Diane’s Country Music Newsletter — 20 October 2021

October 20th, 2021


Legendary lap steel player Billy Robinson, 90, died October 15. According to Saving Country Music, he was the youngest ever Opry staff musician, when he was hired in 1949 at the age of 18. He backed Hank Williams on the Opry when Hank received multiple encores for “Lovesick Blues.” His session work included George Morgan’s “Candy Kisses,” Carl Smith’s “I Overlooked an Orchid,” and Red Foley’s “Chattanooga Shoeshine Boy.” The Nashville native was then drafted into the U.S. Army, where he played steel guitar for Special Services. Read the rest of this entry »

Diane’s Country Music Newsletter — 6 October 2021

October 6th, 2021


“I was ate up with it.” That’s how Tracy Lawrence, 53, describes his youthful quest to sing traditional county music while growing up in Arkansas. When he called me last week for our scheduled interview, he told me he learned how to sing and play guitar by listening to singers like Merle Haggard and Randy Travis. “I really worked hard at trying to hit all those notes,” he explained. “When I would sing those songs with a band, I would always make a point to do it in the key on the record, so I could get all those little inflections and everything in it. I really studied the way they sang, and the spots they breathed in, and where they did their vibratos. I was a big student of their phrasing. I would try to emulate every minor detail of the way they sang on those records.”

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Diane’s Country Music Newsletter — 22 September 2021

September 22nd, 2021


The last surviving member of The Maddox Brothers and Rose, known as “the most colorful hillbilly band in America,” has died, reports the Mail Tribune in Ashland, Oregon. Don Maddox, 98, died September 12 in Ashland. His sharecropper family migrated from Alabama to Modesto, California, in 1933. His siblings—Cal, Fred, Rose, and Harry—began performing western swing in California’s Central Valley. After serving with the Army Signal Corps in central Burma during World War II, Don joined their band as fiddler and comic relief and gave himself the nickname “Don Juan.” The Maddox Brothers and Rose wore brightly embroidered Western suits, inspired by the silver screen actors in Hollywood. Read the rest of this entry »

Diane’s Country Music Newsletter — 8 September 2021

September 8th, 2021


I’d been waiting for an opportunity to spotlight Doug Stone in my newsletter ever since his show in Sisseton almost two years ago. Our conversation finally happened when he called me on one of his days devoted to doing phone interviews.

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Diane’s Country Music Newsletter — 25 August 2021

August 25th, 2021


Live Fast, Love Hard: The Faron Young Story is now an audiobook!!! I am so excited to finally have Faron’s story available to the public for download and listening. My effusive thanks go to Frank Gerard for making it happen.

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Diane’s Country Music Newsletter — 11 August 2021

August 11th, 2021


When Kayo and I went to Nashville several weeks ago, our first entertainment stop was at the Nashville Palace. Wendy Newcomer & the Good Ol’ Timers were making music on the stage. We were so impressed that I asked to spotlight Wendy in my newsletter.

“I loved reading about your Randy Travis trip, and meeting with his old band members,” she told me when I called for our interview, after I’d sent her my most recent newsletter. Read the rest of this entry »

Diane’s Country Music Newsletter — 28 July 2021

July 28th, 2021


My sister, Lorraine “Kayo” Paver, and I returned Sunday night from our third Randy Travis research trip. We drove 3,082 miles in the eleven days we were on the road. On our first afternoon in Nashville, we headed to I-65 to go downtown, but I missed the interstate entrance because of a misplaced do-not-enter sign. I turned around in our motel parking lot, which gave Kayo a chance to stash her recent purchases to our room instead of leaving them in the car on a 92-degree afternoon. It reminded me of the old Archie Campbell song: “Oh, that’s bad.” “No, that’s good.”

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Diane’s Country Music Newsletter — 14 July 2021

July 14th, 2021


The newest members of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame are Amy Grant (“Baby Baby,” “Tennessee Christmas,” “That’s What Love Is For”), Rhett Akins (“That Ain’t My Truck,” “Honey Bee,” “It Goes Like This”), Toby Keith (“How Do You Like Me Now,” “I Love This Bar,” “Should’ve Been a Cowboy”), Buddy Cannon (“Give It Away,” “I’ve Come To Expect It From You,” “Set ’Em Up Joe”), and John Scott Sherrill (“Wild And Blue,” “How Long Gone,” “The Church On Cumberland Road”). The Tennessean reports they will be inducted November 1 at the Music City Center, along with the 2020 class: Steve Earle, Bobbie Gentry, Kent Blazy, Brett James and Spooner Oldham.

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Diane’s Country Music Newsletter — 30 June 2021

June 30th, 2021


We’ve lost another of Faron Young’s Country Deputies. Skip Jackson of Hendersonville, Tennessee, died June 26. Born Lloyd Aaron Jackson III, Skip played steel guitar with The Kendalls and then with Faron Young from 1970-75. He retired from the music business and became a photography professor at Nashville State Community College. Pam Jackson posted on Facebook, “Just before sunset last night, my husband, friend, partner and the love of my life of 45 years took his last breath and stepped into the arms of Jesus. His fight against cancer was valiant and painful but his passing was calm and peaceful, surrounded by the love of his family.” There will be a celebration of Skip’s life at the Hendersonville Funeral Home on July 23.

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Diane’s Country Music Newsletter — 16 June 2021

June 16th, 2021


The 32nd annual National Memorial Day Concert on PBS, which ran for 90 minutes and was cohosted by actors Joe Mantegna and Gary Sinise, featured several country music performers. Mickey Guyton sang the National Anthem. Alan Jackson sang his “Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning).” Vince Gill, on the stage of the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, sang his “Go Rest High on That Mountain.”

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