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 »

Diane’s Country Music Newsletter – 28 September 2016

September 28th, 2016

Martin David Robinson was born September 26, 1925, in a shack on the desert at the edge of Glendale, Arizona. When he died of a heart attack in 1982, he was a 57-year-old country music star known as Marty Robbins. Now, on what would have been his 91st birthday, his hometown finally acknowledged its native son by renaming a street in his honor. The Glendale City Council held a ceremony the afternoon of September 26 at Murphy Park to unveil the new street sign and rename a one-mile stretch of Glendale Avenue. The new Marty Robbins Boulevard extends from 51st to 59th Avenues, through the heart of Glendale’s historic downtown and near the former ice cream shop where Marty met his future wife, Marizona. KPHO/KTVK reports Ronny Robbins, Marty’s son, as saying, “His memory will be around for a long time. His motto was, ‘I’d like to be remembered as a good entertainer or as a good person, and I’d rather be a good person.’ He just hoped people would not forget him.” Read the rest of this entry »

Diane’s Country Music Newsletter – 14 September 2016

September 14th, 2016

Hoot Hester (1951-2016)
Hubert Dwane “Hoot” Hester, a founding member of The Time Jumpers band and fiddle player with the Grand Ole Opry staff band, died of cancer on August 30. Born on a small Kentucky farm, he spent 43 of his 65 years making music in Nashville. In addition to being a session musician, he was a regular on television shows such as Pop Goes the Country, and he was the fiddler in the Nashville Now house band. Read the rest of this entry »

Diane’s Country Music Newsletter – 31 August 2016

August 31st, 2016

Country Music Nation reports, “Only one day after her 59th birthday, we have some heartbreaking news to report about Holly Dunn. The country music icon has been diagnosed with cancer.” The article then quotes from a June 19 interview with Hallels and adds, “News about it didn’t really start circulating until August 22. Country Aircheck confirmed the news, saying Dunn has been diagnosed with ovarian cancer and is currently undergoing chemotherapy treatments in New Mexico, where she lives.” But I’d emailed Holly a birthday greeting on August 22, and she responded with, “Thanks Diane! I’m doing very well and am hopefully at the end of the chemo. My last scan showed no detectable disease. God is good! Holly.” Read the rest of this entry »

Diane’s Country Music Newsletter – 17 August 2016

August 17th, 2016

Sherwin Linton is running for President of the United States. His slogan is “You Do Have a Choice” and his platform is “Stop Child Abuse.” He ran once before, in 1980, during the Reagan-Carter faceoff. Although not on the ballot, he received more than thirty write-in votes in his home state of South Dakota. Read the rest of this entry »

Diane’s Country Music Newsletter – 3 August 2016

August 3rd, 2016

TG Sheppard reported on Facebook that last week’s “Stars Behind The Stars” benefit for the Dallas Police raised over $148,000. He posted this photo of himself and Randy Travis: Read the rest of this entry »