Editor’s Note (Jan. 4, 2017):
We also sadly wrote obituaries for the following in 2016, although their names were mistakenly left off our our year-end list.
MERLE HAGGARD, 79, died April 6.
RICHARD FAGAN, 69, died Aug. 5.
[Original Post, Dec. 23, 2016]:
Nashville’s music community suffered more losses than ever before during 2016.
The Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame was decimated by the deaths of such inductees as Curly Putman, Guy Clark, John D. Loudermilk and Kim Williams. We also lost such tunesmiths of note as Andrew Dorff, Holly Dunn, Mentor Williams, Red Simpson, Mark Gray, Steve Young, Ned Miller, Ray Griff and Bob Tubert.
The Country Music Hall of Fame’s losses included Sonny James, Bonnie Brown and Jean Shepard. From the ranks of the Bluegrass Hall of Fame fell Ralph Stanley, Lance LeRoy and Melvin Goins.
Our Rock n Roll Hall of Famers who passed included Leon Russell, Glenn Frey and Leonard Cohen, all of whom were founding figures of the Americana genre. The Gospel Hall’s Joe Moscheo, Robert Hamlett and Buck Rambo departed, as did such producers as Brien Fisher, Snuff Garrett and Chips Moman. Nashville’s r&b scene was saddened by the losses of Marion James, Charlie Fite and Clifford Curry.
And for those of us who write about popular culture, the death of the great Jim Ridley was particularly hard to take. Here is a roll-call of our losses, beginning with some figures from the last few weeks of 2015.
R.Q. JONES, 71, died Nov. 4, 2015
Resonator guitar builder who created custom instruments for Uncle Josh Graves, Jerry Douglas, Mike Aldridge and Phil Ledbetter. Guitar he made for Douglas is in Country Music Hall of Fame collection. (full name: Rudy Quentin Jones).
CRAIG SMITH, 40, died Nov. 5, 2015
Nashville stand-up comedian and Springwater bartender.
MIKE KROPP, 70, died Nov. 10, 2015
Banjo player with long tenure in band Northern Lights (1984-2000). His albums with group included Take You to the Sky (1990), Can’t Buy Your Way (1992), Wrong Highway Blues (1994) and Living in the City (1996).
JIMMY PALMER, 76, died Dec. 6.
Bluegrass fiddler and bass player with Carl & Sophie Tipton, others.
DRUSILLA BELL ADAMS SMITH, 81, died Dec. 13.
Singer-songwriter who co-owned Blue Ridge Records. Songs recorded by Jim Eanes, Church Brothers, etc.
JIMMY MAYNARD, 87, died Dec. 15, 2015
Bluegrass guitarist and singer. Member of Bill Monroe’s Blue Grass Boys, with whom he recorded 1961’s “Toy Heart,” “Shady Grove” and “Live and Let Live” as lead vocalist on choruses. Also a member of Cumberland Mountain Boys and broadcaster with own show on Lebanon’s WCOR.
SNUFF GARRETT, 77, died Dec. 16, 2015
Record producer, label executive, movie mogul. Began as DJ in Lubbock, TX. In L.A., produced for Liberty Records signees Johnny Burnette, Eddie Cochran, Bobby Vee, Gene McDaniels, Buddy Knox, Gary Lewis & Playboys, Del Shannon, etc. The first to establish royalty payments for record producers. Second wave of productions included Sonny & Cher, Vicki Lawrence, Brenda Lee, Cher, Roy Rogers, Sonny Curtis. Went on to country success producing hits for Tanya Tucker, Eddie Rabbitt, David Frizzell, Shelly West, Ronnie Milsap, Merle Haggard, others, often for film soundtracks. Founded own label, Viva Records, and own song-publishing company. Became movie executive. Bought film libraries of RKO and Republic Pictures. (real name: Thomas Lesslie Garrett).
TERRI SHARP, 67, died Dec. 17. 2015
Singer-songwriter published by Bocephus, Acuff-Rose, Paradise Cove. Cuts by Hank Williams Jr. (“Wild Streak”), Don McLean (“You Can’t Blame the Train,” “Eventually”), Heather Dickson, etc. Co-produced Heather Dickson CD Eventually (2014). Own single “A Love That Will Last.”
LANCE LEROY, 85, died Dec. 17, 2015
Bluegrass Hall of Fame inductee (2000). Owner of bluegrass music’s top talent agency. The Lancer Agency booked Lester Flatt, Johnson Mountain Boys, Bluegrass Cardinals, New Coon Creek Girls, Jimmy Martin, Del McCoury, Sally Mountain Show, Lonesome Standard Time, Mike Snider, others. Founder of International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) in 1985. Photographer and writer of magazine articles and liner notes. Songwriter credits include Flatt & Scruggs songs “Reunion” and “Get Away” on soundtrack of The Story of Bonnie & Clyde and “Sailing for Glory,” recorded by Bluegrass Cardinals. Mentor of many, including Marty Stuart, Doug Green, Rhonda Vincent, Larry Stephenson, Del McCoury. Dan Hays, Roland White. Former square-dance fiddler. (full name: Lansing B. LeRoy Jr.).
ALVIN LEWIS BOLT, 86, died Dec. 20, 2015
Nashville’s pioneering classical-music radio broadcaster. Station manager of WPLN for 30 years.
ALBERT SIDNEY JARRATT, 87, died Dec. 21, 2015
WLAC AM & FM veteran. Also with the FCC in Washington D.C. In retirement, he worked for WAMB in Nashville and WANT in Mt. Juliet.
JOE EARL BROOKS, 79, died Dec. 21, 2015
Carter Family enthusiast whose collection of the group’s recordings and printed materials became J.E. Brooks Collection at East Tennessee State University.
SARAH RUTH ALEXANDER SEWELL, 99, died Dec. 25, 2015
Co-owner of Sewell Electric Company in Franklin who in 1961 founded WFLT, the first FM radio station in Williamson County. Station merged with WIZO-AM in 1968.
JOEY MODUS, 35, died Dec. 26, 2015
Nashville-area electronic dance music producer and performer. (real name: Richard Joseph Gootee Jr.).
RICHARD SCOTT OSBORNE, 71, died Dec. 28, 2015
Emmy Award winning television producer and broadcaster who worked at Disney Studios, Fox Television, Paramount Pictures, ABC News, NBC News and others in New York and L.A. before retiring in Nashville.
JIM PIERCE, 83, died Dec. 29, 2015
Independent label producer and song publisher. Pianist on recording sessions for Wynn Stewart, Buck Owens, Willie Nelson, Rose Maddox, Waylon Jennings, Ricky Nelson, etc. Longtime substitute pianist at Grand Ole Opry. Rockabilly Hall of Fame member with instrumentals “Cajun Hop” and “The Peel” on Republic Records as Jim Pierce & The Pistols. Formerly had own radio & TV shows on West Coast.
MARION JAMES, 81, died Dec. 31, 2015
“Nashville’s Queen of the Blues.” Notable for 1966 hit “That’s My Man” on Excello Records. Comeback CDs were Marion James & The Hynotics (1994), Essence (2003) and Northside Soul (2012). Early in career (nicknamed “House Rockin’ James”) had Jimi Hendrix and Billy Cox in her band. Included on Night Train to Nashville Volume Two reissue CD (2005) and pictured as its cover subject. Founded Marion James Musicians Aid Society. Campaigned for historic recognition for Jefferson Street community and released “Back in the Day” (2013) as homage to it.
CRAIG STRICKLAND, 29, died Jan. 4.
Lead singer of promising Arkansas country band Backroad Anthem. Also the co-writer of three songs on its 2015 EP release.
MILBURN D. SLONE, 78, died Jan. 5.
Member of Kentucky bluegrass act The Slone Brothers, 1955-1975, recorded for Dixie Records 1967.
TROY SHONDELL, 76, died Jan. 7.
Pop hit maker with 1961 million seller “This Time.” Writer of Bob Luman’s 1973 country smash “Still Loving You.” Shondell’s “The Wall” chosen to represent 10th anniversary of Vietnam Memorial in D.C. Also wrote Little Anthony & The Imperials 1959 single “A Prayer and a Juke Box.” Music Row song publisher, former ASCAP executive. Charted country singles as an artist “Still Loving You” (1979), “(Sittin’ Here) Lovin’ You” (1980), “(I’m Looking for Some) New Blue Jeans” (1988). In 2000s toured with peers Jimmy Clanton, Ronnie Dove & Ray Peterson as The Masters of Rock ’n’ Roll. (real name: Gary Wayne Schelton).
RED SIMPSON, 81, died Jan. 8.
Singer, songwriter, session musician. Cornerstone figure of Bakersfield Sound. Specialized in truck-driver songs. Buck Owens Owens recorded more than 30 Simpson songs, including hits “Gonna Have Love” (1965), “Sam’s Place” (1967), “The Kansas City Song” (1970). Merle Haggard placed eight Simpson songs on albums, including 1988’s “Lucky Old Colorado.” More than 200 artists recorded his songs. Simpson’s “You Don’t Have Very Far to Go” sung by Haggard, Rosanne Cash, Lucinda Williams, Suzy Bogguss, Johnny Paycheck, Connie Smith, Bonnie Owens, Jeannie Seely, Grascals, etc. Charlie Walker had 1964 hit with Simpson’s “Close Up the Honky Tonks” (a.k.a. “Close All the Honky Tonks”), also popularized by Owens, Flying Burrito Brothers, Byrds, Dwight Yoakam, Dawn Sears, Radney Foster, Tony Booth, Chris Hillman etc. “I Bought the Shoes That Just Walked Out on Me” also recorded by multiple artists. Played on Haggard’s “Okie From Muskogee” and other Bakersfield records. As recording artist, Simpson first made charts in 1966 with “Roll Truck Roll,” followed by his own composition “Highway Patrol,” revived by Junior Brown 1995. Simpson’s biggest hit 1971’s “I’m a Truck.” Also charted with “Country Western Truck Drivin’ Singer” (1972), “Diesel Smoke, Dangerous Curves” (1967), “Awful Lot to Learn About Truck Drivin’” (1973), “Truck Driver’s Heaven” (1976) and “The Flying Saucer Man and the Truck Driver” (1979). Later in career, recorded two duets with Junior Brown, 1995’s “Semi Crazy” and “Nitro Express.” Simpson released nine albums. Two were top-10 hits, 1966’s Roll Truck Roll and 1972’s I’m a Truck. Starred at opening of Bakersfield Sound exhibit at Country Music Hall of Fame 2012. (real name: Joseph Simpson).
MARTY RUSH, 67, died Jan. 8.
Former assistant at Combine Music and Monument Records. Later prominent in animal-welfare work with Cumberland Wildlife Foundation and her Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Center in Mt. Juliet, TN. Wife of songwriter Alan Rush. (full name: Martha Joan Ragland Rush).
KEN KITTENGER, 91, died Jan. 9.
Music Row’s longtime awards framer. A fixture at No. 1 parties, Gold Record celebrations and R.O.P.E. events.
JOE MOSCHEO, 78, died Jan. 11.
Gospel Music Hall of Fame inductee as member of The Imperials (inducted 1998) and as an individual (2007). Entered gospel music as singer/pianist working with Harmoneers and Prophets. Joined Imperials 1964. Recorded many albums with group and wrote some of its songs. Imperials recorded with Elvis on LPs 1966-71 and performed with him in Vegas 1969-72. Group also backed Pat Boone, Jimmy Dean, Roy Clark, Carol Channing. Moscheo hired by BMI 1978. Was Vice President of Special Projects for 16 years. President of Nashville chapter NARAS 1982, 1983. Formed own management company in mid 1990s. Hired by First Union Bank 1996-2003 and formed its Entertainment Division. President of MCS America 2004. Founding council Leadership Music 1999. Producer of PBS documentary He Touched Me: The Gospel Music of Elvis Presley. Author 2007 book The Gospel Side of Elvis. Formerly president & board member of GMA and W.O. Smith Community Music School.
LARRY EDWARD PETERS, 75, died Jan. 12.
Board of directors member and interim CEO of the 25,000-member Barbershop Harmony Society. Also competitive barbershop vocalist and contest judge.
HOYT SCOGGINS, 90, died Jan. 13.
Georgia TV personality and country singer-songwriter who recorded for Starday 1954. Mentor of Norman Blake.
PETE HUTTLINGER, 54, died Jan. 15.
Nashville acoustic-guitar great. Recorded 15+ albums and several instructional DVDs. Won National Guitar Fingerpick championship 2000. Toured and recorded with John Denver. Backed LeAnn Rimes, John Oates, Faith Hill, Jimmy Buffett, Nashville Chamber Orchestra, others. Public speaker with the message “Don’t Just Live: Live Well.” Co-author of 2015 book Joined at the Heart: A Story of Love, Guitars, Resilience and Marigolds. Husband of co-author, Music Row publicist Erin Morris. Son-in-law of country journalist Ed Morris. Brother-in-law of song publisher Jason Morris.
DANNY O’BRIAN, 73, died Jan. 17.
Vice president at Erv Woolsey Company and George Strait’s agent for more than 30 years. Previously Texas country-radio DJ and MCA Records promoter in Nashville. (real name: Frank Whitley Dickey Jr.).
GLENN FREY, 67, died Jan. 18.
Rock ’n’ Roll Hall of Fame member (inducted 1998). Vocalist, guitarist, keyboard player who co-founded hugely influential country-rock band The Eagles. He sang lead on its giant 1970s hits “Take It Easy,” “Tequila Sunrise,” “New Kid in Town,” “Heartache Tonight,” “Already Gone” and “Peaceful Easy Feeling.” He co-wrote (mostly with Don Henley) Eagles hits “Hotel California,” “Best of My Love,” “Lyin’ Eyes” (The Eagles only top-10 country hit), “Peaceful Easy Feeling,” “James Dean,” “One of These Nights,” “Take It Easy,” “Take It to the Limit,” “Life in the Fast Lane,” “Heartache Tonight,” “The Long Run,” “Get Over It,” “I Can’t Tell You Why,” “Desperado,” etc. Country Grammy Award for 2007’s “How Long.” Single “Hotel California” 1977 Grammy Record of the Year. Multi-artist Common Thread: Songs of The Eagles featured many of his songs and won 1994 CMA Album of Year award. “Desperado” a 1977 top-10 country hit for Johnny Rodriguez and a 1993 single for Clint Black. “Take It Easy” a 1994 hit for Travis Tritt. Little Texas’s “Peaceful Easy Feeling,” Tanya Tucker’s “Already Gone” and Vince Gill’s “I Can’t Tell You Why” among other notable country covers. Hit Frey 1984-85 solo singles more in rock vein: “Smuggler’s Blues,” “The Heat Is On,” “You Belong to the City.” Also a television actor.
REV. J. FRED CLOUD, 90, died Jan. 21.
Co-founder of W.O. Smith Community Music School. Singer in Nashville Symphony Chorus for 15 years. Also 20-year director of Metro Human Relations Commission.
CURTIS POTTER, 75, died Jan. 23.
Frontman for Hank Thompson’s award-winning band The Brazos Valley Boys, 1959-72. Recording artist for Dot, Capitol, Hillside, Step One and Heart of Texas labels. Charted with “Fraulein” (1979) and “San Antonio Medley” (with Darrell McCall, 1980). Helped to found Step One Records, which became country’s largest independent label. Duet album with Willie Nelson Six Hours at Pedernales (1995), featuring video favorite “Turn Me Loose and Let Me Swing.” Five solo albums for Heart of Texas, including Ray Price tribute Songs of the Cherokee Cowboy. Member Texas Country Music Hall of Fame, Western Swing Hall of Fame.
TIM COTTON, 64, died Jan. 26.
Road manager and driver for Doobie Brothers, Eagles, Lonestar, Alan Jackson, Brenda Lee, Conway, Loretta, Reba, Tammy, Oaks, Tim & Faith, Kathy Mattea, Ricky Skaggs, Andrae Crouch, Dan Seals, Collin Raye, others. HIV/AIDS volunteer at Nashville CARES. Advocate for homeless. Brother of singer-songwriter Gene Cotton.
BOBBY LEE McCOLLUM, 64, died Jan. 27.
Keyboardist/vocalist in popular Nashville oldies/R&B/show band Cruise Alley.
SONNY LOUVIN, 61, died Jan. 27.
Country performer. Son of Hall of Fame member Charlie Louvin (1927-2011) of The Louvin Brothers. (full name: Charlie E. Louvin Jr.).
ROBERT HAMLETT, 84, died Feb. 1.
Member of legendary Nashville vocal harmonizing The Fairfield Four. Heard on gospel group’s Grammy winning 1997 album I Couldn’t Hear Nobody Pray. Appeared with group in 2000 film O Brother Where Art Thou as singing gravediggers. Soundtrack album won another Grammy. Other Fairfield Four albums featuring Hamlett include Revival (1989), Standing in the Safety Zone (1992), Wreckin’ the House (1998), Live From Mountain Stage (2000). Performed at Carnegie Hall, New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, Smithsonian Festival of American Folklife, Summer Lights, Tennessee Grassroots Days, etc. On albums by Elvis Costello, John Fogerty, Dolly Parton, Amy Grant. Sang with group on 2014 PBS special Rock My Soul. Gospel Music Hall of Fame induction 1999. Lifetime Achievement at Nashville Music Awards 1995. National Heritage Fellow award from National Endowment for Arts 1989.
DAN HICKS, 74, died Feb. 6.
Eclectic, highly individualistic hipster singer-songwriter. His band, Dan Hicks & His Hot Licks incorporated sounds of western swing, Tin Pan Alley, jazz, folk, cowboy, gypsy and country blues on a series of acclaimed LPs of 1970s for Epic, Blue Thumb, Warner Bros. Reemerged on Surfdog Records in 2000-2013.
RICK WRIGHT, 57, died Feb. 7.
Lead guitarist in Connie Smith’s band The Sundowners band for 17 years. Also member of Music City Playboys who entertained in Lower Broadway nightspots.
THOMAS LEON TURNER, 77, died Feb. 7.
Singer-songwriter published by Cedarwood, among others. His group The Minstrels 3 recorded for United Artists. Also billed as Tommy Turner, Tom’s Travelers. Former columnist in American Songwriter magazine. Bluebird Cafe performer.
KIM WILLIAMS, 68, died Feb.11.
Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame member. ASCAP Country Songwriter of Year 1994. His co-written “Three Wooden Crosses” (Randy Travis, 2003) won CMA, ACM, GMA & NSAI Song of Year. Other hits include “If the Devil Danced” (Joe Diffie, 1991), “Light at the End of the Tunnel” (B.B. Watson, 1991), “Overnight Male” (George Strait, 1992), “Warning Labels” (Doug Stone, 1992), “She Loved a Lot in Her Time” (George Jones, 1992), “Haunted Heart” (Sammy Kershaw, 1993), “My Blue Angel” (Aaron Tippin, 1993), “Honky Tonk Christmas” (Alan Jackson, 1994), “Fall in Love” (Kenny Chesney, 1995), “The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter” (Reba, 1995), “Who Needs You Baby” (Clay Walker, 1995), “Goodnight Sweetheart” (David Kersh, 1996), “Every Cowboy’s Dream” (Rhett Akins, 1997), “Honky Tonk Truth” (Brooks & Dunn, 1997), “Stranger in My Mirror” (Randy Travis, 1999), “Beer Run” (Garth Brooks & George Jones, 2001), “While You Loved Me” (Rascal Flatts, 2001), “Pickin’ Wildflowers” (Keith Anderson, 2005). Also notable as collaborator with Garth Brooks on “Papa Loved Mama” (1992), “Ain’t Goin’ Down ’Til the Sun Comes Up” (1993), “The Night I Called the Old Man Out” (1993), “It’s Midnight Cinderella” (1996), “She’s Gonna Make It” (1998), others. Leadership Music class of 2003.
UMY YOUNGBLOOD, 93, died Feb. 11.
Member of bluegrass band The Goodtimers for more than six decades. Albums include When the Wagon Was New. Also a stage emcee and board member of several bluegrass organizations.
RUSTY MICHAEL, 64, died Feb. 14.
Owner of Fat City Artists, representing wide array of acts, including John Carter Cash, Amazing Kreskin, Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders, Al Kooper, Beegie Adair, Chubby Checker, Clifford Curry, Deborah Allen, Duane Eddy, Earl Thomas Conley, Fabian, Felix Cavaliere’s Rascals, George Hamilton V, Jamie Hartford, Jeannie Seely, Jo-El Sonnier, Johnny Counterfeit, Leon Russell, Melba Montgomery, Sam Moore, Pure Prairie League, Stella Parton, Frankie Avalon, Jimmy Hall, Amazing Rhythm Aces, Wet Willie, etc. (full name: Edward Noel Michael Jr.).
JOYCE PAUL, 78, died Feb. 15.
Country singer on United Artists Records with LP Heartaches, Laughter & Tears and charted single “Phone Call to Mama,” both 1969. Previously vocalist with pop/swing Red McEwen Band in series of Centennial Park summer concerts 1953-63, opening for Pat Boone, Brenda Lee, others. “Miss Cohn High” of 1955. Appeared on Country Style USA TV series. Other singles include “I’ve Loved Him Much Longer Than You,” “Do Right Woman — Do Right Man.” (married name: Joyce Paul Potter).
PAUL GORDON, 52, died Feb. 18.
Keyboardist, guitarist, composer. Musician in Jennifer Nettles band and in B-52’s touring ensemble 2007-2016. Also backed Natasha Bedingfield, Anna Wilson, Mandy Moore, Brenda K. Starr, others. Composed music for movie & TV soundtracks (Digimon, Wild Force Power Rangers, etc.).
BUCK RAMBO, 84, died Feb. 21.
Gospel Music Hall of Fame member. In The Singing Rambos/The Rambos with ex-wife Dottie Rambo (1938-2008) and daughter Reba Rambo touring and recording 1960-1994. More than 70 albums, many Dove Award & Grammy Award nominations. Former board member National Quartet Convention. A founding father of Gospel Music Hall of Fame. Sang for more than a million at Rally for Jesus in Washington D.C. 1964. Toured Vietnam 1967. Much TV activity: 700 Club, PTL Network, Gospel Singing Jubilee, Gaither Homecoming, etc. Author The Legacy of The Rambos. (full name: Richard Fay Rambo).
SONNY JAMES, 87, died Feb. 22.
Country Music Hall of Fame member. First Nashville country star on Hollywood Walk of Fame (1961). First co-host of CMA Awards (1967). More than 70 titles on country charts, 43 top-10 hits. Between 1967 and 1972, 16 consecutive No. 1 singles. First hit “That’s Me Without You” 1953. Teen-idol song “Young Love” (1956) a pop and country No. 1 million seller. “First Date, First Kiss, First Love” (1957) and more than a dozen other titles also placed on pop as well as country charts. Giant country hit streak began with “The Minute You’re Gone” (1963) and “You’re the Only World I Know” (1964). Specialized in country versions of such pop hits as “Take Good Care of Her,” “I’ll Never Find Another You,” “A World of Our Own,” “Born to Be With You,” “Only the Lonely,” “Running Bear,” “Since I Met You Baby,” “It’s Just a Matter of Time,” “My Love,” “Endlessly,” “Only Love Can Break a Heart” in 1966-72. Later-career hits “When the Snow Is On the Roses” (1972), “Is It Wrong (For Loving You)” (1974). Landmark Tennessee State Prison LP In Prison, In Person (1977). Opry cast member (1962), Ozark Jubilee TV regular (1950s). Movies Second Fiddle to a Steel Guitar (1965), Nashville Rebel (1966), Las Vegas Hillbillys (1966), Hillbillys in a Haunted House (1967). Notable as flat-top guitar picker both in concert and on records. Also played fiddle, mandolin. Cassette of his music on Apollo 14 moon mission (1971). Song publisher and record producer. Produced first three Marie Osmond LPs and her 1973 breakthrough hit “Paper Roses.” Known as “The Southern Gentleman” due to consistent humility and courtly manners. Formerly in The Loden Family on radio in Knoxville, Memphis, Birmingham, Raleigh, Muscle Shoals, etc. (Birth name: Jimmie Hugh Loden).
SCOT COPELAND, 62, died Feb. 24.
Producing artistic director of the Nashville Children’s Theater for 30 years. Produced 180 plays & musicals, directed 120, wrote 11.
JOEY MARTIN FEEK, 40, died March 4.
Songwriter, performer, broadcaster, lead singer in country duo Joey + Rory. ACM Duo of Year 2010. Inspirational Country Music Duo of Year 2011. Solo album Strong Enough to Cry (2005). Duo albums The Life of a Song (2008), Album Number Two (2010), A Farmhouse Christmas (2011), His and Hers (2012), Inspired: Songs of Faith and Family (2013), Made to Last (2013), Country Classics (2014), Hymns & Stories That Are Important to Us (2016). Charted singles “Cheater, Cheater” (2008), “That’s Important to Me” (2011). Grammy nominated for “If I Needed You” (2015). TV series The Joey + Rory Show (RFD-TV, 2012-14), 10 music videos, radio series The Joey + Rory Radio Show (WSM 650 AM). Wife of duet partner, singer-songwriter Rory Lee Feek.
CLEO LEMONS, 94, died March 5.
Bluegrass concert promoter since 1948 in Sandy Ridge, NC.
RAY GRIFF, 75, died March 9.
Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame member. Charted 24 titles as artist 1967-1987. Top- 40 self-penned hits: “The Mornin’ After Baby Let Me Down” (1971), “You Ring My Bell” (1975), “If I Let Her Come In” (1976), “I Love the Way That You Love Me” (1976), “That’s What I Get” (1976), “The Last of the Winfield Amateurs” (1977), “A Passing Thing” (1977). Released 30 albums and had eight top-10 Canadian country hits. Better known in U.S. as songwriter for others. Wrote Johnny Duncan’s No. 1 “It Couldn’t Have Been Any Better” (1977) and top-10 hits Gene Watson’s “Where Love Begins” (1975), Faron Young’s “Step Aside” (1971), Porter Wagoner & Dolly Parton’s “Better Move It On Home” (1971), Wilma Burgess’s “Baby” (1965). Top-20 hits: “Who’s Gonna Play This Old Piano” Jerry Lee Lewis (1972), “Something Special” Mel Tillis (1968), “Between This Time and the Next Time” Gene Watson (1981). Also wrote “Canadian Pacific” George Hamilton IV (1969), “Your Lily White Hands” Johnny Carver (1967), “Lost in the Shuffle” Stonewall Jackson (1965), “Darlin’” Wayne Kemp (1972). Several songs recorded multiple times. “Darlin’” by Conway Twitty, George Jones, Jeanne Pruett, Wilma Burgess, Jim Ed Brown, Nat Stuckey. “Baby” by Dinah Shore, Ferlin Husky, Pat Boone, Eddy Arnold, Teresa Brewer, Dottie West, Tennessee Ernie Ford. “The Mornin’ After Baby Let Me Down” by Loretta Lynn, Ray Price, Bill Anderson, Jerry Lee Lewis, Mel Tillis. “Something Special” by Bob Luman, Claude Gray, Jerry Wallace, George Hamilton IV. More than 700 recordings of Griff songs by such as Chet Atkins, Jim Reeves, Johnny Horton, David Houston, Marty Robbins, Del Reeves, Hank Snow, Slim Whitman, Connie Smith, Jean Shepard, Mac Wiseman, Wayne Newton, etc. Griff has seven BMI awards and 47 ASCAP citations. His songs “Canada” and “Maple Leaf” often played on Canada Day (July 1). With 2,500 copyrights, said to be Canada’s most prolific songwriter. Hosted two Canadian TV series, Goodtime Country and Uptown Country. Host of syndicated radio series Raymond’s Place. Record producer, song publisher, record label owner.
LOUIS MEYERS, 61, died March 11.
Co-founder of South by Southwest festival in Austin. Former executive director & special projects director of Folk Alliance. Manager of The Hillbenders and mastermind of their 2015 album Tommy: A Bluegrass Opry. Musician on guitar, banjo and pedal steel. Leadership Music 2012 class.
BRIEN FISHER, 82, died March 11.
Hit country record producer. His production of “Heaven’s Just a Sin Away” by The Kendalls earned him CMA Award for Single of Year in 1978 and the duo a Grammy. Other Kendalls hits he produced included “It Don’t Feel Like Sinnin’ to Me,” “Pittsburgh Stealers,” “Sweet Desire,” “You’d Make an Angel Want to Cheat,” “I’m Already Blue” and “Put It Off Until Tomorrow” in 1977-82. Also produced Vern Gosdin’s “Dream of Me,” “Too Long Gone,” “Today My World Slipped Away,” etc. Other clients included Joe Sun (“Old Flames Can’t Hold a Candle to You”), Max D. Barnes (“Cowboys Are Common as Sin”), The Cates (“Make Love to Me”), Jim Rushing (“I’ve Loved Enough to Know”) and Sheila Andrews (“Too Fast for Rapid City”). Head of Ovation Records country division 1976-82. Formed Brien Fisher Productions 1983. Later artists produced included DeAnna Cox, Glen Bonham, Ben Wasson and Jeannie Kendall. Also produced 1998 album Old Dogs, starring Waylon Jennings, Bobby Bare, Mel Tillis and Jerry Reed singing songs by Shel Silverstein. During career, Fisher produced 20+ top-10 hits and five million in sales. Productions appeared on A.M.I., Warners, Mercury, Atlantic, Rustic and other labels, in addition to Ovation. Also worked as European TV music director for Johnny Cash, Hank Williams Jr., Ray Stevens, Emmylou Harris, B.J. Thomas, Jeannie C. Riley, Larry Gatlin. (full name: Frank O’Brien Fisher).
DUNCAN EMPSON, 95, died March 12.
Tennessean photographer who documented Nashville & Music Row for 40 years.
FRED WEISZ, 71, died March 16.
Bass player and fiddler. Recorded with Even Dozen Jug Band, Red Allen & Frank Wakefield, Hazel & Alice, New York Ramblers, Goose Creek Symphony. While in Even Dozen, played Carnegie Hall and Hootenanny TV series. Longtime colleague of David Grisman.
STEVE YOUNG, 73, died March 17.
“Outlaw” country singer-songwriter. Classic songs include “Seven Bridges Road” (The Eagles, 1981), “Long Way to Hollywood” (Hank Williams Jr., 1977), “Lonesome, On’ry and Mean” (Waylon Jennings, 1973; Travis Tritt, 2003), “Montgomery in the Rain” (Hank Williams Jr., 1977). Others who recorded his songs include Joan Baez, Tracy Nelson, Ian Matthews, Ricochet, Dolly Parton, Rita Coolidge, Alan Jackson, Dierks Bentley. His albums include Rock Salt & Nails (A&M, 1968), Seven Bridges Road (Reprise, 1975; Rounder, 1981), Honky Tonk Man (Mountain Railroad, 1975, Rounder, 1984), Renegade Picker (RCA, 1976), No Place to Fall (RCA, 1978), To Satisfy You (Rounder, 1981), Old Memories (Country Roads, 1984), Look Homeward Angel (Mill, 1985), Long Time Rider (Mill, 1990), Solo/Live (Watermelon, 1991), Switchblades of Love (Watermelon, 1993), Primal Young (Appleseed, 2000), Songlines Revisited (Starry Pyramid, 2006), Stories Round the Horseshoe Bend (Starry Pyramid, 2007). Appeared in the 1976 “outlaw” music documentary Heartworn Highways. Intensity as live performer made him cult figure in Europe. Father of musician Jubal Lee Young.
NED MILLER, 90, died March 18.
Singer-songwriter famed for “From a Jack to a King” (Ned Miller 1962, Ricky Van Shelton 1989), “Dark Moon” (Gale Storm 1957, Bonnie Guitar 1957, Chris Isaac 1993), “Do What You Do Do Well” (Ned Miller 1965), “Invisible Tears” (Ned Miller 1964, The Ray Conniff Singers 1964), “”Mister Fire Eyes” (Bonnie Guitar 1957), “Behind the Tear” (Sonny James 1965) and “Next Time I Fall in Love (I Won’t)” (Hank Thompson 1971). Other country stars who recorded his songs include Porter Wagoner, Johnny & Joanie Mosby, Jean Shepard, Connie Smith, Wanda Jackson, Faron Young, Slim Whitman, Red Simpson, Jim Reeves, Charley Pride, Waylon Jennings, Jimmy Dickens, Bobby Bare, Marty Robbins, Lynn Anderson, Loretta Lynn and Hank Snow. His material also covered by such pop performers as Bing Crosby, Bobby Darin, Les Brown, Dean Martin, Elvis, Pat Boone, Teresa Brewer and Doug Sahm.
BOB YOUNTS, 66, died March 21.
Longtime booking agent at Bobby Roberts Agency, which he co-founded. Served as its senior vice president and president. Represented John Anderson, Merle Haggard, Waylon Jennings, Bobby Bare, others. Former Arkansas disc jockey and musician in Decca rock band The Merging Traffic. Drummer for Nat Stuckey and Mel Tillis, 1973-1985. Nominated as Agent of Year by CMA in 1994. Award-winning Boy Scout leader. (full name: Robert Lee Younts, Jr.)
MACK EVANS, 73, died March 23.
Founder of Masterfonics (1972) and Magnetic Technology (1985) in Nashville.
MIKE SCAP, 60, died March 29.
Multi instrumentalist who performed in folk, country, jazz, Celtic, bluegrass, classical and other idioms. Formerly in Hot Rize, Front Range, D.W. Griffiths, etc. One solo CD.
LAVERN ALLEN LYNN, 87, died April 5.
Longtime employee of Columbia Recording Studios and Custom Mastering on Music Row.
JIMMIE VAN ZANT, 59, died April 7.
Southern rocker whose albums included The Jimmie Van Zant Band (1996), Southern Comfort (2000) and Feels Like Freedom (2012). Cousin of Donnie Van Zant of .38 Special and of Ronnie Van Zant (1949-1977) and Johnny Van Zant, both of Lynyrd Skynyrd.
JIM RIDLEY, 50, died April 8.
Editor of The Nashville Scene and a gifted writer on popular culture. First place honors for arts criticism from Association for Alternative Media in 2006 and 2010. A key figure in the establishment of The Nashville Film Festival.
MARTY LASTER, 65, died April 9.
Fiddler who created blues-violin instruction books for Mel Bay Publications.
OWEN BENNIE HOLCOMB, 81, died April 10.
Former head of security for Ryman Auditorium and Grand Ole Opry.
BOB TUBERT, 90, died April 10.
Scriptwriter for ABC network TV series The Ozark Jubilee in 1950s. Became hit songwriter in Nashville in 1960s: “When You Loved Me” (Brenda Lee 1964), “You’re the Only World I Know” (Sonny James 1965), “I’ll Keep Holding On” (Sonny James 1965), “Gardenias in Her Hair (Marty Robbins 1967), “Here Comes Heaven” (Eddy Arnold 1968). Also cuts by Dolly Parton, Kitty Wells, Jerry Lee Lewis, Connie Smith, etc. Pop cuts included “Ring Dang Doo” (Sam the Sham & Pharaohs 1965), “Our Winter Love” (The Lettermen 1967), “My Ancestors” (Lou Rawls 1968), “Satin Pillows” (Bobby Vinton 1966), plus songs for Jackie Wilson, Ann-Margret, Jimmy Cliff, Perry Como, etc. Ran song publishing companies Earl Barton Music, Regent Music, Vintage Music. In 1970s, professional manager for Excellorec 1970-83 with catalogs of blues and gospel songs. Newsman for UPI. Wrote liner notes for LPs by Chet Atkins, Jerry Reed, Anita Kerr Singers, Charlie Rich, etc. Founding member of NSAI. Helped start Belmont University music-business program. In 1980s, discovered Shelby Lynne. Husband of pop singer Demetriss Tapp. Autobiography in 2012: Echoes and Reflections: My Life With the Stars.
BOB SAXTON, 83, died April 11.
Guitarist who backed Patsy Cline, Blackwood Brothers and many other country stars.
PAUL MARTIN, 82, died April 15.
Country and gospel recording artist for Sun Records in 1970s and 1980s. LPs included Music City Memories, Great Country Gold, The Gospel Album, This Is Xmas, Country’s Greatest Love Songs. Also became the label’s vice president and general manager.
ROD DANIEL, 73, died April 16.
Nashville native and Vanderbilt grad who became film & TV director. Began career producing and directing TV commercials in Nashville 1960s. Directed national TV sitcom WKRP Cincinnati 1978, then episodes of such shows as Newhart, Magnum P.I., Everybody Loves Raymond, Mary Tyler Moore etc. Films include Teen Wolf (1985), Like Father Like Son (1987), The Super (1991), Home Alone 4 (2002). Also a photographer. Retired 2003. Returned to Nashville 2009-2011. Died in Chicago.
RUTH D. ROUNDS, 98, died April 16.
Formerly a radio singer on WLAC and WSM in Nashville.
CANDICE BURNSIDE FERGUSON, 37, died April 17.
Co-owner, studio manager and engineer at Battle Tapes Recording in East Nashville, whose clients included such Music City alt rockers as Turbo Fruits, Lambchop, Hard Working Americans, PUJOL, Forget Cassettes, Thelma & The Slease, Tristen, Be Your Own Pet, De Novo Dahl and Umbrella Tree. Also a friendly fixture at Grimey’s Records. Wife of studio co-owner Jeremy Ferguson.
DENNY JONES, 62, died April 19.
Bluegrass fiddler who recorded three albums with the band Clear Fork.
LONNIE MACK, 74, died April 21.
Highly influential guitarist with 1963 rockabilly instrumentals “Memphis” and “Wham!” Also respected as blue-eyed soul singer and session musician. Initially in Cincinnati backing James Brown and others in studio, plus recording own breakthrough singles. Went to L.A. and recorded with The Doors on 1970 LP Morrison Hotel. Briefly worked in A&R at Elektra Records in L.A. Nashville-recorded 1971 country LP for the label, The Hills of Indiana. Additional Nashville LPs for Capitol 1976-77: Home at Last and Lonnie Mack & Pismo. Comeback in 1980s as a blues-rock stylist with LPs such as 1985’s Strike Like Lightning for Alligator, produced by Stevie Ray Vaughn. Returned to rockabilly with 1988 Epic Records LP Roadhouses and Dance Halls. Retired to Smithville, TN. (birth name: Lonnie McIntosh).
WADE COX, 43, died April 23.
Bluegrass multi-instrumentalist and songwriter. Played in Mitch Harrell & Southriver Express, James King Band, Country Gentlemen.
MIKE SACHA, 30, died April 25.
Assistant to rock star and part-time Nashvillian Kid Rock.
JODY CLAY JOHNSON, 66, died April 29.
Longtime guitarist and bandleader for Little David Wilkins, Opry star Justin Tubb and other country artists. Songwriter whose works were recorded by Charley Pride, Brenda Lee, Faron Young, Jack Greene, Charlie Louvin, etc. Biggest hit as a writer “He’ll Play the Music (But You Can’t Make Him Dance)” #21 for Wilkins 1977.
RICK CHRISTIAN, 61, died May 3.
Singer-songwriter noted for writing 1981 No. 1 Kenny Rogers hit “I Don’t Need You.” Also cuts by Buddy Guy, Jimmy Buffett, The Coolers, Harry Nilsson, Wayne Perkins, Scott Holt. Solo albums included Sweet Young Thing (1983), Palestine (2003), Voodoo Country (2006), Balls to the Wall (2007).
CHARLIE FITE, 76, died May 3.
Member of Nashville r&b band Frank Howard & The Commanders. Regular on syndicated TV’s Night Train and The !!! Beat in 1960s.
DAVID COMPTON, 54, died May 4.
Actor who performed in Nashville Shakespeare Festival, Blackbird Theater, Nashville Children’s Theater, Studio Tenn, Nashville Repertory Theater, Caffin’s Barn Dinner Theater.
YATES GREEN, 92, died May 9.
Guitarist in Bill Monroe’s Blue Grass Boys in 1956.
PHOEBE BINKLEY, 78, died May 11.
Revered Nashville vocal coach whose clients included Kathy Mattea, Ronnie Dunn, Crystal Gayle, Ronnie Milsap, Doug Green, Hillary Williams, Barbara Cloyd. Also coached Reese Witherspoon in Oscar winning role singing June Carter Cash in movie Walk the Line. Formerly radio performer on “Youth on Parade” with Pat Boone, soprano with St. Louis Municipal Opera, lead in Theatre Nashville’s production of La Boheme, songwriter with 12 cuts by Marty Robbins, contestant on TV’s What’s My Line. Widow of arranger, conductor, music educator Bob Binkley (1934-2012). Daughter of Nashville Banner editorial cartoonist Jack Knox (1910-1985). Mother of Carolyn Knox Binkley, who continues family business “Voice By Binkley.”
JOHNNY SEA, 75, died May 14.
Country performer on Louisiana Hayride who had top-20 hits with “Frankie’s Man Johnny” (1959), “Nobody’s Darling But Mine” (1960), “My Old Faded Rose” (1965) and “Day For Decision” (1966 answer song to Barry McGuire’s “Eve of Destruction”). (birth name: John Allen Seay Jr.).
KEVIN ANDERSON, 56, died May 16.
Longtime WSM Radio producer & music director. Produced Bill Cody’s morning show. Part-time announcer at Grand Ole Opry. Formerly guitarist and background vocalist in bands of Jana Jae and Sonny James.
CARLOS BROCK, 82, died May 17.
Bluegrass guitarist who recorded with Sonny Osborne in 1952 and served in Bill Monroe’s Blue Grass Boys in 1954-55. Later formed Country Pardners with Bill Price, whose LP issued by Rounder. Included on the large plaque of First Generation Bluegrass Pioneers in the Bluegrass Museum.
GUY CLARK, 74, died May 17.
Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame member. Americana Music Association Lifetime Songwriter honoree. Tribute album to Clark, This One’s For Him, AMA Album of the Year in 2012. Grammy Award for his 2013 CD My Favorite Picture of You. Among his best known songs “L.A. Freeway, “Desperados Waiting for a Train,” “Let Him Roll,” “Texas 1947” (a hit for Johnny Cash), “The Last Gunfighter Ballad,” “Fools for Each Other,” “”New Cut Road” (Bobby Bare), “Heartbroke” (Ricky Skaggs), “She’s Crazy for Leavin’” (Rodney Crowell), “The Partner Nobody Chose,” “Homegrown Tomatoes,” “Boats to Build,” “Blowin’ Like a Bandit,” “The Carpenter” (John Conlee), “The Randall Knife,” “Oklahoma Borderline” (Vince Gill), “Baby I’m Yours” (Steve Wariner), “Too Much” (Pirates of the Mississippi), “Out in the Parking Lot,” “Hemingway’s Whiskey” (Kenny Chesney), “Like a Rose” (Ashley Monroe). Others who recorded his tunes include Emmylou Harris, Steve Earle, Lyle Lovett, Nanci Griffith, Don Williams, George Strait, Lacy J. Dalton, Mark Chesnutt, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Everly Brothers, John Denver, Hal Ketchum, Billy Dean, Charley Pride, Rita Coolidge, Jerry Jeff Walker, T. Graham Brown, Tammy Wynette, Patty Loveless, Crystal Gayle, Alan Jackson, Waylon Jennings, Highwaymen. Created 16 acclaimed albums: Old No. 1 (1975), Texas Cookin’ (1976), Guy Clark (1978), South Coast of Texas (1981), Better Days (1982), Old Friends (1988, Grammy nominated), Boats to Build (1992), Dublin Blues (1995), Craftsman (1995), Keepers (1997), Cold Dog Soup (1999), The Dark (2006), Workbench Songs (2006), Some Days the Song Writers You (2009), Songs and Stories (2011), My Favorite Picture of You (2013). Resident artist Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum 2006. Subject of posthumous book Without Getting Killed or Caught (2016) by Tamara Saviano.
EMILIO, 53, died May 17.
King of Tejano music. Latino superstar who crossed over into country in 1990s. Earned Grammy for 2002 Tejano album Acuerdate. Once signed to Capitol Nashville, his country charting English-language singles were 1995’s “It’s Not the End of the World;” 1996’s “Even If I Tried,” “I Think We’re On To Something” and “Have I Told You Lately” (written by Van Morrison) and 1997’s “I’d Love You to Love Me” and “She Gives.” Father of Diego Navaira, a member of The Last Bandoleros. (full name: Emilio Navaira).
JAMES KING, 57, died May 19.
Known as “The Bluegrass Storyteller.” Recorded many albums for Rounder beginning in 1992. Won more than a dozen awards from bluegrass organizations. In 1997, he was International Bluegrass Music Association’s (IBMA) Emerging Artist of Year. Regarded as one of genre’s most powerful singers. His 2013 CD Three Chords & The Truth nominated for a Grammy. Inducted into Virginia Country Music Hall of Fame 2014.
RAY HESSON, 74, died May 24.
Bluegrass banjo player in group Foggy Bottom, 1979-2001. Three solo albums. Journalist for Bluegrass Unlimited magazine.
FLOYD ROBINSON, 83, died May 28.
Nashville pop/country artist with own radio shows on WLAC, WSM as a teen. Also as a teen, in touring bands of George Jones, Jim Reeves, Eddy Arnold, Jimmy Dickens and performed on Opry. Wrote “The Little Space Girl” as 1959 novelty hit for Jesse Lee Turner. Signed to RCA and produced by Chet Atkins, Robinson’s self-penned pop hit was 1959’s “Makin’ Love.” Also recorded teen tunes in 1960s for Jamie, Dot, Groove, United Artists. Resurfaced in 1970s making “Christian animal music” of 14+ kiddie-gospel LPs. Titles included Charlie the Hamster Sings the Ten Commandments, Ricky the Cricket Bible Songs, The Adventures of Bernie the Billy Goat: Songs for Sunday School, Woody Woodchuck Sings Bible Stories, Charlie the Hamster Sings Christmas Songs, Barney the Bear Sings Bible Stories and The Adventures of Finley the Fish. Published two books, 1992 instruction manual Guitar Playing Made Easy and 1994 novel The Guitar. His teen-pop records reissued 1994.
SHELLEY FLYNN, 65, died May 30.
Formerly a pop singer/entertainer for many years (married name in Nashville: Shelley Flynn Phillips).
RICK VANAUGH, 61, died May 31.
Country drummer who backed Kitty Wells, Charlie Louvin, Lorrie Morgan, Time Jumpers and more.
J.B. ELLIOTT, 78, died June 9
Bluegrass singer/guitarist who recorded six albums with Virginia band Low Profile, 1997-2003.
PATI CROOOKER, 68, died June 12.
Founder of Thomas Point Beach Bluegrass Festival in Maine in 1979. Given IBMA Award as 2008 Event of Year, and she won a 2009 IBMA Distinguished Achievement Award. (full name: Patricia May Crooker-Mulligan)
CHIPS MOMAN, 79, died June 13.
Producer, songwriter, session guitarist, studio owner. Co-written country hits include “Another Done Somebody Wrong Song” (B.J. Thomas 1975), “Lukenbach, Texas” (Waylon Jennings & Willie Nelson 1977), “Cactus and a Rose” (Gary Stewart 1980), “The Wurlitzer Prize” (Waylon Jennings 1977), “Cowboys Don’t Shoot Straight Like They Used To” (Tammy Wynette 1981), “Everybody Loves a Rain Song” (B.J. Thomas 1978), “Here Come the Flowers” (Dottie West 1976). Also co-wrote pop and r&b classics “Do Right Woman” (Aretha Franklin 1967, covered by Barbara Mandrell), “Dark End of the Street” (James Carr 1967, covered by Archie Campbell & Lorene Mann), “Last Night” (The Mar-Keys 1961), “This Time” (Troy Shondell 1961). Produced Elvis Presley (“Suspicious Minds,” “In the Ghetto,” “Kentucky Rain”), Willie Nelson (“Always on My Mind”), The Box Tops (“The Letter,” “Cry Like a Baby,” “Soul Deep”), The Highwaymen (“The Highwayman”), Sandy Posey (“Born a Woman,” “Single Girl”), Merle Haggard & Willie Nelson (“Pancho & Lefty”), Carla Thomas (“Gee Whiz”), King Curtis, Solomon Burke, Johnny Cash, Neil Diamond, Jackie DeShannon, Aretha Franklin, Ronnie Milsap, Gary Stewart, Kris Kristofferson, Billy Joe Royal, Tammy Wynette, Bobby Womack, Allman Brothers, B.J. Thomas, Jo-El Sonnier, Petula Clark, Esther Phillips, Eric Clapton, Waylon Jennings, Dionne Warwick, Troy Shondell, Doug Kershaw, Townes Van Zandt, Tony Joe White, etc. Own studio in Memphis, American Sound. (Birth name: Lincoln Wayne Moman).
CHUCK STEARMAN, 79, died June 15.
Founder of the Society for Preservation of Bluegrass Music in America (SPBGMA) in 1974. Mandolinist in Kansas City band Bluegrass Association, who recorded four LPs in 1969-81. Promoter of bluegrass festivals throughout Midwest.
BILL HAM, 79, died June 20.
Texas-based manager, producer, songwriter, publisher. Best known for work with ZZ Top and Clint Black. His Hamstein Music songwriters included Tom Shapiro, Chris Waters, Rick Giles, Billy Kirsch, Steve Davis, Tony Martin, Lee Thomas Miller, Monty Criswell. Former Dot Records artist produced by Pat Boone.
FREDDY POWERS, 84, died June 21.
Songwriter, producer, musician His songs include Merle Haggard hits “A Place to Fall Apart” (1984), “Natural High” (1985), “Let’s Chase Each Other Around the Room” (1984) and “A Friend in California” (1986), several of which he co-wrote with the superstar. Powers and Haggard cowriters on 1983 George Jones hit “I Always Get Lucky With You.” Powers’ songs also recorded by Big & Rich, Suzy Bogguss, Ray Charles, Stoney LaRue. Guitarist in Haggard’s band for 20 years. Produced Platinum-selling 1981 Willie Nelson LP Over the Rainbow. Solo CDs The Country Jazz Singer (2000), My Great Escape (2004). TV appearances on Austin City Limits. Own talk show on Austin Music Network cable channel. Autobiography The Spree of ’83.
WAYNE JACKSON, 74, died June 21.
Trumpeter who was one-half of The Memphis Horns with sax player Andrew Love (1941-2012). Performed on 52 No. 1 songs, 83 million-selling albums, 116 top-10 records and 15 Grammy-winners. Among stars Memphis Horns recorded with Aretha Franklin, Al Green, Neil Diamond, U2, Billy Joel, Peter Gabriel, Sam & Dave, Elvis Presley, Dusty Springfield, Otis Redding, Jack White. Toured with Jimmy Buffett, Rod Stewart, Doobie Brothers, Joe Cocker. Former Nashville resident. Memphis Horns inducted into Musicians Hall of Fame 2008.
RALPH STANLEY, 89, died June 23.
Bluegrass Hall of Fame member in The Stanley Brothers. Solo Grammy Award 2001 for “O Death” and Grammy Album of Year O Brother, Where Art Thou. Second Grammy for 2002 CD Lost in the Lonesome Pines with Jim Lauderdale. Began career in Stanley Brothers & The Clinch Mountain Boys 1946-1966. Group’s classics include “Little Glass of Wine,” “The White Dove,” “I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow,” “The Angels Are Singing in Heaven Tonight,” “Rank Stranger,” “Little Maggie,” “Angel Band,” “Gonna Paint the Town,” “Ridin’ That Midnight Train,” “Finger Poppin’ Time.” Performed at Newport Folk Festival 1959, 1964. Own TV show in central Florida in early 1960s. Performed in 1965 in Fincastle, VA at the very first bluegrass festival. Following death of brother Carter Stanley (1925-1966), embarked on solo career. His group trained future bluegrass greats Charlie Sizemore, Larry Sparks and Roy Lee Centers. Launched careers of Ricky Skaggs and Keith Whitley. Won IBMA awards for 1971’s CD Clinch Mountain Country and 2001’s CD Clinch Mountain Sweethearts. Honorary doctorate degrees in 1976, 2014. National Heritage Fellowship by National Endowment for Arts 1984. Bluegrass Hall of Fame 1992. Grand Ole Opry cast membership 2000. Living Legend Award from Library of Congress 2000. National Medal of Honor 2006. Fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences 2014.
PEGGY McKNIGHT, 85, died June 24.
Owner of Donelson Air Conditioning and star of its long-running local TV ads. Mother of Tennessean columnist Gail Kerr (1961-2014).
BILL BRITTAIN, 86, died June 24.
Nashville radio news broadcaster for decades at WSM, WLAC, WMAK, WSIX, WENO, WLZEZ. Later big-band music host WAMB. Also longtime arrivals-greeting voice at Nashville Airport. Former editor of Music City News. Writer for Nashville Scene. Tour guide at Ryman Auditorium. Former actor in local productions of Our Town, Pygmalion, etc. Artisan working in vintage woods, carving/creating collectible Significraft Pens. Member of Sumner County Commission for 12 years.
PAUL BOOKER, 49, died June 27.
Nashville rock guitarist. Underground bands included Wax Dolls, Medicinal Porpoises, CYOD, Dave Cloud’s Gospel of Power and Paul Booker & Dynamite Operators at venues Springwater and Lucy’s Record Shop. Dynamite Operators will have posthumous CD release.
JIMMY HAYMAN, 82, died July 2.
Leader of Nashville country band Jimmy Hayman & The Outcasts. Singer-songwriter who recorded several of his works. Also owned Nashville security-guard company.
BOB GOLDSTONE, 67, died July 3.
Co-owner and VP of sales at Thirty Tigers, whose artists have included Billy Joe Shaver, James McMurtry, Tony Joe White, Beth Nielsen Chapman, Chris Knight, Poco, Avett Brothers, John Cowan, Elizabeth Cook, BR549, Jim Lauderdale, Jason Isbell, Lucinda Williams, Sturgill Simpson, Patty Griffin, Chase Rice. Formerly community-relations exec at Tower Records and veteran of I.R.S. Records, Capricorn (where he marketed Widespread Panic, 311 & Cake), Mercury/Lost Highway (Kim Richey, William Topley, Kathy Mattea, Neal Coty) and Eminent (Emmylou Harris, Jon Randall). Leadership Music class of 2009.
JAKE, 15, died July 9.
The faithful dog and constant companion of Dierks Bentley. Jake appeared on jacket of the star’s debut Capitol CD in 2003, was featured in “What Was I Thinking” and other music videos, was there when Bentley was inducted into cast of Opry, accompanied him to his 10th anniversary as Opry member and came to Country Music Hall of Fame for opening of Bentley’s 2016 museum exhibit. The star referenced Jake in his song “Can’t Be Replaced” on 2016 album Black.
JERRY GREER, 19, died July 10.
Appeared on TV show Craig Morgan All Access Outdoors on cable’s Outdoor Channel. Son of show’s star, country hit maker & Opry member Craig Morgan.
LARRY SCOTT, 77, died July 10.
Country Disc Jockey Hall of Fame inductee 1984. Four-time ACM winner as country broadcaster, 1968-74. On-air star in Bakersfield, Las Vegas, Dallas, Burbank, Los Angeles, St. Louis, Wichita, Phoenix, Shreveport, Tulsa. Former salesman of Albert E. Brumley gospel songbooks, concert promoter for The Texas Playboys. Texas Country Music Hall of Fame (1999), CMA Award (1980).
GRACE ENGLISH, 80, died July 13.
Owner/manager of Biney’s Music in Wallace, NC. Mother of gospel singers Michael English and Biney English.
BONNIE BROWN, 77, died July 16.
As member of The Browns, a 2015 inductee into Country Music Hall of Fame. Joined older brother Jim Ed Brown (1934-2015) and older sister Maxine Brown to form trio 1955. Early hits including “Here Today and Gone Tomorrow” (1955), “I Take the Chance” (1956), “I Heard the Bluebirds Sing” (1957), “Would You Care” (1958) and “Beyond the Shadow” (1959) led to stardom on Louisiana Hayride and Ozark Jubilee. Toured with Elvis Presley. Blockbuster hit “The Three Bells” (1959) regarded as first true “Nashville Sound” single to top both pop and country charts (no. 1 country for 11 weeks, no. 1 pop for four weeks). Browns also had pop and country success with “Scarlet Ribbons” (1959) and “The Old Lamplighter” (1960). Continued country stardom with “Send Me the Pillow You Dream On” (1961). Grand Ole Opry cast membership 1963. Subsequent hits included “Then I’ll Stop Loving You” (1964), “Everybody’s Darlin’ But Mine” (1964), “I’d Be Just Fool Enough” (1966) and “Coming Back to You” (1966). Some 20 charted country singles before she retired to Arkansas to raise daughters 1967. Jim Ed & Maxine both had solo careers. Trio reunited several times, usually at Opry. Also together on Jim Ed’s final album, 2015’s In Style Again. (married name: Bonnie Jean Brown Ring).
PETE MITCHELL, 74, died July 24.
Guitarist best known for tenure in Ernest Tubb’s Texas Troubadours. On Tubb’s 1979 LP The Legend and the Legacy. Formerly backed Ray Price, Cal Smith. (real name: Peter Michaud).
CHARLES HANEY, 85, died July 24.
Bluegrass & country concert promoter in North Carolina & Virginia. Sometime partner of brother Carlton Haney (1928-2011), who staged first-ever bluegrass festival in 1965.
DICKIE HARRIS, 86, died July 25.
Steel guitarist for Marty Robbins, Cowboy Copas, Ernest Tubb, etc. Regular performer in the Bob Eaton Band.
BOB MASON, 73, died July 26.
Cellist on sessions for Garth Brooks, k.d. lang, Train, others. Formerly with Scottish National Orchestra and BBC. Performed with Adair Trio and Southern Arts Quartet and in show bands in Reno & Tahoe. (full name: Robert Finlay Mason).
MELVIN GOINS, 83, died July 29.
Bluegrass Hall of Fame inductee as member of Lonesome Pine Fiddlers. As member of Goins Brothers, also inducted into Kentucky and West Virginia Music Halls of Fame. Following long tenure in Lonesome Pine Fiddlers 1953-65, joined Stanley Brothers 1966. Teamed up with brother Ray Goins (1936-2007) in Goins Brothers. Became regulars at Appalachia Uprising festivals in Kentucky. Wife Willa Goins a member of country group The Woodetts.
RUSTY MARTIN, 62, died July 30.
Longtime Music Row security officer. Served long stints on front desk at Arista and RCA before manning same post at ASCAP most recently. He and his late wife Becky were inspiration for Kenny Chesney’s 2002 No. 1 hit “The Good Stuff,” written by Jim Collins and Craig Wiseman. (full name: Roy L. Martin).
PAMELA GRADY KARWAN, 68, died July 30.
Former publicist at Opryland U.S.A. and Grand Ole Opry. Also formerly in promotion department at WSM-TV.
DON PARMLEY, 82, died July 30.
Famed as banjo player in virtuoso band The Bluegrass Cardinals. Began career in Kentucky backing Carl Story, Hylo Brown. Moved to Southern California and became session musician for Glen Campbell, Doug Dillard, Billy Strange, etc. Joined bluegrass groups Golden State Boys, Blue Diamond Boys, The Hillmen (featuring Vern Gosdin, Chris Hillman). Studio banjo player for hit TV show The Beverly Hillbillies 1964-73. Formed Bluegrass Cardinals with son David Parmley & Randy Graham 1974. Group recorded 20+ albums for Sierra, Rounder, CMH, Sugar Hill, etc. Won IBMA Award 1991 for collaboration with McCoury family. Performed at Smithsonian, White House, Library of Congress, Grand Ole Opry, TNN TV shows. Toured internationally for U.S. Information Service. Mentored Larry Stephenson, Jerry Douglas, Randall Hylton, Bill Bryson, Dale Perry & other bluegrass talents. (full name: Freeman Donald Parmley).
CLYDE BROOKS, 68, died July 31.
Session musician, record producer, song publisher, talent scout. Drummer on more than 8,000 sessions in diverse genres — Barbara Mandrell, Ted Nugent, George Strait, Jimmy Swaggart, Kenny Rogers, Oak Ridge Boys, Don Henley, B.J. Thomas, Linda Ronstadt, Johnny Winter, Hank Williams Jr., Steve Earle, Eddy Arnold, 5th Dimension, Brenda Lee, Delbert McClinton, Bill Anderson, J.D. Souther, Alabama, Tom T. Hall, Staple Singers, Ernest Tubb, Alison Krauss, Bill Gaither, Jerry Butler, Webb Pierce, Judds, Charlie Daniels, Little Richard, Reba, Vince, Merle, Willie, Emmylou, Dolly, Tanya, Porter, Tammy, Jerry Lee, Conway, Chet, Loretta, etc. Producer of Perfect Stranger, Ronna Reeves, Smith & Harley, B.B. Watson, Charlie Floyd, Pony Express, Warner Hodges, others. Published songs recorded by Tracy Byrd, Lee Greenwood, Kenny Chesney, McHays, etc.
GLENN YARBROUGH, 86, died Aug. 11.
Folk star who had 1965 pop hits “Baby the Rain Must Fall” and “It’s Gonna Be Fine.” Previously lead singer of folk trio The Limeliters, 1959-63. Began career with 1957 solo LP on Elektra. Also recorded as folk duo with Marilyn Childs for the label. Limiters charted with “A Dollar a Day” in 1961. During solo career, Yarbrough frequently reunited with group for reunion shows & tours. Retired to Nashville 2010.
RUFUS ALBERT LONG, 87, died Aug. 15.
Woodwind player with Nashville Symphony, on recording sessions and in several area dance bands.
VIRGINIA KILGORE SEBRING, 67, died Aug. 20.
Nashville actor & stand-up comedian who appeared in films, TV shows, music videos & commercials. Wife of David Sebring, sister of Mary Fielder.
BOB FRENCH, 86, died Aug. 20.
Bluegrass banjo player who recorded LPs with Rainbow Valley Boys and Joe Val & New England Bluegrass Boys.
DALE SLEDD, 79, died Aug. 21.
Singer and guitarist with Osborne Brothers 1967-82. Recorded bluegrass hits “Rocky Top,” “Roll Muddy River,” “Tennessee Hound Dog,” etc. with group. Later entertained at Grandpa Jones Dinner Theatre in Mountain View, AR.
JIM BROADUS, 77, died Aug. 25.
Multi instrumentalist who owned and managed Hewgley’s Music Shop in Nashville.
VIC JORDAN, 77, died Aug. 26.
Bluegrass banjo great, noted for work with Jimmy Martin, Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper, Bill Monroe, Lester Flatt, Jim & Jesse. Solo albums included Pickaway (1973) and Banjo Nashville (1978). Also Music Row session musician for many. In later years, performed with Wayne Newton in Las Vegas & Branson. IBMA Distinguished Achievement Award 2013.
JACK NORMAN JR., 89, died Aug. 28.
Nashville lawyer who represented country artists including George Jones & Kris Kristofferson. Former roustabout with Shrine Circus, skydiver, pilot.
HOOT HESTER, 65, died Aug. 30.
Fiddler, mandolinist, guitarist. Member of Opry staff band 2000-2014. Founding member Time Jumpers. Former member Wylie & Wild West, Bluegrass Alliance. Toured with The Whites, Jerry Reed, Mel Tillis, Donna Fargo. Formed Sound Factory with Phil Baugh, Buddy Emmons & they became house band on TV shows That Nashville Music and Nashville Alive. Extensive recording session work 1983-2016: Randy Travis, Dan Seals, Moe Bandy, Vern Gosdin, Conway Twitty, Ricky Van Shelton, Kenny Rogers, Ray Price, Statler Brothers, George Strait, Gene Watson, Steve Wariner, Charley Pride, John Conlee, Bill Monroe, Earl Scruggs, Larry Gatlin, Merle Haggard, Alan Jackson, Ray Charles, Manhattan Transfer, Alabama, Hank Williams Jr., etc. (birth name: Hubert Dwane Hester).
KEN SIMINGTON, 64, died Aug. 30.
Producer of WNPT series Tennessee Crossroads for 29 years, PBS’s most-watched local show. Regional Emmy Award 2006 for documentary Living On: Tennesseans Remembering the Holocaust.
ALEX HARTNESS, 27, died Aug. 30.
Co-founder & lead guitarist of Nashville rock band Bad Cop. Group’s albums included Harvest the Beast (2009), The Light On (2013).
KACEY JONES, 66, died Sept. 1.
Singer-songwriter best known for comedic work. Co-wrote 1985 Mickey Gilley hit “I’m the One Mama Warned You About” and songs recorded by Ray Stevens, Marshall Chapman, David Allan Coe (“Cold Turkey”), Cledus T. Judd, Richard Fagan. Rose to fame as leader of Ethel & Shameless Hussies, 1986-90, who charted with “One Nite Stan” (1988), “It’s Just the Whiskey Talkin’” (1989). Album on MCA, Born to Burn (1988). Nominated as Music City News Comedy Act of Year. Signed as a solo to Curb with album Men Are Some of My Favorite People (1997) and videos “1-900-Bubba,” “But I’m Not Bitter.” Business entrepreneur who formed own IGO label and Zamalama (BMI) & Mamalama (ASCAP) publishing companies. Signed Leland Martin to IGO. Producer of Kinky Friedman tribute CD Pearls in the Snow starring Willie Nelson, Asleep at the Wheel, Lyle Lovett, Dwight Yoakam, etc. Album hit No. 1 on Americana charts 1999. Further solo CDs Every Man I Love Is Either Married, Gay or Dead (2000), Never Wear Pants to a Party (2001), The Sweet Potato Queens’ Big-Ass Box of Music (2003), Kacey Jones Sings Mickey Newbury (2006), Nipples to the Wind (2007), Kaceyoke (2008), Donald Trump’s Hair (2009), Amen for Old Friends (2014). European duet hit with Delbert McClinton “You’re the Reason Our Kids Are Ugly” (2000). Songs on soundtrack of movie Sordid Lives (2000). Radio regular on syndicated ABC morning show Charlie & Darcy (2001). Appeared on NPR’s Prairie Home Companion (2004). Competed on America’s Got Talent (2015). Member of Nashville nightclub acts Phillybilly and “A Cowgirl, A Diva and a Shameless Hussy.” (real name: Gayle Zeller).
FRED HELLERMAN, 89, died Sept. 1.
Member of folk group The Weavers, who topped country charts in 1951 with version of Appalachian traditional tune “On Top of Old Smoky.” Group also had pop hits with Leadbelly’s “Goodnight Irene” (1950), Woody Guthrie’s “So Long (It’s Been Good to Know Yuh)” (1951), Pete Seeger’s “Kisses Sweeter Than Wine” (1951), the South African Zulu chant “Wimoweh” (1952) & other songs. He later produced 1970 Arlo Guthrie hit “Alice’s Restaurant.”
BUD ISAACS, 88, died Sept. 4.
The first person to play pedal steel guitar on a hit record, Webb Pierce’s “Slowly” in 1954. Revolutionized the instrument & led to its wholesale embrace by country music. Former sideman for Jimmy Dickens, Red Foley. Played on sessions for Jim Reeves, Skeeter Davis, Chet Atkins, Justin Tubb, Kitty Wells, Hawkshaw Hawkins, Buck Owens, Wilf Carter, as well as Pierce, Dickens, Foley. Solo RCA contract 1954-56 included recording steel standard “Bud’s Bounce.” RCA EP Crying Steel Guitar highly collectible. Also in RCA group Country All Stars with Atkins, Homer & Jethro, Dale Potter. In staff bands of Opry 1950-54, Ozark Jubilee 1954-57. Toured with singer, yodeler, bass-player wife Geri Mapes as Golden West Singers for years. (birth name: Forrest Isaacs).
CLIFFORD CURRY, 79, died Sept. 7.
Longtime Nashville r&b mainstay. Recorded for the city’s Excello Records 1963-65. Scored r&b hit with Mac Gayden/Chuck Neese song “She Shot a Hole in My Soul” 1967 on Buzz Cason’s Elf label. Follow-up Nashville singles included “We’re Gonna Hate Ourselves in the Morning,” “I Need a Little Help Girl,” “Good Humor Man.” Co-wrote Oak Ridge Boys 1974 gospel hit “He’s Gonna Smile on Me.” In 1980s and 1990s, popular on U.K. “Northern Soul” scene and “Beach Music” culture of the Carolinas. “She Shot a Hole in My Soul” revived as beach-music hit. Curry’s “Boogie Woogie Country Girl” Beach Music Record of Year and singer inducted into Beach Music Hall of Fame, both 1995. Also aimed singles “Shag With Me,” “Mr. Lonely,” “25 Hours a Day” at beach-music market. Known as “The King of Beach Music.” Nashville albums included Then and Now, Cold Beer and Hot Women, The Soul of Clifford Curry, Blues I Can’t Lose, The Provider, Clifford’s Blues, She Shot a Hole in My Soul Again! Saluted UT and Knoxville hometown with 1997 single “Pat Summit, Dad Gummit.” Toured Europe 1995, 1997. Back in spotlight via 2004 Country Music Hall of Fame exhibit “Night Train to Nashville.” “She Shot a Hole in My Soul” included on Grammy-winning accompanying CD.
JIM McCOY, 87, died Sept. 7.
Country artist on radio in Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia. His band, Joltin’ Jim McCoy & The Melody Playboys, launched career of Patsy Cline. Also country DJ on WNIC, WRFL, WHPL, WTRI, etc. Station manager at WAKS in NC and WEFG in VA. Owner of Jim McCoy’s Music Store and of Troubadour Lounge in Winchester, VA. Spearheaded memorials, signage & historic markers to Patsy in Winchester. Founder of West Virginia Country Music Hall of Fame. Subject of book Joltin’ Jim: His Life in Country Music.
DOT GREEN, 79, died Sept. 10.
Model who appeared on multiple LP jackets by steel guitarist Lloyd Green. Songwriter whose “Wish I Was a Little Boy Again” recorded by Lynn Anderson & Patti Page, among others. LaWanda Lindsey made country charts with it 1972. Wife of Lloyd Green. (Birth name: Dorothy Jewel Edwards).
JOHN D. LOUDERMILK, 82, died Sept. 21.
Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame inductee (1976). Extensive catalog includes as many pop successes as country hits. In 1950s, “A Rose and a Baby Ruth” (George Hamilton IV, 1956), “Sittin’ in the Balcony” (Eddie Cochran, 1957), “Grin and Bear It” (Jimmy C. Newman, 1959), “Half Breed” (Marvin Rainwater, 1959), “Waterloo” (Stonewall Jackson, 1959). In early 1960s, “Amigo’s Guitar” (Kitty Wells, 1960), “Dreamboat” (Connie Francis, 1961), “Windy and Warm” (Chet Atkins, 1961), “Ebony Eyes” (Everly Brothers, 1961), “Stayin’ In” (Bobby Vee, 1961), “Torture” (Kris Jensen, 1962), “Talk Back Trembling Lips” (Ernie Ashworth country, Johnny Tillotson pop, 1963), “Abilene” (Hamilton, 1963), “Bad News” (Johnny Cash, 1964), “Tobacco Road” (Nashville Teens, 1964), “Everything’s Alright” (Newbeats, 1964). Also penned string of Sue Thompson pop hits — “Sad Movies” (1961), “Norman” (1962), “James” (1962), “Paper Tiger” (1965). Late 1960s successes included “Thou Shalt Not Steal” (Dick & DeeDee, 1965), “This Little Bird” (Marianne Faithful, 1965), “What a Woman in Love Won’t Do” (Sandy Posey, 1967), “Break My Mind” (Hamilton, 1967; Linda Ronstadt, 1969; Vern Gosdin, 1976), “Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye” (Casinos, 1967; Eddy Arnold, 1968; Glen Campbell, 1976; Toby Beau, 1979; Neal McCoy, 1996), “It’s My Time” (Hamilton, 1968), “I Wanna Live” (Campbell, 1968). In 1970s, “Indian Reservation” (Raiders, 1971; later used in “Indian Outlaw” Tim McGraw, 1994), “Blue Train” (Hamilton, 1973; later a bluegrass favorite). Songs recorded by Allman Brothers, Brenda Lee, Jefferson Airplane, Animals, Rare Earth, Jerry Lee Lewis, Box Tops, Roy Orbison, Rick Nelson, James Brown, Kanye West, Jay Z, Perry Como, Sammy Davis Jr., War, Solomon Burke, Browns, Waylon Jennings, Conway Twitty, Willie Nelson, George Jones, etc. Also a recording artist with LPs Language of Love (1961), 12 Sides Of (1962), Presenting (1963), Sings a Bizarre Collection of Most Unusual Songs (1966), Suburban Attitudes in Country Verse (Grammy for liner notes, 1969), Country Love Songs (1968), Open Mind Of (1969), Eloree (1971), Rockin’ Styles (1975), Just Passing Through (1977), plus several charted singles. Founded Nashville office of Songwriters Guild 1981. Honored in “Poets & Prophets” series at Country Music Hall of Fame 2007. Inducted into North Carolina Music Hall of Fame 2011.
JEAN SHEPARD, 82, died Sept. 25.
Country Music Hall of Fame member, inducted 2011. Matriarch of the Opry, a member for 60 years, 1955-2015. First country female to record a concept LP, 1956’s Songs of a Love Affair. Trailblazer for independent post-war country women. Feisty, gutsy honky-tonk stylistic pillar. Charted 45 titles over three decades. Million selling “A Dear John Letter” (1953, with Ferlin Husky recitation, also a big pop hit) followed by such ‘50s hits as “A Satisfied Mind” (1955, a country classic), “Beautiful Lies” (1955), “I Thought of You” (1955, later launch-pad song for Connie Smith) and “I Want to Go Where No One Knows Me” (1958). Cast member at Ozark Jubilee in 1950s. Named Cash Box magazine’s top female country singer 1959. Hits of 1960s included “Second Fiddle” (1964, featuring her trademark yodel), “Many Happy Hangovers to You” (1966), “I’ll Take the Dog” (1966, with Ray Pillow), “If Teardrops Were Silver” (1966, a country classic), “Heart We Did All That We Could” (1967), “Your Forevers Don’t Last Very Long” (1967), “Seven Lonely Days” (1969, a country classic). Ballad “Then He Touched Me” (1970) nominated for a Grammy. Other early 1970s hits “A Woman’s Hand” (1970), “Another Lonely Night” (1971). Rebounded with even bigger successes in mid-1970s with Bill Anderson songs “Slippin’ Away” (1973), “At the Time” (1974), “Poor Sweet Baby” (1974), “The Tip of My Fingers” (1975, a country classic) and “Mercy” (1976). Outspoken personality made her a leader in controversial traditional-country organization ACE (Association of Country Entertainers) in 1970s. Notable late-1970s singles included “I’m a Believer” (1975), the sexually frank “Another Neon Night” (1976), “Ain’t Love Good” (1976). Statement of purpose in final charted single “The Real Thing” (1978). Widow of Hawkshaw Hawkins (1921-1963). Wife of Roy Orbison band member and road manager Benny Birchfield. Memoir/autobiography Down Through the Years (2014).
JOHN CONQUEST, 73, died Sept. 30.
Journalist who was roots-music champion long before Americana music had a name. Founder of Austin-based periodical 3rd Coast Music and of its Freeform American Roots chart. His annual showcase, NotSXSW was protest against commercialism of SXSW conference/festival.
PHILLIP LEVITAN, 89, died Oct. 9.
Physician & surgeon who produced/hosted syndicated radio series Here’s to Your Health. Co-producer of NBC mini series Wallenberg. Produced movies of week A Special Friendship (CBS), The Amy Fisher Story (NBC), Labor of Love (CBS). Father of Nashville artist manager Ken Levitan.
PHIL CHESS, 95 died Oct. 18.
Co-founder of iconic Chess Records with brother Leonard Chess (1917-1969). Label roster included Chuck Berry, Moonglows, Flamingos, Etta James, Bo Diddley, Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf & other r&b legends, as well as rockabilly acts Dale Hawkins, Bobby Charles, Baker Knight, Joe Stampley, Bobby Dean, Big Al Downing, Wayne Cochran. Blues Hall of Fame member. Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award 2013. (Birth name: Fiszel Czyz).
JIM CRINER, 64, died Oct. 21.
Nashville singer, songwriter, guitarist. Leader of band Jim Criner & The Train Rex. Their 2015 CD Off the Rails sold on CD Baby, Napster, Spotify etc. Track “Burn Music Row” on YouTube.
GEORGE “PLUGGER” LUNN, 83, died Oct. 22.
Road manager for Chet Atkins for 30 years. Stagehand member of IATSE.
JUNE WHISNANT, 85, died Oct. 22.
Guitarist & singer who backed banjo-great husband Johnnie Whisnant (1921-1992). Recorded Rounder LP with him 1974.
BILL SIMMS, 56, died Oct. 25.
Owner of 1980s music-industry hangout Tavern on the Row, as well as of restaurants Panama Reds & Hog Heaven. (full name: William Simms Jr.).
MARK BELLINGER, 56, died Oct. 27.
Longtime news reporter at WTVF NewsChannel 5.
CATHERINE DARNELL, 65, died Oct. 29.
Widely read columnist at The Tennessean, 1977-2002. Her “Scene and Heard” and “Cat in the Hat” columns chronicled elites from Belle Meade to Music Row. Covered more than 20 Swan Ball galas. Dubbed “Nashville’s Hedda Hopper.”
CURLY PUTMAN, 85, died Oct. 30.
Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame member. Enduring classics include “He Stopped Loving Her Today,” “My Elusive Dreams,” “D-I-V-O-R-C-E,” “Green, Green Grass of Home.” First hit, 1960’s “I Think I Know” Marion Worth. Moved to Nashville, signed with Tree International 1964 as both staff writer & song plugger. “Green, Green Grass of Home” country hit for Porter Wagoner 1965, international pop hit Tom Jones 1967. Also recorded by Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, Kenny Rogers, Charley Pride, Merle Haggard, Joan Baez, Gram Parsons, Grateful Dead, Elvis Presley, etc. Also in 1967, he co-wrote “Just For You” Ferlin Husky, “Dumb Blonde” Dolly Parton, “You Can’t Have Your Kate and Edith Too” Statler Brothers, “My Elusive Dreams” David Houston & Tammy Wynette. In 1968, co-wrote Wynette’s iconic “D-I-V-O-R-C-E.” In 1970s, hits written include 1973’s “Blood Red and Goin’ Down” Tanya Tucker, 1974’s “The Older the Violin” Hank Thompson, 1975 remake of “My Elusive Dreams” Charlie Rich, 1978’s “When Can We Do This Again” T.G. Sheppard and “It Don’t Feel Like Sinnin’ to Me” Kendalls, 1979’s It’s a Cheating Situation” Moe Bandy (ACM Song of the Year). Quit plugging 1974. Inspired Paul McCartney & Wings pop hit “Junior’s Farm” 1974. Hits continued long after Songwriters Hall induction of 1976, including 1980’s “He Stopped Loving Her Today” George Jones (CMA, ACM, NSAI Song of Year). Also in 1980, “Let’s Keep it That Way” Mac Davis, “Baby You’re Something” John Conlee, “Do You Wanna Go to Heaven” T.G. Sheppard, “Smooth Sailing” Sheppard, “I’ll Be Coming Back for More” Sheppard. Later in decade, 1982’s “War Is Hell” Sheppard, 1986’s “I Wish I Could Hurt That Way Again” T. Graham Brown. In 1990s succeeded with 1990’s “I Meant Every Word He Said” Ricky Van Shelton, 1991’s “Hopelessly Yours” Lee Greenwood & Suzy Bogguss, 1993’s “Made for Lovin’ You” Doug Stone, plus modern Christmas classic “There’s a New Kid in Town” recorded by Alan Jackson, Kathy Mattea, George Strait, Keith Whitley, Kelly Clarkson, Oak Ridge Boys, Chris Young, Kenny Rogers, Blake Shelton, Trisha Yearwood, etc. Solo LPs Lonesome Country of Curly Putman (1967) and Curly Putman’s World of Country Music (1969). More than 25 BMI Awards. Alabama Music Hall of Fame 1993.
DOUG BAKER, 57, died Nov. 2.
Former director of national country promotion at RCA. Also had posts at Capitol, Virgin. Prior to that, program exec at KNIX in Phoenix, WFMS in Minneapolis and WSIX in Nashville. More recently with CO5 Records and New Revolution. Leadership Music class of 1994.
KAY STARR, 94, died Nov. 3.
Pop star of early 1950s (“Wheel of Fortune,” “Rock & Roll Waltz,” “Changing Partners,” etc.) who had hit country duets with Tennessee Ernie Ford in 1950 with “I’ll Never Be Free” and “Ain’t Nobody’s Business But My Own.” Succeeded with Pee Wee King’s “Bonaparte’s Retreat” on pop charts. (real name: Katherine Laverne Starks).
RUDY OSBORNE, 74, died Nov. 3.
Arkansas steel guitarist member of R.O.P.E. Solo CD Classic-N-Steel (2002).
JERRY WAYNE FLOWERS, 68, died Nov. 7.
Music Row exec for 30 years, notably at RCA, Halsey Company, Opryland Music Group. Leadership Music class of 1991.
LEONARD COHEN, 82, died Nov. 7.
Acclaimed, iconic, Americana-music singer-songwriter. Works covered by country artists Johnny Cash (“Bird on a Wire”), Trisha Yearwood (“Coming Back to You”), Jennifer Warnes (“Ain’t No Cure for Love”), Willie Nelson (“Bird on a Wire”), George Hamilton IV (“Sisters of Mercy”), Emmylou Harris (“Ballad of a Runaway Horse”), Flatt & Scruggs (“Tonight Will Be Fine”), Anne Murray (“Song of Bernadette”), Skip Ewing (“I’m Your Man”) etc. Songs also embraced by many Americana and folk artists, including Judy Collins (“Suzanne,” “Dress Rehearsal Rag”), Jeff Buckley (“Hallelujah”), k.d. lang (“Hallelujah”), Darrell Scott (“Joan of Arc”), Lucinda Williams (“Famous Blue Raincoat”), Tim Harden (“Bird on a Wire”), Dave Van Ronk (“Bird on a Wire”), Buffy Sainte-Marie (“Bird on a Wire”), Joan Baez (“Suzanne”), Don Henley (“Everybody Knows”), Noel Harrison (“So Long Marianne,” “Dress Rehearsal Rag”), Linda Ronstadt & Emmylou Harris (“Sisters of Mercy”), Brothers Four (“Hey That’s No Way to Say Goodbye”), Civil Wars (“Dance Me to the End of Love”), Jennifer Warnes (“First We Take Manhattan,” “Famous Blue Raincoat”), James Taylor (“Suzanne”), etc. Cohen lived in Nashville in late 1960s and recorded influential LPs Songs From a Room (1969), Songs of Love and Hate (1971), Live Songs (1973) on Music Row. Rock ’n’ Roll Hall of Fame 2008. Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award 2010. Songwriters Hall of Fame 2010.
LEON RUSSELL, 74, died Nov. 13.
Nashville resident Rock ’n’ Roll Hall of Fame member. Known for pop hits “Tight Rope” (1972), “Lady Blue” (1975), “Back to the Island” (1976). Also had country success with four LPs recorded as “Hank Wilson” & No. 1 duet with Willie Nelson “Heartbreak Hotel” (1979). Writer or co-writer of “Everybody Loves a Clown” (Gary Lewis & Playboys, 1965), “You Don’t Have to Paint Me a Picture” (Gary Lewis & Playboys, 1966), “Delta Lady” (Joe Cocker, 1969), “Hummingbird” (B.B. King, 1970), “Superstar” (Carpenters, 1971, recorded by more than a dozen others), “This Masquerade” (George Benson, 1976, recorded by more than 75 others), “A Song for You” (Ray Charles, 1993, recorded by more than 200 others). Six Gold LPs: Leon Russell & The Shelter People (1971), Carney (1972), Leon Live (1973), Will o’ the Wisp (1975), Best of Leon Russell (1976), One for the Road (with Nelson, 1979). Acclaimed tours with Nelson (1978-79), New Grass Revival (1980-81). Comeback CD The Union with Elton John (2010) produced by T Bone Burnett & nominated for Grammy. Early in career, top L.A. session musician backing Ronettes, Righteous Brothers, Ike & Tina, Crystals, Paul Revere & Raiders, Sinatra, Glen Campbell, Rita Coolidge, Stones, Dylan, Sam Cooke, Monkees, Ventures, Byrds (“Mr. Tambourine Man”), Herb Alpert (“A Taste of Honey”), Beach Boys (“California Girls”), Jan & Dean (“Surf City”), many more. In house band of 1964 rock movie The T.A.M.I. Show and of TV series Shindig. Member Asylum Choir (1968-70). Prominent as band leader for Delaney & Bonnie. Organized Cocker’s Mad Dogs & Englishmen band, tour, album, documentary film (1970). On Grammy winning all-star Concert for Bangladesh (1971). Also Grammy for “Foggy Mountain Breakdown” (2001). Subject of documentary film A Poem Is a Naked Person (2015). Many later-career solo CDs on own labels, including finale Life Journey (2014). Rock ’n’ Roll Hall of Fame 2011. Songwriters Hall of Fame 2011. NATD Honors recipient 2016. Colorful showman dubbed “The Master of Space and Time.” (real name: Claude Russell Bridges).
HOLLY DUNN, 59, died Nov. 14.
Country singer, songwriter, producer. Opry cast member. CMA Horizon Award 1987. ACM New Female 1987. Top-10 hits include “Daddy’s Hands” (1986), “A Face in the Crowd” (1987, with Michael Martin Murphey), “Love Someone Like Me” (1987), “Only When I Love” (1987), “Strangers Again” (1988), “That’s What Your Love Does to Me” (1988), “Someday” (1988), “Are You Ever Gonna Love Me” (1989), “There Goes My Heart Again” (1989), “You Really Had Me Going” (1990). Career ran aground with controversial “Maybe I Mean Yes” (1991). Later country air personality WWWW Detroit and visual artist in Santa Fe. Sister of Nashville songwriter Chris Waters. Leadership Music class of 2000.
GREG MOTYCKA, 53, died Nov. 15.
Nashville studio engineer. Formerly bass player & musical director Young American Showcase.
MENTOR WILLIAMS, 70, died Nov. 16.
Songwriter best known for “Drift Away,” pop hit for Dobie Gray (1973), country hit for Narvel Felts (1973), revived by Uncle Kracker (2003), gospel version by Lynn Anderson (2015). Recorded by more than 40 others, including Michael Bolton, Waylon, Tina Turner, Cher, Kenny Chesney, Neville Brothers, Ray Charles, Orbison, Rod Stewart, Ventures, Humble Pie, Billy Joe Royal. Other co-written hits include “She’s Gonna Win Your Heart” (Eddy Raven, 1984), “When We Make Love” (Alabama, 1984), “One for the Money” (T.G. Sheppard, 1987), “When a Woman Cries” (Janie Fricke, 1986), “A Few Ole Country Boys” (George Jones & Randy Travis, 1990). Songs recorded by Anne Murray, Ed Bruce, Oaks, Hank Jr., Davis Daniel, Razzy Bailey, John Anderson, Jackie DeShannon, Billy Burnette, B.W. Stevenson, Garth, Rita Coolidge, Steppenwolf, Dave Mason, Ringo Starr, Clarence Carter, Tommy Roe, Roger McGuinn, Kim Carnes, more. Produced records for John Stewart, Kim Carnes, Stealers Wheel, Dobie Gray, Tom Jans, Textones, etc. Solo LP Feelings 1974. Longtime companion of Lynn Anderson (1947-2015). Brother of songwriter & ASCAP president Paul Williams.
TED GOODEN, 70, died Nov. 17.
One of the pioneers of the video production business in Nashville.
DON STRINGFELLOW, 86, died Nov. 20.
Worked with Southern-gospel acts Stamps Baxter Quartet, Swanee River Boys.
JOE ESPOSITO, 78, died Nov. 23.
Elvis Presley’s road manager & right-hand man. Member “Memphis Mafia.” After Elvis died, road managed Michael Jackson, Bee Gees, Karen Carpenter, John Denver. Author of six books: Good Rocking Tonight, Elvis Intimate and Rare, Elvis Straight Up, Celebrate Elvis Vol. 1, Celebrate Elvis Vol. 2. Consultant on many Elvis projects, documentaries, TV specials. Regular at Elvis conventions worldwide.
NELLA ODELL POPE, 89, died Nov. 23.
Lead player in nearly 50 professional & amateur musicals/plays in Nashville, Crossville, Murfreesboro, Woodbury, etc.
KENDELL E. CARTER, 53, died Nov. 23.
Lighting director for concert tours of Motley Crue, Ratt, Cinderella, Guns N Roses, Metallica, REO Speedwagon, Stones, Tina Turner, Reba, Rascal Flatts, etc.
FLORENCE HENDERSON, 82, died Nov. 24.
Host of TNN’s Country Kitchen 1985-93. Kentucky-raised singer trained in Nashville and on WSM radio early 1950s. Better known for Broadway musicals South Pacific (1967), Oklahoma! (1953) and Fanny (1954), plus ABC-TV series The Brady Bunch, 1969-74.
LEON JACKSON, 47, died Nov. 24.
Nashville’s leading exponent of electronic dance music (EDM). Ran Ultimo Productions staging raves and dances at various venues, including 328 Performance Hall (site of his weekly “Electric Lounge” events), Nissan Stadium parking lots, nightclub after parties, etc. Ultimo partnered with Insomniac Events & Disco Donnie, two of Southeast’s biggest dance promoters. Formerly promoted punk bands on “rock block” Elliston Place 1980s.
TONY MARTEL, 90, died Nov. 27.
CBS Records exec. Founder of T.J. Martel Foundation for leukemia, cancer & AIDS research. Organization represented in Nashville via Frances Williams Preston Laboratories at Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center.
WENDY ARMISTEAD WELCH, 66, died Nov. 28.
Pianist who became manager & song publisher in Nashville for pop-star husband Bob Welch (1945-2012). Formerly assistant in L.A. for producer Michael Viner & actor Deborah Raffin.
GENE SCOTT, 86, died Nov. 29.
Businessman in Nashville custom tour bus industry with Celebrity Coach. Clients included Stones, Clapton, Kiss, Skynyrd, etc. Song publisher with Kimchelle Music & Kinda Sweet Music. (full name: Willie Eugene Scott).
ROBERT BOSWORTH, 83, died Nov. 30.
Former news anchor at WLAC-TV (now WTVF). Videographer. Drummer for The Silver Notes, Music City Dixieland Band, others. Ex drum major & bugler U.S. Marine Band.
MARK GRAY, 64, died Dec. 2.
Country singer-songwriter. Top-10 hits “Left Side of the Bed” (1984), “If All the Magic Is Gone” (1984), “Diamonds in the Dust” (1984), “Sometimes When We Touch” (with Tammy Wynette, 1985), “Please Be Love” (1985). Albums Magic (1983), This Ole Piano (1984), That Feeling Inside (1986). Formerly in The Revelations, Oak Ridge Boys band, The Downings, Exile. Co-wrote hits for others: “It Ain’t Easy Being Easy” (Janie Fricke, 1982), “Take Me Down” (Alabama, 1982), “The Closer You Get” (Alabama, 1983), “Second Hand Heart” (Gary Morris, 1984), “Nice Girls” (Melissa Manchester, 1983), “Til You and Your Lover Are Lovers Again” (Engelbert Humperdinck, 1983). Songs also recorded by Tanya, George Jones, Razzy Bailey, Temptations, Ray Stevens, Aretha, Lobo, Mac Davis, Shelly West, Rita Coolidge, Helen Cornelius, Steve Winwood, Don King, Four Tops, Dobie Gray.
MICHEL C. HOPPER, 75, died Dec. 2.
Treasurer of Gaylord Corp. in Nashville, 1991-2002.
CAROL CROWELL-BAYER, 73, died Dec. 6.
Former Monument Records employee. Also award winning keyboardist & real estate agent.
WADE BOURNE, 69, died Dec. 15.
Host of TNN-TV series Advantage Outdoors and of syndicated radio shows In-Fisherman and Wired2Fish/Hunt. Author of six books and more than 3,00 articles on hunting and fishing.
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