So many of country music’s legendary artists also spent time earlier in their lives serving the country in one capacity or another. And on Veteran’s Day as we pay tribute to ALL the men and women who served in the military and put themselves in harm’s way, let’s have some fun by looking back to see how many of these country legends we can pick out by their pictures.
Steve Goodman. Even if you haven’t heard the name, you’ve most certainly heard the music. And if you’ve ever heard David Allan Coe’s country music classic “You Never Even Called Me By My Name,” you know that Steve Goodman (with an assist from John Prine) is the writer of this “perfect country and Western song.”
Though Carolyn’s impact on country music was brief, her story exemplifies how every soul lost on 9/11 was an important one, and how the tragedy left not one segment of American life untouched. It’s the type of loss that leaves you alone and longing, like the lonesome melody of a country song.
Preserving the roots of country is not always just about paying homage. Sometimes it is about sowing disharmony or speaking out in protest to help force country music back on the right path. Music Row and the country music industry will always be about money first. The artists are the ones who must take the lead and reign the business in.
If you’re into country music and the history of it, you’re probably used to hearing about the “King” of this, or the “Father” of that. Since the history of country music is so important to keeping the lineage of the music alive, country pays special homage to the people who helped form or popularize the genre.
Bill Monroe, Bob Wills, Carl Perkins, George Strait, Hank Williams, Jimmie Rodgers, Jimmy Martin, Kitty Wells, Lena Hughes, Loretta Lynn, Mary Padgett, Maybelle Carter, Reverend Horton Heat, Rhonda Vincent, Rose Maddox, Roy Acuff, Slim Dusty, Spade Cooley, The Carter Family, unknown hinson, Wanda Jackson, Wayne Hancock
With the recent loss of bluegrass legend Ralph Stanley, country superstar Merle Haggard, songwriting great Freddy Powers, and Bakersfield’s Red Simpson, the amount of artists who are still around that can truly say they were there at the very start of the formation of country and bluegrass is getting anemically slim.
Muhammad Ali, who passed away on June 3rd, is known for many things, though music is not the first worldly pursuit you would associate with the World Champion boxer and humanitarian. But he was close friends with people all over the music world, including in country music, and especially with the four men that some consider the Mount Rushmore of country music.
Today most well-informed country fans know what a death sentence a Curb Records contract can be for an artist, at least for most of them. But in 1990 when Merle Haggard signed with the label, Curb was seen as one of the most trustworthy labels in town. They didn’t have to answer to higher ups in New York and Los Angeles, and could pass that freedom on to their artists.
“He’s mad as hell. And there’s a bunch of hangers on and groupies and people like that all up and down the hall. It was a long hall and it was almost like a gunfight deal. He comes out of there and he’s got two bikers on each side, and he says, ‘Hoss, what do you want?’ And I says, ‘I’ll tell you what I want … If you don’t listen to these songs, at least listen to them, I’m going to whip your ass right here in front of God and everybody.”
Roy Acuff may have been the model of good clean family fun and old-fashioned entertainment for the majority of his country music career, but at the beginning of his legendary, Hall of Fame-caliber run was an era of music that was quite the opposite of the accepted Acuff character, or the wholesome nature of his performance home of the family-friendly Grand Ole Opry.
Time is the ultimate judge and critic of music. 10 year anniversaries don’t always fall favorably for legendary records. They’re still too young to be considered vintage or retro, but are just old enough to be out of style. But unfolding the flaps of “Straight to Hell” today, re-living the music, it’s hard to not feel the same magic you heard when you listened to the record for the first time.
Tommy Overstreet, best known for his hit “Ann (Don’t Go Runnin’),” has died at his home in Hillsboro, Oregon. The countrypolitan singer, who amassed a total of five Top 5 singles and eleven Top 10 singles over his career, passed away on Monday morning (11-2). He was 78-years-old. Known as “T.O.” by many fans, he was born on September 10th, 1937 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
Bill Keith many be known by just as many people by the name “Brad” Keith because of the nine months he spent as a member of Bill Monroe’s illustrious Bluegrass Boys in 1963. Though it was a very short stint in Bill Monroe history, the result was some of the most iconic, groundbreaking, and beloved bluegrass banjo recordings ever captured, regularly prefaced by Bill Monroe introducing “Mr. Brad Keith” on the banjo.
So what’s to learn from hitching a ride in Marty McFly’s time machine and traveling back to 1985? That the problems country music is facing today are virtually the same ones that were being faced 30 years ago. It’s all cyclical, as canonized in the old Gospel tune enshrined in the architecture of the Country Music Hall of Fame asking the question, “Will The Circle Be Unbroken?”
Alan Jackson, Bill Carter, Bobby Bare, Chris Stapleton, Clint Black, Dolly Parton, Garth Brooks, George Strait, Jason Isbell, Keith Whitley, Kris Kristofferson, Mo Pitney, Randy Travis, Ray Charles, Ricky Skaggs, Sturgill Simpson, The Highwaymen, Travis Tritt, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson
Prison and country music go together like peanut butter and jelly. No wonder a slew of country music albums have been actually recorded within prison walls—some for convicts, some by convicts, and some using convicts. And we’re not just talking about novelty releases either, but some iconic albums that have helped define country music over the years. Here are some of them.
A Concert Behind Prison Walls, Billy Don BUrns, Charles Lee Guy III, David Allan Coe, Eddy Arnold, Flower Out of Place, Freddy Fender, Glen Sherley, In Prison In Person, Jimmie Davis, Joe Maphis, Johnny Cash, Johnny Paycheck, Kris Kristofferson, Linda Ronstadt, Mack Vickery, Merle Haggard, PÃ¥ Ã–sterÃ¥ker, Recorded Inside Louisiana State Prison, Roy Clark, Shel Silverstein, Sonny James, Spade Cooley, The Prisoner's Dream
Hank Williams Jr.’s politics and boisterous attitude will always make him one of the most polarizing figures in country music history. But those who are quick to overlook his musical contributions both on and off the stage, the amazing body of work he’s amassed over his legendary career, and the mark he’s made on country music are doing Bocephus and themselves a huge disservice.
It was August of 1952, and the life of Hank Williams was in a downward spiral. The Hillbilly Shakespeare already suffered from chronic back pain which helped lead to his notorious alcoholism, and then earlier in 1952, Hank suffered a fall during a hunting trip in Tennessee, facilitating his use of painkillers such as morphine.
Looking to clear his mind and hopefully help find the inner voice he needed to persevere on his new career path, Hank Jr. took a retreat to Montana before a big tour was scheduled to commence. Hank went climbing on a mountain called Ajax Peak that straddles the border of Montana and Idaho, accompanied by a rancher named Dick Willey from nearby Wisdom, Montana.
Unlike Townes, Daniel never received significant recognition for his music, partly because he quickly became disenchanted with the business, eventually running away to France to escape the heavy drugs and the pressure of being a professional songwriter. “I saw the competition in Nashville, just when I was really yearning for something spiritual like so many people do.”
So to give some historical context to Luke Bryan’s characterizations, I thought we would look back and see what Willie, Merle, and Waylon felt about cocaine. Willie hated the stuff, and would fire anyone in his crew caught using it. Merle barely touched it, except for one dalliance that ended poorly. And Waylon was a professed, long-term cocaine addict who openly expressed his struggles with the drug.