Country Artist Jim Seal Passes


Jim Seal

Country artist Jim Seal passed away April 17 at his home in Nashville. He was 68.
Seal performed most of his early career in the Los Angeles area, and began recording in Nashville in the late 1970s, earning the Billboard chart hit “Bourbon Cowboy” in 1980.
In 1994, Jim was an independent A&R consultant for BNA Records, and later played a role in bringing California artist Gary Allan to Nashville producer/songwriter Byron Hill. Jim is survived by his wife Keven, and son Marc Seal.
Service arrangements have not yet been announced.

Gospel Great George Beverly Shea Passes

George Beverly Shea111

George Beverly Shea

Gospel Music Hall of Fame member George Beverly Shea has died at the age of 104.
Known as “America’s beloved gospel singer” and/or “the first international singing star of the gospel world,” Shea passed away on Tuesday, April 16, in Asheville, N.C. For decades, he was the vocalist of the Billy Graham Crusades. This made him arguably the most widely heard gospel performer of all time. It is estimated that Shea has sung in front of more than 200 million people. He is notable for popularizing the standard “How Great Thou Art.” In addition, he co-wrote the gospel classics “I’d Rather Have Jesus” and “The Wonder of It All.”
A bass-baritone with chesty resonance and impeccable diction, Shea recorded more than 70 albums during his career. His 1966 LP Southland Favorites, recorded with the Anita Kerr Singers in Nashville, won a Grammy Award. In 2011, Shea was given a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Recording Academy.
Born Feb. 1, 1909 as the son of a Methodist minister, Shea was a native of Ontario, Canada. As a young man, he worked for Mutual Life Insurance in New York City. His singing career began with radio stints in Manhattan and Philadelphia. In 1939, he became a staff announcer and singer in Chicago on WMBI, a station owned by the Moody Bible Institute.
He met Billy Graham there in 1943. Graham recruited Shea to perform on his radio show, “Songs in the Night” (1944-52). Shea was also the host of the ABC network religious show “Club Time” (1944-52). Later, he and Graham starred on the long-running weekly broadcasts “Hour of Decision” (1950-present).
He was featured at the first Billy Graham Crusade, staged in Charlotte, N.C. in 1947. In fact, Shea was initially billed above Graham, since he was the better-known of the two at the time. He also began his recording career in 1947.
George Beverly Shea was the author of several books, including Then Sings My Soul (1968), Songs That Lift the Heart (1972) and his 2004 memoir How Sweet the Sound. He is also the subject of the 2009 authorized biography George Beverly Shea: Tell Me the Story.
He was inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 1978.
Shea is survived by wife Karlene, plus children Ronald and Elaine and several other descendents.

[Updated] Gordon Stoker of The Jordanaires Passes


Gordon Stoker

Gordon Stoker, tenor singer for Country Music Hall of Fame vocal group the Jordanaires, died Wednesday morning, March 27, 2013, at Alive Hospice in Nashville. He was 88.
The Jordanaires’ harmonies can be heard on some of the most famous recordings from the 1960s and early ‘70s, particularly the Elvis Presley classics “Don’t Be Cruel,” “Are You Lonesome Tonight,” and “It’s Now or Never.” Stoker had worked with Presley beginning in 1956, on the star’s first sessions for RCA Victor.
During the 1960s and beyond the Jordanaires helped create the Nashville Sound on recordings by Ferlin Husky (“Gone,” widely regarded as the first hit recording to embody the Nashville Sound), Jim Reeves (“Four Walls”), and Patsy Cline (“Crazy”). The also group contributed to Don Gibson’s “Oh Lonesome Me,” Johnny Horton’s “The Battle of New Orleans,” Tammy Wynette’s “Stand by Your Man,” Conway Twitty’s “Hello Darlin’,” Kenny Rogers’ “Lucille,” George Jones’ “He Stopped Loving Her Today,” as well as tracks by rock & rollers Ricky Nelson and Gene Vincent.
The quartet’s members evolved throughout the years, but the line up elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2001 is made up of tenor Stoker, second tenor Neal Matthews Jr., baritone Hoyt Hawkins, and Ray Walker. These men anchored the group for two decades. The Jordanaires were also elected to the Gospel Music Hall of Fame.
Born August 3, 1924, Stoker was a native of Gleason, Tenn., where he grew up in a musical family. By age eight he was playing piano in church, and then performing at singing conventions. After high school graduation at age 15, he moved to Nashville to join the Daniel Quartet, which performed on radio station WSM. His served in the Air Force and attended Oklahoma Baptist University before returning to Nashville and the Daniel Quartet.
First organized in the late 1940s, Stoker joined the Jordanaires in 1949, when the group was backing Grand Ole Opry headliner Red Foley. By 1950 the Jordanaires were becoming noted for their spirited renditions of songs associated with both the black and white gospel traditions. They continued to mine this musical vein after signing with Capitol in 1951. In addition, the group had begun singing background on records by country hitmakers such as Foley (“Just a Closer Walk with Thee”). Their regular spots on the NBC network portion of the Grand Ole Opry and on 1955’s Eddy Arnold Time, a popular syndicated TV show of the day, brought the famed quartet into households across the nation.
The Jordanaires’ contributions to the Nashville recording industry include Neal Matthews Jr. popularizing the Nashville Number System. Advocates for broadcasting and film performers, the Jordanaires were also instrumental in establishing the Nashville offices of national performers’ unions representing radio and television artists and screen actors.
In 2002, in conjunction with Larry Ford & the Light Crust Doughboys, they won a Grammy in the category of Best Southern, Country, or Bluegrass Album, for We Called Him Mr. Gospel Music: The James Blackwood Tribute Album. Frequent headliners in Las Vegas, they made personal appearances worldwide, carrying country music around the globe.
Stoker is survived by wife Jean Stoker, sons Alan and Brent, daughter Venita, daughter-in-law Jeanne, five grandchildren and one great grandchild.
Visitation will be held from 6 – 8 p.m. Thursday, March 28, and Friday, March 29, at Woodlawn-Roesch-Pattton Funeral Home, 660 Thompson Lane in Nashville. A memorial service is scheduled for Saturday, March 30, at 2 p.m. at Christ Presbyterian Church, 2323 Old Hickory Boulevard in Nashville. A one-hour visitation will also be held prior to the memorial service.
Read more about Gordon Stoker from the Country Music Hall of Fame.
 Stoker in 2011 at the Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum's celebration of drummer D.J. Fontana. Pictured (L-R): D.J. Fontana, Jerry Chesnut, Country Music Hall of Fame member Gordon Stoker, David Briggs, Scotty Moore and program host Bill Lloyd. Photo: Donn Jones

Stoker in 2011 at the Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum’s celebration of drummer D.J. Fontana. Pictured (L-R): D.J. Fontana, Jerry Chesnut, Country Music Hall of Fame member Gordon Stoker, David Briggs, Scotty Moore and program host Bill Lloyd. Photo: Donn Jones

[Updated] Spin Doctors Music Group's Erik Blumenfeld Passes

Erik Blumenfield

Erik Blumenfield

Erik Blumenfeld, Director of New Business Development with Spin Doctors Music Group, passed away suddenly on March 20. He was 30 years old.
He was instrumental in fundraising efforts for Big Brothers/ Big Sisters of Nashville and SOLID (Society of Leaders in Development). He was also an avid golfer and traveler.
Blumenfeld graduated from the University of Arkansas with a degree in public relations.
Survivors include his mother and stepfather, Anna and Evan Marr Fogelman; brother, Cole A. Blumenfeld; sister in-law, Shara Burnham; grandparents, Jennie and Monroe Knight, Marilyn Marr Klepak and Dr. and Mrs. M.J. Fogelman; and girlfriend Brinn Black. He was preceded in death by his father, Peter S. Blumenfeld.
A graveside service will be held today, Monday, March 25, 2013 at 2:00 pm in Hillcrest Memorial Park Cemetery in Dallas, Texas.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Nashville, The American Cancer Society, or The Springboard Entertainment Foundation. Online condolences may be made here.
A Nashville memorial service is in the works but details have not been announced.

Stompin' Tom Connors Passes

stompin' tom connors1The life of Canadian country superstar Stompin’ Tom Connors was celebrated at a memorial service last week in Peterborough, Ontario.
On Wednesday, March 13, politicians, musicians and fans gathered to deliver eulogies and sing the songs of the singer-songwriter who was noted for his uncompromising style, iconoclastic beliefs and sturdy individualism. His casket was covered with the Canada’s maple-leaf flag and topped by his trademark black Stetson hat.
Connors was fiercely proud to be Canadian. He wrote story songs with themes about his homeland and decried fellow artists who aimed for stardom in the U.S.
Raised in poverty in New Brunswick, he hitchhiked across Canada at age 15. He broke into show business on the radio in the mining city of Timmins, Ontario, later the hometown of Shania Twain. He acquired his nickname while performing in Peterborough due to his habit of stamping his boot heel so forcefully that he damaged stage floors.
His best-known songs included “Bud the Spud,” “Sudbury Saturday Night,” “The Black Donnellys,” “Up Canada Way” and “The Martin Harwell Story.” His “The Hockey Song” of 1973 was played at all NHL games for many years.
In the 1970s, he had a national TV show titled Stompin’ Tom’s Canada on the CBC network. He formed his own record labels to promote not only his own works but those of other Canadian artists.
In protest of Canada’s broadcasters promoting non-Canadian artists, Connors quit recording in 1978. He resumed his career 10 years later.
Named Top Male Country Artist at the Juno Awards in 1971-75 and an Album of the Year winner in 1974, he returned all six of his trophies, stating that they should be given to “border jumpers.” He later told the CBC to “shove it” following a dispute about starring in a national TV special. In 1993, he declined induction into the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame.
In 1996, he published Stompin’ Tom: Before the Fame as his best-selling autobiography. In 2002, he was presented with honorary doctorate degrees by two universities. In 2009, he was pictured on a Canadian postage stamp and given a SOCAN lifetime achievement award.
Stompin’ Tom Connors was reportedly a heavy drinker who smoked more than 100 cigarettes a day. He died at age 77 on March 6 of renal failure after stubbornly refusing medical treatment. He planned his own memorial service. On the day of his death he issued a message to his fellow Canadians to “keep the Maple Leaf flying high.”
He is survived by his wife Lena, four children and several grandchildren.

Singer Jack Greene Passes

Jack Greene

Jack Greene

Country music singer Jack Greene passed away Thursday, March 14, at his home.
Known as the Jolly Green Giant, Greene branched into a solo career after time with Ernest Tubb’s Texas Troubadours band, where he worked as a drummer and relief singer.
Green’s first major hit, “There Goes My Everything,” charted at No. 1 for seven weeks and won four CMA trophies at the 1967 ceremony, including  Male Vocalist of the Year, Single of the Year, Album of the Year and Song of the Year.
Greene’s additional hits included “All the Time,” “You Are My Treasure” “Until My Dreams Come True,” “Statue of a Fool” and duets with Jeannie Seely including “Wish I Didn’t Have to Miss You,” “Much Oblige,” and “What In The World Has Gone Wrong With Our Love.”
Since his induction in the Grand Ole Opry in 1967, Greene regularly performed on the historic stage, including a final time on Dec. 16, 2011.
Green was 83-years-old and had been suffering from health complications from Alzheimer’s Disease. Arrangements have been made for the Ryman Auditorium on March 27 at 11 am. The balcony will be open to the general public on an availability basis; no personal cameras will be allowed.

LifeNotes: Claude King Dies

Country entertainer Claude King, an original member of the Louisiana Hayride, has died at age 90. King is best-known for his 1962 hit, “Wolverton Mountain,” (written by Merle Kilgore), which portrayed the fictional account of Clifton Clowers, a mountain man who closely guarded his daughter from potential admirers. King had additional country hits including 1961’s “Big River, Big Man” and “The Comancheros,” 1962’s “The Burning of Atlanta,” 1965’s “Tiger Woman” and 1969’s “All For The Love Of A Girl.”
King was a member of both ASCAP and the Screen Actors’ Guild (SAG). He appeared in the 1982 television miniseries The Blue and the Gray, and in several feature films.
Louisiana native King had celebrated his birthday and 67th wedding anniversary to wife, Barbara, just last month.

LifeNotes: Toby Keith's Bassist, Carl "Chuck" Goff Jr., Dies In Crash

chuck goff11Toby Keith‘s bass player, Carl “Chuck” Goff Jr. died during a two-car collision in Oklahoma. According to WCPO, Goff was killed Wednesday evening (Feb. 27) in rural Cleveland Country, about 35 miles southwest of Oklahoma City.
Goff, 54, served as bassist as well as band leader for the entertainer. He also co-wrote two songs recorded by Keith, “Upstairs Downtown” and “You Ain’t Much Fun,” both from Keith’s 1994 album Boomtown.
Keith released a statement on his website, saying, “We are deeply saddened by the sudden death of our band member, Chuck Goff. He was a close friend for over 25 years, the band leader and bass player. Our hearts and prayers go out to his family.”

All For The Hall To Return To New York City in 2013

Vince Gill and Emmylou Harris at All For The Hall in 2010. Photo: Alex J. Berliner.

Vince Gill and Emmylou Harris at All For The Hall in 2010. Photo: Alex J. Berliner.

The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum’s All For The Hall series will return to New York City in 2013. All For The Hall New York will take place on Tuesday, Feb. 26 at Best Buy Theater, and will feature performances by Country Music Hall of Fame members Vince Gill and Emmylou Harris as well as other guest performers. The performance will take place in a “guitar pull” fashion and a cocktail reception and dinner will precede the performance.
“We are delighted to be returning to New York, and look forward to offering patrons a unique country music experience and an opportunity to engage in the life of our 45-year-old educational organization,” said Museum Director Kyle Young. “This annual event facilitates understanding of the important collection, research and scholarship that are the essence of our great national museum. The contributed income derived from the event allows us to continue our mission of preserving the evolving history and traditions of country music; it helps to fund our dynamic changing exhibit schedule, our school programs, the hundreds of public programs we present each year and more. We are very grateful for our warm welcome in previous years and look forward to seeing old friends and making new ones next month.”
The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum launched All For The Hall in 2005. All For The Hall was hosted in New York previously in 2007 and in 2008, and in Los Angeles in 2009, 2010 and 2011.
All for the Hall New York is chaired by AEG Live Chairman Tim Leiweke and produced by CAA’s Rod Essig, Vector Management’s Ken Levitan and BMI’s Jody Williams.
To purchase tickets or for more information, patrons may contact Rachel Shapiro at [email protected] or telephone 615-416-2069.

Lifenotes (1/7/2012)


P.R. Battle

Singer/songwriter Paul Robert (P.R.) Battle passed away on Dec. 29 at the age of 63 in Atlanta, GA. Born in Nashville, he began work in the ’70s, writing more than 200 songs published by Sony/ATV-Tree, the Universal Music Publishing Group, Irving Music, and others, according to his obituary. His own “Radio Loves You” was released on A&M Records. In lieu of flowers, his loved ones request contributions to the American Lung Association. A memorial service will be held Jan. 12 at 11:30 a.m. at St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church. Visitation will precede at 10:30.
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Muriel Luteran

The mother of Sony/ATV Vice President of Creative Tom Luteran died on Dec. 18. Muriel Luteran was 89 year old and was buried Dec. 22 at Pleasant Hill Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to the Chester First Aid Squad (300 Main St., Chester, NJ 07930).

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Sammy Johns

Sammy Johns

Singer/songwriter Sammy Johns died at the age of 66 on Jan. 4 at North Carolina’s Gaston Memorial Hospital. He wrote and recorded the ’75 hit “Chevy Vann,” and has writing credits on “Common Man” (John Conlee), “America” (Waylon Jennings), and “Desperado Love” (Conway Twitty). The funeral will be held at McLean’s Funeral Home in Belmont, NC on Wednesday (Jan. 9) at 2:00 p.m. Visitation will be Tuesday from 7:00 – 9:00 p.m.