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Music City Beat – August 2017

Eddie Cochran, Carl Perkins and Bobby Cochran, newest Rockabilly Hall of Famers

NASHVILLE — The late Eddie Cochran was added to the Rockabilly Hall of Fame in Jackson, Tenn., July 1, 30 years after being inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Sharing that Rockabilly honor posthumously are Carl (“Blue Suede Shoes”) Perkins, 57, and Eddie’s very-much-alive rockin’ nephew Bobby Cochran. Ironically, Perkins, who at 65 died in 1998, is a native of Jackson, home to the International Rockabilly Hall of Fame. In Memphis, after signing with Sun Records, Carl recorded his composition “Blue Suede Shoes,” which became Sun’s first rockabilly record to sell a million singles. It hit Billboard’s country, pop and R&B charts, even scoring Top 10 in the UK. A 1956 automobile accident sidelined Carl awhile and brother Jay later died from injuries suffered in that tragedy. Later Perkins’ successes included “Boppin’ the Blues,” “Matchbox,” and appearing in the movie “Jamboree.” Johnny Cash, who recorded Perkins’ #1 “Daddy Sang Bass,” featured Carl on his hit TV series and as a regular on tour. Perkins is also a member of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and recipient of a Grammy Hall of Fame award. Of course, Eddie Cochran departed the music scene in 1960, when his taxi overturned, en-route to London Airport, following a UK tour. He was 21 years old. A multi-instrumentalist, Eddie was Minnesota-born, but kicked off his career in California with a non-related entertainer Garland (Hank) Cochran as The Cochran Brothers (see above photo), whose associates included fellow country newcomers Harlan Howard and Bobby Bare, as the duo did appearances on such programs as KTTV’s Town Hall Party, and on tour supporting stars like Lefty Frizzell, before their split. Whereupon Eddie adopted a more rockabilly style, before it was even in vogue, scoring such teen-angst successes as “C’mon Everybody,” “Something Else,” “Twenty-Flight Rock” and “Summertime Blues.” A superb guitarist, Eddie helped define the 1950s’ rebel rock sound, inspiring such later legends as John Lennon, Pete Townshend, Jimmy Page and Duane Allman. His hits were covered by rock acts like The Who, Blue Cheer and The Sex Pistols. Yet another guitarist who idolized Eddie was nephew Bobby Cochran, known for his mastery of the six-string. Like his uncle, Bobby was born in Albert Lea, Minn. (1950), and earned his session spurs backing such stalwarts as Steppenwolf, Leon Russell, The Flying Burrito Brothers, as well as his own band The Midnites and more recently The Rhythm Rockers. Apart from Eddie, his early influences were Chet Atkins, B.B. King and Duane Eddy. According to Bobby: “Duane’s style I could actually access. I got to meet him once and I told him how much he had influenced my playing. His tone and melody were amazing. He had a big impact on me as a young player.”
Scene Stealers: Singer Lacy J. Dalton (“16th Avenue”) is one artist who believes in giving back when you’ve gained success, and now does so via California’s Arts in Connection program. From September to June, she and bandleader Dale Poune participate in teaching songwriting, rap and guitar to interested inmates at High Desert State Prison in Susanville. This project is co-sponsored by the non-profits William James Association (in her hometown of Santa Cruz), and the California Lawyers For the Arts, as part of a $65,000 project to benefit incarcerated persons and the community at large. Actually, such programs have been launched at several state prisons with further funding from the National Endowment For the Arts (though President Trump has called for NEA defunding), California Arts Council and some private foundations. Dalton, whose country hits include several she co-wrote herself, such as “Hillbilly Girl With the Blues,” “Takin’ It Easy” and “Everybody Makes Mistakes” (which sort of represents her feeling here), insists that they teach more than country-style music: “Much of what has been written in the past two years that we have established the program, is far away from country music . . . For these people, being able to make a positive out of a negative situation, as they have done, is very meaningful . . . They have made their mistakes, and are paying the price for what they have done, but it doesn’t have to end there. It shouldn’t end there.” Lacy J., 70, feels that many of them, especially those who committed crime in their youth, deserve a rehabilitation chance, “To make a worthwhile contribution to society and re-establish their lives.” . . . Rory Feek, 52, returns to performing come September in his hometown of Pottsville, Tenn., for a charity concert to benefit the Music Health Alliance. Previously part of the Joey + Rory country duo, he hasn’t performed since before the death of his wife and vocal partner Joey, who succumbed to cancer in March 2016. According to Feek, Music Health Alliance is special to him because that nonprofit Nashville agency helped the family during her lengthy health battle. At a news conference, he confided, “I could not navigate the barrage of medical bills that were coming in. What is covered? What is not covered? What isn’t covered, but should be?” The duo, known for the hits “Cheater, Cheater” and “This Song’s For You,” won a best roots gospel album Grammy in Los Angeles last February. As writer, former Marine Rory penned hits like “A Little More Country Than That” (Easton Corbin), “Chain of Love” (Clay Walker) and “Some Beach” (Blake Shelton) . . . Charley Pride found a new fan in Oscar-winning actress Whoopi Goldberg, the night he accepted the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences’ Lifetime Achievement Grammy, July 11, at New York City’s Beacon Theatre. As The View host, Whoopi opened her July 12 telecast with a cheery “Good morning, Charley Pride!,” saying he watches the ABC show. She and Charley have seen one another on various occasions, but never really spoke until New York: “It was great to finally get to meet him after 30 years! I met him last night at the Grammy Legends ceremony. When you think about country music, he was the only man of color doing country music, followed next by Darius Rucker (of Hootie & The Blowfish), who has won a country Grammy. It’s kind of extraordinary and it’s an area of music that people don’t realize is very connected to people of color, because it’s country music and we all came from that country . . . I have not seen a ‘Sister’ doing country music.” Last December, Charley celebrated his 50th year of Billboard chartings, his first Top 10 being 1966’s “Just Between You and Me,” followed by 51 more Top 10s, 29 of which became #1 singles, earning three Grammys and induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame (2000). Ray Charles, of course, enjoyed a Top 10 duet with George Jones “We Didn’t See a Thing,” and a #1 “Seven Spanish Angels” with Willie Nelson, as well as adapting country classics to fit his R&B style earlier, scoring hits such as “I Can’t Stop Loving You,” “You Are My Sunshine” and “Crying Time.” Less successful were full-time country men of color Big Al Downing, Stoney Edwards, O.B. McClinton and Cleve Francis, who came, garnered some media attention, then quietly disappeared. Women of color who made half-hearted attempts in the genre, included Shirley B. Adair, briefly signed to ABC-Paramount, and Ruby Falls, who co-wrote her only Top 40 single “You’ve Got To Mend This Heartache” (1977), but died at age 40 of a brain hemorrhage in 1986. The Pointer Sisters’ saw their composition “Fairytale” hit Top 40 (#13 pop), earning them a 1974 country (?) Grammy.
Bits & Pieces: Sorry boys, singer Maren Morris is now engaged to fellow singer-songwriter Ryan Hurd, who popped the question July 9. According to an Instagram posting, Maren’s photo says it all, depicting her upon Ryan’s lap, holding a Corona beer in her right hand, and sporting a new diamond ring on the left, as the caption says “Yes.” What timing! This same week her duet “Craving You” with Thomas Rhett hit the top of Billboard’s country airplay chart. This marks mi’lady’s first #1 (and Rhett’s eighth). Congrats! . . . Performance rights organization ASCAP has struck a deal with YouTube, regarding a joint music licensing agreement to improve royalties for songwriters. Publishers and writers alike have long criticized the YouTube steaming site for hosting illegal music videos, without obtaining proper permission of copyright holders. U.S. law requires publishers to identify such illegal posts and thereby request YouTube remove such violators from the site. The newly-announced agreement calls for both sides sharing information on writers and publishers, primarily to aid accuracy in supplying royalties. According to Elizabeth Matthews, ASCAP’s CEO, “The ultimate goal is to ensure that more money goes to the songwriters, composers and publishers, whose creative works fuel the digital music economy.” . . . Dolly Parton appears on pop princess Kesha’s new CD “Rainbow,” guesting with good reason on the diva’s revival of “Old Flames Can’t Hold a Candle To You” a song Parton took to #1 in 1980. That ballad was co-written by Pebe Sebert (Kesha’s mom) and Hugh Moffatt, appearing on Parton’s LP “Dolly, Dolly, Dolly.” Actually two years earlier, it was Joe Sun’s first country hit (#14, 1978), and yet another clever cover was sung by Brian Collins, less successfully. A little research reveals Kesha also included “Old Flames” on her “Deconstructed” set four years earlier. Her new album will be released Aug. 11 . . . By the way, Dolly Parton joins fellow East Tennessee native Kenny Chesney atop the latest Forbes magazine list of the World’s Highest Paid Country Music Stars, Chesney ($42.5 million) at #2 spot, while Parton ($37 million) ranked #4. According to the accompanying news release, “Perhaps the most surprising name on the list is Dolly Parton. The septuagenarian star grossed a healthy six figures per city across 63 dates, during our scoring period; she also cashes in on publishing paychecks and her Dollywood theme park.” Not unexpectedly, Garth Brooks is the highest earner ($60 million), while Luke Bryan’s third (with $42 million) and fifth place is tied between Toby Keith and Florida Georgia Line (each with $34.5 million) . . . Country newcomer Dylan Scott, 26, revealed on social media that he and his bride Blair anticipate their first baby this year. Of course, he’s not sure yet whether it’s a boy or if he’ll be revisiting his big hit “My Girl” to celebrate vocally . . . Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley for the 10th time will serve as hosts for the annual Country Music Association (CMA) awards show, scheduled Nov. 8, 2017 in Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena, broadcast live via ABC-TV. It’s the CMA’s 51st gala . . . Brad Paisley, incidentally, also hosts a comedy special premiering Aug. 15 via Netflix. Reportedly billed as Brad Paisley’s Comedy Rodeo, the show spotlights standup comics and other guests from among “Paisley’s famous friends.” Look for Paisley pals Reba and Baywatch star David Hasselhoff to appear. ’Nuff said . . . Banjoists Bela Fleck and wife Abigail Washburn have been announced as co-hosts of the 28th annual International Bluegrass Music Awards Show, Sept. 28 in Raleigh, N.C. It’s the highlight of the annual World of Bluegrass conference there from Sept. 26-30 . . . Bluegrass diva Alison Krauss embarks on a co-starring concert venture with British artist David Gray, which includes a two-day stop in Music City, Oct. 1-2, at the historic Ryman Auditorium. Krauss, a multiple Grammy winner, known for such high-lonesome hits as “When You Say Nothing At All,” usually tours with Union Station, while Gray’s popular platinum-selling CD “White Ladder” includes the song “Babylon.” . . . The Dixie Chicks’ DCZ MMSVI Tour turned into a concert documentary that three Nashville cinemas plan to screen Aug. 7. Actually the footage features their Nashville stop in August 2016 . . . Yet another live concert from last year, a John D. Loudermilk Tribute Show at nearby Franklin Theatre, March 26, saluted the songwriter with performances by such disciples as Rosanne Cash, Bobby Braddock, Emmylou Harris and John Jorgensen. Sadly, he died last September at age 82, but fortunately it was recorded in CD form as what else “A Tribute To John D. Loudermilk,” and is slated for release Sept. 15, 2017, followed at a later date by a PBS filmed special of that event. John D. wrote such classic as “A Rose & A Baby Ruth,” “Talk Back Trembling Lips,” “Tobacco Road,” “Indian Reservation,” “Amigo’s Guitar,” “Sad Movies” and “Abilene.” He’s a member of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame.
Honors: Two exhibits to visit at the Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum are Shania Twain: Rock This Country and John Anderson, spotlighted in Sing Me Back Home: A Journey Through Country Music. Shania, 51, hails from north of the border in Windsor, Canada, while John, 62, is a native of Apopka (Fla.), a Seminole term for “potato eating place.” . . . American Federation of Musicians’ Local 71 in Memphis, Tenn., is situated in a two-story 1960s’ brick building that has just been added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places, taking into consideration its members included musicians who toiled at Sun Records, Stax Recording Studio, and helped foster Memphis blues and early rock sounds, in the process producing such legends as Rufus Thomas, B. B. King, Elvis Presley, Booker T & The MGs, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, Charlie Rich, Isaac Hayes, Wilson Pickett, among others. Any questions?
Final Curtain: Grand Ole Opry star Steve Wariner is mourning the death of his father Roy, 88, who inspired his son’s pursuit of a music career. In an Instagram post, Steve wrote: “It is with great sadness I bring you the news of my father’s passing. Roy Monroe Wariner died peacefully Friday night, July 7, in Jamestown, Ky. Thank you all so much for your kindness and condolences. It is very much appreciated. He was certainly my hero and inspiration and will forever be missed.” Steve, who succeeded with 10 #1 country hits, three from his own pen – “You Can Dream of Me,” “Where Did I Go Wrong” “I Got Dreams” – actually launched his career playing guitar in his dad’s band. A native of Champaign, Ill., the senior Wariner served in the Navy, and in addition to being a musician was a music teacher. Another hero, Chet Atkins, felt pop taught Steve so well on guitar, that Chet designated Wariner a CGP (Certified Guitar Picker). Mr. Wariner’s funeral services were conducted July 11 in Russell Springs, Ky.

Behind-the-scenes music executive Bob Heatherly, 73, died June 19 after a brief illness. A native of Newport, Ark., Heatherly served in the U.S. Army. He began his career working at RCA Records’ branch in St. Louis in 1971. Later moves to New York and Nashville, found him working in promotion and marketing with additional labels, most notably Columbia and Atlantic Records. It was in 2001 that he joined forces with Country Music Hall of Famer Charley Pride to launch Music City Records, with Bob serving as its President and CEO. Away from Music Row, he enjoyed NASCAR and fine wine. He and wife Laura worked on behalf of the non-profit R. J. Martell Foundation, which promotes cancer research and treatment. Survivors include wife of 21 years, Laura Squair Heatherly, a son, Robert of Jonesboro, Ark., and two grandchildren, Trevor and Jennifer Hill, also of Jonesboro. Services were held June 24 at Remmel-McCall Cemetery with David Howard officiating.

Former blonde recording artist Donna Darlene Jackson, 78, died June 24 in Nashville. She was the widow of Steel Guitar Hall of Famer “Shot” Jackson, and was wed earlier to famed session fiddler Buddy Spicher and country star Doug Kershaw. Born in Kane, Pa., Nov. 29, 1938, Donna Darlene began her music career pickin’ and singin’ on such local stations as WXBI-St. Mary’s and WPXY-Punxsutawney, Pa., before landing a singing spot in 1955 on Dusty Owens & The Rodeo Boys’ program on WWVA-Wheeling, W. Va. She also made her first tour north of the border, playing Nova Scotia, Canada, where reportedly she married band member Spicher. While in West Virginia, Donna also recorded for Admiral Records, releasing her solo debut single “I’ll Hate Myself In the Morning.” Dusty invited her to duet on his regional cut “Once More” (1956), later covered by Roy Acuff (#8, 1958). Touring with Wheeling Jamboree cast members, she honed her talents opening shows for such stars as Mac Wiseman, Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper and Cajun brother duo Rusty & Doug (Kershaw). In Nashville, Donna performed on the Armed Forces show Country Music Time, hosted by Jim Reeves (1958-’59), plugging such original singles as “There’s a Reason.” She also hit the Las Vegas circuit with an All-Girl Band, and recorded for Kapp Records, notably the singles “Best Years Of My Life” and “Gonna Be More Lovin’.” After her divorce from Kershaw, she married steel guitar whiz Harold (Shot) Jackson (who’d backed both country’s king and queen, Roy Acuff and Kitty Wells). A July 1965 accident on tour with Acuff, resulted in severe injuries for Shot, who was even briefly in a coma. Upon recovery, he began touring with Donna, visiting such foreign ports as Ireland, Germany, The Caribbean and Canada, where their Edison Theatre concert was recorded live by Arc Records. Other labels she recorded with include Stop Records, Charta, Top Spin, Marathon and Rural Rhythm. Among her albums are “The Hurtin’ Side of Me,” “Precious Memories” and “Girl On the Cover.” Two months after selling his Sho-Bud Steel Guitar Store (which he opened in 1965 with Buddy Emmons, and producing their seven-string resonator, The Sho-Bro), Shot suffered a stroke on Aug. 21, 1983. This curtailed Donna Darlene’s touring, and he had a second stroke in 1990, which left him severely handicapped, until his death Jan. 24, 1991 at 70. She released their LP “By Request” in 2000, which included the single “Hide & Go Cheat.” For many years thereafter, Donna (pictured below) attended the annual International Steel Guitar Convention in St. Louis in his honor. Following her recent open-heart surgery, she suffered a stroke that eventually caused her death. Survivors include her sons Doug Kershaw, Jr. and Victor Kershaw, and daughters Suzette (Spicher) Johnson and Shotsie (Jackson) West, six grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren. Services were held at Hermitage Funeral Home, Old Hickory, Tenn., July 8, officiated by Wendell Poole.