August 31, 2021 Lawrence Welk and Country

In 1924, when Lawrence Welk was just starting out, he was in a group with Lew Childre called the Alabama Cotton Pickers. Lew Childre was from Opp, Alabama and went on to have a nice country career. Childre became a member of the Grand Ole Opry in 1945, and there are clips on YouTube of Lew’s music, comedy, and tap-dancing.

In 1945, Lawrence Welk and Red Foley released a pair of songs, “Shame On You” (#1 on the country chart) and “At Mail Call Today” (#3 on the country chart). In 1960, Lawrence Welk had a #21 pop hit with a cover of Floyd Cramer’s “Last Date.”

In response to television’s “rural purge,” Roy Clark sang “The Lawrence Welk-Hee Haw Counter-Revolution Polka.” The song was a #9 country hit in 1972.

Many of the regulars on the Lawrence Welk Show were known for country music. Lynn Anderson was a regular country singer on the show in 1967-68. Clay Hart joined in 1969 and was nominated for a Grammy for Male Country Vocal Performance. His wife Sally Flynn was also on the show, and after leaving the show, Clay and Sally continued as a country duo. Ava Barber and Jim Turner are country singers and often sang duets on the show Ava also had a song hit #13 on the country chart. Jim Turner went on to sing Christian music and was nominated for a Dove Award. Guy and Ralna released country albums. Buddy Merrill made albums like “Country Capers” and “Steel Guitar Country.” Neil Levang was nominated for a CMA award and performed on the ACM awards. JoAnn Castle was known as the “Queen of the Honky Tonk Piano.” Accordion great Myron Floren made a country-inspired album in 1977, “The Nashville Sessions.” As a fun trivia bit, he also released a disco polka album in 1977. The Lennon Sisters released the album “Pop Country” in 1969. They still perform in Branson and have made appearances on shows like Country’s Family Reunion. Alvino Rey played pedal steel on the Lawrence Welk Show in 1959-60. As you might recall, he was known for developing the earliest version of the “talking steel guitar.” The site Stars of the Lawrence Welk Show has over 100 biographies of people who were on the show, which had over a thousand episodes.

The Lawrence Welk Show Fans YouTube Channel frequently uploads clips from the show, and country guests show up pretty often. In the last week alone, the channel uploaded clips from Country Music Hall Of Fame members Barbara Mandrell, The Jordanaires, and Floyd Cramer. In 1958, Johnny Cash appeared on the Lawrence Welk Show, but I haven’t found a clip of that. There is a clip of Glen Campbell on the show, and Lawrence Welk recorded covers of a couple of Glen Campbell’s biggest hits. Since Connie Smith recently released an album (that deserves a whole lot more attention than it has received), here’s a 1966 clip of Connie Smith on the Lawrence Welk Show.

Charley Pride appeared on the Lawrence Welk Show a number of times, and was featured on Lawrence Welk-produced recordings for the US Navy.

Some other country artists who appeared on the Lawrence Welk Show were Jimmy Wakely, Jim Reeves, Leon McAuliffe, Molly Bee, Connie Eaton, and Minnie Pearl.

I’ll close today’s post with some episodes of interest: Country and Western themed episode of the Lawrence Welk Show from 1968.

Lawrence Welk Show 1971 Farm Show

1977 Lawrence Welk Show Salute to Nashville

1982 Lawrence Welk Show Salute to Nashville

August 30, 2021 1950-1955 Pop Number Ones of Country Interest

There was a good bit of crossover on the country and pop charts early on, and looking at both charts shows a fuller picture of what was going on in country music than the country chart alone.

The first Billboard pop number one in 1950 was Gene Autry singing “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” so we’re one week in and already found a Country Music Hall of Fame member.

The Andrews Sisters, “I Can Dream, Can’t I?”

The Andrews Sisters weren’t considered a “country act,” but did collaborate with country artists and had some impact on country charts, including a number one country hit with Bing Crosby in 1944.

The Ames Brothers had a pop number one with “Rag Mop,” a cover of the Johnnie Lee Wills western swing song. Wills’ song was adapted from a song by jazz artist Red Allen.

Country Music Hall of Fame member Red Foley had a pop number one with “Chattanoogie Shoe Shine Boy.”

Gordon Jenkins and The Weavers had a pop number one with “Goodnight Irene.” Ernest Tubb and Red Foley had a country number one with the song later that year.

The year closed with Patti Page’s gigantic hit “Tennessee Waltz,” a cover of country hall of famer Pee Wee King’s song. It stayed atop the pop chart from the end of December 1950 until it was dethroned in March 1951.

In 1951, Tony Bennett had a pop number one with a cover of Hank Williams’ “Cold, Cold Heart.”

Also in 1951, Johnny Ray and The Four Lads had a pop number one with “Cry.” Lynn Anderson had a country number one (on Cashbox) with a cover of the song in 1972 and Crystal Gayle had a country number one with the song in 1986.

Pee Wee King had a Cashbox pop number one with “Slowpoke” in 1951, and Del Wood with “Down Yonder.”

In 1952, Jo Stafford had a pop number one with Pee Wee King’s “You Belong To Me.”

In 1952, Patti Page had a number one pop hit with “I Went To Your Wedding.” Hank Snow had a number three country hit with it.

In 1953, Perry Como had a number one with “Don’t Let The Stars Get In Your Eyes.” Although Como’s version is the best known, it’s a cover of a song by country artist Slim Willet, who had a country number one with it. Skeets McDonald had a country number one with it, too.

Patti Page had a number one pop hit with “The Doggie In The Window.” It stayed atop the pop chart for nearly two months. Country Hall of Fame act Homer and Jethro made a parody version that was a number two country hit and number seventeen pop hit.

In 1953, Les Paul and Mary Ford had a pop number one with “Vaya Con Dios.” Western Writers Of America chose this as one of the top 100 western songs. Several country artists covered this one, and Freddy Fender’s version was a number seven country hit in 1976.

In 1954, Doris Day had a pop number one with “Secret Love.” Slim Whitman had a number two country hit the same year. Freddy Fender had a number one country hit in 1975.

In 1954, Rosemary Clooney had a pop number one with “This Ole House,” a cover of Stuart Hamblen’s number two country hit.

In 1954, The Chordettes had a pop number one with “Mr. Sandman.” Chet Atkins had a number 15 country hit with it in 1955, his first charting single. Emmylou Harris had a number ten country hit in 1981, which also made 37 on the pop chart.

In 1955, Joan Weber had a number one pop hit with “Let Me Go, Lover.” Hank Snow’s version was a number one country hit.

In 1955, the Fontane Sisters had a number one pop hit with “Hearts of Stone,” and Red Foley had a number four country hit.

In 1955, the McGuire Sisters had a pop number one with “Sincerely.” The Forrester Sisters had a number 8 country hit with it in 1988.

In 1955, Bill Hayes had a pop number one with “Ballad of Davy Crockett.” The Western Writers of America chose it as one of the top 100 western songs of all time. Tennessee Ernie Ford and Mac Wiseman had country hits with it.

In 1955, Bill Haley’s “Rock Around The Clock” was a pop number one. Joop’s Musical Flowers wrote an article about the similarities to Hank Williams’ “Move It On Over” and earlier songs.

In 1955, Mitch Miller had a pop number one with “Yellow Rose of Texas,” a nineteenth century song that had been recorded by country artists since the 1920s.

1955 closed with Tennessee Ernie Ford’s number one pop and country hit, “Sixteen Tons,” written by Merle Travis.

August 29, 2021 Bill Hayes

“The Ballad of Davy Crockett” was one of the biggest songs of 1955, charting for several artists at the same time. Country Hall of Fame members Tennessee Ernie Ford and Mac Wiseman each had country hits with it.

The very biggest hit with the song wasn’t by either of them, though. It was by Bill Hayes.

Dr. William Foster Hayes III has done just about everything. He trained to be a fighter pilot in WWII. He earned a PhD in education. He’s probably best known for acting on Days of Our Lives since 1970. He and his wife (also an actress on the show) were on the cover of Time Magazine in 1976, and in 2018, they were awarded Daytime Emmy Lifetime Achievement Awards.. Bill Hayes is 96 now and still active on Days of Our Lives !

“Ballad of Davy Crockett” was the only big hit of his singing career, and he narrated a Davy Crockett autobiography for Smithsonian Folkways, and he even sang the Ballad of Davy Crockett in German. He released many other records in the fifties and beyond and sang on television.

In 1952, here’s Journey’s End.

Also in 1952, he covered the Tex Ritter hit “High Noon.”

In 1953, Bill Hayes covered I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry.

Bill Hayes sings Yellow Rose of Texas

The flip side of “Ballad of Davy Crockett” was “Farewell” in English and “Leb Wohl Meine Heimat” for the German record.

In 1956, he released a 4-song EP, “Great Pioneers of the West” with “The Ballad of Davy Crockett,” “Farewell,” “Legend of Wyatt Earp,” and “The White Buffalo.”

In 1957, he released an album of Disney songs.

In 1957, Wringle, Wrangle from the movie Westward Ho

In 1958, Bill Hayes and the Buckle Busters released an album of folk songs Jimmy Crack Corn and the Songs Everybody Loves To Sing .

Here’s his take on Wimoweh. This was a couple years before the famous version of “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” by The Tokens.

Bill Hayes’ character on Days of Our Lives was a lounge singer, and his albums from 1970s are more in that direction: “The Look Of Love (1973),” “From Me To You With Love (1976),” “A Song For You (1977),” and “At Doug’s Place (with his wife Susan Seaforth Hayes, who is also his wife on Days of Our Lives, in 1980).” In the mid-2000s, he also released a Christmas album, a gospel album, and an album of Hollywood songs.

1990 Bill Hayes Interview

August 28, 2021 Awards and Halls of Fame

The Inspirational Country Music Association awards were a few days ago. I’m not very familiar with their scene, but they’ve been around for many years. Since they couldn’t have their usual event last year, this year’s event was for their 25th and 26th annual awards. They’ve yet to post a list of the winners, but they do have lists of past winners through their 24th annual awards.

The recent ACM Honors in Nashville is now available on YouTube. In addition to the entire show, many of the individual performances have been uploaded, such as Alan Jackson and Lee Ann Womack singing “Murder On Music Row.”

The 25th Annual Academy of Western Artists list of winners is up. They have “pure country” categories, in addition to western categories.

The International Western Music Association awards will be November 13. A schedule of performers is listed, so there are many acts to check out. There’s even a yodeling workshop. The Western Music Hall Of Fame was established in 1989, and they add members annually.

National Cowboy Museum Hall of Great Western Performers

Musicians Hall Of Fame

The Songwriter Hall Of Fame will hold its next event June 16, 2022. They didn’t have events in 2020 or 2021.

The Nashville Songwriter Hall Of Fame class of 2021 is Amy Grant, Toby Keith, Rhett Akins, Buddy Cannon and John Scott Sherrill. The induction ceremony is November 1.

52nd Dove Awards are October 19

Bluegrass Hall Of Fame will add new members Alison Krauss, Lynn Morris, and The Stoneman Family. The IBMA World of Bluegrass will be September 28-October 2 in Raleigh. The SPBGMA bluegrass awards and convention are January 27-30, 2022. SPBGMA Hall Of Greats. There is also a Bill Monroe Bluegrass Hall of Fame in Indiana.

The National Fiddler Hall Of Fame in Tulsa will have its annual event October 22. This year’s inductees are Don Rich, Shoji Tabuchi, Dale Morris, and Scott Joss.

The North American Fiddlers Hall Of Fame is in New York. It’s unclear from their website when or if any new inductions are scheduled.

American Banjo Museum Hall Of Fame 2021 inductees: Jens Krüger – five string, Brad Roth – four string, Paul Buskirk – historical, Greg Rich – design and manufacture, and Scott Whitfield – instruction and education.

Ameripolitan hasn’t announced a date for 2022 yet, but I’m guessing it will be in the spring.

Country Radio Hall Of Fame

Texas Country Hall Of Fame

Texas Sounds International Country Music Awards are October 14-17. Obviously, they’re at the mercy of international travel restrictions due to Covid.

Americana Awards are September 22. A quick look at the list of conference panels indicates that so-called “diversity” is more of a priority than musical talent.

The Steel Guitar Hall Of Fame hasn’t added anyone since 2016.

The Austin City Limits Hall of Fame 2021 induction is October 28: Wilco, Lucinda Williams, and Alejandro Escovedo.

Australian Country Music Hall Of Fame Roll of Renown was established in 1976.

Music Row Magazine 33rd Annual Awards

Josie Awards will be September 18.

International Polka Association Hall Of Fame

Rockabilly Hall Of Fame

Gospel Music Hall Of Fame

Southern Gospel Hall Of Fame induction is September 28.

Cajun Music Hall Of Fame

Louisiana Music Hall Of Fame

Texas Western Swing Hall Of Fame

The Country Music Hall Of Fame YouTube channel regularly features guest artists. Their most recent upload features Ruby Amanfu and Sam Ashworth. Why ? Why not have actual country artists at the country hall ?

Merritt Walk of Stars in Canada – country music

Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame

Canadian Music Hall of Fame

The Music City Walk of Fame in Nashville has some deserving acts, but it’s watered down with modern also-rans who haven’t earned a place in a hall of fame.

The National Traditional Country Music Association’s “America’s Old Time Country Music Hall Of Fame” in Iowa has been around for decades, but there doesn’t appear to be much of an online presence.

ACM Pioneer Award/Cliffie Stone Award

Grammy Lifetime Achievement Awards and Grammy Hall of Fame songs

Museum of Appalachia Hall of Fame

Virginia Crooked Road

Kentucky Country Music Highway

Kentucky Music Hall of Fame

Memphis Music Hall of Fame

Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame

Fiddlers Frolics Hall of Fame – Texas

Great American Songbook Hall of Fame

Vocal Group Hall of Fame

The Irish Country Music Hall of Fame has Big Tom, Daniel O’Donnell, and Philomena Begley.

British Country Music Hall of Fame

New Zealand Music Hall of Fame

There is or was a Germany Country Music Hall of Fame

August 27, 2021 New Music This Week

There are new albums from The Grascals, Jason Eady, Grayson Jenkins, Teddy Thompson and Jenni Muldaur, Tim Easton, Summer Dean, Trae Sheehan, Trace Adkins, Michael Ray, Niko Moon, King Callaway, Ashley Cooke, Boy Named Banjo, Chapel Hart, Brian Setzer, Seth James, and I See Hawks In LA.

The Grascals are a bluegrass group that has appeared on the Grand Ole Opry over 200 times, though there have been several lineup changes over the years.

Jason Eady is a consistently good country artist in the Texas scene. If you’re looking for an album that sounds country, I expect this will deliver.

Brian Setzer is known for rockabilly and swing, so he doesn’t neatly fit in any major modern categories. He was interviewed yesterday on SiriusXM Outlaw Country.

August 25, 2021 Country Accordion

My Squeezeboxes playlist covers all types of music, but let’s take a quick look at the accordion in country and western music.

There wasn’t a whole lot of accordion in 1920s country music, but business picked up in the 1930s, especially with emerging western acts like Louise Massey and the Westerners. Most of their music came and went before the country chart came into existence, but they were quite popular in the thirties into the early forties. Billboard’s lists of “hillbilly hits” (published monthly in 1939-42) lists a few of her songs. There’s a 1937 film clip of the group for “Twilight On The Trail.” Some of her hillbilly hits were polkas, too ! The always-outstanding History of Country Music Instagram mentioned her yesterday, and that inspired my post today.

Accordion player Pee Wee King was a member of the Grand Ole Opry from 1937-47 and was a very important figure in the transition from the “hillbilly era” to the “country and western era.” Pee Wee King was red hot around 1950-52, not just impacting the country charts, but also the pop charts, with songs like Slow Poke (#1 pop Cashbox, #3 pop Billboard, and #1 country) in 1951, plus writing credits for Tennessee Waltz (#1 pop and #2 country for Patti Page in 1950), Bonaparte’s Retreat (#4 pop for Kay Starr in 1950), and You Belong to Me (#1 pop for Jo Stafford in 1952).

In the 1940s, top country stars like Red Foley and Roy Acuff added accordion. Even Bill Monroe had an accordion player for a brief time. The Carter Sisters began recording in 1949 and you can find clips of them with the accordion in the fifties. Jimmy Dean played the accordion on his show in the late fifties and sixties.

Although we still hear some accordion in country music, it’s often as a signifier whenever someone wants a “Cajun” or “Tex-Mex” sound. The first Cajun records were in 1928, and I highly recommend the blog Early Cajun Music. Yes, the accordion was a big part of a lot of these early Cajun records. Accordion player Amédé Ardoin was an important figure in the history of both Cajun music and Creole music. Zydeco is derived from Creole music. If you’re interested in vintage Mexican and Tex-Mex music, I suggest The Arhoolie Foundation’s Frontera Collection.

I mentioned that accordion wasn’t especially common in 1920s country music. One early example is Raney Van Vink, who was born in Belgium, and settled in upstate South Carolina. He played accordion on 1927 records with Homer Christopher, who later went on to play in the Briarhoppers. In 1928, Mangrum and Shriver made records with accordion. Luther and Robison had the occasional bit of accordion, most notably the original recording of Barnacle Bill in 1928. The Bowman Sisters had accordion on their 1929 record. The Beverly Hillbillies had some accordion in 1930-31.

By the time that the “country music industry timeline” began in the early 1920s, there were already a couple of decades of accordion recordings. A few of the Irish and Scottish efforts by artists like John Kimmel, Peter Scanlon, Peter Wyper, might be worth a listen in the context of “pre-country” recordings. Some “jigs, reels, and hornpipes” carried directly from Celtic and British music into country music. “Devil’s Dream/De’il Among the Tailors” is a great example of a Scottish song from over two hundred years ago that has been covered by American country artists for about as long as there has been a recognized country music genre. The Italian accordion great Pietro Deiro covered “Turkey In The Straw” in 1918. There’s a song country fans will recognize.

August 23, 2021 Das Ist Lustig

Yesterday, I saw Texas polka act Das Ist Lustig perform in New Braunfels. According to their web site, they sometimes perform with a full band, but on this show, it was just the husband-and-wife duo.

What drew me to this act is their wide variety of instruments. You can find some videos in YouTube under the name “Valina Polka,” in addition to “Das Ist Lustig.” Let’s take a look at the instruments that they played yesterday, plus links to some of my playlists for those instruments:

The Autoharp is familiar to fans of old country music, but you really don’t see it in country music that much anymore. Here’s my Autoharp playlist.

I taped a short autoharp and saw duet of Edelweiss by Das Ist Lustig. This clip is just one minute, but it’s enough to give you a sample of this act.

The saw was used in country music a bit in the 1920s. In 1921, Ford Hanford made saw recordings of “My Old Kentucky Home” and “Old Black Joe,” and some consider Ford Hanford’s recordings as part of the country timeline. Sam Moore also made saw recordings in 1921 that deserve consideration. Al Hopkins and his Hillbillies made arguably the first “country music film” in late 1928, and there is saw on there, too. Here’s my Musical Saw playlist.

Valina played the teufelsgeige for much of the set, along with tambourine and other percussion. Here’s my playlist for Teufelsgeige and related instruments.

They used both piano and button accordions. The accordion was a common instrument in country music for some time, but for whatever reason, in country music now, it is now mostly indicative of regional styles like Cajun or Tex-Mex. Here’s my playlist for Squeezeboxes

More cowbell ? Yes, they played the alpenglocken. The first “country cowbell” act that comes to mind is Grandpa Jones, and he got the idea from Lennie and Goo Goo, who were probably best known for their work on the Ozark Jubilee. Here’s my Cowbell playlist.

The alphorn ? Yes, they even brought out the alphorn ! I don’t know of any good examples of alphorn in country music, but I do have an Alphorn playlist.

The German xylophone, hölzernes g’lachter or strohfiedel, has a long history, but especially gained popularity about two hundred years ago because of klezmer artist Joseph Gusikow. Unlike a “regular xylophone,” this instrument is arranged in a trapezoid like a dulcimer. Originally, the wooden blocks were atop rolled up straw, this the “straw fiddle” nickname, though it clearly has nothing to do with a fiddle. I have a playlist for Country xylophone, marimba, and glockenspiel, but it doesn’t include any examples of this trapezoidal xylophone. Here’s a 2015 clip someone posted of Das Ist Lustig playing the hölzernes g’lachter.

Although the group plays mostly German and polka songs, they take requests, and a couple of country songs made their way into the set yesterday. “Fraulein” was a number one country hit for Bobby Helms, and many more country artists have covered the song, which was written by country artist Lawton Williams. They also covered Tom T. Hall’s “I Like Beer,” which fits very nicely with polka drinking songs.

Long ago, the country music industry largely moved on from yodeling, waltzes and polkas, accordions, and autoharps, but for those of us who enjoy these things, polka bands are worth checking out.

August 21, 2021 Living CMHOF Members

Country Music Hall of Fame, Bluegrass Hall of Fame, and Songwriters Hall of Fame member Tom T. Hall passed away yesterday. One of his best known hits is Harper Valley PTA, which was sung by Jeannie C Riley. She is making a special appearance today in Brady, Texas.

(August 22 edit: Don Everly just passed away, also. He was a member of the Musicians Hall of Fame, and the Everly Brothers were in the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.)

This led me to wonder how many of the 146 CMHOF acts are still living. Here’s a list, in order of year of induction:

Loretta Lynn (born 1932, inducted 1988)

Willie Nelson (b 1933, i 1993)

Brenda Lee (b 1944, i 1997)

Bud Wendell (b 1927, i 1998)

Dolly Parton (b 1946, i 1999)

Bill Anderson (b 1937, i 2001)

Ray Walker of The Jordanaires (b 1934, i 2001) – The other 3 original members are deceased.

Kris Kristofferson (b 1936, i 2004)

Alabama (b 1949-1955, i 2005)

Note that drummer Mark Herndon is included in Alabama in the CMHOF.

George Strait (b 1952, i 2006)

Ralph Emery (b 1933, i 2007)

Vince Gill (b 1957, i 2007)

Emmylou Harris (b 1947, i 2008)

Charlie McCoy (b 1941, i 2009)

Barbara Mandrell (b 1948, i 2009)

Bobby Braddock (b 1940, i 2011)

Reba McEntire (b 1955, i 2011)

Hargus “Pig” Robbins (b 1938, i 2012)

Connie Smith (b 1941, i 2012)

Garth Brooks (b 1962, i 2012)

Bobby Bare (b 1935, i 2013)

Ronnie Milsap (b 1943, i 2014)

The Oak Ridge Boys (b 1939-1948, i 2015)

Randy Travis (b 1959, i 2016)

Don Schlitz (b 1952, i 2017)

Alan Jackson (b 1958, i 2017)

Ricky Skaggs (b 1954, i 2018)

Ray Stevens (b 1939, i 2019)

Jerry Bradley (b 1940, i 2019)

Brooks and Dunn (b 1953,1955 , i 2019)

Hank Williams Jr (b 1949, i 2020)

Dean Dillon (b 1955, i 2020)

Marty Stuart (b 1958, i 2020)

The Judds (b 1946, 1964, i 2021)

Eddie Bayers (b 1949, i 2021)

If I counted correctly, there are now 34 living CMHOF acts, two of which are groups of four and two of which are duets, plus Ray Walker of The Jordanaires. 20 of the living CMHOF acts were inducted from 2011-present.

Bud Wendell turned 94 this week, so he’s the oldest living CMHOF member. To put this in perspective, he was born less than one month after the 1927 Bristol Sessions.

Wynonna Judd is the youngest member of the CMHOF at 57, and Garth Brooks is the next youngest at 59.

August 19, 2021 New This Week

The Academy of Western Artists 25th annual awards was last evening on YouTube. A lot of country sites don’t cover western music very much, and you can find some quality acts there who don’t get a lot of coverage elsewhere.

There are many new albums out tomorrow:

Connie Smith has been a member of the Grand Ole Opry since 1965, and she was inducted into the Country Music Hall Of Fame in 2012. She has nothing to prove at this point in her career. I’m glad there are living legends out there who keep making country music just because they want to. As a fun fact, Connie Smith recorded a few songs in French in the late 60s.

Wanda Jackson has been around even longer, and she also has a new album. Wanda found rock and roll success as a teenager in the fifties, and she is in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Wanda Jackson also made plenty of country music throughout her career. As a fun fact, Wanda Jackson recorded in German, Dutch, and Japanese in the 60s.

There are also new albums (and EPs) from Sturgill Simpson, Garrett T Capps, Sierra Ferrell, Trey Gonzalez, Shane Nicholson, Ward Hayden and the Outliers, Montgomery Church, AJ Lee and Blue Summit, Runaway June, Tyler Booth, Sam Williams, Carter Faith, The Road Hammers, Billy Law, Jay Nash, John Scott Sherrill, Chris Norwood, James McMurtry, Malcolm Holcombe, Darrin Bradbury, Karen Jonas, Adrian and Meredith, Maggie Rose, Murphy’s Ford, Caleb Daugherty Band, Bryan Rahija, JD Pinkus, Anderson East, Chris Acker and the Growing Boys, William Harries Graham, Joe Troop, Martha Wainwright, Del Barber, Morly, Nathan Salsburg, The Furious Seasons, The Bridge City Sinners, and Sophia Rankin and the Sound.

August 17, 2021 Ivory Joe Hunter and Brook Benton

Since Ray Charles was inducted into the CMHOF yesterday, here’s a quick look at a couple of other artists best known for R&B who made an impact on country music.

Ivory Joe Hunter and Brook Benton both covered country songs and wrote songs that were covered by country artists. Sonny James had two country number ones with songs written by Brook Benton in 1970 and also two country number ones with songs written by Ivory Joe Hunter (1969 and 1971).

Brook Benton released an album in 1961 called “The Boll Weevil Song and 11 Other Great Hits.” Some of these were older songs that had been recorded by country and blues artists. To put the timeline in perspective, Ray Charles’ famous R&B/country album was in 1962. Brook Benton also released the albums “On the Countryside” in 1964 and “My Country” in 1966. As you can see on Second Hand Songs, some top country artists covered songs written by Brook Benton, too: Tammy Wynette, Red Sovine, Gene Watson, Mickey Gilley, Glen Campbell, Randy Travis, Brenda Lee, Barbara Mandrell, Patti Page, Don Gibson, et al.

Brook Benton had a major hit with Tony Joe White’s “Rainy Night In Georgia” in 1970 (#1 R&B, #4 pop), and Hank Williams Jr covered it in 1974 (#13 country).

Ivory Joe Hunter released the album “I’ve Always Been Country” in 1973 and the album “Live At The Grand Ole Opry” in 1974, the year he passed away. Ivory made frequent Opry appearances in the late sixties and early seventies. Ivory Joe Hunter was an extremely prolific songwriter, with literally thousands of songs to his credit, and his earliest credit was Jimmie Davis’ “Love Please Don’t Let Me Down” in 1944.

Let’s again consult Second Hand Songs. Here are some artists who covered songs written by Ivory Joe Hunter: Floyd Tillman, Elton Britt, Hank Snow, Leroy Van Dyke, Conway Twitty, Everly Brothers, Carl Smith, Bonnie Guitar, Charlie Rich, Barbara Mandrell, Hank Williams Jr, Eddy Arnold,Willie Nelson, Roy Clark, Wanda Jackson, Wilburn Brothers, Reba McEntire, BJ Thomas, Elvis Presley, Molly Bee, Freddy Fender, Jerry Lee Lewis, Bill Anderson and Jan Howard, Ray Stevens, et al.

Note that Clyde Otis was a cowriter on a few of Ivory Joe Hunter’s songs. Clyde Otis often collaborated with Brook Benton, too. Clyde Otis also produced Nashville recording sessions by Charlie Rich and Sonny James.

Ivory Joe Hunter covered several notable country songs:

Jealous Heart (1949), cover of Tex Ritter hit that was written by Jenny Lou Carson

It’s a Sin (1950), cover of Eddy Arnold hit

I’m Sorry For You, My Friend (1952) by Hank Williams

City Lights (1958) by Whispering Bill Anderson

Worried Mind (1958) by Ted Daffan and Jimmie Davis

If you’re interested in more R&B/country crossovers, past and present, check out my very large playlist Country Soul and R&B