As we look back on 2022 and before we look forward to 2023, it’s important we take the time to pay tribute to the important individuals in country music who left us over the last year, and who left a mark on the country and roots music world that will never fade.
2022 saw some absolute titans of the music leave us like Loretta Lynn, Naomi Judd, and Mickey Gilley. It saw unspeakable tragedy take artists away from us way too early, like Luke Bell and Jake Flint. And it affected members of the media community especially with the passing of Ralph Emery and Peter Cooper.
Please note: Every effort was expended to make sure most everyone was included here, and any potential omissions are purely accidental. If you happen to see someone you believe belongs here, please feel free to speak up in the comments section for the benefit of us all.
Gary Adams – January 7th – Age 78
Best known as a founding member of The Jones Boys, (George Jones’s touring band), and also as a member of Johnny Paycheck’s touring band The Lovemakers, Gary Adams and his two musician brothers, Don and Arnie, would carve out a big piece of Country Music history in the early 60s and 70s.
The Gary Adams legacy should be remembered. He was a pioneer of live honky-tonk guitar. He was one of a handful of influential musicians who helped numerous country music icons craft their sound. When the subject of influential and formative country guitarists comes up, we often mention Chet Atkins, Don Rich, James Burton, Grady Martin and others. But perhaps the name Gary Adams should be among them, as he helped define country music in the live setting, and set a template for the sound which will no doubt continue to resonate for years to come.
Obituary written by Saving Country Music contributor Kevin Smith. (read more)
Dallas Frazier – January 14th – Age 82
Before you can write it, you first have to live it. And Dallas Frazier lived many lives in his lifetime, putting it all in song along the way, and amassing one of the most legendary song catalogs in country music history, while also enjoying moments as a singer and a performer in his own right. A Nashville Songwriters Hall of Famer, and if there’s any justice in the world, hopefully a Country Music Hall of Famer in the future, Dallas Frazier wrote the country songs we all know and love.
Perhaps the best way to illustrate Dallas Frazier’s influence is to point out how in 1968, George Jones recorded an entire album of Dallas Frazier songs called Sings the Songs of Dallas Frazier. Connie Smith would do the same thing with If That Ain’t Love and Other Great Dallas Frazier Songs in 1972. These weren’t just studio albums that happened to include Dallas Frazier songs. Emblazoning his name in the titles in tribute tells you just how revered he was.
Willie Nelson, Charley Pride, Merle Haggard, Jerry Lee Lewis, Moe Bandy, Elvis, and later Rodney Crowell, Randy Travis, George Strait, and the Oak Ridge Boys wouldn’t just sing the praises of Dallas as a songwriter, they would sing it in the studio by recording his songs. (read more)
Ralph Emery – January 15th – Age 88
It was the stars of Nashville and beyond that performed the music that made country music famous. But it was Ralph Emery who served it up all to the public in a way that made made it so easy for everyone to invite it into their homes, and into their hearts. He was country music’s preeminent emcee and its endearing uncle. Ralph Emery’s presence spans decades, formats, and generations. He was like family. And the loss that country music feels at the passing of this titan of broadcasting is no different than the passing of a cherished family member.
Whether you saw that smile on television, or heard it in his voice that was built for broadcasting, his enthusiasm for the subject matter of country music was rendered infectious. It didn’t emanate from New York or Los Angeles like so much of America’s national media. It came straight from Nashville, in the form of WSM radio broadcasts, the television show Pop! Goes The Country from 1974 to 1980, later Nashville Now from 1983 to 1993, and many other programs throughout the years. No matter where you were, Ralph Emery put country music front and center, while truck drivers coast to coast will remember Ralph Emery as the late-night disc jockey keeping them awake and entertained during those long hauls. (read more)
Hargus “Pig” Robbins – January 30th – Age 84
There are most certainly more popular and well-recognized entertainers to perform country music over the years. There are probably flashier side players who left their mark on audiences through country music’s century of existence. But nobody, nobody left more fingerprints on country music for well over 60 years, and remained relevant and sincerely sought after right up to his very death than Country Music Hall of Fame piano player and keyboardist Hargus “Pig” Robbins.
Robbins was there in 1958 when a young, crew cut George Jones stepped into the studio to record his first big single, “White Lightning.” He played those iconic piano parts on Patsy Cline’s most memorable compositions that became the very bedrock of how country piano was supposed to sound. When Sturgill Simpson was assembling musicians to record his debut solo album High Top Mountain from 2013, Hargus “Pig” Robbins was the 1st on his wish list.
Hargus “Pig” Robbins was also a solo artist, releasing eight studio albums between 1963 and 1979. He won the CMA’s Musician of the Year in 1976 and in 2000. And in 2012, Robbins was inducted in to the Country Music Hall of Fame. (read more)
Blake Mevis – February 9th – Age 73
Blake Mevis was the producer of George Strait’s debut album Strait Country, along with Strait’s second album Straight from the Heart, which included the Blake Mevis song “Fool Hearted Memory” co-written with Byron Hill. “Fool Hearted Memory” became George Strait’s first #1 hit, and the rest was history. Mevis is also given credit for introducing Strait to long-time songwriting partner and Hall of Famer Dean Dillon.
As a songwriter, Blake Mevis had songs recorded by Don Williams, Charlie Rich, and Jim Ed Brown to name a few. Brown cutting Blake Mevis’s “If The World Ran Out Of Love Tonight” put Mevis on the map as a songwriter when it went Top 10. Blake Mevis also wrote Charley Pride’s last #1 song “Night Games,” and co-wrote the Joe Nichols signature song that helped launch his career, the #1 “Brokenheartsville” released in 2002. (read more)
Dallas Good (The Sadies) – February 17th – Age 48
First forming in 1994 in Toronto, and releasing their debut album in 1998, the music of The Sadies had a way of spellbinding you from a technical complexity, without compromising whatsoever on the soul essential to the medium. They expressed emotion with innovation, and in a way that was intellectually stimulative as it was creatively inspiring. This is the reason so many fellow musicians gravitated to this band as collaborators. With drummer Mike Belitsky, and bassist Sean Dean, they backed up on tour or otherwise collaborated with Neil Young, Kurt Vile, Neko Case, Justin Townes Earle, Jon Doe, The Tragically Hip, Jon Langford, and many others.
The cosmic connection Dallas had with brother Travis was downright paranormal. They were more like an extension of the same person as opposed to autonomous beings, illustrated through their haunting harmonies, and when they would play each other’s guitars with one hand on their own instrument, and one on the other’s. That conjoining of talent forged through blood is one of the many things that makes the news of Dallas Good’s passing so tragic. (read more)
Scotty Wray (Miranda Lambert’s Band) – February 18th
From the very beginning of Miranda Lambert’s career when she was just 17-years-old, guitarist, songwriter, and solo performer Scotty Wray had been by her side on stage, and contributing songs in the studio. Scotty Wray also happens to be the older brother of country performer Collin Raye.
When Miranda Lambert first started, she didn’t have a full band. It was just her and Scotty Wray with acoustic guitars, hitting any spot that would have them in Texas, from Dallas, Houston, and Austin, with Miranda singing her songs, and Scotty accompanying her. As things began to blow up and band members were added, Scotty Wray remained as bandleader, still with his guitar, acting as the constant and the anchor in Miranda Lambert’s sometimes tumultuous universe. (read more)
Warner Mack – March 1st – Age 86
When you write a song at the age of 13 that becomes a country standard and a hit in three separate decades, you know you were born to make country music. Warner Mack was born Warner McPherson on April 5th, 1935 in Nashville, Tennessee, and was a natural, whether it came to writing or performing in the country realm, ultimately becoming one of country’s most successful contributors in the 1960’s. But a car accident sidelined him for many years, making his legacy often overlooked.
In 1957, Warner Mack launched his recording career, taking that song he’d stashed from his youth “Is It Wrong (For Loving You),” and making it a #9 hit in country for Decca Records. Loretta Lynn, Bobby Bare, Wanda Jackson, and others would also record “Is It Wrong,” while other songs written by Warner were recorded by the likes of Bill Anderson, Kitty Wells, and Jean Shepard. Heading into the 70’s, Warner Mack was cementing a legacy career when a car accident severely changed the trajectory of his life. (read more)
Jimbeau Hinson – March 4th – Age 70
One of country music’s most accomplished songwriters through the 80’s, he penned songs for some of country music’s most buttoned-up acts such as The Oak Ridge Boys, Porter Wagoner, and Ricky Skaggs. In fact, Jimbeau ran the publishing company for The Oak Ridge Boys for a number of years, and was a close collaborator with the Gospel country group.
Throughout the 80’s, artists such as Rita Coolidge, John Conlee, Kathy Mattea, Patty Loveless, and others recorded Jimbeau Hinson songs. He became a collaborator with Steve Earle on his debut album Guitar Town from 1986, co-writing the tracks “Hillbilly Highway” and “Down The Road.” He also wrote with David Lee Murphy, and Reba McEntire recorded the song “Red Roses” the two co-wrote together. Years later, David Lee and Jimbeau would collaborate again on the Top 10 hit “Party Crowd.”
Jimbeau Hinson was openly bisexual since the early 70’s, and eventually, a survivor of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Jimbo Hinson had quadruple bypass surgery on June 30th of 2021, and while in recovery, suffered a stroke on July 1st. Though he initially recovered, he fell ill again, and while in hospice care, suffered another stroke the first week of March. He died on the afternoon of March 4th at the age of 70—beating the odds after being told he only had six months to two years to live in 1985. (read more)
Bobbie Nelson – March 10th – Age 91
She was known as “Sister Bobbie” in the Willie Nelson universe, and Willie always referred to her affectionately as “Little” Sister Bobbie, even though she was two years her senior. For nearly half a century, she accompanied her little brother on piano as part of Willie Nelson’s Family Band, and played on countless of his studio recordings as well.
Bobbie Nelson’s contributions to the Willie Nelson sound weren’t just functional. Willie Nelson always considered Bobbie the superior musician, and her honky-tonk style of melodically-sensible playing became a signature of the Willie Nelson sound, right beside the nylon string tone of Willie’s guitar Trigger, and Mickey Raphael’s mournful harp. The 1978 live album Willie and Family Live remains a testament to the chemistry of this legendary country band, as do numerous appearances on Austin City Limits, including the pilot episode of the series. (read more)
Brad Martin – March 11th – Age 48
Compared early on to a younger version of George Strait, Brad Martin was signed to Epic Records in 2000, and released his debut single “Before I Knew You Better” in 2002, which peaked at #15 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, followed by a debut album Wings of a Honky-Tonk Angel released on June 18th, 2002 . Subsequent singles failed to crack the Top 50, and eventually Brad Martin was dropped from Epic. He emerged later with John Ramey in the duo Martin Ramey, signed to Curb Records.
Martin Ramey never released an album with Curb, but did release a slowed-down acoustic cover of Cheap Trick’s “I Want You To Want Me” in 2012, and another track called “Dangerous” in 2013. Though the duo kept performing into 2018, a debut album never surfaced. Brad Martin passed away due to what was believed to be injuries suffered in a work related accident. (read more)
Mary Jane Thomas – March 22nd – Age 58
The wife of Country Music Hall of Famer Hank Williams Jr. died unexpectedly in Jupiter, Florida. She married Hank Williams Jr. in 1990. Mary Jane Thomas was a native of Dayton Beach, Florida, and was known for enjoying the area’s beaches. After attending college, she became a model, and among other gigs, became known for her work with Hawaiian Tropic Lotion. Mary Jane met Hank Williams Jr. in 1985 after a concert in Washington State. They were together for five years before marrying on July 2nd, 1990 at the University Congregational Church in Missoula, Montana. It was Mary Jane’s first marriage, and Hank Jr.’s fourth.
The death of Mary Jane Thomas is the latest tragedy in a string of unfortunate incidents for Hank Williams Jr.’s family, including the death of daughter Katie in 2020. Hank Jr.’s daughters Hilary and Holly Williams from his marriage to Becky White were both severely injured in an auto accident in 2006, with Hilary going into cardiac arrest and having to be flown by helicopter to the hospital. (read more)
Jim Miller (Western Centuries) – March 24th – Age 69
When Cahalen Morrison, Ethan Lawton, and Jim Miller decided to form their own group called Western Centuries, some though it was silly to call it a “supergroup,” since none of them were exactly “superstars.” But to those who knew them—individually or altogether—they knew the term “supergroup” was totally appropriate due to the musical prowess, creativity, and history each member brought to the band.
Jim Miller was a long time singer, guitar player, and songwriter for numerous projects. A natural collaborator who didn’t let his own ego or a personal agenda get in the way of the music, he’d made a name for himself for how he enhanced the musical expressions of others, while being unafraid to stand in front of the mic and sing one of his own when it was his turn. Jim’s father was a biologist, and he followed in his father’s footsteps, attending Cornell University in New York State, and earning his PhD. But music was always a major passion, and he helped form the folk rock band Donna The Buffalo while in graduate school. Miller would go on to tour with the band on and off for 15 years. (read more)
Jeff Carson – March 26th – Age 58
For a while, it looked like the fate of Jeff Carson was to be a side player for the duration of his career, or maybe a songwriter. Later, he became an in-demand demo singer—all the while dreaming of getting the opportunity to sing big country songs himself. And when he finally got that opportunity, Jeff Carson made the most of it and rocketed to the top of the country charts. It all went by real fast, but Jeff Carson left his mark as a 90s country star.
Taking work wherever he could find it, Carson started playing in a house band at the Opryland Hotel, later convincing management to book him as a solo artist. He then started singing demo recordings for other artists. It was producer Chuck Howard who first discovered Jeff Carson in 1994, and arranging a contract with Curb Records for him to record his debut self-titled album.
“Not Your Love” became a #1 hit for Jeff Carson, followed up by the #3 hit “The Car,” and another Top 10 hit in “Holdin’ Onto Somethin’.” The video for “The Car” won the 1996 ACM award for Video of the Year. But Jeff Carson ultimately found difficulty distinguishing himself in a crowded field of country artists at the time. In 2009, Jeff Carson saw the writing on the wall after a Greatest Hits package failed to materialize from Curb, accepted his fate, and chose to dedicate his life to serving the public as a full-time police officer, joining the force in the Nashville suburb of Franklin. (read more)
Roland White – April 1st – Age 83
There are not many sectors of bluegrass music that weren’t at one point or another touched by the work of mandolin player Roland White. The brother of fellow bluegrass legend and later country rocker Clarence White, an original member of The Kentucky Colonels, an acolyte of Bill Monroe in his Bluegrass Boys, a founding member of Lester Flatt’s Nashville Grass, not to mention his later years in The Country Gazette and the famed Nashville Bluegrass Band, Roland White’s mandolin appeared all across the bluegrass catalog.
Roland White saw bluegrass develop on both sides of the American continent. He watched it go from an offshoot of folk and old-time to its own full-blown genre. Roland witnessed bluegrass influence popular folk rock music, country, and country rock. And Roland White heavily influenced the popularization of the bluegrass medium himself on both the East and West Coast, and all points in between. (read more)
C.W. McCall (Bill Fries) – April 1st – Age 93
Call him one of the overlords of country trucker songs, but don’t call him a one hit wonder. His name was William Dale Fries Jr., but the world knew him as C.W. McCall, and knew of him through his iconic country trucker epic “Convoy.” He was also one of the oldest living country music legends still around. But there was much more to this man.
It wasn’t until his mid 40s when the man who became known as C.W. McCall started his country music career, and it was mostly by accident. Bill Fries as he was known (pronounced ‘Frees’) worked in advertising as a creative director, and a Cilo Award-winning one for the campaign he crafted for the Metz Baking Company. This is where the character “C.W. McCall” first appeared—a truck driver originally portrayed by an actor named Jim Finlayson. But when the ad campaign took on a life of its own, Bill Fries became C.W. McCall, and caught country music at a time when country trucker songs were all the rage. (read more)
Naomi Judd (The Judds) – April 30th – Age 76
Only a couple of weeks after making a reunion performance, only a few months before going on a final tour, and a day before being honored at the Hall of Fame medallion ceremony, Country Music Hall of Famer Naomi Judd of the famous mother/daughter duo The Judds passed away.
Naomi Judd was the matriarch of one of the most successful and influential duos in country music history, even if their commercial career was brief. Though they reunited for recordings and reunion shows many times over the years, The Judds with Naomi’s daughter Wynonna were only active for eight years full time between 1983 and 1991.
However, during that time, the two red heads from Ashland, Kentucky amassed 14 No. 1 hits, 25 total charting singles, seven consecutive Top Vocal Duo awards from the ACMs between 1984 and 1990, six consecutive vocal duo or group awards from the CMAs between 1985 and 1991, two other CMA Awards including Single of the Year for “Why Not Me” and the 1984 Horizon Award (Best New Artist), and five Grammy Awards. (read more)
Mickey Gilley – May 7th – Age 86
There are few artists more synonymous with a specific era in country music than Mickey Gilley was with the Urban Cowboy movement—the early 80s influence that brought country music out of the country and into industrialized urban areas where many rural residents flocked for blue collar jobs. The 1980 movie Urban Cowboy starring John Travolta popularized the era, but Mickey Gilly soundtracked it, and also offered the iconic setting for it with his legendary honky-tonk in Pasadena, Texas.
Mickey Gilley’s impact was felt so much more than in a single era though, spending over 60 years in the business, minting 16 #1 songs over his career, and stayed active well into his 80s. Mickey Gilly grew up in the shadow of his famous cousin Jerry Lee Lewis, and was also related to performer and evangelist Jimmy Swaggart. The layout of the mega honky-tonk, and the legacy of the mechanical bull are all in part the responsibility of Mickey Gilley. First opening Gilley’s Club in 1970 that soon became known as the “world’s biggest honky-tonk,” the concept became iconic through the Urban Cowboy film. (read more)
Thom Bresh – May 23rd – Age 74
There are many things Thom Bresh will be remembered for, because he did so many remarkable things in his life. He was a Grammy-nominated recording artist and performer, a stuntman, an actor, a comedian, a television show host, and an engineer and producer. But perhaps what Thom Bresh is best known for in the musical community is being one of the practitioners of the thumb-style guitar that he picked up from his father, Country Music Hall of Famer Merle Travis, and carried into the future.
Thom Bresh became a regular on The Merv Griffin Show and Dinah!, and also appeared on Barbara Mandrell’s variety show. Bresh appeared on his own shows as well, including one called Nashville Swing, and another with Lane Brody called The Thom & Lane Show. His skill in television also allowed him to work on video projects for folks like George Jones, Tanya Tucker, Jerry Reed, Lyle Lovett, and Brooks & Dunn. (read more)
Joe Gilchrist – May 25th – Age 80
There are a few iconic places that mean so much more to the country music world than the four walls and roof that comprise them. One of those places is the Flora-Bama Lounge, Package, and Oyster Bar on Perdido Key, with the state line of Florida and Alabama darn near running right down the middle of it.
“You play the music, I’ll pour the whiskey” was Joe’s guiding principle, allowing the local, regional, and later national and international artists to do whatever they wanted. Though country music was most of what was played, most everything was tolerated, and songwriting was often the centerpiece. This is how Flora-Bama became ground zero for many songwriters, and specifically how the Frank Brown International Songwriters Festival came into being. (read more)
Ronnie “The Hawk” Hawkins – May 29th – Age 87
From rockabilly to country, to rock and bluegrass, to blues and R&B, Ronnie Hawkins lived one of the most legendary lives in popular music, with an influence that spanned borders, and eventually continents until it went around the world and back again, leaving a legacy of memorable song performances, and perhaps most notably, an alumni from his backing band that is virtually unparalleled in all of music.
It was his legendary renditions of rock, rockabilly, and blues classics such as “Who Do You Love” by Bo Diddley, “30 Days” (that he turned into “40 Days”) by Chuck Berry, and his cousin’s “Suzie Q” that had crowds going wild. The electric energy Ronnie Hawkins and The Hawks brought to the stage made them unique, and earned Ronnie nicknames such as “Mr Dynamo” and “Rompin’ Ronnie.”
But the way many, if not most people know and remember Ronnie Hawkins is how he nurtured some of North America’s most important musicians and songwriters over the years, working as a de facto talent scout, seeing the potential in other musicians, and giving them an opportunity that could allow them to pursue music at a grander scale. The Hawks was a proving ground, and this happened most iconically with Robbie Robertson, Richard Manuel, Garth Hudson, Rick Danko, and Levon Helm, later known as The Band. (read more)
Deborah McCrary (McCrary Sisters) – June 1st – Age 67
The McCrary Sisters will always be known first and foremost as a Nashville-based Gospel group. They sing, perform, and record Gospel songs, and toured as a Gospel quartet. But their litany of contributions to country music are only fair to characterize as imperative over the last 12 years. In the modern era, there may not be another collection of voices more commonly featured via the recordings and live performances of country and roots artists than The McCrary Sisters—from the very top reaches of mainstream commercial country, to the most revered Americana performers and even down to the more obscure.
You can start with numerous songs by Carrie Underwood, including on her 2020 Christmas album My Gift, and her 2015 album Storyteller. Miranda Lambert utilized the McCrary Sisters on her 2019 album Wildcard. Whiskey Myers, Gregg Allman, Stoney LaRue, Mary Gauthier, Allison Russell, Sean McConnell, Paul Thorn, Paul Cauthen, and Margo Price are other names with a McCrary presence in their music, sometimes constituting a focal point of a song, or even the lion’s share of an album.
It was Deborah being willing to do more than moonlight with her fellow sisters that allowed The McCrary Sisters to become an active singing ensemble in 2010. It was also a severe stroke Deborah suffered in 2013 around the release of their second album All the Way that almost knocked them off the stage. But it took Deborah only six months to recover, and she was taking the stage with her sisters once again. On May 12th, The McCrary Sisters asked for prayers for Deborah, but did not disclose what ailment she was suffering from. (read more)
Bobby Flores – June 23rd
Few voices ever graced the Western traditions of Texas music so eloquently, and perhaps nobody ever brought such compositional prowess to the music and with a host of instruments as Bobby Flores. Known as a side man to some of country music’s most famous artists, as well as an accomplished solo artist, Bobby Flores did so much in the service of Western Swing and traditional music, and so often selflessly. A Grammy award winner, and an inductee into numerous Halls of Fame, he was cherished most especially among his musician peers.
Bobby Flores released his first original single in 1972, and would continue to record and release music as a solo artist throughout the mid 70s. In the 80s, he became the vocalist for a touring group called Gone City, and in 1990 released an album called Some Fires Never Die with his group Angel Fire. It was in 2002 when Bobby started his own label Yellow Rose Records that his solo recording career came to it’s biggest prominence. Flores would release eight albums over the next 16 years.
Over this whole time though, Bobby Flores never stopped performing and recording with others. With credits on over 400 albums and singles, including major label artists, performers from outside of the United States, and not just in country, but in jazz, blues, classical, and Latin music as well. (read more)
Olivia Newton-John – August 8th – Age 73
Though Olivia Newton-John will be remembered for many things, the impact and influence that Olivia Newton-John left upon country music in the mid 70s would be criminal to resign to a passing footnote or afterthought.
After competing in the Eurovision Contest with the song “Long Live Love” in 1974, Newton-John was signed to EMI Records, and released an album of the same name. But in the United States, the album was rebranded as If You Love Me, Let Me Know, and included material from her previous three albums. When the title track went to #5 in pop, but #2 in country, it created the mandate to make Olivia Newton-John a country artist in North America. If You Love Me, Let Me Know became a #1 country album in 1974 where it stayed for eight weeks, and it became the fifth most popular album in country music that year. Olivia Newton-John also went on to win the 1974 Country Music Association Award (CMA) for Female Vocalist of the Year.
Olivia Newton-John released her second country album Have You Never Been Mellow in 1975, and it also saw great success, going #1 in country for six weeks. Then she decided to record her next country album Don’t Stop Belivin’ in Nashville in 1976, and it included multiple long-time A-list session musicians such as Charlie McCoy on harmonica, and Weldon Myrick on steel guitar. (read more)
Larry Petree – August 21st – Age 88
Larry Petree and his wife Betty of 60 years were found on a deserted dirt road in the Mojave Desert seven miles east of California City. Larry was in the driver’s seat of the car, and Betty was leaning against a rear tire. The vehicle was out of gas, leaving local authorities to conclude they likely ran out of gas and were stranded in the desert. How they got there, and what they were doing so far away from their home has still not been determined.
Petree played steel guitar in the legendary Bakersfield honky tonk scene during its heyday, regularly performing with Red Simpson at the iconic Bakersfield venue Trouts. Petree also appears on numerous Red Simpson recordings. Petree played with some of the major artists who would launch national careers from the blue-collar California town. But instead of leaving on the road for stardom, Larry chose to stick around Bakersfield to stay close to wife Betty, and to keep his job at the fire department, which he worked at for 30 years. Larry Petree continued to perform with local artists later in life such as Tommy Hays and the Western Swingsters, and Jennifer Keel. (read more)
Jerry ‘JI’ Allison – August 22nd – Age 82
Known best as the drummer for The Crickets who minded the rhythm for Buddy Holly with bass player Joe B. Mauldin, JI Allison would make an international name for himself with Buddy. At first, they were known simply by “The Crickets” band name, and they created the template for future rock bands by writing much of their own material as opposed to working with dedicated songwriters, and naming themselves after an insect. It’s no coincidence that when The Beatles came along with their mop tops a few years later, they modeled themselves after these boys from Texas.
Along with playing drums in the Crickets, JI Allison also co-wrote numerous songs for the outfit, including the original hit from the band “That’ll Be The Day” from 1957, and later the immortal “Peggy Sue.” Drumming in rock and roll was still a formative art at that time, and when Allison chose to only play toms on “Peggy Sue,” and to only use lap pats with his palms on “Everyday,” it made for a wickedly innovative approach compared to the snare-and-crash formula of the day, and it would resonate across popular music.
JI Allison played behind The Everly Brothers, Conway Twitty, Waylon Jennings, Nanci Griffith, Eddie Cochran, and others. The Crickets also backed up Eric Clapton, and Paul McCartney from the rock world. In 2012, Jerry “JI” Allison and the original Crickets officially became members of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame beside Buddy Holly. (read more)
Luke Bell – August 26th – Age 32
He was one of the most authentic and magnetizing artists to grace the country music art form in the modern era. And those who knew Luke Bell, they know this assessment is in no way hyperbole or flattery. Luke Bell captured a bygone era, aura, and mood in country music that escapes even the most adept and gifted of country music artists today. They’re addled by the filter of modernity that Luke Bell was strangely immune from. He was not of this time or place, and never fit in it comfortably. That was his gift, and his burden. As troubled as he was talented, Luke Bell nonetheless left his mark. And through the gift of his music, Luke Bell leaves the Earth and more pleasant place than he found it.
A semi-homeless and generally adrift Luke Bell was presented a serious opportunity to make it in music, and it was due solely to the strength of his voice and music. In the spring of 2016 he would be signed to Thirty Tigers, and released a self-titled album, becoming a national name, drawing comparisons with the type of team and momentum Sturgill Simpson had behind him, with the same flight path toward big success.
But few were factoring in that the same authenticity the made Luke Bell so appealing to fans as the rugged Wyoming cowboy turned musical troubadour is also what made the business side of making music naturally unappealing to Luke Bell personally. Many had big plans for Luke, but Luke’s plans remained decidedly less aspirational. Long periods would go by where nobody heard from Luke Bell. He would end up in hospitals, or at times, incarcerated. Over the last 1 1/2 years though, Luke Bell was finally beginning to find a new level of equilibrium thanks to medication and treatment. But while out West, Luke’s mental state took a turn for the worse. While in Tucson, he ran off for good. (read more)
Eddie Pleasant – September 17th – Age 95
Eddie Pleasant was of the most interesting and accomplished characters to ever grace the history of country music. He just about did it all. He was a performer and musician. He wrote songs. He worked as the business manager and right-hand man for Hank Williams Jr. for 24 years. And he’s credited for being one of the first ever to sell T-shirts as part of the music business. For half a century, Eddie Pleasant influenced the country music business in immeasurable ways.
Eddie Pleasant’s first job was playing drums for Wilma Lee and Stoney Cooper, who at the time were opening for Hank Williams Jr. While playing, Hank Jr. would sneak behind Eddie on stage and tell him a dirty joke in his ear. This would throw off Eddie’s timing, nearly train wrecking the song, and Hank Jr. would have a hoot over it. The two became close friends, and Hank Jr. hired him on as his close personal assistant and business manager. But if you talk to some in the music business, they know Eddie Pleasant for one thing and one thing only: selling T-shirts. Though it may seem like a commonplace function of the music business today, before Eddie Pleasant, it just wasn’t a focus of either artists or the public. (read more)
Ray Edenton – September 21st – Age 95
With over 12,000 studio sessions logged, Ray Edenton was an undisputed part of Nashville’s ‘A’ Team of go-to musicians that started in the Golden Era of the 50s and lasted well into the 70s and beyond. Ray Edenton played on such iconic recordings as Roger Miller’s “King of the Road,” “Bye Bye Love” and “Wake Up Little Susie” by the Everly Brothers, and Lynn Anderson’s “Rose Garden.” The first hit he ever played on was Webb Pierce’s “There Stands the Glass” in 1953, and after his performance on “One by One” by Kitty Wells and Red Foley the following year, it was established that Edenton had a Midas touch for country music, making him in high demand.
Ray Edenton was one of the last surviving members of the Nashville ‘A’ Team, with Charlie McCoy, steel guitar player Lloyd Green, and fiddler Buddy Spicher comprising some of the last remaining members. (read more)
Joe Chambers – September 28th – Age 80
There would not be a Musicians Hall of Fame if it wasn’t for the undying commitment of Joe Chambers to the institution, along with his wife Linda. Despite being located in Nashville and having significant ties to country music, the dedication of Joe Chambers was to showcase the work of the studio and touring musicians from all across the United States, and from all genres of music. Opened in 2006 and facing significant adversity in its early years, the Musicians Hall of Fame is now a Nashville institution.
A musician himself, as well as a songwriter. The title track to the 1988 album Old 8×10 from Randy Travis, the 1990 hit “I Meant Every Word He Said” by Ricky Van Shelton, and “Beneath a Painted Sky” by Tammy Wynette were some of the numerous cuts Joe Chambers earned in his career, along with songs from Conway Twitty, George Jones, Johnny Paycheck, Joe Diffie, and others.
Joe Chambers also was the narrator for an excellent series of interviews and features posted on the museum’s YouTube Page on a regular basis. Highly respected among musicians and performers, Joe Chambers was able to get some of the best stories and personal revelations out of major music contributors. (read more)
Loretta Lynn – October 4th – Age 90
There are many artists whose life experiences have been interwoven into their music, and resulted in the purest form of what has gone on to be recognized as “country music” around the world. But few, if any—especially from the feminine perspective—had the same grace, the same truth, the same impact that the songs of Loretta Lynn did.
Know affectionately as the Coal Miner’s Daughter, and also considered nothing less than a Queen of the country music genre, she will go down in history as one of the very most important and iconic artists to ever grace the genre, singular in her impact, Mount Rushmore-esque in her momentous contributions, and more than significant in how she moved the American culture in way that resonated well beyond country, and well beyond music.
It is the end of an era, and the end of one of the most important lives to ever grace the pages of country music’s continuing legacy. Tuesday, October 4th is the day that Loretta Lynn died, and will be known as such forever. (read more)
Jody Miller – October 8th – Age 80
When Roger Miller won five Grammy Awards in 1965 for his smash hit “King of the Road,” it was Jody Miller who answered the song with “Queen of the House.” It won a Grammy of its own for Best Female Country Vocal Performance, and helped ensconce Jody Miller as a national star in country music.
It was in the early 1970s when Jody Miller’s country career really kicked off in earnest. Working with Countrypolitan producer Billy Sherrill and signed to Epic Records, Miller released Top 5 hits such as “He’s So Fine” and “Baby I’m Yours” that put her at the forefront of country music’s crossover success, opening the door for the later successes of artists such as Linda Ronstadt and Olivia Newton-John. In the early 80s, Jody Miller retired from touring and moved to Oklahoma to help manage a quarter horse ranch with her husband Monty Brooks. Later in the 90s, she launched a career in Gospel music, including a Gospel music ministry, and released multiple Gospel albums. (read more)
Anita Kerr – October 10th – Age 94
There are a few contributors to country music whose work was so elemental, if you could go back and erase it, what we consider “country music” would sound like something completely different. They often worked mostly behind-the-scenes, adding to the music of the superstars who received most of the credit. Anita Kerr, along with her Anita Kerr Singers, was one of those fundamental contributors.
What we consider as the foundational sound of the Countrypolitan or Nashville Sound era was very much sung and arranged by Anita Kerr. Along with the The Jordanaires, The Anita Kerr Singers—selected and arranged by Anita Kerr—contributed most all the chorus singing that was set behind so many country songs starting in the 50s, and lasting well into the 80s. Patsy Cline, Willie Nelson, Ernest Tubb, Hank Snow, Red Foley, Faron Young, Jim Reeves, Chet Atkins, Webb Pierce, Brenda Lee, and so many others had their songs bolstered by the work of Anita Kerr, who set the standard for these country vocal sounds. (read more)
Robert Gordon – October 18th – Age 75
Throughout the 70s and 80s when so many others styles of music were all the rage, a group of dedicated rockabilly cats did everything they could to keep the sounds of Memphis and Sun Records alive in the present tense, emblematic of artists such as Elvis Presley, Gene Vincent, and Eddie Cochran. Singer Robert Gordon was at the very top of that class of revivalists.
Though punk and rockabilly blended together early on, Robert Gordon was seeking a more pure rockabilly sound, and found it through producer Richard Gottehrer, who was impressed with Gordon’s Elvis covers. The producer paired up Gordon with legendary rockabilly guitarist Link Wray, which resulted in two successful rockabilly revivalist releases. This established Robert Gordon as one of the top rockabilly revivalists, and he signed with RCA Records—the same label as his idol Elvis. (read more)
Don Edwards – October 23rd – Age 86
Don Edwards was one of America’s premier cowboy poets, Western singers, preservationists, and musicologists in the field of Western recordings. Soaking up everything cowboy and Western that he could, Don Edwards became like an embodiment of the West in a living form. That’s why the amusement park Six Flags Over Texas in Arlington hired him on when the park opened in 1961.
In 1992, Don Edwards got the biggest opportunity of his career after he signed with Michael Martin Murphey’s label Warner Western, and began to regularly release albums of cowboy and Western music.
Don Edwards ultimately became synonymous with Western music and cowboy poetry. He also worked as an actor throughout his career, most notably playing the character Smokey in the Robert Redford film The Horse Whisperer from 1998. Twice Don Edwards was nominated for Grammy Awards, and appeared on the Grammy-winning album Other Voices, Other Rooms by Nanci Griffith via the song “Night Rider’s Lament.” Two of Don’s songs have been preserved in the Folklore Archives at the Library of Congress. In 2005, Don Edwards was inducted into the Western Music Association Hall of Fame. (read more)
Jerry Lee Lewis – October 28th – Age 87
One of the biggest names ever in rock & roll, who also amassed a distinguished Hall of Fame career in the country music realm as well, took his place among the Million Dollar Quartet in the sky, right beside Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, and Carl Perkins. “The Killer,” a.k.a. Jerry Lee Lewis, died only days after being inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, and after amassing a musical career that set the very foundations of what we consider American music today.
Jerry Lee Lewis brought the danger to rock and roll. And perhaps a little too much danger, which cut into the success of his career. But after becoming frustrated at his inability to land a hit in rock and roll after his heyday, Lewis decided to become a country music artist in 1968. Jerry Lee Lewis eventually had 17 Top 10 hit singles on the Billboard country chart, and four #1’s as a country artist.
Jerry Lee Lewis was formally inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame on October 16th, but due to health concerns, could not be at the Medallion Ceremony at the Hall of Fame in Nashville in person. Instead, Hank Williams Jr. and Kris Kristoffferson received the medallion in Jerry Lee’s honor, and then Kris Kristofferson drove to Memphis to deliver the medallion to Jerry Lee Lewis personally. (read more)
Patrick Haggerty – October 31st – Age 78
Lavender Country frontman, singer, songwriter Patrick Haggerty is widely recognized as the first openly gay country artist. Based in Seattle, Lavender Country released the first gay-themed country album in history with their 1973 self-titled release. It wasn’t country music’s first gay album just because Patrick Haggerty happened to be gay. The songs were specifically about the gay lifestyle, and from a gay perspective.
Lavender Country was quite revolutionary at the time. In the early 70s, performers ran a big risk just being out of the closet, let alone broadcasting that fact through playing in a gay country band. Beyond the ridicule, openly gay musicians could be assaulted, and regularly received death threats. By standing against prejudice, Patrick Haggerty secured his name as an important figure in country music history. The original Lavender Country album is officially archived at the Country Music Hall of Fame. (read more)
Jeff Cook (Alabama) – November 7th – Age 73
If you’re gonna play in Texas, you gotta have a fiddle in the band. But Heaven requires fiddle players too apparently, and Jeff Cook’s been called home. What country music sounds like would be radically different if it wasn’t for the formidable influence Alabama brought to the genre, especially in the early 80s when they landed a string of monster hits such as “Tennessee River,” “Mountain Music,” and so many more.
Alabama brought a Southern rock attitude to country, but unlike many of their Southern rock contemporaries, they kept it more country than rock. The work of Jeff Cook was seminal to that sound, and it’s success. It was Cook’s guitar work that brought that more sweaty and aggressive attitude to country music regularly resigned to the rock world. But when he picked up the fiddle, he grounded the music right back in the country roots. (read more)
Jake Flint – November 26th – Age 37
What was supposed to be the most joyous day of his life ended up being his final one, as tears of happiness turned to tears of sorrow for his friends and loved ones. 37-year-old Oklahoma-based Red Dirt artist and songwriter Jake Flint passed away on Saturday, November 26th, and tragically, it was only hours after he married the love of his life, Brenda Flint.
Jake Flint found his true calling in the sound of his native Oklahoma, and Red Dirt legends such as The Great Divide, Mike McClure, and Cross Canadian Ragweed. It was through this connection that Flint was able to commission Red Dirt founding father Mike McClure, along with Taylor Reed, Jon Knudson from Whiskey Myers, and friend Cody Woody to make his 2020 self-titled debut album. Whether performing solo or with a band, Jake Flint made his mark on the Texas/Red Dirt touring circuit throughout the Texoma region and beyond. (read more)
Peter Cooper – December 6th – Age 52
Who sings the song marking the passing of a soul when the person who has died is the one we turn to on such solemn and grave occasions? Who writes the obituary for the man who was responsible for marking the passing of so many greats in country music when he is now the one being eulogized?
The song “He Stopped Loving Her Today” sung by George Jones is what we often turn to in country music to mark the passing of a performer. And for many years, the words of Peter Cooper of The Tennessean were the ones we sought out to help encapsulate a life whenever one of our favorite performers passed on. This is the very reasons it is Peter Cooper’s words that reside forever on the tombstone of George Jones, and why they will echo well beyond our own time.
Artist, journalist, performer, singer, songwriter, and historian Peter Cooper didn’t spend most of his life and career in a bright spotlight. His words came through faceless communiques from Nashville about critically important topics in country music, or in the liner notes of albums, the words of books, or the placards of displays. His music was uninterested in commercial application, and came to life in listening rooms and clubs, and through independent releases. His work chronicling the history of country music came in lecture halls and from the bowels of the Country Music Hall of Fame. But their impact was incredibly outsized. (read more)
Charlie Gracie – December 16th – Age 86
One of the founding pioneers of rockabilly, Charlie Gracie is known best for his #1 hit in 1957 “Butterfly,” along with the Top 20 followup “Fabulous.” Gracie is cited in both the United States and a United Kingdom as a major influence on the formation of rockabilly and rock ‘n roll, and later had a major influence in rhythm and blues. Given credit as only the 2nd American rockabilly artist to tour in the UK, his appearances in 1957 and 1958 at places such as the Palladium and Hippodrome were attended by members of The Beatles, with both George Harrison and Paul McCartney citing him as a major influence, along with British musician Graham Nash.
Charlie Gracie signed with Cadillac Records in the early 50s, and recorded numerous singles. He appeared on the popular TV Program American Bandstand before Dick Clark’s arrival on the show, and eventually signed to the Philadelphia-based Cameo Records, where he would record “Butterfly,” “Fabulous,” and other singles, helping to establish the Cameo label as a major player in popular music. (read more)
Ian Tyson – December 29th – Age 89
When your music has been covered by the likes of Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, and Judy Collins—and when your legacy is so vast that the folk, country, and Western worlds all vociferously claim you for their own—you know you have forged a legacy that will withstand the rigors of time, and the battering of the four strong winds, especially when you’ve done it all from the vast regions of Canada as opposed to the self-absorbed coasts of the United States.
Ian Tyson wasn’t just a musician, he was a musical institution. Wildly influential, he was the man that many other artists from both sides of the border and over in Europe studied astutely due to his importance to roots music. Considered a Canadian music legend of the highest order, his influence on country music in the States was also quite vast and prolonged. From the folk and country legends of the 60s, to present-day performers such as Corb Lund and Colter Wall, Ian Tyson’s peers and students not only sang his praises, they sang his songs specifically to multiple generations as performers will continue to do well into the future. (read more)
Jerry Ray Johnson – January 9th – Age 65 – Drummer for 80s country group Bandana, father of the Cadillac Three frontman Jaren Johnston.
Jerry Crutchfield – January 11th – Age 87 – Producer, label executive, songwriter and publisher.
Tommy Neal – January 11th – Age 73 – Bluegrass banjo player for Del McCoury, Bluestone, and others.
Fred Geiger – January 12th – Age 82 – Journalist, guitarist, and banjo player in the bluegrass field.
Tim Stacy – January 15th – Age 68 – Bassist and singer/songwriter who toured with Hank Williams Jr. Charlie Louvin and others.
Dan Einstein – January 15th – Age 61 – Produced albums for both John Prine and Steve Goodman, and helped co-found their labels Oh Boy Records and Red Pajamas Records, helping to pioneer artist-owned labels in the roots space.
Slim Andrews – January 15th – Age 90 – Maine singer/songwriter who also founded the Maine Country Music Hall of Fame.
Charles “Chick” Rains – January 21st – Age 83 – Beloved country songwriter and member of the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame.
Beegie Adair – January 23rd – Age 84 – Country and jazz pianist that played on sessions for Dolly Parton, Eddy Arnold, Jerry Reed, Chet Atkins, Wayon Jennings, and more. Also played on the Johnny Cash Show and Ralph Emery’s backing band.
George Winn – January 23rd – Age 88 – Bluegrass mandolinist of the Virginia Partners.
Frank Woodward – January 29th – Age 76 – Beloved Director of Security for the Grand Ole Opry House and Opryland Hotel.
Jack Pruett Jr. – February 1st – Age 65 – Bass playing son of Grand Ole Opry star Jeanne Pruett and of Marty Robbins guitarist Jack Pruett.
Leonard Zinn – February 3rd – Age 97 – Steel Guitar Hall of Famer and member of the 101 Ranch Boys.
Kerry Chater – February 4th – Age 76 – Songwriter and solo artist who wrote hits for Alabama, Reba McEntire, George Strait, others.
Heather Dunbar – February 7th – Age 71 – Country DJ in New York State.
Billy Smith – February 11th – Age 84 – Drummer for Brenda Lee’s backing band.
Mike Dekle – February 24th – Age 77 – Country songwriter for Gene Watson, Rhonda Vincent, Kenny Rogers, more.
William “Mac Martin” Dermott Colleran – February 28th – Age 96 – Bluegrass player in the Dixie Travelers and Pike County Boys.
Jim Owens – March 4th – Age 84 – Prolific country television producer of Crook & Chase and many other programs.
Bruce Burch – March 12th – Age 69 – Country songwriter for Reba McEntire (“Rumor Has It”) Wynonna, Faith Hill, Dough Stone, and others.
John “Buckwheat” Green – March 17th – Age 68 – Bluegrass musician from West Virginia who was a member of the Laurel Mountain Boys, High Time Pickin’ Band, and the Lonesome River Band. Also worked as a journalist.
Jane Dowden – March 24th – Age 90 – Important Nashville television and film producer who worked on The Porter Wagoner Show as well as the Waylon Jennings feature film Nashville Rebel.
Bobby Lee Atkins – March 27th – Age 88 – Bluegrass banjo player who played in Bill Monroe’s Bluegrass Boys, the Dixie Mountaineers, and The Countrymen.
Tom Wilkerson – April 7th – Age 86 – Drummer for Marty Robbins, Tom T. Hall, and others.
Shane Yellowbird – May 2nd – Age 42 – Canadian country singer of Indigenous descent.
Pete Reiniger – May 13th – Age 73 – Prolific recording engineer that worked on over 200 albums primarily in the bluegrass and folk disciplines. Grammy winner.
James Price – May 23rd – Age 57 – Fiddle player in Ralph Stanley’s Clinch Mountain Boys. Also played with “Little” Jimmy Dickens and Johnny Paycheck. Price released three solo albums as well.
Nolan Faulkner – May 25th – Age 89 – Bluegrass mandolin player from Detroit playing in Red Ellis & Huron Valley Boys, Big Sandy Boys, Miller Brothers, and Candy Mountain Boys.
Bill Walker – May 26th – Age 96 – Piano and keys session musician, as well as a studio music arranger, and the musical director for The Johnny Cash Show.
Saundra Steele – May 30th – Age 72 – Solo artist, backup singer for George Jones, Ronnie Milsap, and others.
Hal Bynum – June 2nd – Age 87 – Songwriter for “Lucille” by Kenny Rogers, “The Old, Old House” by George Jones and others, as well as songs by Jim Reeves, Wynn Stewart, Johnny Bush, and others.
Jim Seals – June 6th – Age 80 – Predominately pop and folk-singing member of Seals & Crofts, but wrote songs from Brenda Lee, and also played with Glen Campbell among other close ties to country.
Dave Osborne – June 8th – Age 75 – Banjo player for Faron Young, Southern Comfort, and others.
Baxter Black – June 10th – Age 77 – Revered cowboy poet who also worked as a syndicated newspaper columnist and radio host.
James Reams – June 17th – Age 66 – Bluegrass musicians and leader of James Reams & The Barnstormers.
Eddie Edwards – June 19th – Age 75 – Country Radio Hall of Famer.
Bill Vorndick – July 5th – Age 72 – Producer and engineer who worked with Alison Krauss, Doc Watson, Marty Stuart, Jim Lauderdale, Robert Earl Keen, and many more. 2-time IBMA winner.
Glenn Meadows – July 7th – Age 68 – Nashville mastering engineer who earned two Grammy Awards.
Niko Everette – July 9th – Age 32 – Drummer for Luke Bryan, and member of the band Whiskey Kiss.
Dewey Lee Farmer – July 12th – Age 79 – Mandolin player from North Carolina who played in Carl Story’s Rambling Mountaineers, A.L. Wood’s Smokey Ridge Boys, The Legendaires, and other outfits.
Big John Trimble – July 24th – Age 84 – Country Radio Hall of Famer and host of the All Night Trucker Show.
Clay Hart – July 28th – Age 86 – Country pop performer who regularly appeared on The Lawrence Welk Show.
Jerry Paul Arnold – July 31st – Age 86 – Drummer who regularly performed on Pop! Goes the Country, Nashville on the Road, Nashville Now, and other programs.
Bill Pittman – August 11th – Age 102 – Guitar player for “The Wrecking Crew” who also played behind The Everly Brothers, The Byrds, and on Glen Campbell’s TV show.
Randy Bailey – August 16th – Age 68 – Dj of WBJB’s Bluegrass Jam show out of New Jersey.
Charles Quillen – August 19th – Age 84 – Country songwriter for Ronnie Milsap, Steve Wariner, as well as George Strait, Johnny Cash, and others.
Steve Arkin – August 24th – Age 78 – Banjo player in Bill Monroe’s Bluegrass Boys, the Trouble Creek String Band, and Down State Rebels. Cousin of actor Alan Arkin.
Art Rosenbaum – September 4th – Age 83 – Banjo player and producer of old time records. His Art of Field Recording in 2009 won the Grammy for Best Historical Album.
Herschel Sizemore – September 9th – Age 87 – Mandolin player for Del McCoury, Jimmy Martin, Bluegrass Cardinals, and others.
Paul Kwami – September 10th – Age 70 – Director of the Fisk Jubilee Singers in Nashville.
Arthur Ward Eller – September 20th – Age 92 – Bluegrass picker with the Church Brothers and Blue Ridge Ramblers.
Buddy Spurlock – September 21st – Age 81 – Kentucky-based banjo player, and founder of the Bluegrass Alliance.
John Hartman – September 22nd – Age 72 – Founding drummer of the semi Southern rock band The Doobie Brothers.
Joe Bussard – September 26th – Age 86 – Highly regarded album archivist, including in the realm of country music 78s.
Mary McCaslin – October 2nd – Age 75 – “The Prairie Songstress” known for her Western songs that were recordede by Tom Russell, David Bromberg, and others.
Eloise Wyatt Russo – October 7th – Age 98 – A Beloved and well-recognized Grond Ole Opry hostess who didn’t retire until the age of 93.
Lois Curtis Shepherd – October 18th – Age 98 – Lower Broadway performer who co-founded the Broadway Revitalization Committee in the 80s to help support the once struggling entertainment district.
Leslie Jordan – TV actor who released a collaborative country album in 2021.
Jerry Whitehurst – October 30th – Age 84 – Pianist on Ralph Emery’s Nashville Now, Hee-Haw, and other television shows.
Tommy Cordell – October 30th – Age 65 – Bluegrass fiddler with Larry Sparks, Dave Evans & River Bend, and other projects. Florida fiddle champion 1992-1994.
Bobbi Staff – November 2nd – Age 77 – 60s country performer produced by Chet Atkins.
Lonnie Bell – November 8th – Age 98 – DJ Hall of Fame member and influential Montana country icon.
Ken Mansfield – November 17th – Age 85 – Producer for Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Jessi Colter, Willie Nelson, and Tompall Glaser during the Outlaw era, as well as The Flying Burrito Brothers and others. Author of several books.
Jo Carol Pierce – December 2nd – Age 78 – Lubbock-born, Austin-based songwriter and playwright who was once married to Jimmie Dale Gilmore.
Jim Stewart – December 2nd – Rock and Roll Hall of Famer best known as the founder of Stax Records. He was also a country fiddler who played in The Canyon Cowboys.
Georgia Holt – December 6th – Age 96 – Singer/songwriter who sang with Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys, and released a country album Honky Tonk Woman in 2013. Holt was also the mother of Cher.
Charlie Monk – December 19th – Age 84 – Country radio Hall of Fame member, as well as a songwriter for Jerry Reed, Charley Pride, Randy Travis, and more. Referred to as the “Mayor of Music Row.”
Markus Cuff – December 22nd – Age 74 – Photographer and photojournalist who also played in the band of Emmylou Harris and The Seldom Scene.
Brad Hines – December 31st – Singer/songwriter known as the “Mayor of the Fort Worth Stockyards” for his nightly performances at The White Elephant and other haunts.
Anita Pointer – December 31st – Age 74 – Member of The Pointer Sisters who won a country Grammy for the song “Fairytale,” and had a hit song with Earl Thomas Conley in “Too Many Times.”