Tommy Collins / Bill Woods / Gary Hogue / Adolph Hofner
March 14: Tommy Collins, 69, one of the early exponents of the Bakersfield Sound. Born Leonard Raymond Sipes, Collins recorded for Capitol during the mid-’50s but gave up his career to heed a call to the ministry, only to return to songwriting and performing in the ’60s. Among numerous other hits, Collins penned “If You Ain’t Lovin’ (You Ain’t Livin’)” for Faron Young, as well as “Carolyn” and “The Roots Of My Raising” for Merle Haggard. His wry songwriting style was a big influence on the likes of Haggard, Roger Miller and Hank Cochran.
April 25: Bill Woods, 75, the “Father of the Bakersfield Sound,” got his start touring with Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys. After moving to Texas in the ’40s, Woods formed his own band, the Orange Blossom Playboys; the group later became the house band at the vaunted Bakersfield honky-tonk the Blackboard. Woods recorded for Modern Records in the late ’40s and, subsequently, for other labels, including Capitol. Buck Owens and Merle Haggard both apprenticed in Woods’ band before their careers took off.
May 14: Gary Hogue, 46, steel guitar player for Marty Stuart, Hank Thompson, Ray Price and Gary Stewart, and a member of the Steel Guitar Hall of Fame and the Grand Ole Opry.
June 2: Adolph Hofner, 83, Texas bandleader-singer-guitarist. Influenced by Milton Brown and Bing Crosby, Hofner recorded for a number of labels, including a version of Floyd Tillman’s “It Makes No Difference Now” for Bluebird in 1938. Hofner and his band, the Pearl Wranglers, were regulars on the Texas dancehall circuit for more than a half-century until health problems sidelined him in the mid-’90s.