Archive for December, 2017

Diane’s Country Music Newsletter — 20 December 2017

Wednesday, December 20th, 2017

Leon Rhodes (1932-2017)
The last early member of Ernest Tubb’s Texas Troubadour band has died. Leon Rhodes, 85, died December 9 at his Nashville area home. By age 16, the young Texan was already gaining acclaim for his precision guitar playing in the Big D Jamboree band. Lefty Frizzell and Ray Price hired him to play on their Texas sessions, before he joined Ernest Tubb in 1960, as lead guitarist with the Texas Troubadours. In 1966, he left the road to be an Opry staff musician. He stayed there until 2003, when management fired the legendary players in an attempt to update the Opry image and attract a younger audience. Leon also served as a session musician and spent 25 years in the Hee Haw house band. In 2014, he was profiled as one of the Nashville Cats by the Country Music Hall of Fame. His funeral was held December 12 in Old Hickory, Tennessee. (more…)

Diane’s Country Music Newsletter — 6 December 2017

Wednesday, December 6th, 2017

When I called Ernie Reed, it was the day after Mel Tillis’s funeral and burial in Clarksville, Tennessee. “I was glad when yesterday ended,” he told me. The funeral was a private event for family, friends, and Mel’s band, the Statesiders. Ernie had known Mel for 50 years, having first played in the band in 1967. I asked if he’d seen Mel recently. “I saw him in the hospital here in Nashville,” he said. “He weighed about 120 pounds.” Mel was sleeping, so Ernie sat in a chair and waited. When Mel awoke and saw Ernie, his first words were, “We need some bookings.” Ernie responded, “When you get out of that bed, we’ll get some bookings.” (more…)