The 2012 class of inductees into the Country Music Hall of Fame were revealed this morning during a press event at the Hall. For more in depth coverage keep an eye on musicrow.com for Bobby Karl’s insider report.
Modern Era: Garth Brooks
Billboard and the Nielsen Company have named Garth Brooks “the Best-Selling Artist of the SoundScan Era” with more than 128 million albums sold. The Oklahoma native signed with Capitol Records Nashville, and his self-titled debut album featuring the No. 1 hits “If Tomorrow Never Comes” and “The Dance” was released in 1989. It went on to become the top-selling country album of the ‘80s and has since sold over 10 million copies. Brooks’ second album No Fences arrived in 1990 and cemented his superstar status with the smashes “Friends in Low Places,” “Unanswered Prayers,” “Two of a Kind (Workin’ On a Full House),” and “The Thunder Rolls.”
Brooks’ third album Ropin’ The Wind made history when it became the first Country album ever to debut at No. 1 on both the Billboard Top 200 and Top Country Albums charts. It went on to win the 1992 CMA Album of the Year Award and earn Brooks his first Grammy Award. His status as an entertainer is legendary, and his four CMA Entertainer of the Year wins has been matched only by Kenny Chesney. In 1997, he took over New York City and drew the largest-ever concert to Central Park. “Garth – Live From Central Park” was HBO’s most-watched and highest-rated original program of the year. In 2007, he made history again when his single “More Than A Memory” debuted at No. 1 on Billboard’s Country Singles Chart. In 2008, he performed at the inauguration of President Barack Obama, and began performing his acoustic residency at the Wynn Las Vegas. In 2010, Brooks performed nine sold-out shows at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena to raise money for The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee for flood relief. The concerts raised $5 million and set a record in Tennessee for ticket sales by a single performer.
Veterans Era — Connie Smith
Connie Smith, born Constance June Meador in Elkhart, Ind., was signed to RCA Victor Records in 1964 by Chet Atkins. Her recording of Bill Anderson’s “Once A Day” was rushed to radio and went on to become the first debut single from a female artist to hit No. 1. Following the song’s success, she was named Billboard’s Most Promising Female Country Artist and was nominated for three Grammy Awards.
Her self-titled debut album spent seven weeks at No. 1, and its second single “Then and Only Then” (also penned by Anderson) hit No. 4. In 1965, Smith fulfilled her childhood dream of joining the Grand Ole Opry. A member of the Grand Ole Opry for over 45 years, she also released hits like “If I Talked To Him,” “Ain’t Had No Lovin’,” “The Hurtin’s All Over,” and more. She began recording more gospel oriented material in the late ‘60s, and went into semi-retirement in 1979 to concentrate on raising her five children. In the early ‘90s, she signed with Warner Bros. and worked with Marty Stuart as her producer. The two were married in 1997, and have proven to be great musical collaborators. Smith’s 2011 album Long Line of Heartaches (Sugar Hill) was produced by Stuart and hailed as one of the year’s best country recordings.
Recording or Touring Musician — Hargus “Pig” Robbins
Robbins is one of the most accomplished Nashville session piano and keyboard players in history. He was born in Spring City, TN in 1938. An accident blinded him in one eye at the age of two, and by age four he lost his vision completely. While studying at the Nashville School for the Blind, he learned to play classical music on piano and began to play country songs by ear after hearing them on the radio.
He has recorded with legendary country artists such as Bobby Bare, Patsy Cline, Willie Nelson, Roy Orbison, Dolly Parton, Ray Price, Charley Pride, Connie Smith, Hank Snow, Ernest Tubb and more. His work can be heard on Cline’s “Walkin’ After Midnight” and “I Fall To Pieces.” He also played on Bob Dylan’s landmark 1966 album Blonde on Blonde, and classic country recordings like Crystal Gayle’s “Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue” and Charlie Rich’s “Behind Closed Doors.” He released eight solo albums in the ‘60s and ‘70s, and remained in demand as a session player through the ‘80s, ‘90s and early ‘00s. In 1976 he won CMA Instrumentalist of the Year. Thirty-four years later in 2000, he won the CMA Musician of the Year Award.
Fans were able to watch the live announcement online at www.livestream.com/CMA.