Country Loses A Legend: Waylon Jennings, 1937 - 2002
If you've been reading "Cowboy Corner" in recent months, then you are familiar with country legend Waylon Jennings' recent struggles with diabetes, which included the amputation of his left foot in December. Waylon left a Phoenix hospital in early January to return to his home in Chandler, Ariz., where he passed away February 13 at the age of 64. Jennings' body was reportedly buried in Mesa, Ariz. two days after his death, following a private funeral ceremony. At press time, details had not yet been finalized for a public memorial service in Nashville.
Waylon began his career in radio in his early teens in his hometown of Littlefield, Tex. He toured as Buddy Holly's bass player from 1958 until Holly's death in a fatal plane crash the following year. Waylon actually gave up his seat on that fateful plane trip, which took the lives of Buddy, Richie Valens and the Big Bopper on February 3, 1959 near Mason City, Iowa. Jennings moved to Nashville in 1965, where he became the original country music outlaw. He married fellow country singer Jessi Colter in 1969.
Waylon earned his first #1 record with his 1974 hit, "This Time." He went on to top the charts with "Luckenbach, Texas (Back To The Basics Of Life)," "Amanda," "I'm A Ramblin' Man," "Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way," "Good Hearted Woman," which was named the Country Music Association Single of the Year, "Just To Satisfy You," and his smash 1978 duet with Willie Nelson, "Mammas, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys," which won the pair the 1976 CMA Vocal Duo of the Year trophy. Waylon was also named the CMA Male Vocalist of the Year in 1975. Today's generation of television watchers most likely know Jennings as the singer of "Theme From The Dukes Of Hazzard (Good Ol' Boys)," as well as the popular show's narrator. For several years, Jennings and the Country Music Association were at odds with one another, but this dispute was resolved last year, when Waylon was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. The perfect ending to an illustrious career!
Although the legend has passed, his music will forever be with us. Prior to his death, Hip-O Records compiled a brand new CD, which is scheduled to hit stores on March 5, titled Phase One: The Early Years 1958-1964. This must-have CD includes cuts produced by Buddy Holly, as well as Bob Dylan, Buddy Holly, Roy Orbison and Buck Owens cover tunes.
We extend our condolences to Jessi and Waylon's entire family in this time of sorrow.
Kentucky Music Hall of Fame & Museum Opening Soon
Some of country music's finest, each hailing from Kentucky, were inducted into the brand new Kentucky Music Hall of Fame & Museum just last month. Olive Hill's "Storyteller," Tom T. Hall, Butcher Holler's "Coal Miner's Daughter," Loretta Lynn, McCracken County's Everly Brothers, and Hyden's Osborne Brothers were among the initial inductees, as well as Rosemary Clooney and Jean Ritchie, and the late Red Foley, Grandpa Jones, Bradley Kincaid, Bill Monroe and Merle Travis. The museum is slated to open in May and will be housed in Renfro Valley. It will include Hall of Fame plaques, memorabilia belonging to the inductees, a sound booth, and a music room.
Kentucky Duo Sings First Release From We Were Soldiers
As I reported last month, several country stars appear on the motion picture soundtrack for Mel Gibson's Vietnam War picture titled We Were Soldiers. Well, Nicholasville's own country duo Montgomery Gentry has made their home state proud as their new ballad, "Didn't I," has been selected as the first release from the soundtrack, which hit stores late last month. The movie opens March 1, and "Didn't I" is slated to hit radio airwaves three days later. Keep watching CMT in the weeks ahead for the song's video debut, which was filmed last month in the Los Angeles National Cemetery.
Country Stars' Charity Work
When it comes to charity, you can hardly find any more generous volunteers and donors than country artists and country music fans. Trace Adkins, Cletus T. Judd, Ashland, Ky. natives Naomi and Wynonna Judd, Cordell, Ky. native Ricky Skaggs, and newcomer Cyndi Thomson joined Joe Diffie last month to perform as part of his 10th Annual Country Steps In For First Steps concert at the Ryman Auditorium. This special concert raised $60,000 for First Steps, Inc., a Nashville area school for special needs children, which Joe's own son Tyler attended.
Country artists Sherrie Austin, Billy Dean, Andy Griggs, Jo Dee Messina and Willie Nelson helped make the 8th Annual Country in the Rockies charity event in Crested Butte, Colo. a huge success early last month. Thanks to concerts and celebrity bartending, more than $200,000 was raised for the T.J. Martell Foundation and the Frances Williams Preston Laboratories at the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center.
Tim McGraw will be hopping on a motorcycle for charity next month, when he will serve as the Grand Marshall of the 2002 Seven Bridges Run. The ride benefits the Dreams Come True organization, which grants wishes for terminally ill children, and will be held in Tim's mother's hometown of Jacksonville, Fla. McGraw will be hitting the pavement on a motorcycle for two hours, crossing all seven bridges in Jacksonville.
International superstar Dolly Parton has been known for her generous charity work for many years now, most recently for the work of her Dollywood Foundation, which focuses on educational programs, including abolishing illiteracy. Through her foundation's Imagination Library program, each and every child in her native Sevier County, Tenn. receives a new book each month from birth to their fifth birthday. Dolly was recognized for this humanitarian effort just last month as the American Association of School Administrators (AASA) presented her the Galaxy Award at the National Conference on Education for her efforts in "pointing the way to the future." In addition to receiving this award, the AASA made a generous donation to Dolly's Imagination Library.
Country Makes The Cover
Two of country music's hottest new artists can add magazine cover model to their impressive resumes. "Saints And Angels" singer Sara Evans appears on this month's issue of Glamour magazine because the editors think that she has "Hair That Rocks." In the issue, Evans shares hair and beauty tips along with singers Nikka Costa, Shelby Lynne, Jill Scott, and Shakira. "Young" singer Kenny Chesney will have his turn in the spotlight as he will grace the cover of the June issue of Country Music magazine.
Be sure to check newsstands for Sara and Kenny's mugs.
Country Family Watch
Drew Womack, lead singer of Sons of the Desert, whose most recent success came as backup on Lee Ann Womack's monstrous hit "I Hope You Dance," is a brand new papa once again. He and his wife, Tara, welcomed William Maxwell Womack into the world last month. Although he was born a month earlier than expected, William fared pretty well weighing in at 6 lbs., 13 ozs., and measuring 18 ½ in. long.
"Mrs. Steven Rudy" singer Mark McGuinn is preparing to take the big plunge as he and girlfriend Stacey Mitchell recently became engaged and plan to marry next month. The happy couple met at a Fourth of July party a couple years ago and have been head over heels ever since.
Congratulations to Drew and Tara Womack, as well as the soon to be Mr. & Mrs. Mark McGuinn!
Country Health Watch
As I reported last month, Tex-Mex singer Freddy Fender, best known for hits "Before The Next Teardrop Falls" and "Wasted Days And Wasted Nights," successfully underwent kidney transplant surgery in January. Freddy's new kidney was donated by his 21-year-old daughter Marla Huerta Garcia, who is expected to make a complete recovery from her surgery. San Antonio University Hospital spokesperson Leni Kirman recently stated, "Mr. Fender's recovery has gone exactly according to the text book. He will make regular visits back to the hospital for blood tests and routine follow-ups, but his doctors say he should be able to start getting back to his regular routine over the next couple of months." At press time, Freddy was planning to attend the February 27 Grammy Awards program in Los Angeles. He also plans to attend the South By Southwest Music Conference this month in Austin.
"The Car" singer Jeff Carson suffered a physical setback last month when he was snow sledding at his Franklin, Tenn. home and hit a tree. During his two-day hospital stay at Nashville's Vanderbilt University Medical Center, doctors determined that he fractured the sixth vertebra in his back. Fortunately, Carson did not have to undergo surgery and he did not suffer any spinal cord damage, but he will have to wear a back brace for six to twelve weeks. Needless to say, he has had to cancel recent concerts.
We would like to wish a speedy recovery to both Freddy and Jeff.
Well, that's it for yet another month. Due to press deadlines, I was not able to report winners from the February 27 Grammy Awards, but I'll have full coverage next month. Always remember: "Keep your boots shined up and your hat on straight, `cause country music is comin' your way."