By Robert K. Oermann
As the year closes, we mourn the passing of some of our greatest musical contributors.
The Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame has lost Freddie Hart, Kenny O’Dell and Jerry Chestnut. Gospel Music Hall of Fame members John T. Benson, Ron Huff and Polly and Miggie Lewis of the Lewis Family have left us. The Lewis clan also belongs to the Bluegrass Hall of Fame, as does the late Curly Seckler.
The Country DJ Hall of Fame said farewell to Hairl Hensley and Tom Perryman. The Country Music Hall of Fame bid adieu to Roy Clark. Rock ’n’ Roll Hall of Famers Ed King and D.J. Fontana are gone. Esteemed Nashville business figures Roy Wunsch, Dick Frank, Jim Malloy, Glenn Snoddy and Rick Hall passed away, as did such Music City recording artists as Lari White, Randy Scruggs, Daryle Singletary and Tony Joe White.
The passings of Chesnut and Hall remind us that among our greatest losses are the unique characters who once populated the Nashville scene. Hazel Smith, Ronnie Prophet and Roberto Bianco are three more of these.
Yet while we mourn, we rejoice in the music and memories the following folks have left behind.
MIKE LEECH, 76, died Dec. 11, 2017.
Musicians Hall of Fame member. Top session player in both Memphis and Nashville. Played bass, harmonica, guitar and was string arranger. Heard on albums by more than 200 artists. Among iconic hits he played on Willie Nelson’s “Always On My Mind,” Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline,” Elvis Presley’s “Suspicious Minds,” Dobie Gray’s “Drift Away.”
In “The Memphis Boys,” 1967-72, performed on 122 top-10 hit pop records. Backed B.J. Thomas, Dionne Warwick, Box Tops, Dusty Springfield, etc. To Nashville 1972 as “A-Team” session musician for Haggard, Loretta, Cash, Kenny Rogers, Kristofferson, Pride, Jerry Reed, Bobby Bare, Conway, Strait, Waylon, Ferlin, Statlers, etc. Other credits Clapton, Orbison, Delbert McClinton, Jerry Lee, Tom Jones, Dr. Hook, John Prine, Al Kooper, Joe Tex, etc.
THAYER WASHER, 88, died Dec. 12, 2017.
Guitarist and longtime lead singer for bluegrass band Connie & Babe & The Backwoods Boys. Recorded for Starday, Republic, Rounder. Later in Music City Bluegrass.
FLETCHER BRIGHT, 86, died Dec. 25, 2017.
Fiddler for 72 years in bluegrass recording act The Dismembered Tennesseans. Sponsored 3 Sisters Bluegrass Festival in Chattanooga for 11 years. Distinguished Achievement Award from IBMA 2017.
MIGGIE LEWIS, 91, died Dec. 26, 2017.
One of the three sisters who fronted The Lewis Family, “America’s First Family of Bluegrass Gospel.” Starred on Georgia TV for decades, 1954-92. Recorded nearly 60 albums, performed at Lincoln Center, Grand Ole Opry, Fan Fair, Smithsonian, etc. Recorded for Sullivan, Starday, Canaan, Daywind, Riversong, Group’s songs include “Slippers With Wings,” “They’re Holding Up the Ladder,” “Good Time Get Together,” “So Fine,” “Just One Rose Will Do,” “My Cross,” “Hallelujah Turnpike,” “Walkin’ and Talkin,’” “So Many Years So Many Blessings.” Family retired 2009. Bluegrass Hall of Fame 2006. Georgia Music Hall of Fame 1992. Eleven Dove Awards. Daughter of Roy “Pop” Lewis (1905-2004). Sister of Wallace Lewis (1928-2007), Talmadge, Janis, Little Roy. See also: Polly Lewis, died 8/19/18, below.
CURLY SECKLER, 98, died Dec. 27, 2017.
Bluegrass Hall of Fame member. Best known for long tenure as mandolinist and tenor singer in Flatt & Scruggs and The Foggy Mountain Boys, 1949-1962. Sang and/or played on group’s bluegrass standards “Roll In My Sweet Baby’s Arms,” “Salty Dog Blues,” “I’ll Go Stepping Too” and Grammy winning “Foggy Mountain Breakdown.” Wrote or co-wrote band’s “No Mother or Dad,” “I’ll Never Shed Another Tear,” etc. Also served in bands of Mac Wiseman, Stanley Brothers, Charlie Monroe, Jim & Jesse, Sauceman Brothers, Nashville Grass. Mentor to Marty Stuart. Solo albums in 1971, 1980, 1995, 2005, 2007.
HANK JANNEY, 78, died Dec. 29, 2017.
Gettysburg, PA DJ on WGTY who emceed Gettysburg Bluegrass Festival and hosted jam sessions for years at his Arrow Horse music store.
HAIRL HENSLEY, 81, died Dec. 31, 2017.
Country DJ Hall of Fame member. Grand Ole Opry announcer for 35 years, 1972-2007. Formerly at WNOX Knoxville with Tennessee Barn Dance, voice-over announcer on Porter Wagoner’s TV series, overnight DJ on WKDA, at WMAK and program director at WLAC. CMA’s Country DJ of the Year 1975. Became WSM program director in early ‘80s.
Daily WSM shows included “The Early Bird Gets the Bluegrass” and “Orange Possum Special.” In later years, hosted a daily show on Sirius. Inducted into Tennessee Radio Hall of Fame 2014. Known as “the dean of Opry announcers.”
RICK HALL, 85, died Jan. 2.
Alabama Music Hall of Fame inaugural inductee 1985. As record producer, studio owner, engineer, music publisher, songwriter and/or deal maker, worked with dozens of soul, pop, country superstars. Built FAME as first studio in Muscle Shoals, inaugurating it as music center. First hit produced was Arthur Alexander “You Better Move On” 1959. Then as producer or engineer Jimmy Hughes’ “Steal Away” (1964), Tommy Roe’s “Everybody” (1963), Tams’ “What Kind of Fool (Do You Think I Am)” (1964), Aretha Franklin’s “I Never Loved a Man” (1967) and “Do Right Woman” (1967), James & Bobby Purify’s “I’m Your Puppet” (1966), Joe Tex’s “Hold What You’ve Got” (1965), Clarence Carter’s “Slip Away” (1968) and “Patches” (1970), Etta James’ “Tell Mama” (1967) and Wilson Pickett’s “Mustang Sally” (1966), “Funky Broadway” (1967) and “Land of 1,000 Dances” (1966). Molded a generation of session musicians: Jerry Carrigan, David Hawkins, Barry Beckett, Dan Penn, David Briggs, Norbert Putnam, David Hood, Spooner Oldham, Terry Thompson, Jimmy Johnson, Chips Moman. In 1970s, produced Osmonds’ “One Bad Apple” (1971), “Yo-Yo” (1971), “Down By the Lazy River” (1972), “Sweet and Innocent” (Donnny O, 1972, co-written by Hall). Named Producer of Year by Billboard 1971. Further hits for Bobbie Gentry (“Fancy,” 1970), Paul Anka (“You’re Having My Baby,” 1974), Candi Staton (“Stand By Your Man,” 1970), Mac Davis (“Baby Don’t Get Hooked on Me” 1972, “Stop and Smell the Roses” 1974, “Texas In My Rear View Mirror” 1980, “Hooked on Music” 1981). Also at FAME: Andy Williams, Liza Minnelli, Lou Rawls, Tom Jones, T.G. Sheppard, Larry Gatlin, Jerry Reed, Vern Gosdin, Gregg Allman, Third Day, etc. Discovered Shenandoah and produced hits “Church On the Cumberland Road” (1990), “Mama Knows” (1990), “Ghost in This House” (1991), etc. By 1999, he’d produced 24 top-10 country hits, 26 top-10 pop hits and 33 top-10 r&b hits. His songs recorded by George Jones, Brenda Lee, Roy Orbison, Amazing Rhythm Aces, Otis Redding, Booker T & MGs, Huey Lewis, Little Richard, Sam & Dave, etc. Songs from Hall’s publishing company include “There’s No Getting Over Me,” “I Swear,” “I Like It, I Love It,” “Holding Her and Loving You,” “”She’s Got a Single Thing In Mind,” “I Sure Can Smell the Rain,” “Leave Him Out of This,” “Crime of Passion.” Hall featured in 2013 documentary Muscle Shoals. Trustees Award from Recording Academy 2014. Autobiography 2015: The Man From Muscle Shoals: My Journey From Shame to Fame.
DAVID SEBRING, 66, died Jan. 4.
Gifted Nashville guitarist and multi-instrumentalist featured in The Nashville Jug Band, The Bluegrass Band, The Nashville Mandolin Ensemble, The Gypsy Hombres. Salesman for two+ decades at Gruhn’s Guitars.
ROB FORTNEY, 48, died Jan. 6.
Murfreesboro entrepreneur who founded nightclub, restaurant and music ventures Bluesboro, Inferno Bar, Revolver, 3 Brothers Deli, Blue Rooster and Social. Concert promoter. Publicist. Early financial supporter of alternative monthly Murfreesboro Pulse.
DENISE LaSALLE, 83, died Jan. 8.
R&B singer-songwriter. Hits include “Trapped By a Thing Called Love” (1971), “Now Run and Tell That” (1972), “Man Sized Job” (1972), “Love Me Right” (1977), all of which she wrote. Also wrote her 1976 hit “Married But Not to Each Other,” which became even bigger hit on 1977 country charts for Barbara Mandrell. Based in Jackson, TN. Formerly popular as club act on Jefferson Street in Nashville.
JIMMY HILLS, 87, died Jan. 9.
Gospel singer-songwriter, best known for “What a Day That Will Be.” Sang with Golden Keys Quartet, Stamps, Statesmen. Appeared on Gaither’s “Homecoming” DVDs.
THOM STOREY, 62, died Jan. 10.
Chair of the Media Studies Department at Belmont University.
TOM PERRYMAN, 90, died Jan. 11.
Country Disc Jockey Hall of Fame 1988. Longtime confederate of Jim Reeves (1923-1964). Began career 1947 at KEBE Jacksonville, TX, then KSIJ Gladeville, TX. Promoted shows by Louisiana Hayride acts Reeves, Johnny Horton, Elvis, Hank Williams, Kitty Wells, Slim Whitman, Faron Young, Browns, etc. Came to Nashville & WSM 1956 as Opry announcer and host of “Opry Star Spotlight.” Hired Ralph Emery to replace him when he returned to East Texas 1959. Bought KGRI Hendersonville, TX with Reeves & continued with station after star died 1964. Promoted shows by Ray Price, Willie, Loretta, Cash, Lefty, Patsy, Jones, etc. Returned to Nashville 1969 to buy WMTS Murfreesboro with widow Mary Reeves Davis. Sold station 1978. Also helped her with Jim Reeves Enterprises & Jim Reeves Museum, opened 1981. Nashville booking agency with Jimmy C. Newman. Returned again to East Texas as DJ on KKUS Tyler, TX 2001-2016. Texas Association of Broadcasters Pioneer of Year Award 2013. Tom Perryman Day in Tyler 2015. Biography: Keepin’ It Country 2009.
EDDIE MASCOLO, 76, died Jan. 12.
Music Row record-promo exec. Leadership Music class 1991. Avid participant in annual CRS. Began music career as independent pop promoter 1968-69. Hired by Decca. In 1970-75, Southeast regional promo director for PolyGram. RCA promo manager for Southeast & Southwest 1975. Key figure in label’s pop-crossover successes of Dolly (1980), Waylon (1980), Milsap (1981), Alabama (1981), Sylvia (1982), Deborah Allen (1983), Kenny Rogers (1983). Made history 1984 as first Nashvillian appointed as director of national pop promo, working with RCA’s Hall & Oates, Diana Ross, Eurythmics, Pointer Sisters, Rick Springfield. Then made Senior V.P. of Product Development at RCA. In 1988, Mercury Senior V.P. of Country Promo. In 1994, V.P. & G.M. at River North with Peter Cetera, Holly Dunn, Rob Crosby, Steve Azar on roster. Starstruck V.P. of promo 1999 for Reba. Senior V.P. of promo McCluskey & Associates, working with Vince Gill, Collin Raye, BlackHawk etc. At Turner & Nichols and Trey Turner Management instrumental in breakthrough of Easton Corbin and in on-going stardom of Rascal Flatts.
HAROLD GOAD, 78, died Jan. 14.
Longtime instrumentalist and baritone vocalist of The Village Singers, who recorded for Pinecastle Records and were nominated for a Dove Award.
LISA McKAY, 54, died Jan. 14.
Country p.d. at WRVQ Richmond, VA & WQDR Raleigh, NC. V.P. of Curtis Media Group. ACM 2013 Air Personality of Year, Large Market. Also honors from CMA, American Music Awards.
EDWIN HAWKINS, 74, died Jan. 15.
Four-time Grammy Award winning gospel star. Best known for 1969 pop-crossover hit “Oh Happy Day” featuring Edwin Hawkins Singers lead vocalist Dorothy Combs Morrison. Also backed Melanie on 1970 pop hit “Lay Down (Candles in the Rain).”
JOHN TROUT, 77, died Jan. 16.
Bluegrass disc jockey on WYEP-FM in Pittsburgh, PA.
DAVE HALL, 76, died Jan. 19.
Executive Advisor at HoriPro, working on royalty, creative, day-to-day issues. Formerly a bass player who began touring with numerous big country stars in 1965.
LARI WHITE, 52, died Jan. 23.
Torrid-voiced country hit maker of the 1990s with “That’s My Baby” (1994), “Now I Know” (1994), “That’s How You Know (When You’re In Love)” (1995), “Ready, Willing and Able” (1996), “Helping Me Get Over You” (duet with Travis Tritt, 1997), “Stepping Stone” (1998). Also stage & screen actor, songwriter, record producer, label owner. Songs recorded by Tammy Wynette, Rebecca Holden, Patti Page, Danny Gokey, Sarah Buxton, Pat Green, etc. Won TNN TV talent contest You Can Be a Star 1988. Acted in Nashville plays & musicals, briefly sang with Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra and was Rodney Crowell backup singer before signing with RCA 1993 and winning nomination as ACM Top New Female Vocalist. Her 1993 “What a Woman Wants” first country video filmed in Rome, Italy. Gold Record for 1994 CD Wishes. Other albums = Don’t Fence Me In (1996), Best Of (1997), Stepping Stone (1998), Green Eyed Soul (2004), My First Affair (2007), Old Friends New Loves (2016). Sang title tune of Grammy winning Amazing Grace CD. Performed on NFL Country album. Her “Power in the Blood” on soundtrack of 1997 Robert Duvall movie The Apostle. Acted in 1994 CBS-TV movie XXX’s And OOO’s, 2000 Tom Hanks movie Cast Away, 2004 Kate Jackson movie No Regrets, 2006 Cash-themed Broadway musical Ring of Fire. Own labels Nashville Underground & Skinny Whitegirl. Co-produced 2004 Billy Dean hit “Let Them Be Little,” 2006 Toby Keith album White Trash With Money (and its hits “Get Drunk and Be Somebody” & “A Little Too Late”), 2004 “Mockingbird” duet Toby & Krystal Keith, 2006 sides for Mac Davis. Leadership Music class 1998. Wife of singer-songwriter Chuck Cannon.
JAMES RANDOLPH, 82, died Jan. 24.
Guitarist/singer with The Bluegrass Tarheels. Four LPs in the 1970s.
KENNY BAKER, 47, died Jan. 25.
Nashville social worker and singer-songwriter who recorded two albums produced by his father-in-law, hit songwriter Bob Morrison.
BERT LABOUR, 59, died Jan. 26.
Emmy Award winning costume and set designer for Riders in the Sky, the Tennessee Repertory Theater and several regional opera companies. Wife of Fred “Too Slim” LaBour of Riders in the Sky. (full name: Roberta Lynn Samet LaBour).
DONALD SOWARDS, 87, died Jan. 26.
West Virginia bluegrass mandolinist, tenor singer, bandleader, songwriter with stints in Bill Monroe Blue Grass Boys, Bobby Cook & His Texas Saddle Pals, Billy Duncan & Harmony Mountain Boys. Own band Laurel Mountain Boys recorded for Lemco, Old Homestead, Leather, featuring his original songs.
RALPH KING, 81, died Feb. 1.
Bluegrass multi-instrumentalist who recorded for labels REM, Pine Tree, King Bluegrass, Old Homestead, Programmed Audio, Jewell in such groups as Silver Hill Boys, Traveling Crusaders, Kentucky Gentlemen, Hardtimes, Plumbline.
GEORGE McCORMICK, 84, died Feb. 5.
Durable country sideman as guitarist, bass player, harmony singer. Began career in Martha Carson band on Opry 1951. Remained an Opry accompanist for 47 years, backing Louvin Brothers (1956), Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper (1959-63), Grandpa Jones (1963-96). Member of Wagonmasters, backing Porter & Dolly on TV, in concerts, at Opry (1963-73). Wrote Wagoner hit “Big Wind.” Also backed Doyle Lawson, Jim Reeves, others. Recorded solo for MGM, Mercury. Retired from Opry 1998.
STU BASORE, 70, died Feb. 5.
Steel guitarist and dobro player. Performed with Tex Ritter, Kitty Wells & Johnny Wright, George Hamilton IV, Connie Smith, Marie Osmond, Porter Wagoner, Louis Armstrong, etc. Session musician who played on Dolly’s “I Will Always Love You,” “Jolene” and more, plus on movie soundtracks W.W. & The Dixie Dance Kings, Nashville!, C.W. Coop, For the Birds. Longtime band member on The Waking Crew legendary local TV show. R.O.P.E. Lifetime Achievement Award 2005.
MICHAEL WAYNE JONES, 65, died Feb. 8.
Steel guitarist in Barbara Mandrell’s Do-Rites Band for 20+ years. Known as “Cookie Monster.” Also performed with Louvin Brothers, Wyatt Webb, Connie Smith, Mandy Barnett. Former president of Nashville Steel Guitar Association.
JEFFREY LEE DALTON, 58, died Feb. 12.
Kentucky mandolin player and luthier. Played with Carl Story, Kentuckians, Bluegrass Meditations, Daltons.
DARYLE SINGLETARY, 46, died Feb. 12.
Acclaimed traditional-country vocal stylist. Biggest hits “I Let Her Lie” (1995), “Too Much Fun” (1996), “Amen Kind of Love” (1996), “The Note” (1997). Championed by Randy Travis, who co-produced his debut CD. Vocal collaborations with George Jones, Merle Haggard, Johnny Paycheck, Ricky Skaggs, Dwight Yoakam, John Anderson, others. Albums: Daryle Singletary (1995), All Because of You (1996), Ain’t It the Truth (1998), Now and Again (2000), That’s Why I Sing This Way (2002), Straight From the Heart (2005), Rockin’ In the Country (2009), There’s Still a Little Country Left (2015), American Grandstand (duet CD with Rhonda Vincent, 2017). Recorded for Evergreen, Giant, Audium, Koch, Shanachie, Upper Management.
RON WEED, 85, died Feb. 12.
TV producer who launched ACM Awards as nationally syndicated annual TV special 1974 then teamed with Dick Clark (1929-2012) to turn it into a network event 1979. Partner with brother Gene Weed (1935-1999) in The Film Factory. In addition to ACMs they produced FarmAid, Jerry Lewis Telethon, Golden Globes, music videos for Glen Campbell, Kenny Rogers, etc.
JAKE LANDERS, 79, died Feb. 13.
Bluegrass songwriter. Notable tunes “Walk Softly On My Heart” (Bill Monroe, Kentucky HeadHunters), “Down By the Waterfall” (Country Gentlemen), “This Is the Girl I Love” (Chestnut Grove Quartet, Highstrung). Also guitarist/singer in Dixie Gentlemen (United Artists, Tune, Old Homestead, Rutabaga Records)
JOHNNY MOSBY, 88, died Feb. 19.
Hit West Coast country recording artist on Columbia, Capitol, Starday. With wife Jonie Mosby, known as “Mr. & Mrs. Country Music.” Hits included “Don’t Call Me From a Honky Tonk” (1963), “Trouble in My Arms”/”Who’s Been Cheatin’ Who” (1963), “Keep Those Cards and Letters Coming In” (1964), “How the Other Half Lives” (1964), “Make a Left and Then a Right” (1967), “Just Hold My Hand” (1969), “Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me” (1969), “I’ll Never Be Free” (1969), “I’m Leavin’ It Up To You” (1970). They divorced 1973. ACM Award Top Vocal Group 1968. Founding board member ACM. Served six years.
WES RINEER, 79, died Feb. 20.
Bluegrass upright bass player in Ted Lundy, Bob Paisley & The Southern Mountain Boys 1970-75 & on its first three LPs.
BILLY GRAHAM, 99, died Feb. 21.
“America’s Pastor.” World’s most famous Christian evangelist. Subject of a 2006-2016 life-sized statue in downtown Nashville. His Crusades featured Johnny Cash, Randy Travis, Steven Curtis Chapman, Ricky Skaggs, Ethel Waters, George Beverly Shea and many other country and gospel stars.
JUDY JOHNSTON MERRELL, 69, died Feb. 26.
Professional model for Castner-Knott department stores, King Furs and various products on television, billboards, magazines, newspapers. Former Miss Nashville and Miss Davidson County.
JUNE DENNY, 82, died Feb. 27.
Former Nashville big-band singer. Also vocalist with Stewart Air Force Base band. Wife of CMA lifetime board member Bill Denny. Mother of song publisher Kurt Denny.
BOB HIGGINS, 67, died Feb. 28.
Veteran Nashville location scout, manager, production coordinator for videos, films, photography, commercials, television.
JAMES “NICK” NIXON, 76, died Feb. 28.
Durable Nashville r&b icon for more than 50 years. Singer, guitarist, educator, producer, songwriter. Led bands King James & The Sceptres, NTS Limited 1960s, then joined King Casuals, The Imperials 7, New Imperials. Signed as singer-songwriter to Chess Records 1974 with group Past, Present & Future. Produced Fairfield Four Dig a Little Deeper LP 1979. Two solo gospel CDs for Ted Jarrett’s T-Jaye Records — Me Myself & Lord (1997), Stand Up (1999). Returned to r&b via CDs No End To the Blues (2001), Back Down South (2005) and James Nixon Live in Europe (2010). Appeared in 2010 film Redemption Road. Joined Andy T Band 2011, signed to Blind Pig Records for CDs Drink, Drank, Drunk (2013), Livin’ It Up (2014), Numbers Man (2015). Taught music for 35 years in Nashville’s Parks & Recreation Department. Co-founder of Nashville Blues Society 2010. Board member Blues Foundation.
FELIPE DE LA ROSA, 81, Feb. 28.
Owner of Checo Records, Nashville label home of bi-lingual country singer Cerrito. Formerly flamenco dancer/choreographer in Vegas & on network variety TV. Solo album: Flamenco Fever 1978.
SID HUDSON, 62, died Feb. 28.
Country electric guitarist and steel guitarist. Perhaps best known as member of Jim Vest & The Nashville Cats, house band in Bullpen Lounge at Stockyard Restaurant in 1980s. Also with Sammi Smith, Barbara Mandrell, Lickety Split, String Dusters, Donna Meade, others. Solo instrumental LP Savvy. (full name: James Sidney Hudson).
BRANDON JENKINS, 48, died March 2.
Prolific Red Dirt country singer-songwriter with 16 albums, 1996-2108. Labels Thirty Tigers, Rainy, Red Dirt Legend, Explosive, Red River, E1, Smith Entertainment.
RONNIE PROPHET, 80, died March 2.
Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame member. Ebullient singer, flashy guitarist, comic, TV star, witty emcee, songwriter, impressionist, all-around entertainer noted for live-wire stage presence. Remembered in Nashville as house act in Printer’s Alley showplace The Carousel in 1970s. Recording artist for RCA on Music Row. Popular guest on Ralph Emery’s Nashville Now on TNN and regular in casinos of Vegas opening for Danny Thomas, Perry Como, Frankie Valli. Resort entertainer in Florida, Bahamas, etc. In Canada launched Ronnie Prophet Show on CBC-TV (1973-81). Moved to Canada’s CTV network for stints as star of Grand Old Country (1975-80) and Rocky Mountain Inn series. Other Canadian TV starring gigs included Country Roads (1973) and Ronnie & The Browns (1990-91). Charted country singles in U.S. were “Sanctuary” (1975), “Shine On” (1976), “It’s Enough” (1976), “Big Big World” (1976), “It Ain’t Easy Lovin’ Me” (1977). In England, starred in Ronnie Prophet Entertains on BBC-TV (1975). Won Juno awards as Country Male Vocalist of the Year in 1977, 1978. CCMA Entertainer of Year 1984. Sang duets with Glory-Anne Carriere, whom he wed in 1986. Won CCMA Duo of Year 1984. Canadian hits with “San Diego” (1973), “Phantom of the Opry” (1979), “The Ex-Superstar’s Waltz” (1982), “No Holiday In L.A.” (1987), “If This Is Love” (with Carrrier, 1984). In all, 31 Prophet singles hit Canadian country charts 1973-1992. Formed own Prophet Records in 1980s. Headliner in Branson 1997-2015. Father of country artist Tony Prophet. Second cousin of Canadian country singer Orval Prophet. Husband of country singer Glory-Anne Carriere.
SAM WILSON, 69, died March 3.
Bluegrass singer-guitarist. Founded Bluegrass Colonels who had Wild Wild Rose CD 1993. Solo CD Come Hear My Story 2002. Also briefly with Ralph Stanley.
LEONARD HOLLIFIELD, 91, died March 3.
Guitarist on WNOX Mid-Day Merry-Go-Round in Knoxville with Reno & Smiley, Morris Brothers. Performed and recorded with Kinsmen Quartet 1960-70, including on weekly gospel TV series on WFBC in Greenville, SC. Recorded solo bluegrass CDs in his 80s.
RUSS SOLOMON, 92, died March 4.
Founder of and CEO Tower Records. Primary architect and former board chairman of NARM.
JOHN FLEMING, 66, died March 5.
Tourism exec. Founding member of Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp. Known as “dean of Nashville hotel managers” as g.m. of Renaissance Nashville Hotel for 25 years. Board member Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, Nashville Hospitality Assoc., Tennessee Hospitality Assoc., Downtown Partnership.
JEFF VONN HOOKER, 62, died March 6.
Bluegrass-gospel singer, mandolin player, songwriter. In Bluegrass Buddies 1970s. Wrote Doyle Lawson’s “I’ll Be With You.”
FREDDIE GOODHART, 87, died March 12.
Peripatetic banjo player with Chubby Wise, Vassar Clements, Reno & Smiley, Second Hand Band, Charlie Wheeler, Curly Mountain Boys, Virginia Ridge Runners, etc.
HUBERT COOKE, 83, died March 12.
Gospel singer-songwriter who recorded more than 50 albums in family act The Singing Cookes. Southern-gospel hits included “He Rows Me Over the Tide,” “Moses,” “Earth’s Loss Is Heaven’s Gain,” “I Hope We Walk the Last Mile Together.” Began career in bluegrass act The Cooke Duet 1965.
STEVE MANDELL, 76, died March 14.
Folk and bluegrass guitarist. Best known as guitar player on Grammy winning 1973 instrumental hit “Dueling Banjos” from Deliverance soundtrack. New York session musician for Judy Collins, John Denver, Tracy Nelson, Bobby Darin, Roger McGuinn, Lou Reed, Don McLean, etc. Also played on jingles and in Broadway pit orchestras. Alumnus of the bluegrass bands Washington Square Ramblers (with Maria Muldaur & David Grisman) and Garrett Mountain Boys.
C. GIL CAWOOD, 75, died March 15.
East Tennessee radio broadcaster on WIVK & other stations. Then longtime employee at WSM-TV in Nashville. Own promotion & advertising biz.
HAZEL SMITH, 83, died March 18.
Known as “Country Music’s Mother Hen.” Legendary veteran country-music journalist, Nashville booster, media maven, Music Row personality. Columnist for Country Music magazine, Country Weekly, Country Music Today, CMT.com. Host of CMT TV series Southern Fried Flicks 2007-2013. Author of 2001 cookbook Hazel’s Hot Dish. Multiple appearances on Ellen DeGeneres Show. Publicist. Manager. Syndicated radio reporter. Songwriter recorded by Tammy Wynette, Dr. Hook, Bill Monroe, Brenda Lee, Ray Sawyer, Billie Jo Spears, IIIrd Tyme Out, Helen Reddy, Nana Mouskouri, The Whites, etc. Romantic involvement with Monroe inspired his song “Walk Softly On This Heart of Mine,” a 1989 hit for Kentucky HeadHunters. Office manager for Dr. Hook, Ricky Skaggs, Tompall Glaser’s “Hillbilly Central” studio. Coined million-dollar marketing moniker “Outlaw Music” to describe Glaser, Waylon, Willie, Jessi Colter and similar artists in 1970s. CMA Media Achievement Award 1999, SOURCE honoree 2008. Mother of The Smith Brothers (Epic Records, 1990) = Billy Boone Smith & Grascals member Terry Smith. Mentor to Fletcher Foster, Robert K. Oermann, Chet Flippo & Martha Hume, Nancy Cardwell, Walter Carter, Deborah Evans Price, Steve Betts, “Opry Dan” Rogers, Kinky Friedman, Garth Brooks, Alison Krauss, Gillian Welch, etc.
RONN HUFF, 80, died March 18.
Gospel Music Hall of Fame member. Musician, composer, arranger, producer. Recorded 1973’s Alleluia, A Praise Gathering first CCM record to receive Gold Album. Arrangements on records by Faith Hill, Amy Grant, Celine Dion, Jewel, Martina McBride, Alison Krauss, Sandi Patty, Keith Urban, George Strait, Clint Black, Boston Pops, etc. Producer & principal conductor for Nashville Symphony 1994-2002. Golden Baton Award from Nashville Symphony 2001. Namesake of a composing/arranging endowed scholarship at Belmont. Father of musicians/songwriters/producers Dann Huff & David Huff.
LESTER WOODIE, 86, died March 23.
Fiddler with The Stanley Brothers on their classic early sides. Later with Bill & Mary Reid, Charlie Moore, others. One solo LP. DJ & station manager in Virginia on WKDE.
WADE MACEY, 82, died March 26.
First-generation bluegrass banjoist, notably with Mac Wiseman.
KENNY O’DELL, 73, died March 28.
Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame member. Best Country Song Grammy and CMA Song of Year for “Behind Closed Doors” (1973, Charlie Rich). O’Dell’s 1984 “Mama He’s Crazy” launched chart-topping career of The Judds. Songwriting catalog also includes “Lizzie and the Rainman” (Tanya Tucker, 1975), “Too Much Is Not Enough” (Billie Jo Spears, 1977), “I Take It On Home” (Rich, 1972), “Trouble in Paradise” (Loretta Lynn, 1974), “Never Did Like Whiskey” (Spears, 1976), “House of Love” (Dottie West, 1974) and “What I’ve Got in Mind” (Spears, 1976). His “Why Don’t We Go Somewhere and Love” recorded by many — Sandy Posey, Bobby Goldsboro, Kenny Rogers, B.J. Thomas, Charlie Rich, Roy Clark, etc. O’Dell also a recording artist on pop charts with “Beautiful People” (1967), “Springfield Plane” (1968), “Happy With You” (1968). Wrote own country hits “You Bet Your Sweet, Sweet Love” (1974), “Soulful Woman” (1975), “My Honky Tonk Ways” (1975), “Medicine Woman” (1979), plus top-10s “Let’s Shake Hands and Come Out Lovin’” (1978) and “As Long As I Can Wake Up in Your Arms” (1979). Own albums Beautiful People (Vegas Records, 1968), Kenny O’Dell (Capricorn Records, 1974) and Let’s Shake Hands and Come Out Lovin’ (Capricorn, 1978). Early success as pop songwriter in 1967 via Bobby Vee’s “Beautiful People” and Rose Garden’s “Next Plane to London.” Moved to Music City 1969 & joined House of Gold as staff songwriter. Among those who have recorded his songs Charley Pride, Eddy Arnold, Mac Davis, Sammi Smith, Bill Anderson, Tom Jones, Diana Ross, Ferlin Husky, Ronnie Milsap, Floyd Cramer, Cal Smith, Percy Sledge, Bobby Womack, Dolly Parton, Jody Miller, Johnny Paycheck, Glen Campbell, Tina Turner, Lynn Anderson, Janie Frickie, Sammy Davis Jr., Cristy Lane, Jan Howard. NSAI Songwriter of Year 1984. Widower of guitarist Corki Casey O’Dell (1936-2017), a member of Musicians Hall of Fame. (real name: Kenneth Gist).
JOHN L. DOWNS, 68, died March 30.
Designer & owner of BIG microphones. Also a keyboardist.
DOROTHY CAMPBELL, 62, died April 3.
Attorney specializing in entertainment law, intellectual property, arbitration. Taught law at MTSU, UT. Leadership Music class 1996.
STEVE STONE, 74, died April 3.
Songwriter, publisher, producer. Songs recorded by Eddy Arnold, Roy Rogers, Perry Como, Dottie West, Molly Bee, Tennessee Ernie Ford, etc. Biggest hits “Are You Loving Me Like I’m Loving You” (Ronnie Milsap, #3 country 1991), “Look Who Loves You Now” (Michelle Pillar, Grammy nominated CCM Song of Year, 1984). Produced Freddie Hart, Dorsey Burnette, Brush Arbor, Johnny & Jonie Mosby, others. Grammy nominations for producing Tennessee Ernie Ford’s Make a Joyful Noise (CCM, 1974), Rodney Dangerfield’s “Twist and Shout” (Comedy, 1986). Soundtracks for Lenny the Wonder Dog (2005), 30 Days ’Til I’m Famous (2008), Mid-Point (1990). Publishing exec at Sony-ATV, Curb, Motown, Warner-Chappell, Lorimar, Mandina/Rocksmith, Central Songs. Grandson of country musician Herman the Hermit (Clifford Herman Snyder, 1884-1964). Son of Country Music Hall of Fame member Cliffie Stone (1917-1998). Brother of song publisher Jonathan Stone & of Highway 101’s Curtis Stone.
JACK BOLES, 87, died April 9.
Country-music promoter in Nashville. R.O.P.E. member.
ERNIE THACKER, 46, died April 10.
Lead singer & guitarist for Ralph Stanley & The Clinch Mountain Clan. Duo LP with Junior Blankenship Tennessee Blues (1995). Solo LPs with Route 23 band Chill of Lonesome (2002), Hangman (2006).
TRENT LeCLAIRE, 46, died April 12.
Singer-songwriter in the country duo LeClaire with his twin brother, Tim LeClaire (1971-2013). Several albums, including Rattle (2002), Blueberry Face (2006), Crawl (2007). Also a video engineer.
RUSTY ADAMS, 85, died April 14.
Country singer-songwriter who reportedly wrote the 1956 Red Sovine/Webb Pierce hit “Little Rosa.” Formerly Koko the Clown in Ringling Brothers Circus. Appeared on WWVA Wheeling Jamboree, WRVA Old Dominion Barn Dance, WSM Opry, etc. Recorded for Jed, Plantation, Dot, GMC, Briar International labels in 1960s & 1970s. (birth name: Walter Lee Adams).
RANDY SCRUGGS, 64, died April 17.
Guitarist, producer, songwriter, studio owner. CMA Musician of Year 1999, 2003, 2006. Also CMA Award for producing 1989 Album of Year Will the Circle Be Unbroken II. Grammy Awards “Earl’s Breakdown” (2001), “Foggy Mountain Breakdown” (1998), “Soldier’s Joy” (1994), “Amazing Grace” (1989). Produced Waylon Jennings, Levon Helm, Emmylou Harris, Diamond Rio, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, John Denver, Toby Keith, New Grass Revival, Dwight Yoakam, Leftover Salmon, Lisa Loeb, Steve Wariner, Russ Taff, Alison Krauss, etc. Also produced all-star AIDS-awareness album Red, Hot & Country (1995) and Keith Whitley tribute album (1994). Musician on hundreds of records — Dolly Parton, Johnny Cash, George Strait, Bobby Bare, Loretta Lynn, Charlie Daniels, Randy Travis, Vince Gill, George Jones, Tammy Wynette, Ricky Skaggs, Tom T. Hall, Marty Robbins, Willie Nelson, plus artists he produced. Also guitarist on discs by Larry Gatlin, Tracy Nelson, Billy Joe Shaver, John Hartford, Moe Bandy, Vern Gosdin, Rosanne Cash, Radney Foster, Pam Tillis, Marty Stuart, Lee Ann Womack, Dixie Chicks, Linda Ronstadt, Bruce Hornsby, Miranda Lambert, Wilco, many more. Songwriter who co-wrote Earl Thomas Conley hits “Your Love’s On the Line,” “Don’t Make It Easy For Me,” “Angel in Disguise,” “Chance of Lovin’ You,” “Love Don’t Care (Whose Heart it Breaks)” 1983-85; Sawyer Brown 1986 hits “Shakin,’” “Out Goin’ Cattin;’” Billy Joe Royal’s “Love Has No Right” (1989); Deana Carter’s “We Danced Anyway” (1997), “There’s No Limit” (2002). More than 100 of his songs recorded by major artists — Gene Watson, Martina McBride, Patty Loveless, Seldom Scene, etc. Owned Scruggs Sound studio used by Dirt Band, Don Williams, Jason & Scorchers, Bobby Vinton, Charley Pride, Tanya Tucker, Andy Williams, Ronnie Milsap, Anne Murray, etc. Solo CD Crown of Jewels 1998 with guest artists Travis Tritt, Joan Osborne, Trisha Yearwood, Lee Roy Parnell, John Prine. Charted with “It’s Only Love” collaboration with Mary Chapin Carpenter. Formerly in rock duo with brother Gary = two LPs for Vanguard 1969-70. In country-rock band Earl Scruggs Revue 1970-1980 = 10 Columbia LPs, four charted singles. Son of Earl Scruggs (1924-2012) & Louise Scruggs (1927-2006). Brother of Gary Scruggs & Steve Scruggs (1958-1992).
BRIEN FAIN, 46, died April 18.
Old-time banjo virtuoso with 300+ contest wins, including four-time champ at Galax. Sideman for Raymond Fairchild, Rock Mountain Rangers, Mike Seeger, Mayo Mountain Boys, etc.
RAYBURN ANTHONY, 80, died April 21.
Rockabilly Hall of Fame member. Singer-songwriter. Recorded for Sun in Memphis 1959-62 (“St. Louis Blues,” “There’s No Tomorrow,” “How Well I Know”). Later a 1970s country act in Nashville on Musicor, Stop, Polydor, Mercury (biggest hit “Shadows of Love” #28, 1979). Songs recorded by Sandy Posey, Charley Pride, Charlie Louvin & Melba Montgomery (“I’m Gonna Love You” #60, 1971), Jerry Lee, Vern Gosdin, Jordanaires, Conway & Loretta. Biggest songwriting hit “Sing Me a Love Song to Baby” Billy Walker #3, 1972. Later toured Europe as rockabilly vet.
AKILAH DASILVA, 23, died April 22.
Nashville hip-hop/rap artist, on roster of Show Your Paperwork Records billed as “Natrix Dream.” Also video producer, cameraman, leader of underground “New Nashville” scene. Killed by deranged Waffle House gunman.
DON BUSTANY, 89, died April 23.
Created radio’s American Country Countdown 1973 and American Top 40 1970 with partner Casey Kasem (1932-2014). Both programs still airing.
EARL WEBSTER, 85, died April 24.
Half of one of the last great, classic brother-duet acts. Lead singer, guitarist with tenor singer, mandolinist sibling Audie Webster (1935-1982) in The Webster Brothers. Recorded for OKeh Records 1954 “Til the End of the World Rolls Around,” “Seven Year Blues,” etc. Duo then teamed with Carl Butler on Columbia 1956 for “Angel Band” & a dozen more. Other labels Acme, Do-Ra-Me, IHS. Appeared on Mid-Day Merry-Go-Round, Old Dominion Barn Dance, Grand Ole Opry, World’s Original Jamboree, Cas Walker’s Farm & Home Hour and other radio shows in Alabama, Tennessee, Florida, Georgia. Duo also in gospel act Four Brothers Quartet with siblings Horace & Ed.
SAMMY ALLRED, 84, died May 9.
Humorist, country entertainer, radio personality. Mandolin playing half of music/comedy duo Geezinslaw Brothers/Geezinslaws with guitarist-singer DeWayne Smith. Act recorded for Columbia, Capitol, Lone Star, Step One, etc. Charted with “You Wouldn’t Put The Shuck on Me” (1966), “Change of Wife” (1967), “Chubby (Please Take Your Love to Town)” (1967), “Help, I’m White and I Can’t Get Down” (1992). Formed in 1950s & became regulars on Louisiana Hayride. Appeared on variety TV series of Ed Sullivan, Jackie Gleason, Smothers Brothers, Johnny Carson. Toured with Roger Miller, Perry Como. Albums The Kookie World of the Geezinslaw Brothers (1963), Can You Believe the Geezinslaw Brothers (1966), My Dirty, Lowdown, Rotten, Cotton-Pickin’ Darlin’ (1967), Geezinslaw Brothers & Chubby (1968), The Geezinslaws Are Alive and Well (1969), If You Think I’m Crazy Now (1979), Geezinslaws (1989), World Tour (1990), Feelin’ Good, Gittin’ Up, Gittin’ Down (1992), Wish I Had a Job to Shove (1994), Blah Blah Blah (1996), Electric Horsemen (2005). Legendary broadcaster on Austin’s KVET-FM 1969-2007 noted for salty comments & crotchety attitude. Member Texas Radio Hall of Fame.
HELEN FARMER, 92, died May 13.
CMA director of programs & special projects, working directly under late Country Music Hall of Fame member Jo Walker Meador (1924-2017). Farmer earned CMA Founding President’s Award (1994) and SOURCE award (2008). Worked for CMA 1973-94. Launched Music City Tennis Invitational (1973) annual fundraiser for Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital.
JOE TAYLOR, 85, died May 14.
Top country booker for decades. Head of Joe Taylor Artist Agency representing Sammi Smith (“Help Me Make It Through the Night”), Dave Dudley (“Six Days on the Road”), John Anderson (“Swingin’”), David Frizzell (“I’m Gonna Hire a Wino to Decorate Our Home”), Johnny Paycheck (“Take This Job and Shove It”), Sylvia (“Nobody”). Also Hall of Famers Connie Smith, George Jones, Kitty Wells, Alabama, Grandpa Jones. Plus Opry stars Johnny Russell, Jim & Jesse, Stringbean, Ray Pillow and Hee Haw TV stars Junior Samples, Archie Campbell, Gordie Tapp. Entered music biz 1960 as first director of talent for Wil-Helm Agency, booking Loretta Lynn, Wilburn Brothers, Joe Dowell. In 1962-64 advertising manager for Martha White Flour, working with Flatt & Scruggs, Jim & Jesse. Founded own agency 1964. Other clients Mickey Gilley, Dave & Sugar, Stella Parton, Billie Jo Spears, Ronnie Prophet, Bobby G. Rice, Lawanda Lindsey, Bobby Lord, Johnny Wright, Brian Collins etc. Helped establish country popularity in Europe. In later years, president of R.O.P.E.
WILLIAM WIRT COURTNEY IV, 65, died May 16.
Nashville studio and stage guitarist, songwriter, guitar builder/restorer, restaurateur.
HARRY WARNER, 83, died May 16.
Longtime BMI exec 1967-2010, eventually rose to assistant vice president of writer/publisher relations. Top real estate entrepreneur on Music Row alongside friends Chet Atkins (1924-2001) and Ray Stevens. Former manager and song-publishing exec for superstar Jerry Reed (1937-2008). Helped launch Rodney Crowell. Leadership Music class 1992.
JOHN DAVIS, 58, died May 17.
Entertainment reporter at widely syndicated country TV series Crook & Chase, 1986-92.
JOE SHOLLE, 70, died May 17.
Proficient on guitar, Dobro, mandolin, banjo. Recorded for Folkways in 1964 as member of Roger Sprung’s Progressive Bluegrassers. World champion guitarist at Union Grove 1967 & 1968. Two solo LPs for Rounder. Recorded and/or toured with Peter Rowan, David Grisman, Bette Midler, others. Played in Broadway shows and in films.
SONIA THOMPSON, 90, died May 20.
Alto vocalist in Nashville Symphony Chorus, Nashville Pro Musica, The Cathedral Singers. Music educator.
GLENN SNODDY, 96, died May 21.
Founder of Woodland Sound. The dean of Nashville’s recording engineers. Created first stereo recording console in Nashville. Marketed rock’s “fuzz-tone” guitar sound. Nashville NARAS board president 1973-74. Began engineering career at Brown Brothers, one of Nashville’s earliest recording studios. Joined WSM 1951, engineering Opry, Midnight Jamboree, etc. Became pioneering television engineer at WSMV-TV. Became chief engineer at Quonset Hut on Music Row 1960, working on records by Cash, Flatt & Scruggs, Ray Price, Carl Smith, etc. Engineer on Marty Robbins 1961 hit “Don’t Worry,” which led to his invention of “fuzz-tone” rock-guitar pedal for Gibson. Also at Quonset Hut, created Nashville’s first stereo console and hired Kristofferson as studio janitor. Created state-of-the-art Woodland Sound 1967. Notable sessions there Will the Circle Be Unbroken 1971, “Dust in the Wind” Kansas 1978, “Devil Went Down to Georgia” Charlie Daniels 1979, “Elvira” Oak Ridge Boys 1981, “Honey” Bobby Goldsboro 1968. Other Woodland clients included country’s Barbara Mandrell, Lefty Frizzell, Eddie Rabbitt, Johnny Lee, Tammy, Willie, Loretta, Brenda, Rosanne, Conway, Charlie McCoy, Clint Black, Roy Clark, Donna Fargo, Aaron Tippin and pop’s Neil Young, Andy Williams, Joe Simon, Ronstadt, Skynyrd, John Hiatt, Amy Grant, J.J. Cale, Joe Tex, Tracy Nelson, Indigo Girls, Jimmy Buffett, Slim Harpo, John Prine, Gordon Lightfoot. Studio also notable as Nashville headquarters for black-gospel recording. Expanded Woodland to allow orchestral recording, added mastering facility, upgraded to 24 tracks. Sold studio to AVI 1980, but remained in charge. Retired 1990. Woodland owned by Gillian Welch & David Rawlings since 2001.
DAVID SCHOBER, 60, died May 23.
Studio engineer and occasional producer. Noted in Nashville for work with Amy Grant, Michael W. Smith, Sixpence None the Richer, Vince Gill, Wynonna, Natalie Grant, Rascal Flatts, Brad Paisley, Steven Curtis Chapman, Randy Travis, Point of Grace, CeCe Winans, Darryl Worley, Josh Turner, Sandi Patty, etc. Extensive prior pop experience in L.A. (Ray Charles, Don Henley, Temptations, Streisand, Andy Williams, Chicago, Neil Diamond, Fleetwood Mac, Luther Vandross, Diana Ross, etc.). Leadership Music class 2012.
ROGER CLARK, 67, died May 24.
Muscle Shoals session drummer whose credits include albums by Hank Williams Jr., Ronnie Milsap, Conway Twitty, Gary Stewart, Mac McAnally, Roy Orbison, Steve Forbert, Narvel Felts, T.G. Sheppard, Carl Perkins, Janie Fricke, Dobie Gray, Amy Grant, Lobo, Michael Johnson, Wayne Newton, Burrito Brothers.
LIN FOLK, 101, died May 25.
Tennessee Radio Hall of Fame member. Producer & announcer on WPLN-FM, 1962-82. American Women in Radio & Television FM Broadcaster of the Year 1972. (full name: Eleanor Hardy Folk).
RICHARD FRANK, 90, died May 31.
Music biz attorney who chartered both the CMA and Country Music Hall of Fame. Lawyer-to-the-stars throughout a 40-year career. Taught entertainment law & copyright law at Vanderbilt, elsewhere. Co-founded Copyright Society of South. Father of Music Row attorney Horton Frank and former Almo-Irving exec Mary Del Scobey.
ROYCE PORTER, 79, died May 31.
Hit country songwriter and rockabilly pioneer. Co-written hits include George Strait’s “Ocean Front Property,” Keith Whitley’s “Miami My Amy,” Kenny Chesney’s “A Chance.” Began career with classic rockabilly singles on Spade, Look, Mercury, D labels in 1957-58: “A Woman Can Make You Blue,” “Yes I Do,” “Good Time,” “Beach of Love,” “Lookin.’” Played piano on Kenny Rogers 1957 debut single on Carlton, “That Crazy Feeling.” Resumed career as pop act on FED & Tear Drop labels 1965-67. Moved to Nashville 1969. First hit he wrote “The Most Wanted Woman in Town” Roy Head 1975. Also co-wrote Head’s “Help Yourself to Me” (1975) & “Bridge For Crawling Back” (1976), Jim Ed Brown’s “Barroom Pals, Goodtime Gals” (1975), Tommy Cash’s “Workin’ on a Feeling” (1973), Reba McEntire’s “Glad I Waited Just For You” (1977), Jody Miller’s ”Reflections” (1974), Ray Charles’ “Ain’t Your Memory Got No Pride at All” (1983), Razzy Bailey’s “After the Great Depression” (1983) & “This Is Just the First Day” (1983), Whitley’s “Miami My Amy” (1985) & “Homecoming ‘63” (1986), plus Strait’s “It Ain’t Cool to Be Crazy About You” (1986), “Ocean Front Property” (1987) & “What’s Going On In Your World” (1989). Songwriting success continued with Tanya Tucker’s “What Do I Do With Me” & Chesney’s “A Chance” (1997). Cuts by Johnny Bush, Dale Watson, Merle Haggard, Daryle Singetary, Con Hunley, Ray Price, Ricky Van Shelton, Vince Gill, Doug Stone, George Jones, etc. Resumed entertaining 2012, touring on rockabilly revival circuit in U.K.
WAYNE SECREST, 68, died June 2.
Bass player and founding member of Confederate Railroad. Best New Group at 1993 ACM Awards. Band’s top-10 hits included “Jesus and Mama” (1992), “Daddy Never Was the Cadillac Kind” (1994), “Trashy Women” (1993), “Queen of Memphis” (1992).
JERRY HOPKINS, 82, died June 3.
Rolling Stone journalist. One of the first to profile country couturier Nudie Cohen. Author of more than 30 books, including Elvis: The Biography (1971), Elvis: The Final Years (1981), Elvis In Hawaii (2002), Aloha Elvis (2007). Best known for Doors book No One Here Gets Out Alive (1980), which became a movie. Other biographies: Hendrix, Bowie, Yoko.
BILLY THUNDERKLOUD, 70, died June 5.
Native American country star noted for colorful costuming including elaborate turquoise & silver jewelry, beads, feathers, leather, braids and other “Indian” accessories. Charted hits with “Canada’s All-Indian Band,” The Chieftones: “What Time of Day” (1975), “Pledging My Love” (1975), “Indian Reservation” (1976), “Try a Little Tenderness” (1976), “It’s Alright” (1979). Albums included All Through the Night (1973), Off the Reservation (1974), What Time of Day (1975), Where Do I Begin to Tell a Story (1976), Some of Nashville’s Finest (1980). Labels Claremont, Cuca, Youngstown, Superior, 20th Century, Polydor, Indi-Kloud. (real name: Vincent Clifford).
STACY PHILLIPS, 73, died June 5.
Known as Archduke of the Dobro. Also skilled on fiddle, trumpet, guitar. Member of eclectic band Breakfast Special doing swing, bluegrass, r&b, Hawaiian, Jewish, African, folk, country etc. Solo LPs All Old Friends, Hey Mister Get the Ball, From the Inside. Also on 1995 Grammy winning The Great Dobro Sessions CD produced by Jerry Douglas. Wrote 25+ books & instructional DVDs: The Dobro Book, Bluegrass Fiddle Styles, Phillips Collection of Fiddle Tunes, etc. (legal name = Mel Marshall, Jewish name = Moshe Savitsky).
BOB FULLER, 84, died June 7.
Canadian country & bluegrass performer. Recorded influential LP Canadian Country Favorites 1971 as Bob Fuller & Mountain Springs.
STEVE THURMAN, 62, died June 8.
Booking agency vet who discovered and managed Tennessee River Boys, transforming them into Diamond Rio. Also signed Joe Diffie and Tim McGraw as unknowns. Affiliated with Top Billing, Charles Dorris & Assoc., Dick Beacham. Other acts he worked with included Jerry Clower, Jim Ed Brown, Lou Diamond Phillips, Wet Willie. Mainstay of NATD.
CANO OZGENER, 81, died June 9.
Co-founder of OZ Arts Nashville, a nexus for the city’s avant garde theater, music, and visual arts scene.
D.J. FONTANA, 87, died June 13.
Famed Elvis Presley drummer. Played on 450+ Elvis records and toured with him for 14 years. Last surviving member of Presley’s original band. Became staff drummer at Louisiana Hayride 1953. Presley (1935-1977), lead guitarist Scotty Moore (1931-2016), bassist Bill Black (1926-1965) hired Fontana to join Blue Moon Boys band 1955. Played on Elvis hits “Hound Dog,” “Don’t Be Cruel,” “Heartbreak Hotel,” “Blue Suede Shoes,” ‘Love Me Tender,” “Jailhouse Rock,” “Teddy Bear,” etc. Appeared on Presley’s Ed Sullivan Show appearances 1956-57 and in movies King Creole, G.I. Blues, Jailhouse Rock, Loving You. Also on famed 1968 “comeback” TV special. Quit Presley band 1969 over pay dispute with Col. Tom Parker (1909-1997). Also drummed for Paul McCartney, Keith Richards, Ringo Starr, Gene Vincent, Red Sovine, Faron Young, Steve Earle, Dolly Parton, Waylon Jennings, Charley Pride, Porter Wagoner, Johnny Cash, Webb Pierce, etc. Starr, Levon Helm, Max Weinberg, Charlie Watts, Stan Lynch, many other rock drummers cite Fontana as influence. He and Scotty won Nashville Music Award and nominated for Grammy for 1998 album All the King’s Men. Inducted into Rockabilly Hall of Fame plus Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame (in sideman category) 2009. Book: D.J. Fontana Remembers Elvis 1983. (full name: Dominic Joseph Fontana).
PERRY DALE JR., 90, died June 13.
Co-owner and developer of the Nashville entertainment complex The Cannery. Also in the food brokerage and manufacturing business Dale’s Fine Foods.
DELIA BELL, 83, died June 15.
Guitarist/singer. Often cited as greatest female bluegrass vocalist in history. Nine LPs with Bill Grant & Kiamichi Mountain Boys 1972-80. Solo LP on County 1979 Bluer Than Midnight, then two duo LPs with Grant on Rebel, Bill Grant & Delia Bell (1980), Rollin’ (1981). Emmylou Harris produced solo Delia Bell LP for Warner Bros. 1983. “Coyote Song” and duet single with John Anderson “Flame In My Heart” charted country 1983. Bell & Grant next on Rounder backed by Johnson Mountain Boys 1984-90 with The Cheer of the Home Fires (1984), A Few Dollars More (1985), Following a Feeling (1988). Then several CDs for Old Homestead 1992-2004. More than 40 albums in all. Co-founded long-running Salt Creek Bluegrass Festival in Hugo, OK. (birth name Frances Leona Nowell).
GAILE FOOTE PARKS, 75, died June 17.
Metro Nashville Parks & Recreation coordinator formerly member of folk group Greenwood County Singers (as Gaile Foote). Two minor pop hits on Kapp = “Frankie and Johnny” (1964), “Please Don’t Sell My Daddy No More Wine” (1966, as The Greenwoods). An early act to record songs by Shel Silverstein, Billy Edd Wheeler. She and group member C. Carson Parks II formed Carson & Gaile duo with her as lead singer. Album San Antonio Rose (Kapp, 1966) included Carson’s song “Something Stupid,” soon picked up by Frank & Nancy Sinatra as No. 1 pop hit (1967).
JOE SULLIVAN, 76, died June 22.
Nashville concert impresario, management mogul & radio guru of the 1970s & 1980s, the first to bring touring big-name rock bands to Music City. His Sound Seventy Corporation once one of largest concert-promotion firms in Southeast. Promoted shows by Dylan, Stones, Springsteen, Elton, Bowie, Doobies, Eagles, Allmans, Jacksons, Queen, Cash, Emmylou, Kris, Hank Jr., Tina, Chicago, Kiss, Buffett, Loretta, many more. Managed Charlie Daniels, Wet Willie, Bobby Bare, Dobie Gray, Nicolette Larson, Wolfman Jack, Dickie Betts, etc. Expanded into song publishing, record promotion, tour merchandising. Later in Branson, MO as The Sullivan Company 1990-2014. Formerly in radio for 15 years, including p.d. at Nashville’s WMAK. Gavin Small Market Program Director of Year 1972. Tennessee Radio Broadcasters Hall of Fame 2018.
EARLA HARDING, 73, died June 25.
Co-founder of 30-year-old Wintergrass Bluegrass Festival in Washington State.
JERRY WIGGINS, 73, died June 25.
Buck Owens drummer in The Buckaroos.
WALTER SETTLES JR., 72, died June 27.
R&B vocalist/trumpeter for Jimmy Church Band. Known as “Round.” Also with Tyrone Smith Revue, Soul Searchers, Naturals. Gospel singer in IWS Singers, Settles Family, Seven Brothers & One Sister. Son of legendary Fairfield Four singer Walter Settles (1927-1999).
HARLESS “TOOTIE” WILLIAMS, 84, died June 28.
Bass player in the Dallas bluegrass band The Stone Mountain Boys 1966-75. Appeared on its 1974 Takoma/Briar Records LP.
BRANDON CHURCH, 36, died June 29.
Former guitarist in brother Eric Church’s band. Co-writer of the star’s songs “How ‘Bout You” and “Without You Here.”
DEAN WEBB, 81, died June 30.
Member of The Dillards 1959-86. Mandolin great on influential LPs Back Porch Bluegrass (1963), Live Almost! (1964), Pickin’ & Fiddlin’ with Byron Berline (1965), Wheatstraw (1968), Copperfields (1969), etc. Appeared with group on TV’s The Andy Griffith Show 1963-66 as “The Darling Family.” Also in 1986 TV movie Return to Mayberry. Group fused bluegrass with country-rock.
STEVE PHILLIPS, 62, died July 1.
Producer and co-host of “This Week in Country Music” on TNN. Also a news and sports TV broadcaster on WVTM Birmingham, WKRN Nashville and WBIR Knoxville.
RICHARD SWIFT, 41, died July 3.
Former touring bass player with Nashville rock band The Black Keys and drummer for Dan Auerbach. Singer, songwriter, producer. Also worked with Americana bands Nathaniel Rateliff & Night Sweats, Ray LaMontagne, others. Best known as member of The Shins, The Arcs.
JIM MALLOY, 87, died July 5.
Recording engineer, producer, song publisher. Worked with superstars Elvis, Cash, Dolly, Willie, etc. Won 1963 engineering Grammy Award for Henry Mancini’s “Charade,” nominated for 5 other Grammys. Began career L.A. early 1960s engineering discs by Mahalia Jackson, Duane Eddy, Duke Ellington, Doris Day, Ike & Tina Turner, Miles Davis, Lee Hazelwood, Ann-Margret, Sam Cooke, Bob Wills, Bing Crosby, Mancini, others. Moved to Nashville to work at RCA 1965-68, engineering for Elvis, Dolly, Willie, Eddy Arnold, Waylon Jennings, Charley Pride, Hank Snow, Connie Smith, John Hartford, Chet Atkins, etc. Record-production career began 1968-69 with Townes Van Zandt albums. Went to Monument Records & worked with Roy Orbison, Ray Stevens (1969’s “Gitarzan”). Recording engineer for Cash’s national TV series 1969-71. At Mega Records, Malloy produced Sammi Smith’s Grammy winning “Help Me Make It Through the Night” 1971. Also produced her hits “Today I Started Loving You Again” (1975), “City of New Orleans” (1973), “Never Been to Spain” (1974), “Long Black Veil” (1974), “My Window Faces the South” (1976), “Then You Walk In” (1971). Also produced four LPs for Stella Parton. Formed DebDave/BriarPatch Music with staff songwriters including son David Malloy, Even Stevens, Paul Overstreet, Dan Tyler, Frank Myers, Thom Schuyler. Firm’s hits included Eddie Rabbitt million sellers “I Love a Rainy Night,” “Drivin’ My Life Away” in 1980s. Later productions included late-career CDs by Eddy Arnold. Published memoir Playback 2005.
ERIC MARSHALL, 62, died July 7.
Country radio programmer at WSIX Nashville 1984-91. Also worked in radio in West Tennessee, Memphis, Northwest Arkansas, etc. Regional promotion exec for Giant Records 1992-94. Programmer for Earls Broadcasting in Branson, 2005-12. (real name: Eric George “Rick” Kaucher).
PETE CUMMINGS, 63, died July 7.
Guitarist, pianist, songwriter in Elvis opening act and “home” band The Voice, 1974-75. Toured backing Tanya Tucker, Oak Ridge Boys, etc. Session musician for Charlie Louvin, Silver Jews, Bill Miller, Candi Staton, others. Member of Heavydrunk house band at Pucketts Grocery Store in his hometown Leipers Fork, TN. Group also recorded. Solo CD Another Round of Dreams.
REBECCA LYNCH, 93, died July 23.
Violinist who was assistant Concertmaster of Nashville Symphony. Founding member of Nashville String Machine, which backed hundreds of artists in studios & on hits. Gold Record for Neil Young’s LP Comes a Time. In Music City since 1977 — Former career playing on Hollywood film soundtracks for MGM & 20th Century Fox, plus backing Frank Sinatra on TV, on records, in concerts, on tour. Also toured with Nashville-educated opera star James Melton.
PETE GOBLE, 86, died July 25.
Songwriter with more than 90 bluegrass cuts, recorded by Alison Krauss, Bluegrass Cardinals, Glen Campbell, Country Gentlemen, Dailey & Vincent, Doyle Lawson, Jimmy Martin, Osborne Brothers, IIIrd Tyme Out, Rhonda Vincent, Bill Harrell, Larry Sparks, etc. IBMA Song of the Year “Colleen Malone” (Hot Rize, 1991). IBMA Distinguished Achievement Award (2002). Also a recording artist with four albums.
JOHNNY KLINE, 86, died July 26.
Nashvillian who formerly gained fame as “Jumping Johnny” in The Harlem Globetrotters 1953-59. Author of 15 motivational books. Founder Black Legends of Basketball Foundation.
HERMAN WEBB, 83, died July 28.
Known as “The Sheriff of Butcher Hollow.” Tour guide to the Kentucky home where he and older sister Loretta Lynn were raised. Also local country performer and bandleader. Other siblings include singers Crystal Gayle, Jay Lee Webb (1937-1966), Peggy Sue.
DAVID TOWER, 77, died July 28.
Tennessee Radio Hall of Fame inductee 2018. Newscaster & news director at Nashville’s WMAK-AM radio 1969-1986. Station won numerous A.P. awards for news excellence under his leadership. (real name: David Tower Milstead).
RONNIE SAMOSET, 71, died July 29.
Songwriter with hits “I’m That Kind of Girl” (Patty Loveless, 1991), “A Jukebox With a Country Song” (Doug Stone, 1992), “(This Thing Called) Wantin’ and Havin’ It All” (Sawyer Brown, 1995), “On Your Way Home” (Patty Loveless, 2003), plus Matraca Berg singles “Baby Walk On” (1990), “The Things You Left Undone” (1990), “I Must Have Been Crazy” (1991). Berg/Samoset song “Lying to the Moon” recorded by Robin & Linda Williams, Trisha Yearwood, several others. Songs also recorded by Kenny Rogers, Randy Travis, Linda Ronstadt, Ricky Van Shelton, Tanya Tucker, Diamond Rio, Emmylou Harris, Tom Wopat, Dusty Springfield, Highway 101, Sammy Kershaw, Johnny Rodriguez, Neal McCoy, Michelle Wright, Little Texas, Ricochet. Songwriting collaborators included Berg, Craig Wiseman, Dave Loggins, Chuck Cannon, Judy Rodman, Gene Nelson. (real name: Ronald A. Santaniello).
C.J. WATSON, 53, died July 30.
Nashville songwriter with cuts by James Otto, Heningsens, Mustang Sally, Lisa Shaffer, many indie acts. Won 2008 Kerrville New Folk Award. Affiliated with Frank Brown International Songwriters Festival & Song Contest. Band = Asteria Lux. Author The Everything Songwriting Book (2003), Essential Songwriting (2006).
JUDY CARRIER, 76, died July 30.
New England raised bluegrass singer, songwriter and guitarist. Appeared on Carl Tipton’s TV show, Grand Ole Opry, Midnight Jamboree. Local TV series in New Hampshire for 12 years. Solo LP From the Berkshires to the Smokies (1980). Also in bluegrass recording duos Judy & Whitey and Judy & Rens.
TED LeGARDE, 87, died Aug. 2.
Member country duo The LeGarde Twins with brother Tom. Australian stars early 1950s (as “The Yodeling Stockmen”), then Canadian stars late 1950s. Following sojourn in L.A., identical twins moved to Nashville c.1960. Toured internationally. Starred at own theater in Hendersonville & Hall of Fame Motor Inn at Music Row. Many network TV appearances. Albums include Brand New, Songs of the West, Ballads of the Bushlands, One Little Letter, Down Under Country. Charted singles (as “The LeGardes”) “True Love” (1978), “I Can Almost Touch the Feelin’” (1979), “Daddy’s Makin’ Records in Nashville” (1980), “Crocodile Man” (1988). Autobiography Showbiz Hustlers (2017). Australian Country Music Hall of Fame member.
LORRIE COLLINS, 76, died Aug. 4.
Effervescent lead vocalist in teen rockabilly duo The Collins Kids. Enduring 1955-59 tunes include “Hoy Hoy,” “Hop Skip and Jump,” “Just Because,” “Beetle Bug Bop,” “Whistle Bait,” “In My Teens,” “Soda Popin’ Around,” “Rock Boppin’ Baby,” “Hot Rod,” “Short’nin’ Bread Rock,” etc., all reissued multiple times on LPs & CDs in succeeding decades. Cast member of TV’s Town Hall Party/Tex Ritter’s Ranch Party on West Coast 1954-59. Girlfriend of teen superstar Ricky Nelson, featured as a 1958-59 regular on his hit TV show The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet. Also appearances on Ed Sullivan, Steve Allen shows, and more. Older sister of duet partner Larry Collins, later famed as songwriter of “You’re the Reason God Made Oklahoma,” “Delta Dawn,” etc. Team reunited for rockabilly festivals in 1992-2012. Rockabilly Hall of Fame member.
STEVE BOGDANOVICH, 66, died Aug. 6
Vice president / production manager for Romeo Entertainment Group. Also booking agent. Formerly owned BogieVision video production company (1992-2003). Produced annual ACM All-Star Jam in Vegas (2003-2015). IEBA Talent Buyer of Year 2013. ACM Talent Buyer of Year 2010.
BLUE MILLER, 66, died Aug. 11.
Mainstay of country act Gibson/Miller Band also notable for collaborations with rock’s Bob Seger, neo-soul’s India.Arie, country’s Blake Shelton, r&b’s Isaac Hayes. Seger employed Detroit native as backing musician at shows & on records 1970s. Solo rock records, session work in Detroit, Atlanta, Florida. In Hayes touring band, then Chicago work as ad jingle writer for Nutrasweet, Bud Light, Taco Bell, etc., plus film & TV soundtracks. Emmy Award for TV documentary song “Who’ll Miss the Bus.” Moved to Nashville 1990. Session musician for Mel McDaniel, Peabo Bryson, Albert King, etc. Songs recorded by Englebert Humperdinck, Gladys Knight, David Ruffin. Formed Gibson/Miller Band with Dave Gibson 1991. Team debuted on country charts with self-penned “Big Heart” 1992. Band’s biggest hits, co-written “High Rollin’” & “Texas Tattoo,” earned ACM 1993 Best New Group Award. Dup also co-wrote 1994’s “Stone Cold Country” & “Red,, White and Blue Collar.” Cover of “Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys” on soundtrack of 1994 movie The Cowboy Way. Two CDs for Epic, Where There’s Smoke (1993), Red, White and Blue Collar (1994). Following group breakup, Miller guitarist and/or singer on CDs by Doug Stone, Ty Herndon, Vern Gosdin, Michael Bolton, Clay Walker, Tanya Tucker, Aaron Neville, Richard Marx, others. Sang backup on star-making records by Shelton, produced by Bobby Braddock. Miller’s Kick in the Asphalt Band recorded race-themed songs, toured on Winston Cup NASCAR circuit 1997. Co-wrote Neal McCoy 1998 hit “If You Can’t Be Good (Be Good At It),” plus songs for Blackfoot, Blue October, Melissa Manchester. Solo CD Blue in 2000. Produced & co-wrote with India.Arie 2001. Her debut Acoustic Soul CD nominated for seven Grammys, sold Double Platinum. Toured with her 2001-02 & worked with her on subsequent albums. Also on recent albums by Ginny Owens, Bobby Pinson, Burrito Deluxe, Jools Holland, Ricky Lynn Gregg, Steve Green and produced David G. Smith, Confederate Railroad, Brandon Desayer.
GEORGE B. McCENEY, 79, died Aug. 11.
Co-founder of Bluegrass Unlimited magazine (1966). Major force & lifetime member IBMA. Also a guitarist, songwriter.
NEIL STRETCHER, 80, died Aug. 16.
Opry staff band for 14 years. Keyboardist on records by Johnny Russell, Doyle Holly, John England, others. Also jazz and gospel artist.
HANSJORG MALONEK, 59, died Aug. 16.
European concert promoter. Created Germany’s first bluegrass festival. Nightclub, radio and theater bookings for David Grisman, Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, Nashville Bluegrass Band, many folk, Americana, blues, country, cabaret acts.
RUSTY REED, 67, died Aug. 18.
Owner of Jax Broadcasting including WLIJ, WZNG Shelbyville. Broadcaster of Tennessee Walking Horse National Championship for 25+ years. (full name: Jason Hugh Reed).
GENE WARDELL, 90, died Aug. 18.
Singer known as “The Smokey Mountain Troubadour.” Own Knoxville TV program in 1950s, The Gene Wardell Show.
POLLY LEWIS, 81, died Aug. 19.
Trio vocalist front woman in bluegrass-gospel dynasty The Lewis Family with sisters Janis & Miggie (1928-2017). Bluegrass Hall of Fame (2006), Gospel Music Hall of Fame (2005), Georgia Music Hall of Fame (1992), Southern Gospel Music Hall of Fame (2013), several Dove Awards. Act formed 1951 with patriarch Roy/Pop Lewis (1905-2004, guitar), brothers Talmadge (1934-2007, mandolin/fiddle), Little Roy (banjo), Wallace (1928-2007, guitar) with sisters subsequently added. Country music’s longest-running weekly TV show (WJBF-TV, Augusta, GA 1954-92). More than 50 albums for Starday (19 LPs, 1958-73), Canaan (20 LPs, 1974-90), Sullivan, other labels. Performed at Lincoln Center, Smithsonian, Opry, Fan Fair, etc. Known as “The First Family of Bluegrass Gospel.” Retired 2009. Daughter of Roy “Pop” Lewis (1905-2004). Sister of Wallace Lewis (1928-2007), Talmadge, Janis, Little Roy. See also: Miggie Lewis, died 12/26/17, above.
BILLY RAY LANTHAM, 80, died Aug. 19.
Banjo player in stellar bluegrass bands Kentucky Colonels, Dillards.
JEFF CARLTON, 66, died Aug. 20.
Nashville music publisher for 30+ years. Affiliated with Willin’ David, Stroudavarious, Hamstein, Bigger Picture, Vibe Room, THIS, Parallel Entertainment, Tape Room firms. Boosted careers of songwriters Tom Shapiro, Tony Martin, Lee Thomas Miller, Monty Criswell, Jimmy Ritchey, Will Jennings, Erin Enderlin, Sam Hunt, Brandy Clark, Ashley Gorley. More than 100 top-10 country singles. NSAI President’s Award 2016, AIMP Nashville Independent Spirit Award 2018, Leadership Music Class 1997.
DAWN CARTER, 53, died Aug. 20.
Nashville singer-songwriter. Songs recorded by indie country acts Ronnie Wolf, Lance McKay, etc. Wife of guitarist/producer Ron Cornelius.
ED KING, 68, died Aug. 22.
Nashville guitarist best known as member of Lynyrd Skynyrd. Co-wrote its biggest hit, 1974’s “Sweet Home Alabama” & created song’s iconic guitar riff. Song also recorded by Red Hot Chili Peppers, Garth Brooks, Bret Michaels, Charlie Daniels, Every Mother’s Nightmare, Alabama, Cinderella, Bonfire, more. Joined band 1972, helping to establish its distinctive, triple-guitar attack. On band’s first three LPs, Pronounced Leh-Nerd Skin-Nerd (1973), Second Helping (1974) and Nuthin’ Fancy (1975). Quit 1975, avoiding band’s fatal 1977 plane crash. Helped reconstitute/revive Skynyrd 1987 and retired 1996. King’s co-written Skynyrd song “Workin’ For MCA” also popularized by Hank Williams Jr., Ted Nugent. His “Saturday Night Special” covered by Replacements, Larry Cordle, Jerry Jeff Walker, etc.. Also co-wrote band’s “Poison Whiskey,” “Mr. Banker,” “Money Man,” “Whisky Rock-A- Roller,” “Swamp Music,” “Take Your Time,” more. Previously prominent in Strawberry Alarm Clock. Co-wrote its No. 1 1967 smash “Incense and Peppermint,” plus 1968 singles “Tomorrow,” “Sit With the Guru,” “Barefoot in Baltimore.” King’s Strawberry Alarm Clock songs on soundtrack of 1968 movie Psych Out. In retirement, co-wrote “The Freebird Fall” with Billy Ray Cyrus & Artimus Pyle, recorded by Cyrus 2006. Prominently featured in 2007 documentary If I Leave Here Tomorrow. Voted into Rock & Roll Hall of Fame with Lynyrd Skynyrd 2006.
MIKE KENNEDY, 59, died Aug. 31.
Drummer in George Strait’s Ace In the Hole Band for 30 years. Formerly in bands fronted by his father, Barbara Fairchild, Ricky Skaggs, others.
ROY WUNSCH, 75, died Aug. 31.
Former President of Sony/CBS/Columbia/Epic labels in Nashville. Signed Mary Chapin Carpenter, marketed multi-Platinum Willie Nelson. Began on Music Row at company’s Epic imprint 1975, promoting Tammy, George, Paycheck, Bob Luman, David Houston, Joe Stampley, Charlie Rich. Advanced to v.p. 1981, furthering careers of Willie, Skaggs, Cash, Sonny James, Ray Price, Connie Smith, Lynn Anderson, David Allan Coe, Johnny Duncan, Janie Fricke, Marty Robbins. Became senior v.p. 1988, supporting Dolly, Chet, Rosanne, Crystal, Highwaymen, CDB, Scruggs, Haggard, Bobby Bare, O’Kanes, Sweethearts of Rodeo, Ricky Van Shelton, Marty Stuart. Became label President 1990. Board Chairman CMA and of Country Music Hall of Fame. Key booster of W.O. Smith School of Music. Painter with sold-out art exhibition 2015. Leadership Music class 1990. Husband of Music Row exec Mary Ann McCready. Father of painter and former manager/publicist Cindy Wunsch Bowen.
TOM McKINNEY, 76, died Aug. 31.
Bluegrass banjo player with Boys From Shiloh, Shenandoah Cut-Ups, Curly Seckler & Nashville Grass, etc. Solo albums in 1972, 1979. Duo album with Jake Landers 1971. Performed on soundtrack of 1972 Disney movie Nashville Coyote.
MIKE OWENS, 53, died Sept. 2.
VP Creative at Sea Gayle Music. Began career in radio in native Oklahoma. Became p.d. KXXY Oklahoma City. Hired as promotion exec by Arista Records 1989. Boosted careers there of Alan Jackson, Brooks & Dunn, BlackHawk, Lee Roy Parnell, Pam Tillis, Brad Paisley, Diamond Rio, Phil Vassar, Steve Wariner, all of whom starred in 2018 benefit concert for him. Universal South v.p. A&R 2000-05 working with Vassar, Joe Nichols, Randy Houser, Eli Young Band.
FAY JENNINGS THOMPSON, 86, died Sept. 5.
Singer/keyboardist. Toured and recorded as member of gospel’s Jennings Trio. Also sang with Anita Kerr Singers. Author Notes on Shaped Notes. Instructor at James D. Vaughn School of Music.
BURT REYNOLDS, 82, died Sept. 6.
Hollywood movie superstar with significant country connections. Notable country roles in Deliverance (1972), White Lightning (1973), W.W. & Dixie Dancekings (1975), Gator (1976), Smokey & the Bandit (1977), Smokey & the Bandit II (1980), Cannonball Run (1981), Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (1982), Stroker Ace (1983), Cannonball Run II (1984), Man From Left Field (TV 1993), Wind in the Wire (TV 1993), Dukes of Hazzard (2005). Co-starred with Jerry Reed, Mel Tillis, Don Williams, Dolly, Reba, Willie, Randy Travis, etc. Hit songs from his soundtracks “Dueling Banjos” (Eric Weissberg, 1972), “East Bound and Down” (Reed, 1977), “I Will Always Love You” (Dolly, 1982), “Cowboy Boogie” (Travis, 1993). Own country LP Ask Me What I Am (1973). Charted with “Let’s Do Something Cheap and Superficial” (1980). Name-checked in Bob McDill lyrics of hit “If Hollywood Don’t Need You” (Don Williams, 1983).
MARK FORD, 62, died Sept. 7.
Producer/director at WSMV-TV, Channel 4 for 34 years. Launched series “Today in Nashville,” directed many newscasts and produced numerous commercials. Later produced in-house programming for Nashville Predators.
PAMELA JOY JOHNSON, 67, died Sept. 10.
Formerly vice president of development Country Music Hall of Fame, founding development & marketing director Oz Arts, director of marketing at Belmont arranging 2008 Obama/McCain debate at the university, president of Cheekwood.
TOMMIE LEWIS, 76, died Sept. 18.
Longtime cameraman at WSMV, Channel 4. Also a frequent local TV gospel singer.
FELTON PRUETT, 89, died Sept. 19.
Steel guitarist who backed Hank Williams, others. Musician at Louisiana Hayride in Shreveport 1948-60. Backed Faron Young, Slim Whitman, Merle Kilgore, Buck Owens, Minnie Pearl, etc.
WAYNE SMITH, 79, died Sept. 23.
Nashville film producer working in documentaries and animation. General manager of Toon City Animation, operating in The Philippines. (full name: Gilbert Wayne Smith).
DENNIS DIXON, 42, died Oct. 8.
Nashville soul, blues guitarist. Worked clubs Twin Kegs, The Local, Bourbon Street Blues & Boogie Bar, Broken Spoke, Carol Ann’s Home Cooking Café, etc. with S.O.S. Band, Phase 6, Tight Noise, Lovechild Revue, more.
GENE EICHELBERGER, 77, died Oct. 9.
Top recording engineer at Cinderella, Quadraphonic, His Master’s Wheels, Bennett House studios. Engineering/mixing for Cash, Waylon, Merle, Kris, Diffie, Milsap, Sawyer Brown, Donna Fargo, Collin Raye, Vern Gosdin, Randy Travis, John Hiatt, Amy Grant, Grand Funk, Bob Seger, Neil Young, Earl Scruggs, B.J. Thomas, Jewel, Dan Fogelberg, Joan Baez, Cat Stevens, etc. AES Lifetime Achievement Award. Mentor to a generation of Nashville engineers.
BILL WAGNER, 55, died Oct. 13.
Music journalist for Bluegrass Unlimited, Washington Post, Old Time Herald, Acoustic Guitar, others. Mandolin player in bluegrass act Frontier Justice.
ROBERTO BIANCO, 72, died Oct. 16.
Parody Vegas crooner billed as “The Romantic Voice of Our Time.” Performed at Bluebird Café in annual holiday & anniversary shows 1982-2017. Movie appearance 1987 Ernest Goes to Jail. Background vocalist on Johnny Cash CDs 1987, 1988 and on Frank Yankovic 1999 CD, all produced by Jack Clement. Solo CD Always 2005. (real name: Bob Biles).
LARRY KEITH DOOLITTLE, 61, died Oct. 17.
Known as “Big D,” worked for Hank Williams Jr. for 40 years.
DAVID EDWARD HARDIN, 78, died Oct. 18.
Former editor at The Nashville Banner. Authored two books on Civil War history, After the War & Emblems of War.
MICHAEL DeFOSCHE, 68, died Oct. 19.
Fiddler with string band The Stillhouse Reelers, popular attraction in Middle Tennessee 1980s. Songbook 1988: Old-Time Songs and Country Dance Tunes From the Southern Highlands.
TONY JOE WHITE, 75, died Oct. 24.
Dubbed “The Swamp Fox.” Internationally known Nashville singer-songwriter with classics “Polk Salad Annie,” “Rainy Night in Georgia.” Signed with Monument 1968. First hit in Europe with “Soul Francisco,” then U.S. pop success with “Polk Salad Annie” (1969), “Roosevelt & Ira Lee” (1969), “Save Your Sugar for Me” (1970). Songs recorded by pop stars Dusty Springfield (“Willie and Laura Mae Jones”), Elvis Presley (“I’ve Got a Thing About You Baby,” “For Ol’ Times Sake”), Brook Benton (“Rainy Night in Georgia”). Jason & Scorchers (“Polk Salad Annie”), Ray Charles (“3/4 Time”), Tina Turner (“Steamy Windows,” “Undercover Agent for the Blues”). His “Out of the Rain” recorded by Etta James, Joe Cocker, Jefferson Starship. “Rainy Night in Georgia” recorded by 100+ artists — Crusaders, Johnny Rivers, Conway Twitty & Sam Moore, Persuasions, Little Milton, Boots Randolph, Herbie Mann, Chuck Jackson, etc, Songs also covered by country’s George Jones, Waylon, Jerry Reed, Hank Jr., Charlie Rich, John Anderson, Tim McGraw, Emmylou, Kenny Chesney, Willie, Jessi Colter, etc. White recorded three LPs for Monument (1968-70), three for Warner Bros. (1971-73) & one each on 20th Century (1976), Casablanca (1980), Columbia (1983). Charted country with “Mamas Don’t Let Your Cowboys Grow Up to Be Babies,” “The Lady in My Life,” “We Belong Together” 1980-84. A dozen CDs on own Swamp Fox label 1986-2010. The Heroines nominated for Americana Music Award 2004. Most recent CDs on Yep Roc — Hoodoo (2013), Rain Crow (2016), Bad Mouthin’ (2018). In 1974 rock musical film Catch My Soul. Subject of 1998 documentary Searching for Tony Joe. Toured Europe throughout life. Grand Ole Opry debut Sept. 28, 2018. Father of singer Michelle White and producer Jody White.
HERB REMINGTON, 92, died Oct. 27.
Steel Guitar Hall of Fame member. Best known for influential western-swing tenure in Bob Wills & Texas Playboys 1946-50. Performed on classics “Fat Boy Rag” (1946) and signature instrumental “Boot Heel Drag” (1949). Next in Hank Penny’s band recorded his steel-guitar standard “Remington Ride” (1950). Also in Ray Whitley’s band (1946) and Dickie & Laura Lee McBride’s Ranch Hands (1950s). Later a prolific session musician for Floyd Tillman, George Jones, Big Bopper, Willie Nelson, Sleepy LaBeef, Slim Whitman, Asleep at the Wheel, Mac Wiseman, others. In studio “house band” at Starday Records in Houston. Eventually designed own steel guitars, toured with own band The Beachcombers, created steel-guitar instruction videos, recorded solo albums and formed revival group Playboys II with fiddler Johnny Gimble. Beginning 1972 also recorded regularly with western-swing band The River Road Boys.
BEVERLY SLOAN, 79, died Oct. 27.
Wife of Opry dance-troupe leader Melvin Sloan. Designer of square dancers’ matching outfits & group’s business manager. The Melvin Sloan Dancers performed on Opry 1980-2002.
FREDDIE HART, 91, died Oct. 27.
Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame member. CMA/ACM Song of the Year 1971-72 for self-penned “Easy Loving.” His songs also recorded by Porter, Buck, Patsy, George Jones, Waylon, Eddy Arnold, Loretta, Tammy, Kenny Rogers, etc. His recording career stretched from early 1950s into 2000s. Arrived Nashville 1949. Mentored by Hank Williams, Lefty Frizzell. First cut “Every Little Thing Rolled Into One” George Morgan 1949. Signed to Capitol 1952, but no hits. Moved to L.A., regular on TV’s Town Hall Party 1953-56. First songwriting hit “Loose Talk” Carl Smith 1955, also recorded by Hank Snow, Tubb, Patsy, Hank Locklin, Jean Shepard, 40+ others. Hit again 1961 as Buck Owens/Rose Maddox duet. First charted as artist Columbia Records 1959-61, “The Key’s in the Mailbox,” “Lying Again,” others. Monument Records 1963-64, no hits. Kapp Records hits “Hank Williams’ Guitar” (1965), “Togetherness” (1967). Continued writing for others “Farther Than My Eyes Can See” Frizzell (1959), “Blue” Louvins (1959), “Lovin’ in Vain” Patsy (1961), “My Tears Are Overdue” George Jones (1965), “If the Shoe Fits” Waylon (1967). Top-10 hits “Willie the Weeper,” Billy Walker (1962), “Skid Row Joe” Wagoner (1966). Joe Simon hit soul charts with Hart’s “Too Many Teardrops” 1966. Evergreen “Drink Up and Go Home” recorded by Mitchell Torok, Carl Perkins, Johnny Bond, Tex Ritter, Bobby Bare, Wilburns, Jerry Garcia, Larry Cordle, Sleepy LaBeef, Dave Evans, etc. Re-signed with Capitol 1970. Self-penned “Easy Loving” his first top-10, first No. 1 1971. Led to ACM awards for Entertainer, Male Vocalist, Album, Single, Song. String of hits ensued “My Hang-Up Is You” (1972), “Bless Your Heart” (1972), “Got the All-Overs for You” (1972), “The Want-To’s,” (1974), 15+ others 1975-80. Continued to make charts to 1988. Tallied 48 charting titles, 22 top-20 hits, six No. 1 singles. Equally potent as songwriter for others “Togetherness” (Buck Owens & Susan Raye 1970). “Greatest Gift of All” (Raye 1972), “I’m Not Going Hungry Anymore” (Charlie Rich 1973), “Too Many Teardrops” (Rich 1974), “If Fingerprints Showed Up on Skin” (Bobby “Blue” Bland 1975), etc. “While the Feeling’s Good” particularly successful via Mike Lunsford (1976), Kenny Rogers (1976), Rex Allen Jr. (1976), B.J. Thomas (1981), Tammy Wynette & Wayne Newton (1989), J.J. Barnes (1999), Vince Hill (2004). Songs recorded in recent times by Carlene Carter, Lorrie Morgan, Raul Malo, John Prine, Jesse Winchester, Rosie Flores, more. Hart began issuing gospel albums & entertaining at Branson, Mo. 1990s. Inducted into Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame 2004. Also member Alabama Music Hall of Fame, Colorado Hall of Fame, Idaho Hall of Fame. During long career, Hart appeared in all 50 states, plus Germany, Holland, England, Thailand, China, Saudi Arabia, Japan, France. (real name: Frederick Segrest).
JOHN T. BENSON III, 90, died Oct. 28.
Gospel Music Hall of Fame member. Former president of John T. Benson Publishing Company. Firm’s catalog recorded by nearly every Southern Gospel act — “He’s Coming Back,” “He Looked Beyond My Faults,” “I Go to the Rock,” “If That Isn’t Love,” “Somebody Prayed for Me,” etc. Benson record label rosters include Speer Family, J.D. Sumner & Stamps, Rambos, Oak Ridge Boys, Lewis Family, Imperials, then CCM stars DeGarmo & Key, Sandi Patty, dc talk, Yolanda Adams, Larnelle Harris, Bob Carlisle, Dallas Holm, Carman, Billy Sprague, plus Bill Gaither Trio, Gold City, 4Him, Archers, Cathedrals, Kingsmen Quartet, more. Labels folded 2001. Publishing continues via Brentwood Benson specializing in printed choral, worship, Sunday school, choir, Christmas, church music. President of GMA 1978-80.
LAWRENCE A. WALTMAN, 100, died Oct. 29.
Built & operated hugely popular country venue Sunset Park in Jennersville, PA 1940-1995. Showcased Hank Williams, Bill Monroe, Flatt & Scruggs, Cash, Jones, Conway, Reba, Grandpa, Hank Snow, Stanley Brothers, hundreds more.
BILLY POE, 77, died Oct. 31.
Steel guitarist for Charley Pride, Donna Fargo, Janie Fricke, Wendell Atkins, Billy Walker, Barefoot Jerry, Roy Drusky, etc. Regular at Layla’s and Robert’s Western World on Lower Broadway and a Nashville science teacher. Father of singer/bass player Michelle Poe, formerly of Burns & Poe.
KENNY MARKS, 67, died Oct. 31.
Popular Christian singer-songwriter in blue-collar rock mode. Pioneer and mainstay of the CCM genre in 1980s. Songs included “Make It Right,” “The Party’s Over,” “Right Where You Are,” “You Made a Difference for Me.” Recorded for Word/Myrrh/Dayspring. Albums: Follow Him (1982), Right Where You Are (1984), Attitude (1985), Make It Right (1987), Another Friday Night (1990), Fire of Forgiveness (1992), Absolutely Positively (1994), World Gone Mad (1995). Videos nominated for Dove Awards. In 1990s, became a host on Shop At Home cable channel.
DAVE ROWLAND, 74, died Nov. 1.
Leader of harmony trio Dave & Sugar. Country hits included “Queen of the Silver Dollar” (1975), “The Door Is Always Open” (1976), “Don’t Throw It All Away” (1977), “That’s the Way Love Should Be” (1977), “I’m Knee Deep in Loving You” (1977). “Gotta Quit Lookin’ At You, Baby” (1978), “Tear Time” (1978), “Golden Tears” (1979), “Stay With Me” (1979), “My World Begins and Ends With You” (1979). “Fool By Your Side” (1981). Five albums on RCA, one on Elektra. Attempted solo career 1982, then re-formed group. Sugar members included Vickie Hackerman, Jackie Franz, Sue Powell, Melissa Prewitt (Etta Britt), Jamie Kaye, Lisa Alvey, Regina Leigh, Lori Mason, Cindy Smith. Rowland previously in Stamps Quartet, Four Guys, plus backup singer for Elvis, Charley Pride.
BILL AMONETTE, 85, died Nov. 2.
Owner of Hewgley’s Music Store. Nashville trumpeter with many bands and orchestras. Member The Establishment big-band ensemble.
HISASHI OZAKI, 84, died Nov. 10.
Japanese bluegrass pioneer. Formed country’s first such band East Mountain Boys 1957 with brother Yasushi Ozaki. IBMA Distinguished Achievement Award 2013.
GERALD Q. ARTHUR, 91, died Nov. 11.
Classical vocalist. Founding director & conductor Nashville Pro Musica. Vocal coach, teacher, choir director.
BILL HICKS, 75, died Nov. 11.
Founding member of old-time revival band Red Clay Ramblers 1972-81. Fiddler on its albums for Folkways, Flying Fish. Band in Broadway musical Diamond Studs 1974-75. Contributing editor of Old Time Herald magazine.
ROY CLARK, 85, died Nov. 15.
Country Music Hall of Fame member. ACM Entertainer of Year 1973, 1974. CMA Entertainer 1973 & Musician of Year 1977, 1978, 1980. Star of TV’s Hee Haw for 24 years, 1969-92. Grand Ole Opry member. Dynamic showman, instrumental virtuoso, heartfelt singer, humorist/comedian. Vocal hits included “Yesterday When I Was Young” (1969) and “Come Live With Me” (1973), plus “Tips of My Fingers” (1963), “Right Or Left at Oak Street” (1970), “I Never Picked Cotton” (1970), “Thank God and Greyhound” (1970), “The Lawrence Welk Hee Haw Counter-Revolution Polka” (1972), “Riders In the Sky” (1973), “Somewhere Between Love and Tomorrow” (1973), “Honeymoon Feelin’” (1974), “The Great Divide” (1974), “Heart to Heart” (1975), “If I Had to Do It All Over Again” (1976), “Think Summer” (1976), “I Have a Dream” (1977), “Chain Gang of Love” (1980). Began career as teen performer 1947. National banjo championship 1951-52. Breakthrough in Washington D.C. as regular on Jimmy Dean TV show 1955. Joined Wanda Jackson’s band 1960. Signed to Capitol 1963-1965, then Dot/ABC/MCA 1965-1981. Grammy Award “Alabama Jubilee” 1981. Noted for guitar showpiece “Malaguena.” CMA Comedian of Year 1970, Instrumental Group (with Buck Trent) 1975, 1976. Also collaborated on disc with Clarence Gatemouth Brown, Boston Pops, Joe Pass, Charlie McCoy, Hee Haw Gospel Quartet, Ernest Tubb. Pioneering country artist behind Iron Curtain via Russia tour 1976. First country star with own theater in Branson, MO 1983. First country star at Montreux Jazz Festival 1979. Also country pioneer as frequent guest host of The Tonight Show. Star in Hollywood Walk of Fame. Gibson Guitar Hall of Fame. ACM Pioneer Award. Minnie Pearl Humanitarian of Year. Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame. Movies: Matllda (1978), Uphill All the Way (1985), Freeway (1988), Gordy (1995) Palo Pinto Gold (2009). Also “Cousin Roy” and “Mother Myrtle” on TV’s Beverly Hillbillies 1969. Co-starred on Swingin’ Country series 1966. Autobiography: My Life, In Spite of Myself (1994).
LINDA WESTBROOK, 75, died Nov. 17.
Retired from Buddy Lee Attractions after 25 years in the contract department.
EDDIE REEVES, 79, died Nov. 18.
General manager at Warner Bros. Records in Nashville 1984-1999. Previously a hit songwriter with such successes as “All I Ever Need Is You” (Sonny & Cher, 1971; Kenny & Dottie, 1979), “Rings” (Cymarron, 1971; Tompall & Glaser Brothers, 1971; Lobo, 1974; Reuben Howell, 1974), “Don’t Change On Me” (Ray Charles, 1971). Also: formerly in publishing as a v.p. at Chappell Music in 1970s. Leadership Music Class 1991.
CASEY ANDERSON, 92, died Nov. 26.
Co-founder of NSAI. Co-host of TNN’s 1988 series Side By Side with wife Liz Anderson (1930-2011). Co-wrote some of her songs: “The Fugitive” (Merle Haggard, 1967), “The Ballad of the Pony Express” (1960), “All Day Sucker” (Liz Anderson, 1970). Also her collaborator on her CD The Cowgirl Way (2012). Father of Lynn Anderson (1947-2015).
SHERYTHA SCAIFE, 86, died Nov. 27.
SOURCE honoree 2010. Former founding curator Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum. Wife & business partner of Cecil Scaife (1927-2009), with whom she worked in publishing at Music Incorporated & Tennessee Music. Also record labels Songs of Faith, Halo, Classic Christmas. Belmont University board. Mother of producer/engineer Joe Scaife and daughters LaQuita, LaRawn, LaQuela.
MARIAN JEWELL, 93, died Nov. 28.
Backup vocalist on gospel records. Longtime employee of Benson Publishing. Later owner/driver/manager Car & Chauffeur Service.
BRIAN FERRIMAN, 68, died Dec. 4.
Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame member. Former manager of Michelle Wright, Good Brothers, Terry Carisse, R.W. Hampton, Brenn Hill, others. President Savannah Music.
KELSO HERSTON, 87, died Dec. 4.
Label chief, record producer, song publisher, jingle creator, session musician during 1960s & 1970s. Guitarist with 10 Super Picker awards from NARAS 1961-1975. Began career Muscle Shoals with own Tune Records 1956. Hired to open Sun Records Nashville publishing office 1959. Session musician for Cash, Dolly, Bare, Jones, Loretta, Lefty, Kenny Rogers, George Morgan, Lesley Gore, Clyde McPhatter, Charlie Rich, Vikki Carr, Freddie Hart, Jean Shepard, Maybelle Carter, etc. Brought Jerry Lee Lewis to Mercury, renewing his career as honky-tonk stylist. Hired by UA to open Nashville office 1963. Produced Del Reeves, Goldsboro, Oaks & recorded own instrumentals on label. Headed Capitol Nashville office 1967 & produced Billie Jo Spears, Sonny James, Bobbie Gentry, Ferlin Husky, Wanda Jackson. Music director for TV’s Hee Haw. Served on Nashville NARAS board 1969-70. Formed Kelso Herston Productions 1971 as ad jingle company for Budweiser, Pepsi, Burger King, 7-Up, Oscar Meyer, RC Cola, Sears, Quaker Oats, McDonald’s, others. Clio Award for a Pepsi ad. Hired again by UA 1973. Signed Crystal Gayle, launching her hit-making career. Returned to jingles & to publishing firm Kelso Herston Music with hit catalog including Milsap’s “Don’t You Know How Much I Love You.” Independent producer for Columbia, Musicor, King. Alabama Music Hall of Fame 1997.
FLOYD PARTON, 61, died Dec. 6.
Country singer-songwriter. Songs include “Rockin’ Years” (George Jones, Dolly Parton & Ricky Van Shelton), “Nickels and Dimes” (George Burns, Dolly Parton), “Smooth Talker” (Stella Parton). Brother of Dolly, Stella, Rachel, his twin Freida, Cassie, Willadeen, Randy Parton.
JERRY CHESNUT, 87, died Dec. 15.
Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame member. Catalog includes “T-R-O-U-B-L-E” (Elvis, 1975; Travis Tritt, 1993), “It’s Four in the Morning” (Faron Young, 1972), “They Don’t Make ‘Em Like My Daddy Anymore” (Loretta, 1974), “A Good Year for the Roses” (Jones, 1970; Elvis Costello, 1981; Alan Jackson & Jones, 1994), “Looking at the World Through a Windshield” (Del Reeves, 1968), “Holding on to Nothing” (Porter & Dolly, 1968). “The Wonders You Perform” (Wynette, 1970), “Pride’s Not Hard to Swallow” (Hank Jr., 1972), “Another Place Another Time” (Jerry Lee, 1968), “Love Coming Down” (Jones, 1976; Elvis, 1977; Conway, 1979). A regular on TV’s Hee Haw 1971. Songs covered by more than 100 artists, including Strait, Willie, Tubb, Connie Smith, Hank Snow, Tom Jones, Son Volt, Marty Stuart, Lorrie Morgan, Ray Price, Waylon, Kitty, Goldsboro, Paycheck, Slim Whitman, Eddy Arnold, Brook Benton, Joe Simon, Arthur Alexander, Pat Boone, Bonnie Tyler, Jimmy Dean, Commander Cody, NRBQ, Nighthawks, B.J. Thomas, Wayne Newton, Mark Chestnutt, etc. More than 30 charted titles, including “Oney” (Cash, 1972), “A Dime at a Time” (Del Reeves, 1967), “Don’t She Look Good (Bill Anderson, 1972), “It’s Midnight” (Elvis, 1975), “If It Feels Good Do It” (Dave Dudley, 1972), “Weakness In a Man” (Roy Drusky, 1968), “When We Tried” (Jan Howard, 1970), “If Not For You” (Jones, 1969), “Woman Without Love” (Johnny Darrell, 1969), “Best Way I Know How” (Tillis, 1975), “Honky Tonk Stuff” (Jerry Lee, 1980), etc. Billboard Country Songwriter of Year 1972. Kentucky Music Hall of Fame 2004.
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