Saturday, November 17, 2012

Grand Ole Opry Members & Hall of Fame

Several years ago, I wrote a post concerning Grand Ole Opry members and the Country Music Hall of Fame. I wrote as to which Opry members possibly will make it some day to the Hall of Fame and which ones would not. Since the Hall of Fame has created much comment over the past several months, I thought it would be a good time to revisit the topic.

Over the past week, I have contacted a couple of friends of mine who I know and respect their opinions. One is a former Hall of Fame voter who gave me some good insight into the Hall of Fame voting, and who offered me his thoughts on the various Opry members. Another is someone who is "in the know" in Nashville and this person offered me their perspective.

Of the Grand Ole Opry's current 67 members, 16 are Hall of Fame members. The list includes Bill Anderson, Garth Brooks, Roy Clark, Jimmy Dickens, Vince Gill, Tom T Hall, Emmylou Harris, George Jones, Loretta Lynn, Barbara Mandrell, Reba McEntire, Dolly Parton, Charley Pride, Jean Shepard, Connie Smith and Mel Tillis. (of the total Hall of Fame membership, just about half have been associated with the Opry).

Of the remaining 51 Opry members, there are a number who have no chance of ever making the Hall of Fame. That list includes Terri Clark, Diamond Rio, Joe Diffie, Jan Howard, Hal Ketchum, Del McCoury, Jesse McReynolds, Jimmy C Newman, Osborne Brothers, Stu Phillips, Ray Pillow, Jeannie Seely, Ricky Van Shelton, Mike Snider, Ralph Stanley, The Whites and Jeanne Pruett. It's not that these people are bad artists or have not had hits. It is just a fact that there is no support to elect them to the Hall. And as far as the bluegrass artists that are listed above, no true bluegrass artist has been elected to the Hall of Fame since the IBMA instituted their own Hall of Fame.

There are a number of Opry members who are 100% certain to be elected to the Hall. That list includes Larry Gatlin, Alan Jackson, Alison Krauss, Martina McBride, Ronnie Milsap, Oak Ridge Boys, Ricky Skaggs, Marty Stuart and Randy Travis. When talking names with my Hall of Fame source, we traded names on this list and we agreed on all of these. Each one has had a career of many number one records, with several of them songwriters. Some of these will have to wait a while, but all will get in.

Over the past week, there have been several who have suggested that after the election of Garth Brooks, Alan Jackson would be the favorite for this year. I was told not so fast. When I asked why, I was given 2 names and a history lesson. The first was Johnny Cash. When he was elected in 1980, many thought it would start the era of the "modern" artists of that period, people such as George Jones, Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson and other contemporaries of Cash. But after some public comment that perhaps Cash got in at an early age (he was the youngest ever elected to the Hall), the next several years the voters went back to some of the older artists, with Grant Turner (a non-artist) elected in 1981, Marty Robbins and Lefty Frizzell in 1982, Jimmy Dickens in 1983, Flatt & Scruggs in 1985, Whitey Ford in 1986 and Rod Brasfield in 1987. It wasn't until Loretta Lynn in 1988 that the Hall elected someone from Cash's era.

The 2nd name given was Vince Gill. When he was elected in 2007, the same comments were made as with Johnny Cash, such as it was too early and there were others who should have gone in first. There were also comments that this would start a new era of artists from the 1980s getting elected. Again, that did not happen. In 2008, Emmylou Harris, Tom T Hall and the Statler Brothers were elected, with Barbara Mandrell in 2009 and Don Williams in 2010 (from the modern category). It wasn't until 2011 with Reba McEntire getting elected that a contemporary of Vince got in.

The other comment regarding my Alan Jackson question was that it was pointed out to be that while Alan has had a huge number of hit records, he is not the most liked person in Nashville or in the music community. He is known as someone who is hard to deal with and there have been comments on how he has treated some of his fellow musicians. I was told that it was just something to think about and to look at the finalists from last year.

So what about some of the others, especially those who are "on the fence". I asked and we had a very nice discussion regarding a few of them, so I thought I would share some of those comments:

Clint Black-a very solid career and stands a very good chance at getting in. But, he is not Nashville based and his career really fell off after his run of hits.

Jim Ed Brown (The Browns)-again, a very solid career who should get in at some point in the veterans category. I was told that it helps that he is still active in the business and will be celebrating 50 years at the Opry next year.

Charlie Daniels-an interesting case. While he has had a few hits, with the biggest being "Devil Went Down to Georgia", he also has been a big influence with other artists.

Patty Loveless-it was stated that Patty is a Nashville favorite who is much loved and respected in the industry. She has the hits and is popular. What would help her is if Vince Gill gives her a push. As was pointed out, Bill Anderson gave a big push for Jean Shepard last year and it worked, and I was told Marty Stuart pushed for Connie Smith this past year, and that worked.

Lorrie Morgan-I was told not to discount her. She has the name and like a few others, is well liked in Nashville and is involved. While not the biggest hit maker during her era, neither was her father, George Morgan, and he got in. He was also well liked and he also got a push from Lorrie.

Steve Wariner-he is a 99% chance of getting in. Not only is he a fine singer, but he is a great musician who is well respected. I was told that he will have to wait his turn, but his turn will come. He is still young so it will be a while.

There are a few others who's name will come up once in a while with Hall of Fame discussions, and a case can be made for each of them. But, the chances of getting into the Hall are pretty small. Those include Trace Adkins, John Conlee, Jack Greene, George Hamilton IV, Riders In The Sky, Pam Tillis and Trisha Yearwood. Most of these have had solid success, but just not Hall of Fame careers.

We didn't really talk about the younger artists, because while their careers are doing well now, it doesn't mean that will continue. We mentioned Brad Paisley as being as close to a guarantee as any of these and we both agreed on him. Keith Urban and Carrie Underwood were 2 other names that came up. Some who had initial success, such as Dierks Bentley, Montgomery Gentry and Josh Turner have all cooled off. And that may be more of an indication of where country music is today than anything else.

Finally, we talked about a few of the former Opry members, most of whom have passed away, and what was thought of some of those individuals. Specifically, we talked about Bobby Bare, Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper, Wilburn Brothers, Dottie West, Archie Campbell, June Carter, Billy Walker, Johnny Russell, Hank Locklin and Del Reeves. All of these artists had good careers that were long. And they have all been mentioned on and off regarding the Hall of Fame. Of those who are listed, the thought is that Billy Walker, Johnny Russell, Hank Locklin and Del Reeves have really no shot at getting in. It was mentioned that there are 2 words on why the Wilburn Brothers are not in, and probably will not get in, "Loretta Lynn." (if anyone needs a history lesson, let me know and I will fill you in). Archie Campbell has been a finalist for several years but has not gotten in. June Carter's high point was when the movie "Walk the Line" came out and it was mentioned that there are quite a few people around Nashville who have a lot of respect for June. But he said, there are more deserving candidates than June. There has never been strong support for Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper, or for Wilma Lee individually. He did say that in his opinion, the Coopers are deserving of being in the Hall.

It was felt that Bobby Bare's time will come. He is still alive and active, which helps. He just does not have a power base and nobody really pushing him to the voters. And that leaves Dottie West. With few females in the Hall, I asked if there was "pressure" to elect a female. He said, not really. With several females going in the past several years, that has not come up as much, but it still does. The voters notice. I asked if the present campaign to get Dottie elected this year, which would have been her 80th birthday, would have an effect. He said it might, if the right people are involved. And he mentioned that if these campaigns work, it is usually only effective that first year. And with the voting getting underway, this is the time for a campaign like this to get going.

Some have mentioned the Hall of Fame changing the categories and increasing the number elected each year. The thought process is that the Hall is perfectly fine with the number getting in and the categories. They would rather have someone wait a while longer than get in too soon. And while that leaves some deserving candidates out, it does create some discussion and publicity, which is always good. The Hall is currently expanding with the convention center and new hotel and attendance is good.

I finished by asking if there were any thoughts on who the favorites might be for 2013 election and he mentioned the usual names that we have heard in the past, including Jerry Reed and Ray Stevens, in addition to those names mentioned above. And with Garth Brooks out of the way, and the history lesson above, don't be surprised if the voters look back into the 1980s for the modern era. It just depends on who gets behind who when it comes to the voting. And while record sales are important, so is the respect for the music industry and the Nashville community. The voters will continue to have plenty of choices when it comes to the Hall of Fame.


  1. Byron, this is a great piece with a lot of terrific insights. Thanks for sharing.

    Looking at it realistically, among those listed as sure not to get in, I do think if the bluegrass "ban" ended, Ralph Stanley would have a great chance, but only if. Jean Shepard's reference to Jimmy C. Newman got me thinking, because he had some hits, his publishing company mattered a lot, and he brought Cajun music and some Louisiana artists to prominence, but it's a tough sell.

    I wondered about some of the probables you mentioned. Clint Black--I don't know why, but it seems as though he'd be less likely; his influence, prominence, and career seem less than some others mentioned. But personal popularity counts, that's for sure. Of course the hall is political. Isn't everything?

  2. Byron, this is a wonderful piece. Thanks for posting. True country fans are passionate about the Country Music Hall of Fame.

    I will add a few thoughts: First, I did not see Stonewall Jackson mentioned. I could have overlooked him. I personally, would love to see him elected. He is one of those solid journeymen of the genre. Now 80 years old, he performs when asked and has really endured. His hits, "Waterloo", "Why I'm Walking", "Don't Be Angry", "Leona" and "B.J. the D.J.", where some of the best of the 1950's and 60's. Of course, politically he has been a nightmare (and I'm not saying he was wrong in what happened). But I do think it will keep him out of the Hall of Fame.

    Like Michael, I would think Jimmy C. Newman should be given consideration. He is a (over) 55 year Opry member, is virtually the "King" of a side genre of Country Music that has not yet been enshrined in the Hall of Fame, helped others along the way (including Tom T. Hall and Dolly Parton) and also add his very successful publishing company. I cannot see why support would not come his way. Of this generation, Jack Greene and George Hamilton IV really should be in as well. But I agree, unless a miracle occurs, they will not make it.

    Moving ahead to more recent artists; Diamond Rio - Byron, I'm really surprised your source discarded them. To be they were the "Alabama" of the 1990's. Certainly not the same overall success, but as Alabama's star began to wain Diamond Rio seem to pick up the momentive. I would say of the 1990's/early 2000's bands, they stand a greater chance than any; Stever Wariner, I agree will make it. In addition to his hit records and great musician skills, do not overlook that impressive songwriting catalog of his; Lorrie Morgan is in the right Nashville clicks, enough said, she is going to make it; John Conlee is true country. I think if this man keeps on enduring as he is now, someday we could see a bronze plaque with his name on it. Looking back to the late 70's and 1980's some of the now classic records of the time belong to him; If Trisha Yearwood does not make it, as Grandma would say, "I'll eat my hat". I think she is going to have a 250 pound cheerleader in Garth Brooks. In fact, he will probably raise Hell until she is elected; and last Riders in The Sky. Who else is like them? My goodness! No hit records at all, but who do you compare them to? They stand alone. I doubt it will happen for them, but if I was an elector and they were on the ballot I might have to put an "x" by their name. Especially, if they were on the ballot 20 years from now with Shania Twain and Taylor Swift. LOL..but now my true country roots are showing.

    Three late Opry members I thought of were Jerry Clower, Bashful Brother Oswald and Johnnie & Jack. Jerry Clower, I feel, was the last of the "true" Country comedians. The last one that "kept it clean" so to speak. In addition he sold SEVERAL million records. Probably many more than most people would believe. If Rod Brasfield and Whitey Ford are in, Jerry Clower should be as well. Bashful Brother Oswald is a special case. I was told he was nominated twice in the 1980's, at a time when that was unheard of for a sideman. But I am certain in the 1980's he had much more support that he would get today. But with the addition of this "Touring or Recording Musician" category, he may get in yet. Johnnie & Jack should have been inducted in the late 1970's or 1980's. It did not happen then, and it probably will not happen in the future. In 2001 The Louvin's, The Delmore's, Homer & Jethro and The Everly's all went it. I personally think Johnnie & Jack are just as important to the genre as these other duos.

  3. Other deceased Opry members that Byron mentioned that I will comment on are, Archie Campbell, Dottie West, The Wilburn Brothers and Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper. I personally believe all should be in. 2013 may just be Dottie's year. Everywhere you look, google, read, you will see some type of article or petition or something with support thrown her way. I am certain someday she will make it. Ricky Skaggs is really pushing for Archie Campbell. They apparently had a close friendship that many do not realize. Ricky pulls a lot of weight. I am crossing my fingers for the "Mayor of Bull's Gap" to get in. He is one of my personal favorites. I have always said that if the music of Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper is so unique that the Smithsonian Institute can honor and display it, why in the world aren't they members of the Hall of Fame. None in the genre has their style. Are they Country? Are they Gospel? Are they Bluegrass? Face it, they were just good. My thoughts on The Wilburn Brothers; Loretta cannot live forever. I believe someday it will happen. The brother duo did not have many big hit records, but you cannot ignore the impact they had on Country Music via Television in the 1960's. It will have to happen at some point.

    Look at the backlog of Deceased artists; And I did not even cover those who are deceased that were active in from the 1970's and 1980's either. They must develope a posthumous category. If they do not, these folks just are not going to make it in. The electors will always vote for the living.

  4. But as I have stated before; The Browns and Bobby Bare are the most "overdue" not yet inducted.

  5. First, love, love, love reading this blog... the conversation and insight is tremendous.... Now for a couple of my quick thoughts on the Hall of Fame: as I have said before, I'd be the first person to vote for Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper. One former Opry star not mentioned on the list that I believe deserves to be in the Hall of Fame is Johnny Wright (as part of Johnnie & Jack.) Johnnie & Jack had a tremendous influence on all kinds of others including Bob Dylan. Johnny of course is the manager behind Kitty Wells and had a successful solo career as well. He's one of the rare people who had a #1 record as a duo, songwriter and solo artist. It's just a terrible shame that he and Wilma Lee did not get the honor while they were alive to enjoy it.

    Second: if you want a clue on upcoming inductees, look no further than the Hall itself. They have a way of "raising the profile" of those on the bubble... Example, a couple of years ago, Tom T. Hall was the artist in residence. What happens shortly thereafter? Hall of Fame induction. Who was last year's artist in residence? Connie Smith. So let's all put on our our mystery caps and remember who this year's artist in residence was: Kenny Rogers. I'm certainly no fan of the gambler but it would be hard to argue that he hasn't had the national-prominence to be in the Hall (and my money says he wouldn't have messed with the residence if he didn't think it would raise his profile.) If Bare doesn't get in this next year, good chance he'll be the next artist in residence.


  6. And....I forgot Stringbean... That's just a "personal hope for" I guess. I just adore the guy and the style he had. He was such a vital part of the Grand Ole Opry cast and "Hee Haw". I believe (in his own way) he had as big an impact on the genre as some already in the Hall of Fame. There is just not enough left around to realize that I'm afraid. Grandpa Jones is gone. He was String's big supporter for the Hall.

    As it has been mentioned on this blog before, his tragic death so prematurely is the reason he is not in the Hall of Fame already. And too me that is nothing but a shame.

  7. Fred, Bismarck:

    Wow ... it's this kind of discussion that puts the value of this blog, already so high, into the stratosphere.

    Thanks, first, to Byron for sharing the thinking of his good sources with us. Nothing like a good reality check.

    I am already resigned to my prime candidates, the Coopers and Johnnie & Jack -- even Johnnie Wright, stand-alone -- being out of luck. That's the way love goes ... people like Henry Clay and Robert Taft never got to be president of the United States, either.

    Not liking to step on anybody's toes -- because there are few things so individual as musical taste, and our country music is so various -- I will still say I find 90 percent of the names advanced here, well, not just lacking but seriously lacking. I hate to single out Trisha Yearwood, because I agree with so much else David B has to say ... but really, now! Garth is really going to have to muscle up to get that one through the door.

    On the other hand, I've got to go along with David (and Michael) on the unique qualifications of Jimmy 'C' ... also with David on Riders in the Sky. The Riders are not only excellent musically, with a lot of oldfashioned showmanship and a long career ... they have singlehandedly maintained a flame, western, that otherwise would have guttered out of our music.

    It's our good luck that the Riders have also chosen to be a mainstay of the Opry ... one of the few bright spots.

    1. Fred:
      Trisha is certainly not my personal favorite of her generation. I would put Patty Loveless and Tanya Tucker in any day over her.

      There are several new young female stars that lists her as a influence already, along with the likes of Shania Twain and Martina McBride. And add the fact that Yearwood did win two CMA female vocalist awards in the early to mid 1990's. Since the CMA controls the strings to this election process anyway, I feel (with pushing from one of the biggest "money men" ...aka the Music industry), someday she will be at least on the ballot and maybe even elected.

  8. Fred again, with a P.S.:

    Appropos of the Riders, it shouldn't hurt their chances that "Ranger Doug," aka Douglas Green, is one of country's foremost scholars, with an impressive list of writing credits.

    1. Fred:
      Yes, in addition to the Riders in the Sky, Ranger Doug Green runs in the right Nashville circles when he takes off those western cloths. He is also apart of the highly successful, (and impressive I might add), Time Jumpers Band.

    2. Ranger Doug also worked as a historian at the Country Music Foundation.

  9. I would like to see The Browns elected to the Hall of Fame; it would be a way of honoring both Jim Ed Brown and his sisters.

  10. A few comments on the comments, in no particular order:

    Hard to believe that I did not mention Stonewall Jackson and his name did come up in our discussion, but in many ways he is similar to Del Reeves, Billy Walker and Hank Locklin. All had nice careers with a string of hits, but it would be hard to get them into the Hall of Fame.

    Yes, Loretta Lynn is not going to live forever, but I think some of the older voters hold a loyalty toward her. And for whatever reason, it seems like the Wilburn Brothers were not the most liked people in town. Doyle died at an early age and Teddy didn't produce much after Doyle passed. I do believe that their best chance of getting in was in 2001 when the mass induction took place. If you remember that year, the Everly Brothers, Louvin Brothers, The Delmores, and Homer & Jethro went in. The voters may have thought that those 4 acts covered all of the duos that were out there at the time, that they felt were Hall qualified.

    Stringbean has been discussed before, as noted. In many ways, his career could have been similar to Bill Carlisle. Bill did have chart success, but many believe that the main reason he was elected to the Hall was because of the length of his career. Stringbean, in many ways, could have been another Bill Carlisle. There are some who feel that if Archie Campbell had lived another ten years, he would be in the Hall by now.

    I agree with the comments on Trisha Yearwood. I think Garth is going to have to do a lot of pulling and pushing to get her elected. He did it once to get her invited as an Opry member, but I don't see it happening in this case. I just don't think her career was substantial enough.

    Some great points on Riders In The Sky. Doug Green is very well respected in town and is involved in the Nashville community. But of the Riders, he is really the only one. Again, while a great act with Grammy Awards to prove it, they have had no real chart success.

    It will be interesting this coming year. People mention The Browns, who have been finalists for what seems like forever, and Dottie West and the campaign to get her in. It also depends on where Ronnie Milsap ends up on the ballot. He was in the modern era category last year but could move into the veterans category this year.

    Finally, it was mentioned whether an artist who is still living has a much better chance than someone who has already passed away. The thought is allow them the glory of getting elected before they are gone. For what it is worth, the last deceased person to be elected to the Hall of Fame was Ernest "Pop" Stoneman in 2008, while prior that (and not counting Lew DeWitt of the Statlers in the same year), it was DeFord Bailey in 2005. And if you remember, it was the election of Stoneman that caused the change in the categories regarding the veteran artists as many voters felt Stoneman was not Hall of Fame worthy and got in because he was the best available on the ballot. For 2009 and each year after that, the veterans category was opened up to allow more artists to fall into that group, which was intended to help break the backlog of candidates. In that respect, it has worked.

  11. Fred again:

    A worthy subject for discussion, I think, is the extent to which radio hits should weigh on an artist's Hall qualifications. Especially given that what gets played on the radio has increasingly been given over to consultants; and that, since the demise of the single, singles chart action has been divorced from the ultimate test of a song's popularity, sales.

    I'm reminded of a case from 10 or 15 years ago -- sorry, I cannot recall the name of the artist -- in which the guy lost his record deal, the label complaining to Billboard that he had had lots of "hits" but didn't sell any albums (the only way the label got paid).

    I'd be surprised if many on here would argue with Grandpa Jones' inclusion in the Hall; yet his formal "hits" were precious few, even when the singles charts still consulted sales. Still, he was never without a recording contract, which tells me that obviously SOMEBODY was buying all those Grandpa singles and albums (on King, RCA, Decca, Monument and CMH).

    Not in Garth Brooks numbers, obviously -- but still enough to cover studio, distribution and promotion costs and leave the company a little over. As Emmylou Harris said once, defending her decision to make another of her limited-appeal projects, "What does it really matter if an album sells 2 million copies or only 200,000?"

    I realize Emmylou ain't making records for Warner Bros. anymore, either.

    But similarly with a lot of artists -- from Carl Smith and Ernest Tubb to Hank Thompson and even Hank Snow. Long after their "hitmaking" heyday, they were still selling albums ... lots of 'em.

    Enough. I know country music is a business like any other, that money greases the wheel and that a record or radio executive who indulged his country preferences before company profits would quickly be out on the street. But is the Hall of Fame, keeper of the sacred flame, obliged to order its priorities the same way?

    Here, if anyplace, it seems to me, merit can have its day without costing anybody a dime ... or his job. UNLESS pure marketplace considerations have completely taken over the thinking of Hall electors ... in which case they are guilty of nonfeasance.

    Flip side of the coin, I don't care how many radio "hits" Artist X has had -- and I could fill in the name of lots of the candidates advanced in this thread. Good for him, he has already enjoyed that payoff. But has he (or she) also earned inclusion in the Hall?

    How about the MERIT of his music? His stage presence and showmanship? If something should happen to him, would he be irreplaceable by anybody else? Would people still be talking about him 80 years later, as in the case of Jimmie Rodgers, or 60 years later (Hank Williams)? Still singing their songs?

    Grist for the mill, fellow Fayfarers!

  12. I guess Skeeter Davis is another with no chance. What about non-Opry members like Mac Wiseman and Gene Watson? Does Hank Williams, Jr. have too much baggage to be considered?

  13. Fred here:

    Danny, to me Mac Wiseman is a Grandpa Jones-like figure who would have been a shoo-in in earlier times. Again, not a lot of radio hits after the 1950s ... but a singer of great material without peer, and a long career -- with record deals -- and showmanship that didn't quit.

    The genius of Hank Jr. cannot be denied forever without complete abdication of responsibility by Hall voters. In my usual mouthy, not-so-humble opinion!

  14. Byron:
    Travis Tritt was not mentioned either. Did you forget he was an Opry Member??? LOL...

    I cannot see him making it into the Hall of Fame.

  15. I hate to keep throwing names in, but I thought of former 1940's Grand Ole Opry member Bradley Kincaid.

    I would have put him in before Pop Stoneman if they were looking for a "pioneer" type artist. I think Kincaid has the bigger influence.

    I did read from one source that he was on the ballot in 1980 and 1988.

    Just another name in the pot. I'm certain that anyone with pre-1960 success does not have much of a chance at all anymore.

  16. David, you are right. Bradley Kincaid was on the ballot for a number of years and Grandpa Jones would always mention that Bradley should be in the Hall of Fame. But like several others, including Mac Wiseman, their time has passed.

    As with so many others, Skeeter Davis was a nice artist, but no chance for election. Nice comment about Travis Tritt. Is he still an Opry member?? (just kidding). Anyways, I think he would get consideration someday. Gene Watson? Not so sure on Gene. Hank Williams, Jr.? He will get in someday. In fact, I personally would put him in the 100% group. He is still fairly young, so it might take a few years. But for everything Hank has said and done, he is well liked in Nashville and is known to have much respect for the veteran artists.

  17. Non-Opry members Gene Watson and Vern Gosdin are two of my personal favorites. Their careers were very similar. Very true traditionalists. I think if you went on influence alone, they would be shoe-ins. Every honky-tonker that has came out since that historic class of 89, lists them as influences. But if the electors look at chart success to go along with influence, they will both fall short. They were dominated on the charts in the 1970's and 1980's by Twitty, Haggard, Jones, Milsap, Kenny Rogers..etc... But I believe they are both Hall of Fame worthy.

  18. David, as was explained to me, the pool of voters for the Hall of Fame is getting younger, which makes it harder for the older artists to get in. The voters are just not familiar with them or their work and influence, so they have to go on what they have been told. What makes it harder for artists such as Bradley Kincaid or Archie Campbell, among others, is that they did not record much, and what they did record tended to be on smaller labels and the material is all out of circulation or of such poor quality that it makes it hard to judge their work.

    I know there was a voter a couple of years ago who made the comment (off the record) that if these old-time artists were so good, they would have been voted in by now.

    1. Byron: I understand completely on those younger electors. Most Country fans my age can just barely remember Archie, and have never heard of Bradley Kincaid. Just the true blue, die-hard, country classics fanatic like myself are passionate about such artists.

      The CMA could develop a sub-election (like the National Baseball Hall of Fame) to elect an artist a year from say a "PRE-1960" category. Once a baseball player has "no hope" from that main baseball writers Association, that is when a panel of "veterans" steps in and says, "Wait a minute, this guy should be in the Hall of Fame". The great Ron Santo got in the 2012 from that Baseball veterans committee.

      But as you have stated, the CMA is happy with the way things are now. They are probably not changing things. Kincaid, Mac Wiseman, Cowboy Copas, Elton Britt, Al are right, their time has passed. I'm still holding out for Archie Campbell though. I think there still may be enough pull around to get the "Mayor of Bull's Gap" in.

  19. I love Connie Smith but other than the fact most people acknowledge her as one of the best female voices ever (and she has a husband who served many years as President of the CMA), I can't see what sets her above Dottie West or for that matter Skeeter Davis. I know Skeeter had a lot of pop hits but Skeeter was right there in that transition between Kitty Wells/Jean Shepard/Rose Maddox and the Tammy Wynettes, Dolly Partons and Loretta Lynns. She was cited by most females in the late 60s as an influence, she brought a lot of fans into country music from the pop/folk world and, she was tremendously popular overseas and was an Opry member fore over 40 years (except for that very weird suspension for speaking out against the Nashville police.) In my opinion she was certainly a pioneering female and both she and Dottie deserve to be inducted.

    As far as the Wilburns are concerned, they basically gave Loretta her start, got her on Decca records, on the Opry, exposed her to millions on their TV show then she left them in the dust. In the movie "Coal Miners Daughter" they weren't even mentioned. It was like she and Doolittle drove up to Nashville and got on the Grand Ole Opry and Patsy Cline was more help to her. No doubt they were tough businessmen insisting that their artists record only their songs from Sure Fire Publishing and I'm sure that didn't win them many friends. And although I don't know all the details, I know there were a lot of legal issues between Loretta and the Wilburns right up until she sued again after Teddy died in 2001 to get her songs back from Sure Fire. (which a lot of people say Teddy, known as one of the best song doctors ever, had a hand in rewriting.) And let's also not forget they also had Wilhem Talent agency with Don Helms. One other thing, the Osborne Brothers also acknowledge that they were ready to quit the business before the Wilburns got them on the Opry and on Decca records. So you have artist mentors, song publishers, artists, talent agents and staples of the Grand Ole Opry all the way back to the 40s when they came to the Opry as children. And let's not forget they got their early start with Webb Pierce on the Louisiana Hayride. (Of course, I'm sure any connection with Webb doesn't help anyone!)

    Several years ago a late Opry star was talking to me about Loretta and with a tinge of bitterness said that most of what she wrote in her autobiography was not true. He also noted that she welded tremendous power in the CMA and Loretta Lynn Enterprises traded a lot of votes in the CMA Awards in the 70s -- either you vote for Loretta or we will take all our votes and vote against you. And as far as the Opry goes, I read an interview a couple of years ago where someone asked her about the Opry and why she didn't play more often and her response was "What has the Opry done for me lately? WSM doesn't play my records anymore." Nothing like biting the hands that made you!

    Sorry, for the rant, that's not to trash Loretta in anyway, she's certainly a legend, just some of the dark side of the business.

    One other thing regarding the Hall that burned me up: there's no doubt Garth deserves Hall of Fame induction. And, even though I was a Garth fan, he did more to wreck traditional country music that almost anyone else. And to pour salt in the wound: when he was inducted, he asked Bob Seeger and James Taylor to sing instead of country artists... (yes, I know George Strait sang too.)...

  20. Just as a point of reference, and it doesn't mean a thing as the voting changes from year to year, but here are what was reported to have been the 5 finalists in the modern and veterans category last year:

    Modern-Garth Brooks, Ricky Skaggs, Ronnie Milsap, Oak Ridge Boys and Kenny Rogers.

    Veteran-Connie Smith, Hank Williams, Jr., Archie Campbell, Jerry Reed and June Carter Cash.

    I do know that in previous years, The Browns and Ray Stevens, among others, have been finalists. Like I said, it changes from year to year.

    As far as the previous comment, yes I had heard the same comment about Loretta and the Opry/WSM. And you are right, it was as if the Wilburn Brothers were never a part of her success. And that is a shame.

  21. Hey Fayfare And David B If They Dont Put Alan Jackson In From That Modern Category Next Year I Would Say Either Milsap Tanya Tucker The Oaks Randy Travis Or Ricky Skaggs Would Be Great Choices From The Veterans Category If They Induct A Dead Artist From That Veterans Category It Will Be Either The Willburns Or Dottie West And If They Induct A Living Artist From That Veterans Category It Will Be Either The Browns Bobby Bare Kenny Rogers Or Hank Jr Hey Fayfare And David B If Alan Jackson Doesnt Get In Next Year From That Modern Category The 5 Acts I Mentioned Earlier Milsap Travis Tucker Oaks And Skaggs Would All Be Great Choices

  22. Fred here:

    Re. Loretta Lynn and the Opry, I will say that WSM had a lot of company in not playing her records ... going back 30-plus years, or when the hits stopped for her.

    I loved much of Lynn's earlier music, admiring her songwriting as well as her real country voice and her country arrangements. Her personality, as reflected in numerous public statements, was often something else. I have not read her autobiography, but am ready to believe the critic who characterized her author's voice as "irritating."

  23. Hey Guys I Think Kenny Rogers Ronnie Milsap The Oak Ridge Boys Hank Williams Jr Randy Travis And Ricky Skaggs Will All Make It To The Hall Of Fame Before Alan Jackson And Guess What Guys All 6 Acts That I Mentioned Rogers Milsap Oaks Hank Jr Travis And Skaggs Have Won The ACM Cliffie Stone Pioneer Award All 6 Of Them Should And Will Make It To The Hall Of Fame Within The Next 3-5 Years Before AJ Alan Deserves It But His Induction Shouldnt Come Before Rogers Milsap Oaks Hank Jr Travis And Skaggs If AJ Makes It To The Hall Of Fame This Year It Will Open The Door For Brooks & Dunn Shania Tim McGraw Toby Keith.Etc To Go In Immediately After Alan And Alan Hasnt Won The ACM Cliffie Stone Pioneer Award Yet So I Think He Should Wait At Least 3-5 Years For His Induction While The Others That I Mentioned Rogers Milsap Oaks Hank Jr Travis And Skaggs Have All Won The ACM Cliffie Stone Pioneer Award And All 6 Of Them Should And Will Get In To The Hall Of Fame Within The Next 3-5 Years

  24. Fred again:

    Hey, Anonymous: How about some identification, to help us decide how much credibility your assertions deserve?

  25. I read all the posts and I agree with some.I don't agree with others.My heart is still with the veterans and some of the modern era bunch.As for the country greats whose time has passed,I don't think so.Some of them will get in the Hall of Fame.If it wasn't for the veterans we would not have modern era singers.END OF STORY.

  26. I do agree some of the veterans are in a ''special category'' like Bradley Kincaid,Archie Campbell,Hank Jr,Wilma Lee & Stoney,others.Come on put them in already.

  27. Byron:
    In past years there have been ties; Jimmy Dean/Ferlin Husky ; The Statler Brothers/Tom T. Hall ; Dolly Parton/Conway Twitty ; Buck Owens/Ray Price and others. I wonder what the CMA factors in to call a tie? Is that in writing anywhere? I highly doubt those acts got the same number of votes. Some kind of percentage must be attained in the voting? Thus, so far the Modern Category has never had a tie, or the rotating category.

  28. David, that is a great question. I am not sure if they calculate it on the actual votes or percentage. I know the number of Hall of Fame voters is much smaller than those who vote for the rest of the CMA awards. I will have to check. I personally have no issues with ties as it allows an extra person in.

  29. Hey Fayfare And Hey David B I Wonder Which Country Stars Will Get In From That Veterans Category Between This Year 2013 And The Next 20 Years 2014-2033 And I Also Wonder Which Country Stars Will Get In From That Modern Category Between This Year 2013 And The Next 20 Years 2014-2033 Can You Guys Help Me Make Predictions For This Year 2013 And The Next 20 Years 2014-2033 From Both The Veterans And Modern Categories

  30. Hey Fayfare And Hey David B I Wonder Which Country Artist Will Get The 25-Year Treatment Just Like Johnny Cash As You All Know Johnny Cash Started In 1955 And He Got In In On The 25th Anniversary Of His First Single In 1980 So I Wonder Which Country Artist Will Pull A Johnny Cash And Get In On The 25th Anniversary Of His/Her First Single/Album Of Or On The 25th Anniversary Of His/Her Career Breakthrough When Theyre Inducted I Would Say Either Alan Jackson In 2015 On The 25th Anniversary Of His First Album Here In The Real World It Came Out In 1990 Or Shania Even Though Shes Not A Nashville Favorite In 2020 On The 25th Anniversary Of Her Career Breakthough The Woman In Me It Came Out In 1995

  31. Byron,do you know who got in on a tie vote besides the ones already mentioned? I mean every tie vote since 1961.I bet there's not that many.It would be nice to know how many there are in the last 50 years.

  32. I think the answer might be 11 times.
    Artists only:
    1966- Eddy Arnold/Uncle Dave Macon; 1967- Red Foley/Jim Reeves; 1970- The Carter Family/Bill Monroe; 1980- Johnny Cash/The Sons of The Pioneers; 1982- Lefty Frizzell/Marty Robbins; 1988- Loretta Lynn/Roy Rogers; 1996- Buck Owens/Ray Price; 1998- Elvis Presley/Tammy Wynette; 1999- Dolly Parton/Conway Twitty; 2008- Tom T. Hall/The Statler Brothers and 2010- Jimmy Dean/Ferlin Husky

    Patsy Montana (1996), George Morgan (1998) and Johnny Bond (1999), I believe were elected through different categories.

    Looks like there may have been ties between non-performers as well:
    1965- Jim Denny/George D. Hay; 1967- J.L. Frank/Steve Sholes; 1989- Jack Stapp/Cliffie Stone; 1997- Harlan Howard/Cindy Walker

    I do not know if they had planned on electing two artists (Hank Williams, Jimmie Rodgers) in 1961 or if that was a tie? Byron may know. It is doubtful if the CMA may know that question now or not? lol

    1. I did read that the CMA limited the 1961 charter inductees to deceased persons only. I would say that is why Hank Williams went in before Roy Acuff.

    2. I don't believe all of the above-mentioned were ties. The rules and criteria have been somewhat fluid for HoF voting/categorization down through the years. Some years they purposely inducted two artists and weren't so strict about the industry/non-performer category. If two artists garnered the highest percentage of votes, then they were the inductees for that given year. I would guess a record of voting could be found in the minutes of the CMA's board meetings or possibly the HoF nominating committee's meetings.

  33. It is also amazing that in 1963 nobody was voted in.

    Also, regarding the "tie" votes listed above, I don't think all of those were ties as much as having several different categories, especially for those prior to 1988. If you notice, while 2 artists were elected, it was generally a modern artist and an older veteran. I would have to look it up, but I think there was an "open" category and a "veteran" category.

    Some of you might know this, but there is a facebook page dedicated to getting Jack Greene elected to the Hall of Fame. It was put up on the page today that Jack is not on the nominee list for this year. I did ask the question who was on the list and the reply was "The Browns, Jerry Reed, Dottie West, Mac Wiseman, The Wilburns and others." This would be the veterans category and I am going to assume that these are not the finalist (which would be 5), but those on the ballot for the 1st round of voting that will narrow the list to the 5 finalists.

    1. Mac Wiseman? That is surprising. He (along with the Browns and the Wilburns), were three of the names that Jean Shepard mentioned in her acceptance speech in 2011. I think she also mentioned Leroy Van Dyke, Jimmy C. Newman and Skeeter Davis.

      I guess Archie Campbell has fallen off the radar. I hate that.

    2. Byron:
      I think you may be right on the "open" and "veteran" categories in the 1980's..etc.. One artist we discussed the other day was Bradley Kincaid. I read in a short biography on him that he was nominated for the Hall of Fame in 1980 and 1988, loosing both times to Roy Rogers (in 1980 as a member of the Sons of The Pioneers and later in 1988 as a solo act). No mention of Johnny Cash (1980) or Loretta Lynn (1988) in the biography on Kincaid.

      The article mentioned that Wilf Carter was on the 1980 ballot and Tex Williams on the 1988 ballot. Those two names have totally disappeared off Hall of Fame discussions.

    3. Jack Greene is one of my favorites, but from an objective standpoint I do not see where he has had a Hall of Fame career. His chart history is not very strong, with most of his big hits concentrated in a 5-year span. I haven't heard a lot of people mention him as an influence, and I don't know that he was a trailblazing pioneer. However, it may help that he had a solid Opry run of 45 years and that he was the big winner at the first CMA Awards. I will say that the Hall of Fame has quite a few members whose careers were similar to Jack's (or even not as strong as his), so it's not out of the question that he could be elected one day.

  34. David B., remember that the story refers to "others." Archie Campbell may be among them. He deserves to be, and he might actually get a little boost from the recent death of Frank Peppiatt, the co-creator of "Hee Haw." I don't like to put it that way and apologize for it, but it may have reminded Nashville of the show's importance and thus Archie's.

    Mac Wiseman is an odd duck for determining Hall of Fame credentials. He has them, of course. But he didn't entirely stay in bluegrass. Even if he lacked for hits, he had a lot of recordings (ala Grandpa Jones, say). He was on the production side with Dot Records. And he has long been active in country and bluegrass organizations. He would have a chance, presuming that he is as beloved as the Wilburn Brothers are not.

    All of the five people Byron mentioned above are deserving, and if one is elected, we'll complain about the other four not going in.

  35. I believe Mac Wiseman was one of the founders of the CMA as well. If I'm correct that should add to his credentials. Can anyone confirm?

    Knightsville, IN

  36. Yes, Mac was the first secretary of the CMA Board of Directors when it was formed in 1959. I would like to see all those mentioned go into the Hall of Fame but it would sure be nice if Mac was elected while he was alive to see it. In addition to his solo work, label work with DOT Records, also remember that he worked with Bill Monroe, was one of the original Foggy Mountain Boys and has dedicated himself to keeping many of the old-time songs alive. (oldtimeopry)

  37. Thaks David B.for teling me about the tie votes since 1966.I alwaysa wondered abouyt that ,And about the open category.

  38. Oldtimeopry, all I need to know is this. Someone once asked Mr. Monroe who his greatest lead singer was. Without hesitation, and saying it as though it was too obvious to discuss, he said, "Oh, Mac." And this was long after he made up with Lester Flatt and with Jimmy Martin among us.

    1. Monroe might have been feuding with Jimmy Martin when he made that comment. Martin was a valuable asset to Monroe's outfit and went on to have a successful career in his own right. It probably didn't help Martin's standing with Monroe that Monroe's daughter Melissa was somewhat sweet on Jimmy.

  39. I heard that Hank Sr, wife Audrey pulled a few strings to get Hank in the Hall of Fame in 1961.Does anyone know if that's true?I wouldn't put it past her.

  40. Johnny, nobody had to pull any strings to get Hank Williams elected to the Hall of Fame.

  41. In regards to Diamond Rio, I would like to think that Diamond Rio would be considered as there have been very few successful bands in country music as far as having a string of hits that lasted for more than ten years and multiple #1s.

  42. This is a very interesting observation. I have to totally disagree with your analysis of the Wilburn Brothers not being in the HOF. I agree that they should have been in there years ago due to their many hits, ground breaking TV show & music agency that helped several others in country music at that time. I have been with Loretta & her family members a lot thru the years , even worked for them awhile & I can assure you I have never heard Loretta or any of her children say one hurtful word regarding the Wilburns. The Wilburn clan, what's left of them, has attended parties at the Ranch more than once, which were by invitation only, they talk to each other & both respect each other. I think Loretta would be thrilled to see Teddy & Doyle in the HOF. Sure, they had some legal issues 40 yrs. ago that drug on forever, which by the way is the reason for them not being portrayed in the movie ( it was their choice I'm told ). Loretta was placed in some very uncomfortable situations more than once due to the behavior of them sometimes & I won't say more about that BUT she has never denied to anyone that they helped her out a lot. Just a few years ago she did still have a picture of their mother on her wall because she has stated more than once that she helped her out so much with her dresses, make up etc etc etc Likewise, if you look at the Wilburn Brothers office, they have pictures of Loretta everywhere.
    Sometimes artists just get overlooked for one reason or another in the HOF selection but I can assure you, ( I'd bet the house ) that Loretta is not the reason The Wilburn Brothers are not in there. The source in Nashville that thinks that is incorrect. Loretta is loved all over the world & maybe at one time did have a lot of influence with the CMA during her prime but then when she recorded "Van Lear Rose" & had all sorts of recognition with it there was a push to get her nominated for a CMA award but that didn't happen so currently there is not a lof of influence with her & the CMA. She did win a Grammy for that recording though & she stated that she thought Nashville thought she was too country. Thank goodness we do still have some country artists left in Nashville.

  43. It's too bad nobody got inducted in 1963.My pics would have been Carter Family,Deford Bailey,Uncle Dave Macon,George D.Hay,Vernon Dalhart.I know they were insucted to the Hall of Fame in later years.

  44. Hey David B By The Time Anne Murray Crystal Gayle And Mickey Gilley Get Inducted From The Veterans Category People Like Shania Tim McGraw Toby Keith.Etc Could Be Dominating That Modern Category Crystal Anne And Mickeys Inductions Will Proably Happen In The 2020s

  45. Hey David B Those Are The Acts Will All Make It To The Hall Of Fame From The Veterans Era Category In The Next 10-15 Years
    The Browns Bobby Bare Kenny Rogers Hank Jr Charlie Daniels Ray Stevens Anne Murray Crystal Gayle Mickey Gilley Larry Gatlin And Gene Watson
    And Now On To The Acts Will All Make It To The Hall Of Fame From The Modern Era Category In The Next 10-15 Years Ronnie Milsap The Oaks Tanya Tucker Ricky Skaggs Randy Travis Alan Jackson The Judds Brooks & Dunn Marty Stuart Patty Loveless Dwight Yoakam Steve Wariner Clint Black Tim McGraw And Toby Keith

  46. Hey David B If They Added A Posthumous Category I Expect These Acts To Be Inducted
    Dottie West The Willburns Jerry Reed Vern Gosdin And Eddie Rabbitt

  47. Trisha Yearwood had a very strong career in my opinion. Her debut single was the first since Connie Smith to hit number one on the chart, her debut album sold 2 million copies. She had a pretty generous cross over appeal, And besides Reba McEntire was the most consistently successful female vocalist of the 90s. I think she would of made it into the opry with or without Garth.

  48. I think Mac Wiseman should be in the hall of fame has anyone check this man track record these younger one can wait and give a little more rember where it all started Isay Mac should be next

  49. Mac Wiseman Mac Wiseman Mac Wiseman