LifeNotes: Evangelist, Costumer, Record Maker Tony Alamo Dies

Controversial evangelist, Nashville record maker and costumer to the stars Tony Alamo has died at age 82.

Alamo died in a federal prison in Butner, NC on Tuesday, May 2. He was convicted in 2009 of child abuse following revelations that he had sex multiple times with teen and pre-teen girls he considered to be his “wives.”

In the 1970s and 1980s, his “cult” church had a prominent outpost in Nashville at the corner of 17th Ave. S. and Edgehill. The building is now Ocean Way recording studio. While in Nashville, Alamo collaborated on records with such prominent names as Porter Wagoner, The Stamps Quartet and Merle Haggard.

Tony Alamo was born Bernie Lazar Hoffman in Missouri. In the 1960s, he became one of the early “Jesus freak” preachers on the streets of Los Angeles.

He married Susan Lipowitz (a.k.a. Edith Opal Horn), in Las Vegas in 1966. She was nine years his senior. Both were born Jewish, and both changed their last names to “Alamo.”

He founded his first church in Hollywood in 1969. It relocated to Susan’s hometown of Alma, Arkansas in 1976. This is also when Alamo launched his syndicated TV show and established his Nashville outpost.

Alamo preached anti-Catholicism, anti-homosexuality and anti- government. His followers were expected to give him their possessions, renounce their families and work in his clothing sweat shops.

He opened his store Alamo of Nashville at 325 Broadway. Elvis Presley, Dolly Parton, Conway Twitty, Prince and Madonna are said to have worn his trademark sequin-embellished denim jackets. Michael Jackson’s iconic red-leather jacket was also reportedly an Alamo creation. His designs have acquired a retro cache and are still worn by such stars as Miley Cyrus.

While in Nashville, Tony and Susan Alamo lived at the corner of Lealand and Tyne. Producer Tony Brown had the home site “cleansed” when he bought it in 1998.

The flamboyant, spangled, jumpsuit-wearing Tony Alamo fancied himself a singer. As “Marcus Abad” and “Tony Fortunato,” he had minor success with a single called “Little Yankee Girl” in the 1960s. In Nashville, he recorded a number of LPs.

Susan: I Love You So Much It Hurts Me by Tony Alamo with J.D. Sumner & The Stamps Quartet was issued around 1981. Its liner notes touted his wife’s survival from a cancer “death verdict,” and she was listed with “arranged and produced by” credits on most of its tracks.

Tony Alamo was reportedly obsessed with his wife. He issued Love Songs for Sue and You after her death in 1982. The record was produced by Wagoner, and Alamo claimed that its song “Susie” was written for him by Haggard.

Tony Alamo had his followers pray for resurrection over Susan Alamo’s body for months as it lay in a glass-topped coffin in Arkansas.

One of Tony’s subsequent wives claimed that he ordered her to have plastic surgery to make her look like Susan.

Tax-evasion charges dogged him. Alamo’s religious tax-exempt status was revoked in 1988. These events led to the crumbling of his Nashville enterprises. His final undoing with the criminal sex charges came at his Arkansas headquarters.

Dolly Parton Donates $3 Million To Smoky Mountain Wildfire Victims

Dolly Parton has done much to aid the victims of the wildfires that raged through Sevier County, Tenn. in November 2016, including setting up the Smoky Mountains Rise telethon, and, through her My People Fund, providing $1,000 each month to Servier County families whose primary residences were destroyed by the fires.

But she’s not done.

At least $3 million from Parton’s My People Fund will be contributed to the Mountain Tough Recovery Team, which will serve the continuing needs of residents during the critical rebuilding period ahead. This program will begin helping families on June 1.

“We’re still receiving money, so we aren’t finished yet,” Parton said. “Recovery will take some time, so a new organization—called Mountain Tough—has been created to help our people get back on their feet for the next three years. We’re giving at least $3 million to help this new organization begin the next chapter of our journey.”

Mountain Tough assists individuals and families recovering from the wildfires by providing resources for the unmet needs of low-income families and individuals.

“Mountain Tough will help pick up where the My People Fund left off,” added Dollywood Foundation President David Dotson. “They will be staffed with case managers who will work to identify the immediate needs of residents and our funds will be used to address those needs. For example, it may help with transportation so someone can continue to be employed, or it may help with medicine for conditions caused by the fire. The case managers will coordinate with county agencies to ensure needed assistance is not duplicated and achieves its maximum impact.”

The Dollywood Foundation also administered the final distribution from the My People Fund on Thursday (May 4), with recipients noticing an extra surprise when they received the check. Thanks to fundraising efforts, Dollywood Foundation officials were able to provide a $5,000 check to each family.

In total, recipients received $10,000. The fund, which was established by Parton, The Dollywood Company, Parton’s dinner theaters and The Dollywood Foundation, was supported by contributions from across the country, as well as donations made through the Smoky Mountains Rise telethon which took place in early December.

“The My People Fund has been a great success,” said Parton. “I want to thank my team, the Dollywood Foundation, my friends in the music business and the thousands of people from all over the country who opened both their pocketbooks and their hearts to help us.”

Visit for information on how to donate or get involved.

Maggie Rose Talks Dreams And Dollars On New EP Out May 19

Maggie Rose will release her new EP Dreams > Dollars on May 19. Fueled by her personal experiences with love and loss, Rose penned and co-produced the five-song EP, which includes songs co-written with producer Jimmy Robbins, Nicolle Clawson (Galyon), Jason Saenz and more. The first single from the project, “Body On Fire” debuted via Spotify’s New Music Friday today and is available for pre-order.

“This project was simply the most natural, relevant next step for me. I’m so inspired by what I am most passionate about: the music I made and the people I love,” says Rose. “I’ve never been more comfortable in my own skin than I am now, and I think this EP showcases that.”

Rose will hit the road with Hunter Hayes this Spring and will cap her Summer as support on Tim McGraw & Faith Hill’s Soul2Soul tour. She’ll perform in Nashville during CMA Music Fest week on the Chevrolet Park Stage at Walk of Fame Park.

Dreams > Dollars Track List:
1. Too Many Love Songs (Nicolle Clawson/Jimmy Robbins/Maggie Rose)
2. Body On Fire (Maggie Rose/Chad Carolson)
3. More Dreams Than Dollars (Nicolle Clawson/Jimmy Robbins/Maggie Rose)
4. I Won’t (Larry Florman/Alex Haddad/Maggie Rose)
5. We’ll Grow Out of It (Alex Kline/Maggie Rose/Jason Saenz)

Dierks Bentley, Keith Urban Get RIAA Heavy Metal

Keith Urban and Dierks Bentley are among the artists earning sales honors for April 2o17.

As previously announced, Urban’s Ripcord album, released in 2016, has gone platinum. In April, he saw platinum album certifications for three additional albums, as well as a gold certification for Ripcord.

Meanwhile, Bentley saw two singles certifications from his latest album Black. “Different For Girls,” featuring Elle King, earned platinum sales, while Black‘s title track went gold.

Brett Eldredge, Brett Young, and Luke Combs also saw sales certifications for the month of April 2017.

Platinum Single:

Dierks Bentley, “Different For Girls,” Capitol Nashville

Gold Singles:

Brett Eldredge, “Wanna Be That Song,” Atlantic Records

Brett Young, “In Case You Didn’t Know,” Big Machine Records

Dierks Bentley, “Black,” Capitol Records Nashville

Luke Combs, “Hurricane,” Columbia Nashville/River House Artists

Platinum Albums:

Keith Urban, Ripcord, Capitol Nashville

Keith Urban, Fuse, Capitol Nashville

Keith Urban, Greatest Hits-18 Kids, Capitol Nashville

Keith Urban, Get Closer, Capitol Nashville

Gold Album: 

Keith Urban, Ripcord, Capitol Nashville

In Pictures: Thistle Farms Celebrates 20th Anniversary

Pictured (L-R): Hal Cato, CEO, Thistle Farms; Amanda Shires; Shemekia Copeland; Becca Stevens, Founder, Thistle Farms; Reba McEntire; John Prine and Jason Isbell. Photo: Rick Diamond

Pictured (L-R): Reba McEntire and John Prine. Photo: Rick Diamond

Pictured (L-R): Amanda Shires and Jason Isbell. Photo: Rick Diamond

Reba McEntire, Jason Isbell, Amanda Shires, Shemekia Copeland and special guest John Prine descended on the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville Wednesday night (May 3) for a fundraising event, Love Letters At The Ryman, to commemorate the 20th anniversary of Thistle Farms. The evening featured rousing collaborations between the all-star lineup, punctuated by the inspirational testimonials of the women of Thistle Farms, survivors of addiction, prostitution and trafficking.

The event also saw Founder & President Becca Stevens and CEO Hal Cato share their belief that “Love Heals” and their personal experiences that led them to the achievements of Thistle Farms today. Reba brought the evening to a close, embracing the community warmth of the organization and inviting all of the previous performers from the night to the stage for a crowd singalong of “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot.”

Photo: Rick Diamond

The City of Nashville also honored the occasion by lighting up major landmarks across town in purple, as a nod to Thistle Farms’ signature color. Ascend Amphitheater, Bridgestone Arena, Gateway Bridge, Hotel Indigo, Nashville Courthouse, Omni Hotel and The Parthenon all joined in on the festivities.

Pictured (L-R): Carolyn Snell, Associate Manager to Reba McEntire; Rita Childs; Hal Cato; Angel, Rachel; Becca Stevens; Reba McEntire; Regina Mullins and Sheila McClain. Photo: Rick Diamond

Thistle Farms’ mission is to heal, empower and employ women survivors of trafficking, prostitution, and addiction. This is done by providing safe and supportive housing, the opportunity for economic independence, and a strong community of advocates and partners. Founded by “2016 CNN Hero” Becca Stevens in 1997 under the name Magdalene, it now employs 50 local survivors and supports over 1,500 women through global partners and a national network of sister organizations.

For more information on Thistle Farms, visit

Artist Updates: Bristol Rhythm & Roots, Isom Innis, Jimmy Wayne

Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion Festival Announces Lineup

The lineup for the 17th annual Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion music festival, slated for Sept. 15—17, 2017, was announced at a media event last night (May 4) at the Birthplace of Country Music Museum in Historic Downtown Bristol.

Dwight Yoakam, Judah & The Lion, Rodney Crowell, The SteelDrivers, Amanda Shires, Son Volt, and more will perform at the festival, which hosts an estimated 40,000 attendees across 20 outdoor stages and indoor venues with more than 120 acts of live music over the course of the three-day weekend. The entire 2017 Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion artist lineup, as well as weekend wristbands, are available at


Restless Heart’s Dave Innis Performs With Son Isom At His Wedding

Pictured (L-R): Sean Cimino (FTP), Marshall Young Sr., Marshall Young Jr., Isom Innis (FTP), Mark Foster (FTP), Dave Innis (Restless Heart), Mark Pontius (FTP). Photo: Kim DeVilbiss

Restless Heart member Dave Innis performed at his son Isom‘s wedding last weekend in Fort Worth, Texas. Innis’ son, a member of the Platinum-selling pop band, Foster The People, married actress Carlson Young, best known for her role on the MTV series, Scream. Innis surprised his son and new daughter-in-law with a song, accompanying Carlson’s friend Whitney Davis as she serenaded the couple with the classic Etta James tune, “At Last.” He also joined his son and his bandmates onstage to perform several tunes.

The evening ended with both father of the bride, Texas oilman Marshall Young Sr., and father of the groom, Innis, sharing the stage with Foster the People and Los Angeles-based Beatles tribute band Abbey Road to perform “Hey Jude.”


Jimmy Wayne Hosts UJA Publishing Dinner

Pictured (L-R): Jimmy Wayne with Dennis Abboud, Chairman of the Board, President & CEO of Readerlink

Jimmy Wayne recently hosted the UJA – Federation of New York’s Publishing Division Dinner at the Grand Hyatt in New York, at the request of this year’s honoree, Dennis Abboud. More than 500 attended the prestigious event, including Ellie Berger, President, Trade Publishing, Scholastic Inc.

“Dennis and I met during the release of my second book, Walk To Beautiful, a title he helped get into 7,000 grocery stores, in partnership with Coca-Cola,” said Wayne. “He is a hard worker, humble and someone I have great respect for. It was an honor to be here tonight to show my support of this leader and the great work UJA – Federation of New York has done for 100 years.”

Country Radio Seminar Appoints 12 New Agenda Committee Members

The Country Radio Seminar has selected 12 new industry members to join its 2017-2018 Seminar Agenda Committee. The Agenda Committee members lead the discussion in planning the agenda for CRS 2018, set for February 5-7 at Nashville’s Omni Hotel. Heading up this year’s Agenda Committee is Greg Frey (Cumulus) serving as Chairman, alongside Co-Chairmen Judy Lakin (Cox) and Jay Cruze (iHeartMedia).

The new Agenda Committee members include Josh Bennett (Nielsen Music), EJ Bernas (Social Pulse Media), Bill Macky (Black River Entertainment), Brent Michaels (KUZZ/KRJK/Buck Owens Prod.), Lou Ramirez (Warner Music Nashville), Larry Rosin (Edison Research), Toby Tucker (Neuhoff Media), Monta Vaden (All Access), Lisa Wall (WLHK/Emmis), Robin Ward (KFRG), Erich West (iHeartMedia/WDRM), and Sue Wilson (Rubber City Radio Group/WQMX).

Returning Agenda Committee members are: Lee Adams (Broken Bow Records), Sam Alex (Townsquare Media), Andrew Curran (DMR/Interactive), Tim Gerst (Thinkswell), Carolyn Gilbert (NuVoodoo Media), Jeff James (Signet Interactive), Bruce Logan (CBS Radio), Billy McKim (Texas A&M University), Eric Michaels (WTHI-Midwest Communications), Terry Phillips (CBS/WYCD), J.R. Schumann (SiriusXM), Jenny Shields (Premiere Radio Networks), and Brook Stephens (Leighton Broadcasting).

Weekly Chart Report (5/5/17)

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Ricky Skaggs, Johnny Cash To Be Featured In CMHoF Sessions

Ricky Skaggs

Ricky Skaggs and Johnny Cash will be spotlighted in upcoming events at Nashville’s Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. Skaggs will be the subject of a museum program on Saturday, May 13 at 2 p.m. CT, highlighting his 50+ years in entertainment.

The 75-minute event will be hosted by the museum’s Peter Cooper. Skaggs will talk with Cooper about his remarkable life in music and perform briefly. It will be illustrated with vintage photos, film footage, and recordings. Following the event, Skaggs will sign copies of his autobiography Kentucky Traveler: My Life in Music and the album Honoring the Fathers of Bluegrass – Tribute to 1946 and 1947, available for purchase in the Museum Store.

On Saturday, May 27, the CMHoF will host an afternoon with Cindy, Kathy, Rosanne and Tara Cash, daughters of Johnny Cash, for Becoming Our Father: Johnny Cash’s Daughters In Conversation. The program will take place at 2 p.m. in the CMA Theater.

In this in-depth interview—also hosted by Cooper—the daughters will share their stories, remembrances, and perspectives on Johnny Cash, while discussing and sharing photographs never seen outside the family.

Family scrapbooks on exhibit at the CMHoF offer a personal look at the world, through the camera lens and the words of young J.R. Cash. In the early 1950s, the man who would become Johnny Cash joined the U. S. Air Force and left rural Arkansas, sailed across the Atlantic to Florence, Italy, and then traveled by plane to a military base in Germany. While stationed in Europe, he photographed people and places, and made meticulous notes about his discoveries and adventures. His photographs and notes are contained in two personal scrapbooks, kept by daughters Cindy, Kathy, Rosanne, and Tara Cash and reproduced in the museum display I’ve Been Everywhere: Becoming Johnny Cash.

Both programs will also be streamed live at

MusicRowPics: The Railers Catch A New Groove With “11:59 (Central Standard Time)”

The Railers. Photo: Haley Crow

It’s rare to hear a concertina in modern country music, but new Atlantic/WMN trio The Railers incorporates a variety of such instrumentation into their engaging stage show.

“This was the very first instrument I got,” said The Railers member Cassandra Lawson of her heavily used instrument. “It’s more gaffe tape than squeezebox. It’s kind of like Willie’s guitar, you just want it to keep going.”

The trio of singer-songwriters includes brothers Jordan and Jonathan Lawson, and Jonathan’s wife Cassandra. The brothers met Cassandra in college, and they discovered they all had similar musical ambitions. After moving to Nashville, Jordan became a sideman playing with Josh Turner, while Jonathan got a similar gig playing with Sara Evans. In 2010, the trio quit their full-time jobs to wholeheartedly pursue their own aspirations of becoming recording artists. In 2012, they signed with Warner Music Nashville.

In 2014, they released the EP The Railers: The Geraldine Session, as well as the single “Kinda Dig The Feeling,” which was featured on the television series Nashville.

Now they are back with the groovy, infectious new single “11:59 (Central Standard Time),” and have been on the road for the past two months performing the track for radio station programmers around the country.

The track’s feel-good, breezy melody further elevates party-ready lyrics that include Spin the records round, if we blow the speakers out/We’ll just rock this mother a cappella.

“We looked for a long time to find something that felt infectious and catchy and felt like us,” said Jonathan.

The Railers with MusicRow staff.

During a recent visit to the MusicRow office, The Railers offered acoustic renditions of tracks including “11:59 (Central Standard Time)”, along with “These Hands,” “Just Friends,” which Jonathan says is “about when you are in that stage of the relationship where you are just friends with somebody, but you are both kind of hoping it becomes something more.”

See the trio’s retro-themed video for “11:59 (CST)” below: