2011 – Some Memorable Passings
I always get a little melancholy this time of year. I think it has a lot to do with the passage of time and the fact that the passing of time comes with the passing of some very talented and important people in the business. Our friends at CMT have compiled a very comprehensive list of those who have passed.
The business lost some giants who were well-known, and some talents that did most of their contributing in the background behind the mikes and behind the mixers.
In chronological order, here is a partial list of our common losses in 2011:
Margaret Whiting, 86, big band pop singer who, teaming with Jimmy Wakely, scored a 17-week No. 1 country hit in 1949 with "Slipping Around." She died Jan. 10 in Englewood, N.J.
Tommy Crain, 59, former guitarist and songwriter for the Charlie Daniels Band, Jan. 13, in Williamson County, Tenn.
Charlie Louvin, 83, last surviving member of the fabled Louvin Brothers duo and member of the Grand Ole Opry and the Country Music Hall of Fame, Jan. 26, in Wartrace, Tenn.
Todd David Cerney, 57, co-writer of the hits "Good Morning Beautiful" (for Steve Holy) and "I'll Still Be Loving You" (Restless Heart), March 14, in Nashville.
Ferlin Husky, 85, prominent recording artist ("Gone," "Wings of a Dove"), creator of the comic alter ego "Simon Crum" and member of the Country Music Hall of Fame, March 17, in Westmoreland, Tenn.
Ralph Mooney, 82, pioneering steel guitarist and co-writer of "Crazy Arms," March 20, in Arlington, Texas.
Mel McDaniel, 68, recording artist ("Louisiana Saturday Night," "Baby's Got Her Blue Jeans On") and member of the Grand Ole Opry, March 31, in Hendersonville, Tenn.
Randy Wood, 94, founder of Dot Records and a driving force behind such Dot artists as Pat Boone and Mac Wiseman, April 9, in California.
Joseph Brooks, 73, writer of Debby Boone's 1977 hit "You Light Up My Life," May 22, in New York City.
Andrew Gold, 59, singer, songwriter and guitarist who worked extensively with Linda Ronstadt and co-founded the group Bryndle, June 3, in Encino, Calif.
Kenny Baker, 85, acclaimed fiddler, longtime member of Bill Monroe's Blue Grass Boys and member of the International Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame, July 8, in Nashville.
Marshall Grant, 83, bassist and founding member of Johnny Cash's Tennessee Two band and later manager of the Statler Brothers, Aug. 7, in Jonesboro, Ark.
Billy Grammer, 85, singer, guitarist, guitar maker and member of the Grand Ole Opry whose record "Gotta Travel On" was a crossover hit in 1959, Aug. 10, in Benton, Ill.
Jerry Leiber, 78, songwriter whose musical partnership with Mike Stoller yielded such classics as "Jailhouse Rock," "Hound Dog" and "Stand by Me," Aug. 22, in Los Angeles.
Don Wayne, 78, writer of "Country Bumpkin" and co-writer (with Bill Anderson) of "Saginaw, Michigan," Sept. 12, in Nashville.
Wilma Lee Cooper, 90, of the Grand Ole Opry act Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper, Sept. 13, in Sweetwater, Tenn. She continued to perform solo on the Opry after her husband Stoney's death in 1977 and suffered the stroke that would end her performing career on the Opry stage in 2001.
Johnnie Wright, 97, husband of Country Music Hall of Fame member Kitty Wells and partner in Johnnie & Jack, a popular country music duo of the 1940s and 1950s, Sept. 27, in Madison, Tenn.
Joel "Taz" DiGregorio, 67, veteran keyboardist and vocalist in Charlie Daniels Band, Oct. 12, near Nashville.
Liz Anderson, 81, songwriter ("The Fugitive," "My Friends Are Gonna Be Strangers"), recording artist and mother of country/pop star Lynn Anderson, Oct. 31, in Nashville.
Patsi Bale Cox, 66, author of books about and/or with Garth Brooks, Tanya Tucker, Ralph Emery, Loretta Lynn, Wynonna and others, Nov. 5, in Nashville.
Charlie Douglas, 78, former DJ on WSM-AM Nashville, Grand Ole Opry announcer, occasional recording artist, co-founder of the CDX radio promotion service and member of the Country Music Disc Jockey Hall of Fame, Nov. 24, in Picayune, Miss.
Dobie Gray, 71, songwriter and singer of the hits "The In Crowd" (1965) and "Drift Away" (1973), Dec. 6, in Nashville.
Barbara Orbison, 60, music publisher and widow of Rock & Roll Hall of Fame member Roy Orbison, Dec. 6, in Los Angeles.
Bee Spears, 62, Willie Nelson's bass player for 43 years, Dec. 8, near Nashville.
Billie Jo Spears, 74, singer of such country hits as "Mr. Walker, It's All Over" (1969) and "Blanket On The Ground" (1975), Dec. 14, in Vidor, Tex.
Warren Hellman, 77, billionaire philanthropist, founder of the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival in San Francisco and at the time of his death a vocalist and banjoist for the country band the Wronglers, Dec. 18, in San Francisco.
May they all rest in peace. 2012 will bring many, many joys and, unfortunately, the hands of time will also take people away next year. When they do, we'll see if we can't take a little time out from our busy lives to remember the contributions they made that make our lives a little more musical.