Sunday, December 31, 2017

The Day The Music Died: To Those Country Music Lost in 2017


Glen Campbell
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's ever so gracious to provide wonderful tributes to honor those to whom the music we treasure just wouldn't be the same without. Thank you, K.F.

Here are the people from the world of country and bluegrass who sang their final song in 2017.

Tommy Allsup (January 11, complications from hernia surgery, age 85): album producer, western swing performer, and session guitarist who lost his seat on the ill-fated Buddy Holly plane in February 1959.

Chuck Berry (March 17, heart attack, age 90): rock and roll's daddy had a major impact on country music as well, with enough Chuck Berry-penned tunes becoming country hits to warrant his induction into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame.

Billy Joe Burnette (December 29, 2016, heart attack, age 76): rockabilly singer-songwriter who wrote the Red Sovine cross-over tear-jerker "Teddy Bear."

Dr. Benjamin H. Caldwell Jr. (May 8, long illness, age 82): a Nashville physician who did country music a gigantic favor in the 1970s by spearheading a movement to save the Ryman Auditorium from demolition.

Glen Campbell (August 8, Alzheimer's disease, age 81): session guitarist and one-time Beach Boy who became a massive success in country and pop, earning his way into the Country Music Hall of Fame. His poignant farewell albums and public battle with Alzheimer's put a familiar face on the dreaded disease.

Steve Chapman (July 29, unknown cause, age 74): guitarist who worked with Ernest Tubb, Bill Anderson, and Mandy Barnett.

Dave Evans (June 26, long illness, age 66): bluegrass performer who worked with Larry Sparks and had his own band, Dave Evans & the River Bend.

Bob Forshee (May 11, unknown cause, age 80): country music songwriter who penned Darrell McCall's early hit "A Stranger Was Here" as well as songs recorded by Jimmy C. Newman, Jan Howard, and others.

Troy Gentry (September 8, helicopter crash, age 50): half of the 90s/00s superstar duo Montgomery Gentry.

Wendell Goodman (May 21, unknown cause, age 81): husband and manager of rockabilly and country legend Wanda Jackson.

Hairl Hensley (December 31, illness, unknown age): Country Music DJ Hall of Fame member who was the voice of the Grand Ole Opry and early-morning bluegrass music on WSM for decades.

Alan Jabbour (January 13, cancer, age 74): old-time fiddler who was the founding director of the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress.

Blake Johnson (June 4, heart attack, age 33): bluegrass musician who worked with Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out, James King, and others.

Michael Johnson (July 25, long illness, age 72): singer and songwriter who had country ("Give Me Wings," "The Moon Is Still Over Her Shoulder") and pop ("This Night Won't Last Forever," "Bluer Than Blue") hits.

Danny Lee Jones (February 3, cancer, age 77): bluegrass musician who was a member of Bluegrass Alliance and the Bluegrass Generation, and worked with the Goins Brothers and Bill Monroe.

Rhubarb Jones (April 2, heart attack, age 65): Country Music DJ Hall of Fame member who also announced for the WWF.

Pete Kuykendall (August 24, long illness, age 79): bluegrass songwriter (under the pseudonym "Pete Roberts"), performer (as part of the Country Gentlemen), and promoter. His love of bluegrass led to the founding of the premiere magazine for the genre, Bluegrass Unlimited.

Sam Lovullo (January 3, natural causes, age 88): the producer of the long-running country comedy variety series Hee Haw.

Geoff Mack (July 21, natural causes, age 94): Australian country singer/songwriter whose best-known song was "Americanized" into the huge Hank Snow hit "I've Been Everywhere."

Don Markham (February 24, long illness, age 85): "Here comes Don!" was Merle Haggard's typical introduction to the saxophonist who played with Haggard's band the Strangers after leaving Johnny Paycheck's band.

Grover "G.C." McCoury (February 27, stroke, age 87): the older brother of Del McCoury had his own regional bluegrass act, the McCoury Family.

Billy Mize (November 1, long illness, age 88): Bakersfield Sound singer and songwriter, best-known for writing the Charlie Walker hit "Who Will Buy the Wine."

Leon Rhodes (December 10, illness, age 85): one of the great guitarists in country music who made a huge mark on the sound of Ernest Tubb (remember Tubb's call of "and Leon!" in "Waltz Across Texas").

Kayton Roberts (July 13, stroke, age 83): Steel Guitar Hall of Fame member who played for years with Hank Snow.

Curly Seckler (December 27, natural causes, age 98): Bluegrass Hall of Fame member who was part of Charlie Monroe's Kentucky Partners, Flatt & Scruggs' Foggy Mountain Boys and member of Flatt's "Nashville Grass."

Mark Selby (September 18, cancer, age 56): session musician (Kenny Rogers, Wynonna), singer, and songwriter (including the Grammy-winning "There's Your Trouble" by the Dixie Chicks).

Ben Speers (April 7, Alzheimer's disease, age 86): member of the legendary southern gospel group the Speers Family.

Billy Stewart (March 24, illness, age 85): the brother of Redd Stewart who served as fiddler for Little Jimmy Dickens, Lonzo & Oscar, and others on the Opry in the 1950s.

Tammy Sullivan (April 21, cancer, age 52): part of the bluegrass gospel band the Sullivan Family.

Mel Tillis (November 19, respiratory failure, age 85): Hall of Fame singer and songwriter with a career that spanned six decades.

Greg Trooper (January 15, pancreatic cancer, age 61): Americana singer/songwriter who had his songs covered by acts such as Steve Earle and Vince Gill.

Jo Walker-Meador (August 16, stroke, age 93): the longest-serving executive director of the Country Music Foundation, she was responsible for the expansion of the CMA, the Hall of Fame, and country music as an industry.

Don Warden (March 11, natural causes, age 87): Steel Guitar Hall of Fame member who played in Porter Wagoner's band and became Dolly Parton's manager beginning in 1967.

Don Williams (September 8, short illness, age 78): Country Music Hall of Fame singer and songwriter known as "the Gentle Giant" for his quiet baritone voice that delivered over 40 years' worth of love songs to the world.

Norro Wilson (June 8, illness, age 79): Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame member who wrote songs ranging from "The Grand Tour" to "A Very Special Love Song."

Bob Wootton (April 9, unknown cause, age 75): longtime guitarist for Johnny Cash's "Tennessee Three" who joined the band after Luther Perkins' death.

Gil Wright (April 30, unknown cause, age 87): member of the legendary background vocal group the Anita Kerr Singers.

Joe Wright (January 3, unknown cause, age 79): the original lead guitarist for Marty Robbins' backing band, the Teardrops.

Farewell, and thank you for the music.

And finally, sadly:

Hannah Ahlers, 34, Beaumont, CA
Heather Alvarado, 35, Enoch, UT
Dorene Anderson, 49, Anchorage, AK
Carrie Barnette, 34, Garden Grove, CA
Jack Beaton, 54, Bakersfield, CA
Steve Berger, 44, Milwaukee, WI
Candice Bowers, 40, Garden Grove, CA
Denise Burditus, 50, Martinsburg, WV
Sandy Casey, 35, Redondo Beach, CA
Andrea Castilla, 28, Huntington Beach, CA
Denise Cohen, 58, Carpinteria, CA
Austin Davis, 29, Riverside, CA
Thomas Day Jr., 54, Corona, CA
Christiana Duarte, 22, Torrance, CA
Stacee Etcheber, 50, Novato, CA
Brian Fraser, 39, Walnut, CA
Dana Gardner, 52, Grand Terrace, CA
Keri Galvan, 51, Thousand Oaks, CA
Angie Gomez, 20, Riverside, CA
Charleston Hartfield, 34, Las Vegas, NV
Christopher Hazencomb, 44, Camarillo, CA
Jennifer Irvine, 42, San Diego, CA
Nicol Kimura, 38, Placentia, CA
Jessica Klymchuk, 34, Valleyview, Alberta
Carly Kreibaum, 33, Sutherland, IA
Rhonda LeRocque, 42, Tewksbury, MA
Victor Link, 55, San Clemente, CA
Jordan McIldoon, 23, Maple Ridge, British Columbia
Kelsey Meadows, 28, Taft, CA
Calla Medig, 28, Jasper, Alberta
Sonny Melton, 29, Paris, TN
Pati Mestas, 67, Menifee, CA
Austin Meyer, 24, Reno, NV
Adrian Murfitt, 35, Anchorage, AK
Rachel Parker, 33, Manhattan Beach, CA
Jennifer Parks, 36, Lancaster, CA
Carrie Parsons, 31, Seattle, WA
Lisa Patterson, 46, Rancho Palos Verdes, CA
John Phippen, 57, Valencia, CA
Melissa Ramirez, 26, Bakersfield, CA
Jordyn Rivera, 21, San Bernardino, CA
Quintin Robbins, 20, Henderson, NV
Cameron Robinson, 28, St. George, UT
Rocio Guillen Rocha, 40, Eastvale, CA
Lisa Romero-Muniz, 48, Gallup, NM
Christopher Roybal, 28, Denver, CO
Brett Schwanbeck, 61, Bullhead City, AZ
Bailey Schweitzer, 20, Bakersfield, CA
Laura Shipp, 50, Thousand Oaks, CA
Erick Silva, 21, Las Vegas, NV
Susan Smith, 53, Simi Valley, CA
Tara Roe Smith, 34, Okotoks, Alberta
Brennan Stewart, 30, Las Vegas, NV
Derrick "Bo" Taylor, 56, Oxnard, CA
Neysa Tonks, 46, Las Vegas, NV
Michelle Vo, 32, Los Angeles, CA
Kurt Von Tillow, 55, Cameron Park, CA
Bill Wolfe, Jr., 42, Shippensburg, PA

These fifty eight individuals were killed when a gunman opened fire on 22,000 fans at an outdoor country music concert headlined by Jason Aldean on October 1 in Las Vegas. Additionally, 546 other concertgoers were injured.

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