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Soul Singer Bobby Hebb Passes

Sunny, you smiled at me and really eased the pain.
The dark days are gone, and the bright days are here,
My Sunny one shines so sincere.
Sunny one so true, I love you.

Bobby Hebb, the Nashville singer who wrote and performed the soul-pop smash “Sunny,” died today (8/3) in Music City. He played a pivotal role in Nashville’s soul scene, but his roots can be traced to the country community, including his start on the Grand Ole Opry.

Born July 26, 1938, Hebb was raised by blind parents in his childhood home near what is today Music Row. Early in life he learned to perform, sing, tap dance, and play the spoons, often as a street musician. Eventually he landed an appearance on famed producer Owen Bradley’s local television show, which caught the attention of Roy Acuff, who in turn invited Hebb to join the Opry’s band. At the time, from about 1950-55, he was the show’s only African-American.

Bobby Hebb with the Beatles.

In 1960 Hebb recorded his own version of Acuff’s hit “Night Train To Memphis.” In 1966 his song “Sunny” earned him international prominence and a slot opening for the Beatles. The tune went on to become one of the most-played songs of the 20th century (No. 25 on BMI’s list) and was recorded by Frank Sinatra, Cher, Stevie Wonder, Ella Fitzgerald, James Brown and countless others.

True to his Nashville heritage, Hebb followed his hit “Sunny” with a soul-stacked version of country standard “A Satisfied Mind.” Among other hits he wrote was “A Natural Man,” recorded by Lou Rawls.

Success came full circle for Hebb when he was one of the most prominently featured artists in the 2004 Country Music Hall of Fame exhibition Night Train To Nashville, and on the accompanying Grammy-winning album.

A funeral service has not been announced but arrangements are being handled by Terrell Broady Funeral Home, 3855 Clarksville Pike.

John Aylesworth Passes

John Aylesworth (L) with actor Lorne Greene on the Hee Haw set in 1976. Photo Credit: Family Photo

Veteran television producer John Aylesworth died Wednesday in Rancho Mirage, CA at age 81.

He was best known to Nashvillians as the co-producer of the enormously successful country-music series Hee Haw. Born in Canada, Aylesworth moved to the U.S. in 1958 to write for the CBS TV series Your Hit Parade. He and his writing partner Frank Peppiatt went on to write television specials for Perry Como, Judy Garland and Frank Sinatra, as well as the rock ‘n’ roll TV series Hullabaloo.

When Laugh-In and The Beverly Hillbillies were the two top-rated programs on TV, Aylesworth and Peppiatt decided to combine elements from both, and Hee Haw was the result. At the time, neither man had ever been to the South. But from 1969 to 1993 they traveled to Nashville twice a year to tape the long-running show. At its peak, Hee Haw showcased every major star in country music and was seen by 15 million people a week.
Earlier this year, Aylesworth published his memoir, The Corn Was Green: The Inside Story of Hee Haw.

Lifenotes: Margaret Ann Rich

Margaret Ann Rich, songwriter and widow of country singer Charlie Rich, died on July 22 at her Memphis home. She was 76 and had been battling Alzheimer’s disease.

One of the best-known songs from Margaret Ann Rich’s pen was the 1991 Ricky van Shelton hit, “Life’s Little Ups and Downs.” Her husband, who passed away in 1995, also recorded her songs “Field of Yellow Daisies,” “A Sunday Kind of Woman” and “Nothing In the World.” Among the other artists who recorded songs by Margaret Ann are Tom Jones, Kris Kristofferson, Rita Coolidge, and Bobby Blue Bland.

She was a founding member of the Memphis branch of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences and a member of the Screen Actors Guild. Services were scheduled for today (7/26) in Memphis.

Lifenotes: Guitarist Fred Carter Jr.

Fred Carter Jr. playing at the Station Inn in 1983. Photo by Alan Mayor

Noted musician Fred Carter Jr. passed away on July 17th from stroke-related causes at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

The Louisiana native was born in 1933 and began his career as a professional musician in the 1950s, playing guitar for rock ‘n’ rollers like Roy Orbison. By the early ‘60s Carter had settled into the Nashville scene, where he would be a first-call player for the next two decades.

Carter’s influence branched outside of Music City, spreading into the folk world with work on Simon and Garfunkel classics like The Boxer. The multi-instrumentalist can be heard playing bass on Bob Dylan’s “Lay Lady Lay” as well as lead guitar with Joan Baez, Neil Young, and The Band. His career also included work with Muddy Waters, Waylon Jennings, Dottie Rambo, and many more.

Carter was instrumental in bringing out of town folkies to Nashville to record. He produced Levon Helm’s American Son album on MCA Records, and Bobby Bridger’s Heal in the Wisdom. As a songwriter, Carter has had songs recorded by acts as diverse as Dean Martin and Chet Atkins. He is said to have had a hand in Tanya Tucker and Dolly Parton’s first record deals.

Carter is survived by A loving husband and father, Carter is survived by his wife of 49 years, Anna; his sons, Ronnie and Jeff; his daughter, recording artist Deana Carter; and his five grandchildren. Visitation will be at Woodlawn Roesch-Patton Funeral Home (Thompson Lane) on Tuesday, July 20 from noon until 2:30 p.m., with the funeral immediately following.

Fred Carter and daughter Deana Carter, pictured in May 1998. Photo by Alan Mayor

Songwriting Legend Hank Cochran Passes

Hank Cochran, the songwriter who touched the world with classics like “I Fall To Pieces,” has passed away. He died peacefully at home in Hendersonville, Tenn., this morning (7/15) surrounded by family and friends. Earlier this year the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame inductee underwent surgery for an aortic aneurysm; he had also been treated for pancreatic cancer in recent years. He was 74.

Last night Cochran visited with friends Jamey Johnson, Billy Ray Cyrus and Buddy Cannon, who dropped by to sing songs with the ailing musician.

Garland Perry “Hank” Cochran was born August 2, 1935 in Isola, Mississippi. Following his parents’ divorce at age 9, he was shuffled between an orphanage and relatives, eventually landing in Nashville in 1959. The Encyclopedia of Country Music says he “defined country songwriting in the 1960s, and continued to be a major creative force in Nashville into the 1990s.”

Cochran’s influence persevered for the remainder of his life. In June 2009, BMI toasted his six decades of success, which included penning Cline’s “She’s Got You,” Eddy Arnold’s “Make The World Go Away,” George Strait’s “Ocean Front Property” and “The Chair,” and Ronnie Milsap’s “Don’t You Ever Get Tired Of Hurting Me.”

Cochran is survived by wife Suzi, daughter Booth Calder and sons Garland Perry Cochran Jr., James Lee Cochran and Daniel Cochran. A private, family memorial will be held in the near future, and a public service will follow. Details will be forthcoming. The family asks for privacy at this time and, in lieu of flowers, memorial donations to the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame Foundation.

Pictured at the BMI reception held Monday, June 15, 2009 in Nashville to honor legendary songwriter Hank Cochran are Bobby Bare; BMI Assistant Vice President Writer/Publisher Relations Clay Bradley; Theresa & Merle Haggard; Hank Cochran; songwriter Dale Dodson; BMI Vice President Writer/Publisher Relations Jody Williams and BMI President & CEO Del Bryant. (Photo by Peyton Hoge)

Lifenotes: Wilma “Trip” Turner; Don Wright; Logan Pereira; Betty Sue Crockett

MusicRow sends deep condolences to members of the music community who have recently lost loved ones.

Longtime Nashville publicist/writer Judi Turner’s mother, Wilma “Trip” Turner passed away Wednesday (7/7). She was 84. A celebration of her life will be held on Saturday, July 10 at 11:00 am at First Baptist Church in Gainesville, Georgia. She is survived by daughter Judi, sons Ben, Dade City, Florida, and Johnny, Gainesville, and two grandchildren. Memorial contributions may be made to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum or the Ministry of Caring, First Baptist Church, Gainesville, for which Mrs. Turner was a long-time volunteer.
First Baptist Church is located at 751 Green Street NW, Gainesville, GA  30501; (770) 534-7354. www.fbcgainesville.org

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Don Wright, father of Show Dog-Universal Records President Mark Wright, passed away Wednesday (7/7) in Bella Vista, AR. Services are Saturday at Bella Vista Community Church in Bella Vista AR. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Circle of Life Hospice, 901 Jones Rd, Springdale, AR 72762 Or Wings of Hope, 18370 Wings of Hope Blvd, St. Louis, MO. 63005

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Logan Walter Pereira, son of Taillight TV VP/partner Chandra LaPlume-Pereira and her husband Jeff Pereira, passed away July 6, 2010 at Vanderbilt Hospital. Born August 8, 2008, he was nearing his second birthday. Logan’s grandmother Jeannine Pereira remains in ICU. WKRN reports that the infant and grandmother were found in a swimming pool, after she was carrying him in the water and possibly experienced a medical issue. Funeral services for Logan will be Friday, July 9 at Christ the King church on Belmont Blvd. Visitation is from 10:30 AM-12:30 PM, with service immediately following, also at Christ the King.

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Craig Morgan’s mother Betty Sue Crockett passed away peacefully at home on Sat. July 3. She was 63 and had been battling cancer. Born in Davidson County, “Mammy” was a loving wife, mother, cabinet maker and devoted Baptist. Visitation will be today, Tuesday, July 6 from 2-8PM at Taylor Funeral Home in Dickson, TN. Funeral services will be conducted Wed. July 7, at 9 AM, also at Taylor Funeral Home, followed by burial at the Tennessee Veterans Cemetery in Pegram. Memorial donations may be made to the Center for Pancreatic Cancer research or to Billy’s Place (a home to be built for displaced children) c/o Taylor Funeral Home, 214 N. Main St. Dickson, TN 37055.

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Songwriter Larry Jon Wilson Passes

Songwriter Larry Jon Wilson died yesterday (6/21) at age 69. The Georgia native was recognized for his songs about rural life and for his association with contemporaries such as Townes Van Zandt, Mickey Newbury, Guy Clark, John Prine, and Kris Kristofferson.

Wilson didn’t start writing songs until age 30, but within a few years he had signed with a Nashville label and publisher. Monument released four of his records in the ‘70s (New Beginnings, Let Me Sing My Song To You, Loose Change, and Sojourner), but by the ‘80s he was disillusioned with the music business and returned to Augusta, GA.

Wilson’s career was mostly quiet for the next twenty-five years, but he still performed at listening rooms like Eddie’s Attic in Decatur, GA , the Bluebird Cafe in Nashville, and the Flora-Bama Lounge, in Perdido Key, FL. In recent years his music career saw a revival, spawning a new self-titled album, an overseas tour, and new fans.

WDHR’s Randy Jones Passes Away

Pictured (L-R): Randy Jones, promoter Regina Raleigh, promoter Christina Bear, and KMGO's Russ Ocker

MusicRow is saddened to report that Randy Jones, PD of East Kentucky Broadcasting’s WDHR/Pikeville, KY passed away at his home yesterday (6/20). He was 59 years old. A beloved local radio fixture, Jones was the longtime announcer for Pikeville High School basketball and football games and the voice of WDHR radio. He was born in Pike County, Kentucky, and graduated from Pikeville High School and the Emory Riddle Pilot School. Along with his parents, Jones was preceded in death by one son, Randall Corey Jones, and one brother, John Paul Jones. He is survived by his wife Paulette, son Austin and brother David.

Visitation will be held at 6 pm at the J.W. Call Funeral Home Chapel in Pikeville on Tuesday (6/22), with Masonic services at 7 pm. Funeral services will take place at 1 pm on Wednesday (6/23) at the J.W. Call Funeral Home Chapel and burial will follow at the Annie E. Young Cemetery in Shelbiana, Kentucky. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that contributions be made in Randy’s memory to Hillbilly Christmas in July, PO Box 4333, Pikeville, Ky. 41502 or the Randy and Corey Jones Scholarship Fund, c/o Pikeville High School, 148 2nd St., Pikeville, KY 41501.

Jimmy Dean Passes [Updated: Arrangements]

Pictured with Elvis Presley at the "Jimmy Dean Show."

Country star and sausage king Jimmy Dean died last night, June 13, at age 81. As a member of the newest class of inductees to the Country Music Hall of Fame, Dean left his mark on the genre, most notably with his trademark song “Big Bad John.” He passed away at his home in Virginia.

Born in Plainview, Texas in 1928, Dean had a string of hits as a country singer in the 1960s, including “Big Bad John” in 1961. Throughout the ‘50s and ‘60s he attracted fans as host of his own television show, and often as a guest host for The Tonight Show. He made his feature film debut in the James Bond classic Diamonds Are Forever.

He went on to found the Jimmy Dean Sausage company in 1968.

He is survived by his wife, Donna Meade Dean.

Visitation:
Sunday, June 20
12:00 PM to 8:00 PM
Nelsen Funeral Home
4650 S. Laburnum Avenue
Richmond, VA 23231
Tel. (804) 222-8601

Funeral:
Monday, June 21
11:00 AM
Grove Avenue Baptist Church
8701 Ridge Road
Richmond, VA 23229

Interment: Private

Benefit For Songwriter Larry Wayne Clark

Larry Wayne Clark, a longtime Nashville songwriter and MusicRow contributor, has been undergoing cancer treatment in his native Canada. Among Clark’s catalog is Chris Young’s first single, “Drinking Me Lonely,” and cuts by the Statler Brothers, Lee Greenwood, Anne Murray, and many others.

Music City friends and colleagues are staging the benefit concert “Nashville Sings for Larry Wayne Clark” to help pay for his medical expenses. The show is set for Monday, June 14, from 6-9 PM at the Red Rooster Bar & Music Hall on Demonbreun. Buddy Jewell, who wrote “Addicted to the Rain” with Clark and included it on his sophomore album, will headline. Also on the line-up are Robin English, Andrea Pearson, Lauren Lucas, Chelsee Oaks, Adam Gregory, Jared Blake, Ryan Laird, Erinn Bates, Cassidy Lynn and renowned guitarist Ladd Smith. Many will perform songs they wrote with Clark.

There will be live and silent auctions. Admission is free, but donations will taken at the door. Everyone who makes a donation of $20 or more will receive a copy of LWC Favorites: Songs of Larry Wayne Clark. The CD is available for purchase at www.larrywayneclark.com/cd.html with all proceeds going to his medical expenses.

Friends who cannot attend the benefit will be able to view streaming video at UARadio. Online donations may be made via PayPal. The “send to” address to use in the US is [email protected] and in Canada it’s [email protected]

For more information, call Robyn Taylor-Drake at 615-726-5810 or [email protected]