Diane’s Country Music Newsletter – 21 October 2015

Billy Joe Royal, 73, died in his sleep at his home in North Carolina on October 6. He had been planning to tour with Ronnie McDowell in November. He was born April 3, 1942, in Valdosta, Georgia. His debut single, “Down in the Boondocks,” was a pop hit in 1965. During the mid-1980s, he signed with Atlantic Records and began releasing country songs. He was inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame in 1988.

The home of Lorrie Morgan is for sale for $1.2 million. Located in Lebanon, Tennessee, the four-bedroom, 7,372-square-foot house sits on a tributary of the Cumberland River. It has an outdoor stone oven, swimming pool and boat dock.

The first three shows on the Django and Jimmie Tour have been canceled due to Willie Nelson becoming ill. He and Merle Haggard were scheduled to kick off their tour at the Florence Civic Center in Florence, South Carolina, on October 15. “We’re still getting details on Willie’s medical concern,” a civic center marketing manager said. “We’ve been told this is not life-threatening, but will require several weeks to fully recover. Willie’s son, Lukas, posted on Facebook: “Thanks for the prayers and love for dad, his health issue is minor and he’s doing great.”

Faith Hill, 48, will be the executive producer and host of a still-untitled syndicated daytime talk show to be filmed in Nashville. Kellie Pickler, 29, will cohost the series, which will focus on lifestyle topics: cooking, home design, gardening.

Dolly Parton issued the following press release in response to false claims she is suffering from a “secret medical crisis,” rumored to be stomach cancer: “It is true that I had kidney stones. I had them removed three weeks ago and I am doing just fine! I am back to work and last week I was at Dollywood filming parts for my new movie, Coat of Many Colors, which premieres December 10th on NBC. With the 30th anniversary of Dollywood, I did a full week of activities promoting my new DreamMore Resort’s opening. There is absolutely no truth at all that I have stomach cancer. I love and appreciate everyone’s concern.”

The Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in Nashville inducted four new members in an October 11 ceremony: Rosanne Cash, Even Stevens, Craig Wiseman, and Mark James. Rosanne’s former husband, Rodney Crowell, welcomed her into the Hall, and she credited him with encouraging her and giving her confidence. Rosanne and her father, Johnny Cash, are the only father-daughter pair in the Hall of Fame. Taylor Swift was named Songwriter/Artist of the Year for the seventh time, a new record for the award.

Blake Shelton, 39, has filed a defamation lawsuit in Los Angeles County Superior Court, seeking more than $1 million in damages from tabloid magazine In Touch Weekly over a cover story that was untrue. The September cover bore the headline, “The Real Story: REHAB for Blake.” It alleged his heaving drinking contributed to his breakup with wife Miranda Lambert. “Blake Shelton has had enough,” says the complaint, obtained by People Magazine. It quotes Blake as aiming to “set the record straight–he is not in rehab, his ‘close circle’ is not trying to seek an intervention, and he is, in fact, hard at work on The Voice and other projects.” He sought a retraction of the story but received no response.

Saving Country Music.com reports on last weekend’s star-studded Nashville debut of the Hank Williams movie, I Saw the Light, at the Belcourt Theater near Music Row. The 100 guests included Hank’s daughter Jett Williams, as well as Tom Hiddleston (who stars as Hank Williams), Elizabeth Olsen (Audrey), Maddie Hasson (Billie Jean), and Bradley Whitford (Fred Rose). An afterparty was held at Acme Feed & Seed on lower Broadway, with Tom Hiddleston performing as Hank Williams. One day earlier, a delay in the film’s release was announced, moving the date from November to March.

Ed Bruce responds to his interview, “Thank you, Diane~~~~~well done and I appreciate it!”

Mike Johnson of Roughshod Records writes, “It is with great sadness that I inform you Traditional Country Music singer-songwriter, and very dear friend, Virgie Warren, passed away on 14 October, due to cancer complications. Virgie had been a foundation for traditional country music in Michigan for over 4 decades. She met and knew numerous country stars, big and small, and received numerous awards and recognitions for helping scores of independent country music up-and-comers, personally and through her Bluebird Country News. I for one am deeply indebted to her for the additional exposure her magazine gave me and through Ralph Compton’s Hard Country Beat magazine, for whom she also wrote. In 2003 my trucking career was ended by the collapse of three neck vertebrae on my spinal cord. Virgie and her best friend, Betty J. Paulette, were two of many selfless friends who came to my aid during my recovery period.”
Diane: Virgie is a long-time subscriber to this newsletter. Farewell, Virgie.

Moragh Carter writes from the United Kingdom, “I, too, was saddened by the news of the death of Hal Willis. I had got to know him quite well, after having spent six nights at his home on one of my early trips to Nashville, and I always made a point of visiting him on subsequent trips. I spoke to him last in mid-August and, in spite of his worsening dementia, he’d recognised me. Irma Young had told me, before I flew to the USA at the end of August, that Hal had fallen and had been admitted to hospital, where he contracted pneumonia. I had hoped he would survive long enough for one last visit, but he died on September 4th, a week before I reached Nashville. I did visit with Irma and her son, Tommy, when I reached Nashville and we have talked on the phone several times since then. I will miss him.”

Jean Earle in Great Britain says, “I did get your newsletter about Ed Bruce and I did read it and found it all very interesting as usual. Alan also read it then I sent it onto some of our ‘country’ friends. It was most kind of you to contact Ed. and equally kind of him to take the time to reply with all of his news. I thought he was a nice man….now I KNOW he is!! We have looked up all of his details and have enjoyed reading about him, his films, recordings, etc. I do hope many of your readers also found Ed a fascinating man. Keep up your good work…it is much appreciated.

Dominique “Imperial” ANGLARES writes from France, “Thank you very much for that newsletter and for the update about Ed Bruce and Bonnie Brown. Diane Jordan’s words about Hal Willis were much appreciated and helped me to understand why I had lost contact with that precious friend. I have a cool picture showing my buddy Glen Glenn (Troutman) who recorded for Era with Marty Robbins. Glen Glenn will celebrate his 81th birthday on October 24th. In the ‘50s he toured with Porter Wagoner and The Maddox Brothers. He’s a rock-a-billy legend.” My friend Wanda Jackson recorded first for Decca (with Billy Gray – she was a Hank Thompson protégée) and next for Capitol. That Lady from Oklahoma dated and toured with Elvis Presley in 1955/1956. She is one of the rockabilly Queens with Brenda Lee and the late Janis Martin.”

Maheen Wickramasinghe has a request: “Firstly, let me start off by telling you how much I love reading your newsletters and the latest updates about country music. I am a huge Eddy Arnold fan, and I am having a hard time trying to find one of his 45 singles to purchase. I have just about all his albums and singles except one 45. It is ‘I’m The South,’ and the flip side is a version of ‘You Are My Sunshine.’ Do you know anybody or have an Eddy Arnold fan who can please assist in helping me? I would be more than happy to pay them. Many thanks! My email address is maheen.wick31@gmail.com.”

Lee Shannon of Port Charlotte, Florida, writes, “Please add me to your mailing list for news of interest to country music fans. I am a retired Country Music D.J. and a member of the Country Music D.J. Hall of Fame (inducted 1998). I just received your posting of 10/7 which included news of ‘Whisper’s’ cataract surgery and Randy Travis’ visit to the Opry. It was forwarded by Don Powell. He & I worked together at KFDI, Wichita, KS back in the mid-sixties. I met Johnny Western once when I returned to Wichita to visit KFDI. Johnny came to KFDI after me. I worked with Ol’ Mike (Oatman), Don Powell, Terry Burford & Don Walton (Little Donnie D0-Dad), and co-owner Mike Lynch (a Country Radio Who’s Who). All of us but Don P. & Don W. are in the DJ Hall of Fame.”

Mary Mitchell in Woodland Park, Colorado, wonders, “Do you have any information on Tommy Hunter? I used to watch his show. I believe it was from Canada. I-Tunes has nothing on him.”
Diane: He has a website at http://www.tommyhunter.com. It has quite a bit of info.

Andy Williford, Faron’s boyhood friend, says, “I have a young girl that sings country and wondering if anyone would want a tape. She now performs in small clubs.” andy-wil@hotmail.com

Tom Wilmeth in Grafton, Wisconsin, asks, “Could you add the following name to your mailing list? This is the person who provided me with the news about the death of Hank Williams biographer George Merritt. Mr. Ed Guy will be an interested reader, and I think he could prove to be a valuable source of ‘deep Hank’ news. Stay well and Go Navy!”

Ed Guy reports, “Originally scheduled for release on November 27, 2015, I Saw The Light, which stars Tom Hiddleston as legendary country artist Hank Williams Sr., will now open on March 25, 2016.”

Dave Rogers in Virginia says, “Thank you, Diane. I so enjoy this.”

Les Leverett writes from Nashville, “My daughter, Libby Leverett-Crew, and her husband, Larry, & I have been trying to clean out some stuff around here since my sweet wife of 65 years went to be with Jesus a year ago last February, and this little souvenir was a handout at one of the Opry birthday celebrations years ago. I almost pitched it, and then thought that you might like it.”
Diane: Les, thank you for sending me the Faron Young money clip.

I sent out my first Faron Young newsletter ten years ago this week. After starting on my Marty Robbins biography, I changed it to a Faron/Marty newsletter, and later to a general classic country newsletter. So my question is, how many “old” newsletter readers do I still have? I’d love to hear from those who remember the beginning.

In 2002, fourteen years after his co-written Willie: An Autobiography, Willie Nelson came out with The Facts of Life and Other Dirty Jokes. It is a collection of photos, song lyrics, reminiscences, and jokes. The storyline is a tour that begins in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and ends in Waco, Texas. As Willie’s bus, Honeysuckle Rose III, travels from one venue to the next, tour experiences are interspersed with stories of Willie’s childhood and people he’s known throughout the years. Photos and song lyrics support the stories. Willie concludes with, “It looks like we’re getting to the end of the book, so I’ll start winding down. I picked up a book one time and started reading it. The first paragraph said that everything we do, we’ve done a million times before. So I put the book down. No need in doing that again. I personally saved that bit of information until the last paragraph of this book. I didn’t want to lose you.”

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