They Should Be In The Country Music Hall Of Fame
Since the 2011 Country Music Hall of Fame inductees have been announced, I’ve talked with several people about who should be next after Reba, Jean Shepard and songwriter Bobby Braddock. Here is my list of the top 10 legends who should be in the Country Music Hall Of Fame.
Tanya Tucker- Like Taylor Swift, she takes Country Music by storm as a teenager with “Delta Dawn” “What’s Your Mama’s Name” and “Would You Lay With Me In A Field Of Stone.” Then, she proves she is here to stay with more hits in her 30s with “Just Another Love” “Strong Enough To Bend” and “Two Sparrows In A Hurricane.” Tanya becomes a Country Diva inspiring modern stars like Gretchen Wilson, who referenced Tanya in the hit “Redneck Woman.” It’s time to put this sassy, smokin’ voice into the Country Music Hall of Fame!
Jim Ed Brown- Jim has had success as a member of a group, a duet act, and as a solo artist. First with his sisters Bonnie and Maxine he scores Country and Pop hits with “The Three Bells” and “Scarlet Ribbons.” Then, he pursues a solo career with hits like “Pop A Top” and “Morning.” In 1976, he teams with Helen Cornelius for the Number One hit “I Don’t Want To Have To Marry You,” which also brings them a CMA award for Duo of the Year. In addition to all the radio hits, Jim was a warm and friendly television host for shows like “You Can Be A Star” and “Going Our Way” on TNN. Jim continues to entertain just about every weekend on the Grand Ole Opry.
Jack Greene– Jack was the first artist in history to win the CMA’s Male Vocalist of the Year award in 1967. I know it’s hard to compare Jack to current Male Vocalist winners like Keith Urban and Kenny Chesney, but during the mid 60’s Jack Greene was one of the dominant voices on Country Radio with hits like “Statue Of A Fool” and “There Goes My Everything.” Jack is still on the Grand Ole Opry and has just released a duets project with fellow legends.
Ronnie Milsap– This man has such an inspirational story! From overcoming childhood abuse to living an amazing life and career with a disability, this blind musician showed everyone that anything is possible. Ronnie starts out recording jazz and rock records on a small independent label, then lands a gig playing piano for Elvis. One of the most diverse talents in Country Music, he first breaks through with traditional Country recordings like “Pure Love” and the Grammy Winning “Please Don’t Tell Me How The Story Ends.” Ronnie then pushes the boundaries of production and instrumentation on Country Recordings to give us the groundbreaking crossover hits “It Was Almost Like A Song” “Stranger In My House” and “Any Day Now.” If Hall of Fame voters would read his biography, “Almost Like A Song,” I think he’d be voted in immediately.
Gene Watson– In 1975 Gene places his first song on the Billboard Country Charts with “Bad Water.” Although not a hit, he is a huge draw in his home state of Texas. After years of playing the Texas club scene, he breaks through on Capitol Records with “Love In The Hot Afternoon.” In 1979, he hits with his signature song “Farewell Party” and ends up recording for just about every major record label in Nashville, with his last top 10 Billboard hit coming in 1988 with “Don’t Waste It On The Blues.” With his long overdue honor in the Hall of Fame, Gene would represent the best in Texas Honky Tonk that is an important part of our history in Country Music.
Eddie Rabbitt– Like so many of today’s stars, Eddie starts out writing songs for other artists, including Elvis’ “Kentucky Rain” and Ronnie Milsap’s “Pure Love.” His legendary story of leaving New Jersey with $1,000 in his pocket and a guitar on his back to live out his dream is worthy of induction alone. Add numerous Country and Pop hits like “I Love A Rainy Night” and “Drivnin’ My Life Away” and you have a great candidate for induction into the Hall of Fame. Sadly, he’s the only artist on my list who is no longer with us. Eddie died in 1998 after a battle with lung cancer at the age of 56.
The Oak Ridge Boys-Although this group has been around with several different members since the 40s, the current line-up came together in the early 70s with Duane Allen, Richard Sterban, Joe Bonsall and William Lee Golden (Steve Sanders briefly replaced William from 1987-1996). The Oaks transitioned from a gospel group to a country super group in 1977 with “Y’All Come Back Saloon.” In the 80s, they were constantly on Country Radio with Number One hits like “American Made” “Bobbie Sue” and “Trying To Love Two Women.” In 1981, they explode with a song that was played on all radio formats, the Grammy Winning “Elvira.” With the release of their most recent album, “The Boys Are Back,” they continue to tour on a constant basis. It’s time to put the Oak Ridge Boys’ Hall of Fame plaque next to The Statler Brothers.
Kenny Rogers– It amazes me that this man is not already in the Hall of Fame. Everyone in the world knows his name and his hit song “The Gambler.” Kenny recently celebrated 50 years in the music business, with success in all genres. Kenny came to Country as the lead on the First Edition hit “Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love To Town” in 1969. In 1977, he goes Country full time with the Grammy Winning “Lucille.” Kenny conquers just about all forms of entertainment from television movies, big screen roles, and even writing an off Broadway one act play “The Toy Shoppe.” An author, photographer, and successful businessman, Kenny is one of the few artists in this business who have been able to create an empire around his name. It’s time that “The Gambler” hits the jackpot and is given the ultimate reward!
Bobby Bare– Bobby started his Country Music career after a brief run in Pop Music under the name Bill Parsons, with a song called “All American Boy” in 1959. Sidetracked by a stint in the U.S. Army, he comes back under his real name of Bobby Bare to record timeless Country Classics like “Detroit City” “500 Miles Away From Home” and “Four Strong Winds.” In the late 70s he showcases his humor on songs like “Marie Laveau” and “Numbers.” Bobby should join his “Old Dog” buddies Mel Tillis and Waylon Jennings as the next member of the Country Music Hall of Fame.
Anne Murray- Similar to the styles of Eddy Arnold and Jim Reeves, Anne Murray brings soft class to Country Music! Anne begins her career with 1970’s “Snowbird.” Then, racks up her first Number One Country Hit with 1974’s “He Think’s I Still Care.” In the late 70s and early 80s she dominates Country and Easy Listening Radio with friendly mainstream hits like “Shadows In The Moonlight” “Could I Have This Dance” and “You Needed Me.” In 1983 she scores the CMA Single of the Year for “A Little Good News” and continues to record and tour for her broad international audience, until her retirement from the road in 2010. It’s time to thank Anne Murray for attracting some new people to Country Music and for doing it all with grace and sophistication since the beginning.
Who do you think deserves Country Music’s most prestigious honor?