Tag Archive for: Lifenotes

Lifenotes: James D. Walbert

jameswPianist James D. Walbert has died at the age of 91 near Birmingham, Alabama.

He began his career as the teenage accompanist for the famed Vaughan Quartet of Lawrenceburg, Tennessee. The quartet was among the acts recorded at Nashville’s very first recording sessions, in 1928. He was the grandson of the group’s founder, James D. Vaughan, “The Father of Southern Gospel Music.” After studying in Nashville, Chicago and New York, Jim Walbert became a piano teacher, composer and accompanist.

Among his students were Gordon Stoker of The Jordanaires and Derrell Stewart of The Florida Boys. His songs were recorded by The Blackwood Brothers, The Statesmen Quartet, Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver and Tennessee Ernie Ford, as well as the Vaughan Quartet.

During his long career, he accompanied such stars as Judy Garland, Red Skelton and Dick Van Dyke. He taught piano in Birmingham from 1947 to 2003.

Memorabilia from the Vaughan and Walbert families is on display in the James D. Vaughan Museum in Lawrenceburg and at the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville.

Jim Walbert died on June 7 following a long illness. He is survived by his wife Eileen, son David, daughter Pam Montenero, nine grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren. He will be buried in the family plot in Lawrenceburg.

Lifenotes: Barry Beckett

barry-beckett-991Renowned producer Barry Beckett (1943-2009) passed away peacefully at his home last night, June 10, surrounded by family. His storied career ranged from Muscle Shoals musician to Nashville producer. We will post arrangements as they become available.

Beckett was born February 4, 1943 in Birmingham, Alabama. He spent many years as part of the house band at acclaimed Fame studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, originally stepping in to fill the keyboard slot vacated by Spooner Oldham. In the late sixties he became part of the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section.

While at Fame in the seventies and eighties, he played keys on hits including “I’m Your Puppet” (James and Bobby Purify), and “When A Man Loves A Woman” (Percy Sledge), as well as classics by Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett, Bob Dylan, Bob Seger, Paul Simon, Joe Cocker, Joan Baez, Dire Straits, and the Oak Ridge Boys.

He began his production career with acts like Seger, Dylan “Slow Train Coming,” Dire Straits “Communiqué,” Delbert McClinton “The Jealous Kind,” and Glenn Frey. Beckett’s first hit came with The Sanford Townsend Band’s “Smoke From A Distant Fire.” Mary MacGregor’s “Torn Between Two Lovers” was his first No. 1 record on the pop charts.

Beckett moved to Nashville to head Warner Bros.’s A&R department, during which time he co-produced Hank Williams Jr. alongside Jim Ed Norman. “Montana Café’” and “Hank Live” both went Gold, and “Born To Boogie” went Platinum, winning CMA Album Of The Year in 1988. Beckett left Warner in 1987 to concentrate on his production career. He has had No. 1 Country records with Eddy Raven, Lorrie Morgan, Alabama, Lionel Cartwright, and Lee Roy Parnell. He also helmed production for Asleep At The Wheel, Kenny Chesney, Jason & The Scorchers, Neal McCoy, KT Oslin, Lee Roy Parnell, and others.

Barry eventually merged back into Rock ‘n’ Roll, producing Grammy nominated Etta James as well as Lynyrd Skynrd, Phish, and Ian Moore. In the early ‘90s, he began producing international acts. He also had much success with the multi-Platinum group Confederate Railroad and Neal McCoy. And in 1994, produced the late Tammy Wynette’s album of duets “Without Walls,” which included such great artists as Sting, Elton John, Aaron Neville, Smokey Robinson, and Wynonna among others.

He is survived by wife Diane and their two sons Matthew, and Mark.

Lifenotes: Danny Petraitis (Updated)

llbvsggpnqrbnfswtFuneral service will be Sunday, June 7th, 2 PM at Benton Chapel on the Vanderbilt campus. A celebration and visitation will follow at nearby St. Augustine’s Chapel, 200 24th Ave. S. This will be a pot luck celebration and people will be at the chapel to accept dishes or beverages from those who would like to drop them off prior to the service. Guitars and other instruments are welcome at the visitation. The family is compiling a memory book for Danny’s children and will be collecting photos and mementos that day. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to The Danny Petraitis Family Trust, c/o Diane Pearson, SunTrust Bank, 1026 17th Ave. S.


Much loved member of the music community Danny Petraitis died peacefully last night, June 3, around 7:45 PM in his room at Lakeshore Wedgewood assisted living community. He had an extensive fight with brain cancer and is survived by his children Dylan, Carson, Sadie, and Jed. An obituary with arrangements and details about a memorial fund is expected tomorrow.

According to a post on his Caring Bridge site, “Dan’s wishes were to have his body be cremated and his ashes spread at the Jetty at Long Branch New Jersey. There will be no viewing. As of right now tentative plans are to have a church service possibly Sunday afternoon at Benton Chapel on the Vanderbilt campus with a pot-luck/visitation/celebration/guitar pull afterwards at the A-frame of St. Augustine’s Chapel just a short distance away.”


Lifenotes: Ernie Ashworth, David Lipscomb, Charlie Parker

“Talk Back Trembling Lips” Singer Ernie Ashworth Passes Away

Grand Ole Opry member and country hitmaker Ernie Ashworth passed away March 2 at the age of 80 in Nashville. Born in Huntsville, Alabama, the singer enjoyed several top 10 singles from the late ‘50s through the ‘60s and wrote songs for artists including Little Jimmy Dickens, Carl Smith and Johnny Horton. Ashworth is a member of the Alabama Music Hall of Fame. Services will be  Wednesday (3/4) at Anthony Funeral Home, 337 McMurry Blvd. in Hartsville, TN, with visitation from 1:00 to 8:00 p.m. and a Masonic service beginning at 8:00 p.m. Visitation will continue on Thursday (3/5) from 10:00 to 11:00 a.m., with funeral services beginning at 2:00 p.m. at Nashville’s Woodlawn Cemetery.

David Lipscomb Memorial Service Set

A memorial service for Christian-music executive David Lipscomb will be held tomorrow (Tuesday, March 3) at 11 a.m. at The People’s Church in Franklin.
David Lipscomb was the co-founder of Overflow Management, Inc. with partner Geoff Moore. The Christian-music firm handles Moore, as well as the recording bands The Afters, Hyperstatic Union and StorySide B. He was also active in the Gospel Music Association, serving as a MAPS committee member during the annual Gospel Music Week celebrations.

A trusted mentor and adviser to many in his field, David Lipscomb died at age 45 on February 25 of pancreatic cancer. He is survived by his wife Robi and by sons D.J. and Dale, daughter-in-law Amanda, mother Sophie and sister Tina. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network. Contribution information can be found at www.carefordavid.com.
The People’s Church is at 828 Murfreesboro Road in Franklin. — Robert K. Oermann

Former BMI Employee Charlie Parker Passes

Longtime BMI employee Charlie Parker passed away on Friday afternoon, Feb. 27. Many of his former coworkers say that they have very fond memories of Parker’s 31 years as the PRO’s custodian prior to his retirement. Visitation with Parker’s family will be Wed., March 4, from 5-7PM; followed by the funeral at 7 PM, at Big Harpeth Primitive Baptist Church, 522 Meridian St., Nashville, TN 37207, (615) 256-7375.

LifeNotes: Scotty Turner

A Nashville memorial service was held this morning, Feb. 18, for the multi-faceted music industry figure Scotty Turner. Nashville Association of Talent Directors president Rod Harris announced Turner’s death at the NATD’s monthly meeting last week.

Turner was a musician, record producer, label executive, music publisher and songwriter. Early in his career, he was the lead guitarist for Tommy Sands, Guy Mitchell and Eddie Fisher. He then became a producer at A&M Records in Los Angeles. His songs were recorded by the label’s Tijuana Brass and The Baja Marimba Band.

His first publishing job was as the general manager of Central Songs, also in Los Angeles. He then became the head of the country division of United Artists Records, which brought him from the West Coast to Nashville. As a record producer, he worked with Slim Whitman, Jimmy Bryant, Del Reeves and Jimmy Clanton. He is particularly associated with Jim Cartwright, whom he worked with for 23 years.

Turner was the writer of more than 400 songs recorded by Eddy Arnold, Nilsson, Dean Martin, Charley Pride, Tammy Wynette, Porter Wagoner, Jimmy Dean, Wanda Jackson, Wynn Stewart, Red Simpson, The Del Vikings, Robert Gordon, Skeets McDonald and Gene Vincent among many others. As a songwriter, one of his most notable collaborators was the late Audie Murphy, the most decorated soldier of World War II and the star of dozens of Hollywood films. Other co-writers included Buddy Holly, Herb Alpert, Nilsson, Doc Pomas, Red Lane, Alex Harvey, Cliffie Stone and Mac Davis.

Turner’s biggest hits include “Shutters and Boards” (Jerry Wallace, 1962 & Slim Whitman, 1970), “When the Wind Blows in Chicago” (Roy Clark, 1965), “Hicktown” (Tennessee Ernie Ford, 1965), “Little Pink Mack” (Kay Adams, 1966), “Your Forevers Don’t Last Very Long” (Jean Shepard, 1967) and “Trucker’s Prayer” (Dave Dudley, 1967). He was also the author of the book Song Publisher’s Perspective.

He was born Graham Morrison Turnbull in Sydney, Nova Scotia. He died while visiting his son in upstate New York on Feb. 9 at age 77. He is survived by his son, Trevor; daughter, Adrienne (Jeffery) Cullen; granddaughter, Eve; and former wife, Diane Iungano (Jackson).

The Nashville service took place at Woodlawn Roesch-Patton Funeral Home’s Dignity Hall at 11:30 AM. Memorials may be made to Marathon For A Better Life, PO Box 268, Warnerville, NY 12187 or to a Nashville Cancer Charity of your choice.

Little Jimmy Recovering

“Little” Jimmy Dickens has been moved from the hospital into a rehabilitation center to recuperate from a recent brain surgery. His stay at the center is expected to be short. The 88-year-old Grand Ole Opry star underwent surgery Jan. 13 to repair a subdural hematoma.

Jo Dee Welcomes Baby Boy

Jo Dee pictured during pregnancy with husband Chris. Photo: Krista Lee Photography

Jo Dee pictured during pregnancy with husband Chris. Photo: Krista Lee Photography

Jo Dee Messina and her husband Chris Deffenbaugh were thrilled to welcome their first child, a boy, on Mon., Jan. 19 in a Nashville-area hospital. Noah Roger Deffenbaugh was born at 1:01 PM, and weighed in at 6 lbs., 15 oz. Noah, mom and dad are all doing very well. The couple was married in October 2007.

Messina is readying her sixth studio album, Unmistakable, for Curb Records and will begin a solo tour in April. Deffenbaugh owns and operates Deffenblaster Enterprises, which builds custom road cases.