Diane’s Country Music Newsletter – 23 September 2015

This week we especially remember Marty Robbins, who would have been ninety years old this Saturday. He was born on a Saturday evening—9:55 on September 26, 1925, in the desert near Phoenix, Arizona. He only lived 57 years, but what memories he gave us.

“I said all along I wasn’t going to tour anymore,” George Strait said yesterday at a press conference at the MGM Studios in Las Vegas, “but I also said I wasn’t retiring by any means and I still wanted to do some dates.” He will be one of the first performers to headline shows at the new Las Vegas Arena. His shows are scheduled for April and September, and Kacey Musgraves will be his opening act.

Cincinatti.com reports that David Allan Coe, 76, pled guilty in U.S. District Court in Cincinnati to income tax evasion–one count of impeding and obstructing the due administration of internal revenue laws. Between 2008 and 2013, the IRS says, he either failed to file his individual income tax returns or failed to pay the taxes due. He apparently used the money from his concert performances to pay off other debts, including large debts due to gambling. According to Savingcountrymusic.com, “When Coe would perform, he would insist venues pay his booking manager in full before performing. The booking manager would then wire the money to Coe’s personal account. However in 2009, Coe stopped receiving the payments after receiving word from the IRS for his overdue taxes. Instead, Coe would insist in being paid cash before 3 p.m. on the day of a show.” He faces up to three years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000. The actual amount will be determined at sentencing.

After more than a year of living in a memory-care facility, Glen Campbell is back home. Kim Campbell told People Magazine she moved her husband back into their Nashville home in July. She has a team of caregivers to help her take care of him. Glen was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease four years ago, and he is in late stage six of seven stages. Stage 7 requires care for all functions and can last one to two and a half years. Glen can no longer communicate and doesn’t understand others, but he can say short phrases. “Sometimes he can be combative if you’re trying to help him get bathed or change his clothes or something and that’s typical with a lot of people with Alzheimer’s,” Kim told radio station Country 92.5 in Hartford, Connecticut. “He punched me in the eye … I had a black eye for two weeks.”

The upcoming Rex Allen Days in Willcox, Arizona, is commemorating its 64th anniversary on October 1–4.The western music weekend celebrates the life and times of Arizona cowboy Rex Allen. As always, Rex Allen Jr. has a major role in the event. He says in a publicity release, “Rex Allen Days features many of my dad’s favorite events, like rodeos, a parade and of course music. We fit in everything we can. So if fans or friends see me out and taking part in the weekend activities, please stop and say hello. This is my favorite weekend of the year and how lucky am I that I get to celebrate and honor my dad with friends that loved him, too!”

Canadian country music legend Hal Willis, 82, died September 4 in a Nashville hospital. He was born Leonald Gauthier in Quebec in 1933. He and his wife, Ginger Willis, moved to Nashville in the early ’60s. There they hit international stardom with Hal’s recording of “The Lumberjack,” a Top 5 Billboard Country hit in 1964. The novelty song became a million-selling hit worldwide and was subsequently covered by other Canadian artists. As a songwriting team, Hal and Ginger saw their songs recorded by stars such as Patsy Cline, Kitty Wells, Jim Reeves, and Ernest Tubb. Ginger died in 2003. Hal & Ginger Willis were inducted into the Canadian Country Music Hall Of Fame in 2010. [Thanks to Larry Delaney of Cancountry in Ottawa, Canada, for this report. I interviewed Hal in 2007 for my Marty Robbins biography. He told me Marty hired Ginger to be his secretary when they first moved to Nashville and were trying to find work. Marty had just opened his office in the Cumberland Lodge Building on 7th Avenue. He asked Ginger if she would like to be his secretary for a while, to earn some money. She said she’d love to, providing it didn’t interfere with their entertaining. Marty said, “You can go on the road any time you want. When you come back, you’ll have the keys to open up. When I come in, I’ll put stuff on your desk, and you can take care of it when you get back.” Hal told me, “I can talk about Marty all day because I have the utmost respect for him and what he represented. Just a great man, that’s all there is to it.”]

Nashville’s Music City Walk of Fame on Demonbreun Street will have four stars added October 6: Johnny Cash, Miranda Lambert, Steve Cropper (who co-wrote and played guitar on Otis Redding’s “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay”), and Gaylord and WSM executive E.W. “Bud” Wendell. Two stars, numbers 64 and 65, were added September 10: Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood.

The final two shows of the 2015 Shotgun Rider Tour had to be canceled because Tim McGraw has been placed on vocal rest by his doctors. Tim wrote on Facebook, “This is so disappointing to me. We’ve had such a great summer, and I was looking forward to this final weekend with the fans in California. I appreciate the support and look forward to coming back soon. The word ‘can’t’ is just not in my DNA, if there was any way I could sing, I would do it.”

Critics were not impressed when the new Hank Williams movie, I Saw The Light, debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival. They and savingcountrymusic.com faulted the director: “But this felt like the film’s inherent failing. Marc Abraham is not a director or a screenplay writer; he is a producer–a money man working mostly behind-the-scenes to get films made.” Tom Hiddleston and Elizabeth Olsen did a good job as Hank and Audrey Williams, but they could not overcome Abrahams’s poor screenwriting. One reviewer said, “One of Abraham’s most shocking decisions … was to include so little music in the film itself.” Another said, “Perhaps it’s fitting, in some way, to pay tribute to a prolific artist who died before his 30th birthday with a film filled with wasted potential. That would be the only possible way in which this picture would be a success.”

Alice Mackenzie reminds us, “As most Marty Robbins fans worldwide will remember, this September 26th would have been Marty’s 90th birthday. I think everyone should have a slice of cake in his honor.”

Jylinda White, a friend in Washington, DC, says, “Thanks for keeping me on this list. I like seeing emails from you.”

Pete Cellini writes, “I am currently reading your biography of Marty Robbins. Believe it or not, this book has made my year! I purchased an old Dodge Daytona NASCAR that was thought to be James Hylton’s. It was also believed that this car went to Talmadge Prince, who was killed in the car and the car demolished. After examining the car in some detail, it was questionable if the car was ever wrecked as it was previously thought. I have been going crazy to find out which of Hylton’s cars this was since he had a few. Then I came upon your book and your interview with Marty about this exact car. In summary, the book says that Hylton’s Daytona went to Marty Robbins! This means James had 2 Daytonas. One went to Prince, and the other to Marty. That made all the puzzle pieces fit together. Anyway, you can tell I’m excited to possibly have the Marty Robbins Daytona in my possession.”

Elroy Severson says, “It’s been quite some time since receiving a newsletter. I do enjoy them and appreciate receiving.”
Diane: You’re back on the list now. Your address is one of the many that disappeared when I switched to Outlook.

Vicki wonders, “In your research on Faron Young, did you happen across the name Gus Pedigo, who played guitar with Faron in approximately 1965-1967, when Odell Martin was off? Even better, would you have any pictures from that time? Gus was a fill in and not a steady Deputy. He did the fair circuit, and did the Grand Ole Opry with Faron once. He was a session player at Owen Bradley Studio at the time and Faron picked him up from that. So many years ago, Gus was only about 22 and is now 70. I live with Gus in Florida and he didn’t keep many pictures or anything. He did the original ‘Last Kiss’ with J. Frank Wilson and Cavaliers, and was at Woodstock and played one song on stage with Country Joe and Fish.”
Diane: No one ever mentioned the name Gus Pedigo that I can recall. Perhaps some of the readers remember him. Odell Martin left the Country Deputies in early 1964.

Andrew Means met Mamie Robinson Minotto in 1984, and the pair decided to write a book together. They began doing interviews and conducting research, but no publisher seemed interested in a memoir by the twin sister of Marty Robbins. Mamie died in 2004, and it still bothered Andrew that her story had never reached the public. The publishing industry had changed in twenty years, and it was now possible to self-publish. He pulled out the material they had collected, and he turned it into a book, Some Memories: Growing Up With Marty Robbins, published in 2007. This book was a great find for me, as I was working on Marty’s biography at the time. Some Memories was a major source in helping me piece together Martin David Robinson’s youth. Mamie idolized and followed Martin throughout their childhood. She recalled starting school in 1931: “We rode the bus for the first time in our lives, and I cried and sucked my thumb all that first day. I wanted to sit next to Martin, and for a while he and the teacher complied. Finally Martin became disgusted with me. I wouldn’t stop crying, and so he asked to be moved. The teacher put me beside my sister Lillie. Luckily for me, the two-room school house was shared by grades one to eight. So Lillie could not escape from her little sister. Right away Martin began to make friends, and I saw soon enough that I was going to be left behind if I was not careful. Either I had to join in or I would lose him for sure.”

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