Diane’s Country Music Newsletter — 4 April 2018

This year’s inductees into the Country Music Hall of Fame are Johnny Gimble, Dottie West, and Ricky Skaggs. They were announced March 27 at an event in the rotunda of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood were the hosts. Western Swing fiddler Johnny Gimble from Texas was chosen posthumously as Recording/Touring Musician. He died in 2015 at age 88. His son and granddaughter performed his “Under the ‘X’ in Texas” during the ceremony. Dottie West, who lived her entire life in Tennessee, was named posthumously as Veterans’ Era inductee. The “Country Sunshine” singer and songwriter died in 1991, just before her 60th birthday, following a car accident on her way to the Grand Ole Opry. Ricky Skaggs is the Modern Era inductee. At age five, he played mandolin onstage with Bill Monroe. He joined the Opry in 1982 and was named the Country Music Association’s Entertainer of the Year in 1985. The native Kentuckian is 63 years old. A medallion ceremony will be held at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum later this year to officially induct the Class of 2018.

The writer of “Behind Closed Doors” has died. Kenny O’Dell, 73, passed away on March 28. Born in Antlers, Oklahoma, in 1944, Kenneth Guy Gist Jr. changed his name to O’Dell because it was easier to pronounce. He started writing songs at age 13 and started his own record label as a teenager. He moved to Nashville in 1969. He served for years on the Board of Directors of the Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI), advocating for rights of songwriters worldwide. He was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1996.

President Trump signed a bill to name a new post office in Bakersfield, California, as the Merle Haggard Post Office Building. Kevin McCarthy of California’s 23rd District sponsored the bill.

The Library of Congress added 25 titles to the National Recording Registry on March 21, all chosen for cultural, historical, or aesthetical significance. The 2017 registry includes the 1978 single, “The Gambler,” written by Don Schlitz and recorded by Kenny Rogers. The 1946 Merle Travis album, Folk Songs Of The Hills, was also named. Last year’s group, as you’ll recall, included Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs by Marty Robbins.

The second in a series of Buck Owens singles being released in original, chronological form will be on the shelves May 11. Omnivore Recordings is issuing Buck Owens and the Buckaroos’ The Complete Capitol Singles: 1967–1970, available on CD and via digital outlets. The material came from the original Capitol analog master tapes, both mono and stereo.

In an exclusive interview with Inside Edition, Kim Campbell, widow of Glen Campbell, responded to accusations that she blocked his children from visiting their father at his Nashville nursing home. “It’s a nightmare to have people on the internet threatening to kill you because they think you are this horrible person who wouldn’t let people visit, which is totally false,” she said. “I never ever denied them a visit. . .. They never ever called me to see how he was doing or if they could help.” She says Travis, the eldest son, didn’t visit Glen in more than 20 years. As for three children being left out of the will, she says, “That was done in 2002 and that was a choice made by Glen — not me — and there were reasons for it.” Kim also objected to the tribute by Glen’s former girlfriend. “This Tanya Tucker, who dated my husband for a hot minute 35 years ago, going on TV the day after my husband dies, ‘Forever Loving You,’ exploiting my husband,” she said. Tanya told Inside Edition she has nothing but love in her heart for the entire Campbell family. She said the purpose of her tribute song was to raise awareness about Alzheimer’s disease.

The Greater New Braunfels Chamber of Commerce presented George Strait with the “2018 Texan of the Year” award on March 23. George’s many contributions to Texas include his role last year in leading fundraising efforts after Hurricane Harvey. His Hand in Hand benefit concert helped raise more than $22 million. “I’ve had a great career and always been supported by the people here in Texas,” he said. “This great honor is the tip-top of my list.” Nash Country Daily calls him the greatest country music artist of all time. His 44 Billboard No. 1 singles (60 across all charts) are the most of any artist in any music genre. No other country entertainer can match his 22 CMA awards. Nash Country Daily reports, “He’s been a star practically since his debut in 1981 with ‘Unwound.'” And that’s how long I’ve been a George Strait fan.

Sounds Like Nashville provides an update on Jo Dee Messina, who revealed in September that she is battling cancer. Her team posted an update on Facebook last week: “Many of you have requested updates and we are happy to report she is feeling well and has kicked off her 2018 shows. . .. She has also been in the studio writing and recording new music. That new music speaks directly to where Jo Dee’s heart was during a tumultuous summer and where it remains today — a place of gratitude for an unconditional, real, and faithful love.”

Frank Andrew Hoover pled guilty to repeatedly violating a protective order Taylor Swift had against him. He was sentenced to 10 years’ probation, his whereabouts will be monitored by GPS for a year, and he has to stay a mile away from Taylor and her family. He also has to complete psychological testing, attend substance abuse classes, surrender all firearms, and undergo random drug testing. He was arrested in 2016 after showing up at her performance in Austin. TMZ reports he sent numerous threatening emails to Taylor’s father, Scott, including one that read, “Decided that we are going to end all the Swifts on one day because I can’t stand that virus shit your daughter spread.”

In an upcoming episode of the final season of Nashville, Steve Earle will guest star as himself. Sam Palladio, the actor who plays Gunnar, tells TVLine, “Gunnar has been really struggling to write. He’s trying to get his writing hat back on and feel connected to what he’s doing. . .. Gunnar ends up sitting down and getting some songwriter advice.” Earle encourages him to stop overthinking. During Nashville’s first season, Gunnar sang a Steve Earle song, “If Momma Coulda Seen Me.”

The Outlaw Music Festival Tour of Willie Nelson will return for a second year in 2018, The Boot reports, beginning with a show in Raleigh, North Carolina, on May 25. The second leg will start September 7 in Burgettstown, Pennsylvania. Willie celebrates his 85th birthday this month.

An upcoming LSD Tour features Lucinda Williams, Steve Earle, and Dwight Yoakam. The 18-stop tour begins June 12 in Boston and ends August 18 in Indianapolis. All three entertainers have current projects. Dwight is launching his own SiriusXM channel, Lucinda is releasing a 25th anniversary edition of Sweet Old World, and Steve is celebrating the 30th anniversary of Copperhead Road.

Bill Anderson has finished recording a new album. Titled simply Anderson, it will be released in September. Bill wrote or co-wrote all eleven songs. The first single will be issued in June, to coincide with his induction into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. A special song, “Until The Light Comes On Again,” will be released April 13. He wrote it for his friend, Vickie, who is battling cancer. The video will be available on his website and social media outlets.

Lee Rector writes, “Just to let you know I’m still on the mailing list. Sorry for your data loss. That is always a bummer. Ronnie Prophet was a close friend of mine during my Nashville years. I remember one time in particular, Ronnie and I were flying home from a Canadian Country Music Association Convention from either Regina or Winnipeg, I forget. Our flight entered the USA in Minot, North Dakota. Minot had one international incoming flight that I think flew in about three days a week, and they had a customs agent who had nothing else to do but stamp 28 passengers into the USA. BUT FIRST, he had to go through our luggage to make sure we were not sporting any contraband. In all my extensive international traveling, that was the most meticulous customs search I ever went through. No rubber gloves, but close! Ronnie was a very funny guy. I’ll never forget the jokes as he poked fun at the customs agent. Even his stern demeanor was broken by Ronnie’s entertaining quips. Ronnie was an entertainer’s entertainer. I am sad to hear about his passing.”

Alice Mackenzie writes, “So sorry to hear of the death of Ronnie Prophet. I used to go to the taping of his TV shows away back in Toronto in the ‘80s. A great entertainer, he will be sadly missed.”

Stacy Harris, Publisher/Executive Editor of Stacy’s Music Row Report, writes from Nashville, “Re: Kim Campbell. I don’t understand why she would have to sue Glen’s estate in order to be reimbursed for the dementia-related expenses. Some may be a procedural thing where, like many medical bills, they don’t arrive till six months after the dates of service (so there’s no way to know how they are coded and how much they will be) and, as with the other known expenses, accounts, by law, are frozen until probate sorts it out. When there’s a lot of money involved, excluded children AND a blended family, that’s a prescription for disaster. Add to that expenses and hidden charges that can’t be reasonably estimated before the bills come, perhaps due before they can be properly analyzed, questioned and/or disputed and it is even more of a mess! It all reads like the hell Barbara Mandrell caught, following her own disability, when she, in the capacity of her being an insured driver, had to sue the other driver’s insurance company following the head-on collision in which she was involved. It was not a case of the rich suing the poor, but many fans did not understand that at the time. Re: John Fogarty. I’ve not read his book, but your summary suggests Dan Rather did. Reruns of Rather’s The Big Interview interviews (including the one with Fogarty) air pretty much daily on AXS TV (cable) and Dan’s hour-long conversation with John would add to knowledge in a way that would be valuable should you decide to become his biographer.”

Ron Harman writes from Nashville, “Thanks for another great newsletter. We celebrated Jan Howard’s birthday last week on March 13th. At 89, she is the oldest living member of the Grand Ole Opry (instead of Jesse McReynolds, who won’t turn 89 until July). Jan actually stopped by the Opry on her birthday, and Jamie Dailey & Darrin Vincent called her onstage during their segment and sang Happy Birthday to her. Some sources list Jan’s year of birth as 1930, but it’s actually 1929. One of Jan’s favorite sayings these days is: ‘I’m glad to be part of history…before I am history.’ :)”

Doug McLeod says, “Another home run, Diane. I approve of your editorializing about Dustin Lynch. Please feel free to comment in addition to reporting. There is a lot of performing talent out there but there is too much poor songwriting. I could start naming songwriters but so could all of us. It’s a gift. I hope Dustin Lynch reads your thoughts. Please add to your subscriber list Chip McLeod.”

Jan Manning says, “Regarding your Dustin Lynch commentary: Good for you, Diane. It’s time someone stood up and said, ‘Enough of this crap you call country music.’ ”

Darrell Autio says, “Computers are great but they can be a ROYAL PAIN………… Hope all is o.k. now. Enjoy reading your newsletter.”

Joe Bollard writes from the Republic of Ireland, “Once again a great newsletter. I am contacting you to enquire about Ronnie Milsap. Is he still recording, and does he have a website, or contact details? I’ve been a big fan of his since the Seventies. Keep up the great work with your newsletter. Admittedly. I’m not familiar with some of the artists you talk about, and I also feel a lot of what some people call country music today is nothing like genuine country music.
Diane: Ronnie is still touring. His website is http://ronniemilsap.com.

Carolyn Berry says, “I really enjoy the newsletter. It is so informative. I have learned a lot from it. Conway Twitty was my favorite singer and still is. I would love to hear some things about him.”
Diane: You might check out Timeless, a CD of recordings Conway made in 1972 but only became commercially available last year. It was produced by Conway’s daughter, Joni Twitty Ryles, who said, “I spent countless hours in the studio with my dad. I know the music of Conway Twitty probably better than anybody. To add to that, I would bring my husband, John Wesley Ryles, to co-produce it for me.” In September, she told Chuck Dauphin of Billboard, “We have people that write to us and comment to us – in their teens and early 20s – it’s crazy that they are so attracted to his music. It still sounds good and feels real. Every word he sang dripped with emotion. He made you believe it. It’s so cool to see people like Blake Shelton mention him in songs, Kenny Chesney, Luke Bryan, Brad Paisley…..it’s so neat to see the younger generation and see how impacted they are by the music he left behind.”

Dave Rogers says, “I know this sounds like a broken record, but I so appreciate you keeping me in touch with classical country music.”

Maheen Wickramasinghe says, “I had to update my email address in the last newsletter; it is maheenthemusicman1984@gmail.com. I am looking for one Jim Ed Brown song called, ‘I Love You All Over Again.’ If anyone could please assist, it would mean a lot. Thanks very much!”

Jon Philibert in the United Kingdom requests, “Just a quick note to say I continue to enjoy the newsletters. Could you add my friend and music business veteran Dave McAleer to your subscription list?”

Lee Shannon of WIRE Radio (1968-80) writes, “When I was a DJ at WIRE Radio in Indianapolis in the Seventies, we used to take our listeners by bus on weekend trips to Nashville and the Grand Ole Opry. This was prior to Opryland Park. Webb used to invite tour groups to stop at his house to photograph his guitar-shaped swimming pool. Sometimes he would even be there. Another attraction was the nearby home of another Opry member, Minnie Pearl. Was it not Webb’s house that Ronnie Milsap later bought, as Ronnie was quoted as saying, ‘I bought it Sight unseen’?”

Diary of a Player is Brad Paisley’s 2011 story of “How my musical heroes made a guitar man out of me.” Written with David Wild, it’s a good mix of his life story and his growth in the world of music. That world began in 1980 when his grandfather gave him a guitar for Christmas. It wasn’t a spectacular gift for an eight-year-old who wanted Star Wars items. The grandfather, Warren Jarvis, became his first musical hero. The second was his guitar teacher, Hank Goddard, who formed a band called Brad Paisley & the C-Notes. The AARP-eligible sidemen backed their 12-year-old singer at various events in West Virginia and became regulars on the WWVA Wheeling Jamboree. There Brad opened shows for many Nashville stars and established friendships that later benefited him when he moved to Nashville. This book is filled with delightful stories of Brad’s experiences and opinions. I enjoyed learning the inside details about a singer I’ve liked since he came on the scene. I met him once backstage at the Grand Ole Opry. I think it was Jeannie Seely who introduced us. I’d already heard of him, and I remember thinking “I should get a picture of us for when he becomes really famous.” But I didn’t do it. Brad tells the story of a longtime girlfriend who broke up with him, and he hoped to win her back by going home to West Virginia to watch a movie they’d seen at the beginning of the relationship. She didn’t show up, leaving Brad to accept he’d lost her. He wrote a song, “Part II,” to commemorate the experience, and he often told the story at his concerts. Sometime later, he awoke one morning with a clear thought: “The person I’m supposed to be with isn’t the girl I took to those movies. It’s the girl in those movies.” He called a friend to put him in touch with Kimberley Williams; she is now his wife and the mother of his two sons. The music at their wedding dance was provided by Redd Volkaert, another of Brad’s guitar heroes. (Redd was the featured artist in my 11/5/2014 newsletter.) If you like Brad Paisley, you’ll love this book.

One of the sidemen responsible for the Nashville Sound in the 1960s was Floyd Cramer, who also recorded for RCA and toured with labelmates Chet Atkins and Boots Randolph. The Arkansas native learned piano by ear and joined the Louisiana Hayride after graduating from high school in 1951. There he became part of Webb Pierce’s band, along with Faron Young. After moving to Nashville, he worked as session pianist for Chet Atkins and was constantly in the studio. After Atkins signed him to RCA as an instrumental artist in 1958, he wrote and recorded “Last Date.” The instrumental climbed to #2 on the pop chart, held back from #1 by another recording that featured his piano work–Elvis Presley’s “Are You Lonesome Tonight.” Floyd continued recording and performing concerts until diagnosed with cancer. He died in 1997 at age 64.

I remember well the evening in 2003 when Carl Smith joined the Country Music Hall of Fame. I watched on TV as he stood up in the audience and waved his hat when his name was announced. I waited for him to go onstage and make his speech. But, instead, he sat down, as I watched in disbelief. Thus began a new era of CMA awards, when there was no longer time on the show to honor Hall of Fame members. I’d been in love with Carl Smith since my family went to his concert when I was five years old. The Grand Ole Opry star, a native Tennessean, was at the height of his popularity in the mid-1950s. His records made the charts every year from 1951-1973. He married June Carter in 1952; singer Carlene Carter is their daughter. After a divorce, Carl married singer Goldie Hill in 1957. He gave up recording and performing in the late 1970s, for life as horse breeder near Franklin, Tennessee. When I was researching Faron Young’s life, I talked to Goldie several times on the phone. Carl refused to talk to me, saying he wouldn’t discuss people who weren’t alive to defend themselves. I called to give him birthday greetings and offer condolences after Goldie’s death. It was a short conversation. Carl died in 2010, at age 82.

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