We have been adding pavements to downtown’s Walk of Fame for 17 years, and a milestone was reached on Thursday afternoon (May 4).
Under balmy, sunny, springtime skies, the 25th induction ceremony honored Eric Church, Joe & Linda Chambers and Butch Spyridon, which brings the Music City Walk of Fame to its 100th star. The pavement stars are at Walk of Fame park, between the Hilton Hotel and the Country Music Hall of Fame on Demonbreun.
“Music City is not a slogan — it’s a title that has been earned over hundreds of years of singers, songwriters, producers, musicians, publishers and music executives….the creative people who have made a lasting mark,” observed event host Bill Cody. The Walk of Fame was established to honor these people, regardless of music genre.
Inductee Joe Chambers was mentored by the legendary Billy Sherrill at CBS. His songs were recorded by Conway Twitty, George Jones, Johnny Paycheck, Joe Diffie, B.J. Thomas and more. He founded Chambers Guitars with locations in Nashville, Franklin, Smyrna, Murfreesboro and Bowling Green. He and his wife Linda Chambers established the Musicians Hall of Fame, which also houses the Grammy Museum gallery and the SOURCE Hall of Fame honorees.
Joe passed away last fall, but Linda was on hand to accept their joint Walk of Fame induction. Garth Brooks did the honors.
“This whole street is paved with stars honoring people who came with a dream,” Garth said. “Someone’s gonna salute the players on those [hit] records. As an artist, I can’t imagine having a career without them. These are the true heroes of music, and it was Joe and Linda Chambers who decided to honor them.”
“Garth, you and Joe shared the same love and appreciation for musicians,” Linda responded. “We are blessed and honored to be able to call you ‘friend.’” She shared, “Joe’s biggest joy in life was to give credit, to lift up someone else.” Joe & Linda Chambers as a couple are Walk of Fame star #98.
Star #99 was installed for Eric Church. “He has made an indelible impact on Music City,” observed Cody. He cited the facts that Church was the inaugural artist at Ascend Amphitheater, set an attendance record at Nissan Stadium and was the first to financially support the restoration of the historic Club Baron on Jefferson Street. Next year, Eric will open Chief’s, a six-story entertainment venue on Lower Broadway.
Inducting Church was ESPN broadcaster Marty Smith. “Nashville, Tennessee is a magical place,” Marty said. “It’s built on a song….Songwriters save lives — their work is a sanctuary, and my sanctuary was Church.” When Marty’s father died, he was emotionally crippled, and Eric’s songs gave him something to cling to.
“I came to town in a 1987 two-tone Chevy Blazer in 2000,” Eric recalled. “I knew no one. I had a guitar and big, big dreams. I thought I had big dreams, and this is beyond what I ever dreamed….The ‘honor’ is that [Nashville] is Home. I am very grateful.”
The 100th Walk of Fame star was given to Butch Spyridon, who founded the attraction. Butch retires from his 32-year gig as head of the Nashville Convention & Visitors Bureau next month. During his tenure, Bridgestone Arena, Nissan Stadium, the Music City Center with its Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, the July 4th and New Year’s Eve celebrations, the National Museum of African American Music (NMAAM) and the spectacularly successful 2019 NFL Draft event all came into being. Under his leadership, Nashville became a global tourism destination, which generates $8.8 billion in visitor spending annually.
“When you’re wandering around down here thinking, ‘Who thinks of this stuff?’ — think of Butch Spyridon,” said Garth.
“This is not my star, it’s the city’s star,” responded Butch, referring to the community that he promoted to being, “one of the hottest destinations in the world.” He recalled the Walk of Fame inductions of Little Richard, Dolly Parton and Kings of Leon as favorite memories. He also insisted that the Fisk Jubilee Singers become the first star installed. He added, “It has been a marvelous journey. I am beyond humbled….Fans, thank you for loving Nashville.”
There were fans a-plenty, gathered to take snaps and gaze at Eric, Garth, Steve Wariner, Jay McDowell, Terry Bulger, NMAAM’s Henry Hicks, Ken Levitan, Kevin Lavender, John Peets, Kay Smith, Jackie Marushka and WKRN News 2’s Stephanie Langston. Guitarist extraordinaire David Anderson provided the event’s lovely soundtrack.