Diane’s Country Music Newsletter — 1 July 2020

July 1st, 2020

IN THE SPOTLIGHT – RAY BENSON

It’s been fifty years since Ray Benson dropped out of college at age 18 to form a band. When we connected last week for a phone conversation, and I asked him to summarize the early days, he told me, “I was in college and realized I was not going to continue, so I got two friends of mine who had the same idea.” They worked as caretakers at an old apple and peach orchard outside of Paw Paw, West Virginia, in exchange for a place to live, while putting their band together. They lived in a 125-year-old log cabin that had been a stage stop in the 1800s. After several years of playing in little bars and honky tonks in West Virginia, they moved Asleep at the Wheel to California, where they got a record deal and then moved to Texas. Read the rest of this entry »

Diane’s Country Music Newsletter — 17 June 2020

June 17th, 2020

NEWS

Katherine Williams-Dunning, 27, daughter of Hank Williams Jr., was killed in a single-vehicle accident on June 13. Country Now reports she was driving a 2007 Chevrolet Tahoe and towing a boat southbound on Highway 79 near Paris, Tennessee. At 7:44 p.m., her SUV crossed the median, rolled over on the northbound lanes and stopped on the east shoulder. She died at the scene. Her husband, Tyler Dunning, 29, was airlifted to Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville. Katie was the youngest of Hank Jr.’s five children.

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Diane’s Country Music Newsletter — 3 June 2020

June 3rd, 2020

IN THE SPOTLIGHT – JERRY KENNEDY

It had been a few years since I last talked to Jerry Kennedy, who produced Faron Young’s Mercury records. They both grew up in Shreveport, Louisiana. When I got in touch with him last week, it was an enjoyable catch-up conversation. “I hope you know how much I enjoy the Tuesday letters from you,” he told me. “They’re of great interest.” He’s one of my original subscribers.

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Diane’s Country Music Newsletter — 20 May 2020

May 20th, 2020

NEWS

BookAuthority’s “81 Best Country Music Books of All Time” lists the 2019 Randy Travis memoir, Forever and Ever, Amen as its number one choice. Number four is 2016’s Whisperin’ Bill Anderson: An Unprecedented Life in Country Music. Imagine my surprise to find this title at number fourteen: Twentieth Century Drifter: The Life of Marty Robbins. It’s also number 8 of 46 on the ebook list. Read the rest of this entry »

Diane’s Country Music Newsletter — 6 May 2020

May 6th, 2020

NEWS

A second member of my favorite singing group, the Statler Brothers, is gone. Harold Reid, 80, died at home in Staunton, Virginia, on April 24, following a long battle with kidney failure. In 1964, the Statler Brothers (Harold, brother Don Reid, Lew DeWitt, and Phil Balsley) drove to Roanoke to see Johnny Cash in concert. Without having heard them perform, Johnny asked them to open an upcoming show. He then pushed for their record deal with Columbia Records. The first Statler Brothers hit, “Flowers on the Wall,” earned two Grammy Awards. Jimmy Fortune replaced Lou DeWitt in the early 1980s; DeWitt died in 1990. The Statler Brothers Show aired for seven seasons on The Nashville Network (TNN) in the 1990s. The Statler Brothers were inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2008. Read the rest of this entry »

Diane’s Country Music Newsletter — 22 April 2020

April 22nd, 2020

IN THE SPOTLIGHT – BILL ANDERSON

When I checked in with Bill Anderson last week, he told me, “I’ve got a three-point thing I’ve been trying to do: Stay in, stay safe, and stay sane. I’m doing pretty good on the first two; I don’t know how I’m doing on the last one.”

Bill is working on his fourth book, following two autobiographies and his 1993 comedy book. This is a follow-up to “I Hope You’re Living as High on the Hog as the Pig You Turned Out To Be.”  He is spending this pandemic at-home time putting stories together. Read the rest of this entry »

Diane’s Country Music Newsletter — 8 April 2020

April 8th, 2020

IN THE SPOTLIGHT – TERRY SMITH

The best $100 Terry Smith ever spent was for a 12-cassette course by Peter C. Knickles, called Doing Music and Nothing Else. He purchased it about the time he retired from teaching in 1996. The course “covered the music business from A to Z,” Terry told me during our telephone conversation on Monday. “I did not do everything he suggested, but one of the things he said–and I have followed this religiously–he said, if people buy your product, get their name and address, and when you get home, send them a thank you letter.” Read the rest of this entry »

Diane’s Country Music Newsletter — 25 March 2020

March 25th, 2020

NEWS

Kenny Rogers (1938-2020)

On March 20, Kenny Rogers, 81, died peacefully at home while in hospice care. He was surrounded by his family, Variety reports. Due to the national COVID-19 emergency, the family will hold a small private service now and a public memorial at a later date. Read the rest of this entry »

Diane’s Country Music Newsletter — 11 March 2020

March 11th, 2020

IN THE SPOTLIGHT – JEANNIE SEELY

“I’m so proud of this area of Nashville, that people are all pulling together to help each other,” Jeannie Seely told me when I called her last week. “The tornado has left such destruction here, and such heartache.” She knows of what she speaks. She lost all her possessions when the flood in May 2010 destroyed her home on the Cumberland River. “Coming ten years after the flood,” she says, “it brought back so many memories to a lot of us. This seemed to hit in a different area, that wasn’t affected by the flood. That would have been almost too much to take, I think.”

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Diane’s Country Music Newsletter — 26 February 2020

February 26th, 2020

This week we think back 88 years, to February 25, 1932, the day a little boy was born in a two-bedroom rental home in Shreveport, Louisiana. Five-year-old Dorothy Young stood in the front yard and yelled at those passing by, “We got a new baby brother!” Faron Young remains in our hearts and in our musical selections today.

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