Wednesday, January 1, 2014

The Curtain Falls On Many Country Music Voices in 2013

George Jones (1931- 2013)
K.F. Raizor, author of the website Raizor's Edge and the book We Can't Sing and We Ain't Funny: The World of Homer and Jethro is our guest writer today on That Nashville Sound. She lists some of the musicians and singers we lost along the way in country music this year. She's ever so gracious to provide a wonderful tribute each year to honor those to whom the music we treasure just wouldn't be the same without. Thank you, K.F.

Here are the performers who sang their final notes in 2013:

Charlie Acuff (November 22, natural causes, age 94):  east Tennessee fiddler and radio star who, unlike his famous second cousin Roy Acuff, stayed in his home region and entertained for decades.

Keith Adkinson (June 18, unknown cause, age 69):  Nashville music attorney who successfully proved that Jett Williams was indeed the daughter of Hank Williams.  He was also Jett's husband.

Leon Ashley (October 20, illness, age 77):  a history-making singer:  he wrote, published and released a song on his own, and it went to #1.  The song was the classic "Laura (What's He Got I Ain't Got)."

Homer Bailes (December 3, natural causes, age 91):  the final surviving member of the legendary Bailes Brothers band, inductees in the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame and the first act from West Virginia to become members of the Grand Ole Opry.

Bob Beckham (November 11, unknown cause, age 86):  singer with the 1959 hit "Just As Much As Ever" who later became a publisher and mentor of acts such as Kris Kristofferson and Ray Stevens.

Don Bowman (June 5, complications from a stroke, age 75):  the comedian behind "Wildwood Weed" (the 1974 Jim Stafford hit) and "Chit Akins, Make Me a Star" also wrote serious songs with Waylon Jennings ("Just to Satisfy You") and served as the original host of radio's American Country Countdown.

Charles Carr (July 1, brief illness, age 79):  the man who, as an 18-year-old college freshman, drove Hank Williams from Montgomery to Knoxville, then into history when the legendary singer died during the night in the back seat of the car.

Cowboy Jack Clement (August 8, liver cancer, age 82):  one of the 2013 Country Hall of Fame inductees, Cowboy Jack's career spanned seven decades as a singer, songwriter, producer, publisher, studio owner....and just being Cowboy Jack.

Tony Douglas (January 22, lymphoma, age 82):  singer best known for his 1963 hit "His and Hers."

Chet Flippo (June 19, long illness, age 69):  a journalist's journalist, Flippo penned the first extensive biography of Hank Williams (Your Cheatin' Heart in 1981) and served for years as the country music writer for Billboard and CMT.

Jim Foglesong (July 9, natural causes, age 90):  Hall of Fame music executive who helped launch the careers of the likes of Don Williams, George Strait and Garth Brooks.

Tompall Glaser (August 13, long illness, age 75):  a performer who enjoyed a long career with his brothers (as Tompall & the Glaser Brothers) and was one-fourth of the quartet (with Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings and Jessi Colter) on the landmark Wanted!  The Outlaws, country's first platinum album, in 1976.

Chuck Goff (February 27, car wreck, age 54):  bassist and bandleader for singer Toby Keith.

Jack Greene (March 14, Alzheimer's disease, age 83):  from the "singing drummer" of Ernest Tubb's Texas Troubadours he rose to fame with the massive hits "Statue of a Fool" and "There Goes My Everything," the latter of which became the CMA's first "song of the year" award winner.

Sidney "Hardrock" Gunter (March 15, pneumonia, age 88):  Alabama-based pre-rockabilly singer who wrote the Red Foley smash hit "Birmingham Bounce."

Sherman Halsey (October 29, unknown cause, age 56):  son of Nashville managing legend Jim Halsey and video producer/director for several country artists including Dwight Yoakam, Brooks & Dunn and the Oak Ridge Boys.

Sammy Johns (January 4, unknown cause, age 66):  singer/songwriter who wrote songs such as Conway Twitty's "Desperado Love" and John Conlee's "Common Man," he also had a massive pop (and minor country) hit with "Chevy Van."

George Jones (April 26, hypoxic respiratory failure, age 81):  in the dictionary, next to the term "country music," it says, "See George Jones."

Claude King (March 7,  natural causes, age 90):  an original member of the Louisiana Hayride who shot to international success with his 1962 smash "Wolverton Mountain."

Nelson Larkin (November 18, unknown causes, age 70):  producer of Earl Thomas Conley's string of hits as well as a songwriter and publisher.

Johnny MacRae (July 3, heart disease, age 84):  songwriter who penned such hits as "Whiskey, If You Were a Woman" and "I'd Be Better Off in a Pine Box."

Lorene Mann (May 24, stroke, age 76):  a founding member of the Nashville Songwriters Association, the singer/songwriter wrote "Don't Go Near the Indians" (one of Rex Allen's biggest hits) and "Left to Right" (a hit for Kitty Wells), as well as recorded duets with Justin Tubb and Archie Campbell.

Mindy McCready (February 17, suicide [gunshot], age 37):  troubled modern country singer who took her own life a month after her boyfriend David Wilson killed himself.

Wayne Mills (November 25, shot to death, age 44):  a honky tonk singer who had performed dates with Jamey Johnson, he was nearing completion of a new album when he was shot by a Nashville bar owner during an argument.

Patti Page (January 1, long illness, age 85):  although primarily a pop vocalist, Pee Wee King & Redd Stewart's song "Tennessee Waltz" became her biggest hit and her signature tune -- along with one of the state songs of Tennessee.

Frank Page (January 10, pneumonia, age 87):  a DJ Hall of Fame member who spent decades on Shreveport's KWKH station, including working as an announcer on the Louisiana Hayride.

Jody Payne (August 10, heart disease, age 77):  guitarist for Willie Nelson's band.

Ray Price (December 16, pancreatic cancer, age 87):  a country singer's country singer, his career spanned eight decades and spawned countless hits including the Grammy-winning "For the Good Times."

Marvin Rainwater (September 17, heart failure, age 88):  singer with a string of hits in the 1950's, most famously, "Gonna Find Me a Bluebird."

Ramblin' Tommy Scott (September 30, injuries from an August 10 car wreck, age 96):  performer who worked with Charlie Monroe's Kentucky Partners, appeared frequently on the Grand Ole Opry in the 1940's and early 50's, and toured under the billing of "the Last Real Medicine Show."

Jim Shumate (September 30, natural causes, age 91):  Bill Monroe's Blue Grass Boys fiddler from 1943 until 1945.  He recommended Earl Scruggs to Monroe and later played on early Flatt & Scruggs sessions.

Johnny Sibert (December 21, long illness, age 80):  Steel Guitar Hall of Fame member who put the signature sound behind Carl Smith.

Cal Smith (October 10, unknown cause, age 81):  one of two former Texas Troubadours to die this year (with Jack Greene), Smith, like Greene, left Tubb and embarked on a CMA Award-winning career, highlighted by "Country Bumpkin," "The Lord Knows I'm Drinking," and "It's Time to Pay the Fiddler."

Gordon Stoker (March 27, long illness, age 88):  the tenor singer in the Hall of Fame vocal group the Jordanaires.

Rex Trailer (January 9, pneumonia, age 84):  a country music performer in the 50s who worked with Bill Haley, he later became well-known for his regional TV series Rex Trailer's Boomtown.

Tom Tall (ne Tommie Lee Guthrie) (June 14, unknown cause, age 75):  country and rockabilly singer best known for singing "Are You Mine" with Ginny Wright in the 1950's.

Slim Whitman (June 19, heart failure, age 90):  the southpaw guitar-playing yodeler who saved the world in Mars Attacks!, Whitman amassed nearly a dozen top ten hits and three gold singles in a career that spanned eight decades.

John Wilkinson (January 11, cancer, age 67):  guitarist for Elvis Presley's touring TCB band.

Farewell, and thank you for the music.


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