This past year will be remembered as one of extraordinary losses in the Nashville music community.
We said farewell to five members of the Country Music Hall of Fame – George Jones, Jim Foglesong, Jack Clement, Gordon Stoker and Ray Price. A number of prominent hit makers passed away during 2013, including Jack Greene, Cal Smith, Slim Whitman, Mindy McCready, Tompall Glaser, Claude King, Marvin Rainwater, Leon Ashley and Patti Page. Gospel legend George Beverly Shea departed at age 104. The songwriting community lost Lorene Mann, Johnny MacRae, Nelson Larkin, Buck Moore, J.J. Cale, Timmy Tappan, Bill West and MusicRow’s own Larry Wayne Clark, among others.
We pause to remember the following as 2013 closes.
BENNY REED WILLIAMS, 68, died Dec. 23, 1012.
Nashville songwriter whose works were recorded by Jim & Jesse, Frank Sinatra Jr. and The Carter Family. Formerly in radio.
DANNY CHRISTIAN, 60, died Dec. 24, 2012.
Acclaimed folk acoustic guitarist who backed Nanci Griffith, Suzanne Vega, Dave Van Ronk, Christine Lavin, John Gorka and others. Also recorded four solo albums.
ILYAS MUHAMMAD, 84, died Dec. 28, 2012.
Keyboardist and singer who led the Music City jazz group The Uniques. Owner of the North Nashville nightspot Café Unique. Prior to relocating to Nashville, he was a sideman for Billie Holiday, Sam Cooke, Nancy Sinatra and others. He moved to Nashville in 1970 to establish an Islamic temple and became the iman of the local Muslim community. Leadership Nashville, Class of 1998.
MIKE AULDRIDGE, 73, died Dec. 29, 2012.
Dobro great in the bands The Seldom Scene and Chesapeake, as well as on solo albums. A 2012 National Endowment for the Arts Heritage Fellow.
P.R. BATTLE, 63, died Dec. 29, 2012.
Singer-songwriter who was published in Nashville by Sony-ATV Tree, Universal, Irving Music and others. “Radio Loves You” was his self-penned pop single on A&M Records. (full name: Paul Robert Battle)
PATTI PAGE, 85, died Jan. 1.
Pop superstar who rose from county-music beginnings. She immortalized “The Tennessee Waltz” in 1950, giving Acuff-Rose publishing a huge hit and a cornerstone song for the then-emerging Nashville music business. It is now in the Grammy Hall of Fame. She earned 19 Gold and 14 Platinum singles, a Pioneer Award from the ACM, a 2009 Grammy Award, a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and a 2013 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Recording Academy. In the 1950s and 1960s, she also had pop hits with the country songs “Mom and Dad’s Waltz,” “Money, Marbles and Chalk,” “Detour,” “A Poor Man’s Roses,” “Mockin’ Bird Hill” and “Down the Trail of Aching Hearts.” The leading female record seller of the 1950s. Other hits include “Doggie in the Window,” “Allegheny Moon,” “Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte,” “Old Cape Cod,” “I Went to Your Wedding,” “Changing Partners” and “Cross Over the Bridge.” Switched to Nashville recording Country hits in the 1970s, including “Hello We’re Lonely,” a 1973 duet with Tom T. Hall. Starred in TV variety series for all three major networks, NBC (1952-53, 1956), CBS (1952, 1957-58) and ABC (1958-59). A singing evangelist in the 1960 movie Elmer Gantry. Other films include Dondi (1961) and Boys Night Out (1963). (real name: Clara Ann Fowler)
ROBERTA EDGING, 87, died Jan. 1.
Office manager, bookkeeper and secretary to superstar Eddy Arnold for 45 years.
JOHN ERIC FRITZ, 43. died Jan. 2.
Production manager for Spalding Entertainment. Also an audio engineer.
SAMMY JOHNS, 66, died Jan. 4.
Singer-songwriter best known for the 1975 pop hit “Chevy Van.” In Nashville, he provided country hits to John Conlee (1983’s “Common Man”), Waylon Jennings (1984’s “America”) and Conway Twitty (1986’s “Desperado Love”). A new version of “Chevy Van” charted country for him in 1988.
LARRY McDANIEL, 74, died Jan. 4.
Host of the Detroit radio show “The Arkansas Traveler” which aired on WDET for more than 32 years. Also the organizer of the station’s annual bluegrass festival.
ANDY MAIDEN, 67, died Jan. 5.
Country performer and recording artist who led the band The Silver Clouds, popular in East Tennessee and Eastern Kentucky.
HUELL HOWSER, 67, died Jan. 6.
Gallatin-born TV personality who began at Nashville’s Channel 4, WSMV, in 1971-79 broadcasting “Happy Features” segments. Later achieved fame in L.A. on KCET-TV broadcasting his “California’s Gold” series.
WILLIS PAGE, 94, died Jan. 9.
Former conductor of The Nashville Symphony Orchestra. Also a maestro in Jacksonville, Tokyo, Boston, Buffalo, Des Moines, Toronto and elsewhere.
FRANK PAGE, 87, died Jan. 9.
Member of the Country Radio Disc Jockey Hall of Fame. Famed as the announcer of “The Louisiana Hayride” on KWKH in Shreveport, LA. In 1954, he introduced Elvis Presley to the show’s audience. He also aided Nat Stuckey and Jim Reeves, both of whom were KWKH announcers while trying to launch their singing careers.
H.B. JOHNSON, 90, died Jan. 12.
Sax and clarinet player who was formerly a member of the WSM Waking Crew band as well as the station’s staff band. (real name: Harry Johnson).
DAVID WILSON, 34, died Jan. 13.
Songwriter and record producer. Life partner of Country singer Mindy McCready.
BILLY JOE FOSTER, 51, died Jan. 23.
Fiddler and multi-instrumentalist who worked with Bill Monroe, Ricky Skaggs, Country Gazette and Special Edition.
GAYLORD AYERS, 77, died Jan. 27.
Former production manager and program director of WDCN, Nashville’s educational television station. Also a documentary film narrator. Previously at TV stations in Minnesota, Kansas and South Dakota.
RUSSELL LEE WILSON, 67, died Feb. 4.
Member of the bluegrass groups The Wilson Brothers and The Cumberland Highlanders. Writer of “Lost Sinner’s Prayer” and “Lonesome Old Home.””
JUDI LEDERER, 73, died Feb. 5.
Member of the Nashville Symphony Choir.
BERTHA MARIE LIDDINGTON, 90, died Feb. 5.
Former costume seamstress at Opryland USA.
MARGUERITE MITCHEL McCLELLAND, 90, died Feb. 8.
Coloratura soprano known as “The Little Singer of the South.” During her early years in Nashville, 1948-54, the former Miss Louisiana had her own TV and radio shows on WSM and performed with the Nashville Symphony. As a touring artist, she sang leads in road-company productions of many musicals and operettas.
BEN TODD, 24, died Feb. 12.
Champion of Nashville’s underground, independent rock-music scene. Host and organizer of shows, often in his own home. Founder of the annual Nashville mini festival Freakin’ Weekend. Blogger whose nashvillesdead site served as a clearinghouse for band information, touring schedules, new music and local shows. Supporter of JEFF the Brotherhood, Heavy Cream PUJOL, Turbo Fruits and many others.
SONNY BURNETTE, 83, died Feb. 12.
Steel guitarist formerly in the Grand Ole Opry staff band and the Ralph Emery Morning Show TV band. Notable for playing on many Webb Pierce hits. Also backed Ferlin Husky, Kitty Wells, Don Gibson, Faron Young and Loretta Lynn. Recorded 1975 LP Steel Guitars at the Grand Ole Opry with Hal Rugg and Weldon Myrick. (full name: Basil Everette Burnette, Jr.)
MINDY McCREADY, 37, died Feb. 17.
Florida-born country singing star with such top-10 hits as “Ten Thousand Angels” (1996), “Guys Do It All the Time” (1996) and “A Girl’s Gotta Do (What a Girl’s Gotta Do)” (1997). She also charted as the duet partner of Richie McDonald on “Maybe He’ll Notice Her Now” (1996). Recording for BNA and Capitol, she had further charted singleswith “What If I Do” (1997), “You’ll Never Know” (1998), “The Other Side of This Kiss” (1998), “Let’s Talk About Love” (1998), “One in a Million” (1999), “All I Want Is Everything” (1999), “Scream” (2000) and “Maybe, Maybe Not” (2002). Her 1996 Ten Thousand Angels album was a Double Platinum Record and its 1997 follow-up, If I Don’t Stay the Night, was Gold. ACM nominee as Top New Female Vocalist of 1996. Featured on the 2009 TV series Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew. She made numerous headlines in 2004-2013 due to legal, relationship and drug problems as well as suicide attempts.
BRIAN E. KILEY, 38, died Feb. 17.
Nashville stand-up comedian who performed regularly at Zanie’s Comedy Club.
LIVIA ROSE SMITH, 32, died Feb. 20.
Music and entertainment industry make-up artist.
SHELTON HARRISON, 78, died Feb. 21.
Nashville-based concert promoter of the 1970s and 1980s who worked with such greats as Marty Robbins, Johnny Cash, Kenny Rogers, Conway Twitty, Hank Williams Jr., Loretta Lynn, Willie Nelson, George Jones, Chet Atkins, Brenda Lee, Tammy Wynette, Tanya Tucker, Charlie Daniels, Barbara Mandrell, Dolly Parton, Waylon Jennings, Charley Pride, Porter Wagoner and more.
DIANE LAMPERT, 88, died Feb. 22.
New York lyricist who had notable success with Nashville artists. Her “Break it to Me Gently” was a No. 4 pop hit and No. 1 A/C hit for Brenda Lee in 1962 and was revived as a Grammy winning No. 2 country hit for Juice Newton in 1982. Lampert also co-wrote Brenda’s 1957 rockabilly singles “One Teenager to Another” and “Love You Till I Die.” Lampert’s “Your Name Is Beautiful” was a top-10 country hit for Carl Smith in 1958. Others who recorded her songs include Red Foley, George Jones, Slim Whitman, Dean Martin, Rusty Draper, Tommy Sands, Joan Baez, Steve Lawrence, The Lettermen and The Beatles (“Nothin’ Shakin’”). Lampert wrote the lyrics for more than 20 movie title tunes, including the Oscar nominated “Silent Running.”
DAN TOLER, 64, died Feb. 25.
Known as “Dangerous” Dan Toler, he was the lead guitarist in the Southern rock group Dickie Betts & Great Southern, with whom he recorded two LPs. As a member of The Allman Brothers Band in 1979-82, he appeared on three of its LPs. Also in The Greg Allman Band, featured on its two hit albums of 1987 and 1988. In 2005-2010 he was in The Renegades of Southern Rock, TGZ and The Toler/Townsend Band.
DONALD W. McGEHEE, 89, died Feb. 26.
Former 1950s TV professional wrestler “Robinhood” McGehee. He also had a bit part in a 1942 Bing Crosby movie and his own health and fitness segments on TV’s The Noon Show with Teddy Bart in the 1960s. Fitness coach to The Everly Brothers.
VALENTINE SMITH III, 84, died Feb. 27.
Former vice president of Gaylord Entertainment. As manager of the company’s real estate development, he acquired the land for Opryland, the Opry House, the Opryland Hotel, the Wildhorse Saloon, the Springhouse golf course, the Opryland Music Group building, the Gaylord corporate office building and other properties.
CHUCK GOFF JR., 54, died Feb. 27.
Toby Keith’s bandleader and bass player. Co-writer of Keith’s songs “You Ain’t Much Fun” and “Upstairs Downtown.” (full name: Carl Goff Jr.)
TIMMY TAPPAN, 67, died March 3.
Songwriter, producer, musician, arranger and Belmont University professor. Longtime musical director and producer for Bobby Goldsboro. Hit writer of “Fool’s Gold” (Lee Greenwood, 1984) and “Love Isn’t Love (Til You Give It Away)” (Tari Hensley, 1984), plus songs recorded by Mac Davis, Reba McEntire, Loretta Lynn, Faith Hill, Mickey Gilley, Crystal Gayle, Trisha Yearwood, John Denver, Michael Martin Murphey and others. Musical director for the TV series Marty Robbins Spotlight, Nashville on the Road and The Bobby Goldsboro Show. Creator of ad jingles for KFC, Hawaiian Tropic, Toyota, Coca-Cola, Hanes, Minute Maid, the Arbor Day Foundation, Build-a-Bear Workshop, Chiquita Bananas, Dole, Captain D’s and PBS at Soundshop Studios. Arranger of TV music for Kenny Rogers, B.J. Thomas, Dolly Parton, Dave Loggins, Bobbi Gentry, Glen Campbell, Sonny & Cher, Johnny Mathis and Henry Mancini. Also arranged music for the Grammy winning LP Sesame Country. Proficient on piano, oboe, clarinet, flute and tenor sax. Belmont faculty member since 1998.
STOMPIN’ TOM CONNORS, 77, died March 6.
Canadian country superstar. Singer-songwriter whose best known songs included “Bud the Spud,” “Sudbury Saturday Night,” “The Black Donnellys,” “Big Joe Mufferaw,” “Up Canada Way” and “The Martin Harwell Story.” His “The Hockey Song” of 1973 was played at all NHL games for many years. In the 1970s, he had a national TV show titled Stompin’ Tom’s Canada on the CBC network. He formed his own record labels to promote not only his own works but those of other Canadian artists. In 1996, he published Stompin’ Tom: Before the Fame as his best-selling autobiography. In 2009, he was pictured on a Canadian postage stamp and given a SOCAN lifetime achievement award.
CLAUDE KING, 90, died March 7.
Country star noted for the 1962 giant pop-crossover hit “Wolverton Mountain.” Longtime star of The Louisiana Hayride in Shreveport, LA. Between 1961 and 1977, he placed 30 titles on the national country charts, many of which he wrote or co-wrote. His biggest hits on Columbia Records also included “Big River, Big Man” (1961), “The Comancheros“ (1961), “The Burning of Atlanta” (1962), “I’ve Got the World By the Tail” (1963), “Sheepskin Valley” (1963), “Building a Bridge” (1963), “Hey Lucille” (1963), “Sam Hill” (1964), “Tiger Woman” (1965), “Catch a Little Raindrop” (1966) and “All for the Love of a Girl” (1969). Acted in the films Swamp Girl and Year of the Yahoo and in the TV miniseries The Blue and the Gray.
WILLIAM OVID COLLINS, JR., 94, died March 11.
Founding member of The Nashville Symphony Orchestra and a viola player in the group for more than 40 years. In the 1930s, he was also a member of the WSM studio orchestra.
ALVIN BREEDEN, 70, died March 12.
Bluegrass banjo player with his band The Virginia Cutups. The group recorded four CDs between 1980 and 1999.
JACK GREENE, 83, died March 14.
Grand Ole Opry star who swept the inaugural CMA Awards in 1967. His “There Goes My Everything” Decca Records single held the No. 1 spot that year for seven consecutive weeks and its same-titled LP was No. 1 on the charts for the entire year. They were named the Single and Album of the Year. Greene was the Male Vocalist of the Year, and “There Goes My Everything” also won Song of the Year for Dallas Frazier. It is just one of many classics immortalized by Jack Greene. Others include “Statue of a Fool” (1969), “All the Time” (1967), “You Are My Treasure” (1968), “Until My Dreams Come True” (1969), “Love Takes Care of Me” (1968), “Yours for the Taking” (1980), “What Locks the Door” (1967), “Lord Is That Me” (1970) and “Back in the Arms of Love” (1969). Between 1965 and 1985, he placed 36 singles on the country popularity charts, including his 1969-72 hit duets with fellow Opry star Jeannie Seely “Wish I Didn’t Have to Miss You,” “Much Oblige” and “What in the World Has Gone WrongWith Our Love.” He was the first country entertainer to be featured in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in Manhattan. Nicknamed “The Jolly Greene Giant,” he was formerly the drummer in Ernest Tubb’s Texas Troubadours band in 1962-64.
ROBERT LOVELACE, 86, died March 18.
Former trumpeter in dance bands of the 1940s, including The Royal Serenaders.
JANET RICKMAN, 63, died March 19.
Publicist for Mercury Records in the 1970s, working with The Statler Brothers, Johnny Rodriguez, Reba McEntire and others. Moved to pop publicity in N.Y. and L.A. working with Tears for Fears, Rush, John Mellencamp and more. Returned to Nashville in the 1990s with MCA, working with Vince Gill, George Strait, Patty Loveless, Marty Stuart, Reba McEntire, Trisha Yearwood, etc. Later with the Green Hills Public Library. Leadership Music, Class of 1995.
ERIK BLUMENFELD, 30, died March 20.
Director of New Business Development with the Spin Doctors Music Group.
HANK CORWIN, 73, died March 25.
Nashville steel guitarist who played in the bands of Jim Ed Brown, Faron Young and Porter Wagoner.
CLYDE DENNEY, 79, died March 26.
Member of the bluegrass band The Kentuckians. He co-wrote the group’s signature song, “The Girl from West Virginia,” which was also recorded by Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver.
GORDON STOKER, 88, died March 27.
Country Music Hall of Fame and Gospel Music Hall of Fame member as the leader of The Jordanaires. Founder of the AFTRA local in Nashville. Popularizer of The Nashville Number System of musical shorthand notation in recording sessions. Began career in The Clement Trio over WTJS in Jackson, TN. Joined The John Daniel Quartet on WSM at age 15. Became a member of The Jordanaires in 1950 and remained with the group for more than 60 years. The quartet was a key component in creating The Nashville Sound and sang backup on thousands of recordings. Stars backed included Patsy Cline, Jim Reeves, Conway Twitty, Don Gibson, Johnny Cash, Sonny James, Dottie West, Charley Pride, Tanya Tucker, Loretta Lynn, George Jones, Kenny Rogers, Red Foley, Eddy Arnold, Hank Snow, Ricky Nelson. Sang on 200 Elvis Presley songs and appeared with him on TV and in the films Loving You, King Creole and GI Blues. Stoker is the “duet” voice harmonizing with Presley on the hits “Good Luck Charm” and “All Shook Up.” Other notable discs featuring Jordanaires vocals include “The Battle of New Orleans” (Johnny Horton), “Stand By Your Man” (Tammy Wynette), “Crazy” (Patsy Cline), “He Stopped Loving Her Today” (George Jones), “Coal Miner’s Daughter” (Loretta Lynn), “Four Walls” (Jim Reeves), “Gone” (Ferlin Husky), “Lucille” (Kenny Rogers), “Are You Lonesome Tonight” (Elvis Presley). Jordanaires recorded their own albums for Capitol, RCA, Decca, Stop, Columbia, SESAC. Inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame and the Rockabilly Hall of Fame.
JIM MEES, 57, died March 29.
Designer and art director. Created design curriculum for the Film School at Watkins Institute of Art, served on its board and was an adjunct instructor. Producer of the Swan Ball for Cheekwood and the opening gala of the Schermerhorn Symphony Center. Previously a designer and set decorator in Hollywood for such TV shows as One Day at a Time, The Jeffersons, Who’s the Boss, Bones and Private Practice. Won an art-direction Emmy Award for Star Trek: The Next Generation. Designed stage shows for The Beach Boys, Chicago, Diana Ross and Earth, Wind & Fire. Also worked in films, commercials, theater, furniture and fabric design, theme park installations, residential interiors, landscapes and runway fashion.
GENE SWEET, 82, died April 5.
Resonator guitarist in Blue Grass Unlimited. Also toured with Red Allen and The Allen Brothers. Solo LP in 1976, Out on the Ocean.
LES BLANK, 77, died April 7.
Documentary filmmaker who chronicled American roots music. His films profiled Appalachian fiddler Tommy Jarrell, zydeco music great Clifton Chenier, jazz trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie, Huey Lewis, Ry Cooder and blues artists Mance Lipscomb and Lightnin’ Hopkins, as well as polka bands, Cajun fiddlers, Texas norteno bands, cowboy music and Mardi Gras culture. Recipient of lifetime-achievement awards from the American Film Institute and the International Documentary Association.
LINDSAY WALLEMAN, 28, died April 9.
Manager of Midwest/Northeast promotions for Warner Music Nashville.
JOHN SCOTT EMERSON, 53, died April 10.
Former president of Webco Records. Managed and booked The Lonesome River Band.
ROBERT A. MACON, 87, died April 12.
Grandson of Uncle Dave Macon who was several times named “Volunteer of the Year” at the Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum.
GEORGE BEVERLY SHEA, 104, died April 16.
Gospel Music Hall of Fame member. Vocalist of the Billy Graham Crusades who performed before an estimated 200 million people during his lifetime. Popularized “How Great Thou Art” and co-wrote the gospel classics “I’d Rather Have Jesus” and “The Wonder of It All.” Radio star on “Songs in the Night” (1944-52), “Club Time” (ABC, 1944- 52) and “Hour of Decision” (1950-present). Recorded more than 70 albums. Grammy winner for 1966’s Southland Favorites. Winner of 2011 Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. Author of the books Then Sings My Soul (1968), Songs That Lift the Heart (1972) and How Sweet the Sound (2004).
RITA MacNEIL, 68, died April 16.
The Canadian Country Music Association’s Entertainer of the Year in 1991 and 1992. During her career, she recorded 24 albums, had more than a dozen hits, starred in a national television series, earned three Juno Awards and was named a member of the Order of Canada. Her biggest songs included 1987’s “Flying on Your Own,” which Anne Murray released as a U.S. single in 1988, and “Working Man,” which reached No. 11 on the British pop charts. MacNeil’s Canadian country hits also included “Leave Her Memory” (1987), “I’ll Accept the Rose” (1988), “Reason to Believe” (1988), “What Do I Think of You Today” (1990) and “Watch Love Grow Strong” (1991). Between 1987 and 1994 she recorded eight albums that were Platinum-plus sellers north of the border. Her Rita and Friends TV variety series was a staple on the CBC network from 1994 through 1997. Her annual homespun Christmas variety telecasts were also very popular. Published On a Personal Note as her memoir in 1998. Posthumously inducted into the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame in 2013.
JIM SEAL, 68, died April 17.
Country artist who charted in 1980 with “Bourbon Cowboy.” Originally from Los Angeles, he played a role in bringing Gary Allan from California to Nashville. In 1994, he was an A&R consultant to the BNA label.
GLENDA JOYCE McNALLEY, 56, died April 24.
Christian-music artist manager. Formerly the co-head of Proper Management.
GEORGE JONES, 81, died April 26.
Country Music Hall of Fame member known as “The Rolls Royce of Country Singers,” “The King of Broken Hearts,” “The Possum” and “No-Show Jones.” 2008 Kennedy Center honoree. 2012 Grammy Lifetime Achievement awardee. CMA Male Vocalist of the Year in 1980 and 1981. Singer of “He Stopped Loving Her Today,” often cited as the greatest country single of all time. Charted 167 titles over six decades, more than any other country artist. He also has more top-40 hits than any other country artist. Hits of the 1950s included “Why Baby Why” (1955), “You Gotta Be My Baby” (1956), “Don’t Stop the Music” (1957), “Color of the Blues” (1958) and “White Lightning” (1959). Hits of the 1960s included “The Window Up Above” (1960), “Tender Years” (1961), “She Thinks I Still Care” (1962), “You Comb Her Hair” (1963), “The Race Is On” (1964), “Love Bug” (1965), “Four-O-Thirty Three” (1966), “Walk Through This World with Me” (1967), “If My Heart Had Windows” (1967), “When the Grass Grows Over Me” (1968) and “I’ll Share My World with You” (1969). Hits of the 1970s included “A Good Year for the Roses” (1970), “Take Me” (with Tammy Wynette, 1971), “The Ceremony” (with Wynette, 1972), “A Picture of Me Without You” (1972), “We’re Gonna Hold On” (with Wynette, 1973), “We’re Not the Jet Set” (with Wynette, 1974), “The Grand Tour” (1974), “Golden Ring” (with Wynette, 1976), “Her Name Is” (1976), “Near You” (with Wynette, 1977) and “Bartender’s Blues” (with James Taylor, 1978). Hits of the 1980s included “He Stopped Loving Her Today” (1980), “Still Doin’ Time” (1981), “Same Ole Me” (with The Oak Ridge Boys, 1982), “Yesterday’s Wine” (with Merle Haggard, 1982), “I Always Get Lucky with You” (1983), “She’s My Rock” (1984), “Who’s Gonna Fill Their Shoes” (1985), “The Right Left Hand” (1987) and “I’m a One Woman Man” (1989). Successes in the 1990s included “A Few Ole Country Boys” (with Randy Travis, 1990), “I Don’t Need Your Rockin’ Chair” (1992), “You Don’t Seem to Miss Me” (with Patty Loveless, 1997) and “Choices” (1999). In the 2000s, he charted with “Beer Run” (with Garth Brooks, 2001) and “4th of July” (with Shooter Jennings, 2005), among others. Two-time Grammy winner. Autobiography in 1996: I Lived to Tell it All.
BILL LOWE, 83, died April 28.
Singer-guitarist featured weekly on Los Angeles local TV in the group Joe Nixon & The Happy Hoedowners in the 1950s. Later in Dayton, Ohio, where he recorded a 1977 solo LP backed by The Hotmud Family and two albums with his band Cripple Creek.
BARRY FEY, 73, died April 28.
Colorado concert promoter for more than 30 years.
TIM HENSLEY, 50, died April 30.
Singer and multi-instrumentalist who was in the Ricky Skaggs band in 1988-89, spent ten years backing Patty Loveless in 1989-99 and became an 11-year mainstay in Kenny Chesney’s band. He also recorded in the studio with all three stars. His solo record was 2008’s hit bluegrass CD Long Monday, which got him a guest spot on the Grand Ole Opry.
LURA BAINBRIDGE, 66, died May 2.
“Realtor to the Stars,” she worked with Alan Jackson, Clint Black, Tanya Tucker, Randy Travis, Garth Brooks, J.D. Souther, Rosanne Cash & Rodney Crowell, John Fogerty and Kenny Rogers, among others. Formerly at Clement Recording Studio and Monument Records. (full name: Lura Bird Bainbridge Brothers).
SID SELVIDGE, 69, died May 2.
Memphis-based folk recording artist whose work drew from both blues and country traditions. Producer of the NPR show Beale Street Caravan. Photographer, anthropology professor, owner of Peabody Records.
DON EVANS, 74, died May 6.
Nashville’s first experimental performance artist. Retired Vanderbilt University art professor.
DAN COLLINS, 75, died May 15.
Co-founder of Shanachie Entertainment. The company began by marketing Irish/Celtic music, but branched out to many other genres. The current roster includes Gene Watson, Daryle Singletary, David Ball, Norman Blake, Benita Washington and Take 6, plus many pop, alternative, r&b and folk artists.
MONROE HOPPER, 86, died May 17.
Gospel Music Hall of Fame member. Founding member of The Hopper Brothers.
HARRIANNE CONDRA, 83, died May 20.
Director of Copyright Administration for 20 years at Tree Publishing. Formerly at WSM, where she proposed the idea of an annual disc jockey convention to celebrate the Grand Ole Opry’s birthday. That convention spawned both Country Radio Seminar and Fan Fair, which became the CMA Music Festival. Leadership Music graduate and 2003 SOURCE award winner.
LORENE MANN, 76, died May 24.
Co-founder of the Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI). She came up with the NSAI’s motto, “It All Begins with a Song.” Writer of such hits as “Left to Right” (Kitty Wells, 1960), “Something Precious” (Skeeter Davis, 1962), “Don’t Go Near the Indians” (Rex Allen, 1962) and “My Wife’s House” (Jerry Wallace, 1974). Songs recorded by Marvin Rainwater, The Wilburn Brothers, Norma Jean, Koko Taylor, Vernon Oxford, Walter Brennan, Ben Colder/Sheb Wooley and others. RCA recording artist who charted duets with Justin Tubb (“Hurry, Mr. Peters,” “We’ve Gone Too Far Again”) and Archie Campbell (“Dark End of the Street,” “Tell it Like it Is”) as well as solo singles. Albums: Together and Alone (with Justin Tubb, 1966), Archie and Lorene Tell it Like it Is (with Archie Campbell, 1968) and A Mann Named Lorene (1969). In the films Music City U.S.A. (1966) and W.W. and The Dixie Dance Kings (1975). In 2011, the NSAI gave her its Maggie Cavender Award for “her extraordinary service to the songwriting community.”
DIANNE LASATER KEENAN, 69, died June May 26.
Founder of Nashville’s first events planning company, An Affair to Remember. “Caterer to the stars” and an organizer of the grand opening ceremonies at the new Country Music Hall of Fame.
LARRY WAYNE CLARK, 63, died May 30.
Country songwriter, record producer and journalist. Among his songs are “Drinkin’ Me Lonely” (Chris Young, 2006), “Between a Rock and a Heartache” (Lee Greenwood, 1991), “To Make a Long Story Short” (The Statler Brothers, 1992), “I Wanna Live Like That” (South Sixty-Five, 2002), “Addicted to the Rain” (Buddy Jewell, 2005), “Uncle Hickory’s General Store” (South Sixty-Five, 2004). His songs have also been recorded by Anne Murray, Lisa Brokop, Lauren Lucas, Adam Gregory and more. Won Producer of the Year honors in 1990-94 from the British Columbia Country Music Association. Music journalist for MusicRow, Country Weekly, The Nashville Scene and others. Member of the British Columbia Country Music Hall of Fame in his native Canada.
BILL GOKEY, 71, died June 1.
Banjo player who was a sideman for Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper on the Opry for eight years. Also backed Mac Wiseman, Bill Monroe, Tex Ritter, Red Foley. Often appeared on the Canadian TV show Main Street Jamboree. Also a concert promoter and a journalist for Bluegrass Unlimited, Banjo News and other periodicals.
RAY EMMETT, 75, died June. 2.
Singer-songwriter who was the concert front man for Faron Young, George Jones, Billie Jo Spears, Mel Tillis, Jean Shepard, Tommy Overstreet and Cal Smith. Tenor vocalist and sometime bass player on the recordings of Faron Young for several decades. Also recorded with Ray Price. Voice of the “Quacker” recorded cartoon character.
REV. WILL D. CAMPBELL, 88, died June 3.
Progressive, social-justice Nashville minister during the Civil Rights era. A singer-songwriter, he was also known as the “preacher to the stars” and was associated with Tom T. Hall, Waylon Jennings, Kris Kirstofferson and others.
JANE DABNEY HAWKINS, 87, died June 6.
Broadcast personality at WSM and WSM-TV in the 1950s.
RANDY FLEMING, 57, died June 9.
Former business manager of Local 46 of I.A.T.S.E., the union that represents Nashville stage crews.
DANNY HATCHER, 65, died June 12.
Founder of the Library & Media Center at the Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum, 1972-1985. Later a script writer for TNN.
WAYNE COX, died June 12.
Pedal steel guitar stylist and instrumental recording artist.
SLIM WHITMAN, 90, died June 19.
Country star noted for his high, ethereal yodeling style as well as for an innovative, successful TV music marketing campaign. Whitman’s top-10 country hits included “Love Song of the Waterfall” (1952), “Indian Love Call” (1952), “Secret Love” (1954), “Rose Marie” (1954), “Singing Hills” (1954), “More Than Yesterday” (1965), “Guess Who” (1971) and “Something Beautiful” (1971). Between 1952 and 1982, he placed 37 titles on the country charts. Unusual as a Country star who became an even bigger success overseas than he was in the U.S. “Rose Marie” remained at No. 1 on the British pop hit parade for 11 straight weeks and also became Australia’s best selling record of that era. In 1957, “I’ll Take You Home Again, Kathleen” became another top-10 U.K. success. In the 1970s he was named the No. 1 international star four times in U.K. polls. Career revival in U.S. came about via a 1979 TV commercial for Suffolk Marketing advertising a compilation titled All My Best. As a result, the album became the best-selling TV record in history. He also successfully marketed the TV packages Just for You (1980), The Best (1982), Best Loved Favorites (1989) and 20 Precious Memories (1991). Louisiana Hayride member 1950. Grand Ole Opry member 1955. Film Jamboree 1957. His recording of “Indian Love Call” a highlight of the 1996 comedic film Mars Attacks! Career record sales reportedly 70 million. (Birth name: Otis Dewey Whitman Jr.)
CHET FLIPPO, 69, died June 19.
Editorial Director at CMT since 2001 and writer of its weekly column “Nashville Skyline.” Previously editor at Rolling Stone, 1974-1980; journalism teacher at UT Knoxville, 1991-1994 and head of Billboard’s Nashville bureau, 1995-2000. Also wrote for Texas Monthly, TV Guide, The New York Times and others. One of the first music journalists to write seriously about country music, he brought Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Tanya Tucker, Dolly Parton and others into the pages of Rolling Stone. Author of seven books – On the Road with The Rolling Stones (1985), Your Cheatin’ Heart: A Biography of Hank Williams (1981), Everybody Was Kung Fu Dancing (1991), Graceland: The Living Legacy of Elvis Presley (1993), Yesterday: The Unauthorized Biography of Paul McCartney (1988), David Bowie: Serious Moonlight (1984). Honors: CMA Media Achievement Award 1998, International Country Music Conference Charlie Lamb Award 2006, Leadership Music, Class of 1997.
KEITH ADKINSON, 69, died June 19.
Attorney for the estate of Hank Williams and husband/manager of entertainer Jett Williams. Also represented David Frizzell, Jeanne Pruett, Moe Bandy, Leroy Van Dyke, Jim Ed Brown and others. Formerly practiced in L.A., representing MGM, Frank Sinatra and other major entertainment entities.
FRED KEWLEY, 70, died June 23.
Former manager of Chet Atkins, Michael Johnson, Harry Chapin, Buffy Sainte-Marie and Earl Klugh. Executive producer of the 1987 Cinemax cable TV special A Session with Chet Atkins, which also became a 2010 PBS fund-raising special. Husband of songwriter Cathy Majeski.
DOTTIE EYLER, 81, died June 23.
Singer and guitarist for more than 45 years in the Maryland-based bluegrass band the Carroll Country Ramblers. She wrote all the songs that appeared on the group’s many albums.
GEORGE WALTER KING III, 64, died June 28.
Christian-music performer in the group George King & The Fellowship.
ROY “CHUCK” WHITE, 93, died June 29.
Bass player for The Willis Brothers and The Oklahoma Wranglers. He played on the first Hank Williams recording sessions in 1946 and appeared in the 1949 movies Feudin’ Rhythm and Hoedown.
CHARLES CARR, 79, died July 1.
As a 19-year-old, he was the driver of Hank Williams on the legend’s “last ride.” He found Hank dead in the Cadillac’s back seat in Oak Hill, WV on New Year’s Day 1953.
JOHNNY MacRAE, 84, died July 3.
Durable hit country songwriter. His catalog in the 1960s included “Where Does a Little Tear Come From” (George Jones, 1964), “Many Happy Hangovers to You” (Jean Shepard, 1966) and “I’ll Take the Dog” (Jean Shepard & Ray Pillow, 1966). Success continued in the 1970s with “God Made Love” (Mel McDaniel, 1977), “Let Me Be Your Baby” (Charly McClain, 1978) and “That’s What You Do to Me” (Charly McClain, 1978). He hit his stride in the 1980s by writing “I’d Just Love to Lay You Down” (Conway Twitty, 1980), “(You Life Me) Up to Heaven” (Reba McEntire, 1980), “I’ll Love Away Your Troubles for Awhile” (Janie Fricke, 1981), “I Still Believe in Waltzes” (Loretta Lynn & Conway Twitty, 1981), “One Night Fever” (Mel Tillis, 1981), “Some Love Songs Never Die” (B.J. Thomas, 1981), “Shine On” (George Jones, 1983), “Don’t Call Him a Cowboy” (Conway Twitty, 1985), “Whiskey If You Were a Woman” (Highway 101, 1987) and “Living Proof” (Ricky Van Shelton, 1989). MacRae’s hits of the 1990s included “I’d Be Better Off (in a Pine Box)” (Doug Stone, 1990), “Goodbye Says it All” (Blackhawk, 1993), “When You Leave That Way You Can Never Go Back” (Confederate Railroad, 1993), “You Can’t Make a Heart Love Somebody” (George Strait, 1994) and “Tonight the Heartache’s on Me” (Dixie Chicks, 1999). (full name: Fred Aylor MacRae).
SHIRLEY RAY, 72, died July 5.
Country recording artist (“Why Don’t Ya Come Home”) who appeared as a guest on the Grand Ole Opry, Hee Haw, The Ralph Emery Show and The Carl Tipton Show. Appeared in the Ray Stevens video for “Mississippi Squirrel Revival.” (real name: Shirley Raynor Zellers).
RACHEL FITZGERALD, 87, died July 5.
Administrator at the Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum for 20 years. Widow of Sun Records executive Bill Fitzgerald.
PAT DONOHO JR., 61, died July 8.
Former president of I.A.T.S.E. Local 46, the stagehands union.
JIM FOGLESONG, 90, died July 9.
Country Music Hall of Fame member and legendary country record-label executive. Began career in New York, working as a studio singer for Neil Sedaka, Connie Francis, Guy Mitchell, Timi Yuro, Rosemary Clooney and others; performing as a backup vocalist on the Ed Sullivan Show; touring as a member of Fred Waring’s Festival of Song and becoming an executive at Columbia, Epic and RCA Records. One of the first out-of-town producers to bring pop acts to Nashville to record. Moved to Music City in 1970 to become head of Dot Records, then ABC/Dot Records. While there, he brought Donna Fargo, Freddy Fender, Roy Clark, Barbara Mandrell, Don Williams, The Oak Ridge Boys, John Conlee and others to stardom. Became head of MCA Records in 1979, where he signed George Strait, Reba McEntire, Lee Greenwood, Gene Watson, Ed Bruce, Terri Gibbs and more. Headed Capitol Records in 1984-89, bringing Sawyer Brown, Tanya Tucker, Dan Seals, Marie Osmond, Mel McDaniel, Suzy Bogguss, New Grass Revival and T. Graham Brown to prominence and signing Garth Brooks to the roster. Graduate of Leadership Music, Class of 1990, and recipient of its Dale Franklin Award in 2009. Former chairman of the Country Music Association. Adjunct professor at Vanderbilt’s Blair School of Music in 1991-2012. Also, director of the music business program at Trevecca Nazarene University. Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2004. Known as the last true gentleman of the Nashville music business.
HARRY LANE, 73, died July 9.
Banjo builder for such bluegrass stars as Eddie Adcock, Don Reno, Jim Smoak and Raymond Fairchild.
NIKKI MITCHELL, 58, died July 9.
Formerly the President and CEO of Waylon Jennings Music and Jessi Colter Music for 22 years.
TOSHI SEEGER, 91, died July 9.
Booking agent and concert producer for her husband, folk legend Pete Seeger. Director of his TV series Rainbow Quest (which featured many country guest stars, ranging from The Stanley Brothers to Johnny Cash). Executive producer of the Emmy winning PBS special Pete Seeger: The Power of a Song. Helped launch the Newport Folk Festival.
JAMES FRANK CROWELL JR., 71, died July 9.
Public-address announcer for The Nashville Sounds for 10 years and for the Vanderbilt Commodores for 20 years. Also announced such sporting events as the Nashville Charity Horse Show, the Nashville Polo Club, Harpeth Hall, Oak Hill School and Montgomery Bell Academy. Active in Nashville Children’s Theater, Circle Players, Theatre Nashville. Director of the annual Gridiron Show for 10 years. Founder of Main Event Inc., a charity-events management company.
DWIGHT MOODY JR., 82, died July 12.
North Carolina fiddler in the long-running WBT Briar Hoppers in Charlotte. Later backed his sons in the bluegrass band The Moody Brothers. Founder of Lamon Records and the Lamon Studio of Music.
JIM LUNSFORD, 64, died July 14.
Nashville-bred television cameraman for Hee Haw, Soul Train, All in the Family, Married With Children, Golden Girls, Blossom, Empty Nest, The Jeffersons, Sanford and Sons, etc. Also worked on documentaries, commercials and music videos such as “Whip It” by Devo and “Thriller” by Michael Jackson.
CURLY LEWIS, 88, died July 14.
Legendary Oklahoma fiddler who performed with Bob Wills, Johnnie Lee Wills, Hank Thompson, Leon McAuliffe and others. Honored with a star on the Cain’s Ballroom Walk of Fame in Tulsa. Inducted into the National Fiddlers Hall of Fame and the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame. (full name: Julian Franklin Lewis).
MORT NASATIR, 88, died July 15.
Multi-faceted music-business figure. An executive at Decca Records, then the president of MGM Records. Longtime Billboard magazine publisher and the head of the publication’s London office for 6 1/2 years. General manager of WLAC radio in Nashville. Also a former national president of The Recording Academy, NARAS (1968).
J.J. CALE, 74, died July 26.
Genre-defying singer, songwriter and guitarist. During his 1970-1980 residence in Nashville, he created his classic songs “Cocaine,” “Clyde,” “After Midnight,” “Crazy Mama” and “Call Me the Breeze” and also recorded eight highly influential albums. Artists who took his tunes to fame include Eric Clapton (1970’s “After Midnight,” 1980’s “Cocaine”), Waylon Jennings (1980’s “Clyde”), Santana (1981’s “The Sensitive Kind”), Lynyrd Skynyrd (1974’s “Call Me the Breeze”) and Brother Phelps (1995’s “Any Way the Wind Blows”). Cale, himself, had a 1972 pop hit with “Crazy Mama” and won a 2006 blues Grammy Award for The Road to Escondido, recorded with Clapton. Others who recorded his songs include Johnny Cash, Billy Ray Cyrus, Chet Atkins, Larry Carlton, Poco, Bobby Bare, David Allan Coe, The Mavericks, James Otto, Johnny Rivers, The Band, Jerry Garcia, Jose Feliciano, Captain Beefheart, Maria Muldaur, Bobby “Blue” Bland, Bryan Ferry, Dr. Hook, Nazareth, John Mayall, Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown, George Thorogood and Widespread Panic. Nominated for the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2011. (birth name: John Weldon Cale).
CHUCK THAGARD, 74, died July 31.
Country radio promoter with BNA Records, Warner Bros. Records and Quarterback Records.
WALTER PAUL GIBSON JR., 86, died Aug. 4.
Baritone saxophonist who was a longtime member of the Karl Garvin Band in Nashville.
JACK CLEMENT, 82, died Aug. 8.
Country Music Hall of Fame and Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame member. Producer, studio owner, performer, film maker, songwriter, label owner, raconteur, humorist, vocalist, song publisher, radio personality. First rose to prominence as studio engineer/producer at Sun Records in Memphis in 1956, working with Jerry Lee Lewis and Johnny Cash. Wrote Cash’s “Ballad of a Teenage Queen” and “Guess Things Happen That Way” on Sun. Later songs included “Miller’s Cave” (Hank Snow, Bobby Bare) “Just Someone I Used to Know” (George Jones, Porter & Dolly), “I Know One’ (Jim Reeves, Charley Pride), “Not What I Had in Mind” (George Jones), “The One on the Right Is on the Left” (Johnny Cash) and the Charley Pride 1960s hits “Just Between You and Me,” “Does My Ring Hurt Your Finger” and “Let the Chips Fall.” Discovered and produced superstar Pride. Produced many tracks for Cash. Also produced Tompall & Glaser Brothers, The Stonemans, Waylon Jennings (“Dreaming My Dreams”), Dickey Lee (“Patches”), U2 (portions of Rattle & Hum) and others. Co-founder of JMI Records, which launched Don Williams. Co-founder of Hall-Clement and Jack & Bill publishing companies, which launched songwriters Jerry Foster & Bill Rice, Wayland Holyfield, Allen Reynolds and Bob McDill, among others. Producer of the 1970 horror film Dear Dead Delilah. Recorded landmark 1978 solo LP All I Want to Do in Life and a second in 2004, Guess Things Happen That Way. Created homemade documentaries in 2005-10. Host of his own Sirius XM satellite radio series on The Outlaw Channel.
KAREN BLACK, 74, died Aug. 8.
Co-starred as a country diva in the landmark 1975 Robert Altman feature Nashville. She was nominated for a Grammy for writing and singing the soundtrack’s “Rolling Stone” and “Memphis.” Other notable roles were in Five Easy Pieces, Great Gatsby, Easy Rider, Drive He Said, and Alfred Hitchcock’s Family Plot.
JODY PAYNE, 77, died Aug. 10.
Guitarist in Willie Nelson’s Family Band, 1973-2008. He performed more than 5,000 shows with the superstar. Also a sideman for Merle Haggard, Hank Snow, Tanya Tucker, Leon Russell, others. Formerly married to the late country star Sammi Smith (1943-2005); they are the parents of singer/actor Waylon Payne.
BOBBY SLONE, 77, died Aug. 12.
Fiddler and/or bass player for such bluegrass bands as The Golden State Boys, The Kentucky Colonels and J.D. Crowe. Also the staff fiddler at The Renfro Valley Barn Dance in Kentucky for 18 years.
TOMPALL GLASER, 79, died Aug. 13.
Singer, songwriter, publisher, producer and studio owner. Notable as one of the four stars on Wanted! The Outlaws, country music’s first Platinum Record (1975). Began career singing with his brothers Jim and Chuck Glaser in Nebraska, They appeared on Arthur Godfrey’s national TV show in 1957. Discovered by Marty Robbins, who brought the Glasers to Nashville, hired them to sing backup harmonies and recorded them on his own Robbins label. The Glasers harmonized on the superstar’s hit “El Paso,” as well as on “Leah” by Roy Orbison, “Ring of Fire” by Johnny Cash and other hits. Signed to MGM and produced by Jack Clement, the trio had such successes as “Gone On the Other Hand” (1967), “California Girl” (1969), “Wicked California” (1969), “Gone Girl” (1970), “Rings” (1971), “Sweet Love Me Good Woman” (1972) and “Ain’t It All Worth Living For” (1972). The brothers were the CMA Vocal Group of the Year in 1970. They formed their own publishing company, which had John Hartford’s “Gentle on My Mind” and Jim Glaser’s “Woman, Woman” in its catalog. They then built their own studio on 19th Avenue South, which became known as “Hillbilly Central” and the headquarters of country’s “outlaw” movement of the 1970s. As a solo, Tompall scored his biggest hit with “Put Another Log on the Fire” in 1975. The reunited brothers signed with Elektra and had further hits with “Lovin’ Her Was Easier” (1981), “Just One Time” (1981) and “It’ll Be Her” (1982). Co-producer of the 1973 Waylon Jennings LP Honky Tonk Heroes. Writer of such hits as “The Streets of Baltimore” (Bobby Bare, 1966), “Stand Beside Me” (Jimmy Dean, 1966) and “You’re Makin’ a Fool Out of Me” (Jimmy C. Newman, 1959), as well as such Glaser singles as “Bad, Bad Cowboy,” “Walk Unashamed,” “A Girl Like You” and “Charlie.”
BUCK MOORE, 79, died Sept. 10.
Country songwriter whose hits included “Paint Me a Birmingham” (Tracy Lawrence, 2004 and Ken Mellons, 2004), “The Box” (Randy Travis, 1995), “Holding the Bag” (Moe Bandy & Joe Stampley, 1980), “When a Woman Cries” (Janie Fricke, 1986), “Some Hearts Get All the Breaks” (Charly McClain, 1984), “One for the Money” (T.G. Sheppard, 1987), “Forty and Fadin’” (Ray Price, 1982) and “The Note,” which had notable recordings by Conway Twitty (1985), Tammy Wynette (1989), Doug Supernaw (1995) and Daryle Singletary (1997).
RAY DOLBY, 80, died Sept. 12.
Inventor of groundbreaking audio technologies, including noise-reduction systems and surround-sound. Grammy Trustees Award winner in 1995.
DEFORD BAILEY JR, 81, died Sept. 15.
Nashville r&b music mainstay for decades. He was a regular on the nationally syndicated TV show Night Train in 1963-68, where the guitarist in his band was the future Jimi Hendrix. The latter’s guitar style was reportedly influenced by Bailey’s. DeFord Bailey Jr.’s band became popular in local nightspots such as The Jolly Roger in Printer’s Alley. Later a musician at the Opryland USA theme park. Son of early Grand Ole Opry Star and Country Music Hall of Fame member DeFord Bailey (1899-19820), who was known as “The Harmonica Wizard.”
VIKKI SALLEE, 72, died Sept. 16.
Self-billed “Queen of Hillbilly Hollywood.” Singer-songwriter who was a protégée of Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame member Wanda Jackson. Recording artist on Reprise and Dot Records. Her songs were recorded by Loretta Lynn, Ray Sawyer of Dr. Hook and others. Widow of Bluegrass Hall of Fame member Doug Dillard (1937-2012) of The Dillards. (real name: Phyllis Jean Sallee Dillard)
MARVIN RAINWATER, 88, died Sept. 17.
Country singer-songwriter whose successes included the rockabilly classic “Hot and Cold” (1956) and the hits “Gonna Find Me a Bluebird” (1957), “So You Think You’ve Got Troubles” (1957), “Whole Lotta Woman” (1958), “I Dig You Baby” (1958), “Nothin’ Means Nothin’” (1958) and “Half Breed” (1959). He also wrote such hits as Justin Tubb’s “I Gotta Go Get My Baby” (1955) and Faron Young’s “I Miss You Already (And You’re Not Even Gone)” (1957), the latter of which was later revived by Billy Joe Royal (1988). In 1960, he introduced John D. Loudermillk’s “The Pale-Faced Indian (Lament of the Cherokee Nation),” which went on to greater fame as “Indian Reservation” by Don Farden (1968) and The Raiders (1971), then as “Indian Outlaw” by Tim McGraw (1994). Founder of the fan magazine Trail (1958) and of Brave Records. Formerly a regular on The Ozark Jubilee TV series (1956).
TUTTI JACKSON, 52, died Sept. 18.
Veteran Music Row executive working in the publishing industry. During her 35-year career, she worked at High Seas Music and the Bigger Picture Group. (real name: Teresa L. Jackson)
BILL WEST, 80, died Sept. 19.
Steel guitarist and songwriter. While married to Dottie West (1932-1991) between 1952 and 1974, he and she co-wrote her hits “Here Comes My Baby” (1964), “Would You Hold It Against Me” (1966), “Mommy Can I Still Call Him Daddy” (1966) and “What’s Come Over My Baby” (1967), as well as the Jim Reeves hit “Is This Me” (1963). His steel guitar innovations included a “talkbox” device that was used on Pete Drake’s “Forever” (1964), Joe Walsh’s “Rocky Mountain Way” (1976) and The Eagles “Those Shoes” (1979). The effect can also be heard on such Peter Frampton hits as “Show Me the Way” (1976). Father of rock singer-songwriter-guitarist Mo West (1953-2010) from the band Thunder, of audio engineer Kerry West and of country star Shelly West. (full name: William Morris West Jr.)
TOMMY WELLS, 62, died Sept. 24.
Drummer who first made his mark in the group RPM., one of the first modern Nashville rock bands to win a major-label contract. He later became a successful studio percussionist backing country artists such as Foster & Lloyd, Charley Pride, The Statler Brothers and many others. His versatility made him a multi-genre success performing with Jimmy Hall, Jo-El Sonnier, Charlie Daniels and more.
BARRY McCLOUD, 70, died Sept. 26.
Author of the essential reference book Definitive Country: The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Country Music and its Performers. Also a photographer, booking agent, manager, record producer, journalist and performer. (real name: Barry Marshall Myers)
RAMBLIN’ TOMMY SCOTT, 96, died Sept. 30.
America’s last medicine-show performer. In show business since 1933. On radio at WPTF (Raleigh), WWVA (Wheeling) and WSM (Nashville). Recording artist for King/Federal, Four Star, Macy, Rich-R-Tone and Katona. Starred in Trail of the Hawk and other country movies. Country TV pioneer with the series The Ramblin’ Tommy Scott Show and Smokey Mountain Jamboree. Writer of more than 500 songs, including the bluegrass favorite “You Are the Rainbow of My Dreams.” His “Rosebuds and You” was recorded by George Morgan, The Willis Brothers and Red Sovine in the early 1950s and became a 1963 country hit for Benny Martin. Profiled by broadcasters Walter Cronkite, Charles Kuralt, Ralph Emery, Oprah Winfrey and David Letterman. Subject of the 2001 PBS documentary Still Ramblin.’ Autobiography in 2007: Snake Oil, Superstars and Me.
X LINCOLN, 76, died Oct. 3.
Recording artist for King Records (as “Ronny Wade”) and Dot Records. Sideman and/or frontman for Roger Miller, Sheb Wooley, Bob Luman, Hank Williams Jr., Leroy Van Dyke, Sammi Smith, George Jones, Deborah Allen, others. In John Anderson’s band from 1981 to 2000 and the co-writer of his 1983 hit “Goin’ Down Hill.” Brother of hit songwriter Glenn Douglas Tubb, cousin of Grand Ole Opry star Justin Tubb (1935-1998) and nephew of Country Music Hall of Fame member Ernest Tubb (1914-1984). (birth name: Billy Lee Tubb)
CAL SMITH, 81, died Oct. 10.
Singer of 1974’s mega hit “Country Bumpkin,” which was named Single of he Year by both the CMA and the ACM. He charted 36 titles between 1967 and 1987. His other major hits included “I’ve Found Someone of My Own” (1972), “The Lord Knows I’m Drinking” (a No. 1 hit in 1973), “Between Lust and Watching TV” (1974), “It’s Time to Pay the Fiddler” (No. 1 in 1975), “She Talked a Lot About Texas” (1975), “Jason’s Farm” (1975) and “I Just Came Home to Count the Memories” (1977). Formerly a California disc jockey and a member of Ernest Tubb’s band The Texas Troubadours in 1962-68. (real name: Calvin Grant Shofner)
JULES BRAZIL, 73, died Oct. 18.
Gallatin radio announcer on WMRO-AM.
ROLAND JANES, 80. died Oct. 18.
Legendary Sun Records guitarist. Member of the Memphis Music Hall of Fame. Backed Billy Lee Riley, Jerry Lee Lewis and others. Founded Rita Records and Sonic Studios. Since 1982, the resident producer/engineer at the Sam Phillips Recording Service.
WENDY SUITS JOHNSON, 62, died Oct. 20.
Recording session vocalist on Music Row.
LEON ASHLEY, 77, died Oct. 20.
Country singer-songwriter. He made history in 1967 by being the first person to write, publish and sing a No. 1 hit on his own record label. That song, “Laura (What’s He Got That I Ain’t Got),” was also recorded by Marty Robbins, Tom Jones, Hank Locklin, The Newbeats, Claude King, Kenny Rogers, Frankie Laine, Tommy Collins, David Houston and Brook Benton. Ashley and wife Margie Singleton also co-wrote all his other charting titles on Ashley Records, Including “Anna, I’m Taking You Home” (1967), “Mental Journey” (top-10 in Canada, 1968), the No. 8 hit “Flower of Love” (1968) and “While Your Lover Sleeps” (No. 1 in Canada, 1969), as well as the Ashley – Singleton duet “You’ll Never Be Lonely Again” (1968). Formerly a recording artist for Goldband, Dot and Imperial. (real name: Leon Walton).
HAROLD HITT, 84, died Oct. 25.
Former general manager of Columbia Recording Studios on Music Row and the president of Green Valley Records. In 1970, he was president of the CMA’s Board of Directors.
LESTER DEAL, 76, died Oct. 25.
Buck dancer and clogger with the Homer Driver Band. Dressed in Manuel-designed silver rhinestone shoes, “Uncle Lester” was the goodwill ambassador of Leiper’s Fork, TN.
JIM CARLSON, 67, died Oct. 25.
Former vice president of CBS Records in Nashville, in charge of the label’s video production in the 1980s.
LAURIE POOLE, 58, died Oct. 28.
Nashville visual artist and teacher who formerly worked at MTV, The Movie Channel and Interview magazine.
SHERMAN HALSEY, 56, died Oct. 29.
Music video director and entrepreneur. He helped create more than 30 videos for Tim McGraw, including “Indian Outlaw,” “One of Those Nights,” “When the Stars Go Blue,” “My Little Girl,” “Live Like You Were Dying” and “She’s My Kind of Rain.” Halsey also directed many of Dwight Yoakam’s early videos, including “Little Sister,” “Guitars, Cadillacs” and “Honky Tonk Man.” The last-named is said to have been the first country clip aired on MTV. Other artists Halsey worked with include Lorrie Morgan, Brooks & Dunn, Alan Jackson and The Oak Ridge Boys. He was president of Century City Artists and vice president of The Jim Halsey Company. As such, he was involved in the careers of Yoakam, the Oaks, Merle Haggard, James Brown, Ronnie Dunn and others. Also a producer of country TV specials. Video awards from MTV, CMT and the ACM. Represented in Nashville by Tacklebox Films. Son of famed artist manager Jim Halsey.
BOBBY DEE, 75, died Nov. 4.
Kentucky-based country entertainer of the 1960s-1980s. Also an independent-label recording artist. (real name: Robert Lodsdon DeVore).
BOB BECKHAM, 86, died Nov. 11.
Music publisher who became the first winner of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame’s Mentor Award (2008). Also, the 1988 winner of the Master Award from the Nashville Entertainment Association. Head of Combine Music, 1964-1989. The writers he shepherded included Kris Kristofferson, Larry Gatlin, Bob DiPiero, Arthur Alexander, John Scott Sherrill, Dolly Parton, Chris Gantry, Johnny MacRae, Billy Swan, Larry Jon Wilson, Bob Morrison, Thomas Cain, Tony Joe White and Dennis Linde. Launched industry careers of Woody Bomar and Blake Chancey. Formerly a pop singer on Decca Records (“Just As Much As Ever,” “Crazy Arms,” “Mais Oui”) who was Brenda Lee’s opening act. Also a juvenile film actor, a song plugger for Lowery Music and Shelby Singleton Music and the founder of HoriPro’s successful Nashville publishing office, 1990-2006.
NELSON LARKIN, 70, died Nov. 18.
Producer, publisher, songwriter and record-label executive. Best known for producing a string of 18 top-10 hits for Earl Thomas Conley in the 1980s, 16 of which went to No. 1. He signed Conley to his publishing company and to GRT Records, which Larkin helmed. Founded Sunbird Records and took Conley there in 1981. They continued working together at RCA throughout the rest of the decade. In 1989, Larkin helped launch the Nashville office of Atlantic Records. Other artists he produced included Billy Joe Royal, Johnny Rodriguez, Toby Keith, George Jones, Lynn Anderson, Tracy Lawrence, Freddy Hart, T. Graham Brown, Billy Crash Craddock and Neal McCoy. As a songwriter, Larkin co-wrote the Royal hits “I’ll Pin a Note on Your Pillow” (1987), “Searchin’ for Some Kind of Clue” (1990) and “Love Has No Right” (1989). He also co-wrote Lawrence’s hit “Somebody Paints the Wall” (1992), Craddock’s “Just Another Miserable Day” (1989) and Keith’s “Life’s a Play” (1994). As a publisher, he was later in charge of Famous Music’s Nashville division.
ROBERT L. SHEPHERD, 80, died Nov. 21.
General manager of Nashville’s public television station, WKRN, Channel 8, from 1965 to 1998. Also a national board member of PBS.
WAYNE MILLS, 44, died Nov. 23.
Country singer who led The Wayne Mills Band for 15 years. The group performed “outlaw country” and Southern rock while touring on the college circuit and playing area venues. At the time of his death, he had just completed his debut studio album, Long Hard Road, and was marketing a single, “She Knows the Words,” and a music video, “Last Honky Tonk.”
MICHAEL O’HARA MOWRY, 58, died Nov. 27.
Formerly with ShoBud Guitars and a nine-year veteran as a roadie with Johnny Paycheck.
PAUL CROUCH, 79, died Nov. 30.
Co-founder and on-camera host of the Christian TBN (Trinity Broadcasting Network) television enterprise. The California-based company bought Twitty City in Hendersonville in 1994 and converted it into its Nashville headquarters for concerts, religious services, studio recordings and broadcasts.
CLARA HIERONYMUS, 100, died Nov. 30.
Legendary arts and theater critic at The Tennessean for more than three decades, 1956-1990. A founder of the National Association of Performing Arts Writers. Honored by The Tennessee Performing Arts Center in 1998.
RAY PRICE, 87, died Dec. 16.
Country Music Hall of Fame member whose voice defined both the hard-edged honky-tonk era of the 1950s and the smooth Nashville Sound era of the 1960s and 1970s. Over an eight-decade career, he placed more than 100 songs on the country charts and scored 46 top-10 hits. His band was a launchpad in the careers of Willie Nelson, Roger Miller and Johnny Paycheck. He brought songwriting prominence to Harlan Howard, Hank Cochran, Bill Anderson, Jim Weatherly and other members of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. His recorded repertoire features more country standards than any other artist. Price’s honky-tonk hits of the 1950s included 1952’s “Talk to Your Heart” and “Don’t Let the Stars Get in Your Eyes,” 1954’s “I’ll Be There (If You Ever Want Me)” and “Release Me,” 1956’s “Crazy Arms” and “I’ve Got a New Heartache,” 1957’s “My Shoes Keep Walking Back to You,” 1958’s “City Lights” and 1959’s “Heartaches By the Number” and “Invitation to the Blues.” “Crazy Arms” is now in the Grammy Hall of Fame. Other early classics included 1960’s “I Wish I Could Fall in Love Today” and “The Same Old Me,” 1961’s “Heart Over Mind,” 1963’s “Night Life” and 1964’s “Burning Memories.” Restyling himself as a Nashville Sound balladeer, Price racked up more classics with Cochran’s “Make the World Go Away,” “That’s All That Matters,”Don’t You Ever Get Tired of Hurting Me” and “A Way to Survive” in 1963-66. His other Nashville Sound landmarks include “Danny Boy” (1967), “Please Talk to My Heart” (1964), “She Wears My Ring” (1968), “You Wouldn’t Know Love” (1970), “Touch My Heart” (1966) and “Take Me As I Am (Or Let Me Go)” (1968). He introduced Kris Kristofferson’s immortal “For the Good Times” in 1970. It became a pop-crossover hit, won him a Grammy and earned him two ACM awards. “I Won’t Mention It Again” (1971) and “She’s Got to Be a Saint” (1972) were both No. 1 hits, and the former was the title tune of Price’s CMA Album of the Year. Price’s “You’re the Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me” and “Neither One of Us” were both covered as pop/r&b hits by Gladys Knight. He returned to the country top-10 with 1980’s “Faded Love” (a duet with Nelson) and 1981’s “It Don’t Hurt Me Half As Bad” and “Diamonds in the Stars.” Price continued to tour and record for 15 years following his 1996 election to the Country Music Hall of Fame. His 2007 CD with Nelson and Merle Haggard, Last of the Breed, earned a Grammy Award. Still singing with undimmed power, Ray Price recorded his final album in 2012.
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About the AuthorRobert K. Oermann is a longtime contributor to MusicRow. He is a respected music critic, author and historian.
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