Diane’s Country Music Newsletter — 1 May 2019


Mastering engineer John Eberle, 79, died April 12 at Dickson Health and Rehab in Dickson, Tennessee. For more than 30 years, he mastered recordings at Nashville Record Productions (NRP), before launching his own company, Americana Mastering. His credits appear on nearly 450 recordings. “Mastering is the final process in audio recording, after the music has been captured to tape (or disc), and mixed down to a two-track master recording,” explains Bluegrass Today. “This is what is delivered to the mastering engineer, whose job is to assure overall volume and tonal balance, and color the sound of the recording to suit the desire of the producer and label. It is a job that requires precise attention to detail, and the ability to hear and discern the tiniest variations in tone.” Poor health led to John’s retirement in 2014. He received in 2017 a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Audio Engineering Society in Nashville.

Billy Crash Craddock, 79, recently played a show in his hometown of Greensboro, North Carolina. In an interview with Yes! Weekly, he explained where “Crash” came from: “I played right halfback, and my brother played left, and I was the smallest man on the team. When the guard or tackle would open up a little hole, I was gone, ’cause the other guys were so big I didn’t want to get hurt.” Columbia Records signed him in 1958 as its answer to Elvis. The following year, he toured Australia with the Everly Brothers. “Boom Boom Baby” became a number one hit there, as “Rub It In” did later in the USA. He is a member of the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame. When asked if women still throw their undergarments at him on stage, he laughingly replied, “No. Now they throw Depends.”

Ron Harman posted on Facebook: “Jan Howard will be portrayed in the upcoming Lifetime movie about Patsy Cline and Loretta Lynn’s friendship. The filming was completed this past Friday in Nashville, and that evening at the Grand Ole Opry Jan got to meet and visit with Jenny Leigh who portrayed Jan during several scenes in the movie. Jan said she was highly honored to be represented by such a beautiful and talented actress/singer, as well as by such a sweet and kind person. Jenny presented Jan a framing which included photos from the movie, and Jan gave Jenny a copy of her autobiography Sunshine and Shadow.”

KSAT-TV in San Antonio, Texas, reports that Willie Nelson cares for 70 horses he rescued from being sent to slaughterhouses. They roam his 700-acre ranch, which he calls “Luck,” in the Texas Hill Country. He says, “When you’re here, you’re in Luck, and when you’re not, you’re out of Luck.” His upcoming CD will include the song, “Ride Me Back Home,” which shows his love for horses. At age 86, Willie still spends 200 days a year on tour.

The 2019 Artist-in-Residence for the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum is Marty Stuart. “Each year, the museum invites a noted artist or musician to give a series of original performances that highlight their career and explore their artistry,” says the organization’s website. “Every artist-in-residence has a strong connection to country music or has a sense of country music’s contribution to American culture.” Marty’s first show, “The Pilgrim,” will take place September 11. It will celebrate the rerelease of his 1999 album, The Pilgrim. The September 18 show, “Psychedelic Jam-Bo-Ree,” will celebrate country music of the 1960s, and “Songs That Tell a Story” on September 25 will be an acoustic show featuring some of Nashville’s most influential and revered storytellers.

Chris Turner has made a video of his latest single, “If You Drink,” to bring attention to PTSD and suicide among veterans. The former U.S. Marine sings: …” At the end of his rope, looking for hope, But he found this ol’ bar here instead… man, I can tell you been going through hell Well, we’ve all come out of there too.” He chose former U.S. Army sergeant and retired mixed martial artist Randy Couture to produce and star in the video. A press release announces they and Kevin Sanchez (formerly with the Blue Angels) are embarking on a military tour to benefit The Xtreme Couture GI Foundation, a 501(c)3 non-profit that raises money and awareness for those wounded in action and their families.

A benefit called “We All Come Together” was held for John Berry and the Music Health Alliance on April 23 at City Winery in Nashville. The sold-out show raised more than $300,000. John says, “I am so happy that Music Health Alliance is a recipient of all the love shown Tuesday night. MHA has been there for my family for several years, providing answers and assistance for all our health insurance needs.” A press release reports, “John’s original band members, who toured with him at the height of his music career, together with John’s son, Caelan on drums and his wife Robin singing backup, joined his son, Sean, to play ‘Kiss Me In The Car,’ bringing John to his feet, speechless and wiping tears as he tried to express his joy in seeing everyone on stage together.”

Nash Country Daily announces that Jennifer Nettles will sing the National Anthem to open the 145th Kentucky Derby on May 4. Her performance will be broadcast live on NBC, from the Kentucky Derby Winner’s Circle, just after 5 p.m. Eastern time.

Randy Travis will celebrate his 60th birthday on May 4 with a special appearance at the Grand Ole Opry. Charles Esten, Josh Turner, and Charlie Worsham are scheduled to perform that evening, as is Don Schlitz, who wrote many of Randy’s hits (such as “Deeper Than The Holler,” “Forever And Ever, Amen,” “Heroes And Friends,” “On the Other Hand,” and “Point Of Light”).

Jon Meacham, who won the 2009 Biography Pulitzer Prize for American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House, has teamed with Tim McGraw on a new book. Songs of America: Patriotism, Protest and the Music That Made a Nation will be released June 11. According to the book description, “Jon chronicles our history, exploring the stories behind the songs, and Tim reflects on them as an artist and performer.” The pair has scheduled a seven-date book tour, during which they will discuss creation of the book. Tim will sing the songs featured in the book.

Musicians on Call is a nonprofit organization that delivers live performances and recorded music to the bedsides of patients in healthcare facilities. According to Rolling Stone Country, the first Bedside Performance Program was conducted in New York City in 1999. It has expanded to 20 sites across the country, including Nashville, where musicians have performed for 155,000 individuals since 2007. Blake Shelton will headline the 20th anniversary show on May 31 at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum’s CMA Theater. Charlie Cook will receive the Leadership in Music Golden Ukulele. Shane Tarleton will receive the first-ever Lifetime Achievement Award for his commitment to health and music causes throughout Nashville. Nationwide, 700,000 patients have been entertained by performers such as Bruce Springsteen, Kelly Clarkson, Luke Bryan, Keith Urban, Lady Antebellum, Justin Timberlake, Ed Sheeran and Reba McEntire.

Woodstock 50 has been cancelled. Billboard reports, “Sources say concerns about the capacity of the festival, site readiness and permitting issues led to the cancellation of the commemorative event, which had been scheduled for Aug. 16-18.” More than $30 million has been spent on the festival lineup; most artists have already been paid. Sturgill Simpson and Margo Price were two of the country entertainers scheduled to perform.

Following the conclusion of the fourth round of the NFL Draft on April 26, Tim McGraw played a 75-minute set on the NFL Draft main stage. His 16 songs entertained the thousands of fans packed along Lower Broadway. “I love saying I live in Nashville, Tennessee,” The Tennessean reports Tim as proclaiming. “There’s not a better place in the world.” He tossed footballs into the crowd and bragged about the Tennessee Titans. He climbed down to the street to lead a singalong. Faith Hill appeared briefly to join her husband on the chorus of “I Like It, I Love It” and wave to the crowd.

Dierks Bentley closed the NFL Draft main stage the following night on Lower Broadway, which saw 600,000 football fans over the three-day period. “This must be the greatest day I’ve ever had here in Nashville,” he said. His 16-song set of country hits covered his years in Music City. The Tennessean reports, “He took time between songs to catch his breath and soak in the view from Lower Broadway. He shared stories of moving to Nashville with dreams of playing somewhere, anywhere on the neon-lit street.”


David Corne writes from the United Kingdom, “Saddened to hear about Jim Glaser’s passing. Anyone who is a Marty Robbins fan will have loved the music and harmonies of the Glaser Brothers as well as their songwriting abilities. Jim was, of course, one of the 3 voices on ‘El Paso’ along with Marty and Bobby Sykes and also secured more hits solo than Tompall did. Having said that, I was a bit puzzled as to why 2 great records by Jim, ‘The Lights Of Albuquerque’ and ‘Man In The Mirror’ didn’t make more impression on the country charts. There are a couple of great clips of Jim on YouTube guesting on the Marty Stuart and Bobby Lord shows. Well worth looking up to see what a great vocalist Jim was. RIP Jim. Also, I was sorry to read about Hal Ketchum’s illness. I saw him in London 20 years or so ago and always liked his records especially ‘Past The Point Of Rescue.’ I’d like to wish him all the best. Enjoy your communiques very much as they are a link to when Country was full of greats and classic songs that became standards unlike the stuff or guff that masquerades as music today. It doesn’t bother me that much because I can find solace in the music I love by just clicking a mouse and finding real country on YouTube.”

Sherwin Linton writes from Minneapolis, Minnesota, “Reading your latest newsletter is a treat as always. I was deeply saddened by the news of Jim Glaser’s death a couple of weeks ago. We had just spoken by phone about a month earlier reminiscing and discussing publishing rights to some of my songs that were in Glaser catalog but now are assigned to Sony. Jim said he was not feeling well enough to perform any more. I first met Tompall, Chuck and Jim in 1961 when I had a Rockabilly band called The Fender Benders. The Glasers and us were playing at The Flame Cafe in Minneapolis. After a few years of doing shows with them at various venues they suggested I come to Nashville and Chuck would produce a recording session for me. So in October of 1966 I journeyed to Music City and we did a session at Bradley’s Barn on October 13. In addition to a group of A-team session musicians including John Hartford, Tompall played rhythm guitar, Jim and Joe Babcock were in Hurshel Wiginton’s Nashville Edition vocal group and Chuck was the producer. We recorded four songs including ‘Cotton King,’ which went on to be a pretty big record for me in 1967. One song Joe had written and gave to me was titled ‘Neon Moon’ (not the Brooks and Dunn song) and I virtually knew the whole song after hearing it once. It was a great Honky Tonk song and I never could get it out of my head. In the spring of 2011 when I did a duet CD titled Hillbilly Heaven, Jim and I did a duet version of the song with Joe singing harmony, so you see they had sung together about a year before the Ronny Robbins event in 2012. Just a minor bit of trivia. Jim had sung on most of my Nashville sessions from the ‘60s and on. In 1994 he provided that super harmony part on my cover of Marty’s ‘El Paso.’ At that session at Hilltop studios Jim arranged for Chuck’s wife to bring Chuck to the studio so we could visit. Even though Chuck was suffering from the results of a stroke, it was really good to see him and thank him for all he had done for me so many years before. Jim Glaser was a true talent and his contribution to Nashville’s music history cannot be measured. Thank you for your Jim Glaser memories and story.”

Mike Johnson of Roughshod Records says, “Glad to see you didn’t avoid this subject. I couldn’t resist weighing in on this. I support Billboard’s removal of ‘Old Town Road’ from the country charts because my ears don’t detect anything country about it. For those crying racism because Lil Nas X is African-American, and his song was only being reconsidered because of another cut featuring Billy Ray Cyrus. Hmm, there could be an element of that because I’ve had my share of resistance during my 1980s Nashville years. Regardless, after listening to both versions, you can’t convince this 1946 African-American Baby-Boomer, Country Singer, Songwriter, and Yodeler, that either version of ‘Old Town Road’ is country music. And this is not to absolve a substantial number of country wannabes who have made it to the Billboard Country Charts over the past decade. Tired of all these country wannabes polluting our music. Sitting here editing the final batch of sound tracks for my anniversary video. Really enjoy your Newsletter.”

Doug Lippert in Carmel, Indiana, says, “Another absolutely wonderful newsletter. You do an amazing job of keeping us all up to date with what’s going on with our heroes (lost and still with us) of country music. I was especially pleased to read the letter from Bill Anderson. While I’m sure Bill, like the rest of us, occasionally has a bad day or gets grumpy, it is impossible for me to picture him without a big smile on his face. There was a time, when I was living within driving distance of Nashville, that my wife and young teenage daughter would drive to see The Opry on Saturday nights. This one particular night, we allowed our daughter, between acts, to wander as long as she stayed in the Opry House. When she returned, she had Jo Dee Messina’s autograph and told us she’d met Whispering Bill Anderson. I think she thought Whispering was actually his first name. I miss those times, (that daughter is now a grown woman with a kid of her own) and I really miss the performers. I thank my stars that I had a chance to see so many of those I admired and that we have some great footage of others I only know through their music, like Faron, Marty and Webb. Thank you so much, Diane. I look forward to each of your newsletters.”

Rockin’ Lord Geoff Lambert writes from England, “Wonder if the following link might be of use to you or some members of your readership. The link is to a UK-based recording company who as you can see are issuing their third Faron Young album on the 10th of May http://www.jasmine-records.co.uk/store/index.php/product-1312. Take care and keep up the good work with your extremely informative country sheet.”

Jean Earle also checks in from England, “Thank you for all of your newsletters….. sorry if I do not thank you each time…but I do appreciate and enjoy reading all your news. I was sent this today by our good friend Jim Marshall. We have checked the lovely long list…and we do have them all…we are so lucky.!!….but in case this news has not yet reached you I thought I should forward. Some of your readers may like to see these details. Hope you had a pleasant Easter. We enjoyed the sunshine in our garden…felt lazy but just took things easy.”

Diane: Thanks for the link to Faron’s new album. I showed it in the letter above yours.

Kathy Thomas says, “Again a wonderful newsletter. I am visiting in Nashville again (my favorite place in the world). I have so many wonderful memories here. I thought Johnny Cash‘s son owned the house in Hendersonville. I went by there today and felt so bad seeing what’s left. Thank you so much for all the great news you provide.”

Jon Philibert writes from the United Kingdom, “Another excellent newsletter. Just a further comment about ‘I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry’; I now discover that music publisher Fred Rose might have changed the song’s original title ‘I’m So Lonesome I Could Die’ to ‘I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry,’ the original title being even closer to the line spoken by Lizabeth Scott, ‘I’m so lonesome I’d liked to have died’ in the movie The Strange Love Of Martha Ivers. Again, the connection with Hank Williams is only conjecture, but it’s an interesting coincidence all the same.”

Carol Smith says, “I always enjoy your newsletter info — but this one was so sad to read. We lost 2 great voices in the country industry – Jim Glaser and Earl Thomas Conley. Was glad we were able to spend some time with Jim when you were in town for Marty’s book. I am also saddened by the news of Hal Ketchum. Am glad he is healthy and with his family. I have all his CDs and play them often. Beautiful voice. Thanks again for the time you take to send out these newsletters. Always enjoy them.”

Jenny Jones in Texas says, “Enjoyed this last Newsletter…I have been corresponding with Dominique and receiving some really interesting info on several of the artists I worked with in the past. I am so glad to receive pictures and some information I had lost. I am still looking for some of BILLY’s recordings that I missed out on locating. Keep up the great work.”

Daryl Darnell writes, “I just received my first edition of your newsletter and found it a breath of fresh air in an otherwise stagnant pool of Country writing dribble. As a blind subscriber I’ve read the book on Faron Young. When can we expect the audio version of Twentieth Century Drifter? I will also be in contact with the National Library Service to include it in their Country music offerings. Thanks again for a stellar newsletter.”

Priscilla McPheeters in Lawrence, Kansas, says, “I loved this newsletter! Great job.”

David Markham writes from the United Kingdom, “First of all Thanks for a great read and sad in places in losing Jim Glaser. They were the best singers for Marty. Why did Ronny not follow into his Dad’s footsteps? Ronny is a great Artist. I hope you’re doing well. Who’s going to write after you, Diane? Ha, it will be a long time yet. It’s always a pleasure being involved with reading your Newsletters. I knew Tillman Franks.”

Mary Mitchell says, “WOW, what a great Newsletter. Great to see two names that I really loved to see. Bill Anderson and Carl Smith. Such talent. Bill Anderson told me Mike Johnson had throat cancer, however is doing fine. Thank God for that recovery. You have been a busy lady and I thank you for doing this. A song by Earl Thomas Conley was ‘Loving Her and Missing You.’ Am I correct?”

Diane: Perhaps you mean “Holding Her and Loving You.” It was his fourth #1 hit.


The first time I talked to Jim Glaser was this telephone interview on February 20, 2007. I met him that April when he and Joe Babcock joined my sister, Kayo, and me for lunch in Nashville. He came to the book release party for Twentieth Century Drifter: The Life of Marty Robbins at the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2012. Jim was a regular reader of my newsletter and active on Facebook. News of his death on April 6 came as a shock. He was 81.

In 1957, Marty Robbins appeared in Grand Island, Nebraska, about sixty miles from our farm near Spalding, Nebraska. Jim Farmer was playing steel guitar, Jack Pruett was playing electric guitar, and Hillous Butrum was playing upright bass. Marty Robbins was one of our musical heroes and we were very excited he was appearing so close to us, a rare thing in those days. Our dad, who was our agent, advisor and mentor, took Tom, Chuck and me to Grand Island to see Marty’s matinee performance and, hopefully, to meet him. I remember we were dressed in identical, aqua-blue shirts, as we were leaving immediately after Marty’s show and driving to North Loup, Nebraska, where we’d be singing that night at a drive-in theater. After the show, Dad boldly walked backstage and knocked on Marty’s dressing room door. When he opened the door, Dad asked him if he’d listen to his three sons sing and Marty graciously agreed. Dad came out front with a big smile on his face and the three of us followed him backstage. I don’t remember which three or four songs we sang for Marty in his dressing room that day; I do remember he was obviously impressed with what he heard and promised that if we’d come to Nashville in a few weeks, he would take us into a recording studio and make a record with us. It was later that we learned Marty would start his own record label, Robbins Records, expressly for the release of our records.

Marty traveled in two vehicles, two cars, or sometimes a car and a station wagon. I don’t know how these criteria got set up for who rode in what car, but I rode in the second car with Marty and Bobby Sykes, who fronted his show. He had a rich baritone voice; he had some singles out on his own. Marty carried a little ukulele with him, and to pass the miles, he used to sing every song he could think of, and Bobby Sykes and I would put harmony on them. Just to be doing something. Then Marty got the idea of doing an album of western songs. That had been part of Marty’s heritage, as it was our own. We all started writing songs, hoping Marty would do some of our songs in his album. He wrote the classic, “El Paso.” It took him a long time to write–several tours, several months. I remember we’d get out on a tour, get out in the middle of Texas somewhere, and he’d get his ukulele and teach us the new part of the song. I’d lay out the harmony for Bobby and me. By the time he finished it and we went into the studio, we had it down pat. I think it was the sixth complete take at the session, that was the final take. Tompall and I had a song in the album–that was on the backside of “El Paso”–called “Running Gun.”

The western songs were three-part harmony. I laid out those harmonies on that first album and half of the second one. It was laid out pretty much the way I laid out the Glaser Brothers harmony, which–especially on the original songs, some of the old standard western songs were done in the way the Sons of the Pioneers did them–but that turned out to be a little bit of a bugaboo for us, because the Glaser Brothers began to sound like we were copying Marty.

That CD, Town Hall Party–which is a good example by the way of how really primitive the way we worked back then was. There was never a monitor. Anyway, I think that’s horrible, that show, especially our part of it. I look at that and I wonder, how in the world did we ever have any success?

Marty wasn’t really happy when we decided to quit, and Tompall was at the forefront of that. He was the oldest of the three of us, and he felt our sound being usurped by Marty since the western album hurt our careers, and Marty at that point was more interested in his own career. He wanted us to stay with him. He would have been content if we stayed with him as a vocal backing group. I know they had some words over that. And I don’t think they ever resolved it in any way. They didn’t hate each other, but it wasn’t like it was in the beginning.

Marty was an incredible entertainer. He had an ability I’ve only seen a couple times. We worked these big clubs all over, especially in Texas and out in California. We’d go out and sing our little hearts out, and Bobby Sykes would sing his little heart out. The people would dance, and sit at the tables, and Marty would come up to the microphone, and the whole crowd would just get up and rush to the edge of the stage and stand there and watch him, just in rapt attention. It didn’t just happen once; this always happened. I thought, wow, when I get to be a big star, that’ll happen to me, but it never did. I mean, I looked at him and I thought, what is this charisma he has?

He bought an old bus there towards the end. Back in those days, you had to paint your name on the side of the vehicle if you were going to deduct it; you had to mark it in some way so that it would be obvious it was for business. The bus had “Marty Robbins” written on the side of it. The thing wouldn’t always start. The driver would park it on a little hill someplace. Wherever we ate would have to be a restaurant that would be upon a little hill. One time out in Arizona we were all behind the bus pushing it, down this little hill, to get it started, and a car drove by, and they rolled down the window and said, “Hey, which one of you is Marty?” And Marty yelled, “Marty flies. He doesn’t fool with this bus.” I don’t blame him for that.

Joe Babcock, Jim Glaser, and me – April 12, 2007

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