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Born August 3rd 1951 in Waycross, Georgia. Joe Berry sings two songs in the Lions Gate
Film "Bad Trip" one of which he wrote. He has made several appearances on the Ernest Tubb
Midnight Jamboree in Nashville, TN. Joe has shared the stage with Grand Ole Opry Legends
Ernie Ashworth, Charlie Louvin, Bill Anderson, Jack Green,Boxcar Willie, and George
Hamilton IV. April 20th 2005 a great honor was bestowes him when he became an inductee in
The Traditional Country Hall Of Fame in Burns TN. Joe Berry has a great traditional
country band known as Joe Berry and The Berry Pickers. August 29th he will become an
inductee in the Old Time Country Music Hall of Fame in Iowa. Joe has just recorded a brand
new CD "The Honky Tonk Highway" and he is now on "Lure Records" and with Bluesprings Music
with Mr. Ken Pearson at the helm. Joe Berry is managed by Ladson F. Hart. His goals are
tough but achievable. He hopes for a spot on the Grand Ole Opry and just to work and earn
his living at what he loves playing, singing, and writing traditional country music.
Born Apr 21, 1907 in Weaversville, NC - For over six decades, Wade Mainer was an influential
figure in the development of modern bluegrass music. Among his innovations was a distinctive
two-finger banjo picking style crossing the traditional clawhammer with the modern three-finger
picking style used by performers such as Earl Scruggs.
Mainer grew up on a tiny mountain farm near Weaverville, North Carolina. He was raised
listening to old mountain songs and was greatly influenced by the fiddling of Roscoe Banks,
his brother-in-law. As a young man, he moved to Concord to work in a cotton mill. Later he
joined his brother J.E.'s Mainer Mountaineers, and began performing on radio. He remained
with the band through 1936 when he and fellow bandmate Zeke Morris left to work as a duet.
They split up when Morris' younger brother Wiley joined to form the Morris Brothers.
Mainer's new band was named the Sons of the Mountaineers;
its first members included
guitarists Jay Hugh Hall and Clyde Moody and fiddler Steve Ledford. They performed on
the radio and also recorded many songs for Bluebird. The band underwent several personnel
changes over the years; other members over the years included Jack and Curly Shelton, Tiny
Dodson, Red Rector, Fred Smith and others. In 1939, they had a good-sized hit with "Sparkling
Mainer briefly stopped appearing on the radio during WW II because he couldn't afford to
squander valuable gasoline on long trips to the radio station, and so settled down to work
his farm. He and another version of the Mountaineers did make it to Washington, D.C., to play
a 1942 concert at the White House, though. They also appeared in a British production of The
Chisholm Trail in New York. Following the war, he reorganized his band and began playing
at various North Carolina radio stations. He recorded only sporadically over the next few
years, as old-time music was slowly fading from vogue.
In 1953, Mainer found God and retired from the entertainment industry; he did spend some
time singing at gospel revivals in Flint, Michigan, where he eventually settled to work at a
General Motors plant. He spent a few years singing at religious functions, but renounced his
banjo playing for a long time until Molly O'Day convinced him that the instrument could be
used in gospel music. He recorded again in 1961 with his wife Julia, and continued
recording mountain gospel music infrequently through the '60s. He retired from GM in
1973, ultimately recording some new material and even touring a bit. In 1987, his contribution
to American music was recognized with a "National Heritage Award," bestowed upon
him by President Reagan. -Sandra Brennan
AKA Lonnie Ira Loudermilk, born Apr 21, 1924 in Rainesville, AL, died Jun 20, 1965 in
Jefferson City, MO. One of the top country musicians of the 40s and 50s, Ira Louvin teamed
up with his brother Charlie Louvin to form The Louvin Brothers. The duo's hits included "When I
Stop Dreaming," "Cash On the Barrel Head" and "If I Could Only Win Your Love," also recorded by
Emmylou Harris. The Louvin Brothers were famous for their ability to sing many styles of
music. During their musical career, the two recorded gospel, folk, hillbilly and 50s pop songs.
Born in the Appalachian Mountains of Alabama, Ira Louvin was born Lonnie Ira Loudermilk.
Together with his brother Charlie, Ira Louvin began his musical career singing gospel songs
in church. Despite the family's poverty, the two were encouraged to pursue their musical
interests. Ira Louvin began playing the mandolin and his brother played the guitar. The two
began playing together and eventually brought their sound to the airwaves on a small
Chattanooga morning radio show. They were influenced by such recording artists as the Blue
Sky Boys, the Delmore Brothers, the Monroe Brothers and the Callahan Brothers.
When Charlie Louvin entered the Army in the early 40s, Ira Louvin played with Charlie
Monroe. After the army stint, the brothers moved their career to Knoxville, Tennessee
where they played the radio circuit; first on WROL, then on WNOX. It was in Knoxville that
the two changed their last name of Loudermilk to their stage name of Louvin.
In 1951 the Louvin Brothers signed a contract with MGM Records and recorded 12 songs,
all of which were only moderate hits. After the contract expired with MGM, the two headed back
to Memphis where they played concerts and radio shows. Capitol Records eventually signed
The Louvin Brothers and they became famous for their gospel standard "The Family Who
Prays." Charlie Louvin was once again called to the army to serve in the Korean War
so the group's career again came to a halt. When Charlie returned, the brothers went
to Birmingham and sang for the Grand Ol Opry. Labeled as a gospel artist, The Louvin
Brothers broadened their style to include pop and hillbilly music. Their song, "When
I Stop Dreaming," became a Top Ten hit as well as "I Don't Believe You've Met My Baby."
In 1956 the two released the albums Tragic Songs of Life and Nearer My God to Thee.
The two stayed together until 1963 and produced such favorites as "My Baby's Gone," "Don't
Laugh" and "Plenty of Everything But You."
After the breakup, Ira Louvin pursued a solo music career signing
with Capitol Records. An alcoholic, Ira Louvin was almost killed in an argument
with his third wife Faye. He performed with his fourth wife Anne Young until
1965 when he died in a car accident in Williamsburg, Missouri. Despite The Louvin
Brothers breakup, their influence lived on decades later. Their reputation of
versatility and their combination of harmonies influence rock, gospel and country
musicians including Gram Parsons, the Byrds and The Everly Brothers. -Kim Summers
Born Apr 21, 1931 in Salina, OK, died Oct 31, 1990.
Despite recording eight albums between 1960 and 1972, Carl Belew is best remembered as a
songwriter whose work was covered by an eclectic group of artists ranging from Patsy Cline
to Gene Vincent to Andy Williams. Born in Oklahoma in 1931, Belew first entered the studio
in 1955; by the following year, he gained his first widespread exposure thanks to appearances
on a pair of California-based radio programs, Town Hall Party and The Cliffie Stone Show.
In 1957, he performed on the Louisiana Hayride.
Belew's composition "Stop the World (And Let Me Off)" hit the Top Ten in 1958 in
a rendition by Johnnie and Jack; the following year, Andy Williams hit the Top Five
with "Lonely Street," a song which would become Belew's trademark tune thanks to
subsequent covers by Cline, Vincent, and Rex Allen Jr. Later in 1959, the breakup of
his marriage inspired Belew to write "Am I That Easy to Forget," a Top 40 pop hit for
actress Debbie Reynolds which was later recorded by Engelbert Humperdinck, Skeeter Davis,
Don Gibson, Jim Reeves, and Leon Russell. Belew's own rendition hit the Top Ten in 1959.
In 1960, Belew released his self-titled debut LP; in the same year, he notched a Top
20 hit with the single "Too Much to Lose." Two years later, a label change prompted
nother eponymous effort; the single "Hello Out There" earned him another Top Ten hit, his
last. Between 1964 and 1968, Belew released an album a year, beginning with Hello Out
There and continuing with Am I That Easy to Forget, Country Songs, Lonely Street, and finally
Twelve Shades of Belew. His last studio album, When My Baby Sings His Song, a record of
duets with Betty Jean Robinson, was issued in 1972, while one final single, "Welcome Back
to My World," appeared in 1974.
Throughout his career, Belew's songs continued to be popular with (and popularized by)
other singers; Eddy Arnold hit number one in 1965 with "What's He Doing in My World,"
while Jim Reeves scored a posthumous success in 1968 with "That's When I See the Blues
(In Your Pretty Brown Eyes)." "Stop the World (And Let Me Off)" also reached the
Top 20 twice more thanks to a 1965 cover by Waylon Jennings and a 1974 version by
Susan Raye. Carl Belew died of cancer on Halloween in 1990 at the age of 59. -Jason Ankeny
Born Sep 8, 1903 in Stephenville, TX, died Apr 13, 1936 in Crystal Springs, TX.
Milton Brown was one of the fathers of Western Swing, a vocalist and bandleader who was one
of the first to fuse country, jazz, and pop together into a unique, distinctly American hybrid.
Along with Bob Wills - who he performed with at the beginning of this career - Brown developed
the sound and style of Western Swing in the early '30s and for a while he and his band, the
Musical Brownies, were just as popular as Wills and his Texas Playboys. Tragically, Milton Brown's
career was cut short in 1936 when he died in a car accident, just as he was poised to break
into national stardom.
Born in Stephensville, Texas in 1903, Milton
Brown moved to Fort Worth, Texas in 1918. After graduating from high school in 1925, he
worked as a cigar saleman, but he lost his job when the Great Depression hit in the late '20s.
Brown began his musical career in 1930, when he happened to meet Bob Wills at a local Fort Worth
dance. The Wills Fiddle Band was performing at the dance and Brown joined the group on a chorus
of "St. Louis Blues." Wills was impressed with Brown's voice and immediatelly asked
him and his guitarist brother, Derwood, to join the band.
The Wills Fiddle Band played medicine
shows around Texas and landed a regular radio spot on WBAP, where they played a show sponsored by
Aladdin Lamp Company, who had the band change their name to the Aladdin Laddies. In early 1931,
the group was hired by the Light Crust Flour Company - which was run by Burrus Mill and
Elevator Company - to appear daily on the radio station KFJZ. The company, which was managed
by W. Lee O'Daniel who also hosted the radio shows, had the group rename themselves the Light
The Light Crust Doughboys were an instant success,
and soon O'Daniel moved them first to another radio station, then syndicated the program statewide.
The Doughboys were playing cowboy songs, jazz, blues, and popular songs ÷ a repertoire so diverse
that the band's audience continued to expand. In February of 1932, they recorded a single for
Victor under the name the Fort Worth Doughboys.
The band was playing dance music and they wanted
to play at dances, but O'Daniel was reluctant to let the group play outside of their radio shows.
He also was hesitant to pay them much money, which greatly angered Milton Brown. In September of
1932, Brown left the band after he had a argument about money with O'Daniel.
After leaving the Light Crust Doughboys, Brown
formed the first Western Swing band, the Musical Brownies. The first incarnation of the Brownies
featured Brown, guitarist Durwood Brown, bassist Wanna Coffman, Ocie Stockard on tenor banjo,
and fiddle player Jesse Ashlock. Shortly afterward, pianist Fred Calhoun and fiddle player Cecil
Brower (who replaced Ashlock) joined the group. Like the Light Crust Doughboys, the Musical
Brownies played a mixture of country, pop, and jazz, but the Brownies had a harder dance edge
than their predecessors.
Almost immediately, Brown and His Musical Brownies were a huge success.
The group had a regular spot on the radio station KTAT and drew large crowds at Texas dances.
In April of 1934, the band recorded eight songs for Bluebird; they recorded another ten for
the label in August.
Toward the end of 1934, the Brownies added an
electric steel guitarist called Bob Dunn ÷ the first musician to play an electric instrument
in country music. In January of 1935, the band signed with Decca records and recorded 36
songs for the label. Released as singles over the course of 1935, the songs helped establish
he band as the most popular Western Swing band in Texas. In March of 1936, the Brownies travelled
to New Orleans to record their second set of sessions for Decca. By this time, fiddler
Brower had been replaced by Cliff Bruner. At these sessions, the Brownies cut about 50 songs,
which were issued throughout 1936 and 1937.
In April of 1936, Brown suffered a major car
accident. Although he wasn't killed on impact, he died five days after the crash, from
pneumonia. Following Milton's death, Durwood Brown kept the Musical Brownies together
for two years, recording a dozen sides for Decca in 1937. At the time of his death, Milton
Brown rivalled Bob Wills in popularity. Although he never became as famous as Wills, he was
equally important in the development of Western Swing ÷ without him, the genre as we know it
wouldn't exist. -Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Born Apr 20, 1944 in Kingsport, TN.
Doyle Lawson was considered one of the premiere bluegrass mandolin players by
his peers; his bluegrass-gospel band Quicksilver was equally respected. Lawson
was born in Kingsport, Tennessee and became interested in bluegrass when he was
five. During his youth, he listened to such greats as the Stanley Brothers,
Flatt & Scruggs and Bill Monroe. It was the latter who inspired young
Lawson to learn the mandolin. He borrowed his first one at age 11 from a member
of his father's gospel quartet, and eventually taught himself the five-string
banjo and guitar as well. In 1963, Lawson began playing banjo with Martin's
Sunny Mountain Boys. Seven months later, he moved to Louisville to play with
different groups. He became a part-time guitarist with J.D. Crowe in 1966 and
eventually joined his Kentucky Mountain Boys as a mandolin player. Lawson made
his recording debut with Red Allen and bassist Bobby Slone on Bluegrass Holiday
and subsequently recorded two albums with Crowe.
In 1971, Lawson joined the Country
Gentlemen and toured Japan with them the
following year. He remained with the band for several years and recorded ten
albums with them. Lawson also recorded an album of mandolin instrumentals,
Tennessee Dream, in 1977; the album also featured Crowe, Jerry Douglas and
Kenny Baker. In 1979, he put his band Quicksilver together with banjo player
Terry Baucom, guitarist Jimmy Haley, and electric bass player Lou Reid. In
1980, Quicksilver released its self-titled debut album and followed it up with
Rock My Soul. In 1981, Quicksilver Rides Again, featuring Douglas, Mike
Auldridge and Sam Bush, came out. They also released a gospel album, Heavenly
Treasures, which proved an even bigger seller. Quicksilver's next album
appeared in 1985 and featured both bluegrass and gospel tunes. In 1986, Lawson
recorded Beyond the Shadows with new players Scott Vestal on banjo, Curtis
Vestal on electric bass and Russell Moore on guitar. In 1987, Lawson and the
band released an a cappella gospel album, Heaven's Joy Awaits. Between 1987 and
1991, Lawson and Quicksilver, which continually changed personnel, released
seven more albums. Lawson continued to perform and record throughout the
decade, resurfacing in 2000 with Just Over in Heaven. -Sandra Brennan
Born Apr 20, 1939 in Jacksonville, FL.
A second-tier teen idol in the late '50s and early '60s, Tillotson was unusual
for the genre in that he wrote a few of his hits and displayed a strong
inclination toward straight country material. His most well-remembered songs,
though, were delivered with a not-so-great voice in a soft pop/rock manner that
emphasized the pop half of the equation and epitomized the blandness of the teen
idol style. He had a dozen Top 40 hits, the biggest and best being "Poetry
in Motion" (number two, 1960) and the most country-ish, "It Keeps
Right on a-Hurtin'" (number three, 1962). Tillotson moved into the lounge
circuit after the British Invasion struck, though he managed a final Top 40 hit
in 1965 with "Heartaches by the Number." -Richie Unterberger
Born October 26, 1929 in Nashville, TN, died Apr 21, 2000 in Brentwood, TN.
Matthews began singing second tenor in the Jordanaires in 1953. The group began doing
background vocals for Elvis Presley three years later. The gospel-ish harmonizing can
be heard on hits by Presley, Ricky Nelson, Jimmy Dean, Merle Haggard, and Tom Jones.
He also authored a book, The Nashville Numbering System, originally published in June
1988 by Hal Leonard. At the age of 70, Neal Matthews died from a heart attack in his
Brentwood, TN, home on April 21, 2000.
Neal Matthews-related releases are Patsy Cline's The Patsy Cline Story, Patsy Cline
Showcase, Sweet Dreams, Last Sessions, Remembering, Sentimentally Yours, A Portrait of Patsy
Cline, Here's Patsy Cline; Elvis Presley's Known Only to Him: Elvis Gospel 1957-1971,
The King of Rock 'n' Roll: The Complete 50's Masters, The Collection, His Life
& His Music; k.d. lang's Shadowland; Gordon Lightfoot's Songbook; Jerry Lee Lewis'
All Killer, No Filler: The Anthology; Loretta Lynn's All Time Gospel Favorites;
Reba McEntire's Reba McEntire; Don Gibson's A Legend in My Time; Scotty Moore's All
the King's Men; Billy Ray Cyrus' It Won't Be the Last; Don McLean's For the Memories;
Sugar Ray Norcia's Sweet & Swingin'; the Jordanaires' Sing Gospel, Sing Elvis' Favorite
Gospel Songs; Jimmy Sturr's Polka! All Night Long, Living on Polka Time; Get Hot or
Go Home: Vintage RCA Rockabilly '56-'59, Vols. 1 & 2; Hank Locklin's Please Help Me
I'm Falling; Ronnie McDowell's Greatest Tribute to the King; Lefty Frizzell's Life's Like
Poetry; Charlie McCoy's Out on a Limb; and Duane Eddy's Twangin' From Phoenix to L.A. -Ed Hogan
Born Apr 20, 1922 in River, KY.
Bluegrass and country singer Frank Brown earned the nickname "Hylo"
thanks to the considerable vocal range that became his trademark. Born in 1922
in Johnson County, KY - later the birthplace of Loretta Lynn - Brown had thoroughly
absorbed the music indigenous to his Appalachian home before moving with his
family to Ohio, where his career as a performer began to gather steam. There,
he played on local radio broadcasts and began writing songs; one composition, a
tribute to the Grand Ole Opry, was recorded by Jimmy Martin. In 1950, he sang
harmony on a Bradley Kincaid session.
In 1954, a song titled "Lost to a Stranger" earned Brown a recording
contract with Capitol Records; the subsequent single, along with follow-ups
like "Lovesick and Sorrow" and "The Wrong Kind of Life,"
were minor hits. In 1957, Brown joined Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs, becoming
a featured vocalist with the duo's Foggy Mountain Boys. The group's increasing
popularity prompted Flatt and Scruggs to form a second Foggy Mountain band,
called the Timberliners, with Brown as the unit's frontman; the Timberliners
were fleshed out by mandolin player Red Rector, fiddler Clarence
"Tater" Tate, Jim Smoak on the banjo, and bassist Joe Phillips.
At their inception, the Timberliners performed on a circuit of television
stations in Tennessee and Mississippi, later swapping schedules with Flatt
& Scruggs in order to appear on West Virginia airwaves as well. In 1958,
the group released Hylo Brown and the Timberliners, an LP that remains a
traditional bluegrass classic. However, the advent of syndication and videotape
allowed the original Flatt & Scruggs band to appear on any number of TV
stations, effectively ending the Timberliners' career soon after, although Brown
soldiered on for a time with a group including Norman Blake on Dobro and Billy
Edwards on banjo. After the Timberliners' demise, Brown rejoined Flatt &
Scruggs as a featured singer.
In the early '60s, Brown cut a handful of solo
records, including 1961's Bluegrass Balladeer, 1962's Bluegrass Goes to
College, and the next year's Hylo Brown Meets the Lonesome Pine Fiddlers.
Throughout the decade and into the first years of the '70s, he performed solo
in clubs, releasing records infrequently on small labels. However, a gradual
diminishment in his vocal range resulted in Brown's eventual retirement around
the middle of the decade. - Jason Ankeny
Asleep at the Wheel
Formed 1970 in Paw Paw, WV, the Western swing revivalist band Asleep at the Wheel
helped popularize the genre in the '70s
and went on to enjoy an eclectic, freewheeling career which earned the group a dedicated
following of both fans and critics. Over the course of their career, a number of musicians
passed through the group - more than 80, to be precise - but throughout the years, the vision
of vocalist/guitarist Ray Benson kept the band together.
Asleep at the Wheel was founded by Benson and
Leroy Preston (drums, guitar, vocals) in 1970. Along with Benson's longtime friend Reuben "Lucky
Oceans" Gosfield (steel guitar, drums), they played straightforward country at local bars
and lodges in Virginia. They were soon joined by guitarist/singer Chris O'Connell,
who had just graduated from high school. In 1971, Commander Cody saw the group
performing in Washington, D.C., and was impressed enough to send his manager Joe Kerr
to meet with the band. They signed with Kerr, who convinced them to move to San
Francisco late in that year. Keyboardist Floyd Domino (born Jim Haber) joined the
band following an inaugural 30-day tour with Stoney Edwards. After Domino joined the group,
Asleep at the Wheel landed a permanent gig at the Longbranch Saloon in Berkeley. They soon
cultivated a solid fan base and signed with United Artists Records. Their first album,
Comin' Right at Ya, was released in 1973. In 1974, they moved to Austin, TX, which
eventually became their home base. That year, they released an eponymous album on Epic
Records and had their first minor hit, a remake of Louis Jordan's "Choo Choo Ch'Boogie."
Asleep at the Wheel added two members, fiddler Lisa Silver and trumpeter Bobby Womack,
and moved to Capitol Records in 1975. Their first album for the label, Texas Gold, was
their breakthrough, reaching the pop charts and spawning the hit single "The Letter That
Johnny Walker Red." The album generated four more hits, and later that year they released
Wheelin' and Dealin'. By that time four more members, including accordion player Jo-El
Sonnier, had joined the lineup. For the rest of the decade, Asleep at the Wheel was one
of the most popular country artists in America.
1980, however, was a year of setbacks; Lucky Oceans
left the band, and the remaining members soon found that they were over 200,000 dollars
in debt. To keep afloat, the group performed TV commercials for Budweiser and worked on
movie soundtracks. Shortly afterwards, the group lost Chris O'Connell, who quit to have a
baby. In addition to their internal difficulties in the early '80s, Asleep at the Wheel
had trouble selling records. The group had a hit album with Framed in 1980, but that was
their last release for over half a decade. After their self-titled album for MCA-Dot
flopped in 1985, Benson tried his hand at producing, working with such artists as Aaron
Neville, Rob Wasserman, Willie Nelson, and Bruce Hornsby. By the time Asleep at the Wheel
signed with Epic Records in 1987, the group had gone through a number of personnel changes,
now consisting of Benson, O'Connell (who had returned from her leave of absence), fiddler
Larry Franklin, fiddler Johnny Gimble, bassist Jon Mitchell, pianist/accordionist Tim
Alexander, steel guitarist John Ely, saxophonist Mike Francis, and David Sanger.
Asleep at the Wheel 10, the group's first album for Epic, was released in 1987 and
became the hit they needed: the album launched several hit singles, including "House of
Blue Lights," "Way Down Texas Way," and the Grammy-winning "String of Pars." Their next
Epic album, Western Standard Time, came out in 1988 and led to another Grammy for the
instrumental "Sugarfoot Rag."
In 1990, Asleep at the Wheel signed with Arista
and recorded Keepin' Me Up Nights. Two years later, they released Greatest Hits Live and Kickin',
after which most of the band members left the group. In 1993, a re-formed lineup featuring
Benson, fiddler Ricky Turpin, bassist David Earl Miller, drummer Tommy Beavers, and steel
guitarist Cindy Cash-Dollar released Tribute to the Music of Bob Wills and the Texas
Playboys on Liberty. Featuring a number of guest artists, including several original Texas
Playboys, Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson, Chet Atkins, Brooks & Dunn, Dolly Parton,
and Garth Brooks, the album received excellent reviews and became a big hit.
The Wheel Keeps on Rollin' followed in 1995, and 1997 saw the release of Back to the
Future Now - Live at Arizona Charlie's; two years later, Asleep at the Wheel returned
with Ride With Bob. - Sandra Brennan
Born on April 22, 1945 in Cleveland Francis, Jr. in Jennings, Louisiana, he began playing
music at age 8 with a simple homemade guitar composed of a cigar box and window screen wire.
A year later, his mother brought him a real guitar. Francis obtained his medical degree in
cardiology from the Medical College of Virginia in Richmond in 1973, and performed during
summer vacations from college. He focused on medicine after getting his practitioner's
license, but still managed to record three albums on his own label, Cleve Francis Productions.
Francis returned to his music through heart attack patient Olaf Hall, whose brother was "Big
John" Garfield Hall, a member of the R&B band the Heartbeats. Big John helped Francis get
an audition with Playback Records, who signed him and released an album; while it didn't
sell well, his debut single and video "Love Light," released in 1990, both won
critical acclaim. When the head of Liberty Records, Jimmy Bowen, saw the video, he
offered Francis a contract. His first Liberty album, Tourist in Paradise (1991),
featured a new recording and video of "Love Light" and two other songs, which all
became minor chart hits. The title cut from his second album, Walkin', (1993)
also became a minor hit. In 1994, he followed with You've Got Me Now. -Sandra Brennan
Glen was born April 22, 1936 in Delight, AR. It isn't accurate to call Glen Campbell "pure country," but
his smooth fusion of country mannerisms and pop melodies and production techniques made him
one of the most popular country musicians of the late '60s and '70s. Campbell was one of the
leading figures of country-pop during that era, racking up a steady stream of Top Ten singles,
highlighted by classics like "By the Time I Get to Phoenix," "I Wanna Live," "Wichita Lineman,"
"Galveston," "Rhinestone Cowboy" and "Southern Nights." Boasting Campbell's smooth vocals and
layered arrangements, where steel guitars bounced off sweeping strings, those songs not only
became country hits, the crossed over to the pop charts as well, which was appropriate,
since that is where he began his musical career. Originally, he was a Los Angeles session
musician, playing on hits by the Monkees, Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra and Merle Haggard.
By the end of the '60s, he had become a successful solo artist, and that success would not
abate until the late '80s, when he stopped having radio hits and began concentrating on
live performances at his theater in Branson.
Campbell was born and raised in Delight, Arkansas,
where he received his first guitar when he was four years old. Learning the instrument from
various relatives, he played consistently throughout his childhood, eventually gravitating
towards jazz players like Barney Kessel and Django Reinhardt. While he was learning guitar,
he also sang in a local church, where he developed his vocal skills. By the time he was 14,
he had begun performing with a number of country bands in the Arkansas, Texas and New Mexico
area, including his uncle's group, the Dick Bills Band. When he was 18, he formed his own
country band, the Western Wranglers, and began touring the South with the group. Four years
later, Campbell moved to Los Angeles, California, where he became a session musician.
Shortly after arriving in California, Campbell
earned the reputation of being an excellent guitarist, playing on records by Bobby Darin
and Rick Nelson. In 1960, he briefly joined the instrumental rock & roll group the Champs,
who had the hit single "Tequila" two years earlier. The following year, he released his
debut single, "Turn Around, Look at Me" on the small Crest label; the single reached number
62 later in the year. By the summer of 1962, he had released "To Late to Worry - Too Blue
to Cry" on Capitol Records; the single only spent two weeks on the charts, peaking at 76.
While he was tenatively pursuing a solo career, Campbell continued to play professionally,
most notably for Elvis Presley and Dean Martin. Also in 1962, he played guitar and sang
on "Kentucky Means Paradise," a single by the one-off group the Green River Boys, who
released an album, Big Bluegrass Special. "Kentucky Means Paradise" became a hit on the
country charts, climbing to number 20. Instead of pursuing a full-fledged country career
after the single's release, Campbell returned to studio work, and over the next two years
he played on sessions by Frank Sinatra ("Strangers in the Night"), Merle Haggard ("The Legend
of Bonnie and Clyde"), the Monkees ("I'm A Believer"), the Association, and the Mamas &
the Papas, among many others.
Following Brian Wilson's breakdown and retirement
from the road in 1965, Glen Campbell became a touring member of the Beach Boys for several
months. At the end of his tenure as the group's temporary bassist, the Beach Boys offered
him a permanent spot in the band, but he turned them down when they wouldn't allow him
to have an equal cut of the group's royalties. A few months after rejecting the band's offer,
the Beach Boys' record label, Capitol, offered Campbell a full-fledged contract. His first
release under his new long-term Capitol contract was a version of Buffy Sainte-Marie's "The
Universal Soldier," which peaked at number 45. For much of 1966, he continued to pursue
studio work, but he released "Burning Bridges" toward the end of the year, and it climbed
to number 18 on the country charts early in 1967.
During 1967, Capitol pushed Campbell as a country
recording artist, and their breakthrough arrived in the late summer when his folky country-pop
rendition of John Hartford's "Gentle on My Mind" became a Top 40 hit on both the country and
pop charts. By the end of the year, he had released a cover of Jimmy Webb's "By the Time I
Get to Phoenix," which reached number two on the country charts, and number 26 on the pop
charts. Early in 1968, "Gentle on My Mind" won the Grammy Award for Best Country & Western
Recording of 1967. Campbell's success continued in 1968, as "I Wanna Live" became his first
number one hit and "Dreams of the Everyday Housewife" reached number three. The following year,
CBS television hired him to host the variety show The Glen Campbell Good Time Hour, which
became quite popular and helped establish him as not only a country star, but a pop
Throughout the late '60s and early '70s,
Campbell continued to rack up hit singles, including the number one hits "Wichita
Lineman" (1968) and "Galveston" (1969), plus the Top 10 singles "Try a Little Kindness"
(1969), "Honey Come Back" (1970), "Everything a Man Could Ever Need" (1970), and "It's
Only Make Believe" (1970). In 1968, he began recording duets with Bobbie Gentry,
and they had hit singles with their versions of two Everly Brothers songs - "Let It
Be Me," which reached 14 in 1969, and "All I Have to Do Is Dream," which peaked
at number six in 1970. Also in 1969, he began a film career, appearing in the John
Wayne movie True Grit that year and Norwood the following year.
By 1972, Campbell's record sales started
slipping. After "Manhattan Kansas" reached number six that year, he had trouble having
Top 40 hits for the next two years. Furthermore, his television show was cancelled. As his
career slowed, he began sinking into drug and alcohol addiction, which continued even
through his mid-'70s revival. In 1975, he returned to the Top 10 with "Rhinestone
Cowboy," a huge hit that reached number one on both the country and pop charts. Over
the next two years, he had a number of Top 10 country hits, including "Country Boy
(You Got Your Feet in L.A.)" and "Don't Pull Your Love" / "Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye,"
which also reached the pop charts. In 1977, he had his final number one hit with "Southern
Nights," which topped both the country and pop charts.
Following the success of "Southern Nights"
and its followup "Sunflower," Campbell stopped reaching the country Top 10 with regularity,
yet he had a string of lesser hits and was an immensely popular performer in concert and
television. During the mid-'80s, he experienced a brief commercial revival, as the singles
"Faithless Love," "A Lady like You" and "The Hand That Rocks the Cradle" all reached the
country Top 10. By that time, he had begun to clean up his act. Over the course of the
mid-'80s, he kicked his addictions to drugs and alcohol and became a born-again Christian.
Appropriately, he began recording inspirational albums, yet he didn't abandon country music.
As late as 1989, Campbell's smooth, synth-laden contemporary country-pop was reaching
the country Top 10; his last two Top 10 country hits were "I Have You" (1988) and "She's
Gone, Gone, Gone" (1989).
Campbell began recording less
frequently in the early '90s, especially since he could no longer reach the charts
and the radio, since they were dominated by new country artists. Over the course of the
decade, he gradually moved into semi-retirement, concentrating on golf and performing at
his Goodtime Theater in Branson, Missouri. In 1994, he published his autobiography,
Rhinestone Cowboy. -Stephen Thomas Erlewine
The Bluegrass Album Band
Formed 1980, disbanded 1989. Group Members: Jerry Douglas, Doyle Lawson, Tony Rice, Todd
Phillips, Vassar Clements, J.D. Crowe, Bobby Hicks and Mark Schatz.
The Bluegrass Album Band was a bluegrass supergroup formed in 1980. Originally, the band
featured J.D. Crowe, Doyle Lawson, Tony Rice, Bobby Hicks, and Todd Phillips. All
of the members were known as progressive bluegrass musicians, but the Bluegrass Album Band was
designed to showcase the traditional side of their talents. Their first album, The Bluegrass
Album, was intended as a one-shot project but it proved so successful the group recorded
four other albums over the course of the decade. Over the years, the lineup of the Bluegrass
Album Band shifted, but Crowe, Lawson, and Rice remained its core members. The group's final
album, The Bluegrass Album, Vol. 5: Sweet Sunny South, was released in 1989 and featured Crowe,
Lawson, Rice, Vassar Clements, Jerry Douglas, and Mark Schatz. -Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Born Apr 25, 1915 in Houston, TX, died Aug 25, 2000.
A jazz-influenced fiddler who found his greatest success in the 1930s, Cliff Bruner's
place in country music history was assured thanks to his 1939 version of Ted Raffan's "Truck
Driver's Blues," the first trucker song ever recorded.
By the age of 14 Bruner was performing
professionally, and within a few years he had signed on with Dr. Scott's Medicine Show,
a traveling caravan hawking a cure-all called Liquidine Tonic. In 1934, Bruner joined the
Western swing band Milton Brown and His Musical Brownies, an act which billed itself as "The
Greatest String Band on Earth." He cut close to 50 songs with the group before Brown was
killed in an auto accident in April 1936.
Shortly thereafter, Bruner returned to Houston,
where he formed a group called the Texas Wanderers (sometimes called Cliff Bruner and His Boys)
which fused traditional and contemporary roots music with elements of 1920s and '30s pop and
jazz. Included among the group's roster were the honky tonk pianist Aubrey "Moon" Mullican
and Bob Dunn, the creator of the amplified steel guitar. In 1938, the band released its
biggest hit, a rendition of Floyd Tillman's "It Makes No Difference Now."
While continuing to perform during and after World War II, Bruner's visibility began to slip,
and by the early '50s he had left the music industry for a career selling insurance. When
Western swing became all the rage in the '70s, Bruner returned to both the stage and the
studio, guesting on Johnny Gimble's 1980 LP Texas Swing Pioneers. On August 25, 2000,
Bruner's long lifetime of making music came to an end when he died of cancer at the age
of 85. -Jason Ankeny
Born Apr 25, 1928 in Kinard, SC. Combining jazz with country, Vassar Clements became one
of the most distinctive, inventive and popular fiddlers in bluegrass music. Clements first
came to prominence as a member of Bill Monroe's band in the early '50s, but he never limited
himself to traditional bluegrass. Over the next four decades, he distinguished himself by
incorporating a number of different genres into his style. In the process, he became not
only one of the most respected fiddlers in bluegrass, he also became a sought-after session
musician, playing with artists as diverse as the Monkees, Hank Williams, Paul McCartney,
Michelle Shocked, Vince Gill, and Bonnie Raitt.
Clements taught himself to play fiddle at the age
of seven. Soon afterward, he formed a band with two of his cousins. By the time he was 21,
Clements' skills were impressive enough to attract the attention of Bill Monroe. Monroe
hired the young fiddler and Clements appeared on the Grand Ole Opry with the mandolinist
in 1949. The following year, the fiddler recorded his first session with Monroe.
For the next six years, Clements stayed with
Monroe's band, occasionally leaving for brief periods of time. In 1957, he joined Jim & Jesse's
Virginia Boys and stayed with the band for the next four years. In the early '60s, Clements
was sidelined for a while as he suffered from alcoholism. By the end of the '60s he had
rehabilitated, and he returned to playing in 1967. That year he moved to Nashville and began
playing the tenor banjo at a residency at the Dixieland Landing Club. In 1969, he toured
with Faron Young and joined John Hartford's Dobrolic Plectorial Society. The band only
lasted 10 months and after its breakup, Clements joined the Earl Scruggs Revue; he
stayed with that band for a year.
Clements began playing sessions in 1971,
appearing on albums by Steve Goodman, Gordon Lightfoot, David Bromberg, J.J. Cale,
and Mike Audridge over the next two years. In 1972 he was featured on the Nitty Gritty Dirt
Band's hit album Will the Circle Be Unbroken, which helped establish him as a country and
bluegrass star. Clements capitalized on the record's popularity in 1973, when he released his
first solo album, Crossing the Catskills, on Rounder Records and began touring the festival
and college circuits. That same year, he appeared on a number of albums, including the Grateful
Dead's Wake of the Flood, Jimmy Buffett's A White Sports Coat & A Pink Crustation, and Mickey
Newbury's Heaven Help the Child.
In 1974, Clements signed a record contract
with Mercury Records, releasing two albums for the label - Vassar Clements and Superbow -
the following year. That same year, he appeared in the bluegrass supergroup Old & In the Way,
which also featured Jerry Garcia, David Grisman, Peter Rowan, and John Kahn. He also had a
cameo role in Robert Altman's film Nashville in 1975. In 1977, Clements released two albums
for two different labels - The Vassar Clements Band on MCA Records and The Bluegrass Session
on Flying Fish. It would be four years before he released another solo album. During that time,
he toured constantly and appeared on numerous albums. Clements reappeared in 1981 with Hillbilly
Rides Again and Vassar, which were both released on Flying Fish.
During the '80s and '90s, Clements continued
to record sporadically, but he cut numerous sessions for other artists and played numerous
concerts every year. In 1995, Clements reunited with Old & In the Way, who released That High
Lonesome Sound in 1996. The solo Back Porch Swing followed three years later; Full Circle
appeared in spring 2001. -Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Johnny and Jonie Mosby
The husband-and-wife team of Johnny and Jonie Mosby played together for nearly two
decades. Jonie, born Janice Irene Shields in Van Nuys, California, met Johnny (born
in Fort Smith, Arkansas) when she auditioned for his West Coast orchestra. He hired her
and by the year's end became her husband. They appeared under the name Johnny and Jonie on
their first single, "Just Before Dawn." They signed with Columbia in 1962 and had their
first charted single the following year with "Don't Call Me from a Honky Tonk," which made
it to the Top 15. Their next single, "Trouble in My Arms," also reached the Top 15, and "Who's
Been Cheatin' Who" made the Top 30. In 1964, the duo had two Top 30 hits. During the mid-'60s,
the Mosbys were at the peak of their popularity and frequently appeared on such country music
television shows as Louisiana Hayride, Big D Jamboree, and Grand Ole Opry.
two albums between 1964 and 1965, Mr. and Mrs. Country Music for Columbia and Johnny and
Jonie Mosby ‹ The New Sweethearts of Country Music for Starday. They later began recording
more of their own songs and continued with a steady string of mid-range hits through 1970.
In 1971, the Mosbys' success began to wane and they only had one medium and one minor hit.
The couple split up that year, and Jonie found solo success in 1972 with "I've Been There." In
1992, Jonie Mosby made national headlines when the 52-year-old became the oldest woman in
the U.S. to undergo in vitro fertilization and successfully bear a child. ‹ Sandra Brennan
Rob Crosby was a singer/songwriter noted for his folksy, sensitive lyrics. Born Robert Crosby
Hoar April 25, 1954 in Sumpter, South Carolina, he wrote his first song at age 9 and had his
first band, the Radiations, while still in fifth grade. Inspired by Kris Kristofferson, Bob Dylan,
and Paul Simon, Crosby wrote songs and performed with a three-piece combo in high school. While in
college he began playing with the band Savannah in South Carolina nightclubs. He then founded
the Rob Crosby Group and toured the Southeast. In 1974, the group broke up and Crosby moved to
Nashville with his family; two former band members also moved there, and they and Crosby
reteamed to play in local clubs.
A year after getting a job as a staff writer
at a small music publishing house, Crosby's 1985 song "She Told Me Yes" was a Top 30 hit for
the group Chance. Soon others, including Lee Greenwood, began recording his songs.
When not writing, Crosby earned extra money singing commercial jingles for radio and
television. A performance at a songwriter's night hosted by the Nashville Entertainment
Association led to a record deal, and in 1991, he released his debut album, Solid Ground,
which contained three Top 20 singles, including "Love Will Bring Her Around." He wrote or
co-wrote most of the songs on the album and garnered considerable critical acclaim for his
sensitive, female-oriented lyrics. His second album, Another Time & Place (1992), did not
do as well and Arista dropped him. In 1995, he resurfaced with Starting Now. -Sandra Brennan
Born Ervin Bruce, April 25, 1932 in Cut Off, LA. Known as the "King of Cajun Singers,"
this native of Cut Off, LA, born Ervin Bruce, first recorded for Columbia in 1951, where
he found some success with the ballad "Dans La Louisianne." A decade later this singer/guitarist
was recording for Floyd Soileau's Swallow label, where he scored a hit with "Jole Blon"
(at least the third go-round for "the Cajun national anthem"). Bruce currently resides in
Galliano, LA, and is widely respected in Louisiana for his country-tinged Cajun
traditionalism. -Jeff Hannusch & Mark A. Humphrey
The Kentucky Colonels
Formed in 1963, the progressive bluegrass band the Kentucky Colonels had a short but
legendary career during the folk revival of the late '50s and early '60s. The band was
formed in Los Angeles in the early '50s by brothers Roland, Eric and Clarence White, and
their sister Joann. When Joann dropped out, the three brothers began billing themselves as the
Three Little Country Boys and appeared on local television after winning first prize in a talent
contest. In 1958, Arkansas native Billy Ray Lathum became their banjo player and dobro player
Le Roy Mack joined the band the next year. Lathum's arrival allowed Roland White to switch to
mandolin, his instrument of choice.
As the Country Boys, the group recorded their
first single, "I'm Head Over Heels in Love with You." They began appearing on Town Hall
Party and Hometown Jamboree and recording on Gene Autry's label. Bassist and banjoist Roger
Bush joined the band in 1961 after Eric dropped out to marry. Three Little Country Boys then
recorded Songs, Themes & Laughs from the Andy Griffith Show for Capitol. Before the year was
out, Roland was drafted and left the band for two years, leaving them without a mandolinist.
The group cut its first album on Briar, which disliked the band's moniker and suggested a
series of names, the best of which was the Kentucky Colonels. In 1963, fiddler
Bobby Sloane joined the Colonels and Roland returned as well. By this time,
the Colonels had begun to gather a following through their U.S. tours, and appeared at
both the UCLA and Newport Folk Festivals in 1964. The band recorded several albums and
appeared in the movie The Farmer's Other Daughter. They really took off musically when
fiddler Scott Stoneman replaced Sloane, but broke up shortly thereafter in 1965,
with each member going their separate ways. -Sandra Brennan
The Oak Ridge Boys
Formed 1961 in Oak Ridge, TN, Group Members: Mark Gray, Gary McSpadden, Duane Allen,
Joe Bonsall, Bill Campbel,l Bobby Clark, William Lee Golden, Herman Harper, Neal Matthews,
Steve Sanders, Richard Sterban, Powell Hassell, Calvin Newton, Pat Patterson, Joe Alfred Glenn,
Allred Carlos, Cook Walt, Cornell Hobart Evans, Tommy Fairchild, Noel Fox, Livy Freeman,
Lon "Deacon" Freeman, Sister "Cat" Freeman, Smitty Gatlin, James Goss, Jim Hammill, Curly Kinsey,
Johnny New, Ron Page, Bob Prathe,r Les Roberson, Gary Trusler, Bob Weber, Bobby Whitfield,
Willie Wynn, Wally Fowler, Bill Smith. Over the course of their long career, the Oak Ridge
Boys became a country music institution. The vocal group went through a number of personnel
changes over the years, but their sound remained the same, as they never strayed from their
The Oak Ridge Boys began as a gospel group
named the Oak Ridge Quartet in 1945. In 1949, Bob Weber purchased the rights to the group's
name from lead singer Wally Fowler and ascribed it to his group, the Cavalry Quartet. The Oak
Ridge Quartet remained together through the mid-'50s, becoming one of the top gospel
groups in America. Smitty Gatlin later created a new Oak Ridge Quartet after purchasing
the name from Weber. Gatlin decided to steer the group towards secular success and changed
their name to the Oak Ridge Boys in 1961. Although they were concentrating on commercial
material, the group continued to sing gospel music. In the late '60s, the Oak Ridge Boys
underwent an image makeover, growing their hair long and singing almost nothing but
pop-oriented material. In the early '70s, they gradually incorporated more gospel back
into their repertoire.
By 1973, the group's core lineup ‹ Duane Allen
(lead vocals), Joe Bonsall (tenor), William
Lee Golden (baritone), and Richard Sterban (bass) ‹ had fallen into place and they made
their first entry in the country charts with a cover of Johnny Cash's "Praise the Lord
and Pass the Soup." The following year they signed to Columbia, although they nearly
disbanded due to financial difficulties. In 1977, the group decided to switch over
completely to secular music, beginning with the hit singles "Y'All Come Back Saloon"
and "You're the One." Almost immediately, the Oak Ridge Boys became a fixture in the
country Top Ten; for the next eight years, they had a string of 25 Top Ten singles,
including 13 number one hits. In 1978, they had their first number one single with "I'll
Be True to You." In 1981 the Oaks had their biggest hit with the crossover smash "Elvira."
By the late '80s the group's momentum
began to slow down. They still had Top 40 hits, but they no longer dominated the Top Ten,
as they did in the early '80s. In 1987, Golden, who had been with the group since 1964,
was fired by the rest of the group, who believed that his burly appearance and long beard no
longer fit their image. The Oaks' backup guitarist and singer Steve Sanders
replaced him, and the group quickly returned to the Top Ten. Over the next three years,
they had four number one hits, including "It Takes a Little Rain (To Make Love Grow),"
"Gonna Take a Lot of River," and "No Matter How High." In 1990, their comeback slowed down.
One more Top Ten hit, "Lucky Moon," followed in 1991, but the group had all but
disappeared from the country charts by the end of 1992. The Oak Ridge Boys continued
to tour and record throughout the '90s. Sanders left the group in 1995; he committed
suicide on June 10, 1998. -Sandra Brennan
Born 1937, ied 1946, After Milton Brown's death, his Musical Brownies did not remain
vital very long. Ocie Stockard rose from the ashes and formed his own band. Members
included Wanna Coffman on bass, Joe Holley (formerly of the Crystal Springs Ramblers) on
fiddle, Jack Hinson (formerly of the Ross Rhythm Rascals) on piano and Cecil Mullins on guitar.
Milton's brother, Durwood Brown, also logged some time with this band. Stockard left to join
Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys in 1946. -Megan LynchMbr>
Ray was born on April 22 in Vancouver, British Columbia,
Canada, the younger of two sons by Katherine and George
Griff. Due to a breakup of the marriage and financial hard ships,
Katherine left with her two sons and moved to Winfield, Alberta
where she found employment as a bookkeeper. Her sheer
determination and years of sacrificing is what molded Ray!
With a stuttering problem, although it was very difficult for
Ray, he was determined to do something special with his life.
Having a great love for music, at the age of eight, Ray along
with his brother Ken and three other local kids, formed a band
calling themselves "The Winfield Amateurs", a title that later
became one of Rays most popular songs. Ray sang and played
drums in the band!
Saving his pennies, Ray purchased through a mail order
catalogue, a Palm Beach guitar that he taught himself to play.
It was about this time that Ray started writing songs! A
milestone however was when Katherine scraped together
enough funds to buy an old upright piano. Since there was
no money for lessons, Ray taught himself to play the piano
as well. When Ray turned twelve the family decided to move
to Calgary, Alberta Canada. Coming into adulthood Ray worked
at a grocery store after school and on weekends, to help
with the family bills.
Ray loved sports and although there was little time to
participate, Ray received a special invitation from the
Canadian Olympic team, after he had set a record in
the long jump at a city school track meet. In his continued
quest for a career in music Ray felt best to decline! Ray
fronted his own group in the late 50's called The Blue Echoes,
and began to earn a name for himself in and around Calgary,
performing at high school hops and at local community affairs.
It was during one of these performances that he attracted
the attention of local radio personality and promoter D'Arcy
Scott, who asked Ray to be the opening act for the great
Johnny Horton on a tour of Western Canada.
Ray was sixteen and his dreams were beginning to come
true! During the tour Ray played a song he had written for
Johnny called "Mister Moonlight", which Johnny included in
his classic album"The Battle Of New Orleans". Ray decided
to quit school and took a day job to make enough money to
get to Nashville to pitch his songs. He also entertained at
a local nightclub, being the first live entertainment to perform
in Calgary when the Liquor Bill was passed.
Ray made his first trip to Nashville in 1961 when he was 20,
leaving countless tapes of his songs with music publishers
and labels, at the same time doing his first session as an artist,
recording "The Racing King", which became a pop hit across
Canada. For the next two years Ray fine-tuned his talents as
a songwriter and performer. It was after a Jim Reeves concert
in Calgary that Ray presented Jim with his song
"Where Do I Go From Here". Jim not only recorded the song on
his next album, he invited Ray to move to Nashville. After
completing a Canadian nightclub tour, Ray made the long anticipated
move to Music City in 1964, with forty dollars in his pocket and a million
dreams. Shortly after Ray's arrival,his friend and mentor
Jim Reeves was killed! Ray spent the first few weeks sleeping
in his car.
Though devastated and alone, he was determined to make
it in the world of country music! Ray got a job repairing
pianos from seven in the morning until three in the afternoon,
when he would pitch his songs to record labels until closing
time. He would then work from six until midnight at a record
pressing plant to help make ends meet. Even with his heavy
timetable Ray managed to write songs as well as getting his
high school diploma through a correspondence course.
Bob Ferguson, a record producer in town was so impressed
with this young man that he hired Ray to pitch songs for his
publishing company. Ray's fee was thirty dollars a week
and a place to sleep in the back of the office. It wasn't long
before Ray was in the studio, self- producing and recording
"Don't Lead Me On" and "That Weepin' Willow Tree".
The session was presented to Chet Atkins at RCA and
Ray was signed to its subsidiary label, Groove Records.
Ray remained with the label until artistic differences led
him to be let out of his contract. Shortly thereafter Ray
played a song for renowned producer Owen Bradley.
The song was "Baby". Owen recorded the song with Wilma
Burgess, a new artist on Decca and Ray's career as a
songwriter and music publisher was under way.
For the next twenty plus years Ray Griff would remain
one of the hottest songwriters and music publishers in
Country music. His successes have brought him over forty
singles in the top 100, as well as being the recipient of
eighty seven ASCAP and BMI citations as a song writer,
artist, producer and publisher, taking home an unprecedented
sixteen ASCAP awards two years running in 1975 and 1976.
Ray has written over two thousand songs and has had more
than six hundred of his songs recorded by such
artists as Johnny Horton, Jim Reeves, Eddy Arnold, Ray Price,
Marty Robbins, Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn, Wayne Newton,
Lavern Baker, Mel Tillis, George Jones, Conway Twitty,
George Hamilton IV, Jerry Lee Lewis, Slim Whitman, Porter
Wagoner, Faron Young, Johnny Duncan, Ferlin Husky,
Charlie Pride, Crystal Gayle, Gene Watson, Hank Snow,
Carl Smith and Hank Locklin.
Ray has scored with such hits as "Lily White Hands",
"The Morning After Baby Let Me Down","Patches", and
"You Ring My Bell". Ray also hosted his own network
television show in Canada as well as appearing as a
guest on such television shows as "The Dean Martin Show",
"The Kenny Rogers Rollin' On The River TV Show"
and "The Tommy Hunter Show".
Ray's on stage performances earned him the name
"The Entertainer"! As a record producer Ray has helped
launch the careers of such as artists as Glory Anne,
Sharon Lowness, Jack Bailey, Sheila Anne and Jason McCoy.
When his mother became ill in the mid eighties Ray
arranged his touring schedule to keep him in Alberta,
to be close to her until her passing in 1990.
In 1989 Ray was inducted into the Canadian Country
Music Hall Of Fame and in 1998 was inducted into the
Canadian Country Music Hall Of Honor. In 1998 Ray
returned to his homeland Canada, where he is offering
his services as an independent record producer and
music consultant, although he commutes on a regular
basis to Nashville where he has an office and residence.
In 2001 Ray recorded and released his first album as a
recording artist in fifteen years entitled "See Ya, Love Ya, Bye".
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