As 2019 comes to a close and we look forward to an new year, let us take a moment to remember the country and roots music greats we lost in this past year, from bona fide legends like Earl Thomas Conley, to those who left us too soon like Neal Casal, to Hall of Famers like Harold Bradley, and major influencers like Dick Dale.
With the recent loss of bluegrass legend Ralph Stanley, country superstar Merle Haggard, songwriting great Freddy Powers, and Bakersfield’s Red Simpson, the amount of artists who are still around that can truly say they were there at the very start of the formation of country and bluegrass is getting anemically slim.
With the passing of the 94-year-old “Little” Jimmy Dickens at the beginning of 2015, it’s a reminder for us to cherish the final living links to country music’s most legendary past who can still tell stories of how country music once was. The amount of performers who were important in forming the very foundation of country music are quickly fading away.
Bill Monroe, Billie Jean Horton, Bobby Osborne, Buck Owens, Buck White, Carter Stanley, Don Maddox, Eddie Arnold, Elvis, George Jones, Hank Snow, Hank Williams, Harold Bradley, Jan Howard, Jean Shepard, Jesse McReynolds, Jim and Jesse, Jim Ed Brown, Joe Pennington, Keith Whitley, Larry Sparks, Lee Ann Womack, Lefty Frizell, Little Jimmy Dickens, Maddox Brothers & Rose, Marty Stuart, Mel Tillis, Owen Bradley, Pee Wee King, Ralph Stanley, Ray Price, Red Simpson, Ricky Skaggs, Rose Maddox, Roy Acuff, Roy Orbison, Stonewall Jackson, Studio 'A', The Clinch Mountain Boys, The Grand Ole Opry, The Quonset Hut, The Stanley Brothers, The Whites, Tompall Glaser, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson
As recently as the middle of last week it looked as if the fate of historic Studio ‘A’ in Nashville’s Music Row district was all but sealed, and its date with a wrecking ball was a forgone conclusion despite preservationist’s best efforts. But in one fell swoop, one man came in and did what thousands of people could not do despite their best efforts: preserve Studio ‘A’.
Of course country music must evolve, just as at times certain buildings must go if they have completely lost their functionality and the cost of preservation is not in accordance with the historic value. But there always has to be that measure, that attention and reverence paid to the past to where we don’t allow unchecked “evolution” to result in remorse of what was lost along the way.
It looked like the crisis for Studio ‘A’ had been averted, and a Studio ‘A’ rally that transpired Monday morning in the historic spot turned out to be less about saving Studio ‘A’, and more about saving many of Music Row’s historic buildings and properties by asking the City of Nashville to designate the area as a historic district. Now the current owners of the building have written a letter…