Diane’s Country Music Newsletter — 19 April 2023


Joe Vincent, the first steel player in the Nashville bands of both Marty Robbins and Faron Young, died at age 92 in Nashville on April 6. Joe Mack Vincent served in the US Army during the Korean War. Following his music career, he worked at and retired from Baptist Hospital. He is survived by his wife of 60 years, Sylvia Webb Vincent, and his son, Joseph Michael Vincent. His funeral was held at Forest Lawn Funeral Home on April 11, followed by burial with military honors in the Forest Lawn Memorial Gardens.

A month ago, I reported that Alabama is bringing back its June Jam in Fort Payne, Alabama, after 26 years. It will be at the VFW Fairgrounds on June 3, with Alabama closing the show. As in years past, it will benefit those in need and disaster relief efforts across the state of Alabama. Last held in 1997, the 2023 revival marks its 17th year. According to MusicRow, guests will include Jamey Johnson, Jake Owen, The Oak Ridge Boys, Exile, Mark Wills, Neal McCoy, Dailey & Vincent, among others, with Randy Travis making a special appearance. A public celebration of life will be held for Alabama member Jeff Cook, who died in November at age 73.

A bronze sculpture of Charley Pride was unveiled April 12 at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium. PEOPLE reports his widow, Rozene, and son Dion were present at the afternoon ceremony, as were 300 friends and fans, including actor-producer Dennis Quaid, who is working on a Pride biopic. Starting at the statue of Captain Thomas Ryman outside the front entrance, the Ryman Icon Walk circles the exterior of the auditorium and allows visitors to see and learn about legendary artists who have performed at the “Mother Church of Country Music.” Charley’s life-sized bronze statue joins those of Loretta Lynn, Bill Monroe, and Little Jimmy Dickens. Statues of Roy Acuff and Minnie Pearl are inside the lobby of the Ryman.

Rozene Pride and Dion Pride with Charley Pride statue. Photo: Jason Davis/Getty Images

As global ambassador for Ukrainian fundraising platform UNITED24 and its campaign to help rebuild Ukraine, Brad Paisley recently visited Ukraine and met with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, reports ABC News. He went to Ukraine with a bipartisan U.S. Senate delegation and also played for American troops in Poland. He performed his song “Same Here” in St. Michael’s Square in Kyiv. “It’s an emotional experience seeing all of this firsthand,” he said during a press conference. “For me, looking around this city and being here for the first time, I’m absolutely struck by the resilience of life and the beautiful nature of the way this city is trying to thrive in the middle of conflict.”

Tim McGraw is launching his own Nashville-based media company, Down Home, focused on entertainment aimed at everyday Americans. Deadline reports backing from Skydance Media. The aim of Down Home, according to an official announcement, will be to connect Tim’s country music audience with Hollywood and consumer brands. The company will produce film, TV and digital projects focused on “relatable stories that capture the essence and spirit of everyday Americans.” Tim says country music has always been about storytelling, with the stories being honest vignettes of life and family and community. “For me, that’s Down Home,” he says. “That’s how I grew up, those are the stories I like to tell, and that’s what I want our company to be about.”

The superintendent for Hillsborough County Public Schools in Florida issued a memo about an upcoming Taylor Swift concert that went viral. Taste of Country reports Superintendent Addison Davis wanted his students to know he expected them to be in class the morning after her Thursday night concert. Using her song titles, he warned them: “I understand I am the Anti-Hero here, and Call It What You Want, but You’re on Your Own Kid if you think being a Swiftie is a good excuse for missing important instruction.” He said, “You know All Too Well you Should’ve Said No to attending a Thursday night concert.” He ended with, “I hope there is not a Blank Space in your seat on Friday morning. It could be a Cruel Summer if you prioritize being a Swiftie over being in class. You Belong with Me, Me! in school.”

MusicRow reports Luke Combs has teamed with Opry Entertainment Group on a multi-level entertainment complex in downtown Nashville at 120 Second Avenue North, longtime home of the Wildhorse Saloon. The new venue will open in a year and will continue to operate as the Wildhorse Saloon during the renovation. It will be the largest and most versatile entertainment complex in the downtown entertainment district, with an indoor/outdoor capacity of nearly 3,200 and customized to reflect the new owner’s passions for music, songwriting, whiskey, and sports. A proposed 9,000-square-foot rooftop will offer unobstructed views of the Cumberland River and Nissan Stadium. In addition to daily live music from the best up-and-coming talent in Nashville, the venue plans to host a full calendar of ticketed concerts and events.

Since Bud Light beer partnered with transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney, boycotts in the country music world have been led by Travis Tritt and John Rich. Whiskey Riff reports that Zach Bryan recently tweeted, “I mean no disrespect towards anyone specifically, I don’t even mind Travis Tritt. I just think insulting transgender people is completely wrong because we live in a country where we can all just be who we want to be.” He ended his tweet with, “It’s a great day to be alive, I thought,” referring to a Travis Tritt song. When Travis later called for Jack Daniels drinkers to take notice of that company’s partnership with Ru Paul’s Drag Race, Zack responded with another tweet, “I love Jack Daniels and I will drink enough for both of us I promise.” Since then, Travis has been trying to contact Zach’s manager to set up an in-person chat when both singers would be playing at an April 14 festival near Austin, Texas. They later reported they talked for an hour and a half Sunday night. Zach, 27, tweeted, “It was nice to meet an old legend. We disagree on some things and agree on some things and it seems the world did not end.” Travis, 60, responded, “So glad we had a chance to chat, Zach. Even better to discover that we have so much common ground. All the best to you on your first European tour!”

Drake Milligan and several members of his band were injured when his touring van crashed into a concrete median in Texas on Sunday morning, reports Taste of Country. They were between Fort Worth and Georgetown when a tire from another vehicle struck the van, leading to a collision with a concrete median. Drake and several band members were treated at the hospital and released. The accident forced them to miss a show in Georgetown at Two Step Inn. Drake finished third on last year’s season of America’s Got Talent. His debut album is Dallas/Fort Worth.

During a concert in Wichita, Kansas, Kane Brown was singing when someone in the audience threw a cowboy boot that hit him directly in the groin. He doubled over in pain and sat down on the stage but kept singing. After finishing the song, he said, “Gol-ly! Hit me with the heel! I felt that!” He autographed the boot before handing it to someone in the audience.

More than 200 guests attended the invitation-only grand opening of the Sinatra Bar & Lounge in Nashville on Friday, April 14. They included Tina Sinatra, Trisha Yearwood, Lorrie Morgan, Lee Roy Parnell, Nashville Mayor John Cooper, and a who’s who of the music industry. Parnell sang “Fly Me To The Moon” and Morgan performed the 1994 duet she recorded with Frank Sinatra, “How Do You Keep The Music Playing.” The two-hour program was broadcast on SiriusXM’s Siriusly Sinatra channel on the special “Let’s Be Frank with Trisha Yearwood LIVE from Sinatra Bar & Lounge in Nashville, Tennessee.” Yearwood closed the broadcast with a performance of “One For My Baby.” The Sinatra Bar & Lounge opened to the public the next day.

Moe Bandy was recently inducted into the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame at Billy Bob’s Texas in Fort Worth. He competed in bull riding prior to pursuing country music full-time. Previous inductees include Willie Nelson, George Strait, Red Steagall, Lyle Lovett, Clay Walker, Robert Earl Keen, Aaron Watson, and Bob Wills. Moe recently released a new album, Thank You Lord, with the title track–written by Mo Pitney, Bobby Tomberlin, and Cheryl Riddle–offering a reflection of where Moe is in his life today. The twelve-track duet project was produced by Michele Voan Capps and sponsored by Gus Arrendale and Springer Mountain Farms, reports New Music Weekly.


Bob Jennings says, “Thank You for printing my letter–I hope it will encourage people (Musicians or not) to join the Steel Guitar Forum. Your Country Music Newsletter gets better with every issue!!”

David Jones, whose stage name is Webb Dalton, writes, “I always enjoy reading your articles. I wanted to send you our new single ‘Better Man’ we released last week and an article: https://top40-charts000000.com/news.php?nid=180225&cat=.”

Bobby Fischer writes from Nashville, “Lost another good one, Ray Pillow. I sat around a bunch at Johnny Morris’s office with Ray and Robert Lewis. The song I had cut by Conway Twitty, ‘Life’s Too Short (No Matter How Long It Lasts),’ reminds me of Ray as back then he liked it. Ray was A&R at Capital. We’ll enjoy good memories of Ray, best to the family.”

Chris Belle says, “Love your letters, I learn so much about this great country music culture, it only reflects what’s going on in our society right now in part, I hope it can be fixed. Wasn’t going to say anything, but I have to. Glad parents are standing up for their right to raise their kids right. What a strange upside-down world.”


Here’s a fun song from Randy Travis’s 2011 album of duets, Randy Travis ‎– 25th Anniversary Celebration. “Didn’t We Shine” was written by Don Schlitz and Jesse Winchester. Kyle Lehning told me he co-produced this recording with Don Schlitz in two studios at Sound Emporium. Don was in the A studio with the musicians, and Kyle was in the B studio with the singers. Listen to it and see if you can identify the six voices on the track with Randy. I’ll give you a hint: George Jones, Lorrie Morgan, Ray Price, Connie Smith, Joe Stampley, and Gene Watson.


I met Joe Vincent on my third Faron Young research trip to Nashville. I don’t remember how I got in touch with him, but he came to my hotel room for an interview on January 6, 2000. He was Faron’s first steel guitar player, and he brought me a show program booklet from 1955 and told me to mail it back to him. It was his only copy. Such trust! Joe also told me stories about Marty Robbins, which didn’t interest me at the time, but Joe was the first person I contacted for an interview when I started working on Marty’s biography. I’ll talk about that interview in my next newsletter. Joe came to the Country Deputy reunion I held in April 2000 during my next visit. He and Sonny Burnette enjoyed a reunion because they hadn’t seen each other in years. They both lived at Ma Upchurch’s boarding house in the early 1950s. Joe died April 6, 2023, at age 92.

Back in the late fifties Brother Elvis came along, and completely turned country music around. The voices began to come in, with the Jordanaires. And steel guitar players was on the decline, they wasn’t being used as much. I decided, well, I’m gonna go back to school, and get into something that’s got a career to it. So I went back to school, and a lot of other guys had different part-time jobs, or done other things, but they got back into music. I had a good future, good retirement, good benefit plan, and I could stay with it. I went to school at Baptist Hospital, in respiratory care. I went to a two-year school there, and I stayed there till I retired.

I got out of the Army in 1953. I had been playing before I went into the military, and I got serious with it when I got out. I went to work with the Big Jeff School of Music, with WLAC radio here in Nashville. A lot of people that went to the Grand Ole Opry worked with Big Jeff at one time or another. Spider Wilson, he and I worked together with Big Jeff. George McCormick, who later went to work with Porter Wagoner. Big Jeff had early morning radio programs with WLAC. They called it the Big Jeff School of Music, because everybody who seemed to work for Jeff would go to the Grand Ole Opry, or some star.

I worked with Marty Robbins for about a year. That’s when Faron got out of the Army. Faron didn’t have a band. Hubert Long was booking several acts. He booked Marty, and he was booking Faron regular. He would use me if Marty was on the show, and Faron, and the Wilburn Brothers was there, too. Hubert says, why don’t you come on and go work with Faron? I said, well, okay. I didn’t know which direction to go.

Gordon Terry was in the military with Faron. How Tom Pritchard got on the scene, I don’t know. All of a sudden he was there, as part of the band. I quit Marty and went with Faron. The Wilburn Brothers joined him first. They knew each other down in Shreveport. We had the old seven-passenger stretch limos. You had to put all your instruments, programs, and all your clothes in the trailer. Hubert kept Faron working. He’d go out like 30 to 40 days at a time. That’s a long stretch to be on the road, one nighter here and one nighter there. It was fun for me, cuz I was young. Everybody got along good, cuz everybody ridin’ in one little automobile like that had to get along–you couldn’t get mad. Doyle and I were roommates. Faron would sometimes have to fly back to do the Opry. Faron would fly quite a bit. But if we was workin’ a town here, and it’d just be maybe 150 miles, he would ride–we’d all just kind of scrunch up and ride on to the next date. I had a good time. I have no regrets.

A lot of filming Hidden Guns was at Kanab, Utah, a lot of the outdoor scenes, but a lot of it was cut in Corriganville, somewhere in California, in the Hollywood area. The reason the name was Corriganville, there was an old cowboy named Crash Corrigan back in the early days, and they had this western town set up, and they called it Corriganville. It was a movie set. We may’ve been calvarymen today, then we may be Mexicans tomorrow. We’d worked all out in that area, so when Faron was out there, we’d work a club or two. Out in Kanab, Utah, there just wasn’t nowhere to work. It was just a little town, settin’ way over here, 20 miles from anywhere. That’s where a lot of that outdoor stuff was shot. Webb Pierce was out there, too. It was like from 4 a.m. till late in the evening. A lot of it wasn’t play time; a lot of it was hard work. Plus just sittin’ around, waiting and doing nothing, but it was so interesting to see how those things took place, and how they done all that. I’ve always been interested in stuff I didn’t understand.

We used to have a little reunion occasionally over at Gordon Terry’s house. Me and my wife would go, and Pete Wade, and Don Helms, and Hillous Buttram. We’d all get together and have dinner over there and talk about old times. Hillous lives in my area and Don lives in Hendersonville, and Pete Wade lives out in Hermitage. We would all gather over at Gordon’s house and bring a covered dish and talk. I don’t know whose idea this was, but it was mentioned that we ought to do this more often. We ought to form a club, an old people’s club. One thing led to another, and Gordon said, “The only time we see each other is at the funeral home.” And they come up with the idea of ROPE. I was on the board of directors for a long time, and I was secretary-treasurer for a long time. I’m card number seven. I think Don Helms is one, a lifetime member, and Gordon was president, and Pete Wade three or four, and Hillous Buttram. But, what I was getting to, was after this thing got going–there was quite a few members in that thing. There’s some heavy people in it, but never attend. A lot of them make contributions, and they have fundraisers. Faron’s done a lot of fundraisers for ROPE. Gordon would always get in contact with Faron to do these things, and he never turned us down. I’ll have to say it always, he was a good showman. He put on a good show. You can’t take that away from him.

I remember getting a phone call–how this guy got hold of me and I’m not even associated with the business anymore, just my old friends. I had the flu, and the phone rang one morning, and I answered the phone. This voice–the guy told me who he was–it was the Tennessean. He said Faron had shot himself, and was at Summit, in critical condition. And I just–liked to floored me–boy, I just sat back down, I was sick anyway.


How serendipitous that the first Hall of Fame member I talk about this week is not only alive but has just been elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame.
1985 – Texas native Bob McDill has just celebrated his 79th birthday. When he moved to Nashville in 1970, he learned that country music was the way for a songwriter to make money. “I began studying country music like a seminary student studies the gospel,” he said. In the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s, more than 300 of his songs were cut, and 30 became #1 hits. His songs include “Amanda,” “Good Ole Boys Like Me,” “Don’t Close Your Eyes,” “Baby’s Got Her Blue Jeans On,” “We Believe in Happy Endings,” “It Must Be Love,” “Gone Country,” and “Song of the South.” He retired in 2000, planning to pursue gardening, book collecting and other hobbies he never had time for when he was a workaholic. Now he’s back in the spotlight, and it’s time for a new round of interviews and publicity.

1985 – Carl Perkins, an influential guitar stylist and a major player in rock & roll’s first wave, wrote numerous hits—such as “Blue Suede Shoes” and “Daddy Sang Bass”–and had more songs covered by the Beatles than any writer who wasn’t a member of that band, including “Honey Don’t,” “Matchbox,” and “Everybody’s Tryin’ to Be My Baby.” Born in 1932 and raised in rural northwestern Tennessee, he grew up with the music of church hymns and workers in the cotton fields. He and his brothers (guitarist Jay and bassist Clayton) headed to Memphis and Sun Records in 1954 after hearing Elvis Presley on the radio. After recovering from a March 1956 car wreck, he continued writing, recording and touring. His 1950s records for the Sun label melded hopped-up bluesy guitar with a rock & roll backbeat. He was a part of Johnny Cash’s road show from 1965 to 1975. He was elected to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987 and the Rockabilly Hall of Fame. He died in 1998 in Jackson, Tennessee, at age 65.

1986 – Otis Blackwell created such cornerstone songs of Elvis Presley’s career as “Don’t Be Cruel,” “All Shook Up” and “Return to Sender.” Elvis reportedly based his vocal performances on Blackwell’s original demo recordings. Born in 1931 in Brooklyn, New York, Blackwell grew up next door to a movie theater, where he became enthralled with singing cowboy movies and was inspired by Tex Ritter to begin singing. He created homemade demo recordings, playing the piano and overdubbing the voice while using a box for the drumbeat. Some of his early Elvis cuts credit Elvis as a co-writer, the price Tom Parker exacted for having a song recorded. He moved to Nashville after being inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, where he formed a record label but then suffered a stroke in 1991, shortly before being inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in New York. Following a series of heart attacks, he died in Nashville in 2002 at age 71. He was inducted posthumously into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2010.

1986 – Another Hall of Fame member still living and active is Dolly Parton, who recently turned 77. Born in 1946 in Locust Ridge, Tennessee, she grew up in the mountains of east Tennessee. She was performing on local television by age 10, made her Grand Ole Opry debut at 13, and moved to Nashville immediately after high school graduation. She and her uncle, Bill Owens, co-wrote two Top 10 hits for Bill Phillips in 1966. In 1967, she began a partnership with Porter Wagoner that ended in 1973, when she wrote “I Will Always Love You.” It topped the charts three times, twice for her and once for Whitney Houston. ” She was the first female songwriter to win BMI’s Five-Million Air award, given for 5 million radio performances of “I Will Always Love You.” Her other songs include “Kentucky Gambler,” “Light of a Clear Blue Morning,” “The Bargain Store,” “Jolene,” “Coat of Many Colors,” “9 to 5,” and “Love Is Like a Butterfly.” She has been awarded the National Medal of Arts, a Kennedy Center Honor, and a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. She was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1999 and the National Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2001.

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