Monday, January 6, 2014

A Case For The Next 2014 Country Music Hall of Fame Inductees

Election to the Country Music Hall of Fame is country music's highest honor. The Country Music Association (CMA), the country music industry's trade organization, created the accolade to recognize significant contributions to the advancement of country music by individuals in both the creative and business communities. The first members-Jimmie Rodgers, Fred Rose, and Hank Williams-were inducted in 1961.

It’s also quite possibly one of the more debatable arguments in country music. Each time a column is posted here (or on sites such as The 9513 and Engine 145 that I contribute to as well), omissions are complained about and oversights are pleaded. And as we turn the page, let’s start the debate on who will be selected for this year’s class.

In 2009, the Hall changed the way it categorizes its selectees. Three new members will continue to be inducted every year, with one each coming from the new categories, which will be renamed and defined as follows:

Modern Era: An artist becomes eligible for induction in this category 20 years after they first achieve national prominence. They will remain eligible for that category for the next 25 years. This replaces the former “Career Achieved National Prominence Between 1975 and the Present” category.

Veterans Era: An artist becomes eligible for induction in this category 45 years after they first achieve national prominence. This combines the former “Career Achieved National Prominence Between World War II and 1975″ (which was voted on annually) and “Career Achieved National Prominence Prior to World War II” (which was voted on every third year in rotation) categories into one.

Rotating Categories: The third slot will continue to be a rotating category, with each group in the spotlight every third year. The Recording and/or Touring Musician and Non Performer slots will remain, joined by a new Songwriter category. 2014’s selection will come from the songwriter category.
These are the ones that we believe should be inducted- and hopefully not posthumously for those still alive on this list.

10. John Denver- Might as well start with the most controversial first. In 1975, previous Country Music Association Entertainer of the Year Charlie Rich set fire to Denver’s winning envelope rather than announce the win. Some considered it a statement against country pop and the Music Row-controlled Nashville Sound. But looking closer, he was one of the top album sellers in the 70’s, won several country music awards, 2 Grammys, and his hits “Take Me Home”, “Rocky Mountain High” and “Thank God I’m A Country Boy” are sing-along standards.

9. Jerry Reed- The CMHOF has a history of inviting comedians and actors (Minnie Pearl) and Jerry Reed belongs in. Jerry Reed, was an country music singer, country guitarist, session musician, songwriter and actor who appeared in over a dozen films. As a singer, he may be best known for Amos Moses, and When You're Hot, You're Hot, for which he received a Grammy in 1972 and East Bound and Down, the theme song to the film Smokey and the Bandit in which he portrayed the "Snowman", Cledus Snow.

8. Charlie Daniels- The man who made southern country/rock a new genre, he should be in for his fiddling ability alone. “The Devil Went Down To Georgia” is quite possibly the most recognizable country song ever recorded- he’s been a music hero for close to 40 years.

7. The Judds- As one of the most successful acts in country music history, Wynonna and Naomi Judd won five Grammy Awards for Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal, and eight Country Music Association awards. The duo also charted twenty-five singles on the country music charts between 1983 and 2000, fourteen of which went to Number One and six more of which made Top Ten on the same chart.

6. Randy Travis- Travis has recorded more than a dozen important studio albums and single-handedly started the neo-traditionalist movement in the 80’s. He charted more than thirty singles on the Billboard Hot Country Songs charts, of which sixteen have reached Number One.

5. Dallas Frazier (tie)- Frazier is the songwriter’s songwriter.His tunes were recorded by George Jones (who recorded an entire album of Frazier's songs in 1968), Engelbert Humperdinck, Jerry Lee Lewis, Jack Greene, Connie Smith (who also recorded an entire album of Frazier's songs in 1972), Willie Nelson, Brenda Lee, Carola, Charley Pride, Merle Haggard, Gene Watson, Elvis Presley, Moe Bandy, Roy Head, Rodney Crowell, Dan McCafferty, and Ronnie Hawkins. Many of the songs became hits into the 1980s; examples include the Oak Ridge Boys cover of "Elvira" and Emmylou Harris's version of "Beneath Still Waters". Anne Murray with Glen Campbell, George Strait, Randy Travis, and Patty Loveless have all also recorded Frazier tunes.

5. Hank Cochran (tie)- This being a songwriter year category, another great candidate that should be considered for selection is the veritable everyman songwriter Hank Cochran. Eddy Arnold, Patsy Cline, Waylon Jennings, Natalie Cole, Elvis Costello, Bing Crosby, Ella Fitzgerald, Mickey Gilley, Vern Gosdin, Merle Haggard, Burl Ives, Jamey Johnson, George Jones, Norah Jones, Loretta Lynn, Henry Mancini, Dean Martin, Reba McEntire, Ronnie Milsap, Brad Paisley, Johnny Paycheck, Elvis Presley, Ray Price, Jim Reeves, Linda Ronstadt, Dinah Shore, Nancy Sinatra, George Strait, Hank Williams Jr, Lee Ann Womack, and Keith Whitley are just some of the artists who have cut Cochran-penned tunes. The only melancholy part of this selection would be that Cochran passed away back in 2010.

4. Oak Ridge Boys- While their history dates back much further, they had a run of twelve years from 1977 to 1989 where they were THE band until they gave way to Alabama. Can anyone NOT sing all the words to their biggest hit Elvira?

3. Alan Jackson- An accomplished songwriter, Jackson wrote much of his first album, which remained on the U.S. country charts for more than a year. His next two albums, Don't Rock the Jukebox (1991) and A Lot About Livin' (and a Little 'Bout Love) (1992) were even bigger hits, spawning five No.1 singles each. Notable among these hits were "Love's Got a Hold on You," "Midnight in Montgomery" (Jackson's tribute to the legendary country star Hank Williams), and "Chattahoochee." With the 1994 release of his fifth album, Who I Am, Jackson's record sales reached a total of over 10 million. Throughout the course of his career, Jackson has been honored with over 45 awards from organizations like the Academy of Country Music (ACM) and the Country Music Association (CMA). He released his Greatest Hits album in 1995 and won eight major awards, including CMA Entertainer of the Year.

2. Hank Williams, Jr.- He is another long overdue selection. He had two careers, each of them probably worthy of induction. His early standards Eleven Roses are just as HOF-worthy as his later standards like Family Tradition. Put him in with a plaque right next to his father.

1. Ronnie Milsap- One of the top recording artists of the 1970’s and 1980’s, Ronnie Milsap is credited with forty number-one songs on the country charts, third only to George Strait and Conway Twitty. 40. Amazing career.

Consideration should also be given to Jim Ed Brown and The Browns, Dwight Yoakam, the Wilburn Brothers, Paul Overstreet, Linda Ronstadt, Larry Gatlin, Ricky Skaggs, Alison Krauss & Union Station (someday), Crystal Gayle, Rose Maddox, Tanya Tucker, Anne Murray and Brooks and Dunn. Hopefully, all will eventually be elected.


  1. Ronnie Milsap should have been inducted long ago.

    Re Denver, you might have mentioned his songwriting. John Denver is a member of the Songwriter's Hall of Fame. Here are some of his credits:

    Songs solely written by John Denver:

    - singles:

    Leaving On a Jet Plane

    Follow Me

    Goodbye Again

    I'd Rather Be a Cowboy

    Farewell Andromeda (Welcome to My Morning)

    Annie's Song

    Back Home Again

    Sweet Surrender

    I'm Sorry


    Fly Away

    Looking For Space

    It Makes Me Giggle

    Like a Sad Song

    My Sweet Lady

    How Can I Leave You Again

    I Want to Live

    Downhill Stuff

    What's On Your Mind

    Dancing with the Mountains

    Shanghai Breezes

    Seasons of the Heart

    Perhaps Love

    Wild Montana Skies

    Love Again

    Dreamland Express

    Country Girl in Paris

    - album tracks:


    Two Shots

    Poems, Prayers & Promises

    This Old Guitar

    Rhymes & Reasons

    Sleepin' Alone

    Starwood in Aspen

    Annie's Other Song

    For Baby (For Bobbie)

    Rocky Mountain Suite (Cold Nights in Canada)

    The Music Is You

    Singing Skies and Dancing Waters

    Wrangle Mountain Song

    JD co-writes with collaborators listed after the title:

    - singles:

    Take Me Home, Country Roads - Bill & Taffy Danoff

    Rocky Mountain High - lyrics by JD, music by Mike Taylor & JD

    Sunshine on My Shoulder - lyrics by JD, music by Dick Kniss, Mike Taylor & JD

    - album tracks:

    Dearest Esmeralda - Bill Danoff

    Shipmates and Cheyenne - music by JD, lyics by Joe Henry.

    Spirit - Joe Henry

    Windsong- Joe Henry

    Come and Let Me Look in Your Eyes - Joe Henry

    Love is Everywhere - music by John Summers, words by JD, JH, Summers and Steve Weisberg.

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  2. Linda Ronstadt !!!!!!! There is no justice in these Hall of Fames until the most gorgeous voice of the rock and roll era is inducted. She brought country to hard rockin' audiences and her musicianship is remarkable. Viva Linda

  3. None of the names mentioned are unreasonable and most should get in over the next ten years or so. All depends on the voters. It strikes me that nobody ever mentions Asleep at the Wheel or Chris Hillman. Asleep at the Wheel has upheld the Western Swing Tradition better than anybody over the last thirty years and it's been a long time since anybody who specializes in Western Swing has gotten in. Bob Wills can't be the only one worthy of membership. And Chris Hillman, along with Gram Parsons (who should also be on the list) and Linda Ronstadt, really promoted the "countryer" side of country rock and had significant influence on country music through his bluegrass work, his duo work with Herb Pedersen and his mainstream Desert Rose Band.

    And don't forget the second version of the Carter Family - Maybelle and her girls. Maybelle's in, but all three girls should be in there, too.

  4. I think that Jack Green, Wynn Stewart, Ricky Skaggs and Keith Whitley all deserve to be inducted. I agree that the songwriter should come down to Dallas Frazier and Hank Cochran.

  5. When I’m looking for the latest country music, I always end up in one spot – 103.1 WIRK. I was even lucky enough to catch up with Keith Van Allen in the streets and got free ‘Rib Round Up’ tickets. Just one of the many events that keep me tuned into

  6. Mary Ann BatemanMarch 8, 2014 at 4:40 PM

    Gene Watson should be in CNHF. Great singer for over 50 years. Already in Texas Hall of Fame. Best in country music!!

  7. ronnie milsap,tanya tucker,charlie daniels, the judds, crystal gayle and the great ray charles should all be in the hall of fame ! come on people get it together and put these great artists in the hall of fame where the belong

  8. Hank Williams Jr should have been inducted 10 years ago. Charlie Daniels,Ronnie Milsap, Jack Greene and Gene Watson!

  9. I would agree with this list for those who have been most oversighted. I would add Ray Stevens,who is the most popular comedic singer/songwriter with a very long career, who also had huge non-novelty songs. June Carter who was such a legendary personality rivaling Minnie Pearl and Grandpa Jones(who are unductees) even if she didn't have many hits. Keith Whitley showed so much promise;and could have taken 90's country in a different direction;as well as John Anderson before him. Lyn Anderson had a vocal ability unlike any female in history;and I have seen her name on other lists of contenders. Cant mention Lynn without mentioning Donna Fargo, who had her own unique style that was a huge success.

  10. I'd love to see some of my favorite ladies make it in -- Wanda Jackson, Lynn Anderson, Dottie West, and especially The Judds.