The loss of two Country Music Hall of Fame members in 2008 was a major blow to the Nashville music community. But we lost many other friends as well. Here is a look back at those who passed away during 2008.
VERNON DERRICK, 74, died Jan. 4.
Multi-instrumentalist sideman for The Stanley Brothers, Jimmy Martin, Hank Williams Jr. and many others. Writer of the mandolin instrumental “Arab Bounce.”
DREW GLACKIN, 44, died Jan. 5.
Bass player for the alt-country group The Silos. Also a sideman for Graham Parker, Susan Tedeschi and Jack Grace.
KEN NELSON, 96, died Jan. 6.
Country Music Hall of Fame member. Longtime Capitol Records executive who helped guide the recording careers of Buck Owens, Merle Haggard, Jean Shepard, Sonny James, Faron Young, The Louvin Brothers, Tennessee Ernie Ford, Ferlin Husky, Hank Thompson, Merle Travis, Wanda Jackson, Gene Vincent and many others. Notable as a talent scout, a record producer, singer, radio announcer and president of the Country Music Association (1961-62). He prefigured the rise of The Nashville Sound by producing “Young Love” by Sonny James and “Gone” by Ferlin Husky in 1956, both utilizing the backing-vocals that later characterized the style. In the 1960s, he also sponsored the Bakersfield Sound of harder edged country. Author of the 2007 autobiography My First 90 Years, Plus 3.
BILL BELLEW, 76, died Jan. 7.
The designer of Elvis Presley’s jumpsuits, as well as the tight black leather outfit Elvis famously wore in his 1968 comeback TV special.
DAVE AULDRIDGE, 73, died Jan. 7.
One of the original members of The Seldom Scene. Later in the bluegrass bands Cliff Waldron & The New Shades of Grass and Appalachian Reign.
CLYDE OTIS, 83 died Jan. 8.
Songwriter and producer who made history as the first African-American A&R executive for a major label (Mercury, 1958). Produced many hits by Brook Benton, as well as the singer’s duets with Dinah Washington. In 1962 Otis produced 33 of Mercury’s 51 chart hits. In Nashville, he produced Charlie Rich and Sonny James. His song “Til I Can’t Take It Anymore” was a country hit for Dottie West & Don Gibson (1970) as well as Billy Joe Royal (1990). “Endlessly” topped the charts for Sonny James (1970). Also wrote “It’s Just a Matter of Time,” a hit for James (1970), Glen Campbell (1986) and Randy Travis (1989). Other songwriting highlights include “Boll Weevil Song,” “Kiddio,” “Looking Back,” “A Rockin’ Good Way,” “This Bitter Earth,” “Think Twice,” “Thank You Pretty Baby” and “You’ve Got What it Takes.”
JOHN STEWART, 68, died Jan. 19.
Former member of The Kingston Trio. As a solo artist, he wrote “Daydream Believer,” which was a pop hit for The Monkees in 1967 and a country hit for Anne Murray in 1980. Stewart also wrote “Runaway Train,” a No. 1 country smash for Rosanne Cash in 1988.
DUANE MARRS, 72, died Jan. 22.
Steel guitarist and Sho-Bud designer and guitar builder. Designer of the Marrs Pedal Steel Guitar, the Pak-a-Seat stool for players and the RGS Dobro Simulator. Father of steel player Larry Marrs.
JACK JOHNSON, 79, died Jan. 24.
Manager of Charley Pride for the first 12 years of the superstar’s career. Co-founder and co-owner, with Pride, of Pi-Gem Publishing. Manager of Ronnie Milsap, whom he similarly guided to stardom. Later manager of T.G. Sheppard.
JIM HSIEH, 63, died Jan. 24.
Nashville club singer and musician. Graphic artist who designed Boot Country and other establishments.
DAVID WAYNE MATHES, 74, died Jan. 30.
Guitarist, bassist and steel guitarist who worked with The Imperials, Dottie West and others. Owner of three independent song-publishing companies, studio engineer for numerous national ad jingles (Sears, KFC, Goo-Goo, Mr. Transmission, Coke, etc.) One-time recording artist with the LP Sounds of the Saved Soul.
MARK SCHWED, 52, died Jan. 31.
Former entertainment reporter for UPI in Nashville, as well as for TV Guide in Hollywood. He coined the term “Third Coast” to refer to Music City.
BOBBY LORD, 74, died Feb. 16.
Former Grand Ole Opry and Ozark Jubilee cast member. Star of the TV programs The Bobby Lord Show (syndicated) and Celebrity Outdoors (TNN). Hits include “Without Your Love” (1956), “Life Can Have Meaning” (1964) and “You and Me Against the World” (1970). Author of Hit the Glory Road (1969).
CHARLIE RYAN, 92, died Feb. 16.
Writer and performer of the 1960 car-song classic “Hot Rod Lincoln.” Charlie’s song was memorably revived by Commander Cody in 1972 and by Asleep at the Wheel in 1988.
JACKIE STREET, 48, died Feb. 17.
Nashville session bass player on albums by Little Big Town, Natalie Grant, Michael W. Smith, Jaci Velasquez, Glen Campbell, Steven Curtis Chapman, Steve Camp, B.J. Thomas, Amy Grant, Margaret Becker, dc talk, Jewel, SHeDAISY, Michael English, Sandi Patti, Wayne Watson, BeBe Winans, Point of Grace, First Call, Russ Taff, Jars of Clay, Phil Keaggy, Susan Ashton and many others. Member of Marshall Chapman’s band The Love Slaves and of the R&B band The Dynamites.
BOBBY LEE TRAMMELL, 74, died Feb. 21.
Rockabilly performer noted for his wild on-stage gyrations. Songs included “Arkansas Twist,” “Shirley Lee” and “You Mostest Girl.” A member of the Arkansas House of Representatives in 1997-2002.
PHIL GERNHARD. 65, died Feb. 22.
Curb Records senior vice president of A&R. Worked with Tim McGraw, Jo Dee Messina, Rodney Atkins, Steve Holy, others. Produced “Snoopy Versus the Red Baron” hit by The Royal Guardsmen, “Let Your Love Flow” by The Bellamy Brothers, “Me and You and a Dog Named Boo” by Lobo, “Abraham, Martin & John” by Dion, “Family Tradition” by Hank Williams Jr. and “Spiders and Snakes” by Jim Stafford. Co-writer of the BMI award-winning “Snoopy Versus the Red Baron.”
LARRY NORMAN, 60, died Feb. 24.
One of the pioneer Contemporary Christian Music artists. His 1969 LP Upon This Rock is considered to be the first Christian rock album. Member of the Gospel Music Hall of Fame.
“SPEEDY” HAWORTH, 85, died Feb. 26.
Lead guitarist of The Ozark Jubilee. A member of the original Porter Wagoner Trio, which recorded the hits “Company’s Comin’” and “Satisfied Mind.” Later a member of Red Foley’s band and a sideman for Leroy Van Dyke. (real name: Herschel Haworth Jr.).
SUE McCARTHY, 65, died Feb. 28.
Co-owner and editor of the British magazine Southern Country.
RUTH HUSKEY, 77, died Feb. 29.
Formerly a member of the Randolph Family, which performed on various Tennessee radio stations in 1939-52. In the 1970s, she worked at Music City Recorders and later owned two independent publishing companies. Widow of bass playing great Roy Huskey and mother of the late Roy Huskey Jr., also a bass legend.
ROBERT LUSK DUDLEY, 71, died March 7.
Former general manager of WLAC radio.
BARRY “BYRD” BURTON, 61, died March 10.
Former guitarist of The Amazing Rhythm Aces, whose hits included “Third Rate Romance” and “The End Is Not in Sight.” Later a studio session guitarist for The Oak Ridge Boys, Nanci Griffith, Don Williams, Emmylou Harris and others. His playing can be heard on such hits as “Tulsa Time” (Don Williams), “The Way I Am” (Merle Haggard), “The Blue Side” (Crystal Gayle) and “If I Needed You” (Don Williams & Emmylou Harris). Also a touring musician for Brooks & Dunn, Dan Fogelberg, Dolly Parton and more. Recording artist with the 2002 CD Byrd Braynz.
SALLY GAYHART ARNOLD, 87, died March 11.
Wife and former bookkeeper for country superstar Eddy Arnold.
DAVID A. MITCHELL, 60, died March 12.
Drummer, guitarist and longtime AFM member.
BILL BOLICK, 90, died March 13.
Member of the penultimate brother-duet team The Blue Sky Boys. This excellent, influential, close-harmony team popularized such old-time music favorites as “The Sweetest Gift (A Mother’s Smile),” “Kentucky,” “The Hills of Roan County,” “I’m Just Here to Get My Baby Out of Jail,” “Beautiful, Beautiful Brown Eyes,” “There’ll Be No Broken Hearts for Me” and “The Knoxville Girl” on Bluebird and Victor in 1936-51. Brother Earl Bolick (1919-1998) sang lead and played guitar, while Bill sang tenor harmony and played mandolin. He was also the team’s musical arranger and business manager. During the 1960s and 1970s, the brothers sporadically reunited to play folk festivals or universities and record for Starday, Capitol, Rounder and other labels.
MILES BELL, 61, died March 19.
A mainstay of the Nashville Association of Talent Directors (NATD). Manager of T. Bubba Bechtel, Cledus T. Judd, The Moffatts, Sandy Kastel and others. CFO of Limeliters International 1979-1991, booking Mickey Gilley, Don McLean, Janis Ian and more. CEO of Williams Bell & Associates 1992-2000 and Miles Bell & Associates 1991-2008. Also a music video producer.
WAYNE FIELDS, 55, died March 21.
Former member of such bluegrass bands as The Boys From Indiana, J.D. Crowe & The New South, Southern Blend, Wilderness Trail and the Charlie Sizemore Band. Banjo and mandolin player.
GLENN BARBER, 73, died March 28.
Country and rockabilly singer-songwriter who charted 21 singles between 1964 and 1980. His top-30 singles were “Stronger Than Dirt” (1964), “Kissed by the Rain, Warmed by the Sun” (1969), “I’m the Man on Susie’s Mind” (1972), “Unexpected Goodbyes” (1972), “What’s the Name of That Song” (1978) and “Love Songs Just for You” (1979). He recorded for the Stampede, Sims, Starday, D, Hickory, Groovy, Century 21, MMI and Songbird labels. Also a disc jockey and performer on Houston’s KIKK.
BOB DUNNAVANT SR., 85, died April 5.
Athens, Alabama radio broadcaster who was formerly a partner with Ernest Tubb in The Midnite Jamboree in Nashville.
CHRIS GAFFNEY, 57, died April 17.
Member of The Hacienda Brothers, nominated as 2007’s Duo/Group of the Year by the Americana Music Association. Formerly of Chris Gaffney & The Cold Hard Facts and of Dave Alvin & The Guilty Men.
PAUL DAVIS, 60, died April 22.
Famed for such pop hits as “I Go Crazy” (1977), “Ride ‘Em Cowboy” (1974), “Sweet Life” (1978), “’65 Love Affair” (1982) and “Cool Night” (1981), all of which he wrote. Paul also became a successful Nashville songwriter for others, including “Down to My Last Teardrop” for Tanya Tucker, “Bop” for Dan Seals (the CMA’s 1986 Single of the Year), “Love Me Like You Used To” for Tanya Tucker, “Meet Me in Montana” for Dan Seals & Marie Osmond, “Turn That Radio On” Ronnie Milsap, “Just Another Love” Tanya Tucker, “Back in Your Arms Again” Lorrie Morgan, “Why’d You Start Lookin’ So Good” Monty Holmes, “One Love at a Time” Tanya Tucker, “You’re Still New to Me” by Marie Osmond & Paul Davis and “I Won’t Take Less Than Your Love” by Tanya Tucker, Paul Overstreet & Paul Davis. He was a 2008 nominee for the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame.
BILL BURKE, 75, died April 24.
Memphis Press-Scimitar reporter who extensively covered Elvis Presley and who wrote 13 books about the King. Publisher of the quarterly periodical Elvis World.
TOM OTERI, 69, died April 26.
Song publisher and business partner of Richard Fagan. Tom’s company was called Of Music, and it published the John Michael Montgomery hits “Sold,” “Be My Baby Tonight” and “I Miss You a Little,” as well as recordings by Hank Williams Jr., Neil Diamond, Shania Twain, Diamond Rio and others. Also the publisher of songwriter Chris Clark. Father of former Saturday Night Live comic Cheri Oteri.
JIM HAGER, 66, died May 1.
Half of The Hagers, who gained national fame as 1969-1988 cast members on television’s long-running Hee Haw. The duo was said to have received more fan mail than anyone else in the cast. Discovered by Buck Owens, Jim and his identical-twin brother Jon were on Capitol Records in 1969-1972 and placed five singles on the country charts, including a 1970 version of Merle Haggard’s “Silver Wings.”
GEORGE “LEO” JACKSON, 74, died May 4.
Guitarist whose long career included backing artists Jim Reeves, Hank Williams Jr., George Strait and Alabama.
JERRY WALLACE, 79, died May 5.
Pop-country vocal stylist who popularized such big hits as “Primrose Lane” (1959), “Shutters and Boards” (1962), “In the Misty Moonlight” (1964), the CMA nominated “To Get To You” (1972), “If You Leave Me Tonight I’ll Cry” (1972), “Do You Know What It’s Like To Be Lonesome” (1973), “Don’t Give Up on Me” (1973), “Guess Who” (1973) and “My Wife’s House” (1974). Known as “Mr. Smooth.” His hit “Primrose Lane” was the theme song for a Henry Fonda TV sitcom called The Smith Family. Wallace appeared in the films Flipper’s New Adventure and Goodbye Charlie.
EDDY ARNOLD, 89, died May 8.
The biggest country superstar in history. Member of the Country Music Hall of Fame, a Lifetime Achievement Grammy Award honoree and a National Medal of the Arts recipient. His 1944 sessions at WSM launched Nashville as a recording center and led to its designation as Music City U.S.A. His totals of 92 top-10 hits, 67 consecutive top-10 hits and 145 weeks spent at No. 1 are statistics that are unmatched by any other country artist. There were only seven No. 1 country hits in 1948, and six of them were Eddy Arnold records. In 1952, he became the first country star to host his own network television series – it aired on all three networks as well as in syndication. He is associated with dozens of classics, including “Anytime,” “You Don’t Know Me,” “Make the World Go Away,” “Tennessee Stud,” “Bouquet of Roses,” “I Couldn’t Believe it Was True,” “Take Me in Your Arms and Hold Me,” “Misty Blue,” “Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye,” “Cattle Call,” “I Really Don’t Want to Know,” “The Tip of My Fingers,” “Molly Darling,” “It’s a Sin,” “May the Good Lord Bless and Keep You” and “I Wanna Play House with You.” The only artist to have placed songs on the popularity charts in the 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s and 2000s. Billboard ranks him as the No. 1 country artist of all time.
DOTTIE RAMBO, 74, died May 11.
Member of the Gospel Music Hall of Fame, the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame and the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. One of the most prolific and gifted country gospel composers of all time, her catalog includes more than 2,500 published songs. Initially in the family group The Singing Rambos and then as a solo artist, she recorded dozens of albums. Among her classics are “He Looked Beyond My Fault and Saw My Need,” “I Go to the Rock,” “Sheltered in the Arms of God,” “Holy Spirit Thou Art Welcome” and the 1982 Gospel Music Association’s Song of the Year, “We Shall Behold Him.” In addition to many gospel acts, her songs have been recorded by Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Bill Monroe, Dottie West, Porter Wagoner, Pat Boone, Whitney Houston, Barbara Mandrell and Dolly Parton. Mother of gospel great Reba Rambo.
AL GALLICO, 88, died May 15.
A leading country song publisher for more than 20 years, he signed Billy Sherrill, Norro Wilson, Glenn Sutton and Merle Kilgore as staff songwriters. All of them are now members of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. Among Gallico’s copyrights are “Stand By Your Man,” “The Most Beautiful Girl,” “Almost Persuaded,” “Let Me Be There,” “Wolverton Mountain” and “The Happiest Girl in the Whole USA.” He discovered Donna Fargo and got recording contracts for David Houston, Joe Stampley, John Anderson, Becky Hobbs and Big Al Downing. Al Gallico is a member of the national Songwriters Hall of Fame.
WALTER “D” KILPATRICK, 88, died May 21.
Manager of The Grand Ole Opry in 1956-59. Kilpatrick brought Porter Wagoner, Johnny Cash and The Everly Brothers to the Opry cast. He began his career in the 1940s with Capitol Records. In 1950, he moved to Nashville and opened Capitol’s office as the first record-company outpost in Music City. He produced Tex Ritter and Hank Thompson for the label. Kilpatrick moved to Mercury Records in 1951 and worked with Johnny Horton, Benny Martin, Carl Story and Bill Carlisle. During his Opry tenure, he was one of the 1958 founders of the CMA. After the Opry, he worked at Acuff-Rose, Warner Bros. Records and again at Mercury. In the 1960s he co-founded Athena Records, which released the 1968 landmark all-female rock album by The Feminine Complex and two collections of electronic music.
DANNY RHODES, 58, died May 23.
Lead singer, songwriter and guitarist for The Nerve, one of the most prominent Nashville pop/rock bands of the 1980s. Also a staff songwriter on Music Row for Warner-Chappell. His song “Get Funky” was a single for R&B legend Etta James. As a sideman, Rhodes backed such stars as Charlie Rich, Brenda Lee and Mel McDaniel. During his 20 years in Nashville, he also performed with Dicky Betts, Gregg Allman, Rodney Crowell, Gatemouth Brown and Dash Crofts, among others. He moved to Arizona in 1996, where he became a member of the Arizona Blues Hall of Fame.
BRUCE “UTAH” PHILLIPS, 73, died May 23.
Folk singer, radio personality, labor organizer, leftist and songwriter. His songs include “Green Rolling Hills of West Virginia” (Emmylou Harris, Kathy Mattea, Special Consensus), “Rock Salt and Nails” (Steve Young, Waylon Jennings, Joan Baez, J.D. Crowe, Joe Ely, Flatt & Scruggs, Levon Helm, Kate Wolf), “The Goodnight-Loving Trail” (Chris LeDoux, Ian Tyson, Tom Waits, Plainsong),and “If I Could Be the Rain” (Rosalie Sorrels, The Carawan Family).
JACK RAEL, 88, died May 25.
Bandleader who discovered Patti Page and became her lifelong manager. Also the former manager of The Everly Brothers and others.
DAVID GAHR, 85, died May 27.
One of the finest photographers of musicians. Particularly notable for his photos of folk and country stars such as Johnny Cash, Bill Monroe, The New Lost City Ramblers, Roscoe Holcombe and Eck Robertson. Creator of iconic album covers for Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Miles Davis and Hazel & Alice. Published his book The Face of Folk Music in 1968.
HUGH JARRETT, 78, died May 31.
Bass singer with The Jordanaires in 1954-58 who backed Elvis Presley on such hits as “Hound Dog,” “Don’t Be Cruel,” “Love Me Tender,” “Jailhouse Rock” and “All Shook Up.” He appeared in the Elvis movies King Creole and Loving You, as well as on The Ed Sullivan Show. He also recorded with Ricky Nelson (“Hello Mary Lou,” “Travelin’ Man”) and many others. Formed The Statues with Buzz Cason and Richard Williams and had a 1960 pop hit with “Blue Velvet.” Joined WLAC as “Big Hugh Baby,” an R&B disc jockey and became a central figure in the development of Nashville’s rock ‘n’ roll scene. Moved to Atlanta, where he continued to work in radio. In California, he formed his Hugh Jarrett Singers and toured with Elvis in the 1970s. Returning to Atlanta, he joined Bill Lowery Music, hosted radio and TV shows and acted in the In the Heat of the Night and Murder in Coweta County. Member of the Gospel Music Hall of Fame and the Georgia Music Hall of Fame.
SUZY HAMBLEN, 101, died June 2.
Gospel recording artist and songwriter. Wife and singing partner of Stuart Hamblen. CEO of their publishing firm, the Hamblen Music Company. In later years, she appeared on some of the Bill Gaither Homecoming albums. (real name: Veeva Daniels Hamblen).
ELMER ALLEY, 87, died June 9.
A television and radio force in Nashville for 40 years. One of the key executives who launched Opryland USA, Fan Fair and The Nashville Network. He was the original program director of TNN and the former program director at WSM-TV. Producer/director of numerous country syndicated TV series. Producer-writer for Hee Haw. TV puppeteer. Voice-over artist for radio and television commercials. Comic on WSM’s long-running Waking Crew morning TV show. Studio recording engineer for Hank Williams, Burl Ives and others.
DANNY DAVIS, 83, died June 12.
Famed as the leader of Grammy and CMA Award winning The Nashville Brass. Also a record producer behind hits by Connie Francis while he was an MGM executive. Signed Herman’s Hermits to the label. At RCA in New York, he produced Lana Cantrell and Nina Simone. At RCA in Nashville as assistant to Chet Atkins, he produced Hank Locklin, Floyd Cramer, Willie Nelson, Dottie West, Don Gibson, Waylon Jennings and gospel great George Beverly Shea. Danny Davis & The Nashville Brass recorded 30 albums for the label and guested on numerous network TV variety shows of their era. The group won a country instrumental Grammy Award in 1969 for its LP The Nashville Brass Featuring Danny Davis Play More Nashville Sounds. Davis won six consecutive CMA Awards as Instrumental Group of the Year in 1969-1974. Star of his own syndicated TV series Danny Davis on the Move. Author of the posthumously published Guess Who I Met Today: The Danny Davis Story. Began career as big-band trumpeter with Gene Krupa, Art Mooney, Freddy Martin and Bob Crosby. (real name: George Nowlan).
ERNIE OLDFIELD, 49, died June 15.
Popular country recording artist in Germany and Austria.
JAMES “GOOBER” BUCHANAN, 100, died June 16.
Country comedian, poet, radio personality and character actor. Co-author with Ruth White of the autobiography The Original Goober: The Life and Times of James G. Buchanan.
LEN “SNUFFY” MILLER, 66, died June 24.
The original drummer in Bill Anderson’s Po’ Boys band. Also a sideman for Dottie West, Nat Stuckey and others. Later, a producer of Jerry Clower comedy LPs.
HENRY FORD KAVE, 83, died June 26.
Guitarist for the bluegrass duo Benny & Vallie Cain. He was Vallie’s brother.
THOMAS HINTON, 83, died July 10.
Former general manager of the Nashville Symphony Orchestra and its timpanist. Longtime music teacher at MTSU.
KEN GRIFFIS, 83, died July 10.
Western-music historian. Author of the definitive biography Hear My Song: The Story of the Celebrated Sons of the Pioneers. He also wrote books about The Sons of the San Joaquin and The Reinsmen. One of the founders of the Western Music Association.
JO STAFFORD, 90, died July 16.
Acclaimed, widely admired, multi-million selling pop and jazz chanteuse. She brought to the pop hit parade such country tunes as “Hey Good Lookin,’” “Tennessee Waltz,” “Jambalaya,” “If You’ve Got the Money I’ve Got the Time,” “Settin’ the Woods on Fire,” “I’m My Own Grandmaw” and, unforgettably, “You Belong to Me,” Stafford’s biggest hit. Her 1947 country-music parody “Temptation (Tim-Tayshun)” as “Cinderella G. Stump” with Red Ingle & The Natural Seven was/is hilarious. “Feudin’ and Fightin’” (1947) was also notable. One of the first to popularize folk music, via 1950 LP Jo Stafford Sings American Folk Songs.
GEORGE CHESTNUT, 76, died July 17.
Considered one of the premier fiddle and stringed instrument repairmen in the U.S.
ARTIE TRAUM, 65, died July 20.
Woodstock folk-music mainstay and Rounder recording artist, frequently billed with his brother as Happy & Artie Traum. Member of the Woodstock Mountain Revue. Former duet partner of Nashville’s Pat Alger on the 1980 LP From the Heart.
JON REINBOLD, 44, died July 26.
Member of the staff of the Nashville-based promotional events company What a Trip!
PAUL “MOON” MULLINS, 71, died Aug. 3.
Legendary, colorful country radio personality in Kentucky and Ohio. Also a bluegrass fiddler with The Stanley Brothers in 1958-62. He also backed Earl Taylor, Charlie Moore, Jimmy Martin, Bill Napier, Bennie Birchfield and others, and worked in a long string of local bluegrass ensembles.
ERIK DARLING, 74. died Aug. 3.
Former member of the folk groups The Weavers, The Tarriers and The Rooftop Singers, who scored a hit with his arrangement of “Walk Right In.” Arranger of such modern folk standards as “Tom Dooley” and “The Banana Boat Song.” Banjo player and guitarist.
KATHERINE BRADLEY, 92, died Aug. 5.
The consummate Music Row hostess, whether in her home or on the Bradley yacht on Old Hickory Lake. Matriarch of the legendary Bradley dynasty – widow of Owen, mother of Jerry and Patsy, sister-in-law of Harold, mother-in-law of Connie, grandmother of Clay.
TOM CHERRY, 72, died Aug. 5.
A proficient musician on saxophone, guitar, banjo, flute, drums and clarinet. Durable, 26-year member of the Boots Randolph Band.
REG LINDSAY, 79, died Aug. 5.
Australian country superstar who recorded more than 50 LPs and wrote more than 500 songs. Star of his own nationally broadcast radio and TV shows. His “Down Under” hits included “Armstrong,” “Empty Arms Hotel” and “Silence on the Line.” One of the first Australian country acts to appear on the Grand Ole Opry (1968).
CHESTER SMITH, 78, died Aug. 8.
Writer and originator of the gospel standard “Wait a Little Longer, Please, Jesus.” Northern California broadcasting executive in both radio and TV. Duet partner of Merle Haggard on the 2002 CD Country Blends.
DALE WARREN, 83, died Aug. 9.
Longtime leader of The Sons of the Pioneers western group.
DON HELMS, 81, died Aug. 11.
Member of the Steel Guitar Hall of Fame. The last surviving member of Hank Williams’ band The Drifting Cowboys. In addition to playing on Hank hits such as “Cold, Cold Heart” and “Your Cheatin’ Heart,” Helms played on classic records like Patsy Cline’s “Walkin’ After Midnight,” Lefty Frizzell’s “Long Black Veil” and Stonewall Jackson’s “Waterloo.” A sideman for Ray Price, The Wilburn Brothers, Ferlin Husky, Cal Smith, Hank Williams Jr. and many more. In later years, he often backed Jett Williams in concert and appeared with Brazilbilly on Lower Broadway. Author of the memoir Settin’ the Woods on Fire.
GARY SMITH, 52, died Aug. 12.
Founder and president of Smith, Wiles & Co., a firm providing financial services to music-business clients such as Big & Rich, Alison Krauss, Kix Brooks, Kenny Rogers, Jamey Johnson, Naomi Judd, Randy Houser and The Nashville Songwriters Association.
JERRY WEXLER, 91, died Aug. 15.
Co-founder of Atlantic Records. Producer of R&B classics by Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, Solomon Burke, Wilson Pickett, Percy Sledge, Dusty Springfield. Also produced Willie Nelson’s masterpiece concept LP Phases and Stages. Member of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame.
JERRY REED, 71, died Aug. 31.
Singer, songwriter, guitarist, humorist, movie star. Famed for his own hits such as “Amos Moses” (1970), “When You’re Hot, You’re Hot” (1971), “Lord, Mr. Ford” (1973), “East Bound and Down” (1977), “She Got the Goldmine” (1982) and more. Recording artist for Capitol, Columbia, RCA and Southern Tracks. Session musician of the 1960s who backed Bobby Bare, Waylon Jennings and others in the studio. Writer of “Guitar Man” (Elvis Presley), “A Thing Called Love” (Johnny Cash), “That’s All You Gotta Do” (Brenda Lee), “Crazy Legs” (Gene Vincent), “U.S. Male” (Elvis Presley), “Misery Loves Company” (Porter Wagoner), “My Kind of Love” (Dave Dudley), and “Nashville Jam” (Ringo Starr). His self-composed instrumental “The Claw” is a guitar standard emulated by many. Frequent disc collaborator with Chet Atkins. Star of the movies W.W. and the Dixie Dance Kings, Smokey and the Bandit, Gator, High Ballin,’ Hot Stuff, The Waterboy and more, A regular on the TV series The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour and Concrete Cowboy. Winner of three Grammy Awards. CMA Musician of the Year in 1970 and 1971. Member of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. (real name: Jerry Reed Hubbard)
MERLIN LITTLEFIELD, 65, died Sept. 9.
Veteran of the Nashville ASCAP office for 19 years. Instrumental in the signings of Reba McEntire, Lyle Lovett, George Strait and Gary Burr to the performance rights society. Formerly a Texas promotion man for RCA and a CMA, ACM and NARAS board member.
MICKEY GOODALL, 58, died Sept. 11.
Former manager of the Nashville nightclubs The Stock-Yard, Bourbon Street Blues & Boogie Bar and B.B. King’s Blues Club. Also a singer-songwriter who performed in the bands Willow Run and Yellow Rose.
CHARLIE WALKER, 81, died Sept. 12.
Grand Ole Opry star and member of the Country Disc Jockey Hall of Fame. Noted for such hits as “Pick Me Up on Your Way Down” (which launched Harlan Howard’s songwriting career), “Who Will Buy the Wine,” “Close All the Honky Tonks,” “Wild as a Wildcat,” “Only You, Only You,” “I’ll Catch You When You Fall,” “Don’t Squeeze My Sharmon” and the memorable novelty “I Wouldn’t Take Her to a Dogfight.” Began his career as a Texas disc jockey and recorded the regional hit “Tell Her Lies and Feed Her Candy” before relocating to Nashville. Portrayed Hawkshaw Hawkins in the movie Sweet Dreams. Also appeared in the film Country Music.
HAL SMITH, 84, died Sept. 13.
Fiddle player on WAPI radio in Birmingham, AL who joined Pee Wee King’s Golden West Cowboys and came to WSM. Also backed Hank Snow, George Morgan, Carl Smith, Roy Acuff, Jimmy Dickens, Ernest Tubb and others. He ran Pamper Music for Ray Price, guiding such songwriters as Harlan Howard, Hank Cochran and Willie Nelson. Former manager of Price, Tubb, Jim Reeves, Jimmy C. Newman and Jack Greene. Entrepreneur with companies including Curtis Artist Productions, Hal Smith TV Programs, Boone Records and Cullman Records. Producer of syndicated TV series including The Ernest Tubb Show, Wills Family Inspirational Time, Country Music Carousel and Skylite Cavalcade. Once an owner of Renfro Valley. Husband of guitarist Velma Williams Smith, Music Row’s pioneering female session musician.
CLARENCE “GATEMOUTH” BROWN, 81, died Sept. 13.
Singer and guitarist whose repertoire spanned country, Cajun, zydeco, blues and jazz idioms. His Makin’ Music LP of 1979 was a landmark duet record with Roy Clark.
NICK REYNOLDS, 75, died Oct. 1.
Founding member of The Kingston Trio, whose 1958 smash “Tom Dooley” won the first country-music Grammy Award.
JIM BAKER, 75, died Oct. 5.
Dobro and pedal steel guitarist in demand both on the road and in the studio. Former member of Mel Tillis’s band The Statesiders. Also backed Justin Tubb, Jim & Jesse, Ernie Ashworth, Bill Carlisle, Roy Drusky, Leroy Van Dyke and many others.
REX EUGENE PEER, 80, died Oct. 14.
Trombone player who became a “first call” Nashville session musician. Recorded with Johnny Cash, Tennessee Ernie Ford, Leon Redbone, Eddie Fisher and Danny Davis’s Nashville Brass, among others. His “sing-along” record label, The Nashville Sound Plus You, prefigured the rise of karaoke.
HOWARD WHITE, 82, died Oct. 19.
Steel guitarist who backed Hank Snow, Don Gibson, Cowboy Copas, Jean Shepard, Minnie Pearl, Hawkshaw Hawkins, Wilma Lee Cooper and other greats. Former Music Row song plugger. Noted as a widely loved Nashville “character.” Husband of author and long-time Music Row businesswoman Ruth White. Author of the 1990 memoir Every Highway Out of Nashville.
EMMIE ANDERSON-WISNIEWSKI, 33, died Oct. 21.
Senior Director of Marketing at the Universal Music Group, Nashville, home of the Mercury, MCA Nashville and Lost Highway imprints.
DANNY DILL, 84, died Oct. 23.
Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame member. Noted for such classics as “The Long Black Veil” and “Detroit City,” plus “Partners” (Jim Reeves), “Cause I Love You” (Webb Pierce), “If You Saw Her Through My Eyes” (Carl Smith) and others. One of the founders of the NSAI. Formerly a Grand Ole Opry star in the 1940s-1950s duo Annie Lou & Danny (with Annie Lou Stockard, his first wife).
BRION FORD, 56, died Oct. 24.
Singer who was a former featured cast member at Opyland USA. Son of Tennessee Ernie Ford.
CAL YOUNG, 86, died Oct. 27.
Longtime Nashville radio entrepreneur. Founder of the city’s, and America’s, first FM station. Launched WSOK in 1951, the first Nashville station to cater to African-Americans with an all-black on-air staff (now broadcasting as WVOL). In 1957, he launched WENO, Nashville’s first full-time country broadcaster. In 2008, Cal Young received the Distinguished Service Award from the Tennessee Association of Broadcasters.
JACK RENO, 72, died Nov. 1.
Country singer who charted a dozen songs between 1967 and 1974 on the labels JAB, Dot, Target and United Artists. His biggest hits were 1967’s “Repeat After Me,” 1968’s “I Want One” and 1971’s “Hitchin’ a Ride.” In later years, he worked as a disc jockey.
JODY REYNOLDS, 75, died Nov. 7.
Rockabilly singer and songwriter who immortalized 1958’s “Endless Sleep.”
VICTOR LEWIS, 86, died Nov. 13.
Pioneering country-music impresario. During his three-decade Nashville career he promoted more than 1,000 country concerts. Producer of Music City’s early movies Country Music on Broadway (1964), Second Fiddle to a Steel Guitar (1965) and Sing a Song for Heaven’s Sake (1966). He and the late Audrey Williams were partners in Marathon Pictures, one of the first film companies to be headquartered in Nashville. Also heavily involved in the early career of Hank Williams Jr. He produced the 1958 national tour starring Audrey and child-star Hank Jr. in The Hank Williams Memorial Show. In 1964, he produced a ground-breaking country show at Madison Square Garden, also starring Hank Jr.
ODETTA, 77, died Dec. 2.
Folk music superstar who was a mentor to Nashville’s Janis Ian, a notable guest on Johnny Cash’s national TV show, a collaborator with Nanci Griffith on the Grammy Award winning album Other Voices, Other Rooms, a recent duet partner with Rattlesnake Annie and a sometime Bluebird Café performer. (real name: Odetta Holmes Felious)
DENNIS YOST, 65, died Dec. 7.
Distinctive lead singer of the pop group The Classics IV who immortalized such songs as “Spooky” (1967), “Stormy” (1968), “Traces” (1969), “Everyday with You, Girl” (1969) and “Change of Heart” (1969). After the hits, Yost recorded solo LPs in Nashville in the 1980s. He moved to Music City in 1993, successfully fought to own his old band’s name and began touring on the oldies circuit from here later in the decade.
DOROTHY MAI PAUL, 88, died Dec. 16.
A member of the “Tutti and Fruiti Sweethearts” act on the local-TV, morning Ralph Emery Show for many years.
JANE S. CROUCH, 88, died Dec. 17.
Co-writer of the Loretta Lynn & Conway Twitty hit duet “Lovin’ What Your Lovin’ Does to Me.”
JUD COLLINS, 89, died Dec. 26.
Nashville’s “Mr. Television.” Veteran broadcaster on both WSM-TV and WSM radio. Formerly a Grand Ole Opry announcer.
DELANEY BRAMLETT, 69, died Dec. 27.
Singer-songwriter whose “Never Ending Song of Love” was recorded by more than 100 artists, including Patty Loveless, Dwight Yoakam, George Jones, Tammy Wynette, Crystal Gayle, The Osmond Brothers, Mayf Nutter and Dickey Lee, who scored a top-10 country hit with it in 1971. Formerly of the soul-rock band Delaney & Bonnie & Friends. Songwriting collaborator with Music City’s Gary Nicholson, Leon Russell, Steve Cropper, Billy Burnette and Dennis Morgan. Father of Nashville singer-songwriter Bekka Bramlett. Ex husband of Nashville singer-songwriter Bonnie Bramlett.
WALTER HAYNES, 80, died Jan. 1.
Steel Guitar Hall of Fame member, Haynes was a multi-faceted music-industry figure whose career encompassed songwriting (1965’s “Girl on the Billboard” by Del Reeves), publishing (Moss Rose), a record company vice presidency (Decca/MCA), 13 years in the Opry’s house band, session steel playing (Jimmy Dickens, J.J. Cale, The Everly Brothers, etc.) and road work with Dickens, Ferlin Husky and Webb Pierce. In addition, Haynes was a hit record producer for stars such as Marty Robbins, Bill Monroe, Jeanne Pruett (1973’s “Satin Sheets”) and Cal Smith (1974’s “Country Bumpkin,” the CMA’s Single of the Year).
HERB BURNETTE, 77, died Jan. 2.
With partner Jack Clement, Burnette was the founder of Music Row’s first graphic arts business. Pinwheel Art & Photography designed hundreds of album jackets, posters and music promotional materials between 1970 and his retirement in 1995.
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About the AuthorSarah Skates has worked in the music business for more than a decade and is a longtime contributor to MusicRow.
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