Diane’s Country Music Newsletter — 11 January 2023

January 11th, 2023


Randy Travis’s 1993 album, Wind in the Wire, contained four cuts by one songwriter, Roger Brown. I called Roger to discuss how that astounding number came about. He was in the right place at the right time. He and his friends had been writing cowboy songs, something no one else in Nashville was doing. Word quickly got around that “Brown got four Randy Travis cuts,” and that legitimized him as a songwriter. “Recording those songs was life-altering for me,” Roger tells me. “Because of that little album, which wasn’t a huge commercial success, I got to meet Randy Travis, I got to write with Randy Travis, and more important to me than any of it, I got to be friends with him. And remain so to this day.”

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Diane’s Country Music Newsletter — 28 December 2022

December 28th, 2022


Charlie Monk, music industry networker and radio personality, died at home December 19 at age 84. Over fifty years ago, he co-founded the Country Radio Seminar, which is now a weeklong convention that draws more than 2,000 people and has live performances all over Nashville. He and radio promotions man Tom McEntee started Country Radio Seminar as a way for the few all-country stations to battle the pop stations that dominated radio in 1969. The Tennessean says Charlie grew up in Geneva, Alabama, “with a chip on his shoulder. He spent the rest of his life fighting against the ghosts of those few who said he and his family weren’t worth a lick.” In high school, he cleaned at a radio station until hired for a weekend on-air shift. After serving in the U.S. Army, he worked at various radio stations until he and his wife, Royce, moved to Murfreesboro and then Nashville, where he became a song publisher; he helped Randy Travis and Kenny Chesney get writing and record deals. Read the rest of this entry »

Diane’s Country Music Newsletter — 14 December 2022

December 14th, 2022


I’m thrilled to announce that Twentieth Century Drifter: The Life of Marty Robbins is now available to the public as an audiobook. It can be downloaded from Audible.com or Amazon.com. Thanks to Frank Gerard for narrating both Marty’s story and Faron’s story. I have a few complimentary copies I can give out for those two books, as well as for Navy Greenshirt. Email me if you would like one, or all three.


Country music journalist Peter Cooper, 52, died December 6 in Nashville, Tennessee, after suffering a head injury from a fall. Read the rest of this entry »

Diane’s Country Music Newsletter — 30 November 2022

November 30th, 2022

Let’s take a moment to honor the memories of Faron Young and Marty Robbins. Marty died December 8, 1982, at age 57. Faron died December 10, 1996, at age 64.


The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum and the University of Illinois Press have signed an agreement to co-publish and distribute books on country music and roots-based music. They will co-publish new works and reissue significant out-of-print historical works from the Country Music Foundation Press. Read the rest of this entry »

Diane’s Country Music Newsletter — 16 November 2022

November 16th, 2022


Founding member and guitarist of the Country Music Hall of Fame group, Alabama, Jeffrey Cook died peacefully at his beach home in Destin, Florida, on November 7, at age 73. He had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2012. Born in Fort Payne, Alabama, in 1949, he began playing in bands at age 13 and working as a radio disc jockey at age 14. He graduated from Fort Payne High School and earned a college degree in Electronic Technology. He loved that radio combined two of his favorite things, music and electronics. Over 50 years ago, Jeff Cook, along with cousins Teddy Gentry and Randy Owen, left Fort Payne for Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, where they formed Alabama. Read the rest of this entry »

Diane’s Country Music Newsletter — 2 November 2022

November 2nd, 2022


When Kayo Paver and I drove to North Texas in 2016, we included Tioga on our route and an excursion to find the Randy Travis ranch—which we did. No one answered when I punched the call button at the gate, so we headed home to South Dakota. Never could I have imagined that the next time I approached that gate, I would have the code to open it. Or that I’d ever be running along that country road. But that’s exactly what happened 6½ years later.

This visit came as a result of meeting Randy and Mary Travis at the Corn Palace in Mitchell. Read the rest of this entry »

Diane’s Country Music Newsletter — 19 October 2022

October 19th, 2022


While doing research for my Randy Travis biography, I called Bruce Williams (of Williams & Ree) to talk about their USO tours; he had emailed me his phone number. He and Terry were in Minot, North Dakota. “There you are, Diane, just calling me right out of the blue, like I knew you might,” he said as a hello. “We are sitting in the break room at the Norsk Høstfest.” They were giving five performances during the four-day event that had just started back up after its two-year pandemic hiatus.

Bruce Williams and Terry Ree met in 1968 at Black Hills State College in Spearfish, South Dakota, when a music professor suggested they perform together during freshman week festivities. Read the rest of this entry »

Diane’s Country Music Newsletter — 5 October 2022

October 5th, 2022


Since the Statler Brothers retired in 2002, lead singer Don Reid has spent much of his time writing books. Last year he published The Music of The Statler Brothers: An Anthology. We talked about that book when I spotlighted him in my newsletter: https://dianediekman.com/dianes-country-music-newsletter-5-may-2021/. Now, he has published a novel, thanks to the encouragement of his sons, Langdon and Debo, who reminded him it had been ten years since his last novel and therefore time for another one. He told them he’d see what he could do, and the result was Piano Days.

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Diane’s Country Music Newsletter — 21 September 2022

September 21st, 2022


Howard and David, the Bellamy Brothers, sang for a solid ninety minutes at the Sisseton Performing Arts Center on Saturday, September 17. That we recognized almost everything they sang shows how many hits they have had. David introduced himself by saying he’d celebrated his 72nd birthday the previous day. (Which means he was born two days before me.) Howard is 76 years old. I’d previously talked to Howard when I spotlighted him in my newsletter: https://dianediekman.com/dianes-country-music-newsletter-27-january-2021/.

When they kicked off “Kids of the Baby Boom,” I felt as if, wow, this is actually real. I’d never seen them perform, and here they were in real life. That was their tenth number one song (1987) in the space of ten years. It was written by David, the songwriter for most of their songs.

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Diane’s Country Music Newsletter — 7 September 2022

September 7th, 2022


I finally met Randy Travis!! I’ve been his fan and have followed his career ever since first hearing “On the Other Hand” on my car radio while driving to Susie’s Nashville East in Virginia Beach in 1986 to go dancing. After getting my University of Illinois Press contract in 2019 to write his biography, I’ve corresponded with Randy and his wife, Mary, via email.

So I was excited to learn the Music of Randy Travis Show was coming to the Corn Palace in Mitchell, South Dakota, on August 28. Read the rest of this entry »