016 (was 75)
Lari White died in Nashville, Tennessee (cancer), 2018 (was 52)
The Winter Dance Party began in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 1959. Three of the headliners, Buddy Holly, J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson, and Ritchie Valens, would die 11 days later.

January 24:

Doug Kershaw born in Tiel Ridge, Louisiana, 1936 (now 83)
Jack Scott born in Windsor, Ontario, 1936 (now 83)
Ray Stevens (NS 80) born in Clarksdale, Georgia, 1939 (now 80)
Becky Hobbs born in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, 1950 (now 69)
Keech Rainwater of Lonestar born in Plano, Texas, 1963 (now 56)

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 87)
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:

Lucinda Williams born in Lake Charles, Louisiana, 1953 (now 66)

Clayton McMichen born in Allatoona, Georgia, 1900 (died 1970)
James O'Gwynn born in Winchester, Mississippi, 1928 (died 2011)
Dave Rowland of Dave & Sugar born in Sanger, California, 1942 (died 2018)
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 66)
Cheryl White of the Whites born in Wichita Falls, Texas, 1955 (now 64)
Richard Young of the Kentucky Headhunters born in Glasgow, Kentucky, 1955 (now 64)
Tracy Lawrence born in Atlanta, Texas, 1968 (now 51)
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 54)
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 75)
Irlene Mandrell of the Mandrell Sisters born in Corpus Christi, Texas, 1957 (now 62)

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 82)
Norma Jean ("Pretty Miss Norma Jean") born in Wellston, Oklahoma, 1938 (now 81)

Jerry Bradley born in Nashville, Tennessee, 1940 (now 79)
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 55)
Warren Smith died in Longview, Texas (heart attack), 1981 (was 47)

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

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Does Fort Worth Ever Cross Your Mind

Category: News/Obituary

One of the things that has made George Strait such an enduring figure in country music is his ability to find the great songs by the great songwriters.  He did that with "Does Fort Worth Ever Cross Your Mind;" and, later, "All My Ex's Live in Texas."

The songwriter responsible for those songs, Sanger D. "Whitey" Shafer, died yesterday (1/12) after an illness.  His wife, Tracy, was at the funeral for her mother when Shafer passed, according to songwriting friend Corey Frizzell's Instagram post.

After serving in the Army, Sanger D. Shafer worked odd jobs and decided, finally, to move to Nashville, home of his favorite type of music.  He met other songwriters, including "Doodle" Owens and Dallas Frazier, and began writing songs.  The first major success was when George Jones recorded "Tell Me My Lying Eyes Are Wrong" in 1970, soon followed by Johnny Russell recording what has since become a country gospel classic, "The Baptism of Jesse Taylor."

A longtime Lefty Frizzell fan, Shafer struck up a friendship with the legendary singer.  Their collaborations included two of the most enduring songs of the 70s: "That's the Way Love Goes" (originally a hit for Johnny Rodriguez), and "I Never Go Around Mirrors," one of Frizzell's final top 40 country hits.

Shafer went through a series of divorces, leading to songs such as "Does Fort Worth Ever Cross Your Mind" and "All My Ex's Live in Texas."  George Strait turned both into country gold.  Another one of Sanger's heartbreak songs, "I Wonder Do You Think of Me," was a posthumous hit for Keith Whitley in 1989.

In 1989 Shafer was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters' Hall of Fame.  His songs continued to be covered by the greats, the up-and-comers, the local musicians, and anyone who appreciated a great song.

Whitey Shafer was 84.