Diane’s Country Music Newsletter — 14 December 2022


I’m thrilled to announce that Twentieth Century Drifter: The Life of Marty Robbins is now available to the public as an audiobook. It can be downloaded from Audible.com or Amazon.com. Thanks to Frank Gerard for narrating both Marty’s story and Faron’s story. I have a few complimentary copies I can give out for those two books, as well as for Navy Greenshirt. Email me if you would like one, or all three.


Country music journalist Peter Cooper, 52, died December 6 in Nashville, Tennessee, after suffering a head injury from a fall. A native of South Carolina, he moved to Nashville in 2000, joining The Tennessean as a music writer. In 2014, he left there to take a position at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, where he was the museum’s senior director, producer and writer at the time of his death. Peter’s family posted on social media: “It is with heavy hearts that we let you know Peter Cooper passed away in his sleep last night, Dec. 6, after suffering a severe head injury late last week. We will soon announce details about a celebration of life to take place in early 2023.” My condolences to his family. Peter and I have exchanged emails, and he was a long-time reader of my newsletter. We finally met in person when Bill Anderson introduced us at his Hall of Fame gala last December. Kyle Young, CEO of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, describes Peter as “an award-winning music journalist, author, Grammy-nominated producer, recording musician, songwriter, baseball fanatic and former Senior Lecturer in country music at Vanderbilt University’s Blair School of Music.”

The people who came to see The Malpass Brothers at Granbury Live in Granbury, Texas, southwest of Fort Worth, were pleasantly surprised to see Randy Travis there, reports Hood County News. The club’s general manager, Kishla Hackler, says, “We were sold out on Saturday night, so it was a great surprise to everyone, and it was just a neat experience — especially for Granbury Live.” The audience gave Randy a standing ovation. “It was just a really, really great night.” Hackler said. “He thought it was a great venue and he wants to come back.” Randy’s Facebook post said, “Mary and I loved seeing my fellow North Carolinians The Malpass Brothers in Texas last night at Granbury Live.”

The annual International Western Music Association Annual Awards Show in Albuquerque, New Mexico, named Randy Huston as Songwriter of the Year and Performer of the Year. A press release describes him as “a popular entertainer on the western music circle and can be found many weekends playing for fans at cowboy gatherings and concerts.” He wrote or co-wrote all 14 songs on his recent album, Times Like These, which is about the American cowboy and love and respect for family and the land. Randy not only sings and writes about the cowboy lifestyle; he lives it. The Huston family operates a ranch near Cuervo, New Mexico, where Randy and his father are in partnership to raise Corriente cattle. They were in the middle of the wildfires earlier this year and had to evacuate twice but thankfully did not have any damage to their home or property.

Cajun Country Jam is hosting its first two-day Memorial Day Festival at Denham Springs, east of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Travis Tritt, 60, will headline on Saturday and Scotty McCreery, 29, on Sunday, according to Nola.com. Also on Saturday night, Randy Travis will be honorarily inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame by the Grammy-winning band Shenandoah, who will also sing some of his hits. Randy will be available to sign copies of his book, Forever and Ever, Amen: A Memoir of Music, Faith, and Braving the Storms of Life. The Sunday show with Scotty McCreery, who won Season 10 of American Idol, will be devoted to up-and-coming country artists.

Canadian country singer Lindsay Ell, who has been making country music in Nashville for years, passed the U.S. citizenship test earlier this year. CMT News reports she recently received her citizenship papers in the mail. “The past 11 years have been quite the journey,” she says. “So many blood, sweat, and tears relocating to a place where I knew no one, to start building a life. Funny that, to the day, I signed my record deal 10 years ago. Let this be a reminder that you can do WHATEVER you want to in life if you want it badly enough. I am proud to be a dual citizen.” She was on the road with Little Big Town, who threw her an American party to celebrate. Lindsay made her Grand Ole Opry debut in 2014 and has made several appearances since.

Fox’s country music drama Monarch has been canceled, reports CMT News. Trace Adkins starred as Albie Roman in the multigenerational country music drama, which featured Susan Sarandon as his wife, Dottie Cantrell Roman. Dottie died in the first episode, bringing the Roman family together to protect its legacy and future. Shania Twain, Martina McBride, Little Big Town, and Tanya Tucker appeared in the series. The show was Fox’s most watched fall debut, but the following ten episodes didn’t perform as well.

LeAnn Rimes had to cancel shows on her Joy: The Holiday Tour because of sudden illness. She published a hand-written note on Instagram that said, “While sick with the flu, my doctor discovered a bleed on my vocal cord, caused by the violent cough that came along with being sick. I am getting better, but I am unable to talk or sing… doctor’s orders!” Her Ryman Auditorium show in Nashville has been rescheduled for April 8, CMT News reports.

The name of the new Dolly Parton rock ‘n’ roll album, due out next year, will be Rockstar. On The Kelly Clarkson Show, Dolly said she will be doing classic rock songs and using classic artists to sing some of the songs with her. It will include the song she wrote for her Hall of Fame induction, “Rocking It.”

After all 27 shows of the Garth Brooks/Plus ONE Vegas residency at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace sold out in one day, Garth arranged to extend his residency through 2024. According to CMT News, the new show dates will be unveiled in May. The 60,000 fans who signed up through Ticketmaster and couldn’t get tickets for the 2023 dates will be given priority to buy 2024 tickets.

The family of Naomi Judd filed a notice to voluntarily dismiss a lawsuit that sought to block journalists from accessing police investigation records surrounding her April 30 death, the Associated Press reports. Journalists requesting police records are not asking for photographs or body cam footage taken inside the home–which was the fear expressed in the original lawsuit, that releasing video and audio interviews would inflict “significant trauma and irreparable harm.” The family is now willing to have the lawsuit dismissed, especially since a state lawmaker is introducing a bill to make death investigation records private where the death is not the result of a crime.

MusicRow reports next month’s opening of a new year-long exhibit at The Country Music Hall of Fame: Dick Curless: Hard Traveling Man from Maine. Although Dick Curless placed more than 20 hits on the Billboard charts, his debut single was his biggest, “A Tombstone Every Mile” in 1965. His second chart record, the same year, was his second biggest, “Six Times a Day (The Trains Came Down).” He’d served in the U.S. Army from 1951-1954, as a truck driver in Korea and as the “Rice Paddy Ranger,” the host of an Armed Forces Radio network show. After his discharge and a failed attempt to build a music career on the West Coast, he returned home to Maine and bought a lumber truck. The exhibit will feature a selection of instruments, stage wear and personal artifacts donated by the Curless family.

The National Arts and Entertainment Journalism Awards has honored Tanya Tucker with the Distinguished Storyteller Award for excellence in storytelling outside of journalism. According to MusicRow, that award is presented to a person who has proven to be a great storyteller through forms of artistic expression outside of journalism. Tanya is starring in her first original movie, A Nashville Country Christmas, and she is featured in The Return of Tanya Tucker, Featuring Brandi Carlile, which chronicles the resurgence of her career.

The Western Music Association (WMA) has inducted Don Cusic into the Western Music Hall of Fame in the historian category. Cusic is a professor at Belmont University’s Curb College of Entertainment & Music Business, author of 28 books and 500 articles, co-host of the International Country Music Conference, and editor of the International Country Music Journal. “I grew up watching Roy Rogers on TV–he was a hero of mine–and now, to be in the same Hall of Fame with Roy Rogers, Dale Evans, Gene Autry, and others is beyond words,” he says. “I carried a Roy Rogers lunch box to school and my favorite entertainment was watching cowboy shows on TV.” According to MusicRow, the WMA Hall of Fame was established in 1989 to honor groups and individuals who have made significant contributions to western music.

The ABC News Superstar series featured Reba McEntire last week, and I enjoyed watching the show. The hour-long special explored the experiences that brought the Oklahoma cowgirl to fame and how she continues today. At age 67, she seems to be busier than ever, with touring, recording, acting, and business efforts such as her clothing line. She was interviewed for the show, along with comments by fans such as Carrie Underwood, Darius Rucker, Dierks Bentley, Dolly Parton, Miranda Lambert, Nick Jonas, Vince Gill, and Wynonna Judd. I was living in Oklahoma City when Red Steagall got her started on her recording career.


Alice Mackenzie writes, “I think I told you before that I used to see Marty Robbins a lot. I saw him the first time he was at Wembley and a few days later in Glasgow, in the early ‘70s. From then I just wanted to see him as often as I could. I was lucky enough to see him again at Wembley plus Canada and in a number of states. A few times Marty would recognize me from the stage which made me feel good. The last time I saw Marty was November 27, 1982. I had traveled from Boston to New Castle, Pennsylvania. A long ride, but well worth it when Marty came on stage. As usual he put on a great show. There were two shows that night and I went to both. Sadly, that was the last night I was going to see him, who knew what lay ahead some 11 days later. It’s been 40 years since Marty was called home. Thankfully he left us lots of music and now with the internet we can see old videos.”

Diane: It is hard to believe it’s been forty years. I remember being shocked at the news on December 8, 1982. He seemed too tough to die, with all he’d been through previously, with his heart attacks and NASCAR crashes. And he was only 57 years old.

Wayne Hobbs, Marty Robbins’s last steel guitar player, says, “Just wanted you to know I LOVE your monthly letter, even though I don’t post anything. Please keep it up. God Bless and Merry CHRISTMAS.”

Geraldine Wagner says, “I was fortunate enough to see Marty Robbins in Peoria, Illinois, at Bradley University. I enjoy your blogs. Certainly nice to read about artists I grew up with and still love. Can count on one hand the artists today I would listen to let alone care to read about. Thank you for all you do to help preserve real Country Music.”

Ed Guy writes from Palm Coast, Florida, “I have been a very happy Country Music Fan since receiving the wonderful Diane’s Country Music Newsletter for the past several years. The Hank Williams Museum in Montgomery, Alabama, has recently published my book, Hank Williams’ Discography – The Enhanced Version.”

Diane: Congratulations, Ed. Readers can find it here.

Ronnie Traywick in North Carolina says, “Another great read, thank you.”

Mary Mitchell writes, “Great letter by mentioning so many great Artists. Don Gibson has been one of my many favorites. I loved the way he sings with the sudden stops. Sort of like Willie. Don’s low voice is easy to listen to. I recently saw Marty Stuart and what a show that was.”

Dominique ‘Imperial’ Anglares writes from France, “Good to enjoy that welcome newsletter. Very nice to have Ly Nguyen among us, Country music goes all around the world. Great to know about Buddy Emmons’s book. Another future welcome addition in my library. Gonna write about that book to Santa Claus before he will come to town. Wishing you and all the readers a Merry Christmas. Warmest regards from your French friend.”

Linda Mellon says, “Always enjoy your newsletters. So much information to absorb. Ticketmaster’s monopoly makes me sick. Every concert will sell out due to scalpers buying up tickets and then reselling at such inflated prices that none of us regular fans will ever be able to afford to see our favorites. Very sad.”

Rick Russell writes, “Wow, great news on University of Illinois Press and CMHOF! I was exploring publishers the other day, but this now cements my thoughts on trying for University of Illinois Press. I looked at their submission requirements and they seem intimidating, but then what else do I have to do, ha ha! My biography of Johnny Russell is coming along OK. Right now, it’s a giant timeline, but I’m getting the narrative written bit by bit. What a great story this is going to be.”


The University of Illinois Press is holding a holiday sale with all books 50% off until the end of the year. Use promo code HOLIDAY22. To get autographed copies of any of my books, send me an email or click on the links at the bottom of this newsletter.


One of my favorite Chris LeDoux song’s is “Five Dollar Fine.” It was on his 20 Greatest Hits album in 1996, and I don’t know if it was ever released as a single. Written by Alex Harvey, it’s a cheerful ditty about a partying crowd in a bar where “Our jukebox won’t play no sad songs, so don’t come in here and cry in your beer.” It has one of those musical lines that sticks in your mind after hearing it: “We’ve got a five dollar fine for whining.”


Hank Cochran was a class by himself. He was the only person added to the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1974, followed by six in 1975 and six more in 1976. Born Garland Perry Cochran in Mississippi in 1935, he became one of the most consistently successful country songwriters in history. “Make the World Go Away” and “I Fall to Pieces” have both been recorded by more than 100 artists. “Don’t Touch Me,” “The Chair,” “Don’t You Ever Get Tired of Hurting Me,” “I Fall to Pieces” and “She’s Got You” have all been broadcast more than one million times each, with “Make the World Go Away” at two million performances. Hank dropped out of school at age 12 and hitchhiked to New Mexico with his uncle, Otis Cochran, to work on oil rigs. After serving in the Army, he wrote songs for the West Coast branch of Pamper Music in Los Angeles until transferred to the company’s Nashville office in 1960. Patsy Cline’s recording of “I Fall to Pieces” (written with Harlan Howard) in 1961 was his first big songwriting success. Patsy also recorded “She’s Got You” (so did Loretta Lynn) and “Why Can’t It Be You.” Jeannie Seely won a Grammy for his “Don’t Touch Me.” Hank and Jeannie were married in 1969 and divorced in 1981. Some of Hank’s other songs include “Don’t You Ever Get Tired of Hurting Me” (Ronnie Milsap), “A Little Bitty Tear” and “Funny Way of Laughin’” (Burl Ives), “The Chair” and “Ocean Front Property” (co-written for George Strait), “Miami, My Amy” (co-written for Keith Whitley), and “It’s Not Love, (But It’s Not Bad)” (Merle Haggard). He also recorded his own LPs for RCA, Monument, Capitol and Elektra. He died in 2010 in Nashville, at age 74, and was inducted to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2014.

Comments are closed.