Longtime Music & Radio Industry Executive Bill Mayne Passes Away

Bill Mayne

Longtime music and radio industry executive and former CRB/CRS Executive Director Bill Mayne has died at 72 after a long-term illness.

Mayne’s nearly 50-year career included a decade at the helm of CRS as well as time at multiple radio stations and a 15-year stint at Warner Bros. in Nashville.

Mayne started his career in radio, working on-air in programming roles across diverse formats, including top 40, rock and country music, where he found his calling. Mayne launched KASE in Austin and went on to lead KZLA/KLAC in Los Angeles and KSCS/WBAP in Dallas.

After time spent in radio, he transferred over to the records side of the building, joining Warner Bros./Nashville. During his 15 years there, Mayne held various influential roles, from regional to VP of Promotion, eventually becoming Sr. VP/General Manager and VP of Promotion.

A devoted member of the CRB Board, Mayne became the Board Vice President before assuming the role of Executive Director in 2009. He held the position for a decade before stepping down in 2019. The same year, Mayne received the organization’s President’s Award and was recognized for the significant contributions he’d made to the radio industry.

The multi-hyphenate business man also presided over Mayne Entertainment, an artist management company, and Mayne Street Consulting, a private entertainment consulting firm, offering valuable insights and guidance to clients in the entertainment field.

Mayne was also deeply involved in the industry’s charitable endeavors, serving as a former Board member of the Country Music Association and spent over 35 years on the Academy of Country Music Board of Directors, including roles as Chairman and Chairman of the Board of Lifting Lives, the charitable arm of the ACM. His legacy also includes co-founding the St. Jude Country Cares for Kids Program, a monumental initiative that has raised over $700 million for St. Jude since its inception in 1989. Additionally, he held the role of National VP for MDA and was a distinguished member of Leadership Music and the Mayor’s Nashville Music Council.

Mayne is survived by his loving wife of 46 years, Sallie Mayne, who was his steadfast partner throughout his incredible journey. He is also survived by his sons Bryant Mayne and Christopher Mayne, his grandchild Everleigh Mayne and mother-in-law Helen Wood.

Memorial services for Mayne have not yet been announced, though donations can be made in his honor to St. Jude and ACM Lifting Lives.

RJ Curtis, the current Executive Director of CRB/CRS, shared the following statement regarding Mayne’s passing: “The passing of Bill Mayne marks a profound loss for the entire country music community. Bill was a true giant in every sense of the word. His fifty years of passionate work positively impacted everyone he met, in nearly every segment of our business, through his time in radio, the music industry, artist management, entrepreneurialism, and, of course, his decade of leadership as Executive Director for CRB. Bill Mayne navigated the organization through a period of great adversity, ultimately reestablishing CRS as the premier industry event that it is today.”

Damon Whiteside, CEO of the Academy of Country Music, shared, “On behalf of our membership and Board of Directors of the Academy and ACM Lifting Lives, I am deeply saddened by the loss today of Bill Mayne, a true giant of the Country Music industry, an invaluable champion of the Academy of Country Music, and one of our longest serving Board Members. Bill dedicated more than 35 years of service to the ACM Board, including serving as the Chairman for both the Academy and ACM Lifting Lives. I am comforted that we were able to celebrate his phenomenal legacy this summer by presenting him with our ACM Service Award at the 16th ACM Honors. Bill had a huge heart, as evidenced by his incredible philanthropic work, including his service to ACM Lifting Lives. His impact, passion, and devotion to the Country Music industry and community will live on forever. On behalf of all of us at the ACM, we send our love and prayers to his family, friends, and all who have been lucky enough to work with and know him.”

CMA CEO Sarah Trahern said, “Bill had great passion for Country Music going back to his days in radio. I first worked with him in 1996 on a TV special when he was with Warner Bros. Nashville. I was struck by his enthusiasm for the format and ability to get things done. Years later, we were both officers of the ACMs, where his great knowledge of board governance and organization was a huge asset to our leadership team. Most recently, we got to work together when he joined the CMA Board of Directors, where he served from 2016 to 2018. My deepest condolences to Sallie and his sons.”

Hit Producer & MGM Exec Jim Vienneau Dies At Age 97

Jim Vienneau

Jim Vienneau, whose record productions launched the careers of Hank Williams Jr., Conway Twitty, Mel Tillis and more, has passed away in Nashville at age 97. He was formerly the head of the MGM Records country division and an executive at Acuff-Rose.

A native of Albany, New York, Vienneau was born in 1926 as the son of a salesman and a silent-movie pianist. During World War II, he served in the Navy.

He was the nephew of legendary pioneering country producer and Columbia Records talent scout Frank Walker (1889-1963). Walker discovered dozens, including Bessie Smith and Hank Williams. In 1946, he co-founded MGM Records with Williams and Bob Wills as its flagship country artists.

Mentored by Walker, Vienneau went to work for MGM in New York in 1955. He first made his mark as the producer of such MGM pop hits as Mark Dinning’s “Teen Angel” (1959), Conway Twitty’s “It’s Only Make Believe” (1958), Connie Francis’s “Vacation” (1962), Sheb Wooley’s “The Purple People Eater” (1958) and Roy Orbison’s “Ride Away” (1965).

In 1965, the label transferred him to Nashville to head its country-music division. Between 1965 and 1976, he produced 13 top-10 hits for the young Hank Williams Jr, including “Cajun Baby,” “Pride’s Not Hard to Swallow” and “I’ll Think of Something.” He began producing Tillis in 1970 and their work together resulted in “I Ain’t Never,” “Sawmill,” “Memory Maker’ and 10 other top-10 hits. Vienneau also produced Jeannie C. Riley’s 1972 comeback hit “Give Myself a Party.”

His other MGM artists included Jimmy C. Newman, Marvin Rainwater, Lois Johnson, The Stonemans, Floyd Cramer, Bob Gallion, Ben Colder, Tony Booth, Sherry Bryce and Tompall & The Glaser Brothers. In 1972, Billboard named him its Country Producer of the Year. During the 1970s, MGM launched Marie Osmond (“Paper Roses”), Jim Stafford (“Spiders and Snakes”) and C.W. McCall (“Convoy”) and signed Eddy Arnold, Billy Walker and Jerry Wallace.

MGM Records was sold to PolyGram, which folded the imprint in 1976. Following a brief stint at 20th Century Records, Jim Vienneau joined Acuff-Rose Publishing in 1982. He worked with the firm’s writers Lorrie Morgan, Aaron Tippin and Kenny Chesney, all of whom later became recording stars. He was also involved with the company’s writers Buddy Brock and and Donny Kees.

Over the years, Vienneau produced such artists as Bob Luman, Charlie Walker, Roy Acuff, Melvin Endsley, Donna Fargo, Wayne Newton and Narvel Felts. He retired in 1998.

Jim Vienneau died at his Nashville home on Nov. 9. He is survived by his wife of 71 years, Joan Preston. He is also survived by daughters Nancy Neill, Carole Zeller and Barbara Green; son James; four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

A private ceremony will be held at the Middle Tennessee Veterans Cemetery. A celebration of life will be scheduled for a later date. Harpeth Hills Memory Garden & Funeral Home is handling the arrangements.

Beloved Writer Abe Stoklasa Passes

Abe Stoklasa. Photo: Courtesy of Spirit Music Group

Singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Abe Stoklasa passed away on Friday (Nov. 17) of undetermined causes. He was 38.

Stoklasa is the tunesmith behind hit songs such as Chris Lane’s No. 1 “Fix,” Michael Ray’s top 10 hit “Get To You,” Ben Rector’s Platinum hit “Brand New,” Lady A’s “Ocean” and the Grammy-nominated song “The Driver” from Charles Kelly’s solo album as well as Kelly’s beloved “Leaving Nashville.” Stoklasa has also had songs recorded by Lady A, Blake Shelton, Billy Currington, Tim McGraw, Charlie Worsham and many more.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Charles Kelley (@charleskelley)

A native of Princeton, Missouri, Stoklasa grew up playing and singing in local bands from the age of six. When he was 14, he and his family moved to Tennessee, and by the time he graduated high school, he knew he wanted to pursue music as his career.

Stoklasa got his undergraduate degree at Belmont University. After a short stint in grad school studying jazz at the Frost School of Music at UMiami, he changed course to be a touring pedal steel and sax player, going out on the road with David Nail and Billy Currington.

He eventually decided to leave the road and write songs full time in 2013 at the age of 26. By 2014, Stoklasa had landed his first cuts with McGraw, Shelton and Lady A.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Charlie Worsham (@charlieworsham)

Since his passing, many co-writers, artists and members of the music community have poured out tributes to Stoklasa, with many noting how talented, intelligent, authentic and hilarious he was.

Memorial arrangements for Stoklasa have not yet been announced.

Charline Smith Wilhite Passes

Charline Smith Wilhite

Charline Smith Wilhite, a longtime ASCAP employee, passed away on Oct. 22 following a cancer diagnosis. She was 87.

Wilhite was a native of Spring Hill, Tennessee and received her bachelor’s degree from MTSU in 1959. After a brief stint with the TBI, Charline began a 35-year career with ASCAP in Nashville as their Membership Services Administrator. She worked at ASCAP until she retired in 2010.

She married Tom Wilhite in 1978 and they were together for 33 years before his passing in 2011.

Wilhite is survived by her sons, Bart (Elizabeth) and Brad (Marna) Pemberton, and grandsons Jay and Will Pemberton, and her sister, Mary Ruth Mains.

A service was held at 11:30 am on Tuesday, Nov. 7 at Clearview Baptist Church in Brentwood, officiated by John Gardner. In lieu of flowers, Wilhite’s family asks to consider a donation to Alive Hospice of Nashville.

Trish Williams Warren Passes

Anna Patricia “Trish” Williams Warren, a longtime employee of producer Jerry Kennedy’s JK Productions, passed away Oct. 23. She was 78.

Warren grew up in Newton Grove, North Carolina, and after graduation, attended the University of North Carolina, Greensboro, graduating with a degree in music. She began her career as a middle school music arts teacher, but after a year, moved to Nashville to begin a career in the country music industry.

She took a job at Al Galico Music Publishing Company and in 1970, moved to Mercury Records, working with producer Jerry Kennedy. When Kennedy formed his own production company, JK Productions, she moved with him, working there until she retired. In 2007, she received the Source Foundation Award, which recognizes the achievements and contributions made by women in the country music industry.

After retirement from the music industry in 1991, Warren moved back to her hometown to marry her seventh-grade sweetheart, Larry Warren, and be closer to family. In retirement, she co-owned and operated Williams Sand & Gravel, which she inherited from her father. She also served Newton Grove Methodist Church and Hopewell Methodist Church for over 30 years, serving variously as pianist, organist, choir director and music director.

Warren is survived by her husband, Larry D. Warren, her sisters, Linda Williams Whitfield, DeLena Williams Bryan (and husband Mark) and Edna Williams McGuirt, all of Newton Grove. She is also survived by five nephews and 12 great nieces and nephews, as well as numerous cousins and friends.

The family received friends on Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2023, at West & Dunn Funeral Home in Newton Grove. A Graveside funeral service was held at Hillcrest Cemetery in Newton Grove on Thursday, Oct. 26.

Memorials in Trish Williams Warren’s name may be made to the Newton Grove Methodist Church’s General Fund (P.O. Box 471, Newton Grove, NC 28366) or to Hopewell Methodist Church (4641 Church Road, Newton Grove, NC 28366) or to a charity of one’s choice.

Industry Veteran Margie Hunt Passes

Margie Hunt

Industry veteran Margie Hunt passed away on Sunday, Oct. 22.

Hunt moved to Nashville from New Mexico in 1972 to work with Waylon Jennings and Jessi Colter at Waylon Jennings Enterprises, located in the Glaser Studio building on 18th. Ave. S. Many industry icons such as Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Roger Miller, Tony Joe White, Dobie Gray, Guy Clark, Kinky Friedman, Harlan Howard, Billy Swan and Shel Silverstein referred to the building as their second home. It was there that they built the foundation for the “Outlaw Movement” and the Highwaymen recordings.

In the fall of 1976, Bonnie Garner hired Hunt as her secretary in CBS Records/Sony Music’s A&R department. Working at one of the biggest record companies in Nashville, and guided by Garner, Hunt learned how a major recording facility functioned while working with the biggest names on their roster, including Cash, Nelson, Kristofferson, George Jones, Tammy Wynette, Dolly Parton, Marty Robbins, Earl Scruggs Revue, Charlie Daniels, Sonny James, Merle Haggard and more. Over the course of three decades, Hunt worked directly with over 100 artists including the new wave of talent signed to the label, which consisted of Ricky Skaggs, Doug Stone, Collin Raye, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Patty Loveless, Sweethearts of the Rodeo, Montgomery Gentry, Marty Stuart, Ricky Van Shelton, Shenandoah, Exile, Travis Tritt, The Chicks and more.

She worked closely with the newly-signed Ray Charles in 1983. Between 1983-1988, Charles recorded six albums at CBS Records, including Friendship, which featured the hit “Seven Spanish Angels” with Nelson. The track became a country standard, staying on the charts for 27 weeks.

Throughout her tenure at CBS Records/Sony Music, Hunt was promoted five times. In 1994, she created and led the first in-house, full-time Film & Television department. In this position, Hunt was responsible for the utilization and exploitation of more than 60 years of hits and over 50,000 country recordings. At the time, CBS Records was the first label in Music City to actively pursue country catalogs for use in film and television. She placed music in more than 30 major motion pictures and television programs. Hunt was then promoted to Sr. Director, Product Development in 1997, and won two Grammys as a producer and an executive producer.

She later founded Hunt Music Services, and spent time at AWMG Entertainment.

Hunt was inducted into the SOURCE Hall of Fame in 2022, which recognizes the “Women Behind The Music.” During the induction ceremony, she received a video message from Stuart in which the country star stated, “Congratulations on this wonderful honor that you so deserve. I remember you so well from back in the CBS days. The thing that stands out to me about you was you had a heart for music and the people who made it.”

Memorial services for Hunt are pending.

Country Songwriting Great Bill Rice Passes

Bill Rice

Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame member Bill Rice died at age 84 in Florida last Saturday (Oct. 28).

During his career, Rice earned 73 ASCAP awards. Among the No. 1 country hits he co-wrote are “Lonely Too Long” (Patty Loveless, 1996), “Wonder Could I Live There Anymore” (Charley Pride, 1970), “Would You Take Another Chance on Me” (Jerry Lee Lewis, 1972) and “Ain’t She Something Else” (Conway Twitty, 1985). His songs were recorded by Hank Williams Jr., Sonny & Cher, Reba McEntire, Robert Goulet, Loretta Lynn, Glen Campbell, Sammy Davis Jr., Bobby Bare, Bobby Blue Bland and Tammy Wynette, among many others.

He was born Wilburn Steven Rice in Arkansas in 1939. He began playing guitar at age 14 and was signed to his first recording contract at 18. The label was Fernwood Records, a Memphis imprint founded by guitarist Scotty Moore. Rice’s first success as a songwriter occurred in 1960, when Elvis Presley recorded “Girl Next Door Went A’walking.”

Relocating to Nashville, he teamed up with songwriter Jerry Foster, and the pair became an outstanding success story. Their early successes included 1968’s “The Day the World Stood Still” and “The Easy Part’s Over,” both sung by Pride.

The following year, Jeannie C. Riley’s recording of their “Back Side of Dallas” earned a Grammy nomination. Mel Tillis hit the top 10 with their “Heaven Everyday” in 1970, and Pride returned to No. 1 with “Wonder Could I Live There Anymore.”

In the 1970s, Bill Rice also pursued a singing career on Capitol, Epic and Polydor. Of his six charted singles 1971-78, only one of them achieved top 40 status, 1971’s “Travelin’ Minstrel Man.” His career as a country songwriter would be wildly more successful.

In 1972, alone, Rice co-wrote Johnny Paycheck’s “Someone to Give My Love To,” Jerry Lee Lewis’s iconic “Think About It Darlin’” and Bob Luman’s “When You Say Love.” The last-named was covered by both Lynn Anderson and Sonny & Cher. Lewis also topped the charts in that year with their “Would You Take Another Chance On Me.”

At the 1972 ASCAP Country Awards, Foster and Rice won an unprecedented 10 awards. They were publicized carrying the trophies in a wheelbarrow.

In 1974, they had 11 songs on the chart at the same time. One of them was Mickey Gilley’s “Here Comes the Hurt Again,” which earned the songwriters a Grammy nomination. Another was “I’ll Think of Something,” a top 10 hit for Hank Jr. Revived by Mark Chesnutt, the classic song hit No. 1 in 1992.

Both Rice and Foster were inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1994. By then, Bill Rice had formed another songwriting partnership. He and the award-winning Sharon Vaughn created 1982’s “I’m Not That Lonely Yet” for McEntire. Leon Everette introduced this team’s “Til a Tear Becomes a Rose” in 1985. Lorrie Morgan and the late Keith Whitley earned a CMA Vocal Duo Award with the song in 1992.

The two songwriters married one another. Success continued with 1992’s Patty Loveless smash “Lonely Too Long.” At the singer’s Country Music Hall of Fame induction last month, Vince Gill memorably performed the ballad. (The independently successful Vaughn joined her ex husband in the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2019).

Bill Rice initially worked for Jack Clement and Bill Hall as his publishers on Music Row. When he became a song publisher, himself, Rice helped several up-and-coming writers. These included Roger Murrah, Jim McBride and Rich Alves. Rice also produced records.

The songwriter passed away in Merritt Island, Florida at his home, surrounded by family members. He is survived by granddaughter Melissa Mae (Clint) Hanes and several grandchildren, stepchildren and extended family members.

Arrangements are being handled by Ammen Family Cremation & Funeral Care (1001 S. Hickory St., Melbourne, FL 32901). No events are scheduled. The family suggests planting a tree in the memory of Wilburn Steven “Bill” Rice.

‘Peter Cottontail’ Singer, Merv Shiner, Dies At Age 102

Merv Shiner

Country singer Merv Shiner, who originated the children’s Easter favorite “Here Comes Peter Cottontail,” died last week in Florida at age 102.

His memorial service will take place Saturday (Nov. 4) in Tampa.

Shiner was a cast member of the WWVA Wheeling Jamboree. He also appeared on the Grand Ole Opry and starred on several early country television shows. He recorded for Decca, RCA and MGM, among other labels. Between 1949 and 1969, he placed four singles on the country popularity charts.

Mervin J. Shiner was born in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania in 1921 and made his professional singing debut on local radio stations. His mother, Jennie Newton Shiner (1887-1953), was an accomplished singer, and she urged him to pursue a show-business career. She also performed with him. Billed as “Mervin Shiner and His Mother,” the duo began broadcasting in Pennsylvania in 1936.

He worked in a Los Angeles defense plant during World War II, then reunited with his mother and landed a spot on Dave Miller’s country TV show in Newark, New Jersey in 1948. He also guested on several early country television programs in New York City. These appearances brought him to the attention of future Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame member Vaughn Horton (1911-1988), who arranged a recording contract with Decca Records.

Shiner debuted on the country charts in 1949 with “Why Don’t You Haul Off and Love Me,” which became a top 10 hit. The song was also successful for Bob Atcher and for Wayne Raney, who co-wrote it.

Later in 1949, Decca producer Paul Cohen brought Shiner a new song and asked him to learn it. Shiner was reluctant, since he considered himself to be a country singer, not a kiddie music maker. But Cohen was certain that “Peter Cottontail” was a hit.

Shiner’s version of the song debuted on the country hit parade in early 1950 and eventually sold a million. “Peter Cottontail” was also popularized by Gene Autry, Jimmy Wakely, Johnnie Lee Wills, Fran Allison, Rosemary Clooney, Roy Rogers, Hank Snow, Frank Luther and Guy Lombardo. As a result of the hit, Shiner was invited to appear on the Opry, where he was introduced by Hank Williams. By 1953, he was a regular on the World’s Original Jamboree in West Virginia.

He signed with RCA Victor Records. The label issued “Mr. Sandman,” “You’re Free to Go” and several other singles, but none charted.

In 1954, he appeared on Pee Wee King’s television show in Cleveland, Ohio. Shiner was also a guest on Jubilee U.S.A., the landmark network country TV show from Springfield, Missouri hosted by Red Foley.

In 1965, Merv Shiner was featured in the movie Second Fiddle to a Steel Guitar alongside Merle Kilgore, Dottie West, Jimmy Dickens, Minnie Pearl, Lefty Frizzell, Kitty Wells, Faron Young, Webb Pierce, Connie Smith and a bevy of other country headliners. Shiner reemerged on the country charts as an MGM artist in the late 1960s. Both “Big Brother” (1967) and “Too Hard to Say I’m Sorry” (1969) were co-written and produced by Jack Clement.

Shiner ran his own song firm in Music City, Ly-Rann Publishing. He co-wrote Jan Howard’s 1969 hit “We Had All the Good Things Going” and his songs were also recorded by Billie Jo Spears, Dolly Parton, Charley Pride and others.

In 1970-71, Merv Shiner was the A&R director at the Nashville office of Certron Records. The label released his version of the Crosby, Stills & Nash pop hit “Teach Your Children,” as well as his albums Life Is Lovin’ What You’re Made For (1970) and Greatest Christmas Kiddie Hits (1970). Certron also marketed the music of Johnny Paycheck, Elton Britt, Bobby Helms and Pozo Seco (featuring future solo star Don Williams).

Shiner recorded for a number of independent labels in the 1970s and 1980s. He retired in 2004. In later years, he sang with his wife Marilyn and played the Martin Guitar he’d had since 1937. In 2021, the Nashville local of the Musicians Union recognized him with a proclamation on his 100th birthday. He was the local’s oldest member, according to Local 257 president Dave Pomeroy.

Mervin Shiner died on Oct. 23. He is survived by his wife Marilyn, by son Michael and by three granddaughters.

Saturday’s memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. at the First Reformed Church of Tampa (8283 W. Hillsborough Ave.). Burial will be in the family plot in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

Banjo Master Buck Trent Passes

Buck Trent. Photo: Jeremy Westby / 2911 Media

One of the greatest banjo stylists in country-music history died yesterday (Oct. 9) at age 85.

Buck Trent is familiar to millions thanks to his regular appearances on such national TV programs as The Porter Wagoner Show, Hee Haw and The Marty Stuart Show. The master showman was revered by generations of country instrumentalists and was the inventor of the electric banjo. He was also noted as a humorist, songwriter and singer.

Trent died in Branson, Missouri on Monday morning. His ebullient personality and infectious on-stage energy were matched by unparalleled musicianship. The latter was displayed on dozens of records. He made 15 solo albums and was also heard on albums by Wagoner, Nancy Sinatra, Mac Wiseman, Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper, Norma Jean, Johnnie & Jack, Roy Clark and many others.

Those are his distinctively rhythmic acoustic-guitar licks opening Dolly Parton’s iconic “Jolene.” He also played on the singer’s original version of “I Will Always Love You” and on Parton’s albums Coat of Many Colors (1973), My Tennessee Mountain Home (1973) and Rainbow (1987), among others.

Born Charles Wilburn Trent in Spartanburg, South Carolina, he began playing Hawaiian guitar when he was seven years old. He also played Dobro, mandolin, electric bass, guitar and most notably, five-string banjo. He started performing on radio at age 10. When he was 17, he was featured on the TV show of Cousin Wilbur (Westbrooks) in Asheville, North Carolina.

He moved to California, where he performed on Town Hall Party, Hometown Jamboree and other west coast country shows. He then fronted his own bands in San Angelo, Texas and Atlanta (on WJFB-TV).

Trent moved to Nashville and joined the road show of Opry star Bill Carlisle in 1959. After serving a brief stint with Bill Monroe, he joined Porter Wagoner’s troupe in 1962. This is where he developed his electric-banjo innovation alongside steel-guitar maestro Shot Jackson.

The Porter Wagoner Show was the top nationally syndicated country music show of the 1960s. Wagoner’s state-of-he-art troupe also included comic Speck Rhodes, dancing fiddler Mack Magaha and spectacular “girl singer” Parton. Trent played on all of the hit duets recorded by Wagoner and Parton, as well as on her solo LPs. He urged her to record “Mule Skinner Blues,” which became her first top 10 hit (1970).

Trent remained with the Wagoner troupe through 1973. He spent the next seven years with Roy Clark. They were part of the first country music road show to tour the Soviet Union (1976). He and fellow instrumental great Clark created several dazzling duet performances. They were named the CMA’s Instrumental Group of the Year in 1975 and 1976.

When Clark joined the Hee Haw cast, so did Trent. He remained with the show for 19 years. This higher profile led to a number of solo albums showcasing his instrumental gifts. Trent recorded for the Smash, RCA, Boone, Dot and ABC labels, as well as for his own imprint. Among his best-known collections were Bionic Banjo (1976), Oh Yeah! (1977) and Buck Trent (1986).

In the 1990s, Buck Trent became a headliner in Branson, Missouri. Between 2008 and 2015, he was featured on Stuart’s show. He recorded with the future Country Music Hall of Famer on the 2012 CD Tear the Woodpile Down.

Buck Trent embarked on the 2018 “Kornfield Friends” Hee Haw reunion tour alongside former show regulars Lulu Roman, Misty Rowe and Jana Jae. Trent’s final album, Spartanburg Blues, was released in 2018.

Funeral arrangements have not been announced.

All-Around Nashville Music Man Mike Henderson Passes

Pictured: Chris Stapleton and Mike Henderson accept the Song of the Year award for “Starting Over” at The 55th Annual CMA Awards. Photo: John Russell/CMA

Songwriter/performer Mike Henderson died suddenly on Friday, Sept. 22 at age 70.

He is perhaps best known as the co-writer of the Chris Stapleton hit “Broken Halos,” which became Stapleton’s first No. 1 success and won the Grammy Award as Country Song of the Year in 2017. It also won a CMA Song of the Year Award, as did 2021’s “Starting Over.”

Mike Henderson was a founder of the much-awarded progressive bluegrass band The SteelDrivers. For nearly 40 years, he has held down a weekly Monday-night residency at The Bluebird Cafe with his blues bands.

Mike Henderson. Photo: Jim McGuire

A native of Independence, Missouri, Henderson mastered guitar, fiddle, mandolin, Dobro and harmonica while playing in folk, bluegrass, rock and blues bands in high school and college at the University of Missouri. The most prominent of these was a blues combo called The Bell Aires. He and his family moved to Nashville in 1985. His aim was to become a utility player in some star’s road band.

In Nashville, he joined the blues-rocking group The Roosters, which evolved into The Kingsnakes. Henderson’s co-written “Powerful Stuff” was recorded by The Fabulous Thunderbirds and became a standout on the soundtrack of the Tom Cruise movie Cocktail in 1988. The Snakes were signed to Curb Records the following year.

As a songwriter, Henderson was signed to EMI on Music Row. His songs were recorded by Trisha Yearwood, Gary Allan, Patty Loveless, the [Dixie] Chicks, Travis Tritt, Kenny Rogers, Randy Travis, Marty Stuart and others.

Mike Henderson & The Bluebloods

He also worked steadily as a session musician, appearing on albums by Emmylou Harris, Kelly Willis, Lucinda Williams, Sting, Waylon Jennings, John Hiatt, Albert King, Tim McGraw, Hank Williams Jr., Faith Hill, Guy Clark, Bob Seger, Blake Shelton, Delbert McClinton and Martina McBride, as well as Loveless and the Chicks.

RCA Records signed him as a solo artist in 1993, and he issued the album Country Music Made Me Do It on the label. His “Hillbilly Jitters” RCA single charted briefly in 1994.

He formed the Dead Reckoning collective with Kieran Kane, Kevin Welch, Harry Stinson and Tammy Rogers. Henderson released three albums on Dead Reckoning, Edge of Night (1996), First Blood (1997) and Thicker Than Water (1999). The last two were with The Bluebloods, a new incarnation of his blues-rock ensembles.

Mark Knopfler hired him for his touring band in 2001. The rock star praised Henderson’s guitar work and was particularly taken with his blues harmonica stylings.

Henderson and Rogers co-founded The SteelDrivers in 2006. The group issued its debut album in 2008 and was named New Artist of the Year by the IBMA (International Bluegrass Music Association) in 2009. The group’s 2010 album Reckless was nominated for a Grammy. Henderson and Stapleton met in The SteelDrivers and became songwriting collaborators. Their SteelDrivers song “If It Hadn’t Been for Love” was recorded by pop superstar Adele.

Mike Henderson left the band in late 2010, and Stapleton departed in 2011 to launch his highly successful solo career. The two men remained songwriting collaborators. In addition to “Broken Halos” and “Starting Over,” Stapleton has popularized their collaborations “Midnight Train to Memphis,” “Second One to Know” and “Death Row,” among others.

Henderson also continued to record, issuing the 2015 album If You Think It’s Hot in Here. He became a record producer, as well. In addition to recordings by The Bluebloods, Henderson guided a series of rootsy albums for John Oates in recent years. He worked with Dale Watson on the latter’s current album, Starvation Box.

Last year, Mike Henderson had a special thrill when he performed with Stapleton at Wrigley Field. He was a lifelong fan of The Chicago Cubs, so he described the experience as “a dream come true.”

He also continued to perform regularly at The Bluebird. His final performance was last Monday there. Longtime songwriting collaborator Wally Wilson spoke to him Friday morning by phone. That afternoon, Henderson died in his sleep at home. Wilson believed the cause to be a pulmonary embolism.

Mike Henderson is survived by his wife of nearly 45 years, Janet, and by his daughters Lauren and Shannon Henderson. Visitation will be in the sanctuary of Woodmont Christian Church on Wednesday (Sept. 27), 10 a.m. to noon with a memorial service to follow. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to MusiCares.