Country music lost yet another legend when 56-year-old Eddie Rabbitt passed away May 7 at Nashville's Baptist Hospital, following a long battle with lung cancer. Eddie, who was born in Brooklyn, New York, will best be remembered his hits "I Love A Rainy Night," "Step By Step," "Drivin' My Life Away," "Suspicions" and "Every Which Way But Loose." These are just a few of the more than twenty #1 hits he earned during his successful career as a singer/songwriter. His career was jump-started when Elvis Presley recorded the Eddie Rabbitt-penned tune "Kentucky Rain" in 1970.
Eddie signed to Intersound Records in January 1997, just prior to his diagnosis of lung cancer. He recorded his last album, titled Beatin' The Odds, while undergoing chemotherapy treatments and surgery, during which part of his left lung was removed. The album, which included new material as well as some re-recordings of a few of Eddie's biggest hits, was released just last September.
Eddie Rabbitt is survived by his wife, Janine, daughter Demelza and son Tommy. Memorial donations to be used for cancer research can be made to: Vicel, Inc., Attn: Eddie Rabbitt Memorial Fund, P.O. Box 1328, Bonsall, CA 93004.
Royce Kendall, half of the father-daughter duo The Kendalls, passed away May 22 in La Crosse, Wisconsin after suffering a stroke which caused by massive bleeding in his brain. Royce and daughter Jeannie were scheduled to hit the stage for a performance in just 10 minutes when he complained of dizziness and was rushed to a nearby hospital.
Royce and Jeannie, who were both born in St. Louis, Missouri, began performing as a duo when Jeannie became interested in country music at age15. After years of little chart success, The Kendalls left their mark on country music with the release of "Heaven's Just A Sin Away" in late 1976. This classic tune topped the charts for four weeks, earned the duo a Grammy for Best Country Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group and was named the 1977 Country Music Association Single of the Year. The duo followed with chart-topping singles like "Sweet Desire" and "Thank God For The Radio."
Country fans' favorite comedian, Jeff Foxworthy, will host the 32nd Annual TNN Music City News Country Awards to be held at the new Nashville Arena in Nashville, Tenn. on June 15. Scheduled to perform on the award show (which is the official kick-off of Country Music Fan Fair Week) are artists Trace Adkins, James Bonamy, Paul Brandt, Billy Ray Cyrus, Vince Gill, Alan Jackson, The Lynns, Lila McCann, Neal McCoy, Mindy McCready, Michael Peterson, LeAnn Rimes, Sawyer Brown, Kevin Sharp, Lee Ann Womack and Trisha Yearwood.
Flatwoods, Ky. native Billy Ray Cyrus and Alan Jackson top the list of nominees, with six nods each. The entire list of nominees is as follows:
Entertainer of the Year: Garth Brooks, Billy Ray Cyrus, Alan Jackson, Neal McCoy and George Strait. Female Artist: Patty Loveless, Martina McBride, Lorrie Morgan, LeAnn Rimes and Trisha Yearwood. Male Artist: Billy Ray Cyrus, Vince Gill, Alan Jackson, Ricky Van Shelton and George Strait.
Vocal Duo/Group: Brooks & Dunn, Oak Ridge Boys, The Kinleys, The Lynns and The Statler Brothers. Vocal Band: Alabama, BlackHawk, Diamond Rio, The Mavericks and Sawyer Brown. Female Star of Tomorrow: Deana Carter, The Lynns, Lila McCann, Mindy McCready and Lee Ann Womack. Male Star of Tomorrow: Trace Adkins, James Bonamy, Paul Brandt, Michael Peterson and Kevin Sharp.
Vocal Collaboration: Anita Cochran & Steve Wariner's "What If I Said." Tim McGraw & Faith Hill's "It's Your Love," Travis Tritt & Lari White's "Helping Me Get Over You," Patty Loveless & George Jones' "You Don't Seem To Miss Me," and Trisha Yearwood & Garth Brooks' "In Another's Eyes." Single: Alan Jackson's "Between The Devil And Me," George Strait's "Carrying Your Love With Me," Trisha Yearwood's "How Do I Live," Billy Ray Cyrus' "It's All The Same To Me," and Tim McGraw & Faith Hill's "It's Your Love."
Song: George Strait's "Carrying Your Love With Me," Trisha Yearwood's "How Do I Live," Billy Ray Cyrus' "It's All The Same To Me," Tim McGraw & Faith Hill's "It's Your Love," and Alan Jackson's "There Goes." Video: George Strait's "Carrying Your Love With Me," Tim McGraw & Faith Hill's "It's Your Love," Neal McCoy's "The Shake," Billy Ray Cyrus' "Three Little Words," and Alan Jackson's "Who's Cheatin' Who."
Album: George Strait's Carrying Your Love With Me, Billy Ray Cyrus' Cover To Cover, Alan Jackson's Everything I Love, Ricky Van Shelton's Making Plans and LeAnn Rimes' You Light Up My Life. Comedian: Gary Chapman, Bill Engvall, Jeff Foxworthy, Mike Snider and Ray Stevens.
Tickets for the show, which will be broadcast live on The Nashville Network at 8:00 PM EDT, can be purchased by calling (615) 255-9600. Good luck to all the nominees!
Nicholasville, Ky. native John Michael Montgomery hosted his very own charity golf tournament just last month. He was joined by fellow-Kentuckian Mila Mason and a couple of members of the group Ricochet, as well as a slew of sports figures. The two-day event raised tens of thousands of dollars for cancer research, the dreaded disease that took John Michael's father, Harold Montgomery's life a few years back.
During the tournament, John Michael took some time away from the golf course to shock fans by announcing that he is planning a 1-2 year hiatus from touring, during which time he plans to write and cut new albums. On a personal note, he and wife Crystal hope to have a second child next year. The couple have a daughter, Madison Caroline.
This year's International Country Music Fan Fair will be held in Nashville, Tenn. from June 15 - 19. Although the TNN Music City News Country Awards officially kick-off Fan Fair on Monday evening, June 15, several of country music's biggest stars will be gearing up for the week on Sunday, June 14 to play in the 8th Annual Wrangler/City Of Hope Celebrity Softball Challenge to be held at Nashville's Greer Stadium. Artists such as Rhett Akins, Clint Black, Deana Carter, Gary Chapman, Diamond Rio, Amy Grant, Neal McCoy, Michael Peterson, LeAnn Rimes, Kevin Sharp, Victoria Shaw, Rick Trevino, Bryan White and Chely Wright will be playing with staff members of Nashville's WSM and WSIX radio stations. All proceeds from this game will go to the City of Hope National Medical Center and the Beckman Research Institute in its commitment to prevent and cure cancer and other life-threatening diseases. Tickets for the event can be purchased by calling Ticketmaster at (615) 255-9600, or donations can be sent to: City of Hope, 208 W. 8th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90014, or by calling 1-800-260-HOPE, ext. 6540.
This year's Fan Fair will have a grand finale as the Fruit of the Loom CountryFest '98 has been moved to Nashville on Sat., June 20. The six-hour extravaganza, which will be held at the Nashville Arena, will be hosted by country superstar Reba McEntire and will also feature stars such as Clint Black, The Kinleys, Chris LeDoux, Neal McCoy and Steve Wariner. Tickets, which range in price from $27.50 - $47.50, are available by calling Ticketmaster at (615) 255-9600. And if you can't make the show, never fear as CBS will film the concert for a television special to air on Aug. 5 at 9:00 PM.
I've still heard no official word yet on this year's Kentucky State Fair concert line-up, but I have a pretty good idea of who will be performing before our hometown crowd. I believe LeAnn Rimes and Bryan White fans will be happy when the young duo opens the fair on Thursday evening, Aug. 20. I'm sure Patty Loveless' family will be ecstatic when their little girl comes home on Saturday, Aug. 22, bringing crooner Vince Gill along. And what would the state fair be without an annual free concert by The Oak Ridge Boys on Sunday, Aug. 23?
The fair board usually treats us to another free country concert on Wednesday evening during the fair and it looks like that will probably be Marty Stuart this year on Aug.26. I'm not quite sure, but something tells me that The Charlie Daniels band will probably even roll into the fair sometime, maybe either Aug. 26 or Aug. 27. I would not at all be surprised to see none other than "turbo-tonkin'" Tim McGraw at the fair on Friday evening, Aug. 28. And it looks like tradition will be held again this year by closing the state fair with a powerful double-header of Sawyer Brown and Ashland, Ky. native Wynonna.
As for ticket information to all of these shows, I've heard no official word about that yet either. If tradition holds true though, tickets normally go on sale at 10:00 AM on a Monday morning in mid-June, so you had better start saving your pennies. For more ticket information, you can call the box office at (502) 361-3100. Once ticket information has been announced, I would suggest that you call whatever ticket outlet you plan to purchase tickets at a few days before tickets go on sale because each outlet usually has their own stipulations on the ticket limit and whether they take check or charge card, or whether they are cash only. Good luck at getting good seats and I hope to see you out at the shows.
When the Country Weekly Golden Pick Award winners were announced recently, it was no surprise that George Strait was honored with the most awards, totaling four. George was named Favorite Entertainer, Favorite Male Artist, Favorite Video Entertainer and Favorite Album for Carrying Your Love With Me. Vince Gill was named Favorite Instrumentalist and Star With the Biggest Heart, while Tim McGraw and Faith Hill's "It's Your Love" was named Favorite Single and Favorite Video.
The entire list of winners is as follows: Favorite Entertainer: George Strait, Favorite Female Artist: Reba McEntire, Favorite Male Artist: George Strait, Favorite Duo: Brooks & Dunn and Favorite Group: Alabama.
Favorite Female Newcomer: Lee Ann Womack, Favorite Male Newcomer: Michael Peterson, Favorite New Group/Duo: The Kinleys, Favorite Single: Tim McGraw & Faith Hill's "It's Your Love," Favorite Album: George Strait's Carrying Your Love With Me, Favorite Video Entertainer: George Strait and Favorite Video: Tim McGraw & Faith Hill's "It's Your Love."
Favorite Instrumentalist: Vince Gill, Favorite Line Dance: Neal McCoy's "The Shake," Star With the Biggest Heart: Vince Gill and Funniest Country Performer: Jeff Foxworthy. Celebrating his recent 80th birthday, Eddy Arnold was awarded the Living Legend Award.
Come June 2, Reba McEntire fans will want to rush out to their favorite record store to pick up the red-headed superstar's latest and greatest "enhanced" CD, titled If You See Him. Not only will the CD include Reba's "tri-et" with Brooks & Dunn titled "If You See Him/If You See Her," as well as a slew of other powerful new songs, but it will also be full of surprises for computer owners. Reba's Starstruck Entertainment, Inc. teamed up with Microsoft, the makers of Windows95, Windows98, Internet Explorer, etc., to develop the enhanced CD. The CD/CD-ROM includes a Reba-customized version of Internet Explorer 4.0, photos, screen savers, videos, interactive pictures, online information, a virtual tour of backstage of her concert tour and access to four previously unreleased songs. To access all of these extras, fans simply have to put Reba's new CD in the CD-ROM drive of their personal computer.
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."