Top 10 Biggest Country Music News Stories in 2013

December 9, 2013 - By Trigger  //  News  //  24 Comments

20132013 was a year defined by massive stories in country music. From historic deaths like the passing of country music writer Chet Flippo, artist and producer Tompall Glaser, producer and songwriter “Cowboy” Jack Clement, Willie Nelson guitarist Jody Payne and others, to the feuds that erupted as country music continues to be in the midst of a culture war, 2013 was tumultuous to say the least.

Please note that these top 10 stories are not based off of what Saving Country Music sees as the most important, but the amount of traffic and interest each story received, sometimes accrued over multiple stories on the same subject. So it’s you who chose what the top stories were.

10. Gary Allan Calls Out Carrie Underwood and Taylor Swift

gary-allanWith so many call outs and feuds transpiring in 2013, this one tends to get swept under the rug. When asked by Larry King Whether Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood are country, Gary Allan responded:

“You know, I would say no. I would say they’re pop artists making a living in the country genre. I also feel like we lost our genre. I don’t feel like I make music for a genre anymore, and I did, you know, 15 years ago. But I think since the Clear Channel’s and the Cumulus’s and the big companies bought up all the chains, now it’s about a demographic. You know, so they’ve kind of sliced everything up, feeding it to the public in demographics.”

Gary Allan later back peddled from his statements pretty hard after it caused a blowup.

9. Tom Petty Calls Modern Country Bad Rock with a Fiddle.

tom-pettyThough there had been a few rumblings from other artists ahead of Tom Petty’s statements, it was his interview with Rolling Stone that got the 2013 Season of Discontent rolling in earnest.

“Well, yeah I mean, I hate to generalize on a whole genre of music, but it does seem to be missing that magic element that it used to have. I’m sure there are people playing country that are doing it well, but they’re just not getting the attention that the shittier stuff gets. But that’s the way it always is, isn’t it?

“But I hope that kind of swings around back to where it should be. But I don’t really see a George Jones or a Buck Owens or any anything that fresh coming up. I’m sure there must be somebody doing it, but most of that music reminds me of rock in the middle Eighties where it became incredibly generic and relied on videos.”

8. Jason Aldean Defends Luke Bryan from Zac Brown

jason-aldean-2Luke Bryan’s pop country buddy Jason Aldean came to the rescue when Zac Brown called Luke Bryan’s song “That’s My Kind Of Night” the “worst song ever” (see below). The reaction also stimulated an explosive rant against Jason Aldean from Saving Country Music.

“I hear some other artist are bashing my boy @lukebryan new song, sayin its the worst song they have ever heard…….. To those people runnin their mouths, trust me when i tell u that nobody gives a shit what u think. Its a big ol hit so apparently the fans love it which is what matters. Keep doin ur thing LB!!!”

7. 47th Annual CMA Awards

CMA-AwardsFrom all the usual pop frivolity, to the very unlikely win for Entertainer of the Year by George Strait, the 47th Annual CMA Awards became one of the biggest story lines in 2013, including the Saving Country Music LIVE Blog of the event, and our recap the next day:

“Was it a parting gift for Strait after announcing his final tour? Of course it was. But it doesn’t mean it wasn’t deserved, and it doesn’t mean it isn’t sweet, both for George, and for traditional country fans, even the ones who may not mark themselves as big George Strait supporters. Strait’s win marks the first time in a decade a true country artist has won the trophy.”

6. Willie Nelson Band Bus Crashes

willie-nelson-tour-bus-accidentWillie’s long-time drummer and manager Paul English, his brother, and another crew member of Willie Nelson’s family band sustained minor injuries, but luckily the accident was not as bad as the picture appeared when it first surfaced. As the elder statesman of country music, the safety and health of Willie Nelson is always a concern for country fans.

“One of Willie Nelson’s band buses—not Willie’s famed Honeysuckle Rose—was involved in a bad accident late last night (11-22) in Texas on Interstate 30 in icy, Winter conditions. The accident occurred at roughly 3:30 AM Central time near Sulphur Springs. Multiple injuries have been reported, with multiple band members and/or crew injured, including Willie Nelson’s long-time drummer Paul English who reportedly broke his ankle.”

5. Zac Brown Calls Luke Bryan’s “That’s My Kind Of Night” The Worst Song Ever

zac-brownThe biggest of the 2013 country music blowups by far, Zac Brown takes Luke Bryan’s booty-shaking country rap to task.

“I love Luke Bryan and he’s had some great songs, but this new song is the worst song I’ve ever heard. I know Luke, he’s a friend. ‘My Kind Of Night’ is one of the worst songs I’ve ever heard. I see it being commercially successful, in what is called country music these days, but I also feel like that the people deserve something better than that. Country fans and country listeners deserve to have something better than that, a song that really has something to say, something that makes you feel something. Good music makes you feel something. When songs make me wanna throw up, it makes me ashamed to even be in the same genre as those songs.”

4. Randy Travis Suffers Heart Problem & Stroke

randy-travisWhen a country music legend is debilitated when he’s still in his mid 50’s, especially one with the voice and talent of Randy Travis, it is nothing short of a travesty. Continuing the pain and intrigue in the story has been the lack of information on just exactly how well Randy is doing, though his father says the situation looks bleak. Thoughts and prayers continue for Randy Travis, and maybe one of the big stories of 2014 will be his recovery and return.

“Country Music singer Randy Travis is in critical condition in a Texas hospital, according to his publicist, and has now suffered a stroke. Travis was admitted the the hospital on Sunday July 7th for complications with viral cardiomyopathy that he acquired recently.

Cardiomyopathy is a weakening of the heart muscle or another problem with the heart muscle. It often occurs when the heart cannot pump as well as it should, or with other heart function problems. Most patients with cardiomyopathy eventually suffer from heart failure. Though the term can apply to most diseases affecting the heart, it is usually only reserved for the most severe myocardial disease leading to heart failure.”

3. George Jones Passes Away

george-jonesIn a year of notable country deaths, this is one of the biggest in the history of the genre as arguably the best singer to ever grace country music passes away. From the the news of his death, to the the unveiling of the monument in Nashville, to the historic tribute show that transpired in place of what was supposed to be his last show, the passing of George Jones was one of the biggest stories in 2013, as it should be.

“George Jones, aka, The Possum, has died at age 81. While in the midst of his 60-date farewell tour, Jones was hospitalized for running a slight fever and for having irregular blood pressure, canceling shows in both Atlanta, and Salem, VA. His next show was to be tomorrow, April 27th, in Huntsville, AL. George had been suffering from breathing problems for the last few years. A family member told TMZ, ‘He has been on oxygen for a long while now and his lungs finally just couldn’t do it anymore and they collapsed and he passed away. He couldn’t breathe anymore on his own.’ The official cause of death has been named ‘Hypoxic Respiratory Failure.’”

2. Blake Shelton Calls Classic Country Fans “Old Farts & Jackasses”

blake-sheltonArguably one of the stories we’ll reflect back on as putting Saving Country music on the map, Blake Shelton in a documentary on GAC had some unkind things to say about country music’s classic and traditional country fans, causing Ray Price to respond, Willie Nelson to rename his tour the “Old Farts and Jackasses” tour, and making the term “Old Farts and Jackasses” a term of endearment amongst true country fans heretofore.

“If I am ‘Male Vocalist of the Year’ that must mean that I’m one of those people now that gets to decide if it moves forward and if it moves on. Country music has to evolve in order to survive. Nobody wants to listen to their grandpa’s music. And I don’t care how many of these old farts around Nashville going, ‘My God, that ain’t country!’ Well that’s because you don’t buy records anymore, jackass. The kids do, and they don’t want to buy the music you were buying.”

1. Wayne Mills Shot & Killed By Chris Ferrell in Nashville

wayne-mills-3Despite all the massive news stories of 2013, this is the one that caused the most intrigue and outrage. From the news of Wayne’s death, to the controversial airing of a Spike TV reality show featuring the bar where Wayne was shot, to the two week wait until the arrest of the shooter Chris Ferrell, to the memorial, it was the biggest story of 2013, that with a potential trial or plea deal looming in the future, may also end up being one of the biggest stories of 2014 as well.

“Outlaw country music singer-songwriter and performer Wayne Mills of the Wayne Mills Band has been pronounced dead at Vanderbilt University Medical Center after being shot in the head at 5 AM this morning outside of the Pit and Barrel bar at 515 2nd Ave in Nashville. “God be with us all in this tragedy……” was posted on Wayne’s Facebook page.

“44 year-year-old Jerald Wayne Mills was at the Pit and Barrel early this morning when apparently an altercation erupted with the owner, Chris Michael Ferrell, after Wayne was smoking in a non-smoking area. Everyone else in the bar went outside, and later witnesses heard gunshots fired and called police. Ferrell told police he acted in self-defense.The bar owner has a valid handgun carry permit. Chris Ferrell and Wayne Mills were reportedly good friends, and they were hanging out at the bar after attending the George Jones Tribute earlier in the evening.”

24 Comments to “Top 10 Biggest Country Music News Stories in 2013”

  • The Coe crash was a big deal


  • Sadly 2013 has been a year of too many tragic loses. Everybody please pray for Ray Price and his family as last I’d heard he was back in the hospital in what some are calling the “final stages of pancreatic cancer”. Ray was one of the greatest vocalists in country music history and we all pray for his recovery.


    • That report on Ray Price is UNCONFIRMED. Ray’s Facebook page over the last year has been studiously updated with information and calls for prayers whenever Ray has fallen on hard times, and they have said nothing about this. He’s been battling the Cancer for a while and chose not to have surgery a while back. It is likely his heath struggles are continuing, but I’m not sure there’s any need for alarm any more than there was yesterday, or tomorrow. He’s been in the latter stages of Pancreatic Cancer for some time.

      The part that to me is telling about the “report” from his son on Facebook is this part of the message: “I was invited back by my Father the next day but the gate was locked.”

      I suspect will hear something further soon, but I think folks should appreciate the nature of this news, and be patient for something more substantial.


      • Yes the report is unconfirmed. I hope he is holding his own. I tend to beleive it because it came from 2 sources close to Johnny Bush who I know being a former Cherokie Cowbaoy band member has a connection to Ray. My prayer continues to be Ray on stage singing like only he can but we were blessed to have his talent available to enjoy for as long as we did.


  • Don’t forget the missing daughter of Ray Lawrence Jr. I know it’s quit new, but still sad, especially when thinking how tough life has always been for him.


    • I would love to write about Garth Brooks more, but all it does is stimulate comments about panty hose and finger fucking, and vows from readers to never read my website again because I’ve sold out even if I’m just reporting the news. The name “Garth Brooks” brings the idiot out in people almost as much as politics does. Even if I posted about it, it wouldn’t be big because nobody would read it. They’d just read the title, see Garth’s name, and say something completely irrelevant to the subject. It’s a shame.


      • I can’t tell you how many times I’ve looked at the comments section under an update on Facebook and read dozens of people who read the heading and decided to throw in their two cents without even reading the actual piece. As soon as you drop one of those hotbutton names the ability for critical and meaningful thought goes right out the window for some people. It really is a shame.


      • “The name “Garth Brooks” brings the idiot out in people almost as much as politics does.”

        Maybe Garth Brooks’s own political views form part of the reason for such a visceral reaction.


      • Finger fucking! (Sorry, couldn’t help myself)


  • Great list, and much respect to Wayne Mills, but I think the death of George Jones should have been the biggest story of the year. GAC changed their weekend programming, CMT actually aired some of his videos, multiple networks broadcast the funeral, every country star I could think of mentioned it in social media, his 4 hour tribute concert with 112 artists attending, Brad Paisley making a surprise appearance on the Opry the night of his death etc.

    (sorry, I know lists like this inevitably bring out the people disagreeing with rankings or events that were left out)


    • Hey Matt,

      I mentioned this above though you may not have read it, but this list was based off of the traffic each of these stories got on the website. I felt that was the only way to be fair. I agree the George Jones story may be a bigger story overall, but I’m sure some Wayne Mills fans would say George Jones lived a full life and had a full career, and that is an opportunity Wayne Mills will no longer have and so that’s why his story was more of a travesty and an event. Mostly I just wanted to reflect back on the year’s biggest stories to sort of appreciate all that has transpired, and contemplate what it means overall.


  • My apologies, I just re-read the opening paragraph and saw this is based on what generated the most traffic. Sorry about that.


    • Ha! No worries Matt, and you were writing this as I was responding to you.


  • Lucky tubb said he had not heard bout shelton running his mouth. I was surprised


  • As bad as this sounds, And I would never wish death or any of the tradegedies on anyone, But I do think , and I’ve maintained this for a while, the Old gaurd, so to speak, is what Fuels Blake Shelton’s comments, and sadly, My generation, The “Millenials” Can’t relate to them, and they need to fade away, so the New people can come in, and start a revolution of sorts, Kacey Musgraves, Ashley Monroe, Miranda Lambert are doing the job of it, Eric Church is trying to develop a personality cult, and the pop country artists are divided into two types, those like Carrie Underwood, who think what they are doing is right, and those like Jake Owen, who see the oppurtunity and will switch, and have great potential.


    • “My generation, The “Millenials” Can’t relate to them”

      Then who is buying all this bro country trash “music”?


      • You misinterpreted what I was saying, My generation can’t relate to the old guard, the John Prine, Johnny Cash, George Strait, George Jones, and the like, Heck I did A report on Willie Nelson for Environmental Biology, and my classmates were literally saying “Wait he’s a real singer, I thought he just smoked weed and made that one song about it.” my generation can’t relate to them, to them , the old gaurd, is well, “Old farts and jackassses” I don’t hold that belief but the majority of my generation does, now Ashley Monroe, Miranda Lambert, Kacey Musgraves and them, they are the ones who are making an impact becuase of my generation’s buying power.


        • No offense but your generations buying power is no match for the baby boomer or gen x generations. The reason that you do not see the numbers go the other way is because as it has been for years and years…the recording companies control what and who they want to promote. The availability of traditional music is very limited. But trust me its still a very lucrative market. Im 43 and do not listen to commercial or should I say Clear Channels Nazi radio. Same 6 songs in a rotation. Ask my ITunes acct how much buying power I have trust me its healthy. Why do you think that there is so much debate over this. If there were no one wanting it….No debate would exist because we would all just “eat what we are fed”. And I cant wait to see some of these auto tune wonders sing and perform at 75 or 80 to sold out shows. Wont happen


    • And also thanks to Carrie we now have a pop country version of “The Sound of Music”. I didn’t see the need to make another version – the original was much better anyway. I suppose it’s to make this classic “relevant” to millennials. And after her acting was criticized she copies Taylor Swift by calling her critics “mean”:

      She is very original, isn’t she? (sarcasm:)


  • I’m truly surprised that the number one most-viewed story this year *wasn’t* the Old Farts & Jackasses thing, as I seem to recall it going crazy viral. It’s unfortunate that when something came long to replace that as the top story, it had to be such a horrible tragedy. But I think the coverage of the Wayne Mills story on this site has been commendable and provided a calm and objective voice, at a time when one is needed.

    On a lighter note, I know conflict generates traffic, which isn’t *necessarily* a bad thing, bit I wish stories like the one about “the 12 reasons to be positive this year” could have been as viral as Blake Shelton’s unforunate comments. There are probably still a lot of alienated country fans out there who nee to hear some of “the good news.” ;)

    Thanks for the list & all the articles this year.


  • #3 The loss of George Jones was prolly the biggest heartbreaker for me, Sadness for Randy Travis And Wayne Mills but I think Tom Petty put the state of Country Music in a nutshell with his comment to Rolling Stone…and anyone who thinks that’s cracked…prolly needs Jesus… sorry (the devil made me do it).


  • Thank you for once again reminding me of why I despise Blake Shelton and letting those who may have missed him running his mouth see how disrespectful he is. I am still as angry as I was the day he said it. The reason we don’t buy that music is because Clear Channel and Cumulus shove the crap on the radio down peoples throats and don’t offer any traditional to get rated therefore more readily available to be sold. trust me there is a huge audience for real music and not the commercialized presentation we are given…. Ernest Tubb record shops isn’t still in business for nothing


  • Trigger, I have to take exception with your number 10 choice. Gary did NOT call out Carrie Underwood and Taylor Swift. He was asked a question and answered it. The media and bloggers have been using unfair language when discussing his answer. Gary is honest. His opinion (and many others will agree with him) is that country radio has turned to demographics instead of sound and the two artists that were mentioned by Larry King do not sound like “country” music to him. I feel it is very unfair to say that Gary “called out” anyone. Why can’t journalists simply say, “Gary’s opinion is that Carrie Underwood and Taylor Swift’s music does not sound like the country genre?

    Secondly, Gary in no way back peddled. His management attempted to get a hold of the situation that the media pundits exaggerated based on the Zak Brown and Tom Petty comments. They wanted to add Gary to their list of artist bashing. Everyone knows that Gary will tell it like it is. He doesn’t kiss ass. Implying that he changed his stance would be a gross injustice to him and every loyal fan who has followed him for years.


Leave a comment

Del Maguey
Old Soul Radio Show
Modern Roots
Best Of Lists