Diane’s Country Music Newsletter — 6 September 2023

September 6th, 2023


Friday night I went to the Denny Sanford Premier Center to see the Chicks, formerly known as the Dixie Chicks, because I’d never seen them in concert. I made the mistake of purchasing a ticket right at the side of the stage. Although a close, unobstructed view of the entire stage, it was obviously only a side view. And the sound might have been clearer out front, instead of mostly a cacophony of sound.

A man sitting near me noticed my Navy ballcap and asked about my military service. His questions told me he was Navy, and when he asked if I’d ever been in an AIMD, I knew we could have a lot to talk about. It was great to have a conversation after all these years and not have to explain any terms. He had been an avionics technician at Aircraft Intermediate Maintenance Department Miramar in the 1990s. His wife graduated from Augustana College a quarter-century after I did. They and their friends drove down from Fargo to see the Chicks.

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Diane’s Country Music Newsletter — 23 August 2023

August 23rd, 2023


Bluegrass Today reports Shoji Tabuchi, 79, died of pancreatic cancer on August 11. Born in 1944 in Ishikawa, Japan, he began playing the violin at age seven. As a college sophomore, he attended a Roy Acuff concert in Osaka, Japan. After meeting Roy backstage, he was inspired to pursue country and bluegrass music. In 1967 and with $500, he emigrated to the United States. He joined a western swing band in Wichita, Kansas, where he met Faron Young in 1972 and then joined Billy Walker’s band for five years. He moved to Nashville to reconnect with Roy Acuff, who brought him to the Grand Ole Opry. Read the rest of this entry »

Diane’s Country Music Newsletter — 9 August 2023

August 9th, 2023


For the first time ever, I have been able to personally congratulate a brand new member of the Country Music Hall of Fame. It happened when Patty Loveless called me for an interview that her manager, Mike Robertson, had set up at my request. It was the first thing I said, followed by, “That is so exciting.” She responded with, “Thank you. I’m thrilled to no end. Honestly, I can’t believe it. It’s a shocker.” She added, “I’m just saddened that my brother is no longer with us. He passed away in June ’22, and it was always a dream of his.”

Patricia Lee Ramey was born in Kentucky in 1957. She and her brother, Roger, who was seven years older, were writing songs and performing together by the time Patty reached her teens. Read the rest of this entry »

Diane’s Country Music Newsletter — 26 July 2023

July 26th, 2023


Country Music Hall of Fame member Jerry Bradley, 83, died peacefully on July 17 in Mt. Juliet, Tennessee. He was the son of Owen Bradley, who mostly originated the Nashville Sound, and nephew of A-Team guitarist Harold Bradley, both also in the Hall of Fame, as well as husband of the late Connie Bradley, who led ASCAP for three decades. Jerry Owen Bradley was born in Nashville on January 30, 1940. After two years in the Army, he became an engineer and record producer in Bradley’s Barn, after his dad built the studio in 1965. While working at RCA, Jerry was the force behind producing the very first country album to achieve Platinum status, 1976’s Wanted: The Outlaws, by Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Jessi Colter, and Tompall Glaser. He was President of the Country Music Association during 1974-1975 and heavily involved in CMA’s annual Fan Fair. Read the rest of this entry »

Diane’s Country Music Newsletter — 12 July 2023

July 12th, 2023


Congratulations to Bill Anderson for being a Grand Ole Opry member for 62 years, longer than any other performer in history. He broke the record of Herman Crook, who joined with his string band, The Crook Brothers, in 1926 and stayed on the Opry for 61 years, 11 months, and 17 days, until his death in 1988. Bill writes on Facebook: “Tuesday July 11, 1961….I was sitting in my living room watching a black and white telecast of the Major League All-Star baseball game from San Francisco, when I received a telephone call that changed my life. I almost didn’t get up to answer the phone. Who would dare to call and interrupt me in the middle of such a momentous event? After about the third ring, I got up, shuffled into the den, and picked up the receiver. I’m sure my greeting sounded a bit less than cheerful.” It was Ott Devine, calling to ask if Bill would like to become a member of the Opry. Bill says, “I’m not sure I even watched another pitch. I was too busy calling friends and family to share the news. I was made the 48th member of the Opry cast four days later.” His membership has never lapsed. The Opry will commemorate the anniversary on Saturday, July 22. Read the rest of this entry »

Diane’s Country Music Newsletter — 28 June 2023

June 28th, 2023


My plans to attend the Alabama concert Saturday night at the Denny Sanford Premier Center in Sioux Falls took an unexpected turn at the last minute. I’d contacted Alabama’s merch manager, Terry Tyson, to ask if he was on the tour, and he responded with a backstage pass and a spot for my car in the bus parking lot. I first met Terry when Kayo and I went to Nashville in 2019, where we visited Alana and Hilda Young. Alana told us stop by the Ernest Tubb Record Shop to meet the manager, her dear friend Terry Tyson. We did. Terry later went to work for Richard’s & Southern, which has provided merchandise to Alabama for forty years. It began in 1959 as a company that delivered postcards in a station wagon to gas stations across the South. It has grown to design, manufacture, store, and sell t-shirts and souvenirs for dozens of entertainers, who only have to accept their share of the merch profits.

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Diane’s Country Music Newsletter — 14 June 2023

June 14th, 2023


I planned to see Brooks & Dunn when they came to the Sanford Premiere Center in Sioux Falls, but I didn’t expect to have such great seats or a meet & greet with Scotty McCreery. Thanks to Scott Stem of Triple 8 Management for making that happen. The meet & greet was well-organized, with each group going into the room to chat for a moment with Scotty and have their photo taken by tour manager Nathan Thomas, before exiting for the next group to enter. When my turn came, I told Scotty I’d interviewed him a year ago for my Randy Travis biography. He and Nathan asked about progress on my book, and Scotty said he missed seeing Randy by one night in Louisiana. He arrived at the Cajun Country Jam in Denham Springs the day after Randy’s induction into The Louisiana Music Hall of Fame. Read the rest of this entry »

Diane’s Country Music Newsletter — 31 May 2023

May 31st, 2023


I’ve been waiting since 2020 to travel to New York City for the Biographers International Organization conference. I’m a plank owner of BIO, which grew out of the Washington Biography Group in D.C. I attended those meetings while I lived in Maryland and was writing Live Fast, Love Hard and Twentieth Century Drifter. After signing a new book contract in 2019, I registered for the BIO conference, looking forward to reconnecting with the Washington writers and becoming known as “Randy Travis’s biographer.”

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Diane’s Country Music Newsletter — 17 May 2023

May 17th, 2023


The latest class of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame has been announced. It includes Willie Nelson, 90, along with Sheryl Crow, Missy Elliott, Kate Bush, George Michael, The Spinners, and Rage Against the Machine. The induction ceremony will be held in November at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. CMT News reports more than 1,000 artists, historians, and music industry professionals voted on this year’s candidates.

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Diane’s Country Music Newsletter — 3 May 2023

May 3rd, 2023


Canadian folk singer Gordon Lightfoot, 84, died May 1 at Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto, Canada. He first gained fame in the early 1960s when Ian and Sylvia Tyson recorded two of his songs, “Early Morning Rain” and “For Lovin’ Me.” His reputation soared when Marty Robbins recorded “Ribbon of Darkness.” He had his own hits, such as “Sundown,” “Carefree Highway,” “Rainy Day People,” and “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.” Read the rest of this entry »