Diane’s Country Music Newsletter — 29 July 2015

Patsy Stoneman of the famous Stoneman family died peacefully in her sleep at age 90 on July 23. When The Stoneman Family performed in the 1960s, Patsy played the autoharp and sang. Bluegrass Today reports that Patsy, until recently, continued to perform with sisters Donna and Roni as The Stoneman Sisters.

Wayne Carson, age 72, died July 20 in hospice care. He and his wife, Wyndi Harp, lived in Franklin, Tennessee, and he suffered from congestive heart failure, COPD, diabetes, and gallstone issues. He was born Wayne Carson Head in Colorado, where his musician parents (Hank Thompson fans) performed as Shorty & Sue Thompson. Carson was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters’ Hall of Fame in 1997. His many famous songs include these: “Always On My Mind,” “Drinkin’ Thing.” “Who’s Julie.” “Neon Rainbow” “Barstool Mountain,” and “Whiskey Trip.” Sherwin Linton posted on Facebook: “I met Wayne in October of 1966 when my producer Chuck Glaser introduced us. Wayne was already an established hit songwriter and I asked if he could write a Folk/Country style song about rural southern life with a positive philosophy and message. The next day he brought me a demo of ‘Cotton King’ and I immediately liked the catchy chorus, the story, and melody.”

Steel player Mike Johnson posted on the Steel Guitar Forum: “A few months back I had the privilege to play on a record for Teea Goans. She loves traditional, real country music and sings it so great. Her latest CD, entitled Memories To Burn, has something really special for the steel guitar community. The producer is Terry Choate, one of the producers of The Country’s Family Reunion Shows & Larry’s Country Diner. What we all like about him the most is his motto: TURN THE STEEL UP. Teea and Terry wanted to record this project with great country songs of the past using new arrangements, one of the songs being ‘Pick Me Up On Your Way Down.’ Years ago, when Charlie Walker did this song on the Opry, he would use the two Opry Staff steel players to play twin steels. Terry and Teea decided to dedicate this song as a tribute to two of the greatest steel players ever, Hal Rugg & Weldon Myrick. Terry asked my pal Tommy White if he would come in and play it with me. It is one of the coolest things I have ever been a part of. Tommy and I loved Hal & Weldon and their playing. We both felt so honored to do this. We played the intros and turnarounds together. We also played the whole tone solo that those guys played, which is not for the faint of heart (lol). Teea sang the “fire out of it” as she did every dang song on the CD. She is so great. I want to thank Teea & Terry for their love and appreciation of not only ‘real country music,’ but also the steel guitar players who made that music so great from the beginning. Hopefully all of us will do our best to support Teea Goans throughout her entire career.”

Dave Barton sent me an email to say, “Leo Jackson, Jim Reeves’s guitar player and a studio musician who played on hits by Alabama and many others, committed suicide on May 4, 2008. Tragedy struck again Sunday night, July 12, when Leo’s son, also named Leo Jackson, died of an apparent suicide.” I’d done a phone interview with Leo Sr. about Marty Robbins in January 2008. The last thing Leo said to me was, “I’ve been having some chest pains and I’ve been thinking about going to the doctor, and that’s worrying me.” I later heard he’d died, but I had no idea it was a suicide. I haven’t found any updates about the death of Leo Jr., just the original reports. When Millersville Police were called to the home for a domestic dispute on July 12, they heard a gunshot and they found 49-year-old Leo Jackson dead and his son, 21-year-old Dallas Jackson, unconscious and badly beaten. Dallas was airlifted to Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Apparently Dallas had called his mother for help, and she called 9-1-1. Leo’s mother, Nell, was in the home at the time. She told News Channel 5 she believed her son (Leo Jr.) committed suicide. Friends said he had a hard time after his father’s death.

After a four-year marriage, Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert have divorced. Blake filed the petition on July 6 in Oklahoma, and the marriage was officially dissolved on July 20. A judge sealed the petition, decree, and all other legal papers. But Oklahoma legislators passed the Oklahoma Open Records Act last year, which lets a judge seal records only when “a compelling privacy interest outweighs the public’s interest in the records,” according to The Oklahoman. Aaron Stiles, the attorney who wrote the law, said, “The average citizen, they don’t get their cases sealed. Their records are made public.” Another Oklahoma attorney agreed, saying, “I think it was a favor done … because of their celebrity status. I’m sure every Oklahoman getting a divorce would like to have their records sealed.”

British guitarist Peter Beckett filed a $1 million trademark violation lawsuit again Keith Urban in Los Angeles, claiming Keith stole his band’s name, “Player” (a 1970s group), and used it to market “Player by Keith Urban,” a 50-piece acoustic guitar kit being sold online. The judge dropped the lawsuit because “player” is a common word and the two uses won’t create any confusion between the band’s name and Keith’s product. According to Country Music Nation, Beckett stated, “if not for his marriage to Nicole Kidman and if not for his appearance as a judge on the tail end of the now-canceled American Idol, defendant Urban’s fame would be limited to country fans for just a few more years.”

Beginning the next school year, the Miranda Lambert Women Creators Fund will provide over $40,000 to a woman at Belmont University who is majoring in songwriting, entertainment industry studies or music business. Miranda Lambert told Taste of Country she started actively helping up-and-coming women in country music, and she established the scholarship, because “I just really want to bring them to the forefront. I think we’re missing something right now.”

One of today’s current singers who shows true loyalty to the Grand Ole Opry is Craig Morgan. He made his 200th appearance when he took the stage at the Grand Ole Opry House on July 21. He sang two hits, “That’s What I Love About Sunday” and “Redneck Yacht Club,” and he debuted “Country Side of Heaven.” He will celebrate his seventh anniversary as an Opry member this fall. An Army veteran, he is described by Taste of Country as “one of country music’s most outspoken supporters of our military, and a recipient of the 2006 USO Merit Award.” He hosts an award-winning TV show, Craig Morgan: All Access Outdoors, on the Outdoor Channel.

Bill Mack checks in from Texas: “I realize it’s been a while since we exchanged messages, but wanted to inform you I truly enjoy your newsletters I receive by e-mail. You’re a champion writer/country music rep. Needless to say, your books on Faron and Marty are among the best, most authentic works available. Hope and pray you’ll remain active for as long as possible. You are needed! I really appreciated your write-up on Teea Goans. I sincerely consider this lady to be one of the most talented singers in the business. Her songs reflect realism. I’m afraid country radio is ignoring some of the best, authentic recordings because they are determined to ignore music they consider ‘too country.’ Of course, we still have outlets playing the ‘real stuff,’ but need more that are dedicated to playing what people want to hear. This includes the works of Faron, Marty and so many others we enjoy. I’m not attempting get on a soapbox about the gross neglect our country music industry is presenting, just relaying my personal feelings — along with so many who inform me they have similar feelings. Please keep me informed on the projects you are working on. Again — I appreciate what you’ve done … and what you plan to do in the future.”

Daryl Skancke in Sioux Falls says, “It was you who gave me a copy of Teea Goans’s CD, That’s The Way I Remember It. A great record with superb musicians and great arrangements throughout. Thanks for that. She’s a true country singer. As for the passing of Red Lane and songs he wrote, I have to say that my favorite of all is Merle Haggard’s cover of “I Must Have Done Something Bad.” I’ve always considered that the saddest country song ever. I don’t know if I’ve ever heard another country song arranged and performed any better than Merle’s version of that song on his Serving 190 Proof record. A true country tear-jerker start to finish. Of course, the entire 190 Proof record is a classic. Thanks for the newsletters!”

Alan Potter writes from the United Kingdom, “I’ve played Teea Goans many times because she is good & SHE IS COUNTRY. Your newsletter is a godsend to fans & country DJs, bless you. Ps I did pay tribute to Red Lane AND Randy Howard on a recent radio show.”

Dean Mann in Sioux Falls says, “I really enjoyed your article on Teea Goans. I saw her in person on the latest Country Family Reunion Cruise. She is a great traditional country music singer. I first heard her sing on the Bill Anderson tribute on Country Family Reunion. She did a tremendous job, and I was very impressed. It was fun to meet her in person along with two other young traditional country singers—Mark Wills and Mo Pitney. It would be nice if you featured those two sometime in the future. That entire cruise was great. The artists presented six shows and Larry’s Country Dinner was featured in one of the shows. The artists on this cruise in addition to the three I mentioned above were Bill Anderson, Gene Watson, Rhonda Vincent and her band The Rage, Johnny Lee, Moe Bandy, Jeannie Seely, T. G. Sheppard, Kelly Lang, and David Ball. Rhonda Vincent also had a jam session every night to standing room only. She and The Rage are tremendous. The shows were great! I see they are having another cruise the first week of February.”

Dean Mann also sends this request: “I wonder if you or your readers know anything about Ron Gaddis and what he is doing now. He was with George Jones starting in 1985 for the next 20 years. He did a great job harmonizing with George, and he is on many of George’s records. He was also the leader of the Jones Boys. He was a good singer in his own right, and I have a CD that he cut. I believe he was also Lorrie Morgan’s first husband. They had a daughter together named Morgan Gaddis. She traveled with George at that time. I’m wondering if he is still in country music some-place.”
Diane: I sent him a message on Facebook, but no response yet. Perhaps someone knows Ron?

Tom Baker writes from the United Kingdom, “Jean Earle kindly sends me a copy of your Country Newsletter each month & I’ve also read your interesting biography on Faron Young. This is just to let you (and anyone else involved in the country scene in America who remembers him) know that legendary ‘70s & ‘80s DJ/journalist Bob Powel’s biography, Heart of a Fan, is now available on Amazon. I spent 15 months researching and interviewing Bob for this before his tragic death last May, and, although I initially abandoned the project, I eventually came round to believing he would have wanted it completed. I hope you’ll find a space to mention it in your next Newsletter.”

Lou Elliott writes from Las Vegas, Nevada, “In answer to your QUESTION OF THE WEEK, I would rather hear the old songs, done by the old artists, because many of what they call Country Artists today, aren’t. There are still a few Country musicians still playing, but mostly in live shows. They get very little radio play anymore. I grew up in southern Ohio, and my entire family was all Country Music fans. I grew up in the ‘40s & ‘50s when the big Country stars were Ernest Tubb, Bill Monroe, Cowboy Copas, Eddy Arnold, Roy Acuff, Merle Travis, Moon Mullican, and many others. Then along came Jim Reeves, George Jones, Tammy Wynette, Faron Young, Marty Robbins, Jim Ed Brown & The Browns, Bill Anderson, Hank Thompson, Kitty Wells, Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, Johnny Paycheck, Waylon Jennings, Jessi Coulter, Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn. I know I missed some, but that’s all I can think of now. In the last few years we have lost so many Country Music stars.”

Wanda Anderson in Nashville writes, “I am certainly open to hearing new music, but today’s hits are not for me. I prefer country music to what is ‘hits’ today. In my opinion this is not country.”

Bonnie Blose says, “I would rather hear artists do their own songs. While I understand new artists are according honor to older artists when redoing their material, there is nothing like the first time or in this case first hearing. Most renditions of songs which are remakes are disappointing in the extreme. It is the one I heard and loved first that remains. It is true that as the song says, ‘all good things remain.’ By the way, it would be awesome if we could hear more about Heather Miles, Kimberly Murray, or Irene Kelly. I heard Irene first on a station that featured little known or independent artists a couple times a month and have loved her ever since.”

Colleen Kampfe writes, “My thought of this: an artist needs to be an artist in their own right, thus do their own materials or something written for them that fits them.”

Mary Knapp says, “Enjoyed your Newsletter. I also liked your book on Faron Young and I have ordered your book on Marty Robbins. I prefer listening to the old classic songs. I don’t listen to much new stuff.”

Karon Hamilton writes from Wisconsin, “I would rather hear today’s artists sing new songs. But only if they are ‘country’ songs and not this ‘new’ garbage.”

Ross, PROUD father of an American Soldier, says, “On the one hand, I’d like to hear some of today’s musicians singing today’s music, but most of it really isn’t quite what I consider country if performed by females. Think Dixie Chicks. Mostly Rock, with almost-bluegrass instruments. It seems like somebody came up with a brainstorm. ‘Let’s have the gals sing rock songs played in a country style,’ thinking that would get some fringe listeners to go country for the ‘darn-near-rock’ sound that the ladies performed. On the other hand, a lot of listeners to true COUNTRY are completely turned off by that sound, so don’t listen any longer. So, radio GAINS some, but loses a BUNCH of listeners.”

Mary Mitchell writes from Colorado, “Today’s artists have no clue what good old Traditional Country music is. Marty, Faron, Price, Carl Smith. I could go on forever. When they attempt to do an old song, most of the time they change it. Their style is not Traditional Country Music. Rockabilly not my style.”

June Bourke in New Zealand says, “I must admit, I was brought up on old time country, but happy to listen to the new age, as long as it’s kept to country sounds, words and music. I think here in New Zealand we are slowing losing our country music sound as it was, as the older generation dies out. The young ones do not want to hear old time anymore, it’s a pity, as they are the songs that tell the story of how country music was born. My husband and I still do old time, and it’s amazing how many people enjoy hearing the old songs again so it can’t be all bad. Love receiving the newsy emails, well done to you.”

Dominique “Imperial” ANGLARES writes from France on July 15, “Thanks for that nice and welcome newsletter. Today it is Johnny Sea’s birthday.”

Dianne Harmon of Shreveport, Louisiana, says, “Enjoyed the last newsletter and can’t wait to read this one. Hope all is well with you. Getting ready for another trip to Memphis for Elvis week.”

Terry Counts says, “That’s good news about Glen Campbell, I am happy for him and his family. Glen was ALWAYS smiling and had a joke handy if needed. I wonder, can you ask Les Leverett what happened to JUDY MOCK, a great photographer at the Opry and friend of mine. She shot the most valuable picture I own…me ‘n Roy Rogers & Dale taken in Roy Acuff’s dressing room years ago. And, has anyone heard how Marty Martel is doing? Dave Barton, bet you know! Let’s have an update on one of traditional country’s best friends and mine, too. Keep up the great work!”

Rockin’ Lord Geoff Lambert writes from the United Kingdom, “Re furthest distance travelled, several years ago my wife and I flew from England to Vegas to see the Everly Brothers but the show was cancelled.”

That Over Thirty Look” was one of Faron Young’s last singles to appear on the Billboard charts. It came from his 1979 MCA album, Chapter Two . Billy Arr and Rick Klang wrote the song. Faron sang it at all his concerts, and I’ve always liked it, although I was too young to appreciate the words back then. They mean more to me now . . . .

When I presented my Faron Young biography at the Southern Festival of Books in Nashville in 2008, I sat next to Ellen Wright during the book signing, and we exchanged books. She and Roni Stoneman share the copyright on Pressing On: The Roni Stoneman Story. The book is an oral history written from 75 hours of taped interviews. In the preface, Roni tells how there never was enough time to finish the conversations started with people after her shows, and she says, “So I thought I’d write this book. I’d be able to answer those questions about what it was like to grow up a poor mountain girl (yes, there were all those children—in a one-room house without water or a real roof), what it was like to work on Hee Haw with all those great comedians (yes, they were that funny), how I knew how to play Ida Lee (I was Ida Lee), and what it was like to be a woman banjo player in a man’s world (whewww!).” For fans of the Stoneman Family, and anyone else interested in country music history, this book is one you’ll want to read.

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