Bobby Karl Works The Musicians Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony

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(L-R) Jody Williams (Vice President Writer/Publisher Relations at BMI), Wesley Orbison (Back/ponytail) Roy Kelton Orbison Jr. (Front, long hair), Alex Orbison (Back/beard) all sons of 2014 Inductee, the late Roy Orbison. Continuing – 2014 Inductees Corki Casey O’Dell (front/glasses), Tommy Shannon (back/hat/Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble), Mike Curb (center/tie), Velma Smith (front/center), Guest Neil Young (back/hat), Heidi Denning (front/short hair/daughter of Inductee, the late Ben Keith), Inductees Will Lee (back/sunglasses), Barbara Mandrell (front), Billy Cox (back/2009 Inductee), Chris Layton (front/Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble), Reese Wynans (back/glasses/beard/Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble), Jimmy Capps (front/beard), Randy Bachman (back/beard), Joe Chambers (right end/founder Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum. Photo: Royce DeGrie

If you have never attended a Musicians Hall of Fame concert/ceremony, you have missed some of the most dazzling musical displays and star-studded events that Nashville offers.

The fourth annual such event took place Tuesday evening (Jan. 28) at the historic Municipal Auditorium. Like its three predecessors, it was loaded with star power and packed with spectacular music.

The concert that night? In a word, wow. Booked were Z.Z. Top’s Billy Gibbons, Chris Isaac, The Oak Ridge Boys, The Eagles’ Don Felder, Duane Eddy and Kenny Wayne Shepherd, not to mention inductees Peter Frampton, Double Trouble and Randy Bachman. The show was hosted by Chip Esten, who plays “Deacon Claybourne” on TV’s Nashville.

“I play a player on our show,” Esten said. “I’ve played guitar all my life. But I can’t play like a player. I’m going to stand here like the fan that I am.”

The multi-tiered gala began in the afternoon in the Musicians Hall of Fame Museum, which is located beneath the Auditorium. That’s where the Medallions were presented to the honorees.

“I want to thank Joe [Chambers] for the incredible job he’s done with this building,” said Mayor Karl Dean. (The Museum was forced to move because its earlier incarnation was in the footprint of Dean’s beloved, spectacular Music City Center.) “He is going to make this building something we can all be proud of.”

I already am proud. The new Museum is sensational. If you have never attended, you are missing some of the most dazzling musical displays and star-studded memorabilia that Nashville offers. Is there an echo in here?

“It’s so special and so different,” said BMI’s Jody Williams of the Musicians Hall of Fame. “We are very proud to sponsor this Medallion ceremony.”

“This is all about the musicians,” said museum founder Joe Chambers. “Ladies first.”

Indeed. This year’s inductees include the first three individual women members of the Hall of Fame. Velma Smith, “was the lady who knocked down the walls here in Nashville for female musicians,” said Chambers.

Smith is a Kentucky native who was in a sister act that opened for Bill Monroe in her home state. He came back to Nashville and told the Opry about her. The sisters were recruited for the show, which is how she became the first woman to play a guitar solo on the national NBC network broadcast of the Opry. Next, Roy Acuff hired her as the bass player in his Smoky Mountain Boys. She subsequently went on the road in the bands of Ernest Tubb, Jimmy Dickens and Carl Smith. While a member of the last-named’s Tune Smiths band, she fell in love with its fiddler, the late Hal Smith. They married and remained so for 60 years.

Pictured (L-R): 2014 Inductee Randy Bachman (Bachman Turner Overdrive/The Guess Who), 2014 Inductee Will Lee (Late Show w/ David Letterman’s CBS Orchestra, The Fab Faux), ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons, Artist Kenny Wayne Shepherd, 2014  Inductee Peter Frampton closing out the 2014 Musicians Hall of Fame Awards Show at Nashville’s Historic Municipal Auditorium, January 28th in an all-star jam.

Pictured (L-R): 2014 Musicians Hall inductee Randy Bachman (Bachman Turner Overdrive/The Guess Who), 2014 inductee Will Lee (Late Show with David Letterman’s CBS Orchestra, The Fab Faux), ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons, artist Kenny Wayne Shepherd, and 2014 inductee Peter Frampton close out the Musicians Hall of Fame Awards Show at Nashville’s Historic Municipal Auditorium on Jan. 28. Photo: Royce DeGrie

Chet Atkins loved her rhythm guitar work and hired Velma Smith for a Davis Sisters recording session in 1953. She was soon indispensable in the studio on the sessions of Jim Reeves, Eddy Arnold, Skeeter Davis, Jerry Reed, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Hank Locklin, Charlie Rich, Don Gibson and more.

“She was one of the first people you would call an A-List session player in Nashville,” said Steve Wariner. “She was way ahead of her time, long before women’s lib.”

Velma is recovering from a stroke that has affected her right side. But she grinned from ear to ear from her wheelchair. She told me that she can’t play guitar anymore, but what she misses even more is the ability to walk.

“The second lady [inductee] was across the country in Arizona,” said Chambers. “What Velma was to country, Corki was to rock ‘n’ roll.” That would be Corki Casey O’Dell, who played rhythm guitar on the famous instrumental hits of the “Titan of Twang,” Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Famer Duane Eddy. Recording in Phoenix, she backed Eddy on “Rebel Rouser,” “Ramrod,” “40 Miles of Bad Road,” “Peter Gunn” and more. She can be heard even earlier on Sanford Clark’s 1956 hit “The Fool,” hence her title as “The First Rock and Roll Sidechick.” She was also later a session bass player.

This year’s third 2014 female inductee is Barbara Mandrell. “She’s in the Steel Guitar Hall of Fame, and is an incredible musician on top of everything else,” said Chambers. Mandrell also plays Dobro, mandolin, saxophone, bass, guitar, accordion and banjo. She was a role model to millions of aspiring female musicians via instrumental showcases on her weekly NBC television variety series in the 1980s.

Rock ‘n’ Roll, Country and Rockabilly Hall of Fame member Brenda Lee inducted Mandrell. Brenda has lost 32 pounds. “I’ve decided to get back into the business,” she said backstage. “And you can’t be in the business if you don’t look good.”

Inductee Will Lee is perhaps best known as the bass guitarist in the CBS Orchestra on The Late Show With David Letterman. As a studio musician, he has played on more than 1,700 albums by artists as diverse as Carly Simon, Dave Matthews, Barry Manilow and Mariah Carey.

One of the earliest superstars to embrace the idea of a Musicians Hall of Fame was Neil Young. He attended this year to celebrate the induction of his steel player, the late Ben Keith. Keith began his career in Nashville as a session musician on 1961’s “I Fall to Pieces” by Patsy Cline. After more than a decade as a Nashvillian, he moved west with Young and became a force in rock music, too.

Young placed the Medallion around the neck of Ben’s daughter, Heidi Keith. “Neil gave us instant credibility,” said a grateful Chambers.

Pictured (L-R): Jody Williams (Vice President Writer/Publisher Relations at BMI), Honorable Nashville Mayor Karl Dean, Country legend and Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame Inductee Brenda Lee, Musicians Hall of Fame Founder Joe Chambers, 2-time Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame Inductee Neil Young take a moment to snap a shot during the Musicians Hall of Fame Induction and Medallion Ceremony on January 28.

Pictured (L-R): Jody Williams (Vice President Writer/Publisher Relations at BMI), Honorable Nashville Mayor Karl Dean, Country legend and Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame Inductee Brenda Lee, Musicians Hall of Fame Founder Joe Chambers, 2-time Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame Inductee Neil Young take a moment to snap a shot during the Musicians Hall of Fame Induction and Medallion Ceremony on January 28. Photo: Royce DeGrie

“I had a rock ‘n’ roll band, because I was trying to copy these guys,” said Chambers of The Guess Who. The group’s Randy Bachman  — also of the iconic Bachman Turner Overdrive — was a genial and gentle inductee. The super-nice guy proved that he can still play his digits off on “American Woman” or any of his other classics.

Inductee Jimmy Capps played guitar on “The Gambler,” “Stand By Your Man,” “He Stopped Loving Her Today” and a blue-zillion other Nashville classics. He’s been a mainstay of the Grand Ole Opry staff band and is now a regular as the guitar “Sherriff” on Larry’s Country Diner on RFD-TV. The show’s Larry Black led Terry Choate, Jimmy Fortune and a passel of the network’s personnel in Jimmy’s own cheering section at the concert.

I’ve known this guitarist for 30 years. “What are you taking?” I asked Capps. “You look exactly the same as you did when I first met you.” Okay, his hair is maybe whiter, but he’s essentially unchanged. I mean it.

Blues guitar great Buddy Guy was on the road and unable to attend his Hall of Fame induction. Previous inductee Billy Cox accepted his Medallion for him

Inductee Peter Frampton flew directly from the Grammy Awards into rehearsals for the Musicians Hall of Fame concert. What a mighty man. Don’t forget: He was a stellar axe man in The Herd and Humble Pie years before Frampton Comes Alive made him a solo superstar.

The late Stevie Ray Vaughan and his band Double Trouble were also inductees. Band members Chris Layton, Tommy Shannon and Reese Wynans were there to accept their Medallions and to reunite as players.

Sons of the late Roy Orbison, (left) Wesley Orbison (back), Alex Orbison (at mic) and Roy Kelton Orbison Jr. (far right) speaking on behalf of their father for his induction into the Musicians Hall of Fame in the Iconic Riff category for his legendary hit song “Oh, Pretty Woman” on the stage of Nashville’s Historic Municipal Auditorium on January 28th

Sons of the late Roy Orbison, (L-R): Wesley Orbison (back), Alex Orbison (at mic) and Roy Kelton Orbison Jr. (far right) speaking on behalf of their father for his induction into the Musicians Hall of Fame in the Iconic Riff category for his legendary hit song “Oh, Pretty Woman” on the stage of Nashville’s Historic Municipal Auditorium on Jan. 28. Photo: Royce DeGrie

The 2014 Industry Icon Award was given to Mike Curb. Belmont’s Don Cusic presented it. The first Iconic Riff Award went to the late Roy Orbison for the classic groove he invented for “Oh, Pretty Woman.” His sons accepted.

The afternoon ceremony and the following concert were rocked by Jim Horn, Felix Cavaliere of The Rascals, Jerry Kennedy, Shelby Kennedy, Bill Lloyd, Bill Anderson, Jody Maphis, Rose Lee Maphis (who gave Mandrell her first job as a musician), Vickie Carrico, Webb Wilder, Jan Howard, Linda Davis, former BR5-49er Jay McDowell (who is now the Museum’s Multi-Media Curator), Fred Foster, Kenny O’Dell, Sheila Lawrence, Dennis Morgan, prior Musicians Hall of Fame honoree Reggie Young, Dave Pomeroy, Verlon Thompson and Brian Ahern, whose legendary Enactron truck studio is in the museum and who is recording presenter Buffy Sainte-Marie while she’s back in Music City.

We must give a shout-out to the concert house band: Yea! Keyboardist Shane Keister led an all-star ensemble including Steve Gibson, David Hungate, Gordon Kennedy, Craig Krampf, Bobby Wood, Mark Beckett, Jimmy Bowland, Vinnie Ciesielski, Mike Douchette, Barry Green, Randy Leago, Thom Flora, Marcia Ware and Marty Slayton.

Fabulons working the room at either the concert or the preceding Medallion ceremony included Dave Paulson, Ken Paulson, Charlie Monk, Capucine Monk, Mary Martin, Scott Stem, Bruce Bouton, Kay Clary, Perry Howard, David Preston, Hank Adam Locklin, Harry Chapman, Doak Turner, a stunningly newly svelte Margie Hunt, Jimmy Carter, Rose Drake, Craig & Pam Brown Hayes, Kay Smith, Amy Kurland, Trip Aldridge and Butch Spyridon. And can I get a witness for such organizers as Linda Chambers, Blake Chambers, Jeff Nunnally, Cindy Sinclair and Pam Repp?

With its 12 inductees, entertaining video segments and musical salutes, the concert/ceremony was a long one. And get this: After three-plus hours of music making, there was a rockin’ after party.

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