Country music pianist extraordinaire Floyd Cramer was the first of several recent losses of country legends when he passed away in Nashville on New Year's Eve after a long battle with cancer. Floyd, along with saxophonist Boots Randolph and guitarist Chet Atkins, is credited with helping create the "Nashville Sound." He is best known for the song "Last Date" which went all the way to #2 on the pop charts in 1960. He played on many country hits, including Elvis Presley's "Heartbreak Hotel," and he recorded more than 50 solo albums of his own. Floyd was named Country Music Association Instrumentalist of the Year multiple times.
Music pioneer Owen Bradley passed away January 7 at the age of 82. Owen, who was born October 21, 1915, died in a Nashville area hospital. He was influential in the development of the careers of numerous stars, including Loretta Lynn, Conway Twitty, Patsy Cline, Kitty Wells, Brenda Lee, Red Foley, Bill Anderson, and Webb Pierce. In the 1930's, Owen began his career at WSM radio where he rose through the ranks from "spot man" to Musical Director. In 1955, he, along with his brother, opened a recording studio on 16th Avenue, which is now known as "Music Row." In the late 1950's, Owen left WSM to open the Nashville division of Decca Records, where he served as Vice President. He produced albums for many of the biggest stars in Nashville. Owen continued producing throughout the rest of his life. He has received numerous honors, including being inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1974, the Academy of Country Music's Pioneer Award in 1976, and the Heritage Award in 1997.
80-year-old country singer/songwriter Cliffie Stone, who popularized country music on the West coast following World War II, passed away at his California home January 16 after suffering a heart attack. Cliffie was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1989 and is the father of Curtis Stone, a one-time member of the country band Highway 101. Besides Curtis, Cliffie is survived by his wife Joan, two other sons, and one daughter.
The "King of Rockabilly," 65-year-old Carl Perkins, passed away January 19 at 10:30 AM at Jackson-Madison County General Hospital in his hometown of Jackson, Tennessee from complications related to three strokes the legend suffered in November and December. Best known for his classic tune "Blue Suede Shoes," Carl helped pioneer the genre of music known as "rockabilly," a combination of country and rhythm-and-blues music. Carl also wrote hits such as "Dixie Fried," Johnny Cash's "Daddy Sang Bass," and The Beatles' "Honey Don't," "Everybody's Trying To Be My Baby," and "Matchbox."
Carl is survived by his wife, Valda, sons Steve, Stan, and Greg, and his daughter Debra.
Last month, country music swept the music categories on the 24th Annual People's Choice Awards, which recognize achievement in television, music, and movies. Garth Brooks beat out Elton John and George Strait to capture the title of Favorite Male Musical Performer, while co-host Reba McEntire tied with Whitney Houston for the Favorite Female Musical Performer Award.
The winners of the People's Choice Awards were selected by participants in a nationwide Gallup poll.
Not only was 1997 special for Tim McGraw and Faith Hill because they celebrated their first wedding anniversary and welcomed their first child, daughter Gracie Katherine, into the world, but their magical duet "It's Your Love" was named the #1 song of the year byBillboard Magazine. Tim and Faith may have landed at #1, but country veteran George Strait and hot newcomer Trace Adkins landed in the Top 10 list with two songs each. George captured the #2 and #3 spots with "One Night At A Time" and "Carrying Your Love With Me" respectively. Newlywed Trace Adkins' "(This Ain't) No Thinkin' Thing" was named the #7 song of 1997, while "I Left Something Turned On At Home" charted at #10.
Crooner Collin Raye captured the #4 spot with "On The Verge," followed by Diamond Rio's "How Your Love Makes Me Feel" at #5, and Clay Walker's "Rumor Has It" at #6. Coming in at #8 was Tracy Lawrence with "Better Man, Better Off," and Kenny Chesney took up residence at #9 with "She's Got It All."
It was a record year for 15-year-old country princess LeAnn Rimes, as is evident byBillboard Magazine's Top 10 Country Albums of 1997 chart. LeAnn landed in the Top 10 with all three of her albums released-to-date. Her debut released, titledBlue, was named the #1 country album of the year, while herUnchained Melody: The Early Years captured the #3 spot, and her recently releasedYou Light Up My Life: Inspirational Songs landed at #6.
Hot newcomer Deana Carter's debut album,Did I Shave My Legs For This?, captured the #2 spot, while George Strait'sCarrying Your Love With Me landed at #4, followed by Tim McGraw'severywhere at #6. Alan Jackson came in at #7 withEverything I Love, followed by Trisha Yearwood'sSongbook: A Collection of Hits, and Reba McEntire'sWhat If It's You. Clint Black rounds out the Top 10 Country Albums list withThe Greatest Hits.
Needless to say, country megastar Garth Brooks toppedAmusement Business Magazine's list of the Top 10 Country Tours of 1997. Garth grossed over $24 million with an attendance of 1,331,617 fans at 98 sold-out shows. This is no shabby accomplishment since Garth kept his ticket prices under $20, unlike many other country acts this year. Reba McEntire and Brooks & Dunn's mega-tour was ranked the second most profitable country concert of the year, grossing nearly $22 million with an attendance of 552,814.
Alan Jackson was the third most successful box-office draw with a gross of over $16 million dollars in ticket sales of 755,212. Vince Gill's tour landed at #4 with a gross of nearly $9 million with an attendance of 397,607, followed by George Strait at #5, grossing $5 million dollars with an attendance of 208,626 fans at a mere seven shows this year.
The Fruit of the Loom Country Comfort Tour starring Hank Williams, Jr., Travis Tritt, Charlie Daniels, and Jo Dee Messina was the sixth most profitable tour of '97 with ticket sales of $4.6 million. Reba McEntire's solo tour ranked #7 with $4.3 million, Tim McGraw was #8 with $4.1 million, John Michael Montgomery landed at #9 with $4 million, and Clay Walker rounds out the list of the 10 most successful country tours of 1997 with $2.4 million.
At press time, the legendary Grandpa Jones ofHee Haw fame remained in critical condition after suffering a stroke at the Grand Ole Opry House January 3. Grandpa was rushed to the hospital after complaining of dizziness following three performances on that Saturday night's Opry. Grandpa remained in Nashville's Baptist Hospital's intensive care unit. His wife Ramona deeply appreciates all the tokens of love and concern that have been sent. Anyone wishing to send cards or notes to Grandpa and his family can address them to: Baptist Hospital, 2000 Church Street, Nashville, TN 37236.
Deana Carter and Clint Black announced the nominees for the 40th Annual Grammy Awards last month at New York's Radio City Music Hall, while hot newcomer Lee Ann Womack read the list of nominees in Nashville. The awards will be presented on February 25th in New York. And the nominees are...
Female Country Vocal Performance: "Did I Shave My Legs For This?" - Deana Carter; "The Trouble With The Truth" - Patty Loveless; "How Do I Live" - LeAnn Rimes; "All The Good Ones Are Gone" - Pam Tillis; and "How Do I Live" - Trisha Yearwood.Male Country Vocal Performance: "Something That We Do" - Clint Black; "Rusty Cage" - Johnny Cash; "Pretty Little Adriana" - Vince Gill; "Peach Pickin' Time Down In Georgia" - Willie Nelson; and "Carrying Your Love With Me" - George Strait.Country Performance By A Duo Or Group:
Dancin,' Shaggin' On The Boulevard" - Alabama; "That's How Your Love Makes Me Feel" - Diamond Rio; "Please" - The Kinleys; "Looking In The Eyes Of Love" - Alison Krauss & Union Station; and "I Don't Care (If You Love Me Anymore)" - The Mavericks.
Country Collaboration With Vocals: "Still Holding On" - Clint Black & Martina McBride; "I'm So Happy I Can't Stop Crying" - Toby Keith & Sting; "You Don't Seem To Miss Me" - Patty Loveless & George Jones; "It's Your Love" - Tim McGraw & Faith Hill; and "In Another's Eyes" - Trisha Yearwood & Garth Brooks.Country Instrumental Performance: "Fat Boy Ray" - Asleep At The Wheel; "Smokey Mountain Lullaby" - Chet Atkins with Tommy Emmanuel; "Little Liza Jane" - Alison Krauss & Union Station; "Goin' Back To Memphis" - Scotty Moore, D.J. Fontana, & Bill Black Combo; and "Mama, Screw Your Wig On Tight" - Lee Roy Parnell.Country Song: "All The Good Ones Are Gone" - Pam Tillis; "Butterfly Kisses" - Bob Carlisle, Jeff Carson, and the Raybon Bros.; "Did I Shave My Legs For This?" - Deana Carter & Rhonda Hart; "In Another's Eyes" - Trisha Yearwood & Garth Brooks; and "It's Your Love" - Tim McGraw & Faith Hill.Country Album:Unchained - Johnny Cash;Everything I Love - Alan Jackson;Long Stretch of Lonesome - Patty Loveless;Carrying Your Love With Me - George Strait; andUnder The Covers - Dwight Yoakam.
The Country Music Association's 1994 Group of the Year, Little Texas, performed its last show at Cotton Eyed Joe's in Cookeville, Tennessee on New Year's Eve. For the fans, the night was full of memories and good-byes to the band members. The six member band, which formed nine years ago, is best known for hits such as "God Blessed Texas," "My Love," "Some Guys Have All The Love," and "What Might Have Been." The band decided early in December to go their separate ways. Fiddler Jeff Huchins and his wife will be opening their own gym and health club in Hendersonville, Tennessee. Lead singer Tim Rushlow has plans to pursue a solo pop career. Drummer Del Gray is opening his own management company. And the remaining three band members will continue their songwriting efforts.
Tickets for the 27th Annual International Country Music Fan Fair are now on sale. Tickets for country music's biggest festival, which is scheduled for June 15th - 20th, are $90 each. The event, which is presented by the Country Music Association and the Grand Ole Opry, will offer over 40 hours of live concerts, as well as artist appearances and autograph sessions. For more information or to order tickets, contact the Opry at 2804 Opryland Drive, Nashville, TN 37214, or call (615) 889-7503.
Louisville's own country songstress Patty Loveless is going to take a well-deserved six-month break from touring this year. The singer plans to spend her time off recording and revisiting the roots of country music by attending old-fashioned songwriting sessions. Patty also intends to fulfill her dream of recording with various artists who have asked her to appear on their albums in the past
Lonestar's John Rich has announced that he is leaving the band to pursue a solo career. He says that he wanted to sing more leads than he was allowed as a member of Lonestar. Of the band's eight singles, Richie McDonald sang lead on seven of them. The remaining band members are beginning work on their third album and will search for a replacement for John. The band has made a statement stating that, "Before any false rumors get started or circulate, you should be allowed to hear the CORRECT version of the truth here. First of all, Lonestar is not breaking up. Any time you have a group of people working together, there is always a chance of one or more of the members wanting to go in different directions."
Well, that's it for now. Always remember: Keep your boots shined up and your hat on straight, 'cause country music is comin' your way.