As we look back at 2010, we see that we have lost some enormous musical talents. Country Music Hall of Fame members Carl Smith and Jimmy Dean passed on, as did Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame member Hank Cochran. Our r&b community lost Bobby Hebb; our pop scene lost Owsley; and our jazz community lost Dennis Taylor. Studio instrumental greats Ben Keith and Fred Carter Jr. are gone, as are hit songwriters Ronny Scaife, George Richey and Linda Hargrove. Slim Bryant, the last living link to Jimmie Rodgers, the Father of Country Music, died at age 101. Here is a remembrance of some of those who passed away during 2010 — Robert K. Oermann
TERESA WILLIAMS, 44, died Jan. 1.
Singer in the group Mountain Harmony, which performed on the Renfro Valley Barn Dance and recorded the album Living on Love. Daughter of rockabilly performer Billy Adams.
MARJ CRUMP, age unknown, died Jan. 1.
CMA Award winning founder, general manager and CEO of WCMS, the country radio station in Norfolk, VA. 1954-2000. Patron of the Country Music Hall of Fame who dedicated the east entry to the Museum as the “Marj & George Aubrey Crump Terrace” in 2008 as a memorial to her husband of 60 years, who died in 2005. She also established the Marjorie S. Crump Memorial Fund for the Preservation of Radio History at the Hall of Fame.
BRENTON BANKS, age unknown, died Jan. 2.
Pioneering African-American Nashville session musician. String player and arranger whose work can be heard on discs by Bob Dylan, Patsy Cline, Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison, Elvis Presley, Waylon Jennings, Jim Reeves and many more. Also a vibraphone-playing jazz artist who recorded the classic LP After the Riot at Newport as a member of the Nashville All-Stars. Leader of The Brenton Banks Quartet.
FRED SATTERWHITE, 88, died Jan. 2.
Ad agency executive at Noble Dury & Associates. In the early 1950s, he composed jingles for Goo Goo Cluster candy bars and Martha White Flour that were sung on the Grand Ole Opry.
SHELDON KURLAND, 81, died Jan. 6.
Recording-sessions string player and leader of The Sheldon Kurland Strings. Heard on hundreds of his from the 1960s to the 1980s. Credits include Johnny Cash, Neil Young, Jimmy Buffett, Dolly Parton, Conway Twitty, Crystal Gayle, Eddy Arnold, Amy Grant, Loretta Lynn, Waylon Jennings, Oak Ridge Boys, Bob Dylan, Ronnie Milsap, Willie Nelson, Reba McEntire, Hank Snow, Kris Kristofferson, Donovan and dozens more. Father of Peter, Wendy and Amy Kurland.
JAY COLLIER, 69, died Jan. 13.
Former manager and song publisher of Mundo Earwood.
BOBBY CHARLES, 71, died Jan. 14.
Reclusive Louisiana singer-songwriter best known for “See You Later, Alligator” (Bill Haley & The Comets, Orion, Zachary Richard, Freddie & The Dreamers), “Walking to New Orleans” (Fats Domino, Buckwheat Zydeco) and “(I Don’t Know Why I Love You) But I Do” (Clarence “Frogman” Henry, Del Reeves, Freddy Fender, Tom Jones). His songs were also recorded by Kris Kristofferson, Delbert McClinton, Ray Charles, Rita Coolidge, Etta James, “Gatemouth” Brown, Joe Cocker, Jon Randall, Doug Sahm, The New Coon Creek Girls, Dr. John and Muddy Waters, among others. Also a recording artist who charted with his own version of “Later Alligator” and “Only Time Will Tell” in 1956. Appeared in The Band’s 1976 film The Last Waltz. (real name: Robert Charles Guidry)
CARL SMITH, 82, died Jan. 16.
Handsome, dashing Country Music Hall of Fame member who scored 21 consecutive top-10 hits in 1951-55, then 10 additional ones in the remaining 1950s. In all, he placed 93 songs on the charts before retiring in the 1970s. Classics he introduced include “Let’s Live a Little,” “Hey Joe,” “If Teardrops Were Pennies,” “Are You Teasing Me,” “Let Old Mother Nature Have Her Way,” “It’s a Lovely Lovely World,” “Just Wait ‘Til I Get You Alone,” “There She Goes,” “You Are the One,” “”Before I Met You,” “Don’t Just Stand There,” “You’re Free to Go,” “Trademark,” “Kisses Don’t Lie,” “Cut Across Shorty” and “Loose Talk.” A star at WROL in Knoxville, then on WSM’s Grand Ole Opry. Cofounder of Cedarwood Publishing. Star of his own Canadian TV show, Carl Smith’s Country Music Hall. Widower of country star Goldie Hill. Father of Carlene Carter.
JIMMY WYBLE, 87, died Jan. 16.
Jazz and western-swing guitarist who was in Bob Wills’ band The Texas Playboys. He also backed T. Texas Tyler, Foreman Phillips, Spade Cooley and Tommy Duncan, as well as such pop personalities as Benny Goodman, Red Norvo, Barney Kessel and Frank Sinatra. Later a session guitarist and teacher in L.A.
RAMONA P. LEWIS, 75, died Jan. 18.
Formerly the co-owner of Sho-Bud Steel Guitars and GHS Strings.
KATE McGARRIGLE, 63, died Jan. 18.
Half of the Americana duo Anna & Kate McGarrigle. Their songs were recorded by Linda Ronstadt, Emmylou Harris, Judy Collins and Maria Muldaur, among others. Harris also used them as backup vocalists on her records Stumble Into Grace, Red Dirt Girl and All I Intended to Be. Mother of performers Rufus Wainwright and Martha Wainwright.
MARK EDWARDS, 54, died Jan. 21.
Drummer for Joe Sun, Lee Greenwood, Dottie West, T. Graham Brown, Davis Daniel and Pinkard & Bowden. Manager as well as drummer for Jonell Mosser.
JAMES “MOOSE” SOWARD, 75, died Jan. 24.
Former television director at WSMV as well as of TNN’s Nashville Now starring Ralph Emery.
JAMES “HUTCH” HUTCHINS, 72, died Jan. 25.
Master luthier with Gibson Guitars for 45 years. Artist liaison for the company. He was integral to designing the Chet Atkins Country Gentleman model. He also worked closely with jazz greats Howard Roberts, Johnny Smith, Wes Montgomery and Herb Ellis.
SAMMY WHITE, 81, died Jan. 26.
Singer and bass player who led the Las Vegas / Lake Tahoe / Reno country bands The Sons of the Golden West and Sammy White & The Cut-Ups. They worked with Eddy Arnold, Jim Reeves, Marty Robbins, Arthur Godfrey and others. Later the president of the Portland, Oregon musicians union local.
SHIRLEY COLLIE, 78, died Jan. 27.
Ozark Jubilee performer who recorded for Liberty Records. Charted with “Dime a Dozen” (1961), “Why Baby Why” (1962, a duet with Warren Smith) and “Willingly” (1962, a top-10 hit duet with Willie Nelson and his chart debut). Formerly the wife of DJ Hall of Famer Biff Collie, whom she divorced to marry Nelson, 1963-71. Co-wrote Willie’s 1968 single “Little Things” and wrote his singles “I Hope So” (1969) and “Once More with Feeling” (1970). Autobiography published in 2009, Scrapbooks in My Mind.
TOM HOWARD, 59, died Jan. 29.
Pianist, composer, arranger and producer in the Christian-music field. Recording artist billed as Dorian.
JERRY KEITH ADAIR, 38, died Feb. 4.
Member of the family band The Adairs. Brother of Sugar Hill Records artist Tina Adair, in whose Bluegrass Edition band he also performed.
RICHARD “PETE” PETERSON, 77, died Feb. 4.
Vanderbilt University professor who was one of the first sociologists to seriously study country music. Author of 2007’s Creating Country Music: Fabricating Authenticity.
DOC BLAKEY, 43, died Feb. 9.
Prominent Nashville blues guitarist, a close associate of the late Johnny Jones, with whom he often performed.
GERALD MOORE, 71, died Feb. 11.
Founder and leader of the Nashville Early Music Ensemble. Member of the music faculty at Lipscomb University for 40 years.
BRAD FISCHER, 73, died Feb. 12.
Journalist, columnist and account executive with Nashville Music Guide. Formerly prominent in advertising in both Nashville and his native Australia.
DALE HAWKINS, 73, died Feb. 13.
Rockabilly pioneer whose 1957 hit “Susie-Q” became a standard. Other charted titles included “La-Do-Dada” (1958), “A House, a Car and a Wedding Ring” (1958) and “Yes – Yes” (1959).
DAVE KRUSELL, 66, died Feb. 13.
Original member of The Horsecreek Band, the “house” act at Silver Dollar City in Branson, MO. Former steel guitarist for Freddy Fender.
LYLE MABE, 71, died Feb. 27.
One of the founders of the first Branson, MO music show, The Baldknobbers. The group debuted in 1959 and starred at the opening of the resort town’s Silver Dollar City in 1960. The Baldknobbers laid the groundwork for all the star theaters that were eventually built in Branson. Washtub bass player Mabe’s comedic alter-ego was named George Aggernite. He performed continuously from 1959 to 1991.
NATHAN SCOTT, 94, died Feb. 27.
Film soundtrack composer for Republic Pictures singing cowboys Gene Autry and Roy Rogers. He later composed scores for TV shows such as Gunsmoke, Dragnet and Lassie.
MELVIN “SLIM” KERNODLE, 79, died March 14.
Member of Bill Monroe’s Blue Grass Boys during the 1960s.
CHARLES “PEANUT” FAIRCLOTH, 82, died March 16.
His Macon, GA radio show The Hoedown Party was carried nationally via The Mutual Broadcasting System in 1948-49. Heard by Ernest Tubb, he was brought to Nashville to record for Decca Records in 1950. He also recorded for Bibletone and other labels. Faircloth wrote “Reindeer Boogie,” Hank Snow’s 1953 Christmas single. Covered by Trisha Yearwood on her 1994, Gold-selling holiday collection The Sweetest Gift. In Augusta, GA, he starred on radio, in shows with his band The Hot Roasted Peanuts and as Brenda Lee’s performing partner in 1955-56. He introduced Brenda to Red Foley, who signed her to The Ozark Jubilee and brought her to Decca and stardom. A fixture of Chattanooga’s radio airwaves from 1956 to 1980, he later became a riverboat entertainer, a bluegrass-festival emcee and a folk performer for more than 20 years with Curtis Hicks & His Old Time Strings. Member of the Atlanta Country Music Hall of Fame.
HORACE BEASLEY JR., 86, died March 16.
Nashville trombonist who played in dance bands, radio and theater orchestras and circus bands. Formerly first trombonist for The Nashville Symphony.
JOHNNIE HIGH, 80, died March 17.
Music impresario behind Johnnie High’s Country Music Revue in North Texas for more than 30 years. His Opry-style show helped launch the careers of LeAnn Rimes, Gary Morris, the Dixie Chicks, Boxcar Willie and Lee Ann Womack, among others. In 1995, it became a syndicated TV show.
FESS PARKER, 85, died March 18.
TV’s Davy Crockett in 1954-56. His version of “The Ballad of Davy Crockett” became a major hit in 1955. The 6’6” actor’s role spawned a pop-culture kiddie craze that included coonskin caps, toy Old Betsy rifles, fringed leather shirts, lunch boxes and other memorabilia. He later became TV’s Daniel Boone in 1964-70.
DEAN TOWNSON, 50, died March 25.
Bass player and harmony vocalist for Pirates of the Mississippi. Co-writer of the group’s songs “Just for You” (1992) and “Rodeo Queen” (1994). Formerly a member of the gospel group Bridge.
NOAH CRASE, 75, died April 13.
Highly regarded banjo stylist who served two stints in Bill Monroe’s Blue Grass Boys and was a founding member of The Boys From Indiana.
LADYBUG, 13, died April 15.
Music Row’s doggie mascot.
NORM RAY, 73, died April 17.
Saxophonist who played on Nashville recording sessions for Elvis Presley, Chet Atkins, Boots Randolph, Ray Stevens and others. A 20-year veteran on the Ralph Emery Morning Show, WSM’s The Waking Crew and a 10-year fixture in the house band on TNN’s Nashville Now. A member of Orchestra XII, one of Nashville’s last big bands, and a player in Randolph’s nightclub group. Formerly in Detroit as a session player in the Motown studios.
HUTCH CARLOCK, 86, died April 20.
Founder of Music City Record Distributors and the Cat’s Records retail chain. One of the pioneer CMA board members. (full name: Elbert Hutchinson Carlock).
OWSLEY, 44, died April 30.
Nashville pop artist whose self-titled debut CD on Giant Records was nominated for a Grammy Award in the engineering field. Formerly in the pop-rock group The Semantics. Also a guitarist for Shania Twain and Amy Grant. (full name: Will Owsley).
BARRY CHANCE, 55, died May 2.
Ace session guitarist who backed Marty Stuart, Jimmy Buffett, George Jones, Johnny Paycheck, Chalee Tennison and others. Formerly a member of The Chessmen and of Barefoot Jerry. Son of the late famed bass player Lightnin’ Chance. Father of Nashville guitarist Jayson Chance (Gretchen Wilson, Ty Herndon, etc.), who produced the 2010 Colt Ford CD.
JAMES “HOOT” BORDEN, 73, died May 2.
Drummer who was formerly a member of Ernest Tubb’s Texas Troubadours band.
DAVE FISHER, 69, died May 7.
Co-founder and musical director of the folk-singing quintet The Highwaymen. The group’s hits included 1961’s “Michael (Row the Boat Ashore)” and “Cotton Fields.” The group disbanded in 1964, then re-formed in 1987. It sued Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings and Kris Kristofferson in 1990 over those four’s use of the name The Highwaymen. As part of the resolution, the original Highwaymen opened for the country foursome at a Los Angeles concert.
CLYDE BLAYLOCK, 75. died May 21.
Member of The Blaylock Brothers. Bluegrass music instructor at the Blaylock Family Music Store in Hixson, TN.
OTTO BASH, 84, died May 25.
Longtime official with AFM Local 257. Formerly a drummer for the Ink Spots and in various Printer’s Alley bands. Also a pop recording artist for RCA in 1956-57.
JUDY LYNN, 74, died May 26.
Las Vegas country headliner. Miss Idaho in the 1955 Miss America Pageant. Recorded more than a dozen LPs and scored notable hits with “Footsteps of a Fool” (1962) and “My Father’s Voice” (1963). Labels included ABC-Paramount, United Artists, Musicor, Columbia, Amaret and Warner Bros. Records. Noted for her vivid, flamboyant cowgirl costumes. (real name: Judy Lynn Voiten Kelly)
JIMMY KISH, 84, died May 27.
Known as “The Flying Cowboy,” he was a Fan Fair favorite throughout the festival’s history, first with his own booth and then as the builder and manager of The Pioneers of Country Music booth for The Reunionaires. Formerly a radio personality, recording artist and TV regular on Pee Wee King’s program.
JOHN HOUSE, age unknown, died May 27.
Member of The House Brothers quartet, which appeared numerous times on The Arthur Godfrey Show and toured nationally. Father of Nashville singer-songwriter James House.
SLIM BRYANT, 101, died May 28.
Veteran guitarist, singer and songwriter who performed with Clayton McMichen in the legendary Georgia Wildcats string band. After McMichen left, the band became Slim Bryant & The Georgia Wildcats. As the writer of 1932’s “Mother, Queen of My Heart,” he was believed to be the last living direct link to Jimmie Rodgers, the Father of Country Music. Bryant backed Rodgers on guitar at recording sessions and in concerts. Among his other noteworthy copyrights is a version of “In the Pines,” co-written with McMichen. Bryant’s own recording career began in 1929. Labels included Columbia, Okeh, Champion, Decca, MGM and Majestic. His “hot” jazzy guitar style influenced Les Paul, among others, and he taught hundreds of students how to play in later years. Alumnus of the WLS National Barn Dance and the WRVA Old Dominion Barn Dance. A Pittsburgh country radio institution from 1940 to 1959. Also a prolific ad jingle writer for Alcoa, Iron City Beer, U.S. Steel, Westinghouse, Chevrolet and other firms. Member of the Atlanta Country Music Hall of Fame. (real name: Thomas Hoyt Bryant).
KEITH FOWLER, 80, died May 30.
Country concert promoter who worked with Charley Pride, Jerry Lee Lewis, Kenny Rogers, Fats Domino and many others. Reportedly the first promoter to team Conway Twitty with Loretta Lynn. Later, the in-house promoter for Alabama.
SPIKE STROUP, 85, died May 30.
With Don Reno, the co-writer of the bluegrass-gospel standard “Follow the Leader.”
ROY BEE, 72, died June 2.
Country singer who toured nationally, then became a radio station manager and an announcer at Opryland USA. (real name: James Roy Bledsoe).
BAINCA PAIGE, 45, died June 4.
Nashville’s most famous drag queen. Comedian, singer, raconteur, actor and tireless volunteer for AIDS charities. (real name: Mark Middleton).
FRED STAPLETON, 34, died June 11.
Rock Solid Security man who died while working at the CMA Music Festival.
JIMMY DEAN, 81, died June 13.
One of the 2010 Country Music Hall of Fame inductees. Noted as a country music national TV pioneer, first as the host of Town and Country Time, then as the star of The Jimmy Dean Show (CBS 1957, ABC 1964-66). On the former, he helped launch the careers of future stars Roy Clark, George Hamilton IV and Patsy Cline. In the wake of the latter, he became a sometime host of The Tonight Show and other talk shows. In 1968-70 he was a regular on the drama series Daniel Boone (NBC). Also in 1968, he founded his famed Jimmy Dean Sausage company, which made him a millionaire. He also appeared in several feature films, notably as a heavy in Diamonds Are Forever, the 1971 James Bond movie starring Sean Connery, and in Big Bad John, the 1988 film based on his biggest song. Dean’s hits included “Bumming Around” (1953), “Big Bad John” (1961, also a #1 pop hit and a Grammy Award winner), “Dear Ivan” (1962), “P.T. 109” (1962), “Little Black Book” (1962), “The First Thing Ev’ry Morning” (1965), “Stand Beside Me” (1966), “Slowly” (1971, a duet with Dottie West) and “I.O.U” (1976). Husband of former Mercury Records artist Donna Meade. Author of the 2004 autobiography 30 Years of Sausage, 50 Years of Ham.
CHARLIE KEYS, 75, died June 18.
Former banjo player with The Lilly Brothers. Also a guitar maker.
MARY JANE COLEMAN, 86, died June 19.
Founder of the Nashville Film Festival. She originated it in Greeneville, TN as The Sinking Creek Film Festival in 1969. It moved to Nashville in 1972 and adopted its present name in 2003.
RANDY JONES, 59, died June 20.
Program director of the country station WDHR in Pikeville, KY.
LARRY JON WILSON, 69. died June 21.
Acclaimed singer-songwriter who wrote for Combine Music and was featured in the documentary film Heartworn Highways. He recorded four LPs for Monument Records in 1975-79 (New Beginnings, Let Me Sing My Song to You, Loose Change and Sojourner). His lone charted single was 1976’s “Think I Feel a Hitchhike Coming On,” but he was highly regarded for his solo club performances. He issued Larry Jon Wilson as his comeback album in 2009.
GARLAND CARTER, age unknown, died June 26.
Bass player in the bluegrass bands Summer Wages and The Bluegrass Cardinals.
ROBERT BYRD, 92, died June 28.
West Virginia old-time fiddler who recorded the LP Mountain Fiddler for County Records in 1977. On it, he was accompanied by the bluegrass band The Country Gentlemen. He performed on both the Grand Ole Opry and Hee Haw. Also, the longest serving member of the U.S. Congress in history.
JOSHUA RAGSDALE, 32, died July 1.
Staff songwriter for Sony-ATV. Co-writer with Randy Montana of “Ain’t Much Left of Lovin’ You,” which became Montana’s debut single. and of “Pawpaw’s Sunday Boots,” cowritten and recorded by Bill Anderson. Formerly half of the Lyric Street Records duo Ragsdale with his sister Shi-Anne.
BILL PORTER, 79, died July 7.
Engineer at the famous RCA Studio B in 1959-61. Behind the board for giant hits of stars Roy Orbison, The Everly Brothers, Eddy Arnold, Elvis Presley, The Browns, Boots Randolph, Chet Atkins, Al Hirt and many more. Went from RCA to Columbia, then Monument. In Los Angeles from 1966 on, he engineered for Barbra Streisand, Diana Ross, Sammy Davis Jr. and others After leaving studio work, he became Presley’s live sound engineer on the road and during the superstar’s Las Vegas extravaganzas. Later a university educator.
LUCKY SAYLOR, 85, died July 7.
Bluegrass musician who performed with Archie Campbell, Arthur Q. Smith, Buzz Busby, Smiley Hobbs and others. A member of Bill Monroe’s Blue Grass Boys in 1956.
HANK COCHRAN, 74, died July 15.
Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame member whose classics include “Make the World Go Away,” “I Fall to Pieces,” “Don’t You Ever Get Tired of Hurting Me,” “She’s Got You,” “The Chair,” “”Miami My Amy,” “Funny Way of Laughing,” “Little Bitty Tear,” “You Comb Her Hair,” “Don’t Touch Me,” “I Want to Go with You,” “Why Can’t He Be You,” “Ocean Front Property,” “Set ‘Em Up Joe,” “Who You Gonna Blame it on This Time,” “That’s All That Matters to Me,” “Right in the Wrong Direction,” “Is it Raining at Your House,” “It’s Not Love (But It’s Not Bad),” “This Ain’t My First Rodeo,” “A-11,” “I’d Fight the World Before I’d Ever Let You Go” and “What Would Your Memories Do.” Also a recording artist for RCA, Monument, Capitol and Elektra Records.
FRED CARTER JR., 77, died July 17.
Top Nashville session musician, producer and songwriter. Formerly staff guitarist at the Louisiana Hayride. Music Row recording stalwart who backed Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Kris Kristofferson, Simon & Garfunkel, Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Neil Young, Lefty Frizzell, Roy Orbison, Loretta Lynn, Bobby Bare, Kenny Rogers and many others. Notable as the producer of Levon Helm’s American Son LP of 1980, as well as of Bobby Bridger’s Heal in the Wisdom LP of 1981. Songs recorded by Dean Martin, Chet Atkins, Burl Ives, John Anderson, Conway Twitty, Connie Smith, Reba McEntire, Ferlin Husky, Ray Price, Hank Snow, David Houston and more. Father of country star Deana Carter.
MARGARET ANN RICH, 76, died July 22.
Songwriter whose works include “Life’s Little Ups and Downs,” “A Field of Yellow Daisies,” “A Sunday Kind of Woman,” “A Part of Your Life,” “Pass on By,” “Have a Heart,” “Party Girl” and “Nothing in the World.” Her songs were usually recorded by her late husband Charlie Rich, but were also covered by Tom Jones, Ricky Van Shelton, Kris Kristofferson & Rita Coolidge, Bobby Blue Bland and Brook Benton.
BEN KEITH, 73, died July 26.
Steel guitarist who formerly worked in Faron Young’s Country Deputies band and became a Nashville session musician. His playing can be heard on “I Fall to Pieces” by Patsy Cline, among many other hits. Performed on Neil Young’s 1971 classic LP Harvest and its hit single “Heart of Gold.” Subsequently joined Neil Young’s band and recorded many more albums with the star as both a sideman and co-producer. Also produced 1995 breakthrough CD by Jewel, Pieces of You. (real name: Bennett Keith Schaeufele)
JOHNNY L. CARSON, 77, died July 27.
Member of the Georgia Music Hall of Fame. Song publisher, show promoter, artist manager in country, bluegrass and gospel music. Promoter of Mark Wills, Daron Norwood, Randall Franks and others. Grandson of country pioneer Fiddlin’ John Carson.
GEORGE RICHEY, 74, died July 31.
Producer, songwriter, session musician, publisher and manager. He co-wrote “I’ll Share My World with You,” “Keep Me in Mind,” “Soul Song,” “The Grand Tour,” “A Picture of Me (Without You),” “Til I Can Make it on My Own,” “We Loved it Away” and songs recorded by Tanya Tucker, Barbara Mandrell, Jean Shepard, Ferlin Husky, Dottie West, Connie Smith and many others. Producer of Wanda Jackson, The Oak Ridge Boys, Merle Haggard, Sonny James, Johnny Horton, Billie Jo Spears and more. Session pianist for, among others, Lefty Frizzell, Marty Robbins, Ernest Tubb, Tommy James, Kenny Rogers and Ringo Starr. Fifth, final and longest lasting husband of Tammy Wynette, whom he managed in 1978-98.
MITCH JAYNE, 82, died Aug. 2.
Bluegrass Hall of Fame member and longtime bass player for The Dillards. Songwriter of the bluegrass evergreens “Old Home Place,” “Ebo Walker,” “Hey Boys” and “Dooley.” Author of several children’s books. Host of the KSMO radio show Hickory Hollow Time in Salem, MO. Writer of magazine humor columns.
BOBBY HEBB, 72, died Aug. 3.
Nashville-born r&b star who wrote and sang the pop sensation “Sunny.” He began his career in Music City performing in his blind parents’ washboard band Hebb’s Kitchen Cabinet Orchestra. An appearance on Owen Bradley’s Nashville TV show led to him performing regularly on the Grand Ole Opry with Roy Acuff’s Smoky Mountain Boys in the 1950s. His major hit in 1966 with “Sunny” led to an opening for The Beatles on their final U.S. tour. “Sunny” has since aired more than 7 million times and been recorded by hundreds of other artists. Hebb also co-wrote the Lou Rawls hits “A Natural Man” (1971) and “His Song Shall Be Sung” (1972), the former of which won a Grammy Award. Hebb recorded for Philips, Epic, Scepter, Laurie, Cadet, Rich, Tuition and a number of other labels. He returned to prominence during the 2004-2005 Country Music Hall of Fame’s “Night Train to Nashville” exhibit and Grammy-winning album saluting Music City’s r&b history.
WILLIAM “BOOGIE” HOWELL, 90, died Aug. 6.
Former captain of the General Jackson showboat.
KENNY EDWARDS, 64, died Aug. 18.
Original member of The Stone Poneys and longtime collaborator with its lead vocalist, Linda Ronstadt. Also a supporting singer/guitarist for Karla Bonoff, Vince Gill, Don Henley, Andrew Gold, Wendy Waldman and others.
BILL PHILLIPS, 74, died Aug. 23.
Singer of the top-10 country hits “Put it Off Until Tomorrow” (1966), “The Company You Keep” (1966), “The Words I’m Gonna Have to Eat” (1967) and “Little Boy Sad” (1969). The first two were co-written by Dolly Parton, and her harmony vocal on “Put it Off Until Tomorrow” helped to launch her recording career. Formerly a staff writer at Cedarwood, he wrote the 1958 Webb Pierce hit “Falling Back to You.” Duet partner of Mel Tillis on Columbia in 1959-60. Phillips was also a member of the Kitty Wells & Johnny Wright touring troupe in 1969-1984 and was a regular on their syndicated TV show.
GEORGE DAVID WEISS, 89, died Aug. 23.
Co-writer of “I Don’t See Me in Your Eyes Anymore” (Charlie Rich), “Can’t Help Falling in Love” (Elvis Presley) and “I’ll Never Be Free” (Ernie Ford & Kay Starr). Also many pop hits, including “What a Wonderful World” (Louis Armstrong, Roy Clark and many others), “Oh What it Seemed to Be” (Frank Sinatra), “Confess” (Patti Page), “A Walking Miracle” (The Essex), “That Sunday That Summer” (Nat King Cole), “Wild in the Country” (Elvis Presley), “Surrender” (Perry Como), “Cross Over the Bridge” (Patti Page), “Wheel of Fortune” (Kay Starr), “How Important Can it Be” (Joni James), “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” (The Tokens). Member of the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
MIKE HIGHT, 82, died Aug. 24.
One-time “Mr. Deejay USA.” Recording artist for Chart Records. A regular on the WWVA Wheeling Jamboree. Radio and TV personality in North Carolina. Former manager of Charlie Louvin and Webb Pierce. Agent with the Joe Taylor Artist Agency.
SHIRLEY RUTH WELCH, 72, died Aug. 25.
Veteran of 50 years in the music-publishing business, first with Hubert Long Enterprises, then at Ray Stevens Music/Ahab Music.
HAROLD LOWRY, 76, died Aug. 27.
Formerly in Bill Monroe’s Blue Grass Boys.
IRWIN SILBER, 84, died Sept. 8.
Founder of the folk magazine Sing Out!
DANNY KEITH ELLIS, 52, died Sept. 9.
Former trumpeter with The Nashville Symphony. Music teacher and/or band director at Belmont, Sewanee, Lipscomb and University School.
BILL HIGHMAN, 75, died Sept. 10.
Member of the bluegrass group The Stone Mountain Boys, which performed on the WWVA Wheeling Jamboree for 13 years.
LUKE GORDON, 78, died Sept. 14.
Honky-tonk singer who had a 1959 hit with “Dark Hollow.” Frequent collaborator with The Stonemans.
ROY “WHITEY” GRANT. 94, died Sept. 17.
One half of the 1930s Decca Records duo Whitey & Hogan. After 1941. a member of the North Carolina Briarhoppers string band.
BOB ALAN, age unknown, died Sept. 18.
Nashville songwriter whose works were recorded by Lorrie Morgan, Tracy Lawrence, John Michael Montgomery and others.
RUAL YARBROUGH, 80, died Sept. 21.
Banjo player for The Dixie Gentlemen, Jimmy Martin, Flatt & Scruggs, Jim & Jesse, Bobby Smith & The Boys From Shiloh, The Blue Grass Boys, The Dixiemen and other bluegrass groups. Also a highly regarded instrument repairman.
DICK GRIFFEY, 71, died Sept. 24.
Nashville native who began his career as a concert promoter. After moving to L.A., he founded SOLAR Records, which made r&b stars of Shalamar, Lakeside, Midnight Star, Klymaxx and The Deele. It also launched the production careers of L.A. Reid, Babyface and Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis.
DEBBIE GIBSON PALMER, 58, died Oct. 1.
Veteran independent country record promoter. Formerly with NSD Records.
ALBERTINA WALKER, 81, died Oct. 8.
Grammy Award winning “Queen of Gospel.”
SOLOMON BURKE, 70, died Oct. 10.
The first soul star to have hits singing country songs (1961’s “Just Out of Reach,” 1967’s “Detroit City’). He recorded such Nashville tunes as “He’ll Have to Go” and “I Really Don’t Want to Know.” In 2006, he scored a comeback by traveling to Music City to record his CD Nashville, which featured guest stars such as Dolly Parton, Buddy Miller, Jim Lauderdale, Emmylou Harris and Gillian Welch. Member of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame.
LIZA MARTIN, age unknown, died Oct. 11.
Noted Music Row demo singer.
DENNIS TAYLOR, 56, died Oct. 17.
Nashville saxophonist who toured and recorded with Delbert McClinton. In addition, he’s on discs by Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown, Michelle Shocked, Buckwheat Zydeco. Todd Snider, Mike Farris, Webb Wilder, The Roadrunners, Eddy Clearwater, Robert Gordon, Roscoe Shelton, Clifford Curry, Earl Gaines, Johnny Jones, Jay McShann, Fish Heads & Rice, Big Mike Griffin, Goose Creek Symphony, Vassar Clements, Duke Robillard and more. He also recorded as a solo artist. Husband of Nashville publicist and songwriter Karen Leipziger.
LINDA HARGROVE, 61, died Oct. 24.
Country singer-songwriter whose works include “Tennessee Whiskey” (George Jones, 1983), “Just Get Up and Close the Door” (Johnny Rodriguez, 1975), “Let it Shine” (Olivia Newton-John, 1976), “I’ve Never Loved Anyone More” (Lynn Anderson, 1975) and “Half My Heart’s in Texas” (Ernest Tubb, 1978). Also a Music Row session guitarist and a producer of national ad jingles. Recording artist with eight charted singles on Elektra, Capitol and RCA in 1974-78, five major-label albums, two gospel projects and an autobiographical CD. Known as “The Blue Jean Country Queen.”
RONNY SCAIFE, 63, died Nov. 3.
Hit country songwriter whose BMI awarded songs include “The Whiskey Ain’t Workin’” (Marty Stuart & Travis Tritt, 1992), “Hearts Are Gonna Roll” (Hal Ketchum, 1993), “Men” (Charly McClain, 1980), “Wrinkles” (Diamond Rio, 2003) and “I Couldn’t See You Leavin’” (Conway Twitty, 1991). Other notable songs in his large catalog include “Me and the I.R.S.” (Johnny Paycheck, 1978), “Old Man River I’ve Come to Talk to You Again” (Mel McDaniel, 1983), “Here’s Your Sign Get the Picture” (Bill Engvall & Travis Tritt, 1997), “Lay Something on My Bed Besides a Blanket” (Charly McClain, 1977), “Salt of the Earth” (Ricky Skaggs & The Whites, 2007), “Redneck Games” (Jeff Foxworthy & Alan Jackson, 1996), “Drinkin’ My Way Back Home” (Gene Watson, 1984) and “Alabama Clay” (Garth Brooks, 1989).
JOYCE DANIEL, age unknown, died Nov. 4.
Pioneering Music City makeup artist. Began career with Channel 5 television. Assistant makeup artist on The Johnny Cash Show (CBS, 1969-71). Head makeup artist on TNN/CMT (1981-97), on the CMA Awards (1967-2003), on the televised Grand Ole Opry shows and on WNET-NY’s Dance in America series. Created her own makeup line, The Daniel Cole Collection. Taught at Harpeth Hall. (married name: Joyce Daniel Hill).
WILL TENNYSON, 41, died Nov. 16.
Agent with the Conway Entertainment Group. Formerly at the Country Music Association.
NICK HUNTER, 67, died Dec. 15.
Veteran Music Row label executive who led sales and radio promotion efforts at CBS, Elektra, Warner Bros. and Giant Records. Later, the general manager of Audium/Koch Records. Helped develop the careers of Randy Travis, Dwight Yoakam, Hank Williams Jr. and many others. Famously saved, rehabilitated and revived the life and career of the late Johnny Paycheck. A 20-year fixture on Nashville sports radio as “Nick the Stick,” a wisecracking baseball expert.
MARCIA LEWIS, 72, died Dec. 21.
Nashville singer and actor who formerly worked in Broadway musicals. She was featured in the revivals of Chicago (playing the jail matron), Grease (“Miss Lynch”) and Fiddler on the Roof (“Goldie”). Other roles were in productions of Hello Dolly, Rags, Annie, Funny Girl, Cabaret and Nunsense. She was nominated for Tony Awards for her roles in Chicago, Grease and Rags. In the 1970s and 1980s, she guest starred on TV series such as Happy Days, Baretta, The Bionic Woman, The Bob Newhart Show, Kate & Allie and the mini-series Rich Man, Poor Man. Her film parts included Ice Pirates (1984), Night Warning (1983) and Orpheus Descending (TV movie, 1990). She recorded the CD Nowadays in 1998. (married name: Marcia Lewis Bryan).
TERRELL TYE, 58, died Dec. 25.
Former partner and operator of Forerunner Music. The company published hits by Garth Brooks, Hal Ketchum and others. Forerunner’s other principals were Allen Reynolds, Jim Rooney and Mark Miller. Tye was the ex-wife of Ketchum.