Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Country Music Hall of Fame

The Country Music Hall of Fame today announced its newest inductees. Elected in the veterans category were Jimmy Dean and Ferlin Husky, who tied for the most votes. From the non-performer catagory, Billy Sherrill was elected. And Don Williams was elected as the modern era candidate.

Jimmy Dean and Ferlin Husky should have been in the Hall of Fame years ago. I am not going to go through their career highlights, as it would take too long, but I am glad that they were both elected before they passed away. Ferlin has had some serious health issues this past year and Jimmy, in addition to his own health issues, had the tragedy of the fire that destroyed his home. Maybe the fact that they were in the news so much this past year inspired the voters to vote them in. Whatever the reason, the voters, in my opinion, got it right this year. The additional benefit of two individuals getting elected helps to clear up some of the backlog of candidates that has developed over the years, thanks to the policy of the Hall of Fame of only electing one person from each category each year.

While it is good news for Jimmy and Ferlin, it continues to be a disappointment for many other worthy candidates, including Jean Shepard. She has been a strong candidate for the past several years, but just can't seem to get the votes to get her in. Consideration was also given to Jim Ed Brown and The Browns and the Wilburn Brothers. Hopefully, all will eventually be elected.

Billy Sherrill was one of the great producers of all time, and deserves his spot in the Hall. Finally, Don Williams, the gentle giant, was elected. He certainly deserves to get in and I was somewhat suprised by his election as I thought there were other performers from his era who were equally strong, but were more in the public eye than Don. But, what a great voice and what great songs he had.

The modern era candidates include performers who have been in the business for 20 years or more. After electing Vince Gill, I like the fact that the voters have been electing members from this category who have been around for a while and have "waited their turn." While Vince is certainly Hall of Fame worthy, I thought he got in too soon. Don Williams was elected over other eligible candidates such as Reba McEntire, The Judds, Ricky Skaggs and Randy Travis. Ronnie Milsap also received consideration.

Congratulations to all the new members.


  1. I'm happy for the inductees this year. Oh, how I wish Jim Ed Brown and The Browns had also been voted into the Hall of Fame. Maybe next year. I really want it to happen before any of the trio passes away.

  2. Byron, are the other names you mentioned actually others who you were able to confirm were on the ballot this year in the various categories? If so, it would look good that The Browns, Wilburns, and Jean Shepard would eventually get there and that at least they are on the ballot.

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  4. One other thing I would add. I had totally forgot about Don Williams. Although, I have no issues with him, I am surprised that he beat out Reba, Ronnie Milsap, Randy Travis, the Judds and some of these other people because of his quiet nature and one who stayed out of the limelight. I saw Don Williams in Pigeon Forge in 2006. He gave a great show. I also saw him one time in 1981 at the Opry during his brief run as a Opry member. That was a memorable night. It was my 5th of what is now 303 Opry show I have attended. Just for fun here was the lineup for that 1st show on August 22,1981, one of the rare time Williams appeared as an Opry member:

    6:30-6:45 Mrs. Grissoms - Stonewall Jackson, Ernie Ashworth

    6:45-7 Rudy's Farm - Charlie Walker, Jan Howard

    7-7:30 Shoney's - Charlie Louvin, Billy Grammer, Ray Pillow, John Conlee

    7:30-8 Standard Candy - Archie Campbell, Skeeter Davis, Roy Drusky, The Crook Brothers, Tennessee Travelers

    8-8:30 Martha White - Roy Acuff, Bill Carlisle, Vic Willis Trio, David Houston

    8:30-9 Acme Boots - The Four Guys, Jeannie Seely, Don Williams, Fruit Jar Drinkers

  5. I, too, was a little surprised (but absolutely delighted) by the choice of Don Williams. In the 70's, when it seemed like everybody was going "pop", his style of music and vocals stood out from the crowd. Back then, when everyone was carrying a 7 piece band, he was hitting the stage with just himself, a bass player and a guitar player. To me, it's interesting that he goes in along with Billy Sherrill as they were kind of on opposite ends of the production spectrum during the same period time.

    Not to get too far ahead but next year will be the first year that a songwriter will be inducted in that third revolving catagory (Non-performer, songwriter and studio/ touring musician) and I'd be curious to hear who (of the DOZENS of deserving writers) everyone would consider a front-runner. I'll put my money on Hank Cochran with Curly Putman, John D. Loudermilk and Dallas Frazier in a dead heat for second.

  6. Thanks for the great Opry line-up!!!! A lot of people forget that Don Williams was once a member of the Opry, and yes, for a very short time. Nothing much is mentioned on why he left, and I really don't remember him back on the show once he left, although I am not positive on that.

    As far as the ballot, I have someone checking on that for me, but from what she told me, Bobby Bare, The Wilburn Brothers, Jean Shepard and The Browns received serious consideration.

    All of the songwriters mentioned are great ones. If I had a vote, I would go with Hank Cochran. As far as writers in the Hall now, you have Harlan Howard, Cindy Walker, Felice and Boudleaux Bryant, Kris Kristofferson, and I would consider Don Gibson one of the fine writers of all time. Did I miss anyone?

  7. First, all great choices.

    I also think Vince had gone in too soon, and I'm glad to see the voters going back for Don Williams. Everyone listed is incredibly deserving. I wonder how much of it was the realization that, for example, Don Williams is 70 while the others in his category are younger.

    As for the old-timers, I notice that they went for two in the eighties as opposed to Jean Shepard (76) and Jim Ed Brown (75). It reminds me of the funny, sick, and wise comment that Chet Atkins made. He went in in 1973 after having cancer. Owen Bradley had heart trouble right after that and Chet told him he would go in the next year because they thought he'd die. Sure enough, Owen went in. Happily, both of them got to enjoy their Hall of Fame status for many more years.

    I think it's nice that two former Opry members went in. Ferlin left in the purge of 1964, but we have forgotten how influential he was with the Nashville Sound and in Jean Shepard's career--and that may also have been a factor: it's hard to put in the one who was discovered before the one who made the discovery, so to speak. I also loved Bill Anderson's story of Ferlin's impressions, and he did great ones. Early in hsi career, Bill was opening for Ferlin and when he finished, Ferlin would come out and whisper to the audience. One day Ferlin took him aside and asked if it bothered him. Bill said, well, yes, it kind of did. Ferlin said something like this: "First, if you didn't have something I could imitate, I wouldn't imitate you, so be glad that you have something different. Second, if I didn't like you, I wouldn't give you the free publicity."

    I'd also like to point out a legendary Ferlin story. He would entertain his band by having a conversation with Simon Crum. One night, he got mad at Simon and ordered the driver to stop the bus. He opened the door and threw Simon off the bus. About an hour later, Ferlin told the driver to stop, go back and get him, so they did.

  8. Back to the songwriters for a minute: In addition to the inductees who are known specifically as songwriters, there are numerous members whose writing has been as prolific as their recording. I'm thinking specifically of Bill Anderson, Willie Nelson, Roger Miller, Dolly Parton, Hank Williams, Bill Monroe, Merle Haggard, Bob Nolan and Loretta Lynn and others who wrote some of their own biggest hits like Marty Robbins, Johnny Cash and the Louvin Brothers. In fact, there are 50 members of the CMHOF who are also enshrined in the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. Next year will be the first time someone will be inducted in a specific "songwriter" catagory...previously they were inducted in the "open" or "non-performer" catagory.

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  10. Bryon, no problem on the lineup. Enjoyed letting everyone on here know that I actually saw Don
    Williams on the Opry!!! It was a rare thing and I'm pretty sure that Don Williams never was on the Opry again after that August 1981 date. Again, if anyone out there remembers another time he was on, please correct me.

    In regards to the HOF, great that you are hearing that The Browns, Bare, Wilburns and Shepard were on the ballot. Now that Jimmy Dean and Ferlin Husky are in, these are exactly the next people I would put in of the legends.

    Of the modern acts. . .Ronnie Milsap. . .Oaks. . .Randy Travis. . Ricky Skaggs. . .Reba. . .Charlie Daniels. . Kenny Rogers are going to all be in the next few...

  11. I would also add Hank Williams, Jr to that list, and I agree Ricky Skaggs is a possibility, as he led the move back to traditional country in 1980.

    On the comment regarding the songwriters, with 50 Hall of Fame members in the Songwriters Hall of Fame, it just shows how talented many of the performers were. I can remember when Randy Travis and Ricky Van Shelton were having big hit records in the 1980's, that one of the knocks on them, and perhaps why they were not winning as many awards as they could have won in those days, was that they did not write any of their songs, that they were just singers. The same was said about Conway Twitty for many years, and may have held up his induction in the Hall of Fame. They used to say that Conway was a 'song's best friend", but he didn't write any of them. But, what a great voice Conway had

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  13. Agree on Hank Jr. He actually is probably ahead of some of those other modern acts. Some others that need to be or will in time be in there in additon to Milsap, Oaks, Travis, Skaggs, Daniels and Rogers: Dottie West, Dottie West, Dottie West, Stanley Brothers/Ralph Stanley, Garth, Ray Stevens, Anne Murray, Tanya Tucker, Crystal Gayle, Connie Smith, Gene Watson. I would also throw in there Brother Oswald and Mac Wiseman and Bill Mack.

  14. I think that one of the things that could hurt Ricky Skaggs getting into the Country Music Hall of Fame, would be his switch to almost all bluegrass music. I also think that being in bluegrass has hurt Ralph and Carter Stanley, Mac Wiseman, the Osborne Brothers and others that have specialized in bluegrass.

    If I remember right, Bill Monore and Flatt & Scruggs are the only true bluegrass acts in the Hall of Fame.

    It seems that since the introduction of the Bluegrass Hall of Fame, that the Country Music Hall of Fame has been ignoring that segment of the industry. At one time, the Country Music Hall of Fame inducted acts from country music, western music, cowboy music, bluegrass, and even comedy. But, lately, the focus has narrowed to just those involved in country music.

    I don't know if that is on purpose, but we all know lately that the definition of country music has changed and the voters for the Hall of Fame are getting pretty younger and they just probably don't have a large view of what is country music.

  15. To make a slight correction...Conway Twitty was in fact a genuine songwriter. He wrote or co-wrote a lot of songs. 17 or 18 of them were released as singles and, you guessed it, several of those songs are considered his biggest hits. Conway wrote/co-wrote the following hit singles:

    1958: "It's Only Make Believe"
    1968: "To See My Angel Cry"
    1970: "Hello Darlin"
    1972: "I Can't See Me Without You"
    1973: "You've Never Been This Far Before"
    1973: "Baby's Gone"
    1974: "I'm Not Through Loving You Yet"
    1974: "As Soon As I Hang Up the Phone"
    1975: "Linda On My Mind"
    1975: "Don't Cry, Joni"
    1975: "Touch the Hand"
    1976: "The Games That Daddies Play"
    1976: "The Letter"
    1976: "After All The Good Is Gone"
    1976: "I Can't Believe She Gives It All to Me"
    1977: "Play, Guitar Play"
    1977: "I've Already Loved You In My Mind".

    In 1972 he wrote words to Floyd Cramer's instrumental, "Last Date", and had a #1 with it. All of the songs I mentioned that he wrote or co-wrote were huge hits...several of them #1 hits. So, yeah, Conway was definitely a songwriter during his early years in country music.

    After 1977 he relied on songs others wrote...and I realize that list of songs is relatively short when examining a career that lasted over 30 plus years but the point is several of those songs are considered his biggest hits and he had a hand at writing them.