Diane’s Country Music Newsletter – 7 June 2017

“All My Rowdy Friends” is returning to ESPN’s Monday Night Football on September 11. The Minnesota Vikings will be hosting the New Orleans Saints for the first Monday night game of the season. Hank Williams Jr. filmed a new video in Nashville with a new version of the song that calls out, “Are you ready for some football?” The original song, which had been on Monday Night Football since 1989, was pulled by ESPN in 2011, following Hank Jr.’s controversial comments on Fox News. He compared President Obama to Adolf Hitler, and he called Barack Obama and Joe Biden “the enemy.” When USA Today asked ESPN’s Stephanie Druley about potential backlash of rehiring the singer, she said, “I’m sure there’ll be some, but I’m not concerned. It was the right time. We discussed it internally and it was just the right time to bring him back.”

First Lady Acres, former Nashville home of Tammy Wynette, is on the market for $5.5 million, according to Nash Country Daily. George Jones purchased the nine-bedroom, nine-bath house in 1974, and Tammy lived there until 1992. The 10,000-square-foot house sits on eight acres.

When Olivia Newton-John, 68, postponed her nationwide tour in May because of back pain, she didn’t know her breast cancer had returned. The Huffington Post reports she was originally diagnosed with breast cancer in 1992, and she underwent a partial mastectomy and chemotherapy at that time. She is using photon radiation therapy to treat the new cancer, which has spread to her lower back.

MusicRow reports the death of songwriter Naomi Martin, 89, on May 31, following a long illness. A native of Virginia, she moved to Nashville in 1966 and started writing dozens of hit songs. Two of her number ones were Charley Pride’s “My Eyes Can Only See As Far As You” and Ronnie Milsap’s “Let’s Take the Long Way Around the World.” She signed Blake Shelton to his first song-publishing contract and helped him get a recording contract.

An outdoor stage was set up on Lower Broadway in downtown Nashville on June 3. Thousands of fans gathered in front of Tootsies and the Ernest Tubb Record Shop for a free one-hour concert by Alan Jackson. Much of the crowd then moved inside the Bridgestone Arena for game 3 of the Stanley Cup Finals. The Nashville Predators defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins with a score of 5-1. Dierks Bentley sang the National Anthem before the game.

A judge recently threw out the claim from a Denver disc jockey that Taylor Swift slandered his good name by accusing him of grabbing her during a photo op in 2013. The one-year statute of limitations had run out before David Mueller filed his slander claim. But, TMZ reports, the judge ruled the remainder of the lawsuit will move forward. Mueller sued Taylor for causing him to be fired from his job at KYGO.

Bill Mack writes from Fort Worth, Texas, “Thanks for your column! I know I’ve mentioned this several times: your column is a tremendous guide to everyone interested in country music happenings. I sincerely appreciated and enjoyed your write-up on Leona Williams. This lady will always be special to me. She is not only a tremendous singer and songwriter, she is also a perfect ambassador for country music. Most important is the fact she is one of the most loving, caring individuals I’ve ever met — in or out of show business. In closing, your bit on Hubert Long rang a familiar bell to me. I knew Hubert very well. As you know, he was a helping hand to so many artists, especially Faron. I had the pleasure of visiting with Hubert at his home many times when I was in Nashville. His death was very personal to me because he was a very close friend to me and many others.”

Ray Harrison reports, “I was proud to be the Bass Player on the shows that Ron and Leona performed with Mark Yeary. Enjoyed both of these people immensely. Both of them sing the great country music that made Nashville into the Country Music Capital of the World, not the stuff that is being played today.”

Jean Seither in Chicago says, “Thank you so much for your excellent article about Leona Williams and her son Ron. I like Leona a lot and feel she’s terribly underrated. I also think Ron is very talented. I’m surprised that I only heard of him a few years ago. You answered a question I’ve been wondering about. I wondered if he was Merle’s son. I’d also like to thank you for letting us know about Charley Pride’s new CD. He’s my very favorite singer in the world. All in all, you do a wonderful service for us classic country fans and I do appreciate it.”

Dominique “Imperial” ANGLARES writes from France, “Thanks to have shared my words and to have break the news of Carolyn’s passing. Maybe some readers would remember her? I first met Wanda and Wendell, in France, in 1980 at the Malboro tour with Don Everly. Seeing a real rockin’ rollin’ Lady who dated Elvis in 1955 was such a thrill. Thanks to Internet we were back in touch in the 2000s and I used to feed Wanda and Wendell with old and vintage papers ’bout music. This has led Wendell to nickname me ‘The Paper Man’. Last time we meet was in 2007, in Paris, when they came from Australia for the opening of the Cartier’s exhibition about Rock ‘n Roll. It’s gonna be a real rough time for our friend Wanda. Another blue blue day.”

Gerald Walton in OKC says, “Sorry to hear of the passing of Dale Goodman. I have been a big fan of Wanda Jackson since her days with Hank Thompson in Oklahoma City.”

Andy Williford, boyhood friend of Faron Young, writes from Texas, “A little trivia your fans might enjoy knowing. Three Hall of Famers, Faron, Terry Bradshaw, and DJ Fontana, Rock and Roll, were close friends since childhood in Shreveport. Also, we were classmates of The Wilburn Brothers, Doyle and Teddy.  Love your newsletter.”

Maurice Bowers writes, “Love these letters here in the UK. By the way, I am looking for a copy of Country Music Caravan (1964). Any format will do but would like it on a DVD & Jamboree. Will pay costs.”

Dave Rogers in Virginia says, “Thank you Diane. I love these.”

Marilynne Caswell wonders, “I have not received a newsletter since May 10.  Guess I was dropped from your email list. Would love to get this latest one.” She writes later, “Thanks [for sending] the May 24 newsletter.  I enjoy them so much and have gotten updates from so many longtime friends.”

June Thompson writes, “Thanks again for such a wonderful and newsy letter, it’s like gittin’ a line from home. I know it takes time and works to get everything together, and I appreciate all your hard work. I wish that the good in country music could draw our America closer together.”

I’m not sure why “The Prisoner’s Song” has always been one of my favorites. Listening to it now, I hear the typical fantasizing one expects from a prisoner. I first heard the song in a collection of 78-rpm records that came with an old phonograph my parents bought. I liked the love-story part of it: “Oh, I wish I had someone to love me, someone to call me their own.” The song seemed romantic back then. But I also liked the historical part. It was a song from forty years earlier that still sounded good and had been such a major hit. More than fifty years have passed since I put it on the old phonograph. And I still like Vernon Dalhart and “The Prisoner’s Song.”

The first million-selling record in country music belonged to Vernon Dalhart, who recorded “The Prisoner’s Song” and “The Wreck of the Old ’97” in 1924. He took his stage name from two Texas towns. Born in Texas in 1883, Marion Try Slaughter went from punching cattle as a teenager to singing opera in New York City by age 27. Ralph Peer, who recorded the famous Bristol Sessions, described him as a “professional substitute for a real hillbilly.” Peer said, “Dalhart had the peculiar ability to adapt hillbilly music to suit the taste of the non-hillbilly population.” The Great Depression ended Dalhart’s recording career. Earning no royalties from his million-sellers, he worked as a factory night-watchman and gave voice lessons to make a living. He died of heart failure in 1948, at age 65. Almost forgotten for decades, he was finally honored in 1981 with induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame.
The second Texan inducted that year was Grant Turner, who spent 47 years as a Grand Ole Opry announcer. He joined WSM Radio on D-Day, June 6, 1944. He also announced Ernest Tubb’s WSM Midnight Jamboree for 20 years. In 1975, Turner became one of three original members in the Country Disc Jockey Hall of Fame. Ten years after his Country Music Hall of Fame induction, he suffered a heart aneurysm at the end of a Friday night Opry show. He died six hours later, at age 79.

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