The Last Living Legends to Country Music’s Historic Past
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. We’re not just talking about artists who happen to be old, but artists who knew and played with Hank Williams, witnessed Bill Monroe form bluegrass, or saw Bob Wills at the very start.
As we lose so many country greats in 2016, let’s honor the few amazing links to country music’s historical past we still have left.
Note: This is an update of an article originally posted in January 2015.
Curly Seckler – Age 96
(UPDATE: Passed away on December 27th, 2017)
Born on Christmas Day 1919, Curly Seckler is a bluegrass singer and multi-instrumentalist acclaimed for his work on the tenor banjo. Though mostly known as a sideman, he was the banjo and mandolin player for some of the founding artists in bluegrass. When the Father of Bluegrass, Bill Monroe, split from his brother Charlie in the Monroe Brothers, Charlie hired Curly Seckler to play in his band. Before then, Seckler had been playing in the Yodeling Rangers with his two brothers, which formed in 1935. Curly joined Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs in 1949, and played in the Foggy Mountain Boys until 1962. He’s a member of the International Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame, and though he officially retired in 1994, he continued to perform regularly for many years.
Don Maddox (Maddox Brothers & Rose) – Age 94
At 92-years-old, Don Maddox of the Maddox Brothers & Rose very well may be the last living link to not just to the Golden Era of country music, but the time before country music was even called “country.” When Don and his family moved from Boaz, Alabama to California as Depression-era refugees and decided to start a band, they were still considered “hillbilly” musicians since the term “country” had yet to be coined. As the fiddle player and jokester of the band, Don watched as the primitive modes of American popular music split into three different disciplines of country, rock and roll, and rockabilly, and The Maddox Brothers & Rose are given credit for influencing all three. Started in 1937, The Maddox Brothers & Rose played The Grand Ole Opry, The Louisiana Hayride, and toured the country as a headline act, including playing shows where Elvis Presley and George Jones were booked as opening acts first starting out.
The group disbanded in 1956 when Don’s sister Rose Maddox moved to Nashville to become a star of her own, and after 20 years as a musician, Don Maddox retired to a ranch in Ashland, Oregon, just over the California border. Don Maddox continues to perform locally upon occasion, and has been flown out to Nashville by Marty Stuart and Muddy Roots in recent years to participate in events like Marty Stuart’s Midnite Jamboree. Don has also been honored as part of the Country Music Hall of Fame’s Bakersfield Sound exhibit, though he and his family band are still not official inductees of the Hall of Fame. If you’re looking for the last living link to country music’s past, Don Maddox would be it.
Mac Wiseman – Age 91
(UPDATE: Passed away on February 24th, 2019)
Known affectionately as “The Voice with a Heart”, the 91-year-old Wiseman was a cult bluegrass singer, songwriter, guitar and bass player, but is known best as a man behind-the-scenes as a seminal member of the CMA. Wiseman played with both Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs, played in Bill Monroe’s legendary backing band, The Bluegrass Boys, and is an inductee to the International Bluegrass Music Hall of Honor and the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame in 1993.
Mac Wiseman was first made famous by recording “The Ballad of Davy Crockett”. The song’s success moved Wiseman’s carrer more into the direction of country music and away from bluegrass, and he signed with Dot Records in 1957, before moving to Capitol in 1962. In 1969 he moved to Nashville and signed with RCA Victor. Later in life he once again gravitated back to bluegrass and became a big mover and shaker in the CMA organization.
Harold Bradley – Age 90
(UPDATE: Passed away January 31st, 2019)
A Country Music Hall of Famer, the brother of Hall of Fame producer Owen Bradley, and a guitar player as part of Nashville’s “A-Team,” Harold Bradley’s fingerprints are all over what became known as The Nashville Sound in the 60’s and 70’s, and is the last living link to the original business dealings that saw the formation of Music Row and Nashville as a music mecca.
Harold Bradley played in Ernest Tubb’s band while still in high school, and later played live with acts such as Pee Wee King and Eddie Arnold. By the 70’s he was Nashville’s go-to guitar player in studio sessions, and according to Guitar World magazine, is the most recorded guitar player in the world. If you listen to a song originating from Music Row in the 70’s, you’re likely hearing Harold Bradley play guitar. Harold also played bass, and played on rock and roll and pop records as well, including recordings by Elvis and Roy Orbison. If it was recorded in Nashville, Harold Bradley probably played on it.
Bradley was also vital to the business landscape of Nashville music as well. In 1954, Harold and his brother Owen built what would be the very first music-related building on Music Row—a recording studio called The Quonset Hut. Harold was also one of the principle owners of the historic Studio ‘A’ property sold to developers who intended to bulldoze the building. Subsequently the studio was bought by preservationists an put into a trust to preserve it for the future.
As the Studio ‘A’ fight exemplified, the legacy of Harold Bradley, his brother Owen, and Chet Atkins is a mixed one. Their influence and efforts for country music are undeniable, but they also symbolize the restrictive creative environment and disregard for the roots of the music that permeated Music Row in the 70’s and beyond. They were the power brokers at odds with The Outlaws such as Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, and Tompall Glaser. But Harold Bradley’s contributions remain towering, and he’s the last link to the origination of Music Row and The Nashville Sound.
Joe Pennington – Age 88
Joe “Penny” Pennington is the last surviving original member of the Hank Williams’ Drifting Cowboy band, and had an early and important influence on the formation of rockabilly when he left the Drifting Cowboys in 1948 and began recording for Federal Records. As the guitar player for Hank, “Joe Penny” as he was nicknamed is one of the very last living links to Hank, as well as to the most legendary lineup of the Grand Ole Opry. Joe also played in the bands of Lefty Frizell and Little Jimmy Dickens, and is regarded as a songwriter too, penning the tune “Don’t Fall In Love With a Married Man” among others. Pennington is a member of the Rockabilly Hall of Fame, and has remained a performer later in life, playing Hank Williams songs and his own original compositions.
Jan Howard – Age 87
Much more than just the widow of famous and prolific songwriter Harlan Howard, Jan was seminal in breaking down barriers for female artists in country music. Before she became a star in her own right and a fixture on the Grand Ole Opry for many years, Jan Howard was an important demo singer, performing the original recordings of songs like Kitty Wells’ “Mommy For a Day” and Patsy Cline’s “I Fall to Pieces.” She later transitioned into a backup singer, first for Wynn Stewart, and later singing along with Bill Anderson on multiple hits, earning the singing pair Best Vocal Duo nominations for the CMA’s in 1970 and 1971.
Jan Howard also had a prolific and successful career all her own with multiple hits, including the Top 5 song, “Evil On Your Mind.” She has been a member of the Grand Ole Opry since 1971.
Jesse McReynolds – Age 86
Influential mandolin player Jesse McReynolds started playing in the bluegrass band Jim and Jesse with his brother Jim Reynolds around 1947, and ever since has been a mainstay of the bluegrass world and the Grand Ole Opry, and one of the most revered mandolin players in the entire music business. He’s shared the stage with many of the country music greats, and his advanced age hasn’t slowed him down one bit celebrating his 50th Anniversary on the Grand Ole Opry in 2014. Jesse McReynolds remains one of the Opry’s most active members, playing a total of 41 shows in 2015. After the passing of “Little” Jimmy Dickens, Jesse is the oldest member of the Opry that makes regular appearances on the show.
Willie Nelson -Age 83
Aside from all of the obvious things that make Willie Nelson the most recognizable living link to country music’s past—including his songwriting for artists like Patsy Cline and Faron Young—as a youngster Willie played in Bob Wills’ Texas Playboys, and later played bass for Ray Price in the Cherokee Cowboys. At the original Dripping Springs Reunion, and later at Willie’s annual 4th of July Picnics, Willie invited past greats to perform including Roy Acuff, Earl Scruggs, Buck Owens, Bill Monroe, Hank Snow, and other legends of country music’s past. Willie may not be the oldest link to the past still around, but he remains the patriarch of the genre as a whole.
Billie Jean Horton – Age 83
From Bossier City, LA, Billie Jean was first introduced to Hank by another famous country singer, Faron Young who was dating Billie Jean at the time. She was just 19-years-old, and in October of 1952, Billie Jean and Hank Williams were married in a private ceremony in Louisiana. Later they repeated their vows at two concerts on the stage of the Municipal Auditorium in New Orleans for large crowds.
Three short months later, Hank Williams was dead. He passed away on News Years Day, 1953. Later in 1953, Billie Jean Williams married country music star Johnny Horton, who died in a car wreck in 1960, making Billie Jean a famous country music widow for a second time. For a short period, Billie Jean also had a relationship with Johnny Cash while he was still married to his first wife Vivian Liberto. The famous country music wife had a recording career of her own for a period, and had a Top 40 country record with “Ocean of Tears” in 1961. Billie Jean was a vocal promoter of the legacies of her two famous husbands for years, including gathering up songs from Johnny Horton after he died and compiling them into new releases.
Though not a well-known performer herself, she is one of the few remaining personalities in country music that didn’t just follow the music, but lived it, and helped keep it alive for future generations.
Other Living Links to Country’s Past:
- Mel Tillis
- Roy Clark
- Loretta Lynn
- Jean Shepard
- Bobby Osborne
- Stonewall Jackson
- W.S. “Fluke” Holland
June 25, 2016 @ 8:56 am
Your list is so incomplete. What about Norman Blake 78, Ian Tyson 83, Kris Kristofferson 80, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott 84. This why I hate these lists. You left off important artists and included some who really are not that important.
June 25, 2016 @ 9:15 am
That’s why I hate writing these lists, because ultimately everyone immediately gravitates towards tearing them apart for who they don’t see and who they already know about, when the ultimate goal of the list is to fill in the gaps in your knowledge base of these important figures that nobody is talking about. This isn’t a “Where’s Waldo?” exercise.
As it states in the introduction:
“We’re not just talking about artists who happen to be old, but artists who knew and played with Hank Williams, witnessed Bill Monroe form bluegrass, or saw Bob Wills at the very start.”
Who is talking about Curly Seckler and Don Maddox?
June 25, 2016 @ 3:35 pm
While I agree that Kris should be on here, to claim that any of these artists listed are not important is absurd.
June 28, 2016 @ 5:02 am
Why don’t you make a list then?
June 29, 2016 @ 10:15 am
Because I believe these lists are meaningless. Everyone’s list would be different. As you can see from comments.
June 25, 2016 @ 9:40 am
Great list, very informative. Roy Clark was one of my favorite people in the world as a youngster… could never get to see him though…
June 25, 2016 @ 1:23 pm
He was so well known for his comedic elements that I think it gets overlooked sometimes what musical gifts the “superpicker” brought to the table.
These articles about the older folks are among my favorites. Any way that any of them can be honored in any way is welcome news to me. As a trivia bit, Jesse McReynolds played his grandfather’s fiddle from the original Bristol Sessions on the Orthophonic Joy history/music project last year, and Jesse’s great-nephew Dave Salyer regularly performs at the General Jackson Showboat in Nashville. Loretta Lynn’s 84 now, and as far as I know, her brother still runs the old store in Butcher Holler, and the house tours. A tour of the little old place and the “Country Music Highway” museum in nearby Paintsville are both very worthwhile. Outside the world of country and bluegrass, I’ll mention electronic music pioneers Kingsley and Perrey, ages 93 and 87.
June 25, 2016 @ 9:51 am
I really enjoyed your list! The only one I would add, I the hopes of shining a light on a very underrated legend, would be Bobby Bare. Starting out in the ’50’s, and is still active today! Along the way, he helped a lot of young songwriters that were struggling, and also was the one who brought Waylon to the attention of Chet Atkins.
June 25, 2016 @ 10:52 am
Agreed, and one of those struggling songwriters he helped was the incomparable Billy Joe Shaver, who tells a mesmerizing story about sneaking out of his childhood home and walking ten miles of train tracks to see a then-unknown Hank Williams in the song “Tramp On Your Street”
June 25, 2016 @ 10:42 am
I think the whole point of this is that all of the aforementioned artists contributed at least SOMETHING of importance to the country music genre and set marks and standards that any artists worth their salt should at least strive for.
As I’ve said before, country music has been able to evolve and change with the times in the past because artists have not forgotten the genre’s basic appeal, even if they don’t come from staunch country music backgrounds. But with only a handful of exceptions nowadays, we have a generation of heavyweights out there that knows these artists only as names to drop in song lyrics as a way of showing their supposed “Dirt Road Cred” (particularly the guys I call the Bromeisters), while seemingly being totally oblivious to the very genre they claim to be a part of. It makes the departure of the legends that much more painful, because the more that these people pass away, and the fewer artists there are to take up the cause and make their own marks doing this for the love of the genre and not just the love of Big Money, then the fewer links country music will have to its past, and the more likely it is that country music won’t have a future.
June 25, 2016 @ 12:28 pm
Add Jerry Lee Lewis!
June 25, 2016 @ 1:05 pm
So…so many old farts
June 25, 2016 @ 1:17 pm
Billy Joe Shaver
June 25, 2016 @ 2:55 pm
Is Bill Anderson stI’ll around? I haven’t read anywhere that he passed. How.old is Mickey Gilley, or Don Williams? Weren’t they around?
June 25, 2016 @ 5:33 pm
Don Williams (age 77) just retired this year in March. He typically played seated shows at elegant theaters and casinos.
“It’s time to hang my hat up and enjoy some quiet time at home. I’m so thankful for my fans, my friends and my family for their everlasting love and support,” Williams said.
June 26, 2016 @ 4:58 pm
Not that it matters much, but when I wrote “seated shows” I meant that he played venues with reserved seats usually (instead of G/A), not that Don Williams was seated the entire concert.
June 26, 2016 @ 5:16 am
Saw Mickey here in buffalo Wednesday night and he was 80. Voice was strong as ever. Telling stories he sat but singing he stood.
June 26, 2016 @ 5:07 pm
Whispering Bill Anderson still plays spot dates all over the country, and often appears on The Grand Ole Opry, where he always sounds spry and awesome whenever I listen online.
June 27, 2016 @ 10:16 am
He hosts Country Family Reunion, maybe 2 or 3 times a year, where they bring in many of the living legends, though obviously fewer each year. He still seems quite healthy. Just google Country Family Reunion for the videos you can purchase.
June 25, 2016 @ 4:05 pm
Add Ronnie McDowell to this list.
June 28, 2016 @ 1:00 am
Take Ronnie McDowell off the list.
But if you’re ever doing a list of Elvis and Conway impersonators….
June 25, 2016 @ 4:28 pm
Good list, although I was surprised not to see Billy Joe Shaver and Don Williams on the list – and I might have stretched it a little myself to include Charlie Daniels who is still going strong at 80.
June 25, 2016 @ 5:46 pm
Well the article states ‘were there at the very start of the formation of country and bluegrass’ so that would be late 1940s early 1950s. Don Williams is 77 and didn’t really break out until the early 1970s and Bill Anderson is 78 and he is a little closer in that he famously wrote ‘City Lights’ at age 19 in 1957 while working as a DJ. Charlie Daniels would also be a little young for the definitions used in this article.
I would say some of the names mentioned by commenters would more fit in that next generation that took country music to the next level of popularity and I would probably put Willie in this category also along with Kristofferson, Don Williams, Bill Anderson, Loretta Lynn and a few others.
Sort of like the distinction between WWII vets and Korean War vets where there is some crossover but there are also lots of one or the other.
June 27, 2016 @ 10:18 am
I wonder where Charley Pride and Jim Glaser fit in there. They started early, but maybe not early enough. They may be the first of the second generation.
June 25, 2016 @ 8:51 pm
Great article Trig. It’s so cool to learn about some of these people that were there in the beginning. Really good stuff.
June 25, 2016 @ 9:34 pm
Thanks for posting articles like these. They really help in turning me to the music of the older artists. Your album reviews and other lists turn me on to newer artists. Really enjoy the site.
June 26, 2016 @ 12:32 am
I can’t forgive myself i never heard of Curly Seckler and i didn’t know many of these infos about these great artists.That is a great article.
June 26, 2016 @ 9:45 am
June 26, 2016 @ 10:10 am
My favorite part of these articles is watching everyone bitch about them while clearly missing the entire point of the article.
June 26, 2016 @ 10:42 am
I posted basically this same exact article in January of 2015. The only thing that’s different is I added even more names, and took out the names out of the individuals who have passed since. If you go and look at that article and the comments, or look at the Facebook thread, most everyone understood what was going on. That doesn’t mean that people didn’t make suggestions of some other artists who should be included, but most everyone understood the premise.
This article, a year-and-a-half later, has been a disaster. It’s not as terrible here as it is on Facebook. There are scores of people who will never ever read Saving Country Music again because I was so insulting to the legacies of David Allan Coe and Marty Stewart (sic) for not including them on my ignorant list. Nothing else I have ever done on this website has made me fear for the future of humanity more than witnessing the reaction to this article, especially when going back and looking at the one I posted on January 2015. Aggressive, belligerent, wholesale stupidity has so prevailed over the most basic tenets of common sense in society due to the current political vitriol, it makes me want to shutter this website, and hole up in a cabin in the woods and wait for the onset of the Apocalypse. I am not just shocked at the reaction to this article, I am abhorred and full of fear a where we’re headed as a society because of it. And I mean that.
June 26, 2016 @ 10:59 am
OMG Don’t ever shut this site down, please. What about all of us fans who are too lazy or not clever enough to post worthwhile positive comments?
June 26, 2016 @ 2:09 pm
Yeah, I was actually even surprised at the reactions to this one. Hell, these are some of my favorite articles here! I’d legitimately not heard of some of those folks and it made me feel like a bad country music fan. So, I’ve spent today listening to them and now I feel like a better person again!
June 26, 2016 @ 2:13 pm
And also, please don’t shutter this website! I hate finding new artists through google because there’re so many ignorant jackasses who write horrible “reviews” that just parrot the last guy. And they either don’t proofread their shit or they just don’t know basic English.
This is my #1 go-to place for finding new country music that doesn’t suck. And, sometimes, the really old country music I’ve somehow missed in the 30 yrs of my life
June 26, 2016 @ 11:13 am
Gene Watson is another one.
Bigfoot is Real (lonesome, on'ry, and mean)
June 27, 2016 @ 7:04 am
A note about Curly Seckler’s role as a mandolin player in the Foggy Mountain Boys, if you watch the old Martha White Flour shows featuring Flatt and Scruggs you never see Curly play a lead on mandolin. This was a shot at Bill Monroe who circulated a petition at the Grand Old Opry to keep Flatt and Scruggs off the Opry stage. Curly Seckler is to my mind woefullly underappreciated as a great bluegrass musician. Again referring you back to those Martha White shows, you will see and hear what an amazing vocalist and muscian was. Thanks so very much for calling attention to him.
June 27, 2016 @ 11:25 am
WTF was Bill Monroe’s problem?
Bigfoot is Real (lonesome, on'ry, and mean)
June 27, 2016 @ 12:06 pm
Flatt and Scruggs both played in Bill’s band and left to form their own band. Bill Monroe was less than pleased by that and when he learned they were on the Opry schedule he circulated a petition to keep them along with any and all bluegrass bands other than his off the stage. Ernest Tubb actually signed it without actually reading but just to get rid of a ranting Bill however once Tubb learned what the nature of the petition was, he told Bill to remove his signature and let Bill know that Flatt and Scruggs had every right to be on the Opry stage.
June 27, 2016 @ 1:44 pm
I learn all kinds of neat stuff on this site!
June 27, 2016 @ 1:50 pm
Bigfoot was the one who reminded me Curly was still alive.
June 27, 2016 @ 5:28 pm
When Ralph passed the other day, my first thought was of Mac & Jesse being the last big Bluegrass stars left. I like reading these lists (& hate it at the same time) because sometimes they remind of artists who’d slipped my mind or who weren’t at the forefront of my radar.
I have to ask though, what’s the grudge against Loretta Lynn? I remember the list from when Lil Jim passed, and she wasn’t even mentioned despite being older than at least 7 of the artists included. Now she’s just a footnote. When the Hag passed in April I was truly devastated, not only because he was one of my all time favorites but because, for me, when it came down to it, he & Loretta were the last 2 of the “big dogs” left. I adore Shep, Tillis, and Stonewall, Jean’s contributions in particular were pioneering, but none ever reached Merle & Loretta’s universal magnitude (imo). Willie’s featured prominently on BOTH lists despite being younger than Loretta and his PERFORMING career not taking off for close to a decade after hers. While I’d never belittle Willie’s contributions to music (especially as a songwriter), I believe Loretta is the last superstar from the “Golden Age”, or at least the last that could be considered in a league with people like George Jones, Patsy, Hank etc. She’s truly the last of a breed a & (I would think) someone who should be at the forefront of any such list
June 27, 2016 @ 8:28 pm
I have to ask why anyone would think I have a “grudge” against anybody that was not included on this list.
The parameters for this list were spelled out in clear detail in the introduction:
“We’re not just talking about artists who happen to be old, but artists who knew and played with Hank Williams, witnessed Bill Monroe form bluegrass, or saw Bob Wills at the very start.”
The idea here was to highlight people who literally saw country music as we know it today forming right before their very eyes, and can tell the stories in first hand accounts.
I think Loretta Lynn is an amazing, towering legend of country music music, and I have nothing but respect for her. And honestly, to insinuate otherwise is pretty hurtful. But her commercial career didn’t start until 1960. To put it in context, at that point Don Maddox with the rest of his family had already had a 20-year career in music (they didn’t even call it country at that time. It was “hillbilly”), and had been retired for four years.
As for Willie Nelson, as I explained in the piece, he actually played and toured with Bob Wills when he was a teenager. He played with many of the early greats in country music. Loretta Lynn on the other hand didn’t start her career until she was nearly 30. None of this is a knock on Loretta in any way. It just means she’s not a living link to those nascent moments of the genre.
I could have included 100 additional names on this list, and still there would be someone saying I overlooked somebody. And the main reason for that is not the list itself. It’s because for some reason, the mentality about lists has turned from trying to learn something or discover something new, to immediately trying to discredit the list and look for omissions. What the ultimate result of that is, is that I can’t post articles like this anymore. It’s too controversial, and I waste oodles of time having to explain stuff that should be self-evident. And that sucks, because folks like Curly Sekler and Don Maddox deserve recognition. Do you think it’s going to help Loretta Lynn’s standing an iota if I include her name here? No, because she’s a legend, and even people who don’t follow country music know about her. But many of the others on this list don’t have that luxury, THAT is why I wanted to give them some love, and while they’re still alive. And somehow I have been vilified and discredited for this exercise. Articles like this are the very reason I founded Saving Country Music. But unfortunately today, people have lost their curiosity, lost their desire to discover something new, and all they want from media is their opinions reinforced. I have poured tons of ink for Loretta Lynn over the years. But I didn’t want to dim the spotlight on these important country music people by including a bunch of superstars. Many of the people included on this list spent their careers in the shadows. I wanted to give them the opportunity to be the focus. I add Loretta Lynn and others to this list, their thrust into the shadows once again.
July 4, 2016 @ 1:19 am
I don’t mean to discredit or slam the article in anyway, as I said I enjoy reading these lists (though they do make me extremely sad). I hope you continue to to do articles like this, (though I hope not because of another loss).
I was absolutely not insinuating that Curly or Don or any of the other lesser known names should have been ignored or over looked in favor of anyone else. I was simply bothered by the lack of inclusion of Loretta last year, but because of the exact reasons you mentioned I did not think it worth mentioning, especially when so many other artists I love dearly who usually don’t get their due WERE highlighted. I so appreciate you shining a light on them.
If Willie, who’s star I feel comes closest to Loretta’s, hadn’t been included I wouldn’t even have brought it up this time. I used the word “grudge” for lack of a better word, and apologize if it offended. I also apologize if I’ve become another who has made you “waste oodles of time having to explain stuff that should be self-evident”. That was absolutely not my intention, I’m pretty well versed on Country & Bluegrass from that time period, but alas it was not self evident to me and I’d like to address why.
“Do you think it’s going to help Loretta Lynn’s standing an iota if I include her name here? No, because she’s a legend, and even people who don’t follow country music know about her. I have poured tons of ink for Loretta Lynn over the years. But I didn’t want to dim the spotlight on these important country music people by including a bunch of superstars. Many of the people included on this list spent their careers in the shadows. I wanted to give them the opportunity to be the focus. I add Loretta Lynn and others to this list, their thrust into the shadows once again.” I absolutely understand all that and whole heartedly agree, however the same could be said of Willie.
“We’re not just talking about artists who happen to be old, but artists who knew and played with Hank Williams, witnessed Bill Monroe form bluegrass, or saw Bob Wills at the very start.” “As for Willie Nelson, as I explained in the piece, he actually played and toured with Bob Wills when he was a teenager.” To be specific, Willie played with Bob when he was a teenager, not when Bob was starting. “He played with many of the early greats in country music.” Okay, so did Loretta. She sang hymns with Bill Monroe, did duets with Kitty Wells, and Ernest Tubb was her singing partner for goodness sake. “Loretta Lynn on the other hand didn’t start her career until she was nearly 30….she’s not a living link to those nascent moments of the genre.” Loretta might have been close to 30, but she was a household name and star before Willie, and I believe he himself stated they rolled into town around the same time. And I couldn’t disagree with that last statement more. My point is if a case was to be made for Willie, one surely could be made for Loretta.
I know I’m nit picking a bit in that dissection, and that it’s beyond the point of the piece, but I wanted to hopefully make a case that there is method to my madness and I’m not just bitching to bitch. I was perturbed in your reasoning for Willie, yet not for Loretta, and truly wouldn’t even have mentioned it if it weren’t for that. I wholeheartedly agree with you on everything else, and am beyond thankful that you have this site and share the news and stories you do. I can’t put into words what the music & the artists from that time period mean to me, but the fact that this site exists gives me a lot of hope
July 4, 2016 @ 8:22 am
Understood Sam, no worries. I was just frustrated with how this article ended up being received. We’re all interested in the same things here.
June 28, 2016 @ 10:28 am
Trig, just tell them to go get screwed, I call these people topper’s, they all have a story or item they can top. You should just sit back and laugh like I do at these silly people who clearly know more than you and everyone else on here. You should compile your next list based on topper’s??? Seriously though I love these stories, these connections to my childhood are dwindling and I like keeping up on them! Thanks!
June 28, 2016 @ 4:38 pm
How could you forget classic era superstars Freddie Hart (turning 90 later this year) or Stonewall Jackson (84)? Both should be in the Hall of Fame and were much bigger than several of their contemporaries who are in there. And don’t forget Bonnie Guitar (93!), country’s first major female record producer and a popular star of the 1960’s, winning the Academy of Country Music Top Female Vocalist award in 1966 or Sue Thompson (soon to be 91) who while better known for her pop hits in the 1960’s, released country records from the early 1950’s to late 1970’s, including several duets with Don Gibson.
August 3, 2016 @ 5:54 am
INDUCT THE MADDOX BROS AND ROSE INTO THE HALL OF FAME!
July 9, 2019 @ 9:11 am
Unfortunately, six of these folks have died since this article was written.