Diane’s Country Music Newsletter – 29 March 2017

After the long-running Flatt and Scruggs Grand Ole Opry Show ended in 1969, there seemed to be no surviving copies of the TV show. Twenty years later, an advertising executive discovered a box of 16-mm film in his garage. It contained 24 half-hour episodes of the show sponsored by Martha White Flour and starring Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs and their Foggy Mountain Boys. The films were donated to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum and then sent to the Colorlab film preservation company for restoration. According to The Tennessean, the films suffered from “a malodorous affliction known as vinegar syndrome.” The brittle film had begun to shrink and curl in on itself. Colorlab pulled images off the original film and attached audio from another 16-mm film. These restored shows have now been commercially released on DVD.

The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum is celebrating its 50th anniversary on Saturday, April 1. Kyle Young, who began working at the original Music Row location in 1976 as a 22-year-old ticket taker, is now the chief executive officer. During the past 20 years, he has overseen the move to the new downtown location, the flood aftermath, and a $100 million expansion. The museum welcomes more than 1 million visitors annually–from tourists and students to researchers and legendary performers.

The Psalms is the title of the new 12-track CD by Jessi Colter, 73, the widow of Waylon Jennings. The album and her upcoming memoir, An Outlaw and A Lady, are both directly inspired by her journey of faith. Guitarist Lenny Kaye produced the album and co-wrote the book. “I think it was supernaturally designed for this because [we] began the album 10 years ago,” Jessi told Fox News.

Kern Pioneer Village in Bakersfield, California, is opening the boyhood boxcar home of Merle Haggard to the public on April 8. The daylong celebration will feature a concert by Noel and Ben Haggard and their dad’s band, the Strangers. The long-neglected house was moved from Oildale in 2015 and then restored. “Museum staff will lead visitors through the tiny home,” Bakersfield.com reports, “whose center is a Santa Fe refrigerated box car that Haggard’s father, James, bought in the mid-1930s. He built a couple of additions to accommodate the five members of the family–wife Flossie and their children Lillian, Lowell and Merle.”

Willie Nelson is NOT deathly ill, his publicist says, denying an anonymous quote in an online report that called him “deathly ill” and unable to sing. Other websites then shared the false story. “He’s perfectly fine,” Elaine Schock told The Associated Press. She said he performed for 75,000 people at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo on March 18 and has been giving other concerts in recent weeks.

The 2017 inductees to the Country Music Hall of Fame will be announced April 5 during a ceremony in the Hall of Fame rotunda. Vince Gill will host the event. Three new inductees are expected to be in the categories of Modern Era (more than 20 years of national prominence), Veteran’s Era, and Songwriter.

Glen Campbell continues to live in the memory care home in Nashville. His Alzheimer’s disease has progressed to the point where he can longer speak or play his guitar. His daughter, Ashley Campbell, recently told The Tennessean he sometimes makes sounds or air guitar movements while she plays her guitar for him. “With persistence,” she says, “something gets in.” Glen’s wife, Kim, says he can communicate an occasional short sentence and he’s still in there somewhere.

Tom Kaufman writes from Denton, Maryland, “Just so you know, I got the first copy that came out last night. But thanks for thinking enough to resend…just in case. All the best and keep ‘em coming. I really do enjoy the newsletters and have been forwarding them around to my friends who love country music as much as I do. I think a couple of them who I had been forwarding to now have their own subscriptions, so this makes me happy as I am all too glad to circulate the word around about what you do and to see other people getting on your list. Keep up the good work as you do provide a wonderful way for us to know what is going on with the veteran country performers. I love what was in your previous newsletter–someone said the name country music has been hijacked. I have a good friend who plays steel guitar over in North Carolina who has also been saying this…and I agree; the so-called country music I hear on these stations that call themselves country stations just aren’t playing what I consider to be country music. But that’s just my opinion. Okay…I’ll get down off my soapbox now. Take care and keep those newsletters coming.”

Larry Cordle (AE-3 FE-2 CAC-32 VP-16 USN … formerly) says, “Thanks for the article you did on me. I thought it was great.”

Kathy Thomas writes, “Wonderful newsletter as always. Could you please add my sister, Rosemary, on your list? I’m tired of reading it to her.”

Alan del Balso wonders, “Are there any country artist planning to do a tribute album to Marty Robbins? Willie just did one for Ray Price which is great. Don’t these artists realize how big Marty Robbins was and his contributions to the music industry?”
Diane: None that I know of. Marty has been gone almost 35 years.

Ron Reagan writes, “I know I’ve shared my YouTube page before, ronreagan12, but I’ve recently uploaded stereo overdubs of Hank Williams that were released in ‘60s. Also a rare later recording of Jimmie Davis and some stuff by The Lewis Family. There’s more to come.”

Cowboy Joe Babcock writes from Nashville, “I read your newsletter clear through every time and enjoy it very much. We’ll miss Hurshel. He was one of the best. Ricky Page and I are now the only living members of the Nashville Edition. We had a great group and were the vocal backing on about 180 No. one records.”

Lloyd Clarke writes from Canada, “I read a Newsletter from Ed Guy, very informative, I say thanks to you also. Back in the 1940s when a young teenager and very early in the mornings I listened to WWVA radio. Learned many old songs as I had a guitar at age 8 yrs father brought from Fort McAndrew a U.S. Naval station in 1941 as he worked for the U S Military here in Newfoundland, East Canada. He finished 1946, We were not a part of Canada then until 1949. I think we are more Americanized. I am still very much active with music and singing much Bluegrass Gospel as I get many invites to various churches. Oh, yes, I met Bill Monroe and many others.”

Rich Upright says, “I would like to receive your newsletter.”

Moragh Carter writes, “Greetings from England. It’s a small world, as three of the people you wrote about first in this month’s newsletter are known to me. So sorry you weren’t able to interview Tom T. Hall. It seems like he’s become more reclusive since Ms. Dixie died in 2015. Peter Cooper gave you a good summary though.  However, I was more fortunate than you were. In May 2014, I had the enormous privilege of visiting Tom T. and Ms. Dixie at their home, spending an hour and a half there. Two years earlier, Peter had arranged for Tom T. to give me a blurb for the back of my book, In Harmony (my biography of Jack & Misty). I wanted to meet Tom T. to thank him personally for this blurb and Peter kindly arranged the visit and drove me there. I’m so glad I was able to visit while Ms. Dixie was still alive. Peter also put me in touch with Lloyd Green, who gave me a blurb for my book, too. I was talking to Lloyd on the phone a few days ago and he was telling me all about his performance at the Family Wash. He was delighted that both his son and his daughter were able to be there. He said that playing live, after so long, made him feel that he’s come alive again after looking after his wife for six long years and then coping with her death. He looked so happy on one of the photos I saw that was taken at that event and posted on The Steel Guitar Forum. So glad you keep sending us your great newsletter.”

Mary Mitchell asks, “What do you know about Wynn Stewart? I love his music. I know he died young due to alcohol. Another performer I like is Leroy Van Dyke. He is an interesting person.”
Diane: Wynn Stewart died of a heart attack on the eve of his scheduled comeback tour in 1985. He had just turned 51. Leroy Van Dyke still tours regularly, and he has a website at leroyvandyke.com.

Alan Potter writes from the U.K., “Great to see Randy Travis is still improving….nice tribute from Becky Hobbs…she is a lovely lady & friend.”

John Krebs offers, “Speaking of Carl Smith: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vw_3M9jPtyU&t=459s

“I was a mistake from the start,” Minnie Pearl says about Sarah Ophelia Colley in the first line of her 1980 life story, Minnie Pearl: An Autobiography. “There was nothing in their ancestry to prepare my proud, conventional Southern parents for the shock of a child who came into the world determined to be in show business.” About her first Grand Ole Opry performance, she wrote, “I remember very little about my debut on the November night in 1940 except that I was scared to death.” She didn’t know whether she’d succeeded or failed, until Judge Hay called four days later and told her to return that weekend. A mailbag with more than 300 letters was waiting for her. “I was flabbergasted!” she said. “Even though I didn’t know much about show business, I knew it was pretty good for an unknown to get that much response from a three-minute spot on the air at 11:05 at night.” It’s been 15 years since I’ve read this book, but paging through it reminds me to read and enjoy it again.

Minnie Pearl was the only person elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1975. She was born Sarah Ophelia Colley in 1912, daughter of a Tennessee lumber magnate. After attending finishing school, she planned to be a dramatic actress. But at age 22, she met an elderly Alabama woman whose talk and mannerisms inspired her to create a comic character. She debuted on the Grand Ole Opry as Minnie Pearl in November 1940—and remained an Opry regular for fifty years. In 1947, Sarah married former Army Air Corps pilot Henry Cannon. He started a charter service that specialized in transporting country music entertainers, and he served as his wife’s manager. The woman who moved in Nashville society circles as Sarah Cannon was also the Minnie Pearl spinster with the $1.98 price tag on her hat. Her performing career ended when she suffered a serious stroke on June 17, 1991. She spent the next five years bedridden in a Nashville nursing home, until a final series of strokes took her life on March 4, 1996, at age 83. Faron Young told me he felt guilty for not going to visit his good friend, but he just couldn’t stand to see her in that condition. Like many others, he wanted to remember her laughing and full of life and love.

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