Archive for the ‘Newsletter’ Category

Diane’s Country Music Newsletter — 9 September 2020

Wednesday, September 9th, 2020


William “Bill” Pursell, Grammy-nominated composer and studio musician, died September 3 in Nashville at the age of 94. The Los Angeles Times obituary reports his death came after a “very fast, tough battle with COVID pneumonia,” according to his daughter, Laura Pursell. He had been in the hospital for a week. The California native, born in 1926, served in the military during World War II as an arranger for the U.S. Air Force Band. He moved to Nashville in 1960 at the invitation of Eddy Arnold. For two decades, he worked as a session pianist, recording with Marty Robbins, Johnny Cash, Jim Reeves, Joan Baez, and Bob Dylan, among many others. He became a composition professor at the Belmont University School of Music in 1980, retiring after 37 years. His students included Trisha Yearwood and Brad Paisley.


Diane’s Country Music Newsletter — 26 August 2020

Wednesday, 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.


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.” (more…)

Diane’s Country Music Newsletter — 29 July 2020

Wednesday, July 29th, 2020


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. (more…)

Diane’s Country Music Newsletter — 15 July 2020

Wednesday, July 15th, 2020


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. (more…)

Diane’s Country Music Newsletter — 1 July 2020

Wednesday, July 1st, 2020


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. (more…)

Diane’s Country Music Newsletter — 3 June 2020

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2020


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.


Diane’s Country Music Newsletter — 20 May 2020

Wednesday, May 20th, 2020


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. (more…)

Diane’s Country Music Newsletter — 6 May 2020

Wednesday, May 6th, 2020


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. (more…)

Diane’s Country Music Newsletter — 22 April 2020

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2020


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. (more…)

Diane’s Country Music Newsletter — 8 April 2020

Wednesday, April 8th, 2020


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.” (more…)