As bad as 2020 has been for just about everything, believe it or not, country music got it worse than just about every other segment of music, entertainment, sports, etc. when it came to both the amount, and the major names that passed away in the last 12 months.
Jan Howard’s death was marked with obituaries enumerating her many accomplishments in country music, including her hits, her collaborations with John Anderson, and her long tenure at the Grand Ole Opry. But when it comes to Jan Howard, it was just as much about the work she did off the stage, and out of the spotlight.
Country music legend and long-time Grand Ole Opry star Jan Howard has passed away at the age of 91. Howard died on Saturday, March 28th peacefully in her sleep in Gallatin, Tennessee near Nashville. A Grand Ole Opry member for nearly 50 years, news broke of her passing as the storied country music institution was broadcasting.
While Nashville country was awash in strings and suffering under the oppressive thumb of producers such as Chet Atkins and Billy Sherrill, the dim lights, thick smoke, and loud loud music of The Bakersfield Sound was keeping boots shuffling and country twangy. Unheard Merle Haggard tracks and other rarities are included in new box set.
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.