Monday, June 14, 2010

Jimmy Dean

As I am sure all of you now know, Jimmy Dean passed away yesterday evening at the age of 81. I am not going through the whole biography of his career. I will just leave it with the statement that he was one of the all time greats in country music history. He has deserved every honor that has come his way through out his life.

I do want to touch on one thing. He was not elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame until earlier this year. While he was a member, the offical medallion ceremony that the Hall of Fame has to welcome the new members had not taken place as of yet. His was scheduled for October. I don't understand the long wait as they knew his heath was not that good.

But, the real sadness of this post is that he had to wait so long to get elected while many younger artists have been elected in. He was elected so late in his life that he never got the chance to enjoy the honor and the recognition that comes with it.

I have nothing against these younger Hall of Fame members such as Vince Gill, Alabama, Emmylou Harris, among others. They are all deserving Hall of Fame members and would have been elected at some point. But, not before many of the legends that deserve to be in the Hall and have set the stage for these younger artists.

There are so many deserving to get in that I am afraid that they will pass away before their time comes. Stars such as Jean Shepard, Dottie West, Jim Ed Brown and The Browns, along with Bobby Bare. I know that there are more. I am happy that they got Jimmy in this year along with Ferlin Husky. But, why the wait. If Jimmy was deserving to get in this year, he was deserving 20 years ago, when he basically retired from performing. He has had no more hit records, no more #1's, but it took the voters 20 years to come to the conclusion that he was Hall of Fame material?

Some of the voting for the Hall of Fame has been questionable at times. Nothing against Dolly Parton, but how does she get in before Porter Wagoner? Or Roy Clark, (who Jimmy fired at one time and helped to launch his career), get in before Jimmy Dean? Or Alabama before the Statler Brothers? Barbara Mandrell before Jean Shepard? It goes on and on.

While I don't want to see the Hall of Fame elect 10 or 20 people at a time, as it delutes the honor, they need to do something to level the playing field for these older stars. As time goes on, it becomes difficult to remember their career achievements. Even today, many of the Hall of Fame voters just see Jean Shepard as the elderly lady on the Opry each week, and not as one of the first female stars of country music.

And, don't kid yourself. I know that there are politics involved with the voters and Jimmy was known to speak his mind over the years. But, to have personal feelings by the voters influence who is in the Hall of Fame? One of the most famous involved Webb Pierce. Several of the voters openly said that they would never vote for Webb as long as he was alive. And, he was the biggest hit maker of the 50's. He was finally voted in the year that there was the special election and 10 artists were voted in at once. The voters finally voted him in, but it was long after Webb was dead and gone. And, that is just wrong!! Those voters should have been shown the door. One thing the Hall needs to do is to make the voters names public so that we can all see who these voters are and what their credentials are to be voting for Hall of Famers.

Those are just my thoughts. Let's get these artists elected into the Hall of Fame while they are still alive and healthy enough to enjoy it. At least Jimmy and Ferlin did get in this year and that is a start. Let's hope they pick up the pace and get some more of the legends elected.

God Bless Jimmy Dean, a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame. And may God bless his family.


  1. You have touched on one of my favorite subjects, and discussed it wonderfully.

    First, adding the younger artists is done through a category created for them. On the one hand, it may make it harder to get the deserving artists of the past in there. On the other hand, it may be that creating the separate categories may help them--Jimmy Dean might not have made it at all without the category he fit into.

    Second, politics is involved in everything. I remember my mother, who introduced me to country music, being disgusted that Minnie Pearl openly lobbied for Rod Brasfield to go in, saying he shouldn't be forgotten. Of course he shouldn't, she used to say, but does that mean he should go in? And ahead of some other people?

    Faron Young also was noted for having a big mouth, bless him, and he got in posthumously. I remember him co-hosting a show with Jeannie Seely and telling her he didn't want to go in after his death because if he didn't deserve it while he was alive, why should he get it then? At the same time, Vince Gill got in ahead of Ricky Skaggs, who has done a lot more to revitalize country music, but Vince has been more active in the association and I understand that Ricky has annoyed a few people. OK, that isn't to say Vince wasn't deserving in that category, but before Ricky?

    Your point about Dolly Parton going in ahead of Porter Wagoner is especially galling because he discovered her! The same, I believe, with Webb Pierce and Faron Young.

    But here's a good example of how long the problem has been around. In 1966, it was very controversial that Eddy Arnold went in, both because he was so young--48--and some felt he had gone uptown with the Nashville sound. The problem of politics and overlooking people will never be resolved, but at least they don't have to insult our intelligence as country music fans.

    Jimmy Dean's situation is even more interesting because, on his site, Bill Anderson said Dean told him about his election long before the announcement--maybe the CMA was aware that his health had been shaky. And Anderson went in the year of the mass induction that included Webb Pierce and, if I am correct, requested that he be identified as one of the ones officially elected that year.

    Finally, indeed, bless Jimmy Dean. He led quite a life and always seemed to me to go at life with pleasure and gusto. I hope that's how he'll be remembered.

  2. Thanks Michael. Good comments and good points about Rod Brasfield and Eddy Arnold. I know that there were also complaints about Johnny Cash getting in at such a young age.

    Of course in the case of Vince and Emmylou, they have both been past board members of the CMA and the Country Music Foundation, and I am sure that helped their elections, from a timing standpoint.

    I know that you are a big baseball fan (as am I), and the same arguments and comments about the Country Music Hall of Fame and who is elected or not, can also be said about the Baseball Hall of Fame. There will always be disagreements and agruments on who should get in or when someone should get it.

    I would just like it set up in a way to make sure all of those who are deserving get in before they pass away.

  3. Thank YOU. These are what a friend of mine likes to call "barstool debates," because that's where you sit and debate them ... for a looooooong time.

  4. By the way, check out Bill Anderson's website for a great tribute to Dean, with some nice stories about him.

  5. You are so right, he did a great job with it. Did you see where Jimmy is going to be buried in a $350,000 piano tomb? Amazing, and way to go Jimmy!!!!

  6. Jimmy is literally going out in style! I love it!

  7. I recently discovered this site and I'm still reading the great commentary about the Opry and country music in general. Yes, I am a bit disturbed at some of the selections into the Hall of Fame and it bothers me greatly that many who have paid their dues will never get in at all. I think it is a tragedy that Wilma Lee and Stoney Cooper are not in the Hall. I think it would be wonderful if this could be done while Wilma Lee is still with us but I just don't have that much faith in the decision makers.

  8. I personally do not agree with younger artists getting inducted in this day and age, I know people like cash and acuff were not that old when they got inducted but like you pointed out others are deserving, I though I was going to have a heart attack when I seen Vince Gill got inducted, I'm so glad Jean Shepard got in now I am just waiting for Skeeter Davis and Dottie West