Field Reportings from Issue #35
COUNTRY HALL’S CLASS OF 2001: Between its founding in 1961 and the year 2000, the Country Music Hall of Fame inducted just 74 individuals, duos, or groups. On October 4, the Hall will welcome a whopping twelve new inductees, in conjunction with this year’s unveiling of its new home in downtown Nashville. The class of 2001 includes three legendary brother duos. Alabama duo the DELMORE BROTHERS (Alton and Rabon) were perhaps the Grand Ole Opry’s most popular act in 1936. An influence on most duos who came in their wake, the Delmores recorded such enduring standards as “Blues Stay Away From Me” and “Nashville Blues”….
A later Alabama duo, the LOUVIN BROTHERS (Ira and Charlie Loudermilk), were so enthralled by the Delmores that in 1960 they recorded a tribute album to the brothers. The Louvins proved more important than their heroes, going on to influence practically every country act who ever attempted to sing close harmonies. Their popularity peaked with their mid-’50s work on Capitol, including the chart-topper “I Don’t Believe You’ve Met My Baby”….
Already members of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the EVERLY BROTHERS (Phil and Don) had crossover hits (such as the 1957 pop and country smash “Bye Bye Love”) that were written by Music City tunesmiths and recorded with Nashville session men. This was an innovative notion 40 years ago. Several of the Everlys’ classic hits were penned by Hall of Famers Felice & Boudleaux Bryant….
Comedic duo HOMER & JETHRO (Homer Haynes and Kenneth Burns) were song satirists who won a Grammy in 1959 for “The Battle Of Kookamonga”, a parody Johnny Horton’s “The Battle Of New Orleans”. The duo combined sharp wit with instrumental virtuosity….
WAYLON JENNINGS began his career in the late ’50s as a bassist for Buddy Holly. Jennings signed with RCA in 1965; by the early ’70s, he was a long-haired leader of the “outlaw movement.” Like his maverick pal Willie Nelson, Jennings was uncomfortable working within the strict artistic parameters established by Nashville’s record labels. He contributed several cuts to 1976’s Wanted: The Outlaws, country music’s first million-selling album….
Singer-songwriter BILL ANDERSON has topped the charts with classics such as “Still” and “Mama Sang A Song”. Recitations are a trademark of his gentle vocal style. Lefty Frizzell, Ray Price, Connie Smith, and Porter Wagoner are a few acts who have scored major hits with Anderson compositions. A pioneering TV host, Whisperin’ Bill has long been a mainstay at the Opry, which he joined in 1961….
Honky-tonk hero WEBB PIERCE is remembered today almost as much for his flashy style as he is for his thirteen #1 hits. Pierce, who drove a silver-dollar-studded car and swam in a guitar-shaped swimming pool at his Nashville home, recorded classics such as “In The Jailhouse Now”, “Why, Baby, Why”, and “I Ain’t Never”….
DON GIBSON has recorded over 500 songs, including 70 charted hits between 1956 and 1980. On the same day in 1957, he wrote the masterpieces “Oh Lonesome Me” and “I Can’t Stop Loving You”. A prolific songwriter, Gibson also penned “Sweet Dreams”, which was a hit for himself, Faron Young, and, of course, Patsy Cline….
One of the world’s most famous vocal groups, the JORDANAIRES were a successful gospel quartet long before they reached a broader audience as background singers on country and pop records. Red Foley, Elvis Presley, Hank Snow and dozens of other acts have benefited from the group’s seamless harmonies….
The founder of Sun Records in Memphis, Alabama native SAM PHILLIPS discovered a young singer named Elvis Presley. He also helped launch the careers of other legends, including Johnny Cash, B.B. King, Howlin’ Wolf, Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison, Carl Perkins, and Charlie Rich. After selling Sun in 1969, Phillips retired from the music business….
Producer DON LAW headed Columbia’s country division in the ’50s and ’60s, recording hits for Marty Robbins, Ray Price, Lefty Frizzell, Carl Smith, Jimmy Dean, and Johnny Horton. Law also produced the work of Robert Johnson, creating what are arguably the most important recordings in blues music history….
A contemporary of Law’s, KEN NELSON headed Capitol’s country division in the ’50s and ’60s. He produced hits for Merle Haggard, Buck Owens, Hank Thompson, Wanda Jackson, Jean Shepard, and the Louvin Brothers. Nelson was a key figure in establishing the Country Music Association, and served two terms as its president. The 90-year-old resides in Southern California.