Diane’s Country Music Newsletter — 22 September 2021


The last surviving member of The Maddox Brothers and Rose, known as “the most colorful hillbilly band in America,” has died, reports the Mail Tribune in Ashland, Oregon. Don Maddox, 98, died September 12 in Ashland. His sharecropper family migrated from Alabama to Modesto, California, in 1933. His siblings—Cal, Fred, Rose, and Harry—began performing western swing in California’s Central Valley. After serving with the Army Signal Corps in central Burma during World War II, Don joined their band as fiddler and comic relief and gave himself the nickname “Don Juan.” The Maddox Brothers and Rose wore brightly embroidered Western suits, inspired by the silver screen actors in Hollywood. Rose Maddox has been called the queen of rockabilly music. Fred played upright bass and was credited with developing the slap bass approach. Maddox Brothers and Rose officially disbanded in the mid-50s, believing their style of music had peaked. Don Maddox at age 37 moved to Ashland and became a cattle rancher. Saving Country Music reports that sister Rose, brother Cal, and their mother eventually moved to Ashland, where Don sectioned off five-acre plots for them to build homes. They lived there for the rest of their lives. The Maddox family has donated Don’s fiddle to Marty Stuart for his future museum in Philadelphia, Mississippi. A graveside service with military honors will be held for Don on September 27 at Scenic Hills Memorial Park in Ashland, Oregon. It will be open to the public.

Lowen “Lee” Slagle, 87, better known as radio personality Lee Shannon, died September 12 at his home in Port Charlotte, Florida. He was a longtime subscriber to my newsletter. His daughter, Debbie, emailed me to say, “It is with great sadness that I notify you regarding my dad, Mr Lee Shannon. On Sunday, Sept. 12, 2021, he passed away at his home in Port Charlotte with his wife and daughter by his side. He cherished your friendship and always looked forward to your newsletter.” Lee was a U.S. Navy veteran who served on destroyer USS Colahan (DD 658). He published his memoir, My 38 Years Between the Country Music Turntables, in 2017. Bill Anderson wrote the foreword.

Courtney Granger, fiddle player, accordion player, and singer for the Pine Leaf Boys, a Southwest Louisiana Cajun and creole band, died September 18 at age 39. “Along with his gifts with instrumentation,” writes Saving Country Music, “Courtney Granger was especially revered for the high-lonesome vocal style of Cajun singers that is considered a dying art. This also made him especially equipped to cross over into his second passion, which was classic country music.” He had long suffered from diabetes, was hospitalized with encephalitis in 2017, and was on the waiting list for a kidney at the time of his death.

“Hey Y’all,” Tanya Tucker wrote on Facebook. “With my damn hip still healing slowly but surely, and my increasing concerns with covid-19, I’ve made the heartbreaking decision to cancel all 2021 dates. It pains me to do this, but I must keep my fans, band and crew safe. I love my team, and most of all, I love you, the fans. We’ll be back in 2022 ready to kick some ass.” She had been scheduled to headline the EquipmentShare Stage at this week’s Roots N Blues festival in Columbia, Missouri.

In an exclusive interview with The O’Colly in Stillwater, Oklahoma, Garth Brooks said, “The things that I’m proudest of, other than my children and being married to the love of my life, would have to be that I’m an Oklahoma State Cowboy.” He ranks his OSU experience at the top of his achievements. In 1986, at age 24, he played shows at Willie’s on Washington Street in Stillwater. “You ended the night at Willie’s with ‘Piano Man’ or ‘You Never Even Called Me by My Name’ or ‘American Pie’ and you think, ‘man, how cool would it be to be associated with one of these kind of songs?'” He dreamed of having a song everyone knew. “At Willie’s, we ended every night with ‘American Pie’ and the last time I played in Lincoln, Nebraska, in front of 91,000 people, the last song we did was ‘American Pie.'”

“I got a lot of help from people when I was coming up,” Martina McBride told Southern Living last year. “Garth Brooks gave me an opening spot on his tour right off the bat.” She was selling merchandise at his concerts when he promised to make her his opening act if she got a recording contract. She signed with RCA Nashville in 1991, and he kept his word. “We did 77 shows together, and at the time, I don’t even think my single was out when we did our first couple of shows,” she recalls. “So, it was really a leap of faith.” She invited him to attend the opening of the Martina McBride: The Power of Her Voice exhibit at the Country Music Hall of Fame this past July. She thought his schedule would make it difficult for him to attend, but he texted her, “I wouldn’t miss it.” She says, “It was really special, for him to take his time and come to that event because he did give me such a huge opportunity when I opened that tour.”

Saving Country Music reports an actor has been found to play the role of George Jones in the limited series George & Tammy. Michael Shannon has the role that was originally planned for Josh Brolin, until scheduling conflicts got in the way. Jessica Chastain had already been named to portray Tammy Wynette. “Josh Brolin is still co-producing with Andrew Lazar, but due to his prior commitments he couldn’t take on this acting role,” Georgette Jones says. She is the only child of George and Tammy. The series script is based on her 2013 book, The Three of Us: Growing Up with Tammy and George.

NBC News reports Joe Don Rooney, 45, lead guitarist for Rascal Flatts, was arrested on a DUI charge after he crashed his vehicle into a line of trees in Franklin, Tennessee, shortly after 4 a.m. on September 9. He was booked into Williamson County Jail and released after posting $2,500 bond. PEOPLE reports Rascal Flatts had recently been awarded the Cliffie Stone Icon Award from the Academy of Country Music. Joe Don Rooney and Jay DeMarcus accepted the award; Gary LeVox was absent. Rascal Flatts canceled its farewell tour last year, with no plans to reschedule. At the awards ceremony, Joe Don announced he was unemployed, and he said, “I’ve got a specific skill set. I can sit on a bus for seven to nine hours straight in an empty parking lot. I can shake hands and pose for pictures with up to 80 people a night. I can play the same 28 songs in a row while remembering all the changes in all the lyrics, remembering where to stand and when I’m supposed to speak, whenever you need me to.” Stacy Harris reports Joe Don pled guilty in Davidson County Criminal Court in 2005 to two misdemeanors, speeding and operating a motor vehicle without a driver’s license. He paid two dollars in court fines.

When Keith Urban woke up early in New York City on September 3, he posted a note on Instagram to tell fans how excited he was to be singing on The Today Show that morning. Then he noticed a gruesome injury in his eye; his right eyeball was completely bloody. He said it was called conjunctival hemorrhage and had no idea how he got it. Country Music Nation explains conjunctival hemorrhage as “bleeding underneath the conjunctiva and can occur after a sudden or severe sneeze or cough, heavy lifting, straining, vomiting, or even rubbing one’s eyes too roughly.” It usually goes away in about two weeks.

Fifty pounds of Farmland bacon were used in Marshall, Wisconsin, to create a pork statue of Luke Bryan. The bacon statue was two feet tall and not edible; it took the sculptor days, if not weeks, to perfect the masterpiece. Taste of Country reports Farmland is a sponsor of Luke’s annual Farm Tour, which puts a charitable focus on rural communities nationwide. In addition to giving concerts on actual farms, Luke has created a scholarship for rural youths. He grew up as the son of a Georgia peanut farmer. Five years ago, a meat artist created Bacon Chris Stapleton prior to LouFest in St. Louis, Missouri. Festival goers were challenged to guess how many strips of bacon were used. The winner got free Farmland Bacon for a year.

Last year’s Netflix movie, Dolly Parton’s Christmas on the Square, recently won two Creative Arts Emmys. “Outstanding Television Movie” went to Dolly Parton. Sounds Like Nashville reports it was Dolly’s first-ever Emmy, although she has been nominated multiple times. “Outstanding Choreography for Scripted Programming” went to Debbie Allen, the movie’s director and choreographer. The movie is the story of a wealthy woman who returns to her hometown to evict the town’s residents–until she meets an angel (portrayed by Dolly). The movie features many songs that Dolly wrote and recorded.

For the ninth straight year, Carrie Underwood opens NBC’s Sunday Night Football coverage; this year she is trading scenes with NFL stars in a video. According to Taste of Country, the video finds Carrie at a virtual tailgate party with LED technology. “Waiting All Day for Sunday Night” is the official Sunday Night Football theme song, built on Joan Jett’s “I Hate Myself for Loving You.”

The Country Music Association has revealed the nominees for the 55th Annual CMA Awards, to be aired live November 10 on ABC. The current Entertainer of the Year, Eric Church, is tied with Chris Stapleton with five nominations each. They are also on the list for Entertainer of the Year, as are Luke Combs, Miranda Lambert, and Carrie Underwood. According to the Tennessean, the chances for a first-time Entertainer of the Year are the best they’ve been in years. All five candidates have been previously nominated, and only Eric Church has won. The Male Vocalist of the Year category has had the same six nominees for the past five years. In the Female Vocalist category, this is the first time Carrie Underwood hasn’t been nominated since her country music career began 15 years ago. For the first time in CMA Awards history, two black artists–Mickey Guyton and Jimmie Allen–are nominated simultaneously in the New Artist of the Year category. Morgan Wallen, last year’s New Artist of Year, was completely removed from both ACM and CMT Awards ballots after being filmed using a racial slur in February. The CMA’s board of directors decided to allow him to be nominated for group awards, “so as to not limit the opportunity for other credited collaborators.” He thus has one nomination: Album of the Year for Dangerous: The Double Album.

A benefit concert, “Loretta Lynn’s Friends: Hometown Rising,” was held at the Grand Ole Opry House in Nashville on September 13. Loretta Lynn, 89, invited ten top country acts to help raise funds for Humphreys County flood victims. Almost 300 homes were destroyed and 20 people killed during severe storms and extreme flash floods on August 21. Loretta didn’t appear in person, but she talked in a prerecorded video about her ranch foreman who died in the flooding at her Hurricane Mills ranch. The Tennessean reports Keith Urban was the ninth act, following Luke Combs, Reba McEntire, and others who performed with the Opry’s house band. Keith stood alone on stage, as the crowd sang along with “Blue Ain’t Your Color.” He then autographed his acoustic guitar and called his friend Breland and his wife, Nicole Kidman, to sign it. “I’ve never been on the stage at the Opry,” Nicole exclaimed. “Wow!” Co-host Storme Warren auctioned Keith’s guitar, obtaining bids from the audience until he reached $36,000. Garth Brooks, who was waiting in the wings, ran up next to him and asked, “Are you kidding me? 36 thousand for that guitar?” He placed the winning bid of $75,000. Garth and his wife, Trisha Yearwood, closed the show alone, singing Loretta and Conway’s “After the Fire Is Gone” and George and Tammy’s “Golden Ring.” A video montage of people who lost their lives in the August floods was followed by a moment of silent remembrance. The concert raised nearly one million dollars.

The Isaacs are the newest members of the Grand Ole Opry; they were inducted September 14 by Ricky Skaggs and The Whites (Buck, Sharon, and Cheryl). According to Bluegrass Today, the family-based bluegrass and Gospel singing group has been performing since 1971, when Joe and Lily Isaacs started a bluegrass band as a part-time weekend group. When their three children–Sonya, Becky, and Ben–got old enough to join the parents on stage, the family became fulltime entertainers. Joe left after he and Lily divorced in 1998. Sonya is now lead singer, with Lily, Becky, and Ben providing the trademark family harmony. During the induction ceremony, Ricky Skaggs talked about the importance of family in his life and in country and bluegrass music. Joe Isaacs was invited on stage to share the long-awaited honor. The whole cast of the Tuesday Night Opry joined the reunited Isaacs to sing one together again.

Ernest Tubb Record Shop announced that Jennifer Herron has resigned after 18+ years as Host/Announcer for the Midnight Jamboree. I’ve always enjoyed the sound of her voice, and I can still remember how it felt when she introduced me at the Midnite Jamboree the night we celebrated the release of Live Fast, Love Hard: The Faron Young Story, with the Country Deputies on the stage.

Showbiz CheatSheet talks about “Kentucky Rain” being one of Elvis Presley‘s most famous country songs. One country star, Eddie Rabbitt, co-wrote the song with Dick Heard. A future country star played piano on the track. Ronnie Milsap didn’t have a hit to his name when Elvis released “Kentucky Rain” in 1970. During an interview with Goldmine Magazine, Ronnie said, “It was just incredible. To know that Elvis had decided to come back to Memphis and record. His producer Felton Jarvis was excited about it and he was partnering with Chips Moman who ran American Studios down in Memphis.” There was nobody else there at American Studios that night to play piano. Chips Moman said, “Ronnie Milsap’s here in the building, bring him in.” Ronnie recalled with amazement, “I played on that record and sang on that record, too. I played grand piano on ‘Kentucky Rain’ while Elvis was cutting his vocal live.”

The newly released Clint Eastwood movie, Cry Macho (which also stars Dwight Yoakam), might bring stardom to one young indie county singer. Will Banister of Portales, New Mexico, tells The Country Note about getting a phone call from a film composer named Marlon Espino, who had called an old college roommate in Texas and asked for help in finding a singer with the “exact right kind of voice.” That friend recommended fellow musician Will Banister. A track of “Find A New Home” was sent to Banister, who recorded his vocals at home and sent the track back. If the director liked it, he was told, they would fly him to California to record it properly. The director was Clint Eastwood, and he did like it. He said, “That guy’s voice is from the top of those speakers down to your feet.” Banister flew with his wife and his band to Carmel, California, to meet Eastwood and perform at his private golf course. The filmmakers decided to use the original version of the song, with no re-recording needed. It will be included on the film’s soundtrack. “I am a super fan of Mr. Eastwood’s,” Bannister says. “Getting the chance to meet him and perform for him was quite an honor. He is as down to earth as I thought he would be.”

Before Blake Shelton headlined Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena on September 9, he and his bride, Gwen Stefani, joined Warner Music Nashville, BMI, and an exclusive group of songwriters and publishers at an outdoor event that recognized the couple’s dual chart-toppers, “Nobody But You” and “Happy Anywhere.” The songs are Blake’s 27th and 28th No. 1 country hits, and Gwen’s first and second. “Blake Shelton, thank you for letting me ride your coat tails all this time,” Gwen said. “I truly am a fish out of water. I’m from Orange County, but I’m wearing cowboy boots for this. I am such a fan of songwriting and writers.” Blake recalled his team being nervous about releasing back-to-back duets to country radio. Would there be support for two in a row? Soon after “Nobody But You” reached No. 1, PEOPLE reports, “Shelton remembers he drove out of his cornfield, climbed out of his tractor and hopped on a conference call with his team to discuss his next radio single. They sorted through several songs in search of his next solo hit, but everyone agreed ‘Happy Anywhere’ was their favorite.” Remembering his first No. 1 song, “Austin,” Blake said, “To think that 20 years later I would still be standing here is my dream come true, and it’s because of the songwriters in this town.” Songwriters in the crowd included Ross Copperman, Josh Osborne and Tommy Lee James who wrote “Nobody But You” with Shane McAnally. Matt Jenkins, who co-wrote “Happy Anywhere” with Copperman and Osborne, was also present.

Dierks Bentley canceled a show in Columbia, Maryland, due to a positive COVID test in the tour party. “With the Delta variant prevalent across America, even vaccinated folks are having breakthrough cases,” Outsider reports. “That seems to be the issue with the tour. . .. While Dierks Bentley and his entire tour party are vaccinated, a positive case has temporarily derailed things.”

Saving Country Music reports that David Allan Coe has been discharged from the hospital and is recovering at home. He celebrated his 82nd birthday on September 6th in the hospital, after being admitted in August due to COVID-19. He was treated with supplemental oxygen and high doses of vitamins, and he had to be fed intravenously, but he was never intubated. He remains on supplemental oxygen.


Robyn Young writes from Nashville, “Mom and I both contracted Covid 19. Mom was vaccinated. I was not. We both ended up in the ICU at Southern Hills hospital at the same time. Mom for less than a week. Me from Aug 12th to Aug. 31st. It tore my ass out of the frame. Since coming home I had my 64th birthday on Sept. 6th. I am on breathing treatments (4 a day) and oxygen. I run out of breath pretty quick if I try to do too much. I took ALL of the precautions for well over a year now. BUT, I went to the dentist a month or so back. Sat in his chair for about 1 1/2 hours getting one cavity and two chips fixed. I am pretty sure that is what did me in. Mom is recovering well. Thankfully she soared thru the ordeal far better than I did. I caution EVERYONE to take this China Bio Attack seriously. Several folks in the same ICU with me died. I was on edge for the first week or more. I was diagnosed positive on Aug. 9th. I quarantined at home downstairs. By the night of Aug. 12th, I was gasping for breath. Bonnie called an ambulance for me. Hopefully I will continue to improve. But it is gonna be awhile before I attempt to sing Four In The Morning again.” He adds, on September 17: “It seems, after talking with my sister, some of my info I shared with you may not be dead on accurate. As far as timeframe. Covid warps your perception on time & space. It is REALLY strange! Mom was in the hospital longer than I stated (not as long as me tho). She is still struggling with recovery also (using oxygen). We got our first visit together, yesterday. It is the first time we have seen each other since July. It was a good visit. I told her I am positive I saw her once in the I.C.U. as they were wheeling her bed down the hallway, moving her to another room. The front of my room was all glass. But I was too weak to shout out. The nurses confirmed she was in a room not far from mine.”

Sam Wellington writes from Nashville, “Congratulations on the success of your very entertaining and highly informative newsletter. Got a quick story for you and your readers: My group – The Four Guys – regular members of The Grand Ole Opry for more than 30-years, were performing at an agricultural convention in Knoxville, Tennessee. We came to the edge of the stage immediately after the show to sign autographs. An elderly gentleman came up to me to sign his program. While signing, he asked if The Four Guys had ever performed at nearby University of Tennessee? I said, No, we had not. He then said, ‘Well, you all certainly should sometime. They’ve had lots of music groups perform there and many of them have been worse than you guys.’ With that, I handed him his signed program and said, ‘Thanks…I think.’ Don’t ya just luv road stories? Meanwhile, my third book (called COUNTRY CLUB) has just been released on eBook format Amazon/Kindle. Physical book will be available very soon.”

Hargus “Pig” Robbins writes from Nashville, “I just finished listening to your book on Faron Young. I have passed it around on our website that we all get on at night and shoot the bull. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Some of it I knew about and some I didn’t. Thanks for getting in touch with me. Keep up the good work, and keep those newsletters coming, again, thanks, the pig.”

Chris Belle says, “I really hate the infighting that’s going on with the virus, between folks who think they should be able to control or dictate what vaccines you get. Just quit it already and let people make their own decisions. It’s a personal choice and folks shouldn’t be shamed for making a decision to be cautious. I appreciate those artists who have the balls to stand up and hold their line, and not be shamed into submission by greed, or scared of stupid posts on twitter and fb. Anyway, always look forward to the newsletter, to find out what’s shakin’ in this fine music world we all love.”

Dominique ‘Imperial’ Anglares writes from France, “Thanks to you and your contributors for that nice and welcome Country newsletter. Sadly, we lost Ginny Wright (Ethel Virginia Henderson) on September 5. Born august 1, 1932, she became a Louisiana Hayrider recording for ‘Fabor’ and ‘Abbott’. Ginny Wright’s duet with Jim Reeves of ‘I Love You’ (Fabor 101) got to No. 3 in January 1954, where it lasted 22 weeks. The result was Ginny Wright was voted ‘Best New Female Artist Country and Western’ in Down Beat magazine. She was named Cash Box magazine’s ‘Most Promising Up and Coming Female Vocalist’ in June 1954. She also recorded duets with T. Tommy Cutrer, Tom Bearden, Jerry Rowley, and Tom Tall. Her records were issued in UK, New-Zealand and Canada. She later recorded for Briar, Cayce, Chart, and a few other record labels. She was inducted into the Louisiana Hayride Hall of Fame in 2003. After retirement, Ginny enjoyed gardening, was an avid painter, loving mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. She will be remembered.”

Joan Brooking writes from Stuart, Iowa, “Thank you for the nice writeup about Bob Everhart. As of yet I haven’t looked at his page about the Memorial Service but I’m sure it was a huge party that he would have loved. Being unable to attend was disappointing but that’s the way it was. On Sunday evening two friends and I enjoyed the fantastic dance music of the Kennastons, Sharon and Roger Kennaston and Vanessa of Wahoo, Nebraska. I asked Sharon to give Shelia Everhart a big hug for me. While there I got to see many of my musician friends and others, too. So happy I went. While reading last week’s Stuart Herald (IA), I saw that Donald De Camp of Redfield had passed away. He was a fantastic Bones player and played at Branson, Silver Dollar City, and Six Flags. My sister-in-law is his daughter, so I got to know him pretty well and visited him at his home six years ago. I would have loved to have had a tape recorder as he talked of his travels and music.”

Doug and Evelyn Van Horn request, “We would appreciate it if you would add us to your email list. We have known and followed  Bob Everhart in his wanderings in OLD country for 50+ years.”

Mike Johnson of Roughshod Records writes, ”I knew Bob Everhart had been ailing for some time now. I remember when he started N.T.C.M.A. back in 1975. He was featured in the fledgling magazine Music City News, which incidentally was skeptical about his ability to keep traditional country music going. Well, some 50 years later, old Bob got the last laugh, because he did just that! I first met Bob & Sheila at their 1999 festival when it was in Avoca, Iowa, and have been to a total of nine festivals. He will truly be missed. I’ll have to give Sheila a call and send her a condolence.”

Wyndi Harp Carson asks, “Please add me to your email list. Thank you for all you do.”

Eric Calhoun writes, “I was sad to hear the passings of Bob Everhart and Tom T. Hall, and of Joyce Milsap, Ronnie’s wife. As someone visually impaired, I learned through many people, including Bob Kingsley, that Ronnie went to South Carolina School for the Deaf and Blind. And he’s a fan favorite. Nice to see Doug Stone going strong! I was wondering what has happened to him, and why I haven’t heard anything new from him. Any news on Doug Supernaugh? Finally, we lost a friend in the blind community in Kentucky native Mitzi Friedlander. Does anyone know if she recorded any country music talking books?”

Diane: Doug Supernaw was diagnosed in February 2019 with Advanced Stage IV lung and bladder cancer, which later spread to his brain and spine. He died peacefully at home in Texas on November 13, 2020, at age 60. I couldn’t find a list of Mitzi Friedlander’s books, only a statement that said she recorded more titles for the National Library Service than any other Talking Book narrator in history. She died in Louisville, Kentucky, on August 11 at age 91.

Terry Munson says, “Always enjoy your newsletter. It keeps me informed on the latest country news.”

David Corne writes from the United Kingdom, “Just to say this tech savvy genius from the UK has managed to start listening to your Faron audiobook. Up to Chapter 5 and have been very impressed with the information you have provided and what excellent research you did also. Can’t see me being any less impressed when I read the subsequent chapters.”

Frank Gerard writes, “Of all the books I have narrated, there are three that consistently are in my top sellers each month. But this month, for the first time, a new book is selling more copies than all the others, and is my top seller so far this month. That new top seller is Live Fast, Love Hard: The Faron Young Story!”


After Hilda Young gave me permission to talk to her divorce lawyer in 2000, I visited Mac Robinson Sr. in his law office near the courthouse in Nashville. He later found the exhibits and depositions from the Youngs’ divorce trial, and I paid for his time and court costs to file a motion to get them released to me. When the package arrived in the mail, I was thrilled to discover it contained the complete trial transcript. That information was an invaluable primary source in writing Faron’s biography. I had no further contact with Mac, that I can recall. He died in 2014 at age 85.

One of the most unusual, and interesting, divorces I ever handled was that Hilda Young and Faron Young divorce in 1986. I met Hilda–I had never known her–of course I’d known who he was, from his music career prior to that–but I met her I think in about 1984-85. She consulted with me several times, because she really didn’t want the divorce. I advised her, if there’s any way in the world you can make it go, well, try. It was probably on the rocks, but I encouraged her to do what she could to try to salvage it, but it didn’t work out, and she came back to see me in 1984, 85, somewhere along there several months before we filed. Then she had to get a lot of information to me, about his assets, and the grounds and what all had happened. I started meeting with her, getting everything prepared. We filed the divorce, and then the fireworks started. We had a very interesting–unfortunately, it was sad at times, and funny at times, to me, and to Faron, and I think Hilda laughed about it occasionally. Of course, every divorce is a tragedy, and you hate to see it come about.

There was an unfortunate side of Faron that I didn’t like. I used every effort I could muster to try to get Hilda all the money I could for this abuse. She had taken this abuse from him, and he really never did come up with anything about how bad she was. He said she never did run around. He said she got fat and was unattractive. He was one that didn’t point the finger at her too much, he just said, yeah, his drinking was, and that she was fat and he was attracted to other women. He never denied that. He admitted to some affairs with different women.

It got to the point after you talked with Hilda for a while, even before we went to court, you could see why she wanted a divorce. You had to say, I don’t know how you took it this long, and how the children did, but I still had a feeling that he was a talented individual, and if he had stayed away from that whiskey bottle, the marriage could have succeeded and it wouldn’t have cast him in such a bad light, which is the opposite of what he would appear when he was entertaining. He was a talented entertainer. I remember watching him on TV after the divorce was over. I am not a country music fan, I don’t care a lot about it, but he was very talented. Had a good voice, had a tremendous grasp of the situation–he had a presence on the stage he was very comfortable with–very qualified to take over a show and run it. I know he hosted a bunch of things here in Nashville.

While the investigation was going on before the trial, Grant Smith and I got into several little verbal altercations. I didn’t like him and he didn’t like me. It became just general disagreement, and dislike for each other, while we were getting this thing ready for trial. Of course, after it was over, we were good friends and we’d kid each other, but during that time–I don’t ever like the lawyer on the other side during a trial, and I don’t like a lot of them after the trial. But I particularly didn’t like him, and I don’t think he liked me any more, so it was mutual on both sides.

I caught Faron in a pretty big discrepancy, and Judge Everett–I don’t think–believed anything he said after this. Somewhere back in the past, prior to this divorce being filed, Faron had been a friend of Willie Nelson and had done Willie some favors. The bull, I thought, had obvious potential, and as it turns out, he certainly did. When I was deposing Faron before the trial, I was going through a list of all his assets, and one of them was this bull that was listed under this blood name from some big bull he was sired by some grand champion up in Canada. I asked Faron what the value of it was. He said, oh, he’s not worth much, $12-1500. I had done some investigation and talked with some people from Missouri that had bought and sold Simmental bulls, and they knew of this bull’s sire in Canada.

Faron had several bank accounts for the band, and he was collecting rent from tenants in his office building. In fact, Grant Smith was a tenant in the Young Building. He had various accounts for various things that he paid out, and he had money coming in from his music business. In this deposition, I had requested copies of checks, and copies of record, about his various enterprises. I couldn’t fully advise Hilda about what she should do, without knowing all his assets. I had requested all these checks, and I wanted them in the order of the year and the tax return. Instead of bringing them to me in an orderly manner, Faron–and/or Grant–took them all and just threw them in a cardboard box about half as big as this desk, and brought them to my office and threw them on my desk. I looked in there and I thought, my god, that’ll take me two weeks to go through and sort all this stuff. So one Saturday I came in and I started sorting all this stuff. This was like a couple months before the trial date.

I had already taken Faron’s deposition, and he had sworn this bull was only worth $1,500. I was going through all these canceled checks, and I ran across a check for $3,500, payable to XYZ insurance agency for “insurance on Big Willie.” I thought, that rascal, he’s testified in his deposition it’s only worth $1,500, why in the world is he paying out a $3,500 insurance premium to insure this bull for $75,000? I took that check aside and had it photocopied. It wasn’t but a few months before the deposition was taken that this check had been paid, like maybe six weeks or two months. I kept looking further. And then I ran across the insurance policy on Big Willie, that Faron had insured him for. He’d been insured since Willie bought him. Faron had had him 2-3 years after Willie Nelson gave it to him. He’d renewed this policy several times. I got the policy, made copies of that, and stuck it with this check. Like I said, the face of that policy was like $75,000.

The question of attorneys’ fees came up. Judge Everett gave exactly the amount I had requested. I had documented everything I had done for the deposition and all the research and everything. It was a lot of hours, because Faron made you work. He wouldn’t give you anything, you had to go dig it out. He wasn’t gonna tell you what was in these boxes of text, you had to go read them all. The mistake he made was that he thought–I guess–that I wasn’t going to look through it. Or maybe Grant Smith thought if he mixed them all up, I’d say the hell with it, I’m not gonna go through this. But I figured I might find an acorn, and I found several. When Judge Everett asked me to submit my affidavit on what all I had done for her, I explained to him it was a substantial fee I was asking for. It was something over $20,000, I believe, and Grant had argued that a reasonable fee would be maybe 10 or 12,000. I remember Judge Everett awarded me exactly $22,385, whatever the affidavit set out. He said it really wasn’t high enough. Well, with that, Faron’s eyes flashed a little bit, like my god I won’t have anything left when they get through with me.

But it was a sad thing and I hated to see it all happen to a person that–I didn’t like him the way he treated his family, but I admired him as an entertainer because he was talented. He did a lot of good for a lot of people. He had a lot of friends. In fact, my son played softball on a team he sponsored, or played against a team he sponsored. My son said, “Dad, I saw Faron Young this weekend.” This was a short time after the divorce was over. I said, “Did you get along with him all right?” “Oh, yeah, Daddy. He’s a nice guy. He likes me. It’s just you he doesn’t like. He said you took all his money away from him. You and Miss Hilda took everything he had.” Which wasn’t true, but we did a pretty good number on him.

A funny thing happened a month or two after the divorce. I think Faron was appearing on a show that was being televised from the Bullpen Lounge at Buddy Killen’s Stockyard Restaurant. I get a call from Miss Hilda about 10 or 11 o’clock one night. She’s dyin’ laughing, and I said what’s so funny? She said turn on the television. Faron is appearing on Nashville Now or something that’s being televised from the Bullpen Lounge. She said he had been singing, and had hold of the microphone, and had a beautiful diamond ring on his hand. Somebody commented to him when the song was over, what a beautiful ring it was. He said, “Oh, hell, I better get that out of sight. My wife and that damn lawyer of hers will wind up with that, too. They got everything else.” I started laughing. It tickled me because he’d make jokes about how we cleaned his plow, for several weeks.

I don’t think I saw him but a couple times after that, but it was quite an experience. It was a sad thing to have to go through, for her. It was a sad thing for him. I was very sorry to hear of his death. It’s tragic when you die of natural causes, but to take your own life like he did is no way to go. I hope the good Lord deals with him in the proper way. I would like to have told a different story about Faron, but I had to look after my client, and I would do it the same way again. It’s one case that you win, but you don’t feel real good about. Except I did feel good in getting everything I could for Miss Hilda, cuz she was born in Berlin, Germany, and she came over here as a young girl and married him at age 16, had beautiful children, she was a very nice lady, I couldn’t find any fault with her. He never did really, other than her weight. He never did say anything bad about her, and nobody else did. It was a very time-consuming trial, it was a time-consuming divorce, but a lot of satisfaction in the process. When the legal process was over, my client got what she should have, and he got his hand slapped properly and financially, and he was probably a better citizen after that, himself. Hopefully.

As I recall, there wasn’t a lot for Grant Smith to cross-examine Hilda about. There wasn’t a lot you could do in Faron’s case cuz he was his own worst enemy. He made it so hard for his lawyer to help him very much. I remember going out in the hall for a recess or something, and he would needle me a little bit. He’d kid sometimes, and sometimes he’d be a little snotty, but he was doing it to needle me–he never really was, I don’t think, ever really mad at me, because he knew what was happening he’d authored himself. We never had any exchange of words. At the deposition when I was deposing him, he was hesitant to answer some questions if he didn’t like something I asked him, but he didn’t show any animosity. He tried to defend himself a lot of times, with very little hope of success, but that’s natural, y’know, self-preservation. He couldn’t just lay down and say, okay, cut my throat.

No, he didn’t cuss on the stand. He cussed a little during recess. He cussed before deposition, he may have cussed when he was deposed, but not before Judge Everett, no. I know Grant had told him, you watch your mouth. I know I had to tell myself to watch myself when I was getting so mad at Grant about the things and little exchanges during the court. Cuz I wanted to call him some names.


Just a reminder that Live Fast, Love Hard: The Faron Young Story can now be downloaded as an audiobook from Amazon.com or Audible.com at Faron Young audiobook.

Comments are closed.