Tag Archive for: Lifenotes

Lifenotes: Ella Tomlinson, Mother of Troy Tomlinson

Condolences to Sony/ATV President/CEO Troy Tomlinson and his family on the passing of his mother, Ella Tomlinson, on May 30.

The devoted wife and mother was born in Sumner County, TN and retired from Eaton Corp. in Gallatin in 1984.

She is survived by four sons, James (Faye) Wright of Gallatin; Bobby (Polly) Wright of Gallatin; Troy (Sylvia) Tomlinson of Portland; and Tim (Vanessa) Tomlinson of Portland; daughter, Mary Watson of Jackson, TN; ten grandchildren; several great grandchildren; sisters and brothers. She was preceded in death by her husband, Vernon Tomlinson.

Funeral services for Mrs. Tomlinson will be held at 1 p.m. today (Tuesday, June 1) at Wilkinson & Wiseman Funeral Home in Portland, TN, followed by interment in Old Brush Cemetery. Visitation will precede from 10 a.m. until the funeral at 1 p.m. Wilkinson & Wiseman Funeral Home can be reached at (615) 325-4191.

The Flying Cowboy Passes

Longtime Fan Fair favorite Jimmy Kish, known as “The Flying Cowboy,” died in Nashville last Thursday at age 84.

Mr. Kish was a guitarist, songwriter, publisher, actor, square-dance caller, radio personality and licensed pilot. He had a booth at the first Fan Fair celebration in 1972 and has been a fixture there ever since. Initially, he had his own booth, complete with a plywood airplane. In more recent years he built and managed the booth for The Pioneers of Country Music, known as The Reunionaires.

The Ohio native entered show business in 1945, performing on a medicine show. His singing, guitar playing and square-dance calling led to a radio job on KCOR in San Antonio. Other early radio jobs included WJHP in Jacksonville and KWBN in Williston, North Dakota.

He appeared in the 1946 movie Geronimo Pass with Red River Dave. Returning to Ohio, he worked at radio stations in Youngstown and Ashtabula.

In 1952, Jimmy Kish & His Radio Cowboys became the staff band on WHK in Cleveland. In 1952-54, he was a regular on Pee Wee King’s television show. It was at this time that he earned his pilot’s license. He made a number of records, both as a singer and as a square dance caller.

In 1966, while hosting a radio show on WELW in Willoughby, Ohio, he flew a group of country fans to Nashville to see the Grand Ole Opry. An announcer dubbed him “The Flying Cowboy,” and the nickname stuck.

In later years, Mr. Kish did cameos in music videos by George Jones, Hank Williams Jr. and Garth Brooks and in the movies Ernest Goes to Jail, Coal Miner’s Daughter, Living Proof and Sweet Dreams.

Jimmy Kish passed away on May 27. He is survived by his wife of 55 years, Ruth Kish, by five children, seven grandchildren and two great grandchildren. The funeral was Monday, May 31, with burial following at Mt. Olivet Cemetery.

Country Singer Judy Lynn Passes

Country singer, Las Vegas headliner and former beauty-pageant queen Judy Lynn has died at age 74.

Ms. Lynn recorded more than a dozen albums and had hit singles with such titles as “Footsteps of a Fool” (1962) and “My Secret” (1963). She was also renowned as the most flamboyantly costumed country star of her generation.

Born Judy Lynn Voiten in 1936, she was the daughter of bandleader Joe Voiten. Raised in rural Idaho, she was an authentic cowgirl who could rope and ride at an early age.

She first performed in public at age 10. Blonde and blue-eyed, she was named Queen of the Snake River Jamboree in 1952. The following year, she was crowned America’s Champion Yodeler. She competed as Miss Idaho in the 1955 Miss America contest and finished as a runner-up.

In 1957, she was chosen to co-host the first national Grand Ole Opry network telecast. She also became a frequent guest on Jimmy Dean’s network television show. During her heyday in the 1960s she had her own syndicated TV series.

She signed with ABC-Paramount Records in 1957. Although she had no notable successes with the label, Billboard named her its Most Promising Female Country Singer later that same year. United Artists Records signed Ms. Lynn in 1962. Produced by Pappy Dailey, she had a top-10 hit that year with “Footsteps of a Fool.” She wrote two of her other hits for the label, “My Secret” and “My Father’s House.”

She became a tireless entertainer for the troops, making many USO tours overseas. She also began headlining at The Golden Nugget in Las Vegas. She settled in that show-business capital and eventually graduated to starring at Caesar’s Palace. Ms. Lynn appeared with Eddy Arnold, Red Foley, Elvis Presley, Rex Allen, Eddie Fisher, Gene Autry, Ferlin Husky and other top stars of her era.

Her album jackets illustrate her eye-popping visual flair. Ms. Lynn performed in elaborately tooled cowgirl boots in vivid colors to match her skin-tight stretch slacks and figure-hugging blouses. She was clad in electric-blue leather, shimmering purple lamé, green gabardine embellished with shiny gold or silver flowers, rhinestone bedecked crimson polyester or blouses with metallic sleeve fringe, always topped by matching kerchiefs at the throat and highly decorated cowgirl hats atop her gleaming golden tresses.

She moved to Musicor Records in 1966. By then, she had expanded from her Vegas base to also headline in the casinos of Reno and Lake Tahoe.

She was produced by Frank Jones on Columbia Records in 1969, then returned to the charts with Alex Harvey’s song “Married to a Memory” on the independent Amaret label in 1971. Her last charted single was 1975’s “Padre” on Warner Bros. Records.

Ms. Lynn was married to musician Jack Kelly. In 1980, she abruptly quit show business to become an ordained minister.

She died at home of congestive heart failure on Wednesday, May 26. At the time of her passing, she was residing in Jeffersonville, Indiana. She is survived by a daughter and several grandchildren.

Pop Artist Owsley Passes

The Nashville pop-music artist billed as Owsley died Friday, April 30.

Owsley’s 1999 self-titled debut solo album on Giant Records was nominated for a Grammy Award in the engineering field. His second, self-released, CD was titled The Hard Way.

Earlier, he was in the Nashville pop-rock band The Semantics. Owsley was also noted as a guitarist for Shania Twain and Amy Grant.

His full name was Will Owsley, and he was originally from Anniston, Alabama.

According to The Tennessean, Owsley died of an apparent suicide. He is survived by his wife and two children.

Veteran Nashville Broadcaster Norm Ray Passes

Noted Nashville instrumentalist and veteran radio and television broadcaster Norm Ray died Saturday, April 17, at age 73.
He is perhaps best remembered for the wit and humor he displayed for 20 years on the Ralph Emery Morning Show, WSM’s The Waking Crew and for the 10 years he spent in the house band on TNN’s Nashville Now. For a time, he was also the host of WSMV’s The Saturday Morning Show.

A native of Hamtramck, Michigan, Norm Ray began playing saxophone at age 5. He started his recording career in the Motown studios in Detroit, backing The Supremes, Stevie Wonder, Martha & The Vandellas, Marvin Gaye, The Four Tops and other r&b stars. He moved to Nashville in 1965, joining Orchestra XII, one of the city’s last big bands.

In 1967, he broke into recording-studio work on Music Row by performing on the Elvis Presley soundtrack for Clambake. He subsequently recorded with Chet Atkins, Ray Stevens, Boots Randolph and others. He also played saxophone and flute in Randolph’s nightclub band.

Norm Ray is survived by his children Sherry Rau Carver, Norman Rau and Andrew Rau and numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Funeral arrangements have not been finalized.

Artist Lifenotes: Love And Theft, Terri Clark, Allison Moorer/Steve Earle

Mr. and Mrs. Gunderson, Photo: Elle DuVal Hobbs

Congrats to Love and Theft’s Eric Gunderson who married longtime girlfriend Emily Hagar at Hazel Path Mansion in Hendersonville, Tennessee on Saturday, April 3. The outdoor wedding was held at sunset with 150 guests in attendance.

After returning from their honeymoon, Gunderson and Love And Theft band mates Brian Bandas and Stephen Barker Liles will join Tim McGraw and Lady Antebellum on the Southern Voice tour.

Sympathy to Terri Clark who lost her mother, Linda Clark, to cancer Sunday, April 4. She had been batting the disease for a few years.

Services will be held Thursday, April 8 at Holy Trinity Church, 1962 Murray Rd., Sooke BC, Canada V9Z 0Z2. For details call (250) 642-6878. Flowers are welcome, however in lieu of flowers, memorial donations can be made to the Holy Trinity Church.


Congratulations to musicians Allison Moorer and Steve Earle, who recently welcomed their first child, John Henry Earle. John Henry was born on April 5th at 10:07 am, weighing eight pounds, two ounces and measuring 21 inches long. Moorer and Earle were married in 2005 and live in New York’s Greenwich Village.

“Peanut” Faircloth Passes

Widely beloved radio personality, songwriter and entertainer Charles “Peanut” Faircloth was buried yesterday [Sunday, March 21] in Chattanooga – he died Tuesday, March 16, at age 82.

Born in Mitchell Country, Georgia, he had childhood polio which stunted his growth at 4’8.” This led to his nickname, “Peanut.”

He began his radio career at WNEX in Macon in 1946. While there, he also performed in a trio with future Hall of Fame members Boudleaux & Felice Bryant. His 1948-49 WNEX radio program, The Hoedown Party, was carried nationally via the Mutual Broadcasting System.

Country superstar Ernest Tubb heard him, brought him to Nashville and took him to Decca Records. Faircloth made his initial disc impact with a cover of Moon Mullican’s “I’ll Sail My Ship Alone” in 1950. Other Decca singles included “Mississippi River Blues” and “Coffee, Cigarettes and Tears.”

The broadcaster next moved to WRDV in Augusta, GA in 1951. He began recording for Bibletone Records with gospel singles such as “Pass Me Not.” His Augusta country band was The Hot Roasted Peanuts.

Faircloth wrote “Reindeer Boogie,” which Hank Snow recorded for his 1953 Christmas single. In 1994, Trisha Yearwood included it in her holiday collection The Sweetest Gift. The tune made the country charts in 1999 and led to a Gold Record award.

In 1954, Faircloth went to WLAY in Muscle Shoals, AL. While there, he hosted an early touring show by Elvis Presley. When he returned to Augusta, he brought the youngster’s debut single with him and became the first person in Georgia to broadcast Presley’s music.

In 1955, he began performing with 10-year-old Brenda Lee. Their Saturday-afternoon broadcasts from a downtown record shop named in her honor, stopped traffic in Augusta. When Red Foley’s show came to town in early 1956, Faircloth talked the promoter into letting Brenda sing an opening song. Foley signed her to The Ozark Jubilee that night, which led to her recording contract and, eventually, to superstardom.

Faircloth moved to Chattanooga later in 1956. He became a mainstay of the city’s airwaves at various stations until his radio retirement in 1980. A singer plus a guitar, mandolin, washboard and harmonica player, he later worked for nearly two decades on The Southern Belle, a popular Chattanooga tourist riverboat. He was also the self-described master of the “flush-a-phone,” an instrument he created from a toilet plunger.

He performed for more than 20 years in the regional band Curtis Hicks & His Old Time Strings. In later years, Faircloth became a favorite emcee on the bluegrass-festival circuit.

Charles “Peanut” Faircloth was inducted into the Atlanta Country Music Hall of Fame in 2002 and is featured in an exhibit at The Georgia Music Hall of Fame. He was also saluted in Brenda Lee’s 2002 autobiography Little Miss Dynamite.

He is survived by Frances, his wife of 61 years, by four children, 11 grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.

Aubrey Mayhew Memorial; Babies On Way For LBT and Luke Bryan

A memorial service for songwriter and producer Aubrey Mayhew will be held Sunday, March 14, 2 PM, at Montgomery Bell Academy’s Paschall Theater. Known as founder of Little Darlin’ records, Mayhew passed away March 21, 2009. He was 81. Over the course of his long and storied career Mayhew worked with a wide range of artists that ran from country outlaw Johnny Paycheck to Hollywood leading man Clint Eastwood all the way to jazz legend Charlie Parker. For details contact Parris Mayhew at parrismayhew@mac.com.


Congrats to these Capitol Nashville artists with babies on the way:

Little Big Town husband and wife Jimi Westbrook and Karen Fairchild are expecting a baby and in lieu of gifts, the band is hosting an online shower to benefit children recovering from the earthquake in Haiti. Details here.

Luke Bryan and wife Caroline are looking forward to the birth of their second child in August. The couple was married in December 2006.  The baby will join two-year-old brother Bo Bryan.

“Pete” Peterson Passes

Vanderbilt University professor Richard “Pete” Peterson—one of the first sociologists to seriously study country music—has died at age 77.

During his career, Peterson studied the Nashville music industry, popular culture, the definition of musical genres, the aging of the fine-arts audience and the impact of digital technology on music. In addition, he was a former consultant to National Public Radio.

When he arrived at Vanderbilt in 1965, he realized that the campus was just a few blocks away from the center of Nashville’s music business. So he began a scholarly quest to explore the development of country music.

He befriended artists such as Chet Atkins, Waylon Jennings, Hank Snow and Charley Pride and went on the road with The Oak Ridge Boys when they were still a gospel act.

One of his first studies was of Fan Fair (now known as the CMA Music Festival). After many years of further study and numerous articles and scholarly convention presentations, in 1997 he published Creating Country Music: Fabricating Authenticity (University of Chicago Press). At the time, the late Eddy Arnold said that Peterson, “appreciates the importance of country music and respects how it achieves that importance.”

Peterson passed away on Thursday, February 4. He is survived by his wife, Claire Clark, and three children, Michael, David and Ruth. A campus memorial service is being planned.

Lifenotes: Tom Howard

Local musician Thomas L. Howard passed away suddenly on January 29, 2010. He was 59 years old. Howard was an accomplished pianist, composer, arranger, and producer, mainly on the Christian circuit. He also recorded under the name Dorian.

Howard is survived by his wife, Dori; children, Katie and Joseph; and sister, Susann (John) Anderson.

A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 3 at St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church (4800 Belmont Park Terrace, Nashville, TN 37215). In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be sent to St. Bartholomew’s. Arrangements by Marshall Donnelly Combs, (615) 327-1111.