Once again Roger Alan Wade makes his case for being one of the most criminally-underrated songwriters of our generation, releasing his newest album Bad News Knockin’ right before the end of 2014 through Johnny Knoxville Records, and rocketing himself near the top for the most notable songwriting efforts for all of last year.
As Roger will say himself, “Thank God for nepotism,” but the truth is Wade was making a name for himself from his own sweat as a songwriter in Nashville well before his crazy first cousin Johnny Knoxville was getting zapped by cattle prods, or putting Wade’s songs in his successful series of Jackass movies. The fact the two first cousins are famous (or in Wade’s case, mostly famous), is purely coincidental, and though Roger Alan Wade may not have the legacy and recognition of the Guy Clark’s and John Prine’s to the outside world (at least not yet), to others he’s a mastermind, and he continues to bolster his catalog from an undying hunger to match the licks of his songwriting heroes with each new release.
If there was a theme to Bad News Knockin’, contentment would be it. Don’t bother Wade with your schemes of how to get him to the big time, or pity him that he never made it there before. Wade is perfectly content with releasing acoustic albums that just feature him and his guitar, instead of sticking his nose in the hustle of trying to get recognized by releasing big production records, or by trying to pry the closed doors of Nashville open to land some commercially-oriented cuts in the current miserable climate.
Back in the day working for a publisher, Roger Alan Wade racked up selected songwriting credits with legends like Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, George Jones, Hank Williams Jr., and Johnny Cash, including Hank Jr.’s #1 “Country State of Mind” from 1986. He’s been there and done that, had opportunities to rub elbows with his heroes, had some successes many songwriters and performers only dream of, and is happy now to just write songs for himself and for those who care to listen. He’ll call up his fellow Knoxville native Peewee Moore to play some lead guitar with him on a local TV or radio station, or leave town for a short stint of shows from time to time. Otherwise, he’s cool with staying at home and sewing his craft, and hoping to entice enough people to listen to keep his simple life of privacy and family afloat.
As RAW says on one of Bad News Knockin‘s offerings,I just want me a yellow house in the country, way back off the highway A swing on a screened-in front porch, a hammock in the hickory shade I guess success to some folks, ain’t the same as it is for me I’d count myself one wealthy man, for a yellow house in the country
Following this theme, Bad News Knockin’ feels like a very personal album from Wade, even more so than his recent releases like DeGuello Motel and Southbound Train that strike a much deeper chord compared to some of his earlier albums at the height of the Jackass era—albums that featured songs like the irreverent “Butt Ugly Slut” or “Fryin’ Bacon Nekkid.” In the new song “Years Ago,” Wade expends no effort to make his personal story into fiction, while “I Lived The Life” once again sounds a thankful chord for what he’s been able to accomplish in his career.I lived the life, I chased the dream. Even if I could, I wouldn’t change a thing. Been more than worth, the sacrifice. Don’t cry for me, I lived the life.
Bad News Knockin’ is reflective, but Roger’s not ready to be put out to the songwriting pasture just yet. “Red Shoes Blues” ingeniously makes use of women’s obsession with footwear into a form of flattery that will fit snug with many female listeners. He takes an older song of his called “Warm Spanish Wine” from an era when others were trying to make him into a marketable commodity, and makes it soar despite the stripped-down approach, marking not just one of the best songs, but one of the best performances of this album.
And despite the stern, almost defiant countenance Wade sports on the cover with the beads of sweat bubbling on his brow like Johnny Cash at San Quentin, and the title which seems to hint this album might be brazen and hard-edged, there’s multiple gospel moments on Bad News Knockin’; something that Wade continues to call on more and more as he ages. Using witty allusions and biblical locations to deftly craft songs that are more than just preachy sermons, these religious tunes showcase Wade’s songwriting skills just as much as his secular material.
The Roger Alan Wade proponent in me still wishes Roger had the drive to flesh out his music a little bit more to make the job of enticing folks to listen a little easier. But if you’re not intimidated to listening to the prototype, the songwriter in the raw, the words and wood and wire of an original inspiration and story and nothing more, the Roger Alan Wade experience can be quite a fulfilling one.
1 3/4 of 2 Guns Up.
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Let’s just start this off by drudging the big elephant right out in the middle of the room and shining a big ‘ol spotlight on it. Mike Curb, Herr Führer of Curb Records—the man who has made millions off of the indentured servitude of many of country music’s most famous names, and manipulated consumers with repackaged releases and Greatest Hits bamboozels—has taken his blood money, his ill-gotten gains, and thrown them behind the much-ballyhooed preservation of Music Row’s historic Studio ‘A’ in Nashville, and we all should feel deeply conflicted about it.
It was announced on Tuesday (12-23) that the deal to purchase Studio ‘A’ with the intent to preserve the historic property had finally closed, and that two unexpected, and previously-unannounced investors were joining preservationist Aubrey Preston as partners in the preservation effort. Studio ‘A’, originally built by Chet Atkins and Own Bradley nearly 50 years ago to be the bigger brother of the older Studio ‘B’ right beside it, was sold to a developer earlier this year called Bravo Development, who let it be known their intent was to bulldoze the building that so many greats had recorded hits in over the years to build a condominium complex and a music-themed restaurant. But preservationist Aubrey Preston pulled off an 11th-hour deal to purchase the property for $5.6 million in an attempt to usher it into a more permanent state of preservation.
But Preston may have not been in the position to throw $5.6 million around on his own, and made it known from the very beginning that it wasn’t his intent to own the building himself forevermore, but shepherd it into more permanent hands who could see its preservation into the future. To help buffer the deal, Preston brought on two more partners at closing, and now all three own the building in equal share. The first Preston partner is a healthcare business executive named Chuck Elcan (healthcare is Nashville’s other big industry), and the other is the aforementioned Mike Curb.
Nobody should act surprised that Mike Curb came on board as part of the preservation. In fact, you’d have to have your head in the sand to not see it coming. Mike Curb has worked to preserve other historic places in Nashville, including Studio ‘B’ which like is planned for Studio ‘A’, is now in safe hands to be protected for all time. Curb has also thrown his money around to help build other Nashville landmarks, especially on the Belmont University campus, and as part of the Country Music Hall of Fame.
In August, when some were focused more on being angry about what seemed to be the impending fate of Studio ‘A’ as opposed to crafting pragmatic solutions, Saving Country Music posted an essay about the best ways to preserve Studio ‘A’ (which might have been the least-read article posted on the site the entire year), and observed, “Some large entrepreneurial spirit with an established footprint on Music Row such as Mike Curb or Scott Borchetta could buy the property. It seems like this would be the best option to see the long-term preservation of Studio ‘A’.” It was also pointed out that Curb had already worked with Belmont University on numerous cohabitated properties on Music Row.
But how is the conscientious music lover—many of whom overlap their passion for preserving Studio ‘A’ with the desire to see reform in the way some of Music Row’s major labels do business—supposed to feel about Mike Curb’s involvement in this matter? Meanwhile it can’t be taken for granted that everyone knows about all the ill will Mike Curb has sewed over his sullied career, especially in the last decade plus.
When Hank Williams III began to make a public nuisance about how Curb Records was treating him in the mid 2000′s, many thought it was simply the sour grapes of a foul-mouthed punk. Since then, a parade of artists have come out complaining about how the label has treated them, trainwrecking their careers from their ill-conceived policy of waiting five years between releases, resulting most notably in a massive barrage of lawsuits back and forth with Tim McGraw, who Curb Records did everything they could to keep him perpetually signed to their label by refusing to release his final album, and instead released one Greatest Hits album after another. McGraw, like Hank Williams III, eventually defeated Curb Records in court, but not after great damage had been done to his career.
LeAnn Rimes, Hank Williams Jr., Jo Dee Messina, Lyle Lovett, Clay Walker, and even going back to The Beat Farmers and Frank Zappa, they all have legitimate beefs against Mike Curb and the way they were handled by the country music mogul.
In 2011, Saving Country Music asked if Nashville should be careful of its Mike Curb legacy, pointing out that many important buildings around the city now bear Mike Curb’s name and what this might mean as he continues his unscrupulous business practices. Just last month, yet another Curb Records manipulation was unearthed when it was revealed the label would be releasing yet another round of regurgitated releases from Tim McGraw and Hank Williams III in the hopes of misleading the public into buying previously-released material repackaged to look new—something Curb has been doing for years from the two artists.
At the same time, it is a good thing that Studio ‘A’ is being preserved. The concerns about Mike Curb’s philanthropy have never been about the specific targets of it, which all appear to be worthy benefactors, and it’s not as if he doesn’t deserve any credit for making these types of charitable moves with his money. The bigger concern is where that money is coming from, and if it’s worth receiving it if a stipulation to take it is engraving the name of Mike Curb—and all the baggage that comes with it—on the edifice.
Just to clarify, there’s no plan at the moment to rename 30 Music Sq. West “Mike Curb’s Studio ‘A’” or any other such permanent homage to his involvement in this preservation effort. There’s a good chance that by the time the building finds its eventual permanent ownership environment, Mike Curb won’t even be involved. Nonetheless, the legacy of Mike Curb is not one of a few public feuds and personal grudges. It is of a legacy of the purposeful manipulation of artists which has seen Curb Records shed talent at a record pace, despite the label’s aggressive, and many times illegal retention practices, and then taking the money Curb made through such practices to donate to private, charitable projects to help etch a different legacy moving forward.
Like the preservation of Nashville’s historic places themselves, the legacy of Mike Curb, which only continues to grow more dubious by the month, should be considered when looking at what the legacy of Music City will be moving forward. Mike Curb’s money is as green as anyone’s, but his name is tarnished brown. And Nashville’s institutions should ask if they want that stain sullying their most historic and important places.
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It looks like Hank Williams Jr. might be the next signee to the Cumulus Media / Big Machine Label Group joint venture known as NASH Icon meant to give new life to aging artists who’ve been passed over by mainstream country radio. On Monday night’s poorly viewed American Country Countdown Awards, Hank Williams Jr. closed the night out as a late edition to the show’s lineup with a rendition of his famous song from 1984 “All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over Tonight.” In the midst of the performance, Hank Jr. switched over from a cowboy hat to a black hat with gold lettering that simply read “ICON” across the front.
Since NASH Icon is part of Cumulus Media, who were one of the major underwriters of the American Country Countdown Awards, and the first signeee to the label Reba McEntire was honored on the night with a “NASH Icon” award herself, and the fact that Scott Borchetta was also a part of the presentation and Jr. was added to the lineup so late, it seems to match up that the “ICON” on Jr’s lid was the preliminary announcement of his partnership with the new label.
The NASH Icon record label is looking to sign legacy country music talent that is still commercially-relevant and help get them back on the radio through Cumulus Media NASH Icon radio stations which mix older music dating all the way back to 1980, with hits from the 90′s, 2000′s, and today. Hank Jr. would fit right into that NASH Icon sweet spot as an artist whose heyday was in the past, but is still releasing records to a loyal fan base. Hank Jr.’s last album, 2012′s Old School New Rules was released independently.
One extra layer of intrigue with the signing is that Hank Williams Jr. was a long-time artist of Curb Records, and a close personal friend of the label’s owner, Mike Curb. Like with many Curb Records’ artists, the relationship ended poorly between Hank Jr. and Curb, with Williams saying upon his exit, “We’re going to get off this old, dead sinking ship.” This would be the second major artist that has made the transition from Curb to the Big Machine Label Group. Tim McGraw made a similar move under a wave of lawsuits and counter-lawsuits between the two companies, with Big Machine and Tim McGraw eventually coming out as the victors in court.
Headgear was the way another potential signee to NASH Icon made his announcement. Ronnie Dunn, one half of Brooks & Dunn, posted a picture of himself wearing a “NASH Chetta” hat on his social network feed on November 27th after dropping hints he was signing with the label in weeks prior. However, the news of Dunn’s signing has never been announced or confirmed by the company. Subsequently, Brooks & Dunn have announced their reuniting with NASH Icon’s Reba McEnitre for a small run of shows in Las Vegas. No word on if it’s just Ronnie, or potentially Brooks & Dunn who would sign to NASH Icon, or if Ronnie’s “signing” simply had to do with the Vegas shows and not the label. Kix Brooks, the other half of Brooks & Dunn, is the host of the Cumulus Media syndicated show American Country Countdown, which was the backdrop for Monday’s American Country Countdown Awards.
If Hank Williams Jr. does eventually sign with NASH Icon, it would give the imprint an artist who is a two-time CMA Entertainer of the Year, a one who carries on of the most famous names in the history of country music.
Songwriter, Sirius XM DJ, and country music elder Roger Alan Wade will release his sixth studio album Bad News Knockin’ via Johnny Knoxville Records on December 16th, 2014. Produced by Knoxville and recorded by Dan Creech at Revolving Blackbird Sound in Santa Monica, CA, like most of Wade’s music the new album will feature just Roger, his guitar, and his original songs. Johnny Knoxville and Wade host the weekly Big Ass Happy Family Jubilee on Sirius XM’s Outlaw Country together.
“He inspires me constantly and he’s a tough taskmaster,” Roger said recently about Johnny Knoxville as producer on the Otis Gibbs Thanks For Giving A Damn podcast. “He’ll put up with anything as long as he knows you’re giving it your all. If he thinks you’re slacking man he’s got too much to do to waste his time. I love the way we make records…The only way we know when it’s good is when Knoxville gets chill bumps. Otherwise you keep it going. But if you do it one time and he gets chill bumps, don’t ask to do it again.”
Roger Alan Wade and Johnny Knoxville are first cousins, and Knoxville regularly features Wade’s humor-tinged songs in his movies. But when it comes to his studio albums, Wade can get deadly serious, and draws inspiration from songwriters like Guy Clark, John Prine, and Kris Kristofferson. His 2010 record DeGuello Motel won Saving Country Music 2010 Album of the Year, and his 2012 album Southbound Train was another standout songwriting effort.
“Beige cubicles spook me man,” Wade said to Otis Gibbs about Music Row’s current songwriting environment. “There’s so much about that I don’t understand. I’m not knocking it, I’m not making any judgements. I’m just saying it don’t work for me. Man I like writing them on the run. I like finding that place, wherever it may be, that you’re just holding the pen and it’s coming through you…I strive to be as honest with myself and others, especially when it comes down to asking them to listen to my song. If they’re going to give me three minutes of their life, I want them to know what’s on my mind, and what’s in my heart. And I’m not asking them to agree with me or like it, but you are telling them that it comes with one guarantee, that it’s honest. It may suck, but it’s honest.”
A fixture of the Chattanooga music scene, Wade has written songs recorded by George Jones, Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, and the #1 song by Hank Williams Jr. “Country State of Mind.”
Bad News Knockin’ Track List:
- Bad News Knockin’
- Blame It All on the Roses
- Lonesome Sunday Blues
- Waitin’ on the Hummingbird
- The Ballad of Shine Marley
- Warm Spanish Wine
- Georgia Blues
- Yellow House in the Country
- Years Ago
- Things I Benn Blamed For
- I Lived the Life
- Red Shoes Blues
- Peace of Mind
That’s right, the Curb Records madness continues, and continues to reach for comical, if not maniacal heights.
Apparently Curb Records is readying the release of a new Hank III (not ‘Hank3′ as he goes by now) album called Take As Needed For Pain, scheduled to be made available to the public on April 14th, 2015. Though the album is being credited at the moment to Hank III, early incarnations of this release had it denoted as “Assjack II.” Assjack is the name of Hank3′s early heavy metal project that released a self-titled album with Curb in 2009. The song “Take As Needed For Pain” is a cover song from the metal band Eyehategod that Hank3 turned into a 10-minute epic for the tribute album For The Sick: A Tribute to Eyehategod released in 2007 and recorded under the name “The Unholy 3″ which is the name of one of Hank3′s side projects.
Hank3 also recorded another Eyehategod song for the tribute called “Torn Between Suicide and Breakfast” that could be a pretty safe bet for making the track list of the new album, along with whatever other Assjack or metal songs Curb somehow wrangled out of Hank3 during his years at the label. Why Curb is deciding to go with the Hank III name instead of Assjack might be about marketing, or maybe some country songs will be included on the album as well. One of the issues with some of Curb’s post-contract releases from Hank3 is they haven’t warned consumers they’re buying metal albums instead of country, causing confusion and anger from some fans. It’s pretty safe to say that no matter what finds itself on the track list, it will be music released previously and/or that is already out there on YouTube or other locations. Hank3′s usual response to his fans on these post-contract Curb releases is to “Burn it, and give it away.”
Hank3 entered into a six album contract with Curb in the late 90′s. The Nashville-based label was able to stretch Hank3′s album count to seven by releasing Hillbilly Joker in 2011; a “hellbilly” album Curb initially rejected, but released after Hank3 had fulfilled his contract at the end of 2010. Then Curb released an outtakes album in 2012 called Lone Gone Daddy that brought the total of Curb releases on Hank3′s six-album contract to eight. Ramblin’ Man released in April of this year—another album of previously-released material cobbled together—made it nine. Hank3 also had agreed to the release of one heavy metal album as part of his Curb deal. Take As Needed For Pain would now bring that count to two.
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The grandson of Hank Williams is not the only artist having to shake their head as Curb continues to regurgitate material to try and squeeze as much money out of their name as possible while misleading the public. Tim McGraw has been locked in a public battle with Curb for years, and now has another reason to be angered as the record label is getting ready to release his 10th compilation/Greatest Hits album. That’s right, ten of them. That’s only one less than the total amount of studio albums Curb released during McGraw’s entire career on the label.
Tim McGraw “The Hits Live” is being prepped for release on January 27th by Curb. This goes along with Greatest Hits Volumes 1, 2, and 3, a Collector’s Edition Greatest Hits, a Limited Edition Greatest Hits, A Limited Edition Greatest Hits Volume 1, 2, 3, Number One Hits, Tim McGraw & Friends (duets), and Love Story (his biggest love songs).
In 2010, Saving Country Music published an article mocking Curb for imitating art by releasing seven Greatest Hits albums from McGraw. Subsequently, Curb has released just one studio album, and three additional Greatest Hits compilations. Tim McGraw won a protracted court battle with Curb in 2012 and was finally released from his contract. He now calls Big Machine Records home. Curb tried to delay the release of Tim’s final album under the label called Emotional Traffic to indefinitely keep him under contract.
More Greatest Hits releases are also on the way from previous and current Curb artists. LeAnn Rimes has already had two Greatest Hits releases just in 2014—an album of her Greatest Hits Remixes, and a two-CD Limited Edition Greatest Hits. Now Curb has scheduled an All-Time Greatest Hits release on February 3rd. Rodney Atkins also has a Greatest Hits release upcoming, and Hank Williams Jr. will see the release of previously-released material in a Hank Jr. Sings Hank Sr. compilation.
Curb Records continues to regurgitate material from previous artists on their label as they lose roster names left and right, and carry the reputation as one of the worst labels in town. Aside from some recent success with Lee Brice, a marketable name in Rodney Atkins, and a promising young star in Mo Pitney, the label continues to struggle to find new material to release, and instead insists on misleading consumers with repackaged albums.
The I Saw The Light biopic on the life of Hank Williams is currently being shot in and around Shreveport, Louisiana, and the town is all abuzz from numerous scenes being filmed at local landmarks and road closures diverting traffic from areas the production company has set up shop for the day. Information and pictures from the set have been slow in coming for curious fans hoping to get a glimpse of what they might expect from the movie that is set to be released some time in 2015, but one of the actors, Austin Haley, who is playing “Dwayne” in the film has offered his initial take on how the movie is going, and how the film’s director Marc Abraham, and lead Tom Hiddleston (playing Hank) are faring with the task.
“This production is operating like a well oiled machine. From bottom to top,” Haley said on IMDb. “Marc Abraham is an incredible producer/director. His DP has been nominated for 2 academy awards and is about to get a lifetime achievement award. The rest of the cast and crew are very experienced and gracious. I’m not sure how exactly this will end up, borrowing no tragedy striking the set. But this is Marc Abraham’s time to shine. He has produced/directed over 40 films. This project will have legs (long lanky Hiddleston legs) and may even be considered for a nomination from the academy. Just seems that way from the feel of the set. Working on a special project.”
Austin Haley appeared on the Soap Opera Series’ Another World from 1995-1996, and played Zack Austin on One Life to Live from 1997 to 2000. He also appeared in the movies The Kings of Brooklyn (2004) and Chasing the White Dragon (2008). Haley also offered his assessment of Tom Hiddleston as Hank Williams—a pick that has caused some controversy, especially with Hank’s grandson Hank Williams III, or Hank3.
“Tom came into the make trailer, sat and played for us. The hair on the back of my neck stood up (which was good for stylist she could cut it then)… As far as Hank3 is concerned. Hell I wouldn’t even got to him for advice on music much less on who should make a movie. Marc Abraham is in Film Making not ‘wet dream’ making. McConaughey is a great actor. But no one would sit in the theatre thinking ‘hey that is Hank Sr.’. You couldn’t separate the actor from the story. I guess that’s what makes Marc a great story teller. He got Tom on his way up. In 5 years couldn’t get Tom. He will be to big too. Plus McConaughey is too old.”
Hank3 has openly criticized the casting of the British-born Tom Hiddleston for the Hank Williams role, believing an American would be more fit for the position. Though he initially proffered up Mathew McConaughey as a possible replacement, he has since explained it was simply an example of a Southern-born American who may be a better fit, not a specific suggestion. Hank3 says he was never contacted by the production company to offer any suggestions or guidance to the movie.
“There’s two Hank Williams walking this earth right now,” Hank3 said to Saving Country Music in September, referring to himself and his father Hank Williams Jr.—neither of which were consulted on the film. Americana artist Rodney Crowell has been working as the primary music consultant to the movie and Tom Hiddleston on how to pull off the role of Hank.
“For some reason, this is really bothering me,” continues Hank3. “I don’t know why. I don’t have anything to lose or gain from it. But for the approach that is happening with this movie is just not sitting right with me. And it’s not just me. There’s a lot of people I talk to out there that just don’t understand it. And this isn’t about Tom [Hiddleston]. This is about the choice. I’m not out to diss his acting or anything like that… I guess I’m so vocal about it because I care, and I want to see the best movie made.”
Austin Haley went on to praise all the actors working on the movie, including the leading ladies Maddie Hasson playing Billie Jean, and Elizabeth Olsen playing Audrey Williams. “And all the supporting Actresses and Actors… All generous and professional… An army is only as good as its General. Marc Abraham is a dam fine leader and brings an attitude of pin point vision and kindness. Which translates to the rest of this unit.”
Hank Williams was the greatest country music singer and songwriter to ever walk the face of the Earth. And if you don’t believe that, just listen to how his fellow country music performers feel about his contributions to the music. Here is a list of the greatest Hank Williams tribute songs of all time.
- The song has to be a true Hank tribute from stem to stern, not just mention Hank.
- The song has to be mostly about Hank, meaning no “Hank & Lefty” because that’s about both men equally (but still a good song).
- This is not meant to be an absolute unabridged and unequivocally complete master list of Hank tributes without one single omission. If you see a worthy Hank tribute not mentioned, by all means, please share, because that is the point of this, NOT to be a “Where’s Waldo?” exercise where people go combing through looking for missing songs so you can navigate to the comments and bust my chops with comments that start with “You forgot…” and end with “…this site is completely illegitimate” just because I forgot to mention some unpublished Hank tribute from a local singer in your town. The point is to hopefully to be exposed to a few new songs that will entertain you as a Hank fan.
- No order to these songs is intended or implied. Because this could stretch on forever, I tried to prioritize certain songs. But they are all great Hank tributes.
“Hank Williams’ Ghost” – Darrell Scott
Off of Darrell Scott’s 2006 album Invisible Man, the song went on to be nominated for the 2007 Song of the Year by the Americana Music Awards. Excellent video as well with many Hank Williams landmarks featured.
“Hank’s Cadillac” – Ashley Monroe
Written by Ashley Monroe at the tender age of 17, “Hank’s Cadillac” is Ashley attesting she would have figured out a way to keep Hank alive if she had been on his now famous “Last Ride.”
“If He Came Back Again” – The Highwaymen
Though this song was recorded to be included on the final Highwaymen album The Road Goes On Forever, it didn’t make the final cut initially. However when the album was re-issued, it was finally released, and today it remains one of the album’s most popular tracks and a beautiful tribute, despite the somewhat wonky harmonies in the chorus by the cantankerous Highwaymen. Written by Barry Alfonso and Craig Bickhardt.
“Talkin’ To Hank” – Mark Chesnutt
“I saw a shotgun and a guitar and a six-pack of beer
A sign on the front door said ‘Guess, who lives here’
An old red bone hound that looked older than time
And an old man that’s sure he was only twenty-nine”
Released in 1992, the original album version featured George Jones on guest vocals. Written by Bobby Harden.
“Long White Cadillac” – Dwight Yoakam & Dave Alvin
Originally written by Dave Alvin of The Blasters, while Dwight Yoakam was on tour opening for the band early in his career, he heard the song and recorded it himself in 1989.
“Hank Williams, You Wrote My Life” – Moe Bandy
The title track off of Moe Bandy’s 1976 album, it was written by Nashville Songwriter Hall of Fame inductee Paul Craft. One of the most recognizable Hank tributes.
“The Ride” – David Allan Coe
Arguably the most chilling tribute to Hank, co-writer Gary Gentry once told Billboard, “There’s a mysterious magic connected with this song that spells cold chills, leading me to believe that it was meant to be and that David Allan Coe was meant to record it.” He swears when he went to look up the date of when Hank Williams died while writing the song, he opened the book to the exact page where the date was found, and that once when performing the song at the Grand Ole Opry House, as soon as he said the name “Hank” in the last verse, the lights and power went out in the building. “The Ride” was also written by J.B. Detterline Jr., and was released by David Allan Coe in February of 1983. It is also one of the most commercially-successful Hank tributes, coming in at #4 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart.
“Midnight in Montgomery” – Alan Jackson
Another commercially-successful Hank tribute hit, it tells the story of Alan Jackson visiting the graves of Hank before headlining a New Years Eve show and seeing Hank’s ghost. The song hit #3 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, and Jackson co-wrote the song with Don Sampson. “Midnight in Montgomery” also had a successful video that won the CMA Video of the Year in 1992.
*”The Life Story of Hank Williams” – Hawkshaw Hawkins
As much as a storyteller song as a tribute, it features Hawkshaw Hawkins talking in segments about Hank’s life. It was released in February of 1953, and co-written by Louie Innis. Hankshaw Hawkins would die unexpectedly himself in the same plane crash that killed Patsy Cline on March 5th, 1963.
“The Night Hank Williams Came To Town” – Johnny Cash w/ Waylon Jennings
From 1987′s Johnny Cash Is Coming To Town album produced by Jack Clement.
“The Death of Hank Williams” – Jack Cardwell
This was the very first Hank Williams tribute song ever written. As Hank fan and traditional country performer Joey Allcorn explained to Saving Country Music surrounding the release of his album Midnight: The Death of Hank Williams:
“To me it was an interesting song because it was the very first Hank Williams tribute. Nowadays, doing a Hank Williams tribute is just sort of par for the course. This particular song that we’re centering the project around, it just captures a very basic feeling that happens after some sort of tragic event. The lyrics that are on display [in the museum] tell a similar story, because it was a woman in Montgomery who heard the words on the radio as a child, and they meant so much to her that she wrote them down. If you go to the Hank museum, they’re still sitting there by Hank’s Cadillac. It’s the handwritten lyrics of this little girl wrote after hearing this song, and when she was upset or sad.
Joey Allcorn performing:
“If You Don’t Like Hank Williams” – Kris Kristofferson
Off of Kristofferson’s 1976 Monument recording Surreal Thing, the song was also included on Hank Williams Jr.’s album Habits Old & New in 1980. The song finds Kris Kristofferson in rare form, with a bowed out chest making bold proclamations.
“The Conversation” – Hank Williams Jr. & Waylon Jennings
One of the most unique collaborations in country music history with Ol’ Hank as the conversation piece, it was was released on Hank Jr.’s 1979 album Whiskey Bent & Hell Bound album first, but showed up on Waylon’s Waylon & Company a few years later. “The Conversation”—written by Waylon, Jr., and Waylon’s long-time drummer Ritchie Albright, was one of the very first country music songs to feature a video. It was a Top 15 hit.
“Hank” Jason Boland & The Stragglers
The first song on their 2009 self-titled LP.“You don’t like my music, you don’t like my songs You say you wanna party, you say you wanna rock and roll That carbon copy music don’t mean a damn to me Hank Williams wouldn’t make it now in Nashville, Tennessee”
“Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way?” – Waylon Jennings
The seminal Hank Williams tribute, and the seminal country music protest song all wrapped up into one. It was released in August of 1975 and became a #1 hit. Not three chords and the truth—two chords and the truth.
• “Hank, It Will Never Be The Same Without You” – Ernest Tubb
• “The Great Hank” – Robert Earl Keen (About Hank in drag)
• “Things Change” – Tim McGraw
• “When You Died At Twenty-Nine” – Slaid Cleaves
• “Alcohol & Pills” – Fred Eaglesmith
• “If Ol’ Hank Could Only See Us Now” – Waylon Jennings
• “Hank Williams Syndrome” – Waylon Jennings
• “Hank’s Song” – Ferlin Husky
• “Tramp On Your Street” – George Jones
• “Rollin’ and Ramblin’” – Emmylou Harris
A Selection of Other Great Hank Williams Tributes:
- “A Tribute to Hank Williams, My Buddy” – Luke McDaniels
- “Hank” – Her Make Believe Band
- “Here’s To Hank” – Stonewall Jackson
- “Hank Williams Sings The Bules No More” – Jimmie Logsdon
- “Hank, You Still Make Me Cry” – Boxcar Willie
- “Hats Off To Hank” – Buzz Carson
- “Hank, You Tried To Tell Me” – Johnny Paycheck
- “I Had A Talk With A Man Last Night” – Vernon Oxford
- “Hank Williams Isn’t Dead” – Duke Denver and Jeffrey Null
- “Hank Williams Will Live Forever” – Johnny and Jack
- “The Night I Met Hank Williams” – Lee Guthrie
- “I Long To Hear Hank Williams Sing The Blues” – Jim Murphy
- “The Life of Hank Williams” – Rick and Thel Carey
- “A Legend Froze in Time” – David Church
- “I Couldn’t Sleep for Thinkin’ Of Hank Williams” – Henry McCullough
- “Everybody Likes a Hank Williams Song” – Tim Hus
- “Curse of Hank” – Tim Hus
- “Ghost of Hank Williams” – Kentucky Headhunters
- “Ghost of Hank Williams” – David Allan Coe
- “Has Anybody Here Seen Hank?” – The Waterboys
- “Tribute to Hank Williams” – Tim Hardin
- “Crank The Hank” – Dallas Wayne
- “The Ballad of Hank Williams” – Hank Williams Jr. and Don Helms
- “Ol’ Hank’s Lovesick Blues” – Gary Stewart
- “Daddy (I Need You Tonight)” – Hank Williams Jr.
- “Everybody Wants To Be Hank Williams” – Larry Boone
- “Montgomery In The Rain” – Steve Young (also covered by Hank Jr.)
- “The Car Hank Died In” – The Austin Lounge Lizards
- “I Feel Like Hank Williams Tonight” – Jerry Jeff Walker
- “This Ain’t Montgomery” – Hank III and Joey Allcorn
- “Mission From Hank” – Aaron Tippin
One of country music’s most famous families is now bigger by one. Holly Williams, granddaughter of Hank Williams and daughter of Hank Williams Jr., gave birth to Stella June Coleman on Tuesday, Sept. 30th in Nashville at 1:45 PM. The 7 lbs., 12 oz. baby girl was named after Holly’s great, great aunt, and June was Williams’ maternal grandmother, and the subject of one of the seminal songs on Williams’ last album The Highway. No word on if Stella June will pursue a music career (her hands are still a little too tiny to play guitar at the moment), but goodness knows she has the pedigree.
“It’s really important to teach my child about my grandparents and where they came from and why I was so close to them,” Holly told People Magazine upon the arrival of the new bundle of joy. “She [June] was the grandparent I was closest to by far and she was just such an amazing, lovely, southern dream of a grandmother to me.”
Stella June’s father also has a musical background. Chris Coleman regularly plays backup guitar for Holly Williams on tour, and tours as a backup musician for Kings of Leon. “We have been going non-stop for a year and this will be our first 14 days in our house together since 2012,” she says. “This sounds crazy, but I feel like we’re about to go on vacation because we’ll be forced to not leave the house for days.”
Holly tweeted out a picture of Stella June’s tiny fingers for her fans late last night with the message, “Hello world! Our hearts are mush and we are thanking God every single second for this healthy miracle of life.”
No more “Waiting on June” for Holly Williams, she has officially arrived.
In early August it was revealed that Guernsey’s Auctions out of New York City was preparing to auction off 2,000 items from the Waylon Jennings estate in Chandler, Arizona, with the proceeds going to the Phoenix Children’s Hospital. The items are being offered for sale by Waylon’s widow, Jessi Colter, who was married to Waylon for over 30 years. The auction is set to transpire on October 5th at the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix. Now even more details of the auction items have been revealed as the auction house has made a detailed auction guide available for pre-order.
The items will be made available for preview in Phoenix at the Musical Instrument Museum starting on October 3rd. Out of the 2,000 items, there will also be 500 lots, or groups of items that will be auctioned together. Telephone and online bidding will also be available.
Included in the auction is a pair of ornate leather boots once worn by Hank Williams. There’s also an authentic set of Willie Nelson’s famous Indian braids given to Waylon in 1983 by his long-time Outlaw friend to celebrate Waylon’s newly-found sobriety. There’s also the original contract signed by Waylon that officially formed The Highwaymen supergroup with Willie, Kris Kristofferson, and Johnny Cash, and a letter to Waylon from John Lennon. There’s also a leather-clad Telecaster being sold (though not the main one Waylon played). But the crown jewel of the collection will be the Ariel Cyclone motorcycle previously owned by Buddy Holly, and given to Waylon Jennings as a birthday present in 1979 (read more).
Though Waylon was originally from Littlefield, TX, his Phoenix history runs deep. Waylon got his start as a solo performer at JD’s in Phoenix. Owner Jimmy D. Musiel pattered his club around Waylon and his Waylors as the house band. Waylon’s Arizona estate in the Phoenix suburb of Chandler is where he spent much of his time, and where he passed away on February 13th, 2002.
For more information on the auction, visit www.guernseys.com.
Braids Willie Nelson gave to Waylon after he found sobriety.
“Storms Never Last” Bronze Bust
Waylon’s Stage Chair
Waylon’s Personal Rolex Submariner Watch
Porsche Design Sunglasses & Case
Porsche Design Sunglasses
Partner Desk Given to Waylon by Johnny Cash in 1985
Original contract forming the supergroup The Highwaymen.
Photo Display from the Music Row Museum
Muhammad Ali’s Training Gloves
Muhammad Ali’s Ring Robe Presented to Waylon Jennings by Ali in 1978
Letter from John Lennon To Waylon
Original Black Crayon Drawing of Johnny Cash by William Nelson
Hat Worn by Hank Williams Jr. During a Live Performance
Nomination Plaque for “Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys”
Fender Custom Shop Waylon Jennings Telecaster
Waylon’s Favorite Pair of Lucchese Boots
Engraved ST Dupont Black Chinese Lacquer and Gold Lighter c. 1970s
Hank Williams’ Custom-made Nudie Cowboy Boots
Costume Worn by Jennings in Sesame Street’s Follow That Bird
“The Buddy Holly Days”
Baume Mercier Watch
Nashville Rebel Poster with Autograph
Autographed Nashville Rebel Poster WITH ORIGINAL SHARKEY’S POSTER
1943 Martin Guitar 00021
The Highwayman Goes Gold
Ariel Cyclone motorcycle previously owned by Buddy Holly, and given to Waylon Jennings as a birthday present in 1979.
UPDATE (8-24): The Oakland County Sheriff’s Department has ruled the death a homicide, though the investigation is considered still to be ongoing, and no charges have been filed. “Preliminary information said that kind of a shoving altercation was occurring between the teenager and the victim,” Sheriff Mike Bouchard said. “Early information is that it actually precipitated by the victim.”
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Robert Kobe of Westland, Michigan was pronounced dead Tuesday (8-19) at 12:04 PM after being assaulted at a Hank Williams Jr. concert at the DTE Energy Music Theatre in Independence Township, Michigan on Sunday, August 17th. The 55-year-old man suffered a serious head injury at the hands of a 15-year-old male who shoved him in the concourse area, resulting in the man hitting his head violently on the concrete floor according to the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office.
Witnesses describe the teen shoving Robert Kobe just before 9 PM, and then attempting to flee the scene. The victim was found in a pool of blood on the concourse, while bystanders caught and detained the teen until police arrived. The teen was attending the concert with his father.
Robert Kobe was rushed to McLaren Oakland Hospital in Pontiac, MI where he was placed on life support and was reported to be in very grave condition on Monday. Early Tuesday afternoon, Robert Kobe died of his injuries.
The teen was detained at the Oakland County’s Children’s Village juvenile detention facility on Sunday night, and was released on Monday by a juvenile court referee into the custody of his parents. The Oakland County Sheriff’s Office says the incident is still under investigation, and they have not decided what to charge the teen with, or if to charge him as a juvenile or an adult. Because the victim has died, the charges could escalate from assault to second-degree murder. The Oakland County Prosecutor’s Office is also reported to be reviewing the case. There has been no information released on if alcohol was involved in the incident. Robert Kobe’s body is scheduled for autopsy.
Neither Hank Williams Jr. or the DTE Energy Music Theatre have released statements about the death, but a spokesperson for the over 15,000-capacity venue said they do not comment on criminal matters involving patrons.
UPDATE (8-20): The Detroit Free Press reports that the victim’s son, 29-year-old Cory Kobe, says that Robert Kobe may have provoked the fatal shove, and that Robert Kobe and the teen knew each other and were friends. “I want to make sure that this young man gets fair treatment,” Cory Kobe said. “There are a lot of indications that there was no malicious intent.” Police have offered no further comment on the incident, and say the investigation is ongoing.
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The death of Robert Kobe is the second death at a country music concert this summer. A 22-year-old man was found dead in a dumpster in late July after a Jason Aldean concert in what is thought to be an alcohol-related incident. There was also a report of a gang rape at the Faster Horses Festival in mid July in Michigan.
Violence and incidents at mainstream country music concerts this summer have been making headlines. 20 people were arrested at a Luke Bryan concert in New York State on Saturday, 8-16. On August 7th, three people were stabbed at “We Fest” in Minnesota. On August 2nd, a drunk driver ran over a police officer at a Jason Aldean concert, and 30 concertgoers were taken to local hospitals. Earlier in the summer, 55 people were arrested, and 22 taken to hospitals at a Keith Urban show at the Xfinity Center in Mansfield, Mass. Later it was also revealed that an alleged rape happened in the venue’s lawn section while as many as 15 people stood and watched and took video of the incident. An annual event in Pittsburgh became a national story when pictures of trash and drunken patrons went viral in late June.
The news has not been all bad, however. A Kenny Chesney concert over the weekend only saw one arrest out of a crowd of 40,000 people.
In an August 7th article in The Chicago Tribune, Brian Kelley of Florida Georgia Line was characterized as being “unhappy” about Maddie & Tae’s debut single “Girl In A Country Song”. The song has been described by many as being “anti ‘Bro-Country’” with the way it puts the shoe on the other foot for country music’s young women and how they are characterized and objectified in many modern-day country songs.
In the Chicago Tribune interview, writer Allison Stewart portrayed questions to Brian Kelley about Maddie & Tae as “…the only ones Kelley, in a recent phoner, doesn’t sound happy to answer.”
When the reporter first asks about “Girl In A Country Song”, Kelley plays dumb. “I’m not really familiar with that,” he says about the song.
But when nudged a little further by Allison Stewart, who says to Kelley “They sing it from the point of view of the girl in the cut-off jeans, who never gets to talk? You’ve never heard that song?”
Brian Kelley answers, “All I’m gonna say about that is, I don’t know one girl who doesn’t want to be a girl in a country song. That’s all I’m gonna say to you. That’s it.”
Florida Georgia Line and Maddie & Tae are both on Big Machine Records.
Now, on-air personality Broadway of Country 92.5′s Electric Barnyard Show has interviewed Maddie & Tae, and asked them directly about Brian Kelley’s comments.
Broadway asks, “Are you girls feminists?”
The duo responds, “I would not say that. You know, the whole thing is just us wanting to come at this from a different perspective and making sure that the girl in these songs these guys are singing about gets a voice ’cause you very rarely ever hear from her.”
Then Broadway reads the Brian Kelley quotes from the Chicago Tribune article, and Maddie & Tae (who utter “uh-oh” at one point when hearing the news) respond,
“We love them and their music, but you see, he’s a dude. He doesn’t know what it’s like to be a woman, or to be the girl in these songs. We never intended to upset anybody. That was definitely not our intention, and we can’t really speak for anyone else. We just know that is definitely not something that we would want to do.”
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The problem is, “Girl In A Country Song” has put these two, very young 18-year-old girls in a very unenviable position. People who identify themselves as anti “Bro-Country” or anti pop country are going to want something from this song and this duo that they simply can’t deliver. These girls weren’t even born when Garth Brooks was hitting his commercial stride. They were 5-years-old when Garth retired. Even if they were raised with classic country being a part of their musical experience (which they claim they were), they’re still not going to have the perspective to be able to battle the entire country music industry when they are just starting out. Of course they’re going to say they like Florida Georgia Line and other Bro-Country artists. They don’t have the skins on the wall to say otherwise. Saying they hate Florida Georgia Line would be self-destruction. They have never even really been out on tour yet, or played any big shows. And if they had loaded up “Girl In A Country Song” with twang and steel guitars like some would have it, we wouldn’t even be talking about it right now because nobody would be paying attention to it beyond some pissed of classic country fans.
Of course the song isn’t great. But it’s effective, and that’s what it has over virtually every other modern country protest song. It isn’t on Maddie & Tae to battle Bro-Country, and it is unfair to them to foist that responsibility upon their 18-year-old shoulders. It is their job to simply express themselves as artists, and that’s what they did with “Girl In A Country Song”. And if the industry decided to co-opt the song for their own marketing purposes to re-integrate anti Bro-Country hatred, I can’t see how to blame Maddie & Tae for that either. People like Hank Williams Jr., Garth Brooks, and Alan Jackson are the ones who need to be swiping the young pups on the nose, because they’re the ones who are in a position to do so. I can only imagine the nightmares these girls must be having, worrying that the entire country music world is going to turn on them when they’re still very much trying to figure out who they are as artists and people.
The dilemma for Maddie & Tae has been made one measure worse from Big Machine’s marketing strategy that has seen them court both sides of the cultural divide. The duo was featured prominently on NPR right after the song’s release, and then the video for the song was debuted first to NPR’s intellectual, upper-crust crowd. The girls were portrayed as pseudo-feminists, fighting objectifying gender roles. And at the same time, they were being pushed to mainstream country as having “good fun” with Bro-Country—which they really love.
And meanwhile a third contingent of critics have popped up to say this song has not risen quickly enough and is not even worth all this hubbub, as if a completely brand new female act is expected to land a #1 right out of the chute when it has been nearly half a decade since any country music female not named Carrie, Taylor, or Miranda has done so. The song slipped from #16 to #25 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart this week as singles featured on ABC’s “CMA Music Fest” special all saw boosts in sales, while “Girl In A Country Song” gained one spot to #30 on the Airplay chart.
Who knows what the fate of Maddie & Tae and “Girl In A Country” song will be. But it continues to be the most talked-about song in country music, and this in itself has elevated the dialogue about if the current direction of country music is a healthy one, both ethically and economically. And that cannot be a bad thing, no matter what perspective you bring to the table about the song.
As one of the primary members of country music’s “Class of ’89″ that’s regularly given credit for veering country music into a too commercial direction, Alan Jackson seems to never be given enough credit for being one of the genre’s staunch traditionalists that has stood up for the roots and the legends of country music arguably more than any other mainstream star, and just as much (if not more) than The Outlaws of the 70′s did. When you sit back and reflect on his now legendary career that has seen the sale of over 80 million records and seen Alan amass dozens of industry awards, there is no question Alan Jackson deserves the distinction of being an ultimate country music badass.
More in this series:
- 10 Badass Waylon Jennings Moments
- 10 Badass Johnny Cash Moments
- 10 Badass Merle Haggard Moments
- 10 Badass Wanda Jackson Moments
- 10 Badass Marty Stuart Moments
- 10 Badass George Jones Moments
- 10 Badass Hank3 Moments
- 10 Badass Billy Joe Shaver Moments
- 10 Badass Kris Kristofferson Moments
1. Starting His Career in the TNN Mailroom
Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings got their start in music as DJ’s. Kris Kristofferson started out as a janitor in the Columbia studios. For those with music in their blood, they will do whatever it takes to get their foot in the door of the music business. For Alan Jackson, it was getting a job in the mailroom of The Nashville Network’s offices.
Jackson was born in Newnan, Georgia, and grew up in a house built out of his grandfather’s old tool shed. Jackson’s mom still lives in the house to this day. Jackson had been married to his high school sweetheart Denise for 6 years before deciding to move to Nashville to pursue music full time. Once they hit Music City, Jackson needed to do something to support the household, and TNN was hiring. He later met Glen Campbell and the rest is history.
2. Wearing a Hank Williams T-shirt on the 1994 ACM Awards
Today this would be no big deal. In fact it would probably be considered an upgrade from some of the ridiculous regalia many modern-day country stars get duded up in on award shows. But in 1994, country music’s prime time presentations were still very much black tie affairs. And here comes Alan Jackson walking out for his performance wearing a Hank Williams T-shirt with the sleeves cut off. It would pale in comparison to what would happen next on the show (see below), but Alan bucking the black tie dress code was scandalous on its own, and was probably meant as its own protest against the ACM’s stuffy atmosphere and a presentation that showed little reverence to the roots of the music.
Executive producer Dick Clark in a backstage interview during the show asked Alan, “Here you are on television in front of millions of people. Why do you have a Hank Williams T-shirt on?”
Jackson’s response was, “Well, I love Hank, and a fan…I get a lot of gifts on the road playing, and a fan gave me this shirt, and I just saw it in the closet before I came out here this weekend and I grabbed it and said, ‘I’m gonna wear it for my song,’ you know, ‘Gone Country.’ Hank’s country.”
3. Protesting The Backing Track on the 1994 ACM Awards
The 1994 ACM Awards were in many ways Alan Jackson’s oyster. Held at the Universal Amphitheater in Los Angeles on May 3rd, Alan walked away that night with the Top Male Vocalist award, and co-hosted the event with Reba McEntire. But when it came to performing what would be his upcoming #1 single and one of the signature songs of the era “Gone Country”, Alan Jackson couldn’t sit right with the charade most country award shows pull on their audience.
Before the show, producers told Alan that he had to play to a pre-recorded rhythm section track, which Jackson clearly felt was tantamount to lying to both his fans and the audience. So instead of playing along with the charade, Jackson tipped off the audience to the subterfuge by telling his drummer Bruce Rutherford to play without sticks. So as the performance transpires and everything sounds perfect, there is Alan Jackson’s drummer, swinging his arms like he’s playing the drums, but with no sticks in his hand.
Trust the ACM’s never asked Alan Jackson to play to a backing track again. And this wouldn’t be the last time Alan Jackson would pull a fast one on award show producers….
4. The “Pop A Top / Choices” George Jones CMA Awards Protest
Just before the 1999 CMA Awards, George Jones was asked to perform an abbreviated version of his song “Choices”. George, feeling that he wasn’t a “baby act” as he put it, refused, and boycotted the show. And in a super act of class, Alan Jackson, while preforming his song “Pop A Top”, cut his own song short, and launched into George’s “Choices”.
‘‘We were all so nervous,” Alan Jackson later recalled. “The guitarist had this solo in the middle of ”Pop a Top’, and the song sort of modulates up at the end of the solo. I signaled to him that we were going to do it, and he just stopped. I looked over at him and he was sweating. The boy looked like he was going to bite his lip off. Then I hit that C chord to start ‘Choices’. ”
As you can see in the video, the crowd began to roar and rise to their feet when Jackson launched into the George Jones’ comeback hit.
5. Releasing Under The Influences Tribute Album
During the height of Alan Jackson’s commercial success, he decided to do something rarely seen in modern day country from a superstar: he released an album made entirely of classic country covers. Including two songs from Johnny Paycheck, a cover of Merle Haggard’s “My Own Kind Of Hat”, and Hank Williams Jr.’s “The Blues Man”, Jackson’s label heads must have thought he was crazy. The album was Jackson’s way of pushing back against the pop-ification of country that was becoming a hot topic in the genre at the time.
What was the result?
It was a big success. Though it can be argued that an album of more original music might have done better, Under The Influences went Platinum, and included two hit singles. Nat Stuckey’s “Pop A Top” ended up at #6 on Billboards Country Songs chart, and Bob McDill’s “It Must Be Love” first made famous by Don Williams went all the way to #1. Alan Jackson proved that the classic country sound was still relevant, and commercially viable if given a chance.
6. Recording and Writing “3 Minute Positive Not Too Country Up Tempo Love Song”
Not since Willie Nelson’s “Sad Songs & Waltzes”, and arguably no other song since has protested pop country’s propensity for commercialization and shallowness as well as this loquaciously-titled song written by Alan Jackson himself for his 2000 release When Somebody Loves You.
7. Recording “Murder On Music Row” with George Strait
Arguably one of the most important country music protest songs in the history of the genre, “Murder On Music Row” written by Larry Cordle and Larry Shell became a big success when Alan Jackson joined up with George Strait to release the song in 2000. The duo first performed the song in 1999 at the CMA Awards, and the next year the performance won the CMA for “Vocal Event of the Year.” Then the following year when it was released on George Strait’s Latest Greatest Straitest Hits album, it was awarded the CMA for “Song of the Year.” That’s right, a song talking about how country music had been murdered on Music Row walked away with the genre’s highest distinction for a song.
Even though the song was never released as a single, unsolicited airplay still saw the song chart on Billboard at #38. At George Strait’s final concert in June of 2014, the duo performed the song again to the largest crowd to ever see an indoor live music event
8. “Where Were You (When The World Stopped Turning)”
In stark contrast to the inflammatory nature of Toby Keith’s post-911 über hit “Courtesy Of The Red, White, & Blue”, Alan Jackson did his best to humanize and come to peace with the tragedy of 9-11 through song, and it resulted in both his most critical and commercial success of his career. Written by Jackson himself, when he first played it for label executives, there was complete silence in the room for a full minute after it stopped. Jackson was scheduled to perform his current #1 song “Where I Come From” at the 2001 CMA awards in November, but mere days before the presentation, he decided to play “Where Were You (When The World Stopped Turning)” instead. The four CMA heads were not happy about this decision until Jackson’s tour manager Nancy Russell played the song for them. They were all crying by the time the song ended.
After Jackson played the song on the CMA Awards, demand for it skyrocketed. The song was so new, his label hadn’t officially released it as a single yet, but stations already with a copy started playing it, and the song shot to #25 on the Billboard Country Songs chart almost immediately. By the next week it was at #12, and by the end of the year, it was #1 where it stayed for five weeks. It also charted on Billboard’s Hot 100 at #28.
Jackson’s label couldn’t make the song a commercial single fast enough to meet demand, so they instead decided to move up the release date of his album Drive from May of 2002 to January 15th. When the album was released, it went to #1 on both Billboard’s country and all-genre charts, and stayed there for four weeks off the strength of the song. “Where Were You (When The World Stopped Turning)” eventually won both the “Single of the Year” and “Song of the Year” from both the CMA and ACM Awards, as well as the Grammy for “Best Country Song.” It also helped propel Alan Jackson to be awarded both “Male Vocalist of the Year” and “Entertainer of the Year” by the CMA Awards in both 2002 and 2003.
Jackson said about the song, “I think it was Hank Williams who said, ‘God writes the songs, I just hold the pen.’ That’s the way I felt with this song.”
9. Being Nominated For The Most CMA’s Ever In One Year
Bolstered by his song “Where Were You (When The World Stopped Turning)”, Alan Jackson received a total of ten CMA nominations in 2002—the most in CMA history. Jackson won five of them.
- 2002 Album of the Year – Drive (Won)
- 2002 Male Vocalist of the Year (Won)
- 2002 Entertainer of the Year (Won)
- 2002 Single of the Year “Where Were You (When The World Stopped Turning)” (Won)
- 2002 Song of the Year “Where Were You (When The World Stopped Turning)” (Won)
- 2002 Song of the Year “Drive (For Daddy Gene)” (Nominated)
- 2002 Single of the Year “Drive (For Daddy Gene)” (Nominated)
- 2002 Vocal Event of the Year – “Designated Drinker” w/ George Strait (Nominated)
- 2002 Video of the Year “Where Were You (When The World Stopped Turning)” (Nominated)
- 2002 Video of the Year “Drive (For Daddy Gene)” (Nominated)
10. Keeping Virtually The Same Band & Producer Throughout His Entire Career
Every single one of Alan Jackson’s 15 major label album releases has been produced by Keith Stegall. Even when Jackson switched labels from Arista, Stegall stayed on board.
Jackson has also kept virtually the same band the entire time, aside from using a few bluegrass ringers for The Bluegrass Album. The loyalty Alan Jackson shows in his people, and his people’s loyalty in him, is both a sign of integrity and success.
- Monty Allen – acoustic guitar, harmony vocals
- Scott Coney – acoustic guitar, tic tac bass, banjo
- Robbie Flint – steel guitar
- Danny Groah – lead guitar
- Ryan Joseph – fiddle, harmony vocals
- Bruce Rutherford – drums
- Joey Schmidt – keyboards
- Roger Wills – bass guitar
More in this series:
Have you ever heard of Justin Guarini? How about Diana DeGarmo? Blake Lewis, anybody? Or how about Lee DeWyze? Does Dia Frampton ring a bell with anyone? Anyone?
Dia Frampton was a contestant on the inaugural season of NBC’s reality singing contest The Voice. Frampton, like all of the other names listed above, was either a runner up, or a winner of either The Voice or American Idol. And there’s an infinite list of other indistinguishable names from where these names came from: singers that reached the very heights of reality show competition, only to fade back into the unknown masses once the next season kicked off. Reality singing show nerds might be laughing at me right now, knowing all of these names, and the styles and stats of each artist. And so maybe to them, I’m the one who needs to fade back into the unknown masses. But even those people should hang with me for just a second more.
Not to pick on poor Dia Frampton, but let’s just take a look back at what happened to her after she made it onto The Voice finale, and almost won. In December of 2011, Dia released an album called Red through Universal Republic Records. How did the album do? It reached a peak of #106 on the Billboard charts. The album’s lone single “The Broken Ones” didn’t chart at all. But in reality, that’s not bad compared to the actual Season 1 winner of The Voice, Javier Colon. His album peaked at #134 on the Billboard charts. In fact Javier, who had his own successful music career before The Voice, released an album way back in 2003 that made it to #91 on Billboard—43 spots better than the album contracted to him after his big reality show win.
Of course for all these types of anecdotal stories about reality show winners, there are success stories such as Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood, Jennifer Hudson, and to a lesser extent, artists like Kellie Pickler and Scotty McCreery. But many of these big stars came from the first few seasons of American Idol, while many other finalists and winners have completely dropped off the map or have taken to starring in other reality show competitions, or reprising B-level acting roles to attempt to keep the momentum of their big reality show win rolling.
And this brings us to the matter of the young, fresh-faced finalist on The Voice, Jake Worthington. Jake finished 2nd and has captured the hearts and imaginations of many traditional country fans by wearing a big cowboy hat, and singing Keith Whitley songs on the show every chance he got, along with songs from Waylon Jennings, Hank Williams Jr., and others throughout the competition. Hey, that’s great. Great for this kid, and great that good, real country music is being exposed to the masses through him. But how many times have we been through this exercise with one of these reality show contestants, wondering if they are the ones that will rise out of the unclean masses to save country music with big reality show exposure?
I’m not saying it couldn’t happen. Jake Worthington seems like a really good kid, and good on Blake Shelton for shepherding him to the top level of the competition, and doing so while letting him keep his voice and style instead of swaying him in a more pop direction. But the reason that The ‘X’ Factor was canceled, the reason that American Idol has seen dramatically-declining ratings, and The Voice has remained stagnant, is because these competitions cannot consistently deliver winners that truly are American Idols, or that truly define “The Voice” of a generation.
Producers try to shake up the production, they shove more star power into these shows than the viewer can compute. ABC, despite the writing on the wall that with so many of these singing shows, they’re cannibalizing each other, is still starting their own competition come next season. But these shows are not delivering on their promise to the American public of delivering stars that they will then see selling out arenas, and performing on the Grammy Awards. That is why the singing reality show model is losing steam.
Opportunity is only what you make of it, and regardless of what the marketeers of these shows try to sell you on, the simple fact is nobody has the power to anoint a star. The winners themselves must still rise to find themselves, must still figure out a way to connect with the public at large. Some stars have done this like Carrie Underwood. Many haven’t like Javier Colon.
Let’s not overlook that it says a lot about the appeal of traditional country music that an artist like Jake Worthington even made it as far as the finals of The Voice. Everywhere you turn there’s people preaching to you that nobody wants to hear traditional country anymore, and it can be argued that Jake Worthington’s coach, Blake Shelton, has been one of the loudest champions of this sentiment. But whether it is Shelton changing course by seeing the blossoming of Jake Worthington right before his eyes, or the American public letting their voice be known by voting for Worthington, George Strait winning Entertainer of the Year at both the CMA and ACM Awards this last year, or even the recent announcement that Big Machine Records is partnering with Cumulus to reintegrate classic country artists into the fold, everywhere where traditional country is given a chance, it proves that it’s appeal and resonance with the American people is not on the wane as many would have you believe.
And don’t discount Mr. Worthington just because his path led through a reality show. At this point, with artists like Dan+Shay being nominated for awards before they’ve even released an album, and previous reality show contestants like Kellie Pickler putting out albums like 100 Proof that end up becoming the best country music has to offer in a given year, the most important question to ask is not where the artist came from, but what they accomplish with the opportunity they’ve been given.
Jake Worthington’s success, and the renewed interest in traditional country that might bestow, has much less to do with The Voice and where he placed, and much more to do with Jake Worthington, and if he has the stuff to speak to people’s hearts, and the guts to stick to who he is as an artist.
Our job is to help him.
Country music isn’t just a genre of music, it is a musical religion, a way of life, a cultural lineage passed down from generation to generation and preserved through the blood and bond of its performers and fans. That’s why it seems country music performers so very often tend to turn out to be the parents of country music performers themselves.
Let’s take a look at some of country music’s greatest sons and daughters.
Justin Townes Earle
Son of alt-country pioneer Steve Earle, and middle namesake of the man who was good friends with his father and considered one of the greatest songwriters ever, Justin Townes Earle has spent the last seven or so years trying to live up to the lofty expectations of both names, and has done so valiantly. Releasing a startling debut EP in 2007 called Yuma, Earle and his obsession with the craft of songwriting have led to critical success for the five albums he’s released through Bloodshot Records. Considered by many as one of the biggest names in the new generation of alt-country/Americana performers, Justin has done it not by being a chip off the old block, but by forging his own path.
Justin’s relationship with his father has been rocky over the years. Steve Earle left Justin and his mother when Justin was just 2-year-old, and the younger Earle had a tumultuous, troubled, and at times, drug-fueled childhood. But he has soldiered on to carry a name all his own.
The son of Willie Nelson’s long-time guitarist Jody Payne and Grammy Award-winning country music singer Sammi Smith, Waylon is named after his Godfather, Waylon Jennings. Raised by his aunt and uncle due to his parents’ heavy touring schedules, Payne attended seminary after high school and was on track to become a minister before catching the music bug. For a while Payne was part of the popular Eastbound and Down country night at the King King Club in Hollywood where performers would swap classic country songs. Payne later released the album The Drifter in 2004 through Republic Universal.
Music isn’t Waylon Payne’s only creative calling though. He may be known more as an actor than a musician. In the award-winning Johnny Cash film I Walk The Line, Payne played Jerry Lee Lewis. He also played country great Hank Garland in a small film called Crazy, along with making numerous television appearances, including on CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.
Hank Williams III (or Hank3)
The grandson of Hank Williams and the son of Hank Jr., if there was ever a spitting image of country music’s first superstar, it would be him. He not only carries the visage and build of Hank Sr., but also the voice and writing style when he wants to go in that direction. The youngest Hank though has a hankering to delve into the wild side of music as well, and has released multiple punk albums during his career that has now stretched into two decades.
Hank3 started out playing drums and guitar in underground punk bands, with no real drive to be a part of the country music machine. But when a paternity suit put him in court, he decided to sign with Curb Records, and entered into a tumultuous period with the label that at the least resulted in multiple landmark records, including the neo-traditional country stalwart Lovesick, Broke, & Driftin’, and his double album opus Straight to Hell. Hank3 is now an independent artist, and carries on the family tradition of doing the music he wants and defying expectation.
The granddaughter of Hank Williams, daughter of Hank Jr., and half sister of Hank Williams III has had a somewhat strange musical journey, but one that has seen her bloom recently to become one of the leading females in country/Americana, keeping the music true to its roots while moving it forward.
Holly’s early career saw her sign to major labels like Universal South and Mercury Nashville, trying to break into the big time, but always seemingly with one foot in, and one foot out of that mainstream approach to music. She was also seriously injured in a near fatal crash in 2006 along with her sister Hilary who also is a performer. Then in February of 2013, Holly released The Highway independently, and since then has become a critical darling and a live performer not to miss. Though there were some that at times wondered if Holly was just a famous name, she’s proven recently that she’s so much more.
The son of Merle Haggard and an official member of Merle’s legendary backing band The Strangers, Ben is a chip off the old block when it comes to slinging Telecasters and perfecting the West Coast, twangy Bakersfield tradition of loud and electric country music. Patterned in the mold of the pioneer of the craft, the under-appreciated Roy Nichols, Ben can be seen plying his craft and staring at the back of his father on any given night out on the road. This isn’t just your usual slot filled by a family member on stage. Ben’s skills are regarded by his musician peers as being standalone from any famous name.
The only child of Waylon Jennings and Jessi Coulter, Shooter started his musical journey in the rock band Stargunn before signing with Universal South in 2005 and releasing his first country record, Put The ‘O’ Back In Country. He subsequently released two more country records infused with some Southern rock & roll before putting out his rock opus, the experimental album Black Ribbons. Shooter re-established his country roots with the 2012 album Family Man, followed up by 2013′s The Other Life.
Like many of country music’s famous sons and daughters, Shooter Jennings marches to his own drum, but always seems to come back to the country music fold.
Jubal Lee Young
Son of legendary Outlaw country songwriter and performer Steve Young (Lonesome, Onry & Mean, Seven Bridges Road), and songwriter Terrye Newkirk, Jubal Lee Young from Muskogee, Oklahoma put out an album in 2011 called Take It Home that included the song “There Ain’t No Outlaws Any More” that loudly proclaims, “Here comes another badass sellin’ Nashville rock and roll, long hair, denim and tattoos, lookin’ on’ry and mean. Singin’ songs about that lonesome road, some of ‘em might even be true. But there ain’t no outlaws anymore…”
Hank Williams Jr.
The most obvious and most successful of country music’s greatest sons, Hank Williams Jr. is very likely a future country music Hall of Famer, and has won multiple CMA Entertainer of the Year Awards and sold millions of albums. He started out his career as a virtual impersonator of his famous father, but rebelled against this preordained future to become so much more. Hank Jr. took a precipitous fall off of Ajax Mountain in Montana in 1975, landing on his face, and having to go through multiple surgeries before he could return to performing. And when he did, he quickly became known as “Rockin’” Randall Hank as he emerged with a sound that was just as much Southern rock as country.
In the mid 80′s, Hank Williams Jr. was one of country’s biggest stars, and now sits as a legend in the genre. He also is responsible for two other famous country offspring: Hank Williams III and Holly Williams, and a 2nd daughter Hilary Williams has also been a performer.
The only daughter of the country music super pairing of George Jones and Tammy Wynette, Georgette was said to have a recording contract on the day she was born. She recorded her first song at the ripe age of ten with her dad called “Daddy Come Home.” From there Georgette began singing backup for her mom, and she has gone on to become an accomplished songwriter and solo performer herself. Georgette has released numerous albums, including three for Heart of Texas Records. Her latest album Til I Can Make It On My Own is a tribute to her mother.
Georgette also appeared in the TV Series Sordid Lives and recorded numerous songs for the soundtrack, including Tammy Wynette tunes. She also recently released a memoir called The Three of Us: Growing Up with Tammy and George, Georgette Jones.
Daughter of David Allan Coe, Shelli was born in Nashville and raised in Austin, and appeared at the tender age of 3-years-old on her father’s Family Album project. She later worked as a backup singer for her father before landing in Branson, MO for a while where she performed in clubs, collaborated with other songwriters and appeared on the album Branson Songwriters Out in the Streets. Shelli subsequently returned to Austin where she is known to perform off and on. Her first full-length CD A Girl Like Me was released in 2010, and is worth a listen for folks that like traditional country music.
Surrounded by a bevy of musical siblings and one awfully famous father, the argument can be made that Lukas was the Willie offspring that received the most potent douse of Willie’s musical genes, and has a powerful voice to match his father’s. A dynamic, top-flight performer with a sound that trends much closer to rock than country, but still has an earthy, rootsy feel nonetheless, Lukas is on a fast track to becoming a superstar all his own.
From his towering leg kicks, to playing the guitar with his teeth, at only 23-years-old, Lukas could already be crowned as a guitar god. Leading his band The Promise of the Real, they’ve made waves in the music world on big tours. About the only thing holding the young star back is that rock music is in a weird spot right now, and guitar blazers are not what the masses are particularly looking for. But like his father, Lukas is not worried about anything but following his heart, and he promises to have a very bright future ahead of him with a tower of talent to draw from.
Son of Outlaw country legend Billy Joe Shaver, Eddie Shaver was one of the best country music guitar shredders to ever take the stage. Aside from being his father’s right hand man for many years, Eddie Shaver studied under Dickey Betts of The Allman Brothers, played with Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Kris Kristofferson, Guy Clark, The Eagles, and was Dwight Yoakam’s guitar player for the first two years of Dwight’s career.
It’s only because of Eddie’s untimely death that he’s not better known. He was scheduled to release his first solo album in 2001 when he died of a heroin overdose on New Years Eve of 2000. Though Billy Joe Shaver is known most for his songwriting, and Eddie as a guitar slinger, it only takes a glimpse at either to see that the musical talent runs very deep with the Shaver clan.
Though one might first think of June Carter as more of a mother of famous country artists instead of a daughter of them, June Carter is arguably the first daughter of country music. Her mother is “Mother” Maybelle Carter, given her nickname for being the mother of her performing daughters, and arguably the mother of country music. June began performing at the age of ten in 1939 as part of the landmark country outfit The Carter Family. It was through their mutual love of country music that she would eventually meet and fall in love with Johnny Cash, and the two went on to be one of country music’s powerhouse couples. June Carter was a muti-instrumentalist with a classic voice, and defines the nexus between country music’s primitive, classic, and modern eras.
It can be easy to overlook just what kind of impact Rosanne Cash has had on American music over the years. She seems to always be overshadowed by her father, by other famous sons and daughters of country legends, measured against them, and dogged by preceding labels that don’t always allow her to be judged on her own merit, while her musical accomplishments veer towards being somewhat misunderstood because she’s not always been nestled smack dab in the country realm as people want, expect, or anticipate.
But Rosanne’s critical and commercial accomplishments are far more than complimentary, they define a very successful career: Eleven #1 country singles, twenty-one Top 40 singles, and thirteen Grammy nominations is nothing to sniff at, and ultimately might at least get her mentions as a potential Hall of Fame inductee.
The only offspring between the country music super marriage of Johnny Cash and June Carter, John Carter Cash has spent his time as a singer and performer, but many of his important contributions to country music have come behind-the-scenes as a producer, songwriter, author, and general champion of the Cash estate and all things country music. It’s remarkable how many places you see John Carter’s name attached to projects as his puts effort out to make music happen in whatever capacity he can help in. Like his father, he has that selfless streak of service that surfaces in some of the most generous and cool ways.
Bobby Bare Jr.
Born in Nashville, TN to the original Outlaw Bobby Bare, Bobby Bare Jr. grew up next door to Tammy Wynette and George Jones in Hendersonville, and was nominated for a Grammy next to his father for the Shel Silverstein-written song “Daddy What If” from his father’s tribute album to Silverstein. Fronting roots rock bands like “Bare Jr.” and “Young Criminals Starvation League”, Bare’s career has been the result of avoiding “working a real job at any cost,” despite earning a psychology degree from the University of Tenessee, and not really getting deep into his own music until later in life. His high energy on stage and dark sarcasm in his songs have won him fans worldwide.
Other Famous Sons & Daughters:
Pam Tillis – 1994 CMA Female Vocalist of the Year, and daughter of country great Mel Tillis
The Carter Family Daughters – Carlene Carter, Helen Carter, Anita Carter, Rosie Nix Adams.
Jett Williams – Daughter of Hank Williams that found out about her famous father later in life. Jett has been a performer and plays an important role as one of the executors of the Hank Williams estate.
Jesse Keith Whitley – Son of Lorrie Morgan and Keith Whitley
Marty Haggard, Noel Haggard, and Scott Haggard- More performing sons of Merle.
Dean Miller – Son of Roger Miller
Lilly Hiatt – Daughter of John Hiatt
Chelsea Crowell – Daughter of Rosanne Cash and Rodney Crowell
Paula Nelson – Leader of The Paul Nelson Band.
Tyler Mahan Coe – Guitar player and writer who spent years touring in his father’s band.
Folk Uke – Made up Willie Nelson’s daughter Amy, and Arlo Guthrie’s daughter Cathy.
Whey Jennings – The son of Terry Jennings, and grandson of Waylon Jennings.
Lucas Hubbard – Son of Ray Wylie Hubbard who often plays lead guitar with his father.
Lucky Tubb – Not technically a son or daughter, but a great nephew of Ernest.
Bluegrass – There are many performing sons and daughters of famous bluegrass musicians, but for fear of forgetting some and getting yelled at for it, this sentence is in dedication to them all. You rock! Or pick, or strum, or pluck! Go YOU!
Tuesday was the release of Jerrod Niemann’s dumb new album High Noon, and before we’ve even had a chance to really delve into just how much of a mockery it makes of country music, Niemann’s already out there on the defensive, preaching to us how country “purists” really don’t know what the hell country music is all about, and how he’s just carrying on the traditions of Willie and Waylon by pushing the boundaries of the genre.
High Noon‘s first single “Drink To That All Night” drove country more in the direction of EDM than ever before, to the point where I’m not sure what’s country about it aside from the stupid, formulaic, country stereotyping lyrics. The second single from the album called “Donkey” promises to take this trend to a place many shades worse, and very well might go down as the worst song in the history of country music in this bear’s opinion—but that’s another story. A further perusing of High Noon‘s wares shows a lackluster effort of EDM and hip hop pandering veering towards a pop wasteland with little redeeming value afforded to distressed ears searching for any single reason why it shouldn’t be considered any more than some EDM/country mashup side project instead of a premier solo effort from an established country artist.
But that hasn’t stooped Jerrod Niemann from naming himself amidst country music’s Outlaw pioneers.
“When people think about country music, and they use the term ‘Traditional Country,’ they’re talking about something that has happened in the past,” Niemann tells Billboard. “But, when those songs were out currently, they were the freshest thing on the radio. Nobody was saying ‘Let’s go record traditional country.’ They just wanted to record music that meant something to them. Willie and Waylon were getting flack for being progressive at the time because they were mixing it with rock and the outlaw thing.”
Sorry Niemann, but that’s bullshit. Were there some voices saying that Willie and Waylon were pushing the boundaries of country music too far back in the day? Sure there were, and Saving Country Music has pointed this out before as well. But…
1) This had just as much to do with the fear people had of Willie and Waylon because they were shaking up the established Music Row system as it had anything to do with their music.
2) Willie & Waylon’s new take on country music was nowhere near outside the boundaries of country compared to what some artists are doing today. The musical equivalent to High Noon if Willie and Waylon would have done it would have been to cut straight up Disco records with country lyricism and called it country—and then thrown it back into the faces of critics before they even had a chance to raise a peep because Hank Williams was criticized too.
3) Oh an sorry Jerrod, but yes, Waylon and Willie did say, “Let’s go record traditional country.”
For example: What was Willie Nelson’s breakout album during the mid 70′s Outlaw era? Red Headed Stranger—the consensus pick by critics as the greatest country album of all time. What was the biggest single off of Red Headed Stranger, and really the only single of note from the album? It was a song called “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain.”
“Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain” was a traditional country standard when Willie cut it. The song was written by Fred Rose, originally recorded by Roy Acuff in 1945—30 years before the release of Red Headed Stranger. It was also cut by Hank Williams in 1951, Ferlin Husky and Slim Whitman in 1959, and Bill Anderson in 1962 among others. Red Headed Stranger also had other classic country songs such as Eddy Arnold’s “I Couldn’t Believe It Was True” and a hymn called “Just As I Am” that get this Jerrod Niemann, was written in 1835, making it over 140 years old when Willie cut it. So saying that Willie didn’t say, “‘Let’s go record traditional country,” is completely bogus. One can make the argument that’s exactly what Willie said, and it resulted in arguably country music’s greatest contemporary work.
Meanwhile Waylon may have had a touch more rock in his sound compared to Willie or his other country artists of the time, but the backbone of his music was the steel guitar of country veteran Ralph Mooney, and Waylon was cutting songs like “Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way?” and “Bob Wills Is Still The King” that paid homage to traditional country greats. Then take a look at the lineup of The Dripping Springs Reunion—the gathering that arguably put the power of Willie and Waylon on the map. It included Bill Monroe, Buck Owens, Loretta Lynn, and other aging country greats that at the time were being forgotten by Music Row. Even as Willie and Waylon were rising in prominence, they were paying homage to the ones that came before them.
“I’ve always tried to respectfully add a few elements here and there,” Niemann tells Billboard. Are you kidding me? “Drink To That All Night,” Donkey,” and other offerings from Niemann’s High Noon aren’t respectful to anything but his label’s bottom line. Take a look at this video and tell me the non-country elements are just “here and there”:
The problem with Jerrod Niemann, the reason he’s even worse than many of his current pop country cohorts is because he knows better. I have no doubt Florida Georgia Line grew up listening to mixtapes with Hank Williams Jr. on one side, and Drake on the other. To Taylor Swift, Tim McGraw and Shania Twain are classic country. But Jerrod Niemann is 34-years-old. He’s not trying to push limits, this is last ditch effort to get attention from the industry in a no hold’s barred, sellout move to secure his share of the fortune being made off the destruction of country music. And no matter how much he wants to be in front of this issue, how much he preaches falsehoods about how country music once was, he’s simply a sellout in a woman’s Ross Dress For Less discount bin hat—and certainly no progeny of Willie or Waylon.
Jett Williams, the daughter of country legend Hank Williams Sr. and the half-sister of Hank Williams Jr., was arrested early Tuesday morning for DUI in Lebanon, Tennessee. The 61-year-old Jett Williams Adkinson was observed by Lebanon police swerving in between lanes in a 1998 Jaguar when police pulled her over at 2:30 AM. According to police, Jett smelled of alcohol, and had slurred speech and admitted to drinking two beers. She failed a field sobriety test, and was arrested.
Williams was also cited for not wearing a seat belt and for no proof of insurance. She was later released from the Wilson County Jail on $1,000 bond. According to police, her current address is Hartsville, TN, just north and east of Lebanon.
Jett is a country music performer and the co-executor of the Hank Williams estate. She is the daughter of Hank Williams Sr. and Bobby Jett, who Hank had a brief relationship with between his two marriages. She was born five days after Hank’s death, and was adopted by Hank’s mother, Lillian Stone after her birth. When Lillian passed away in 1955, Jett became a ward of the state before being adopted, and lost touch with her Hank Williams lineage. In 1985, she was found by the Alabama State Court to be the daughter of Hank Williams, and was awarded a half-share of the estate. Jett’s husband, lawyer Keith Adkinson, died in June of 2013.
George Jones. The Possum. Possibly the man whose life and story embody the themes of a country song better than anyone. From rags to riches, back to rags, and eventually onto rehabilitation and redemption, George Jones was a man that faced demons more fierce than any of us can imagine, and eventually came out on top. Was he a badass? You bet, and here’s 10 reasons why.
- 10 Badass Willie Nelson Moments
- 10 Badass Waylon Jennings Moments
- 10 Badass Johnny Cash Moments
- 10 Badass Hank3 Moments
- 10 Badass Merle Haggard Moments
- 10 Badass Marty Stuart Moments
1. Flipping the Dinner Table at Tammy Wynette’s House
Before George and Tammy were married, George went over to Tammy’s house one night to have dinner with her and her then husband, songwriter Don Chapel. George knew Tammy through their mutual booking agent. While fixing dinner, Tammy and Don Chapel got in a heated argument, resulting on Don calling Tammy a “son of a bitch” in front of George. George, secretly hiding his admiration with Tammy, lost it.
“I felt rage fly all over me,” Jones said in his autobiography. “I jumped from my chair, put my hands under the dinner table, and flipped it over. Dishes, utensils, and glasses flew in all directions. Don’s and Tammy’s eyes got about as big as the flying dinner plates.”
George professed his love for Tammy right then and there, and the country music couple were soon married.
2. Helping To Found ACE — The Association of Country Entertainers
George Jones was never considered an Outlaw, but he participated in one of the most significant precursors to country music’s Outlaw revolution in the mid 70′s. Some know the story of Charlie Rich burning the envelope announcing John Denver as Entertainer of the Year at the CMA’s in 1975, but it was the year prior when the stink had begun about performers outside of the country genre walking away with the industry’s accolades. Olivia Newton-John’s win in 1974 for Female Vocalist of the Year caused such a stir that traditional and even pop-leaning country performers at the time organized behind the acronym “ACE” that stood for “Association of Country Entertainers”.
Spearheading ACE was George Jones and then wife Tammy Wynette, and the inaugural meeting of ACE was held at their Tennessee residence. Other participants in ACE included Dolly Parton, Bill Anderson, Porter Wagoner, Faron Young, Conway Twitty, Hank Snow, Mel Tillis, Barbara Mandrell and more than a dozen others. ACE demanded more representation of traditional artists on the CMA’s Board of Directors, and more balance on country radio playlists (does any of this sound familiar?).
Just how successful ACE was can be argued, but it was the precursor to future organizations looking to restore balance and better representation from the CMA, and helped usher in country music’s Outlaw movement and the return to a more traditional sound that the mid 70′s saw in country.
3. Riding a Lawnmower to the Liquor Store
The first and most well-documented lawnmower incident was the late 60′s. George Jones was living 8 miles outside of Beaumont, TX with his then wife Shirley Ann Corley. Jones had experienced a few #1 hits by that time, and his success fueled his wayward ways with alcohol. He was drinking so bad, his wife Shirley resorted to hiding all the keys to the vehicles before she would leave the house so George wouldn’t drive to the nearest liquor store in Beaumont.
But that didn’t stop him. After tearing the house apart looking for a set of keys one time, George looked out the window to see a riding lawnmower sitting on the property under the glow of a security light. “There, gleaming in the glow, was that ten-horsepower rotary engine under a seat. A key glistening in the ignition,” George recalled in his autobiography. “I imagine the top speed for that old mower was five miles per hour. It might have taken an hour and a half or more for me to get to the liquor store, but get there I did.”
The second, lesser-known incident of George Jones’s escapades on a riding lawnmower happened when he was married to Tammy Wynette. Taking a cue from George’s previous wife Shirley, Tammy hid all the keys from George, but George had been down that road before. Wynette woke up one night at 1 AM to find George missing. “I got into the car and drove to the nearest bar 10 miles away,” Tammy recounted in 1979. “When I pulled into the parking lot there sat our rider-mower right by the entrance. He’d driven that mower right down a main highway. He looked up and saw me and said, `Well, fellas, here she is now. My little wife, I told you she’d come after me.’”
The George Jones lawnmower incidents later went on to be memorialized in many country videos, including Hank Williams Jr.’s “All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over Tonight,” Vince Gill’s 1993 hit “One More Last Chance” that includes the line, “She might have took my car keys, but she forgot about my old John Deere,” and John Rich’s “Country Done Come to Town,” and George’s own “Honky Tonk Song.”
4. Recording “He Stopped Loving Her Today”
Yes, it could be easy to highlight George’s signature song and say it was awesome for him to cut it, but the story behind “He Stopped Loving Her Today” goes much deeper. The song not only saved George’s career, it potentially saved his life, and all of this is from a song that at first he didn’t want to record because he thought it was too depressing, too long, and nobody would play it. It eventually became his first #1 in six years, salvaged his career, introduced him to a new generation of fans, and solidified his place as one of country music’s biggest ever superstars. Jones himself says about it, “A four-decade career had been salvaged by a three-minute song.”
Written by Country Music Hall of Famer Bobby Braddock (who you can argue would not be a Hall of Famer if it weren’t for the song), along with Curly Putnam, “He Stopped Loving Her Today” went on to spend 18 weeks at #1, won the Grammy for Best Male Country Performance in 1980, both the ACM for Single and Song of the Year, and was the Song of the Year from the CMA’s for 1980 and 1981. After George’s death, the song re-entered the charts at #21. “He Stopped Loving Her Today” deserves to be in that elite class of songs that can be argued are the greatest country music songs of all time.
5. Being The Best Male Duet Partner in the History of Country Music
When you have the best voice in country music, your services as a duet partner are going to be called on early and often. And despite George’s body of solo work being worthy of a Hall of Fame career, his work as a duet partner is unparallelled itself. Country music stars young and old, male and female lined up to take advantage of his voice over many decades, and duets accounted for five of the fourteen #1 hits George had over his storied career. Here’s a rundown of just some of the people George performed duets with over the years:
•Tammy Wynette •Loretta Lynn •Buck Owens •Waylon Jennings •Willie Nelson •Johnny Cash •Dolly Parton •David Allan Coe •Jerry Lee Lewis •Hank Williams Jr. •Patty Loveless •Lynn Anderson •Emmylou Harris •Ricky Skaggs •Garth Brooks •Tracy Lawrence •Charlie Daniels •Marty Stuart •Merle Haggard •Ralph Stanley •Randy Travis •Vince Gill •Alan Jackson •Sammy Kershaw •Shelby Lynn •Mark Chesnutt •Travis Tritt •Barbara Mandrell •Brenda Lee •Shooter Jennings •The Staple Singers •Keith Richards •B.B. King
6. Walking out of the CMA Awards
Ahead of the 1999 CMA Awards, George Jones was enjoying yet another resurgence in his career. Jones was slated to perform the song “Choices” on the CMA’s, but when producers insisted he must sing an abbreviated version, he walked out of the ceremonies and boycotted the show.
In a super act of class and solidarity, Alan Jackson halfway through his performance of “Pop A Top,” stopped down and shifted gears to perform “Choices” in protest. The event has gone on to be considered one of the biggest moments of country protest in the history of the genre.
7. Recording “Who’s Gonna Fill Their Shoes?”
Throughout his career, George Jones held fast to the ideals of traditional country music, and wasn’t afraid to fight for them, or speak out about what was happening in the genre. And as one of the few artists who registered hits in multiple decades (according to Billboard, Jones had more “hits” than any other country artist), when George Jones spoke, people listened.
George’s song “Who’s Gonna Fill Their Shoes” comes from the 1985 album of the same name, and was written by Troy Seals and Max D. Barnes. It’s a poignant tribute to the history of country music and its previous greats, while calling attention to the abandonment of country’s roots. The song was so potent, the phrase “Who’s Gonna Fill Their Shoes?” has become one of the most popular go-to colloquialisms concerning the state of country. The song was also a hit, rising to #3 on the Billboard country chart in 1985.
8. Overcoming His Personal Demons
Some people assume that becoming a rich celebrity solves many of your problems, when for many artists it exposes and fuels their problems. Such was the case for George Jones, who had major issues with alcohol, and later in his career, drugs. At one point in 1979, despite being one of the best-selling artists in the history of country music, he was bankrupt and destitute, living in his car, weighing around 100 pounds and living off of junk food. George spent time in mental institutions tied to his drinking multiple times and had to be straighjacketed on numerous occasions. He became known as “No Show Jones” because he missed so many engagements over his career.
But in many ways George Jone’s bad behavior only helped his reputation. His fans didn’t turn on him, they loved him more because they could relate to him and their own personal struggles, and because he was such a great artist and performer when he would show. Alan Jackson once said about Jones, “…what I like most about George is that when you meet him, he is like some ole guy that works down at the gas station…even though he’s a legend!”
Waylon Jennings and others first helped get George Jones sober in the early 80′s, and the result was a resurgence in his career. However later in life George Jones would fall back into his old habits. George gave up drinking and drugs for good in 1999 after wrecking his car and spending two weeks in the hospital. After the crash he pleaded guilty to drunk driving charges. Jones told Billboard later, “…when I had that wreck I made up my mind, it put the fear of God in me. No more smoking, no more drinking. I didn’t have to have no help, I made up my mind to quit. I don’t crave it.”
9. Wanting to Die Performing
Some artists perform because they want to, others perform because they have to. In March of 2012, George Jones was hospitalized with an upper respiratory infection. The 80-year-old performer was having trouble breathing, and it was thought that he didn’t have much more time before his lungs would fail him. Instead of heading home to recuperate and potentially prolong his life, George set to planning a 60-date farewell tour, culminating in a star-studded event set to transpire at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena in November of 2013 with over 50 special performers.
According to George’s wife, before he even left on the tour, he knew he would not make it to the finale. Doctors said he was in no condition to perform or tour, but he did anyway. On April 18th, 2013 George Jones was hospitalized in Nashville, missing tour dates in Alabama and Salem. He eventually passed away on April 26th, 2013 at the age of 81.
10. Having The Greatest Male Voice in the History of Country Music
- “When people ask me who my favorite country singer is, I say, ‘You mean besides George Jones?’” — Johnny Cash
- “The greatest voice to ever sing country music.” — Garth Brooks
- “The second best singer in America” — Frank Sinatra
- “If we all could sound like we wanted to, we’d all sound like George Jones,” — Waylon Jennings
- “Anyone who knows or cares anything about real country music will agree that George Jones is the voice of it.” — Dolly Parton
It’s that time of year again when we’re on the verge of hearing who the next class of inductees to the Country Music Hall of Fame will be. Though the date seems to be getting later and later each year (last year it stretched all the way to April 10th—2012 was announced on March 6th), as soon as spring starts to break, you can be assured an announcement is coming soon.
It must be said whenever broaching the subject of the Country Music Hall of Fame that it has been The Hall’s desire over the years to have it be an exclusive institutions when it comes to inductees. Where the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and certain sports seem to throw the barn doors wide and accept all comers, the Country Music Hall of Fame would rather take gruff for who is not in the The Hall as opposed to who shouldn’t be, but is. You can always induct someone in the future, but it’s nearly impossible to throw someone out.
The Country Music Hall of Fame inductees are selected through a committee process appointed by the Country Music Association, or CMA. Since 2010, the selection process has been split up into three categories. 1) Modern Era (eligible for induction 20 years after they first achieve “national prominence”). 2) Veterans Era (eligible for induction 45 years after they first achieve “national prominence”). 3) Non-Performer, Songwriter, and Recording and/or Touring Musician active prior to 1980 (rotates every 3 years). With a musician, Hargus “Pig” Robbins selected in 2012, and a non-performer in “Cowboy” Jack Clement selected last year (though he was a performer and songwriter, it was more for his producer role), it would a songwriter’s turn up to bat this year.
Since 2001, anywhere from 2 to 4 names have been added to the Hall of Fame each year. Usually one name from the above mentioned categories makes it per year, but if no name gets enough of a majority vote, a category may not be represented in a given year. Or, if two names get enough votes from a category, then both may come from that category.
Potential Modern Era Inductees
Last year’s inductee – Kenny Rogers
Ricky Skaggs – Ricky Skaggs is the artist that has felt like he’s been right on the bubble of being inducted over the last couple of years. Skaggs has bookened his career as a mandolin maestro, studied under Bill Monroe, and is now firmly ensconcing himself as a country music elder. In between then, he had tremendous commercial success in the 80′s when country was searching for its next superstar. Few could argue with this pick and Skaggs is very well liked across country music. He was also announced recently as the Country Music Hall of Fame’s “Artist in Residence.” Though there is no official correlation between being named an Artist in Residence and being inducted the next year, that coincidence has happened numerous times, including for last year’s modern era inductee, Kenny Rogers. Skaggs has to be considered a frontrunner.
Ronnie Milsap - Milsap is a name that has probably been on final ballots for the Hall of Fame for going on two decades, and in a couple of years will cycle over to a veteran’s era candidate, if he hasn’t already depending on where you want to start the clock on him. Though his commercial success is unquestionable, the fact that he started outside the genre and found a lot of his success as a crossover star might make him a hard name for voters to pull the trigger on. Having said that, seeing another name who started outside of country and had a lot of his success in the crossover world get inducted last year in Kenny Rogers, might move Milsap one step closer.
Alan Jackson – 2013 was Jackson’s first year of eligibility, and there was a sense he just missed out on being a first year Modern Era inductee like Garth Brooks and Reba McEntire. A huge commercial success in his day who always payed homage to the roots of the genre and the artists who came before him, Jackson is a shoe-in for The Hall eventually, and should be a very strong candidate this year. He’s well-liked, with little to no baggage (there was that whole George Jones “Choices” thing back in 1999 at the CMA Awards, but hey, that was a long time ago). Alan Jackson is a strong contender.
Randy Travis – At this time last year, despite Randy’s fresh eligibility and unquestionable credentials for the Hall, he was facing a string of drunk driving charges, and spinning the unsavory story of trying to bum a cigarette at a gas station naked. In such a crowded field, it was easy to give Travis a pass. But this year the story is much different. After suffering from a heart condition and stroke while in the midst of a strong recovery from his personal issues, Randy Travis has to be considered the sympathy favorite for the distinction. Will it be enough? Maybe not, but Randy will be a frontrunner in the Modern Era until he’s inducted.
Brooks & Dunn – A commercial powerhouse whose career was somewhat overshadowed by the success of Garth and their strange place as a non-familial country duo, their first album Brand New Man sold 6 million copies, and they won the CMA for Vocal Duo of the Year every year but one between 1992 and 2006. Their success is not debatable, but did they have the type of influence it takes to be Hall of Famers this early in their eligibility window, and with this crowded of a field? And does the fact that they’re no longer a functioning act hurt them, or is Kix with his radio work and Dunn with his brewing country revolution still visible enough? A few more names may have to tick off the list before their turn, but they have to be considered contenders.
Other Possible Modern Era Inductees:
- The Oak Ridge Boys – Another Strong Contender
- The Judds
- Dwight Yoakam – You’d think with 25 million records sold, his name would be more associated with this distinction. Maybe in the coming years.
- Keith Whitley – Garth Brooks a couple of years ago said he deserved induction before him.
- Clint Black – If it wasn’t for his career’s disappearing act, his name would be right up there with Travis, Jackson, and Brooks & Dunn
- Toby Keith – Officially eligible because he had his first success in 1993, but probably on the outside-looking-in for the next few years
- Charlie Daniels
- Tayna Tucker
- Crystal Gayle
- Gene Watson
- Mickey Gilley
Potential Veterans Era Inductees
Last year’s inductee – Bobby Bare
Predicting the Veterans Era nominees is notoriously foolhardy because they pull from such a wide field of potential inductees. It’s made one measure harder by a general lack of chatter out there surrounding potential nominees compared to previous years. But here’s a few educated guesses.
Jerry Lee Lewis – He’s a definite possibility for induction, and with the lack of a clear front runner, this might be his year. He may be held back some since he came from rock & roll, and his antics on The Grand Ole Opry and other places over the years. But his contributions as one of country music’s preeminent piano players cannot be denied. If Elvis is in the Country Hall (and he is), his old Sun Studios buddy can’t be counted out.
Jerry Reed – Such a great ambassador over the years for country music from his work with Smokey & The Bandit to Scooby-Doo, but Jerry Reed should be inducted for his stellar and influential work as both a performer, songwriter, and a musician. There weren’t many better guitar pickers back in the day than Jerry Reed. And his work as a session musician with so many of country music’s big names made him a well-known and likable character throughout the genre.
Hank Williams Jr. – It’s somewhat hard to know if Hank Jr. should be considered a Veteran or Modern Era candidate because of the double-era aspect of his career, but he’s a contender either way. However despite his two CMA Entertainer of the Year awards and millions of albums sold, you don’t get the sense it’s his time just yet. Only playing around 18 shows a year these days, and generally being once removed from the moving and shaking of the country genre while he pursues a quasi political career, Hank Jr. could be passed over this year others pushing harder for the distinction.
Lynn Anderson & Dottie West – Lynn and Dottie are the two ladies that likely lead the field for female veteran inductees. Both of these ladies are right on the bubble, as they have probably been for many years. Since there wasn’t a woman inductee last year and there’s no strong female contenders in the Modern Era category, the pressure to include a woman from the veteran field in 2014 might be greater.
The Maddox Brothers & Rose – The Maddox Brothers & Rose was a name that probably wasn’t on many people’s radar until the last couple of years. With their prominent place at the very beginning of the Hall of Fame’s current Bakersfield Sound exhibit, it is hard not to see how important their influence was on country, especially West Coast country, and the flashy dress of country performers that still influences the genre today. It may be a long shot, but if groups like The Jordanaires and The Sons of the Pioneers are in The Hall, certainly The Maddox Brothers & Rose should be. And it would be great to see happen while the final member, the 91-year-old Don Maddox, is still around.
Gram Parsons – Gram’s inclusion here is always a topic of great discussion. In 2013 there was a greater push than ever to induct him, with influential Country Music writer Chet Flippo personally making the case for him, and other chatter that 2013 might be his year. But it wasn’t, and it may be years before it is, but his name is always in the field for this accolade, and looking at the influence Gram had showing millions of rock and roll fans the beauty of country music, it should be.
John Hartford – This is a long shot pick, but he deserves induction. As I said in my prognostications from a couple of year ago, “The Country Music Hall of Fame works like a timeline as you walk through the displays that weave around the massive archive in the center of the building. As you start from the beginning, each artist and their impact is displayed on a plaque that includes their Hall of Fame induction date. When I came to the John Hartford display on my last visit to The Hall this summer, he was the first to have a display, but no Hall of Fame induction date.”
Tompall Glaser & The Glaser Brothers – Probably another long shot, but one that has to be considered a more legitimate contender in 2014 with the passing of Tompall last year. It probably helps that his brothers-in-Outlaw-country-arms Bobby Bare and “Cowboy” Jack Clement were inducted last year, moving folks like Tompall and other Outlaw-esque country music personalities one step closer in the process.
Johnny Paycheck and David Allan Coe – These names come up every year from hard country fans, and are names regularly held up as evidence of the Hall of Fame’s illegitimacy. The simple truth is that with these two performer’s shady pasts, Hall of Fame induction is going to be difficult. Johnny Paycheck has a more distinct possibility than David Allan Coe, because Coe could create a public relations nightmare for the Hall of Fame from people (correct or not) who label Coe a racist, sexist, etc. etc. Patience mixed with persistence is what Coe and Paycheck fans need to see their heroes inducted, as time heals all wounds. One positive sign for them is the induction of Bobby Bare and “Cowboy” Jack Clement last year. This means the CMA committee is willing to pick Outlaw artists and personalities for the Hall, and those two inductions move Paycheck and Coe two steps closer.
Randomly, I also think there’s a strong chance that the next major rotating exhibit at The Hall could be a feature on the Outlaw era of country, which might also give people like Paycheck, Coe, Tompall, and others a chance to be featured at the Hall of Fame beyond induction.
Other Possible Veterans Era Inductees:
- Jimmy Martin
- Vern Gosdin
- Ralph Stanley
- Johnny Horton
- The Browns
- June Carter Cash
- Wynn Stewart
- Jim Ed Brown
Potential Songwriter Inductees
Last songwriter inducted – Bobby Braddock in 2011
The 3rd category rotates between a musician, a non-performer (executive, producer, journalist, etc.), or songwriter on different years. 2014 would be a songwriter year.
Though there may be some artists that would technically qualify for induction under this category like Keith Whitley, Townes Van Zandt, Billy Joe Shaver, or any number of other artists that have extensive songwriting credits, this category is meant for behind-the-scenes songwriters who would never be inducted if not for this category. Though the award might go to someone with a little more modern success as a songwriter to go along with their storied history, here’s two interesting names that deserve strong consideration.
Hank Cochran – Hank would be a worthy inductee, and it just might happen for him as a songwriter of both critical acclaim and commercial success. It can’t hurt that Jamey Johnson also recently release a tribute to Cochran, making him front-of-mind when voters are thinking of songwriters who deserve this distinction. Cochran should be considered a front runner.
John D. Loudermilk – A cousin to The Louvin Brothers that had great commercial success as a songwriter in the 60′s and 70′s, he was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1976, and certainly deserves consideration for this distinction. Nonetheless, it’s probably a long shot.
Shel Silverstein would be another interesting name.
Picks and Predictions
Who I Think Will Be Inducted
- Ricky Skaggs or Alan Jackson – Modern Era
- Jerry Lee Lewis, Vern Gosdin, or Jerry Reed – Veterans Era
- Hank Cochran – Songwriter
Who I Think Should Be Inducted
- Ricky Skaggs – Modern Era
- Maddox Brothers & Rose / Tompall & The Glaser Brothers – Veterans Era
- Hank Cochran – Songwriter
After releasing a total of seven Greatest Hits releases in an attempt to keep Tim McGraw under contract indefinitely, after refusing to release his last album on the label Emotional Traffic, after insisting McGraw owed them yet another album and losing virtually every court case and decision while in a protracted legal battle with both McGraw and his new label Big Machine Records, finally releasing Emotional Traffic after they had found out they had lost, and releasing a duets album in an attempt to counteract Big Machine’s first Tim McGraw release, Curb Records is releasing yet another album from Tim McGraw; an artist that hasn’t called Curb Records home officially for over 2 years.
The album will be called Love Story and will feature Tim McGraw’s “12 biggest love songs,” two previously-unreleased recordings, and will be released exclusively through Wal-Mart on February 2nd, 2014.
Mike Curb and Curb Records have a long list of transgressions against their artists, refusing to release music in a timely manner to keep artists under contract, repackaging music to mislead consumers, and releasing music against the wishes of their artists. Along with Tim McGraw, Frank Zappa, The Beat Farmers, LeAnn Rimes, Hank Williams Jr., Hank Williams III, Jo Dee Messina, Clay Walker, Lyle Lovett, and others help comprise a long list of Mike Curb’s transgressions against artists.
- It’s You Love – Featuring Faith Hill
- Just To See You Smile
- My Best Friend
- When The Stars Go Blue
- She’s My Kind Of Rain
- Not A Moment Too Soon
- Watch The Wind Blow By
- My Little Girl
- Tiny Dancer
- I Just Love You (Previously Unreleased)
- What About You (Previously Unreleased)
You won’t see Reno, Nevada’s Hellbound Glory at the top of anyone’s ‘Best Of’ lists this year, unless it relates to touring or live performances. Leroy Virgil & the boys didn’t leave much time for recording and releasing albums in 2013; they were too busy ripping off one of the toughest, busiest, and arguably the most notable touring schedules in 2013 from an independent country act. It started in February as an opening band on Kid Rock’s “Rebel Soul” arena tour of which a retooled Hellbound Glory did two legs of, all the while playing smaller shows here and there when possible, and then revisiting many of the same areas afterwards on their own bills in the proceeding weeks and months.
Then most recently Hellbound went on a breakneck, two month tour with The Supersuckers, covering 40-something dates spanning the US. When Leroy Virgil rolled into Austin, TX on Friday Dec. 6th to play a quick set at the Empire Control Room downtown, he’d been rode hard and put away wet, and Hellbound Glory had not a familiar face from the members who had started out with him at the beginning of the year. However he’d recruited the very capable guitarist ‘Metal’ Marty Chandler, and drummer Chris VonStreicher from the Supersuckers, and Adam Kowalski from North Carolina on bass and band manager duties.
Aside from the music, the night was weird all around. They started at 9 PM, which is very early for a weekend show in Austin, and a few straggling fans missed some of the set. Hellbound was supposed to play outside, but 20-degree weather and a stiff north wind scrapped those plans. The Empire Control Room was more ambient for a rave than a real country show, with pacifier-sucking, glowstick-twirling visuals projecting onto the walls, and a mandate on Hellbound to stop after an hour so a DJ could spin house music to an entirely empty room. This was all quite in contrast to Leroy’s prominent “Hank” suspenders strapped over his shoulders, and his beer chugging honky tonk tunes.
But when Leroy Virgil and Hellbound Glory 4.0 hit the stage, none of that mattered. Leroy started with a blistering, amplified version of Hank Williams’ “My Buckets Got A Hole In It” that reinvented and revitalized that tune originally learned by Hank Williams from Rufus Payne in the mid-30′s, and made it feel like an iconic 70′s-era Southern rock anthem. Not 30 seconds into the first song, and you could tell that Leroy had played so many shows in front of so many big crowds in 2013, that being on stage was second nature, and a downright showman had emerged from a man who is known as a songwriter first. Not that Leroy was a stiff before, but now he had a swagger about him—a sway and arm motions—engaging the crowd and carrying songs to another level with his ability to be completely uninhibited with the music.
Leroy’s electric guitar sounded horrible. It was a black and white Squier Stratocaster that had “$100″ written on the pick guard in permanent marker like he’d just bought it off the side of the road. It’s the kind of guitar you buy your 14-year-old son when you know he’s only going to ignore it, with stock pickups that sound like the smell of ass. But Leory was just holding down the rhythm anyway, and then getting out of the way for ‘Metal’ Marty to rip into some of the juiciest solos Hellbound’s music has ever been graced with. Despite the ‘Metal” addendum to his name, Marty referred to a heavily influenced and versed knowledge of country guitar modes and licks that he displayed with confidence and abandon. It was a high volume, electric country show, and more than a stone’s throw from the days of Leory sitting on a bass drum, playing it with the back of his heel while strumming an acoustic guitar.
Leroy played a lot of his more well-known Hellbound Glory songs, a few more covers like his rendition of Hank Jr.’s “Women I’ve Never Had” and Springsteen’s “I’m On Fire.” He was also featuring a ferocious growl that punctuated parts of songs and overall became one of the highlights and takeaways of the set. Leroy’s voice has become tattered around the edges like a cheap blue tarpaulin pulled over an apartment’s worth of shit made susceptible to the wind on a cross-country move, and then marinated by a thousand shots of whiskey lined up all across the front of the stage by well-meaning fans. But like an old tinker, Leroy has taken what he’s been given, and made it into one of his finest tools: a road-worn and weathered bellow with which he can unfurl and blow a crowd away with.
Forget how many new players make up the Hellbound Glory cast, when Leroy gave a subtle hint to whatever song he wanted to play next, his band was right there behind him, hitting every change, and holding every sustain as good or better as any Hellbound Glory lineup. Leroy has never been good at keeping new material a secret, and the set featured a few new songs, and so did the half hour or so after the set when he pulled out his acoustic guitar and gave a personal concert to all who stuck around on the side of the stage.
Whenever Hellbound Glory’s name is mentioned these days, the next question you hear is, “When’s the new album coming out?” Though I wasn’t able to glean that specific intel from Leroy, I can tell you he’s recently been doing some recording in Aberdeen, WA. I wouldn’t hold your breath on hearing the results of that anytime soon, but if the new songs Leroy’s been playing are any indication, when new music does emerge, it promises to be worth the wait.
Until then, you can use the below Leroy Virgil recap of the last year or so to tide you over.
Two guns up.
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