Diane’s Country Music Newsletter — 15 February 2017

February 15th, 2017

Before calling Larry Cordle last week for an interview, I checked his website. His bio said he’d spent four years in the Navy. When I asked him what he’d done in the Navy, he said, “I was an aviation electrician in a squadron called VP-16.” I exclaimed. “I was in VP-16!” He’d been a P-3C flight engineer, and I was a maintenance officer. He left Patrol Squadron Sixteen in 1972, ten years before my arrival. Read the rest of this entry »

Diane’s Country Music Newsletter — 1 February 2017

February 1st, 2017

At the Grand Ole Opry on January 21, Loretta Lynn inducted little sister Crystal Gayle as an Opry member, fifty years after Crystal made her Opry debut. At age 16, she had sung the Marty Robbins hit, “Ribbon of Darkness.” Loretta said, “It was the greatest moment of my life when they made me a member of the Grand Ole Opry in 1962. I know she is just as happy as I was then.” Read the rest of this entry »

Diane’s Country Music Newsletter — 18 January 2017

January 18th, 2017

Roni Stoneman is recovering from her October knee replacement surgery. All those years of carrying around a 30-pound banjo had damaged it. She was back on the stage for the first time on New Year’s Eve when she and sister Donna hosted the Ernest Tubb Midnite Jamboree. After three months of physical therapy, her therapist had told her, “You don’t have to come back anymore.” When I called her last week, she was resting at home. Read the rest of this entry »

Diane’s Country Music Newsletter — 4 January 2017

January 4th, 2017

George Edwards (1937-2016)
Sherie Edwards reports the death of her father, George Edwards, on December 29, in Hendersonville, Tennessee, following a brief illness and 16 years after a stroke. “He loved playing steel guitar almost as much as he loved his family,” she wrote on the Steel Guitar Forum, “and his steel guitar friends all over the world were a big part of his life.” George Dungan Edwards IV was born in Philadelphia 79½ years ago. He learned to play steel guitar at age 12 and became a professional musician, touring with Kitty Wells for 25 years. Other bands included those of Faron Young and Hank Williams, Jr. Read the rest of this entry »

Diane’s Country Music Newsletter – 21 December 2016

December 21st, 2016

Gordie Tapp (1922-2016)
CBC-Radio Canada reports the death of Canadian radio and television entertainer and former CBC broadcaster Gordie Tapp, 94. The Hee Haw country bumpkin Cousin Clem died December 18 in hospital, surrounded by family and friends. Born in 1922 in London, Ontario, Gordie hosted the CBC variety show Country Hoedown for 13 years in the 1950s and 1960s before moving to Nashville to work for CBS-TV on Hee Haw. He retired to LaSalle Retirement Home in Burlington, Ontario, with his wife Helen, and continued to perform until a month ago–on cruise ships, charity shows, and at local retirement homes. Read the rest of this entry »

Diane’s Country Music Newsletter – 7 December 2016

December 7th, 2016

It’s been 34 years since a heart attack took Marty Robbins on December 8, 1982. Twenty years ago we heard the shocking news that Faron Young had shot himself; he died December 10, 1996. We miss them both, remember them fondly, and never tire of listening to their music.

Mark Eugene Gray (1952-2016)
Songwriter and former member of the group Exile, Mark Gray, died December 2 in Lebanon, Tennessee, at age 64. No cause of death has been reported. He joined Exile in 1979, where he and J.P. Pennington co-wrote two Alabama hits, “Take Me Down” and “The Closer You Get.” He co-wrote “It Ain’t Easy Being Easy” for Janie Fricke and had 190 songs as a BMI songwriter. He and Tammy Wynette recorded the duet, “Sometimes When We Touch.” Read the rest of this entry »

Diane’s Country Music Newsletter — 23 November 2016

November 23rd, 2016

Holly Dunn (1957-2016)
Holly Dunn, 59, died November 14 in a hospice facility in Albuquerque, New Mexico, surrounded by family and friends. She’d sent me this email on April 6th: “I have some unfortunate news to report, and I do so only because I believe in the power of prayer and hope to stir up more prayer warriors on my behalf. I was recently diagnosed with stage 3 ovarian cancer. I am currently recovering from surgery and the doctors feel that they removed all they could find. I will have to undergo 6 months of chemo treatments just in case they missed something. I start the treatments in about a month. I would appreciate any prayers and positive thoughts my music family can send my way!” In August, she wrote, “I’m doing very well and am hopefully at the end of the chemo. My last scan showed no detectable disease.” Read the rest of this entry »

Diane’s Country Music Newsletter — 9 November 2016

November 9th, 2016

“Things are kind of quiet with us right now,” Jack Blanchard told me last week over the phone. “We’re not doing any traveling.” Jack and his wife, Misty Morgan, are best known for their 1970 hit, “Tennessee Birdwalk.” They aren’t touring right now because they haven’t found an agent to put together a tour that would bring in money. The many requests they get are usually for single shows and at too far a distance to make the trip worthwhile.

“We have 5000 people on our Facebook page,” Jack says, “and I try to keep them entertained.” He is currently working on a book, a compilation of the columns he’s been writing since 1967. He has 600 columns he’s trying to arrange and edit. “We’re trying to whittle it down to what Misty and I think are the best ones,” he says. When he’s finished, the book will be “funny and deep and spooky, and mixed in will be our biography.” I forgot to ask if he has a title. Read the rest of this entry »

Diane’s Country Music Newsletter — 26 October 2016

October 26th, 2016

Bobby Vee (1943-2016)
Robert Velline, 73, known as Bobby Vee, died October 24 of advanced Alzheimer’s disease, the Associated Press reports. Born in Fargo, North Dakota, he was 15 when a plane crash in Iowa killed Buddy Holly, and a call went out for local acts to do the scheduled show at the Moorhead National Guard Armory. Bobby’s brand new band volunteered. The emcee asked their name, Bobby glanced at his bandmates, saw their shadows on the floor, and said, “The Shadows.” In the following years, his hits included, “Take Good Care of My Baby,” “Run to Him,” “Rubber Ball,” and “The Night Has A Thousand Eyes.” He performed his retirement show in 2011, without announcing his recent diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. Read the rest of this entry »

Diane’s Country Music Newsletter — 12 October 2016

October 12th, 2016

Al Dean (1931-2016)
Al Dean, 85, leader of Al Dean & the All Stars, passed away in hospice care in San Antonio, Texas, on October 3. “Al had been battling cancer,” Heart of Texas Records president Tracy Pitcox announced. Al formed his first band in 1952 and played dances all over Texas. He is best known for “Cotton Eyed Joe,” an old fiddle tune he recorded in 1967. “It was a song I heard as a kid,” he once said in an interview. “I had a cowboy from South Texas come up to me and ask if I knew ‘Cotton Eyed Joe.’ I said I did, but I had not sung it in years. We sat down and taught the guys in my band, note for note, how I remembered the ‘Cotton Eyed Joe.’” Dancers began requesting the song, and it inspired a new dance. “It started to spread from there and now everyone does the ‘Cotton Eyed Joe,'” Al said. The song became a standard all over the United States and brought fame to Al Dean and the All Stars. Read the rest of this entry »