Speech at South Dakota State Fair

September 5th, 2020

At the South Dakota State Fair in Huron, on September 3, Sherwin Linton invited me to talk about my books and my Navy career. Here is my speech. (Thanks to John Mogen for the photo.)

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Diane’s Country Music Newsletter — 26 August 2020

August 26th, 2020

As the biographer of Faron Young and Marty Robbins, I bring these newsletters to classic country music fans around the world. Send me your comments and ideas. Please forward this message and tell your friends to email me if they want to be added to the list. Randy Travis is the subject of my third University of Illinois Press biography. I’d appreciate any information you might have that would help me in researching his life.

NEWS

The 2020 selections for the Country Music Hall of Fame have been announced. Dean Dillon will be inducted in the “Songwriter” category, Marty Stuart in the “Modern Era Artist” category, and Hank Williams Jr. as the “Veterans Era Artist.” Read the rest of this entry »

Diane’s Country Music Newsletter — 12 August 2020

August 12th, 2020

IN THE SPOTLIGHT – LEROY VAN DYKE

At age 90, Leroy Van Dyke is not slowing down. Except for the COVID-19 pandemic, that is. He’s anxious to get back on the road. During our phone conversation Monday evening, I commented that he sounded as young as ever. “Well, my voice has not left,” he said. “It hasn’t changed any. When you get that old man sound in the voice, you’re done. I think a part of it is, I’ve been an auctioneer all these years, and it made my voice stronger than just singing songs.” He did acknowledge, “I don’t hear as well as I did when I was thirty years old. Some of the parts wear out.”

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Diane’s Country Music Newsletter — 29 July 2020

July 29th, 2020

IN THE SPOTLIGHT – DALLAS WAYNE

When Dallas Wayne, 64, announced he had moved from Austin, Texas, to Bristol, Tennessee, I decided it was time for an update from the Willie’s Roadhouse (SiriusXM) deejay. Read the rest of this entry »

Diane’s Country Music Newsletter — 15 July 2020

July 15th, 2020

IN THE SPOTLIGHT – JEFF CHANDLER

When Jeff Chandler woke up in the middle of the night, unable to breathe and with the feeling of an elephant sitting on his chest, his wife immediately called 9-1-1. By daybreak, he had four stents in his heart and was in the recovery room. Carole’s phone call saved his life, Jeff told me during our telephone conversation last week. His heart attack occurred early on a Friday morning, and he spend the holiday weekend in the hospital, returning home on Memorial Day. Read the rest of this entry »

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 »