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Archive for the ‘Country’ Category

RIP, Holly Dunn (November 15, 2016) Had Numerous Country Hits

Posted by themusicsover on November 15, 2016

Holly Dunn
August 22, 1957 – November 15, 2016

holly-dunnHolly Dunn is perhaps best remembered for her 1986 country hit, “Daddy’s Hands,” but she had several more hits throughout the late ’80s and early ’90s.  After graduating from college where she played in a local band, Dunn moved to Nashville to follow her dreams of becoming a country singer and songwriter.  initially finding work as a session singer and songwriter for CBS Records, Dunn began turning heads when her (and brother Chris Waters‘) “I’m Not Through Loving You Yet,” became a top 10 hit for Louise Mandrell.  The following year, she signed with MTM Records who released her self-titled debut which spawned three moderate hit singles until the fourth, “Daddy’s Hands,” brought her national acclaim.  Over the course of her career, she released 10 albums which contained 21 charting singles.  Outside of making records and touring, Dunn found time to work as a popular morning DJ at WWWW in Detroit, MI.  She also co-hosted Opry Backstage for TNN for about two years.  In 2003, she announced her retirement so she could spend more time on her other hobby, art. Her paintings have been displayed in a gallery in Santa Fe, NM.  In March of 2016, Dunn was diagnosed with ovarian cancer which ultimately took her life on November 15, 2016.  She was 59.

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RIP, Leon Russell (November 13, 2016) Legendary Musician, Songwriter & Producer

Posted by themusicsover on November 13, 2016

Leon Russell (Born Claude Russell Bridges)
April 2, 1942 – November 13, 2016

Photo by Carl Lender

Photo by Carl Lender

Leon Russell was a celebrated musician, singer, songwriter and producer whose early work as a session player alone was enough to rightfully find him a home in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Add to that his credits as a songwriter, and you have one of the most respected artists we have ever known.  Born in Oklahoma, Russell began playing the piano at just four years old.  By high school, he and schoolmate David Gates, of future Bread fame, had a band together. Over the next couple of years Russell needed a fake ID to play the clubs of Tulsa. And then, at just 16 years old, he headed to Los Angeles to take a crack at becoming a session musician. Russell quickly built a solid reputation and became one of the first people called into the studio or on stage to lend his talents.  The list of artists or their producers that mad that call is staggering – it includes the Byrds, Frank Sinatra, Bob Dylan, B.B. King, the Rolling Stones, Barbra Streisand, and the Beach Boys.  And as part of the famed Wrecking Crew of L.A. studio musicians, the list goes on. Russel’s first hit as a songwriter came by way of Joe Cocker‘s 1969 recording of his “Delta Lady.”  As the ’70s dawned, Russell began making his own albums while producing others.  And thanks in part to the success of “Delta Lady,” he became a go-to songwriter for hopeful pop and rock stars.  In 1970, he released his self-titled debut. The album spawned one of his most famous songs, “A Song For You” which has been covered by a diverse list of artists that includes Ray Charles, Zakk Wylde, Andy Williams, Herbie Hancock with Christina Aguilera, Whitney Houston, Willie Nelson, and Amy Winehouse. Russell spent the rest of the ’70s on a seemingly endless recording and touring cycle. He eventually slowed down, but became no less productive and influential.  The next three decades found him working with the likes of New Grass Revival and Bruce Hornsby while releasing several more of his own albums which leaned more bluegrass and country than much of his ’70s output. In 2010, Elton John (who called Russell his biggest influence as a pianist, singer and songwriter) and Bernie Taupin partnered with Russell on The Union, which resulted in a return-to-the-charts for both. The outstanding album, produced by T-Bone Burnett, and credited equally to both John and Taupin, entered the Billboard charts at No. 3, Russell’s highest charting album since 1972 and John’s highest since 1976.  Rolling Stone called it one of the best 30 albums of 2010.  The new-found exposure for Russell found him touring heavily up through the first half of 2016 when a heart attack sidelined him. Not discouraged, plans were being made to hit the road again in 2017.  Unfortunately, while still recovering from the heart attack, Leon Russell died quietly in his sleep on November 14, 2016.  He was 74.

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Died On This Date (May 17, 2016) Guy Clark / Revered Texas Singer-Songwriter

Posted by themusicsover on May 17, 2016

Guy Clark
November 6, 1941 – May 17, 2016

guy-clarkGuy Clark was the true embodiment of a “songwriter’s songwriter.”  Born in Texas, Clark’s name is rarely excluded when conversations turn to the greats from that state. Alongside contemporaries like Townes Van Zandt and Jerry Jeff Walker, Clark laid down the foundation for what is now simply called Texas Music or Texas Country.  His lyrics, served over mostly sparse blues folk instrumentation, tended to come as close to being called literature as songs could get.  As a performer – and most of the time armed with little more than his acoustic guitar or maybe a second and a fiddle, Clark could leave an audience holding its collective breath in anticipation of the next word coming from his mouth – and many times, that was during his talk leading up to the song. He eventually settled in Nashville where he and his wife, Susanna Clark, often welcomed local songwriters into their home where they could work on perfecting their craft in informal workshops.  This open houses often hosted the likes of Steve Earle, Rodney Crowell, and Steve Young.  Clark’s songs have been hits for such country luminaries as Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, Vince Gill, Alan Jackson, Ricky Skaggs, and Rodney Crowell.  For his own recordings, Clark garnered numerous accolades, including a Best Folk Album Grammy for his 2014 release, My Favorite Picture of You.  On May 17, 2016, Guy Clark died following a courageous battle against cancer.  He was 74.

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Died On This Date (April 6, 2016) Merle Haggard / Country Music Icon

Posted by themusicsover on April 6, 2016

Merle Haggard
April 6, 1937 – April 6, 2016

Merle-HaggardMerle Haggard was a country music legend who, along with Buck Owens, created the blueprint for what would become known as the “Bakersfield Sound,” a reaction to the slickly produced pop leaning country records that were coming out of Nashville at the time. Developed in local honky-tonks, the sound was built around the foundation of traditional country, the twang of a Telecaster, and the rough edge of vocals like Haggard’s.  Haggard also came to represent all that became “outlaw country.”  Songs like “Skid Row,” “They’re Tearing the Labor Camps Down,” “Okie From Muskogee,” “The Bottle Let Me Down,” “The Fightin’ Side of Me,” and “White Line Fever” found a huge audience with fans who could personally identify with the lyrics.  Over the course of a career that spanned five decades, Haggard scored nearly 40 #1 hit singles, a combined total of 25 ACM and CMA awards, three Grammys, and numerous other accolades.  His most recent album, 2015’s Django & Jimmie, with Willie Nelson, hit #1 on the Country charts and #7 on the Top 200. Not bad for an album that was recorded in just three days.  Merle Haggard passed away on April 6, 2016, his 79th birthday.  Cause of death was not immediately released although he had been battling pneumonia.

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RIP, Billy Joe Royal (October 6, 2015) Had Several Pop & Country Hits

Posted by themusicsover on October 6, 2015

Billy Joe Royal
April 3, 1942 – October 6, 2015

Billy-Joe-RoyalBorn and raised in Georgia, Billy Joe Royal was a pop and country singer who had a string of hits during the ’50s and ’60s and ’80s.  His biggest hit came by way of 1965’s “Down In The Boondocks,” which reached #9 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts and helped define the soft rock sound of its day.  Hits like “I Knew You When,” “Hush,” and “Cherry Hill Park” followed. During the ’70s, Royal experienced a comeback of sorts when his “Heart’s Desire” found fandom along the UK Northern Soul circuit.  During the ’80s, Royal became one of the first pop stars to successfully crossover to country.  He had several Top 10 hits including “I’ll Pin A Note On Your Pillow” and “Tell It Like It Is.”  Billy Joe Royal was 73 when he died in his sleep on October 6, 2015.  Cause of death was not immediately released.

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