Music City Beat – April 2018

Dottie West inducted into Hall of Fame, Class of 2018, along with Skaggs and Gimble

NASHVILLE — Top news this month is the Country Music Hall of Fame Class of 2018 inductees, announced March 27:  The late Dottie West, Johnny Gimble and Ricky Skaggs. Of course, each was selected in one of three categories enacted by the secretive Fame panel, notably Gimble voted rightful recipient as a Recording/Touring Musician; while West fittingly fulfills the Veteran Era criteria; and Skaggs solidly represents the Modern Era. Indeed, all are super-qualified, having contributed much to country music, and even beyond that genre. Glamorous Dottie died Sept. 4, 1991, after a tragic car crash en route to play WSM’s Grand Ole Opry. The McMinnville, Tenn. native would have been 59 the next month. She attained initial vocal fame with successes like “Here Comes My Baby,” which in 1964, made her the first female to cop a country Grammy. She then went on to score pop crossover status on such as 1981’s “What Are We Doin’ In Love,” a torrid #1 duet with Kenny Rogers. Fiddler Gimble, who won accolades with his Texas Swing Band, most memorably in Clint Eastwood’s 1983 milestone flick “Honky Tonk Man,” performing “One Fiddle, Two Fiddle” and “San Antonio Rose” (with Ray Price). He had a long history of recording and touring beside legends like Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys, Marty Robbins, Merle Haggard, George Strait, Asleep At the Wheel, and with Chet Atkins’ Superpickers. Among his honors are two Grammys, five Country Music Association statuettes, nine Academy of Country Music awards, and a National Heritage Fellowship, bestowed in ’94 by the National Endowment For the Arts in Washington, D.C. The Texan died at age 88 on May 9, 2015. Skaggs, 63, gained early notice in the band of Ralph Stanley’s Clinch Mountain Boys, along with fellow hopeful, Keith Whitley. Ricky then served apprenticeships in the Country Gentlemen, J. D. Crowe’s New South, and finally with Emmylou Harris’ Hot Band. Skaggs emerged a solo country star, scoring such #1 jukebox favorites as “Cryin’ My Heart Out Over You,” “Highway 40 Blues” and “Don’t Cheat In Our Hometown,” earning 1985’s CMA Entertainer of the Year. During the ’90s he came full circle, returning to bluegrass, fronting Kentucky Thunder, adding to his mantle of Grammys, and is already a member of the Musicians and Gospel Halls of Fame. Hailing from Cordell, Ky., Ricky’s a skilled mandolinist, who plays most string instruments, has his own studio and label, and once produced Dolly Parton. He and wife Sharon (White) copped CMA’s 1987 best vocal duo, thanks to “Love Can’t Ever Get Better Than This.” The official induction will occur this fall at the Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum. Congrats to the three newest members!
     Legal Tips: Not sure we’ve heard one like this before, but widow Kimberly Campbell is seeking reimbursement for funds spent on behalf of “Rhinestone Cowboy” Glen Campbell’s assisted living care, including a security fence installed for protection, and legal fees for filing this action in Davidson County Probate Court in Nashville. Her husband died Aug. 8, 2017, at age 81, following a fight with Alzheimer’s Disease, while also touring more than year in a Farewell performance she arranged with their three children. Campbell’s estate, once estimated at about $50 million, included an ownership stake in the Arizona Diamondbacks ball team. Glen’s will reportedly covered Kim, their three, and two other children from earlier marriages. Three more of Glen’s children by previous wives, contested the will filed by Kim that excludes them as heirs. Judge David Kennedy appointed Glen’s former manager-accountant Stanley Schneider as temporary administrator, scheduling a hearing within 90 days. Meantime, spouse Kim seeks an additional $506,380 from the estate, apart from that awarded as his widow. Further, she’d filed another claim for $14,246 to recover insurance premiums she asserts were erroneously paid the estate. Glen’s estate also covered property owned in Agoura Hills, Calif., on the market for nearly a million dollars; and a two-acre resident property on Battery Lane, Nashville, purchased for $1.8 million. The widow serves as trustee for those properties. In 2015, Glen was placed in a conservatorship, but court filings in his case have thus far been sealed . . . Noted songwriter Earl (Peanut) Montgomery, 77, has filed a lawsuit against George Jones’ widow Nancy Jones, claiming, in cahoots with Cracker Barrel and Concord Music Group, she released recordings he and Jones made together, without permission. Peanut, who penned more than 70 songs for George, specifically cited a collaborative album done with Roy Acuff’s Smoky Mountain Boys. According to Montgomery’s suit, Jones intended that Peanut produce and own it, “as a retirement package for all his years of service and friendship to Mr. Jones.” Montgomery retained possession of the original mixed version, but the master tapes were kept in a vault at Doc’s Place, the studio where they recorded. In 1983, George married fourth wife Nancy Sepulvado, then 36, at his sister’s house in Woodville, Texas, following divorce from Tammy Wynette. Jones died at age 81 in 2013, from respiratory failure. Following his passing, Nancy allegedly entered into an agreement with Concord selling his assets and intellectual properties for a reported $30 million. Thus, in 2017, Concord closed a deal to release “George Jones & The Smoky Mountain Boys” CD through Cracker Barrel. Despite producing the original, Peanut was not credited nor paid for his participation in the product. His lawsuit contends: “The release further misrepresents the album as lost recordings which were discovered, when in fact recordings were converted by defendant Nancy Jones and ultimately the Concord defendants, with full knowledge of (true) ownership.” A brother to Melba Montgomery, Peanut wrote such Jones hits as: “Four-O-Thirty-Three,” “What My Woman Can’t Do” and “We’re Gonna Hold On.” Others recording Peanut’s tunes include Tanya Tucker, David Houston and Emmylou Harris.
     Awards: Shame on CBS for cutting out the presentation of certain country categories in its coverage of the April 15th Academy of Country Music Awards telecast; however, as a result, we do have advance word that Lauren Alaina, Midland and Brett Young have won their respective categories, that is best new female vocalist; best new duo or group; and best male vocalist. We’ll let you know the remaining winners in our next issue. So stay tuned . . . Kenny Rogers and songwriter Don Schlitz have been notified their smash single “The Gambler” has been selected for inclusion in the Library of Congress’ National Recording Registry. Yet another country name, the late Merle Travis, is also being honored this year, thanks to the guitar legend’s 1947 album “Folk Songs Of the Hills,” produced by Lee Gillette for Capitol Records. Each year the institute’s Preservation Board chooses 25 recordings “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” for addition to the prestigious registry. After its 1978 United Artists’ release, “Gambler” won two Grammys, one to writer Schlitz, best song; while Rogers took home a performance statuette . . . Tom Perryman, veteran radio ace, who died in January at age 90, is being honored posthumously with the annual Uncle Dave Macon Days’ Heritage Award. Past winners have included Roy Acuff, Kitty Wells, Mac Wiseman and Rhonda Vincent. Rhonda will again be in the 2018 winner’s circle, receiving Macon Days’ Trail Blazer Award, during the July 13-14 festivities in nearby Murfreesboro.
     Odds & Ends: Country music plays a big hand in drawing Nashville visitors and new businesses, but we’re wondering if maybe the local scene’s being saturated with dining spots. Despite being home to some 5,000 restaurants already, the boys who make the noise on Music Row keep adding to the mix! First there was Margaritaville, Whiskey Row and A.J.’s, flying the banners of Jimmy Buffett, Dierks Bentley and Alan Jackson, respectively, down on Music Row. Now we hear the likes of John Rich (Redneck Riviera), Blake Shelton (Ole Red), Florida Georgia Line (FGL House) and Jason Aldean (Kitchen + Rooftop Bar) are lending their magical marquee names to new watering holes! Of course, they’re not the first to do so, as in decades past, country superstars Webb Pierce and George Jones tried it, too, before deciding full time music makin’ was more their thing . . . Country music’s Maren Morris managed a March marriage to boyfriend songwriter Ryan Hurd. Maren, 27, of Arlington, Texas, exchanged vows March 24 in Nashville with Ryan, 31, from Kalamazoo, Mich., then publicly posted photographic proof on Instagram. Ryan wrote the #1 Country Airplay tune “Lonely Tonight,” recorded by Blake Shelton & Ashley Monroe, while Grammy-winning Maren’s CD “Hero” hit #1 and her single “My Church” Top Five. Good luck personally and professionally to the couple, who became engaged last summer . . . Yet another country artist Colton Swon (of the Swon Brothers) wed rock singer Caroline Glaser on St. Patrick’s Day (March 17) at Houston Station, Nashville. The pair met during Season 4 of NBC-TV’s The Voice. BTW Colton’s brother Zach served as best man. The Muskogee, Okla. Swon siblings’ self-penned single “What Ever Happened” was released in February . . . Dolly Parton let the cat out of the bag, so to speak, revealing she’ll join co-stars Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin in a sequel to their 1980 box-office blockbuster “9 To 5.” Parton, bubbling with excitement, disclosed the news on ABC’s Nightline program, adding, “They haven’t announced it. They’ll probably kick my butt for doing it. But I think that’s OK, because we’ve always talked about it.” Parton’s movie title tune earned her an Oscar nod back then, and a musical version she participated in on Broadway, 2009’s “9 to 5: The Musical,” garnered Dolly a Tony nomination. The initial plot had the trio giving pay-back to a sexist male boss, but there’s no word yet on what the trio of yesteryear stenographers will be up to 38 years later in the Internet era. Parton said perhaps their writers plan to “bring some new girls in” who supposedly would get their #MeToo guidance, in order to make it more relevant to modern moviegoers . . . Becky Brown, widow of Opry singer Jim Ed Brown, has a book about their tumultuous togetherness, just released: “Going Our Way: My Life With Jim Ed Brown” (Clovercroft Publishing). The former Becky Perry hails from Pine Bluff, Ark., and herself was a model and dance instructor. She was Mrs. Brown 54 years, when the singer died in 2015. In collaboration with writer Roxanne Atwood, Becky shares the good times, some bad times, lessons learned and sets straight some rumors. “History should reflect the truth,” notes Becky. Reportedly, she talks about her handsome hubby’s affair with blonde duet partner Helen Cornelius (their #1: “I Don’t Wanna Have To Marry You,” which he didn’t), before returning to Becky’s arms. Covered, too, are his early days in The Browns (“The Three Bells”), as well as his solo stardom (“Pop-A-Top”), and being inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, while on his hospital death bed. He died of lung cancer at age 81, and singer-sister Bonnie died a year later from lung cancer at 77, while elder sister-vocalist Maxine is now in ill health . . . Remember country-pop balladeer Dickey Lee, who hit big with “Rocky,” “9,999,999 Tears,” and wrote the classic “She Thinks I Still Care”? Well, at 81, Lee’s still doing good deeds. He and daughter Mandy, along with fellow Forest Hills Baptist Church volunteers here, have departed on a mission trip to India. We wish them a safe and fruitful journey . . . Speaking of good guys. Let’s hear it for BlackHawk, the country band that’s linked with The Outlaws, Southern rockers, in raising funds for a pair of worthy causes: The Van Stephenson Memorial Cancer Research charity, a part of Nashville’s Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center, and MusiCares, which aids uninsured musicians in need. Band members Henry Paul and Dave Robbins presented a $40,000 check to Vanderbilt Hospital, in memory of their late BlackHawk co-founder Stephenson; and $20,000 to MusiCares on behalf of The Outlaws’ Fallen Outlaws Fund, honoring bandsmen Hughie Thomasson, Billy Jones and Frank O’Keefe. Since 2006, BlackHawk has generated $200,000 for the cancer center, while over the past three years their Outlaws’ donated nearly $50,000. (Paul and Robbins played in both bands.) As Nashvillians know, the City Winery club is the site where the boys conduct an annual fall Freeborn Jam, with corporate assists from Agrilogic Insurance and the Four Horsemen Society.
     Ailing: Country Music Hall of Famer Kenny Rogers has canceled the remainder of his Gambler’s Last Deal Tour, due to doctor’s orders. The veteran superstar’s deteriorating health prompted the needed rest and recuperation prescribed, forcing him to bow out of eight gigs in such sites as the Indio (Calif.) Stagecoach Festival, Reno, and the Big Apple. Rogers, who will be 80 in August, first gained attention in the music groups Kirby Stone Four and The New Christy Minstrels, before forming his own First Edition in 1967. Since going solo in 1975, he wowed country-pop audiences alike with such crossover hits as “Lucille,” and “The Gambler.” According to a press release: “His doctors fully expect the outcome to be great, but they have advised him to cancel all performances through the end of the year to focus on recuperation.”
     Final Curtain: Musician-composer-conductor-producer Ronn Huff died March 18, two days after his 80th birthday, while under Live Hospice care. Huff, father of noted Nashville guitarist-producer Dann Huff (Carrie Underwood, Rascal Flatts), suffered from Parkinson’s Disease in recent years. In addition to collaborating with Bill and Gloria Gaither on the acclaimed musical presentation “Alleluia, A Praise Gathering,” Ronn arranged and recorded with such Music City artists as Faith Hill, Amy Grant, Keith Urban, Alison Krauss, Clint Black, Lonestar, Martina McBride and George Strait. A native of Lansing, Mich., he became producer and principal conductor for the Nashville Symphony in 1994, serving until 2002. According to Bill Gaither, “A lot of people who would never have heard our music, heard it because of Ronn Huff’s involvement. His arrangements turned good songs into great ones and broadened the scope of our writing. We owe him a tremendous debt of gratitude for his influence on our music and our lives.” In 2005, Huff was inducted into the Gospel Music Association Hall of Fame. Besides Dann, survivors include Ronn’s wife Donna and two other sons, David and Ronald II, and grandchildren. A memorial service was held April 7 in Wightman Chapel, Scarritt-Bennett Center, Nashville.
ashville journalist Hazel Smith, 83, died March 18, after suffering declining health and dementia. In recent years, she was associated with CMT, hosting their program Southern Fried Flicks, and contributed a weekly info show Hot Dish, which also included favorite recipes. That title derived from her popular cookbook “Hazel’s Hot Dish: Cookin’ With Country Stars,” featuring recipes shared with celebs such as Garth Brooks, Dolly Parton and Brooks & Dunn. She was initially wed to musician Patrick Smith, and following their divorce raised her sons Billy and Terry, both musicians now. Reportedly, Hazel and Father of Bluegrass Bill Monroe were romantically involved for a time, and upon their breakup, she supposedly uttered, “Walk Softly On This Heart of Mine,” which inspired that song by Bill. She also tried her hand at writing, notably “Lord It Sure Rains Hard in Tennessee” and “Love Ain’t the Question, Love Ain’t the Answer,” the latter recorded by Dr. Hook. In her early days in Nashville, the North Carolina native became publicist for eccentric singer-songwriter-humorist Kinky Friedman, known as the Jewish Cowboy. She went on to represent acts like the Glaser Brothers, John Hartford, Waylon Jennings, Dr. Hook, Shel Silverstein, Guy Clark and Kris Kristofferson. As writer, she contributed columns to Country Weekly, while continuing to work with the likes of Ricky Skaggs and The Whites. In 1999, Hazel was honored with the CMA’s Media Achievement Award. Skaggs says, “Hazel Smith was one great lady . . . She loved musicians and songwriters. If she was in a room with people, she’d be holding court and giving her 10-cents worth . . . She will be missed, but she won’t be missing us.” A service was scheduled by her sons at Madison Funeral Home, with burial in Camp Springs, N.C.