Author Archive

Diane’s Country Music Newsletter — 2 June 2021

Wednesday, June 2nd, 2021


B.J. Thomas, 78, died May 29 at his home in Arlington, Texas, two months after announcing he had been diagnosed with lung cancer. Best known for “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head,” he also had hits with songs such as “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry,” “Hooked on a Feeling,” “(Hey Won’t You Play) Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song,” and “New Looks from an Old Lover.” Born Billy Joe Thomas in Hugo, Oklahoma, he grew up in Houston, where he played Little League baseball. He started calling himself B.J. because so many of his teammates were named Billy Joe.


Diane’s Country Music Newsletter — 19 May 2021

Wednesday, May 19th, 2021


After Mary Lorefice in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, asked me what Lionel Cartwright is doing these days, I decided to track him down. We had an enjoyable half-hour phone chat. Like Mary, I remember hearing on my radio “I Watched It All (On My Radio).” Lionel’s #1 hit was “Leap of Faith” in 1991. He explained to me how dropping off the charts after having several hits eventually moved his life in a different direction. “I’ve just always gone through the doors that would open,” he says.

Lionel, now 61, got his start on the WWVA Jamboree in his hometown of Wheeling, West Virginia, as piano player in the staff band when he was eighteen. He later became the band leader and music director. When I mentioned that Brad Paisley got his start there, too, Lionel said, “Yeah, Brad Paisley and I are not only from the same town, we’re from the same hill in the same town. His dad was our phys-ed teacher in high school. Mr. Paisley.”


Diane’s Country Music Newsletter — 5 May 2021

Wednesday, May 5th, 2021


Waiting for a phone call from Don Reid last week was one of my most nervous times in planning an interview. Hearing the voice on the phone that I’ve heard on Statler Brothers records and shows for half a century felt otherworldly: “Diane, this is Don Reid. How are you doing this morning, out west?”

He was calling from his lifelong home of Staunton, Virginia. We talked about his newest book, The Music of The Statler Brothers: An Anthology. His sons, Debo and Langdon, had encouraged him for a long time to write such a book. “I didn’t know what I had to say,” he told me. “But then I got into it and realized I had more to say than I thought I did. It was a joy to write.” He’d kept notes every day of all their years of touring, “and not knowing why,” he explained. “I guess this is when I found out why I was doing it.”


Diane’s Country Music Newsletter — 21 April 2021

Wednesday, April 21st, 2021


When I called Dottsy at her home in Seguin, Texas, last week, she told me, “At age 68, I’m still singing and playing guitar and being able to be part of my community, and that’s really great.” Fans will remember her hits from the late 1970s, such as “I’ll Be Your San Antone Rose” and “(After Sweet Memories) Play Born to Lose Again.” We met during the Heart of Texas Country Music Festival in Brady last month.

Dottsy and her husband, Robin Dwyer, are both fifth generation Seguinites. They started dating when they were fourteen, dated for fourteen years, and got married at age 28. She had a record deal with RCA and was on the road while he was in law school. They got married when he graduated from law school. They’ll celebrate their fortieth anniversary in June. “We’ve been together for a lifetime,” she says.


Diane’s Country Music Newsletter — 7 April 2021

Wednesday, April 7th, 2021


For more than a decade, I’ve wanted to go to Texas to attend a Jody Nix dance. That finally happened when Kayo and I flew to Dallas and drove to Brady for Tracy Pitcox’s 32nd Heart of Texas Country Music Festival. We attended the final four days of the nine-day festival, which drew a crowd of 3,800 people from 19 states. We arrived in such a downpour I could barely see the lines on the road while driving into town. Someone later thanked us for bringing the rain, because it had been so dry.


Diane’s Country Music Newsletter — 24 March 2021

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2021


The Texas Rangers paid tribute to Charley Pride by naming a field at their spring training complex after him, reports Rolling Stone. “Introducing Charley Pride Field! You are greatly missed,” the team tweeted after unveiling the “Charley Pride Field” signage at the spring training site in Surprise, Arizona. Charley died December 12 from complications related to COVID-19. He was part of the ownership group that purchased the Texas Rangers in 2010, and he frequently visited the team at the spring training facility. He sang the National Anthem last July at the first game on the Rangers’ new Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas. The stadium was empty due to coronavirus restrictions.

Larry Gatlin tested positive for COVID-19 on March 8, soon after receiving his second vaccination. “I made it 361 days without getting the virus,” he told Fox News. “Then I finally get it four days after getting my second dose of Moderna. What are the odds?” (more…)

Diane’s Country Music Newsletter –10 March 2021

Wednesday, March 10th, 2021


Steel guitarist Ron Hogan is one of the plankowners of my newsletter list. He has been there since its beginning in 2005. I had interviewed him about his brief stint, during the summer of 1981, as one of Faron Young’s Country Deputies. While we’ve had email exchanges over the years, we caught up this past weekend during a phone call. He works for Cerner Corporation, the biggest medical software company in the world, as an “electronics guy” who maintains medical equipment in hospitals. He also plays two steel guitar gigs per week, working in three different bands in Nashville.


Diane’s Country Music Newsletter –24 February 2021

Wednesday, February 24th, 2021


When I read on the Steel Guitar Forum that legendary steel guitarist Lloyd Green was home recovering after major heart surgery, I decided to give him a call. It was good timing. He answered the phone, I asked how he was doing, and he said, “Today’s one of the first days I’ve been able to actually talk. This is the first time I’ve answered the phone when it rang.”


Diane’s Country Music Newsletter –10 February 2021

Wednesday, February 10th, 2021


When Narvel Felts, 82, called me last week, after Dallas Wayne arranged our phone interview, I asked what he’s been doing to stay busy. “Right now, I’m pretty close to the house,” he said. He goes to the grocery store and Walmart once a week. He and his wife, Loretta, receive a weekly visit from their daughter, Stacia. “Every few days, on a pretty day,” he told me, “I’ll take Loretta for a drive. I enjoy driving Miss Loretta.” They will celebrate their 58th wedding anniversary on April 30.


Diane’s Country Music Newsletter — 27 January 2021

Wednesday, January 27th, 2021


When I called Howard Bellamy for a chat, he was enjoying the 70-degree weather and the sunshine in Florida while I was waiting for a blizzard in South Dakota. He told me we Dakotans should come to Florida. He lives on the Bellamy family ranch near Darby, just north of Tampa. About forty years ago, he and younger brother David both built houses on the ranch. Their nephew lives in the original house where the brothers grew up, and that’s also where they have their offices.