In Memoriam – Country Music’s Fallen Greats of 2017

As the end of the year draws near, it comes time to reflect on all the country music greats big and small, superstars and sidemen, session players and songwriters, who passed away in the past year, and pay our respects to the contributions they made to country music, and to us as fans through the music they shared.

Tommy Allsup – January 11th, 2017

tommy-allsup-1The guitar playing native of Oklahoma is famous for losing a coin flip to Ritchie Valens and giving his seat up on the fateful plane that took the lives of Buddy Holly, Valens, and The Big Bopper in 1959, also known as “The Day The Music Died.” Tommy had met Buddy Holly in 1958 in Clovis, New Mexico and became the lead guitarist for The Crickets. At the time of the crash, Buddy Holly was also touring with Waylon Jennings in his band, who also gave up his seat in the plane.

Tommy Allsup later became a producer and A&R man for Liberty Records, producing albums from Willie Nelson, Tex Williams, Billy Mize, Kenny Rogers, Charlie Rich, Bob Wills, Waylon Jennings, Zager and Evans, and others. Allsup also produced the first United Artist Records release for Ray Benson’s resurgent Western Swing group Asleep at The Wheel in 1972, and the very last LP of Bob Wills in 1973.

Along with producing, Tommy Allsup’s guitar work can be heard on many iconic recordings of American music, including Buddy Holly’s “It’s so Easy,” The Everly Brothers’ “Cathy’s Clown,” and Kenny Rogers’ “The Gambler.” In total, as a session musician Tommy Allsup performed on over 6,500 recordings. (read more)

Butch Trucks – January 27th, 2017

butch-trucksIt’s still not easy to process this story behind the passing of long-time Allman Brothers drummer and founding member Butch Trucks. 69-year-olds die every day of natural causes, and when the news initially emerged, it was incredibly sad, but not instantly tragic in the way it feels when the sense is someone was taken too soon. But the revelation by the police in West Palm Beach that the preliminary cause of death is suicide is not only shocking and tragic, but hard to settle into because Butch Trucks just never came across as one who was sad, downtrodden, or one who you would expect to take his own life.

Butch Trucks had a lot of things going for him, and lots of plans for the future. This was evident in an interview he granted just hours before he would die to John J. Moser of The Morning Call. In the 30-minute interview, Trucks talked about his new band called Butch Trucks and The Freight Train Band, which had numerous shows and festival appearances planned in the short term, and was the reason for the interview. According to Moser, Trucks was jovial, talkative, excited about the new band, and proud of his garden. There was no indication of a troubled mind.

“Every night we save ‘Jessica’ until about three-quarters of the way through the set, and everybody really gets into the band, but boy, that’s when everything explodes,” Trucks bragged in the interview about his new Freight Train Band. “When we play that song, the place goes bananas every night. Every night.”

Don Warden – March 11th, 2017

don-wardenDon Warden was one of the original members of the Porter Wagoner Trio, and spent nearly 50 years in service to Dolly Parton. As the manager and steel guitar player for Dolly, Don Warden became known as Dolly’s “Mr. Everything.” From her business affairs, to her band, to her fundamental sound, Don Warden was there every step of the way throughout her career until failing health sidelined him recently. Don’s wife Ann Ann also worked for Parton, serving on the board of the Dollywood Foundation which launched Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library in 1995, and also helping with the Dollywood theme park and Dolly’s Tennessee Mountain Home homestead.

“I’ve known and loved Don Warden since I joined The Porter Wagoner Show in 1967,” Dolly Parton said. “He was like a father, a brother, a partner and one of my best friends. I feel like a piece of my heart is missing today. Certainly a huge piece of my life is gone. Rest in peace Don and know for sure that I will always love you.”

Don Warden was born in Mt. Grove, Missouri on March 27th, 1929, and showed a passion for music from an early age. He formed his first band in high school called The Rhythm Rangers, and was self-taught on the steel guitar. Eventually Don scored his first professional gig with an afternoon show on KWPM-AM in West Plains, Missouri. From there the Rhythm Rangers eventually made it to the Louisiana Hayride where Don played steel guitar behind The Wilburn Brothers and Red Sovine. (read more)

Izzy Cox – March 24th, 2017

Photo: Ricardo Acevedo
Photo: Ricardo Acevedo

A master of the macabre, a siren of steampunk, a vital part to the formation of underground roots, and a sister to so many artists and fans who followed her musical journey from the French-speaking regions of Canada to the forgotten spaces in Austin’s authentic underbelly, Izzy Cox was a creative burst that unabashedly explored the dark regions of the human mind and soul with courage and honesty, backed up by a divine voice carried upon billowous talent. She never fit into this world quite right, and that is what made her such a compelling and beloved artist.

Her first musical output came in the form of mix tapes she released while in custody for juvenile delinquency in Canada. Later she would become a fixture of the Montreal independent music scene, releasing multiple records and rubbing elbows with artists such as the Rufus and Martha Wainwright among others, and also spending time in New York.

Izzy Cox left Montreal to move to Hollywood at the age of 27, and after a stint in California, eventually settled in Austin, TX a little over 10 years ago. Izzy Cox became a fixture of the local venues on Red River and beyond, while touring the United States extensively at times, primarily as a one-woman band playing a bass drum and hollow-bodied Gretsch guitar, singing her original songs and a catalog of country, bluegrass, and Gospel standards. (read more)

Bob Wootton – April 9th, 2017

bob-woottenThe circumstances of Bob Wootton joining Johnny Cash’s band is the stuff of country music legend. Luther Perkins died in a house fire in 1968, leaving a vacant spot in The Tennessee Three. Carl Perkins filled in for a while, but brought his own style to the band as opposed to the famous boom-chicka-boom style of the early Cash recordings. On September 17, 1968, when Cash was performing in Fayetteville, Arkansas at a political rally for Governor Winthrop Rockefeller, a flight delay left Cash with no guitarist at all. Wootten, who was in the audience, volunteered his services, telling June Carter he could play like Luther Perkins. Wootten took the stage with Cash, June Carter, and drummer W.S. Holland, and stunned the crowd. The rest was history.

For the next 30 years, Bob Wootton would be much more than just Johnny Cash’s guitarist. He often worked as a double for Cash in television shows and movies. He became Cash’s brother in law when he married Anita Carter. And after Cash’s death, Wootton devoted much of his time to keeping the memory of Johnny Cash alive.

Though Cash toured rarely after 1997, and Bob Wootton was not part of Cash’s “American Recordings” era with Rick Rubin, he kept the memory and sound of the original Tennessee Three alive by touring and playing regularly with other former Tennessee Three bandmates W.S. “Fluke” Holland and others, including after Johnny Cash’s death in 2003. Bob would sing Johnny’s songs, because like Cash, he had a deep, country voice. Wootton also worked as a bus driver occasionally, piloting numerous famous bands around the United States, including a stint with The Smashing Pumpkins. (read more)

Tammy Sullivan -April 20th, 2017

jerry-and-tammy-sullivanFor decades Tammy Sullivan and her father Jerry played their unique blend of American roots music self-described as “bluegrass Gospel” at folk festivals, bluegrass gatherings, college campuses, at the Grand Ole Opry, and in front of congregations as the duo “Jerry and Tammy Sullivan.”

Born October 2nd, 1964 and a native of Wagarville, Alabama in the southern part of the state, Tammy first began to sing professionally with her father Jerry in 1978 at the age of 14. Tammy, a a mezzo-soprano, would sing lead and play upright bass, while Jerry would play guitar and sing harmony. Though the duo made some early recordings, it wasn’t until Tammy graduated high school in nearby Leroy, AL, that the duo was able to travel to play music. Tammy’s powerful, uplifting voice soon became one of the most respected and sought after in Gospel and bluegrass.

Though Jerry and Tammy Sullivan were known mostly for playing in churches and for smaller functions, their music, influence, and recognition went on to touch the mainstream of country on many occasions. Marty Stuart produced four records for the duo, and joined the duo briefly on mandolin in 1988. Jerry and Tammy Sullivan would go on to be nominated for Grammy and Dove Awards for their inspirational bluegrass gospel music, including their 1996 album At the Feet of God, which was nominated for Best Southern Gospel, Country Gospel and Bluegrass Recording at the Grammy Awards. (read more)

Wendell Goodman – May 21st, 2017

wendell-goodman-wanda-jackson-1Wendell Goodman was the husband, manager, and long-time right hand man of the Queen of Rock and Rockabilly, Wanda Jackson.

Wendell Goodman met Wanda after writing Wanda’s 1961 hit “Right or Wrong.” At the time, Wendell was a computer programmer for IBM. Though not as high-profile as Wanda’s short-lived relationship with Elvis Presley, Wendell Goodman’s work and encouragement of Wanda would result in the longevity of her career. After the passing of Wanda’s father and first manager Tom Jackson, Wendell took over as manager of Jackson, and launched “Wanda Jackson Enterprises” based in Oklahoma City. The couple had two children together, and raised them in Oklahoma City.

Wanda and Wendell celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in 2011, and took a trip together to the Bahamas. In recent years, interest in Wanda Jackson has increased after Jack White produced an album The Party Ain’t Over for Jackson in 2011. Shooter Jennings manager Jon Hensley also helped revitalize Jackson’s career in later years. Wanda has become a favorite of rock & roll, country, and rockabilly revivalists, with Wendell being right at her side for club shows and festival appearances. (read more)

George Reiff – May 21st, 2017

george-reiffGeorge Reiff was the bass player who was so much more. He was a keeper of a sound that so many wanted to capture in the studio, and so many failed to do so. It was the sweat of Small Faces, and the voodoo of Tony Joe White that he was able to adhere to the tape. Joe Walsh, Ringo Starr, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Bruce Robison, Charlie Robison, The Dixie Chicks, The Court Yard Hounds, Tedeschi Trucks Band, The Band of Heathens, Lincoln Durham, Jason James, and Charlie Sexton is just a smattering of the names that George Reiff worked with over the years as the go-to bass player in Austin, TX.

At the age of 12, George Reiff was living in New York City and asked his mother for a guitar like the one Paul McCartney plays. Little did George know at the time that Paul played a bass guitar, but he fell in love with the instrument and after moving to Texas at the age of 16, playing bass became his life long pursuit. His first gig was playing with Tex-Mex star Joe “King” Carrasco.

Along with touring as a bass player and his studio work, George Reiff owned The Finishing School—an analog/digital recording studio where Ray Wylie Hubbard, Shinyribs, Lincoln Durham and others recorded albums. Reiff was also admired around Austin as a pastry chef, and was utilized as a food consultant for numerous restaurants in Austin.

Jimmy LaFave – May 21st, 2017

jimmy-lafaveJimmy LaFave was known just as much as one of the pillars of Austin music as he was an important part to Oklahoma and the Red Dirt sound. Born in Wills Point, TX and raised in the Dallas suburb of Mesquite, he started early as a drummer, but quickly transitioned to a singer and songwriter where the musical legacy of Woody Guthrie would play a huge role in his career, helped along by a move to Woody’s home state of Oklahoma where LaFave attended high school in the Red Dirt stronghold of Stillwater.

For the next 30 years, Jimmy LaFave would help form Austin music into the “Live Music Capital of the World.” LaFave helped start the famed songwriter nights at Austin’s Chicago House, and started recording albums that would be the cornerstone of the Austin sound in the early and mid 90’s including Austin Skyline and Highway Trance. Later his music would embody more of his Oklahoma roots and influence in albums like Buffalo Return to the Plains and the influential Texoma from 2001, drawing a bridge between his two musical homes.

Jimmy LaFave did tremendous work preserving the legacy of Woody Guthrie in Oklahoma and beyond. He performed on Austin City Limits and made numerous appearances on NPR’s Mountain Stage while touring nationally and internationally, and gaining a wider recognition beyond the Texoma region.

Gregg Allman – May 27th, 2017

gregg-allmanGregg Allman, a towering pioneer of Southern rock, roots jazz, blues and country, has died at the age of 69. Allman had been recently suffering from numerous health ailments, including a diagnosis of hepatitis C in 1999, and he underwent a liver transplant in 2010. Earlier in 2017, Allman had canceled all tour dates due to health concerns. He passed away peacefully at his home.

Along with his brother Duane who died tragically in a motorcycle accident in 1971, Gregg Allman fronted one of the most pioneering bands in American music history, straddling the lines between rock, improvisational jazz, blues, and country roots. His death leaves a gaping hole in the Southern rock and American roots scene.

Gregg Allman is a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and is the owner of multiple Grammy Awards. He was primarily known as a keyboardist, but also played guitar, was an accomplished songwriter, and was once named #70 on Rolling Stones’ “100 Greatest Singers of All Time.”

The Allman Brothers Band performed their final show on October 28, 2014 at the Beacon Theatre in New York, but for the many fans who have followed the outfit through its trials and tribulations, they knew to never call it the end as long as Gregg Allman was still around. Now, the “Mountain Jam” has finally come to an end after an extended, storied, inspiring, and influential performance. (read more)

Bobby Boyd – June 2017

bobby-boydSongwriter and performer Bobby Boyd was known for writing numerous hits, including the Garth Brooks #1 “Two of a Kind, Workin’ on a Full House,” Aaron Tippin’s “Working Man’s PHD,” as well as songs for the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Conway Twitty, George Jones, Earl Thomas Conley, Billy Dean, Martina McBride, Vern Gosdin, Patty Loveless.

Bobby Boyd was a staff writer for Jimmy Bowen at Elektra Asylum Publishing, starting his professional songwriting career in Nashville in 1980. A native of Dunlap, Tennessee, Boyd began playing in his first band in Tennessee at the age of 12 called The Boyd Brothers. Bobby cut his teeth in the late 60’s and early 70’s performing residencies at a club called The Castaways in Chattanooga, TN, sometimes playing five hours each night, six hours a week, and learning his way in the music business.

Later in his career, Bobby Boyd relocated to Spicewood, Texas, just outside of Austin and near Willie Nelson’s Luck ranch, and was well-known throughout the Austin music scene. Though he’s mostly known for his country music contributions, Bobby Boyd also had a deep influences with the blues and R&B. Early in his career, he played shows opening for Little Richard, The Coasters, and The Platters. After moving to the Austin area, he worked with artists such as Stephen Bruton and W. C. Clark, as well as the local country music talent. (read more)

Kayton Roberts – July 13th, 2017

It’s hard enough for side players in any genre to receive the recognition their contributions to the music deserve, let alone ones who choose a discipline that is a dying art. Kayton Roberts had it hard enough as a steel guitar player, whose numbers seem to be dwindling more and more every year as the appeal for the signature moan that is vital to the sound of true country music continues to fall out of favor in the mainstream. But Kayton’s instrument of choice—the pedal-less steel—was in even less demand throughout his 60-something year career. Yet someone had to keep the sound alive and show younger players with interest in the obscure discipline the ropes. And for years that was Kayton Roberts.

Known mostly for his service as the steel guitar player for Hank Snow’s Rainbow Ranch Boys starting in 1968, and for playing with the Canadian country star all the way up to Snow’s death in 1999, Kayton Roberts also recorded and played with the likes of Ricky Skaggs, Marty Stuart, Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, Randy Travis, Aaron Tippin, John Fogerty, Billy Walker, Riders in the Sky, Alison Krauss, Billy Joe Shaver, Chubby Wise, Brother Oswald, and others throughout his legendary career.

Only a few true pedal-less steel guitar players now remain, including Andy Gibson, Cindy Cashdollar, and a few select others. But if not for Kayton Roberts, the specific discipline of pedal-less steel that is so vital to the original sound of country music, may have died off decades ago. (read more)

Glen Campbell – August 8th, 2017

With more than 45 million records sold, 12 Certified Gold albums to his name, and 4 Platinum certifications, Glen Campbell left an indelible mark on country, rock, and pop music throughout his 50+ year career with signature songs such as “Wichita Lineman,” “Galveston,” “Gentle on My Mind” written by John Hartford, Jimmy Webb’s “By the Time I Get to Phoenix,” “Rhinestone Cowboy,” and many more.

Campbell was also the recipient of multiple Grammy Awards, including making history in 1967 for winning a total of four awards in country and pop categories, including two for “Gentle on My Mind” and two for “By the Time I Get to Phoenix.” Glen also received a Lifetime Achievement from the Grammy Awards in 2012. The CMA’s decorated Glen with their Entertainer of the Year Award in 1968, and he won the CMA’s and ACM’s Male Vocalist of the Year that same year. Glen Campbell is also an inductee into the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Glen Campbell and his legacy was pushed to the forefront recently when he went public with his diagnosis of Alzheimer’s in 2011. After a farewell tour, Glen’s family was forthright about his struggles with memory loss. When Campbell’s final album Adios was released on June 9th, his family said Glen had no idea a new album of his was out. The struggles of Glen and his family became a focal point for awareness of Alzheimer’s. (read more)

Don Williams – September 8th, 2017

His tall stature, but soft-spoken nature is what earned Don Williams the nickname “The Gentle Giant,” becoming a favorite of traditionalists, contemporaries, and even finding crossover success without ever compromising his honest and warm approach to authentic country music.

A native of Floydada in West Texas, Williams was born May 27, 1939, growing up in Portland, TX, and graduating from High School in 1958. Williams made his first public appearance at only three years old in a talent contest, winning an alarm clock for his efforts. He learned guitar by his teens and played in local bands in the West Texas region, and marrying wife Joy Bucher on April 10, 1960.

1973’s “The Shelter of Your Eyes” was Don Williams’ first charting single, and from there the rest is country music history. 1974 is when Williams would have his first #1 hit with “I Wouldn’t Want To Live If You Didn’t Love Me.” Iconic recordings such as “Tulsa Time,” “She Never Knew Me,” and “It Must Be Love” came in later years released through a host of labels including ABC / Dot, MCA, Capitol, and RCA. “Stay Young,” “If Hollywood Don’t Need You,” and “One Good Well” were some of his bigger hits in the 80’s. Between 1974 and 1991, every Don Williams single released at least charted in the Top 40, speaking to his cross-generational appeal, and the longevity of his career. (read more)

Ben Dorcy “King of the Roadies” – September 16th, 2017

Photo: Brad Coolidge

Known for his spiritual glow and ever-present smoking pipe, Ben’s contributions to side stages and behind-the-scenes had waned over the past few years due to his advanced age, yet he was a figure in the wings, back stages, and tour buses for artists up until his death.

His first job was in 1950 as a “bandboy” for Hank Thompson. At the time, nobody really knew what a “roadie” was. He subsequently became so honored by the musicians he served, his name began to show up in the music itself, such as Waylon Jennings’ “Ode to Ben Dorcy” and Red Sovine’s “Big Ben Dorsey the Third.” A character from Kinky Friedman’s book Roadkill is based on Ben (it’s about being aboard Willie Nelson’s bus), and the list of references to “Lovey” go on from there.

A true road warrior, Ben initially dropped out of high school to tour around helping the Ice Capades show before the breakout of World War 2, where he served on an aircraft carrier and was injured in the Battle of Cape Gloucester. Other odd jobs he worked ahead of his music career included making deliveries for Nudie Cohn, and gardening for John Wayne while living in Hollywood.

But it’s his work with music artists that would endure. For the last five years, the legacy of Ben Dorcy III was celebrated at Ben Dorcy Day at Floores Country Store in Helotes, TX, with many of the artists he served participating in a celebration of his legacy. Dorcy was the first inductee in into the Roadie Hall of Fame in 2009. (read more)

Tom Petty – October 2nd, 2017

Thomas Earl Petty, who from his early work with his local band Mudcrutch, to his time with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, to endless collaborations with the most iconic voices, songwriters, and music performers in the history of popular music, influenced everything we know about life and culture that can be carried in a song. Only Tom Petty could stand beside one of the Beatles in the form of George Harrison, one of the most legendary voices to ever grace the world in Roy Orbison, and arguably modern history’s greatest songwriter in Bob Dylan, and consider himself a peer. And more importantly, they were proud to be counted as peers of Petty in the Traveling Wilburys period.

Born and raised in Gainesville, Florida, he dropped out of high school at 17 to form his first band Mudcrutch. He cites meeting Elvis at age 10 as an influence on him deciding to pursue rock & roll as a lifelong career, but Petty was also very much influenced by the swampy Southern environs he found himself among in central Florida. One of his guitar teachers was Don Felder of The Eagles fame who also lived in the area, and would go on to pen the iconic song “Hotel California.” After Mudcrutch split up, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers were formed, first creeping onto the scene, more popular in Britain and bubbling under in America, but by the time Petty released Full Moon Fever in 1989, there was nobody that embodied American music more than him.

Tom Petty’s contributions to rock & roll are unquestionable, and he is Mount Rushmore-worthy in the pantheon of the genre, at least in the modern era. But Petty was never just about braying guitars and power chords, or raucous stadium presentations. What made Tom Petty the iconic music superstar for everyone is that he had a genuine, down-to-earth, and dare we say, country music style and songwriting approach that allowed him to appeal to so many from such a disparate set of backgrounds. His music may have been rock, but the message and the style was universal, and it’s unquestionable country music would not sound the same if it wasn’t for the Petty influence. (read more)

Mel Tillis – November 19th, 2017

Throughout his 60+ year career, he recorded more than 60 albums, had 35 Top Ten singles, and produced six #1 hits (“I Ain’t Never,” “Coca-Cola Cowboy,” “Southern Rains,” “Good Woman Blues,” “Heart Healer,” and “I Believe In You”). This resulted in him being inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2007, along with the Grand Ole Opry that same year by daughter Pam Tillis, also a storied country performer in her own right. In February of 2012, President Obama awarded Tillis the National Medal of Arts.

Along with a performer, Mel Tillis was a well-respected songwriter, penning over 1,000 songs, 600 of which have been recorded by major country artists. In fact to many within the country music business, they knew Mel as a songwriter first. Mel wrote his first hit, “I’m Tired” recorded by Webb Pierce in 1957—a good 8 years before Mel would chart a song her performed himself. Waylon Jennings’ “Mental Revenge,” Bobby Bare’s “Detroit City,” Kenny Rogers’ “Ruby, Don’t You Take Your Love To Town”, George Strait’s “Thoughts Of A Fool”, and Ricky Skaggs’ “Honey, Open That Door” are just some of Mel’s songwriting accolades. BMI named Mel Tillis Songwriter of the Decade for two decades, speaking to the incredible depth and longevity of his songwriting catalog.

Along with his music accomplishments, Mel Tillis was well-known for his appearances in movies in the late 70’s into the early 80’s such as The Villain, Smokey and the Bandit II, and The Cannonball Run. During the time, movies and TV shows would often exploit Mel’s speech impediment for humor. (read more)

Leon Rhodes – December 9th, 2017

In 1960, Ernest Tubb hired Rhodes as the lead guitar player in his band. He was first discovered playing at the Longhorn Ballroom in Dallas. At the time, Rhodes was also playing drums, and playing in a professional fast pitch softball team along with the guitar playing. He also worked on and off for notorious Dallas native Jack Ruby, who owned clubs in the Dallas area.

After being convinced to move to Nashville, Leon would become a part of the most legendary lineup of Ernest Tubb’s Texas Troubadour band, which also included steel player Buddy Charleton, bassist Jack Drake, drummer Jack Greene, and Cal Smith. Rhodes would spend 6 years in the band, and during that time recorded his self-penned “Honey Fingers,” which would later become his nickname.

After leaving the Texas Troubadours to spend more time at home, Rhodes became a regular on the Grand Ole Opry stage beginning in 1967, and also made many appearances Nashville recording studios, backing up a who’s who of country music royalty, including Waylon Jennings, Loretta Lynn, Willie Nelson, George Jones, Roy Clark, Julie Andrews, Crystal Gayle, Sammi Smith, Gene Watson, The Osborne Brothers, Jean Shepard, Dottie West, George Morgan, John Denver, Moe Bandy, Roy Orbison, Marie Osmond, Jimmy Dickens, and later Ricky Skaggs, Reba McEntire and George Strait.

During this time he also became a 20-year mainstay of the Hee-Haw house band. (read more)

Richard Dobson – December 16th, 2017

Similar to the other gaggle of talented Texas-born songwriters in the 70’s such as Guy Clark and Townes Van Zandt, Richard Dobson spend a majority of the decade going back and forth between Texas and Nashville, trying to sell songs, trying to get cuts with bigger artists, and sometimes being successful. Richard Dobson’s “Piece of Wood and Steel” was recorded by David Allan Coe, “Forever, for Always, for Certain” and “Old Friends” were covered by close friend Guy Clark, Lacy J. Dalton cut “Old Friends,” Nanci Griffith covered “Ballad of Robin Winter-Smith,” and Kelly Willis recorded “Hole in My Heart.”

But none of these were the super hits that would put Richard Dobson on the path to songwriting ease that many of his Texas-born contemporaries enjoyed, so Dobson started rambling and writing once again. Though Dobson’s discography is extensive, covering some 23 records from 1977 to his latest release Plenty Good People with WC Jameson recorded in Georgetown, TX, he was also a prolific writer. Thoughout his career he wrote scantly-distributed periodicals such as the Omaha Rainbow and Don Ricardo’s Life & Times, and later penned the autobiographical The Gulf Coast Boys about the time with his fellow Texas songwriters, and a second book Pleasures of the High Rhine — A Texas Singer in Exile. Dobson permanently moved to Switzerland in 1999, where his long-time label Brambus Records was located.

Richard Dobson never found the fame many of his more recognized songwriting contemporaries did, but he was cherished as an equal by them, and the fans who sought out his music, and followed his journey from continent to continent, inspired and intrigued by his free spirit, his capability with words, and his ability not just to tell great stories, but to live them. (read more)

Other Notable Deaths:

•  Leo “Bud” Welch – December 19th – Mississippi gospel/blues singer

• Billy Mize – November 1st – Influential California country founder and singer of “Who Will Buy the Wine.”

• Kenny Beard – October 1st, 2017 – Songwriter

• Mark Selby – September 18th, 2017 – Songwriter and performer

• Troy Gentry – September 8th, 2017 – One half of Montgomery Gentry who perished in a helicopter crash

• Pete Kuykendall – August 23rd, 2017 – Bluegrass performer

• Sonny Burgess – August 18th, 2017 – Rockabilly legend

• Michael Johnson – July 25th, 2017 – Songwriter

• Billy Joe Walker – July 25th, 2017 – Session musician

• 21-year-old James Stockdale and 54-year-old Kathryn Stockdale of the Stockdale Family Band

• Norro Wilson – June 8th, 2017 – Noted songwriter and producer

• Naomi Martin – May 31st, 2017 – Songwriter

• Bob Forshee – May 11th, 2017 – Songwriter

• Joy Byers – May 10th, 2017 – Songwriter

• Corki Casey O’Dell – May 11th, 2017 – Respected guitarist and session player

• Kelley Sallee Snead – May 10th, 2017 – Singer/songwriter

• Ben Speer – April 7th, 2017 – Gospel legend

• Chuck Berry – March 18th, 2017 – Rock and roll founding father

• Hurshel Wiginton – March, 2017 – Singer in Nashville Edition

• Greg Trooper- January 15th, 2017 – Songwriter

• Hayward Bishop Jr. – January 4th, 2017 – Studio musician