Tag Archive for: Lifenotes

Gibson Luthier Hutchins Passes

gibsonOne of Gibson Guitar’s most accomplished and dedicated luthiers, James “Hutch” Hutchins, passed away last night, Jan. 25. He was 72 and had been battling an undisclosed illness.

Hutch’s career with the company spanned 45 years, two states, three changes of ownership, and thousands of guitars. He joined Gibson on March 25, 1963 in the original Kalamazoo, Michigan plant, making a name for himself there before transferring to Nashville in 1983.

The company says he worked every job from maintenance to pattern making with an unflinching attention to detail and an abiding pride in the Gibson name. Gibson says he helped define its legacy, heritage and tradition through the many guitars and people he worked with.

gibson 2Hutch became the plant’s liaison for legendary artists who wanted custom guitars. He was integral to designing the Chet Atkins Country Gentleman, and became friends with Atkins in the process. Hutch retired March 31, 2008.

“Hutch was a remarkable man, with a talent all his own,” said Henry Juszkiewicz, CEO and Chairman of Gibson Guitar. “His light will shine forever through every corner, every hall and with every team member of the company. His legacy will live on.”

Hutch loved to hunt and fish and spend time with his three grown sons, all of whom live in the Nashville area. He is survived by his wife his sons and wife Gail.

Community: Haiti Benefit, Trey Bruce, Dan Harr, Josh Ragsdale

Pam Tillis

The Nashville Area Red Cross and the Music City Community Chorus are presenting a benefit concert tomorrow night, Tuesday, Jan. 19 at Limelight. Pam Tillis, Buddy Jewell, John Cowan, Troy Johnson and others will perform Handel’s Messiah along with a chorus and an orchestra made up of members of the Nashville Symphony. The Nashville Area Red Cross’s portion of the proceeds will go to disaster relief efforts in Haiti. The show also benefits the Music City Community Chorus, a non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation, directed by vocal coach Renee Grant-Williams.

A benefit for Dan Harr, owner of web site Music News Nashville, has been scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on Tues., Feb. 2, at Limelight in Nashville. Harr was diagnosed with cancer in May 2009 and has been undergoing treatment. Artist headliners and auction items are needed. If you have items you can donate, please mail them to: Susan Greene,  256 Seaboard Lane, #G-103, Franklin, TN 37067. Or call her to arrange pick-up at 615-210-5306. A headliner artist and songwriter/artists are needed for the evening. Please contact Harr at 770-316-2922 or 615-948-7425 if you have a performer who can participate.


Sara Qualls, mother of Chrysalis Music VP A&R Nashville Trey Bruce, passed away Sun., Jan. 17. Visitation will be 5-7 PM, Jan. 19 at Memorial Park Funeral Home in Memphis. Funeral services will be held Wed., Jan. 20 at 10 AM.

A bone marrow donor has been found for musician Josh Ragsdale. Read more at his brother’s blog.

Country Music Hall of Fame’s Carl Smith Dies

carlCountry Music Hall of Fame inductee Carl Smith died Saturday, Jan. 16 at his home in Franklin, Tennessee. He was 82 and was known as one of the most successful country singers of the 1950s.

Growing up in the East Tennessee town of Maynardville, Smith learned to play guitar and eventually joined the military. He came to Nashville in 1950 and was soon given a regular spot on WSM and appearances on the Grand Ole Opry.

His first hit came in 1951 with “Let’s Live A Little,” followed by “Mr. Moon,” “If Teardrops Were Pennies” and many more over the next few years, resulting in a string of Top Twenty singles. “Let Old Mother Nature Have Her Way,” was his biggest-selling single.

In 1957 Smith married Goldie Hill, a rising country singer who gave up her career following their wedding. In the 1970‘s Smith followed suit, and retired to a horse farm in Franklin. He was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2003.

Smith was married to June Carter from about 1952–1956, and they had daughter Carlene Carter.

He was preceded in death by wife Goldie Hill. He is survived by sons, Carl M. (Pam) Smith, Jr. and Dean (Tammy) Smith; daughters, Lori Lynn Smith and Carlene Carter (Joe) Breen; twelve grandchildren; and twelve great grandchildren.

Visitation will be tonight (1/18) from 5-8 p.m. at Williamson Memorial Funeral Home. The funeral will be tomorrow (1/19) at 11 a.m., with visitation preceding from 10 a.m. until 11 a.m., also at Williamson Memorial with Eddie Stubbs and Friends officiating. Interment at Williamson Memorial Gardens. Honorary Pallbearers will be Little Jimmy Dickens, Bobby Bare, Keith Bilbrey and Charlie Dick.

Noted Arranger Sheldon Kurland Passes

Sheldon Kurland, known throughout the Nashville music community as a session musician and as the leader of The Sheldon Kurland Strings, died Wednesday, Jan. 6 at age 81.

He can be heard on such hits as “Last Cheater’s Waltz” by T. G. Sheppard, “Rose Colored Glasses” by John Conlee, “Everything is Beautiful” by Ray Stevens, “When I Dream” and “Half the Way” by Crystal Gayle, “Happy Birthday Darlin’” and “I May Never Get to Heaven” by Conway Twitty, “I Wish I Was 18 Again” by George Burns, “Fancy Free” by The Oak Ridge Boys, “Dreaming My Dreams” by Waylon Jennings and “I Wouldn’t Have Missed it for the World” by Ronnie Milsap.

He worked on recording sessions for virtually every country star in Nashville. Clients included Loretta Lynn, Kris Kristofferson, Dottie West, The Browns, Hank Locklin, Eddy Arnold, Reba McEntire, Michael Johnson, Willie Nelson, Ed Bruce, Bobby Bare, Con Hunley, Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton, Jack Clement, Hank Snow and many more.

Kurland’s contributions extend to the pop-music world, as well. He is on Jimmy Buffett’s Changes in Attitudes Changes in Latitudes LP, England Dan & John Ford Coley’s “Nights Are Forever” and Bob Dylan’s Self Portrait, as well as recordings by Donovan, James Galway and Amy Grant. He not only appeared on Comes a Time by Neil Young, he also toured with the rock superstar.

The New York native was classically trained at Julliard. He came to Nashville in 1964 to teach at Peabody College, but was soon playing sessions. He formed The Sheldon Kurland Strings in the 1970s and was featured on The Johnny Cash Show in 1969-71 and again in 1976, sometimes wearing a jacket with “Julliard” spelled out on the back in rhinestones.

Two of his children have become prominent in Nashville entertainment. Daughter Amy Kurland founded The Bluebird Café. Son Peter Kurland runs the Darkhorse Theater. Funeral arrangements have not yet been announced. Check back with MusicRow for updates.

Earl Gaines Services; Lifenotes

As previously reported, Nashville r&b star Earl Gaines passed away on New Year’s Eve at age 74. Services will be held Friday, Jan. 8, at St. Luke CME Church, located at 2008 28th Avenue North, Nashville, TN, 37208. Visitation will begin at 10 AM, followed by a musical tribute at 11 AM, and the funeral at noon.


Teresa Louise Williams, daughter of rockabilly/gospel artist Billy Adams, passed away after an extended illness on Jan. 1 at age 44 in Nashville. The funeral is today (1/6) at the Carman Funeral Home in Flatwoods, Ky. A memorial fund has been established at The Green Bank, 4922 Main St., Spring Hill, TN 37174.

Nashville Star, Earl Gaines: 1935-2009

Earl-GainesNashville r&b star Earl Gaines died on New Year’s Eve at St. Thomas Hospital. He was 74 years old. Gaines was a gruff-voiced shouter who was a central figure in Music City’s soul scene for decades. That fact was underscored by his prominence in the Country Music Hall of Fame exhibit and Grammy Award winning CD set Night Train to Nashville.

He first achieved prominence in 1955 by singing lead on the original version of the standard “It’s Love Baby (24 Hours a Day)” for Louis Brooks & His Hi-Toppers. As a solo star, he had later hits with “The Best of Luck to You” in 1966 and “Hymn Number 5” in 1973. The Night Train compilations reissued his “White Rose,” recorded in 1959, and “Don’t Take My Kindness for a Weakness,” from 1965, as well as “It’s Love Baby.” He also performed memorably at the museum exhibit’s opening celebration.

The material he recorded in 1967-73 for the Starday/King imprint DeLuxe Records was reissued in 1998, and he released a new CD titled Everything’s Gonna Be Alright in that same year. He also recorded for such labels as Excello, Champion, Poncello, Hanna-Barbera, HBR, Athens, Sound Stage 7, Ace, Meltone, Appaloosa, Black Top, Ecko and Blue Fye. Often cited as the greatest r&b singer Nashville ever produced, Earl Gaines was in addition notable for his long career. He toured and recorded from the 1950s onward, issuing new CDs as recently as 2005 and 2008, The Different Feelings of Blues and Soul and Nothin’ But the Blues.

The loss of Earl Gaines compounds what has been a devastating year for Nashville’s r&b pioneers. Producer/singer/songwriter Ted Jarrett died last March. Guitarist/singer Johnny Jones passed away in October, as did Ted Acklen Jr., who chronicled the legacy of his father’s famed Jefferson Street nightclub, The Club Del Morocco.

Lifenotes: Frances Bellamy; Ed Palmer

Frances Bellamy, mother of Howard and David Bellamy of The Bellamy Brothers, passed away on Thursday, December 24, 2009. She was 85. Services were private.

David Bellamy says, “Thank you to everyone for all the kind thoughts and prayers.”

Online condolences may be semt to [email protected]. Donations in Frances Bellamy’s memory can be made at www.hospicecare.com.


Ed Palmer, a longtime member of the film industry and husband of radio promoter Debbie Gibson Palmer, died on Dec. 22, 2009 after a battle with lung cancer. In addition to his wife of 23 years, Palmer is survived by daughter Gaylene Aparicio, and granddaughter Cassidy Aparicio.

The late Palmer’s company St. Regis Films International imported foreign films into the United States, including Wages of Sin, and Nights of Cabiria. St. Regis produced The Challenge, and Palmer had worked on the production teams for the original Longest Yard, and The Godfather. In recent years, he had devoted his time to writing new projects with Peter Rosen.

A memorial service will be held in late January or early February. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the American Cancer Society. Condolences can be emailed to (Debbie) [email protected] and (Gaylene) [email protected].

Lifenotes: Ralph Meacham, Kim Markovchick’s Husband


Ralph Meacham, husband to longtime music industry executive Kim Markovchick, has died. He passed away at home in Leiper’s Fork, Tenn. after a battle with Lou Gehrig Disease. Loved ones say he was a “farmer, photographer, and storyteller.” Meacham was a veteran of the United States Navy and was an active volunteer in the local agriculture community. He is survived by his wife of 17 years, Kim Markovchick; daughters, Mary Katherine and Hannah; and many others.

Visitation is tonight (12/21) 4-8 p.m. at Williamson Memorial Funeral Home. Funeral services will be held 1 p.m. Tuesday, December 22, at St. Matthew Church, 535 Sneed Road, Franklin, TN. Interment at Leiper’s Fork Cemetery.

Memorial donations may be made to the Williamson County 4-H, c/o Williamson County Extension, 4215 Long Lane, S-200, Franklin, TN 37064; ALS Association (Nashville Chapter), PO Box 40244, Nashville, TN 37204; or MDA, 3343 Perimeter Hills Drive, Suite 118, Nashville, TN 37211.

Lifenotes: Chris Feinstein; Bill Burnette Undergoes Surgery

Chris Feinstein

Chris Feinstein

Musician Chris Feinstein, a Nashville native who was most recently bassist for Ryan Adams & the Cardinals died Monday in New York. He was 42.

Feinstein had been playing with the Cardinals since 2006 and had recorded three albums as a Cardinal: Easy Tiger, Follow the Lights, and Cardinology. He was also a well-known producer whose work included hits by Moby, the I Am Sam soundtrack, and more.

Services will be held in Nashville. Visitation is Sunday, December 20, from 4 – 8 p.m., at Woodbine Funeral Home, Inc.. Graveside service and burial will be Monday, December 21, at 10 a.m., at Woodlawn Memorial Park. There will be a memorial celebration Monday, December 21st at 11 a.m., at the Belcourt Theatre. The family has set up a memorial fund to help defray funeral expenses. If you’d like to contribute, contact  [email protected] or the Facebook group.


Guitarist, artist, and hit songwriter Billy Burnette underwent a quintuple bypass surgery on Dec. 16 and is recovering at Vanderbilt Hospital in Nashville. Burnette is the one-time guitarist for Fleetwood Mac, and more recently toured with John Fogerty.

As a songwriter Burnette had cuts on Fleetwood Mac, Faith Hill, Josh Turner, Bette Midler, Rod Stewart, Ray Charles, Greg Allman, Roy Orbison, Jerry Lee Lewis, The Everly Brothers, Cher, Tammy Wynette, and most recently had the George Strait single “River Of Love.”


Jean-Luc, the brother of French music promoter Jocelyn Carrier, died last week. Carrier and her husband Georges have been promoters of the Craponne country music festival in France for 23 years. Jean-Luc was a longtime volunteer at the festival and knew many country artists through his work there.

Bess Lomax Hawes Dies

bessLifelong folk-music champion Bess Lomax Hawes died Friday, November 27 at the age of 88 in Portland, Oregon.

In 1941-43 she was a member of The Almanac Singers alongside Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie. In 1948, she wrote the folk classic “M.T.A.,” which became a hit for The Kingston Trio in 1959. She moved to Los Angeles in 1952 and taught guitar, mandolin and banjo, as well as folk-song classes.

During her long and productive career, Bess Lomax Hawes taught college, produced film documentaries, launched folk festivals and wrote three books. The most recent of her books is 2008’s autobiography Sing It Pretty: A Memoir.

At the National Endowment for the Arts, she served for 16 years as the director of the Folk and Traditional Arts Program and created the National Heritage Fellowships. In 1993, she was awarded the National Medal of Arts by President Clinton.

Bess Lomax Hawes is the aunt of Nashville journalist and Roots Music Exporters businessman John Lomax III. She is also survived by three children, six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.