Diane’s Country Music Newsletter — 11 February 2015

Larry Fullam (1941-2015)
Larry Fullam (former bass player and vocalist with George Jones, Bill Anderson, Connie Smith, Tex Ritter, Johnny Duncan, Tommy Cash & Charlie Louvin) died January 30, from pancreatic cancer. He was diagnosed in September. He and Diane Jordan (former singer and Columbia Records artist who appeared frequently on The Ralph Emery Show) were married 43 years. Larry was part of Bill Anderson’s syndicated television show for five years. He left music in 1990 and spent the next 22 years as a professional coach driver. Diane wrote on Facebook, “I was sitting by his bed, reading, and noticed I wasn’t hearing his labored breathing. He never made a sound. I’m reminded of Lee Greenwood’s song, ‘In a way I’m glad it’s over, in another way, it turns me inside out.’ I’ve lost my life partner and my best friend.” A Celebration of Life will be held at the Texas Troubadour Theater on Sunday, February 15 at 7:00 PM.

Hunter Hayes, 23, hosted the Grammy Awards Premiere Ceremony at the Nokia Theater in Los Angeles on Sunday afternoon. Seventy-four awards were given during the 3 ¾-hour show. Because the televised Grammy Awards show at the Staples Center (which was hosted by LL Cool J) focuses on musical performances, most of the 83 awards are given off-camera. Rosanne Cash won three Grammys–Best Americana Album, Best American Roots Performance, and Best American Roots Song. “I’m Not Gonna Miss You” by Glen Campbell won Best Country Song. The only country category announced on the televised CBS broadcast was Best Country Album, won by Miranda Lambert.

A Lifetime Achievement Award honoring The Louvin Brothers was presented during the afternoon Grammy Awards Premiere Ceremony. The award was accepted by Ira’s daughters, Kathy and Denise, and Charlie’s son, Charlie Jr. Other honorees included The Bee Gees and George Harrison.

The Best Folk Album Grammy went to Old Crow Medicine Show for Remedy. Ketch Secor told Rolling Stone Country, “Until Nashville is ready to come to terms with the fact that we’re a country band, sure, we’ll take a folk Grammy.” Since “Wagon Wheel” came out in 2004, the band has been gaining momentum. “There’s a weird thing that happens when your heroes become your opening acts,” Secor muses. “You still feel like they’re the headliner.”

Also on Sunday evening was the 41st annual awards ceremony for the Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music of America. Tom T. Hall accepted the award he and his late wife, Dixie Hall, won for Bluegrass Songwriter of the Year. Rhonda Vincent won the award for Female Vocalist of the Year (Contemporary) and Entertainer of the Year.

“I’m Not Gonna Miss You,” the song Glen Campbell sings at the end of the documentary film Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me, is nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song. Only 20 songs from documentary films have been nominated for Best Original Song since this Oscar was first given in 1934. Glen’s co-writer and producer, Julian Raymond, tells Rolling Stone Country, “I was lucky enough to be the musical director for the Glen tribute at the Grammys in 2012. I was so pleased that the Grammys gave him a Lifetime Achievement award when he could still understand what it was and appreciate it.” In the 1960s, Glen had been one of the most successful members of the Wrecking Crew, a group of Los Angeles studio and session musicians whose work was heard on records by everyone from the Beach Boys to Frank Sinatra. Members of the Wrecking Crew reunited to back Glen when he and Julian Raymond recorded “I’m Not Gonna Miss You.” At the request of the Campbell family, Tim McGraw will sing the song during the 87th annual Academy Awards show on February 22. All five nominated songs will be performed.

The Nashville Scene reports that the 90-seat Bluebird Café, a Nashville fixture in a Green Hills strip mall since 1982, may have to close in June. The landlord did not renew the lease, choosing instead to put Jimmy Buffett’s Cheeseburger in Paradise restaurant in the space. The Bluebird’s owners would like to relocate in Nashville, perhaps in Five Points or Opry Mills. The club is an important component of the ABC-TV show Nashville, where many scenes take place. The actual filming is done in the old Broken Spoke, a former nightclub in the Econo Lodge on Brick Church Pike, where the show’s production crew built a true-to-scale replica of the Bluebird.

The Los Angeles Nomadic Division is sponsoring The Manifest Destiny Billboard Project, a series of artist-produced billboards that will be displayed along 3000 miles of Interstate 10 from California to Florida this spring. [I haven’t driven the entire I-10 route, but I have lived at both ends of it, in Los Angeles and Jacksonville.] Ten artists in ten cities each designed 10 billboards. Jeremy Shaw chose to feature Marty Robbins on ten billboards in the west Texas town of El Paso. Marty’s song, “El Paso,” which topped Billboard’s country and pop charts at the beginning of 1960, is still popular more than half a century after its release.

The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville has opened a new exhibit, Ronnie Milsap: A Legend in My Time, that will run through the end of August. The exhibit includes stage costumes, his six Grammy Awards, Ronnie’s 1962 diploma and class ring from the North Carolina State School for the Blind and the Deaf, and the Neve mixing console from his recording studio. There is also a bright red keytar he used during some of his concerts. There was no room for his grand piano. Ronnie Milsap, 72, is one of the newest inductees into the Hall of Fame.

Nominees for the 50th annual Academy of Country Music Awards have been announced. Miranda Lambert leads with eight nominations. Rolling Stone Country reports, “It’s the Entertainer of the Year category that best illustrates the ACMs’ wild card reputation. Garth Brooks, who returned last year from a lengthy retirement, and Florida Georgia Line, who released just their second album in October, are both up for Entertainer, against perennial nominees Miranda Lambert, Luke Bryan and Jason Aldean. The exclusion of Blake Shelton, who co-hosts the ceremony with Bryan, is a shocker, as is the snub of Eric Church, who has mounted one of the year’s most in-demand tours.” The CBS-TV show will air April 19th from AT&T Stadium in Texas.

The Broadway-style musical, “Moonshine” That Hee Haw Musical, premieres September 2 at the Dallas Theater Center in Texas. Co-writers Brandy Clark and Shane McAnally, who both grew up watching Hee Haw, are making their musical theater writing debut. The show, based loosely on the original, is set in modern-day Kornfield Kounty and is the story of Misty Mae, who dreams of seeking her fortune in exotic and faraway Tampa. Tickets can be purchased on DallasTheaterCenter.org, starting at $126.

Lee Greenwood‘s first children’s book, Proud To Be An American, will be in stores Memorial Day weekend. It features illustrated lyrics of “God Bless The USA” and includes a free song download. His previous two books are God Bless The USA: Biography of A Song (1993) and Does God Still Bless The USA: A Plea For A Better America (2012).

Geoff Lambert reports from England, “I told you it was a great number and I am sure you are aware the 2015 Grammy award winner of best country song went to Glen Campbell, for ‘I’m Not Gonna Miss You’ single from his Alzheimer’s disease documentary, I’ll Be Me. A wonderful tribute to the man.”

Johnny Western writes from Arizona,American Cowboy Magazine has just published its latest edition, with ‘the greatest western TV themes of all time.’ My song, ‘The Ballad of Paladin,’ from the CBS series, Have Gun-Will Travel, was voted # 1. It was followed by the themes from Wagon Train, The Rifleman, Rawhide, and Bonanza, so this is a great honor, indeed. I wrote the song March 14, 1958. Thru the years, more than 50 other recordings of the song have been done since my original on Columbia Records. It was also used in the smash hit movie Stand By Me, as well as the feature film, The War At Home, with Emilio Estevez, Martin Sheen, and Academy Award winner, Kathy Bates. The show has just ended 4 years of reruns on the Encore Westerns Channel. The show has been on in 78 other countries around the world and been seen by over 500 million people. I just retired from touring a year ago and this has been an extremely nice retirement present. I am very grateful to have received this award from American Cowboy.”

Terry Counts in White Bluff, Tennessee, says, “Great to get the newsletter. Now that Marty Martel isn’t doing his, I miss the news badly, as even though I don’t get around like I did, I still wanna know whaz what! I was tickled to death to see my good friend Tommy Cash featured. I love Tommy and Marci to death and when we had Billy Deaton Talent around we did a lot of dates together. Tommy is one of the nicest persons and a great ‘gentleman’ as in the old days. Not many of those critters left around! Thanks for sharing a great man with all of us.”

Rick Belsher writes from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, “Enjoyed your Faron Young book tremendously. Am 67, and grew up with traditional country, Ray Price my favourite, and Faron of course, etc. Always thought artists had world by the tail, everything was perfect for them, unlimited money, fame. Your book sure exposed another side, they can be just like us mortals. In watching Faron on Youtube, singing tribute to Hank Sr. ‘Your Cheating Heart,’ would never think he had problems. Also was at concert in Edmonton when he had piano player with finger(s) missing. I especially enjoyed the stories, and have heard many on Youtube on Country Family Roundup. Just thanks for a great book. Next one on my wish list is Bill Anderson’s stories, and then Patsy Cline.”

Virgie Warren reports, “Julia Mainer died Jan. 21, 2015 She was 95.”
Diane: Julia Mainer was a singer and guitarist who performed on WSJS Radio in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, before marrying bluegrass pioneer Wade Mainer in 1937. She served as her husband’s guitarist in concert and on records for about 40 years. Wade Mainer died at age 104 in September 2011.

Paul Daugherty says, “Have been a big fan of Marty Robbins for some time. While watching his videos, I can’t help but wonder about his onstage behavior. He seems to go out of his way to provoke other band members, and at times, his audience. Do you know if he was ever asked to explain himself? Was he aware of how he came across to his fans?”
Diane: I talked about that somewhat in Marty’s biography. He said he enjoyed himself so much on stage that he couldn’t help cutting up. He realized he went overboard sometimes. I don’t know if anyone ever discussed it with him; they probably knew he was teasing. I quoted a few reviews that complained about him goofing around more than singing. He received so much love from his fans that he could do whatever he wanted.

James Akenson writes from Nashville, “Always enjoy your newsletter a great deal. I’m including a blurb regarding a new award to be presented at the International Country Music Conference. If you could share in your newsletter and with other interested folks it would be appreciated.”
Here it is: “Rolling Stone in association with the International Country Music Conference (www.internationalcountrymusic.org) is pleased to request nominations for the 1st annual Chet Flippo Award for Excellence in Country Music Journalism. The Chet Flippo award will be presented Friday, 22 May 2015 in the Frist Lecture Hall of the Gordon E. Inman Center of Belmont University in Nashville. The honoree will receive $1,000, a plaque, and up to $1,000 travel support to receive the Chet Flippo award in person. Open to nominations from throughout the world, the Chet Flippo Award will honor a piece (or series) of writing(s) on country music published during 2014 in a newspaper, magazine, website, or other appropriate channel distinct from academic books, reference works, and journals. Nominations will be evaluated by a committee based on the work’s significance of content, clarity of writing, and impact. Nominations must be received by Friday, 27 February 2015 and include the nominee’s name, email contact information for the nominee, and identification of the work(s) for which the nomination is made. Writers of any employment status may be nominated. Self-nominations are welcome. Stories published in Rolling Stone and freelance stories published in other outlets written by current Rolling Stone staffers are ineligible. Please send nominations to James E. Akenson at jakenson@tntech.edu.”

Jerry Overcast, Photographer to THE STARS, requests, “Please add me to your mailing list. I am the exclusive photographer for R.O.P.E. (Reunion Of Professional Entertainers).”

John Morris in Peterborough, Ontario, Canada, writes, “I am still really enjoying your newsletters but I have to change my email address.”

Linda Elliott Clark writes, “Thanks for the update. So sorry to hear about the recent deaths. Life is going fast that’s for sure. Jim Ed Brown — 80 — wow! I remember sitting and talking with him in Maryland one evening at one of his shows – this was in the ‘60s. I wish him all the best with the new album. What can I say about Vince Gill. He’s my man!!! All the best to him as well.”

Alan Potter writes from the U.K., “Wonderful story of Tommy Cash, great to hear that Ray Pillow is still going & sad to hear about Dixie Hall, I didn’t know that. Give Tom T. my sincere condolences, They were a devoted couple. I lost my better half last September & it’s devastated me.”

Tom T. Hall was trying to write a prison song after Johnny Cash made prison songs popular, and he told his wife he had never been in prison so he felt phony trying to write about it. Miss Dixie said, ‘Write about what you know.” He said he’d been in jail, so he “wrote a song about a week I spent in a country jail,” he said in his memoir, The Storyteller’s Nashville. “It seemed to come too easy. I was just writing about something that happened to me.” He had played bass with a band at an American Legion club in Kentucky, and he left his wallet and driver’s license in his room. “I was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol and having no license,” he recalled. “I don’t believe they would have mentioned the few drinks I had taken if I had had my license; to make matters worse, I had lost the tags off my car.” The officer put him in jail overnight to explain it to the judge in the morning. “The judge’s grandmother died that night,” Tom T. continued, “and everybody in jail had to stay there until the funeral was over and the judge had gotten some rest. It took about a week.” The resulting record, “A Week In a Country Jail,” went to number one. After that success, Tom T. Hall “started to write more about my own experiences. It amazed me that people really cared about what I’d done and where I’d been.”

This 1979 memoir, The Storyteller’s Nashville, is the story of a man who “had known from the age of four that I would drive to Nashville and become a song writer.” Tom Hall did just that in 1964, when he arrived in Nashville with $46, a guitar, and the rose-colored Cadillac he’d bought because “someone told me that writing my first song would not buy me a Cadillac.” He met his future wife when he attended a BMI awards dinner where his songs (recorded by Johnny Wright and Jimmy C. Newman) won awards. Tom was “sitting across the table from Mother Maybelle [Carter] and Dixie Dean, as she was then called. She was a trifle on the plump side and she was eating a baked potato. I said, ‘Is that why you’re so fat?’” Dixie was editor of the Music City News at the time, and she eventually agreed to marry this romantic songwriter: “We were sitting, having a sandwich in the Pancake House on Division Street near the Vanderbilt campus when I asked her,” he writes. “I explained that we were pretty well adjusted to one other, and I had a little money in the bank.” Also in that same year, 1968, he “became an entertainer.” His label head thought Tom Hall wasn’t a catchy enough name, and the T. was added.

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