b. August 20, 1923, Jim Reeves was perhaps the biggest male star to emerge from the Nashville sound. Detractors call the sound country-pop (or plain pop), but Reeves was capable of singing hard country (“Mexican Joe” went to number one in 1953.)
Gentleman Jim was at the height of his career when his private plane crashed outside of Nashville on July 31, 1964. His popularity actually grew over the years — in fact, there wasn’t a year between 1970 and 1984 when there wasn’t a Reeves single in the charts, either at the top or in the lower regions. Reeves was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1967, and two years later, the Academy of Country Music instituted the Jim Reeves Memorial Award.
July 21, 1975: After successful open heart surgery, Lester Flatt is released from St. Thomas Hospital. Here he is being helped onto his tour bus by young band member Marty Stuart. (Photo from The Tennessean)
Released on January 12, 1976, Wanted! The Outlaws is a compilation album by Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Jessi Colter, and Tompall Glaser consists entirely of previously released material. It’s also the first “country” album I ever bought. Apparently, I wasn’t alone — it earned its place in music history by becoming the first country album to be platinum-certified, reaching sales of one million
The Hagg releases his fifth album on January 2, 1968. The title track has quite the story.
“Sing Me Back Home” was actually written while Merle was waiting to get out of San Quintin Prison. He and his cellmate Jimmy “Rabbit” Kenrick shared one thing in common. Their love for freedom and how often the two had escaped from prison. As Merle told the story in his ’81 autobiography, Merle Haggard: Sing Me Back Home, Rabbit devised a brilliant escape and asked The Hagg to join him. After some discussion both decided it was best for Merle to stay put. Rabbit was captured two weeks later and eventually executed for the murder of a state trooper. Haggard, the “guitar playing friend”, wrote the song as a tribute.
There are times growing up when something so totally out of your musical roundhouse – something so different from that which you’re into at the time catches your ear, pushes you to a new direction and broadens your musical tastes. This album did that. Everything changed the first time I heard “Long Haired Country Boy.”
November 29, 1974: Fire On The Mountain is released.