Abe Mulkey – An accomplished guitarist, pianist, fiddle player, singer and songwriter, he sang with country music singer Lefty Frizzell. He also played with Buck Owens & Merle Haggard. He spent many years in Nashville and recorded with Bob Wills, Buck Owens, Lefty Frizzell & others. He wrote hundreds of songs recorded by Frizzell, Hank Williams, Jr., Haggard and Freddie Hart.
Anita Kerr Singers – In the 1950s and ’60s, the Anita Kerr Singers were one of the most popular group of backup vocalists in all of country music, appearing on countless recordings by renowned Nashville artists. Kerr was the group’s leader, but was joined by alto Dottie Dillard, tenor Gil Wright, and baritone Louis Nunley, as the quartet initially gained attention by performing on the NBC radio program Sunday Down South in the early ’50s, which led to a contract with Decca Records. In 1956, the Anita Kerr Singers landed a spot on the New York-based Arthur Godfrey Talent Scouts TV show, which led to further broadcast appearances (although the group never let their session work for others subside). Around the same time, Chet Atkins (then the head of RCA Records’ country division) took the group under his wing, which led to the quartet appearing on countless recordings by renowned artists. The Singers continued to record and tour straight through the ’60s, even managing to issue several of their own albums, including Anita Kerr Singers Reflect on the Hits of Burt Bacharach & Hal David, Velvet Voices and Bold Brass, and Simon & Garfunkel Songbook, among others.
Ames Brothers – The Ames Brothers were a singing quartet, consisting of four siblings. The Urick brothers – Joe, Gene, Vic and Ed, formed the singing group The Amory Brothers, which would become the Ames Brothers. Their parents, David and Sarah Urick, were Russian Jewish immigrants from Ukraine. Three of the brothers formed a quartet with a cousin named Lennie, and had been touring United States Army and Navy bases. At the time, they were using Vic’s middle name and calling themselves the Amory Brothers. The brothers shortened Amory to Ames and became the first artists to record for the newly founded Coral Records, a subsidiary of Decca. They were swept into national top billing with their first hit record, “Rag Mop”, in January 1950. In 1956 they starred in their own show, The Ames Brothers Show, which was seen on Friday nights. It was the first syndicated television show to be shown in foreign countries. Over their fifteen-year career, their prolific work notched up 49 US chart entries, 21 of them on the Coral label before signing with RCA Victor. The group disbanded in 1963, but Ed Ames continued with a successful singing and acting career, including playing Daniel Boone’s sidekick, Mingo, on the popular Daniel Boone television series.
Al Dexter – Clarence Albert Poindexter, known as Al Dexter, was an American country musician and songwriter. He is best known for “Pistol Packin’ Mama,” a 1944 hit that was one of the most popular recordings of the World War II years. Born in Jacksonville, Texas, Dexter owned a bar in the 1930s and helped popularize the style of country music known as honky tonk. He recorded “Honky Tonk Blues”. “Pistol Packin’ Mama” became the 1943 marching chorus of the New York Yankees. Another hit from the 1940s was “Guitar Polka”, which entered Billboard’s list as the “Most Played Juke Box Folk Record” for 16 weeks running in 1946. Other hits include “So Long Pal”, “Triflin’ Gal”, “I’m Losing My Mind Over You” and “Too Late to Worry.” Dexter was the first country singer to perform on Broadway, and in 1971, was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. On August 21, 2010, Dexter was inducted into the Texas Country Music Hall Of Fame, along with George Jones and Ray Winkler. Following Al Dexter’s death in 1984, his family discovered 50 master tapes containing studio recordings. In 2010, Al Dexter’s son Carl Wayne Poindexter officially released the 3-disc CD box set entitled “Al Dexter’s Found Masters Volume 1–3” on his independent record label, Al Dexter Estate Productions. This professionally produced collection contained digitally re-mastered studio recordings which were made by Dexter with various band lineups and configurations.
Adolph Hofner – Adolph John Hofner was an American Western swing bandleader and singer. Hofner was born into a family of Czech-German origin. He grew up listening to Czech and Hawaiian music. When he was ten years old his family moved to San Antonio. He and his younger brother Emil and Simon Garcia formed the Hawaiian Serenaders and performed locally. Influenced by Milton Brown and Bob Wills, Hofner became a singer in a band that played what was later called Western swing, a combination of country music and jazz. He kept his day job as a mechanic while performing at night in clubs in San Antonio. In the 1930s, Hofner, Emil, and fiddler Jimmie Revard started the band the Oklahoma Playboys. Hofner made his first recordings with them as singer and guitarist. He made his solo debut in 1938 when he was offered a contract with Bluebird Records. Hofner formed the western swing band Adolph Hofner and His Texans. Hofner had his first and biggest hit in 1940 with “Maria Elena. Hofner’s career ended in 1993 when he suffered a stroke. He died in June 2000.
Adam Wade – Patrick Henry Wade, known professionally as Adam Wade, is an American singer, musician and actor. After working for a time as a lab assistant with Dr. Jonas Salk on the polio research team, Wade began to pursue a recording career, signing with Coed Records in late 1959. He had his first hit in early 1960 with the song “Ruby”, a cover of the hit movie song of 1953. Wade was popular in the early-1960s. In 1961 three of his recordings (“Take Good Care of Her” , “As If I Didn’t Know” and “The Writing on the Wall” made the Top Ten in the Billboard Hot 100 chart. These songs also made the Top Five of Billboard’s Easy Listening (later Adult Contemporary) survey. Wade’s vocal style was generally compared to that of his contemporary Johnny Mathis. But it was actually a singer from an earlier period, Nat King Cole, who was his principal influence. Wade and his wife have a music production firm, Songbird, whose headquarters are in New Jersey.
Ace Ball – Ace Ball, country musician, stage entertainer, and radio personality, was born Arthur Chester Balch in Lynn County, Texas, on January 13, 1922. He was given a guitar at the age of eleven and set his sights on becoming a professional. After high school, he worked for a brief time as a land surveyor in Lubbock. He worked with dance bands in New Mexico and West Texas. In 1952 Balch began what would become a decades-long career in radio, serving in various capacities as performer, announcer, deejay, and engineer. He signed a contract with OKeh Records and was billed as “Ace Ball.” Between 1952 and the 1970s, he was heard on no fewer than eleven radio stations—stretching from Clovis, New Mexico, to Dayton, Ohio—while also performing on several television broadcasts. He made at least two appearances on the Grand Ole Opry, one segment of which included Carl Smith, George Morgan, Goldie Hill, and Grandpa Jones. As a deejay on Dave Stone’s KDAV in Lubbock, he was instrumental in the careers of such locals as Waylon Jennings, Sonny Curtis, Buddy Holly, and Roy Orbison. He retired from active radio work in the 1970s, after some twenty-five years on the air, but still gave freely of his time to entertain whenever called upon. In September 2005, at the age of eighty-three, he had in fact gone to Denver, Colorado, to perform at a retirement center when he slipped on an icy step and never recovered from the resulting fall. He died on September 26, 2005.
Ann Jones – Born in Hutchinson, Kansas, singer Ann Jones (nee Ann Matthews) dove into the western swing scene of the 1940 and ’50s, notably playing on the West Coast in various live venues and radio programs. She became a bandleader in the early ‘Fifties, leading the “all girl” country group, the American Sweethearts over the course of several decades, and eventually settled in Southern California, although she continued to tour for many years. One of her longest collaborators was steel player Blanche Emerson, who was with the band right through to the late 1970s. In addition to the LPs she recorded, Jones also recorded numerous 78s and singles, both before and after she set out as a bandleader.
Anne Murray – Morna Anne Murray is a Canadian singer. Her albums consisting primarily of pop, country, and adult contemporary music have sold over 55 million copies worldwide during her over 40-year career. Murray was the first Canadian female solo singer to reach No. 1 on the U.S. charts, and also the first to earn a Gold record for one of her signature songs, “Snowbird” (1970). She is often cited as one of the female Canadian artists who paved the way for other international Canadian success stories such as K.D. Lang, Céline Dion and Shania Twain. She is also the first woman and the first Canadian to win “Album of the Year” at the 1984 Country Music Association Awards for her Gold-plus 1983 album A Little Good News. Murray has received four Grammys, a record 24 Junos, three American Music Awards, three Country Music Association Awards, and three Canadian Country Music Association Awards. She has been inducted into the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame, the Juno Hall of Fame, The Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame, and Canadian Broadcast Hall of Fame. She is a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame Walkway of Stars in Nashville, and has her own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Los Angeles and on Canada’s Walk of Fame in Toronto. In 2011, Billboard ranked her 10th on their list of the 50 Biggest Adult Contemporary Artists Ever.
Arlie Duff – Arlie was born in Jack’s Branch, Texas and graduated from Nederland High School, where “Pee Wee” Duff (as he was known then) was an All-State basketball player his senior year. Arlie had written a number of songs – novelties, ballads and religious numbers – but never took any of them seriously until he met Gordon Baxter, a Port Arthur, Texas, disc jockey. Mr. Baxter, who had worked with Arlie on college shows, encouraged Arlie to keep on singing. Arlie took his friend’s advice. He did some singing with Blackie Crawford and his “Western Cherokees,” and soon became a regular member. He was teaching school and coaching until he wrote the country classic, “Y’all come” (originally, it was titled “You All Come”). Arlie Duff, was known as the “Singing School Teacher.” His recording on Starday of “Y’all Come,” was the toast of the South back then and its popularity spread far and wide. One of the first name artists to record it was a Decca recording by Bing Crosby.
Autry Inman – Robert Autry Inman was an American country and rockabilly musician. Inman was born in Florence, Alabama, and was performing on local radio station WLAY by age 14. He used his middle name “Autry” (or “Autrey”) as his stage name. After completing school he worked as a reporter for the Lauderdale Co. Law & Equity Court. Shortly thereafter he was tapped to join Cowboy Copas’s band, the Oklahoma Cowboys, as a bassist. Aside from this he also played in George Morgan’s Candy Kids until 1952. He released his first solo singles on the small label Bullet Records; in 1952 he signed with Decca Records, for whom he recorded over 40 country songs. In the 1960s, he recorded for Mercury Records, United Artists Records, Sims Records, Guest Star Records. In addition to being a vocalist, Inman was a well-respected songwriter, and his tunes were covered by the likes of Dolly Parton, Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash, George Jones and Hank Williams. In 1968, he released a single with Bob Luman entitled “Ballad of Two Brothers”, which turned out to be his biggest hit in the U.S., reaching No. 14 on the country charts and No. 48 on the Billboard Hot 100. His final recordings were made in the mid-1980s for the Koala label. He died on September 6, 1988, at age 59.
Bashful Brother Oswald – Beecher Ray “Pete” Kirby better known as Bashful Brother Oswald, was an American country musician who popularized the use of the resonator guitar and Dobro. He played with Roy Acuff’s Smoky Mountain Boys and was a member of the Grand Ole Opry. Though he released only a few recordings as a solo artist, he played as a session musician on numerous records. His father, G. W. Kirby, was an Appalachian folk musician who played fiddle and banjo. As a child, Kirby learned to play guitar and banjo and sang gospel music. By his teens, he was playing for square dances. Kirby met a Hawaiian guitarist named Rudy Waikiki. “That was when I first heard someone play something like my style. With the music of Hawaii, played by Sol Hoʻopiʻi and other performers, gaining in popularity, Kirby bought his first resonator guitar, an early National model, and joined in the trend, playing in bars, cafes and beer gardens. In a bid to find more steady work, Kirby moved to Knoxville, Tennessee in 1934. Taking the stage name Pete Kirby, he played resonator guitar with local bands, among them Roy Acuff’s Crazy Tennesseans, later to become the Smoky Mountain Boys. Acuff joined the Grand Ole Opry in 1938, and Kirby joined the Opry with Acuff’s band on New Year’s Day 1939. It was with the Acuff band that Kirby became introduced as Bashful Brother Oswald, with Kirby posing as the brother of the band’s banjoist, Rachel Veach, so that it would appear to audiences that the unmarried Veach was being chaperoned by a family member. To fit his new persona, Kirby created the clownish Oswald character, wearing a floppy, wide-brimmed hat, tattered bib overalls, oversized work shoes and adopting a braying laugh. In addition to his guitar and banjo playing, Oswald was a vocalist, and his tenor voice can be heard on Acuff’s hit songs, “Precious Jewel” and “Wreck on the Highway”. Oswald began his career as a solo artist and session musician in the 1960s. He released his self-titled debut album in 1962 on Starday Records. He joined the Rounder Records label in the 1970s, releasing around a half dozen albums over the years until his last recording, Carry Me Back, in 1999. Gibson Guitar Corporation, owner of the Dobro brand of resonator guitars, created a “Brother Oswald” signature series Dobro in 1995. Oswald died on October 17, 2002, at his home in Madison, Tennessee, at the age of 90.
Benny Barnes – Benjamin Milam Barnes, Jr. was an American country music singer, songwriter, and guitarist. He is best known for his 1956 hit “Poor Man’s Riches”. Barnes was born January 1, 1934 in Beaumont, Texas. He first played ukulele, and then guitar, in his childhood, and entered various talent shows in Beaumont in his teens. He then befriended George Jones, who also mentored him and had him play rhythm guitar in his road band. At a recording session with Jones in Gold Star Studios in 1955, Barnes was encouraged by Starday Records owner and record producer Pappy Daily to audition as an artist. His first Starday release, “Once Again”, was issued in 1956. Following three more unsuccessful releases, he issued “Poor Man’s Riches” in August 1956, which went to No. 2 on the Billboard country charts. Although later recordings were unsuccessful, Barnes appeared on the Louisiana Hayride and continued to record for various other labels throughout his career. His second chart entry came in 1961 on Mercury Records with “Yearning”. At this point, Barnes also operated a tavern in Beaumont. Barnes continued to record until shortly before his death in 1985. Bear Family Records issued a compilation titled Benny Barnes: The Complete 1950s Recordings in 2007.
Bill Anderson – James William Anderson III, known professionally as Bill Anderson, is an American country music singer-songwriter, record producer, television personality and author. As a songwriter, his compositions have been covered by various music artists since the late 1950s, including Ray Price and George Strait. As a singer, his soft-spoken singing voice was given the nickname “Whispering Bill” by music critics and writers. Anderson was raised in Decatur, Georgia and began composing songs while in high school. While enrolled in college, he wrote the song “City Lights,” which later became a major hit for Ray Price in 1958. His songwriting led to his first recording contract with Decca Records the same year. Anderson began having major hits shortly thereafter. In 1963, he had released his most successful single in his recording career, “Still.” The song became a major country pop crossover hit and was followed by a series of top ten hits. These songs included “I Love You Drops,” “I Get the Fever” and “Wild Week-End.” His songs were being notably recorded by other artists. In 1964, Connie Smith had her first major hit with his composition “Once a Day.” In his career as both a writer and performer, he has received awards from the Academy of Country Music, Country Music Association, Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame.
Bill Boyd – William Lemuel Boyd was an American Western-style singer and guitarist. Boyd was born and raised on a farm near Ladonia in Fannin County, Texas as one of thirteen children. His parents, Lemuel and Molly Jared Boyd, who originally hailed from Tennessee, came to Texas in 1902. During the Great Depression, the family moved to Dallas. Bill and his brother Jim (born 1914) tried to survive the hard times by working different odd jobs. Bill joined the Alexanders Daybreakers trio performing at early-morning radio shows. Together with Jim, he appeared on radio in Greenville, Texas and at WRR in Dallas. Meanwhile, Jim formed the “Rhythm Aces.” In February 1932, Boyd recorded with the “Blue yodeler” Jimmie Rodgers. The same year, he formed the pioneering western swing band “The Cowboy Ramblers”. His band consisted of himself on guitar, Jim Boyd on bass, Walter Kirkes on tenor banjo and Art Davis on fiddle. During the band’s history, many of the members also worked simultaneously with the Light Crust Doughboys and Roy Newman’s Boys. The Cowboy Ramblers made more than 225 recordings between 1934 and 1951. The band had their own popular radio show, “The Bill Boyd Ranch House.” They made their recording debut for Bluebird Records on August 7, 1934. In 1935, the Cowboy Ramblers had a huge hit with their recording of “Under the Double Eagle” which later became a western swing standard and remained in print for twenty five years. The Cowboy Ramblers became major stars on radio and were offered work in Hollywood films and Boyd eventually appeared in six Western films during the 1940s. In the early 1970s, Bill Boyd retired from the music business. His brother Jim Boyd died in 1993. For his contribution to radio, Bill ‘Cowboy Rambler’ Boyd has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6101 Hollywood Blvd.
Bill Carter – Bill Carter was a native of Eagleton, Arkansas, but his family moved to Broken Bow, Oklahoma when he was eight years old. In 1943, the Carter family, (who were a farming family) moved out west to California to the town of Idaho, which was where Bill got his start as a professional singer. He got his first how over station KREO, where he performed until entering the U.S. Air Force in 1950. Even while in the service, he managed to keep up his singing while stationed in San Antonio, Texas. 1952 saw him transferred to a military base near the Bay area in northern California. There, he met up with folks such as Cottonseed Clark and Big Jim De Noon. When he was discharged in 1953, he had a recording contract with the 4 Star label. He also appeared a few times on Cottonseed Clark’s television show called “The Hoffman Hayride”. The Hoffman Hayride entertained a whole host of artists that included Cal Smith, Tommy Duncan and Merle Travis.
Bill Monroe – William Smith Monroe was an American mandolinist, singer, and songwriter, who created the bluegrass music genre. Because of this, he is often called the “Father of Bluegrass”. The genre takes its name from his band, the Blue Grass Boys, who named their group for the bluegrass of Monroe’s home state of Kentucky. Monroe’s performing career spanned 69 years as a singer, instrumentalist, composer and bandleader. Bill was of Scottish and English heritage. Because his older brothers Birch and Charlie already played the fiddle and guitar, Bill was resigned to playing the less desirable mandolin. He recalled that his brothers insisted he should remove four of the mandolin’s eight strings so he would not play too loudly. Monroe’s mother died when he was ten, and his father died six years later. By and by his brothers and sisters moved away, leaving Monroe to bounce between uncles and aunts until finally settling in with his disabled uncle Pendleton Vandiver, whom he often accompanied when Vandiver played the fiddle at dances. This experience inspired one of Monroe’s most famous compositions, “Uncle Pen”, recorded in 1950. Key developments occurred in Monroe’s music with the addition of Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs to the Blue Grass Boys in December 1945. Flatt played a solid rhythm guitar style that would help to set the course for bluegrass timing. Scruggs played the banjo with a distinctive three-finger picking style that immediately caused a sensation among Opry audiences. Flatt and Scruggs joined a highly accomplished group that included fiddler Howdy Forrester and bassist Joe Forrester and would soon include fiddler Chubby Wise and bassist Howard Watts. This lineup of the Blue Grass Boys has been dubbed the “Original Bluegrass Band”, as the music finally included all the elements that characterize bluegrass music, including breakneck tempos, sophisticated vocal harmony arrangements, and impressive instrumental proficiency demonstrated in solos or “breaks” on the mandolin, banjo, and fiddle.
Billy Briggs – Billy Briggs was born in Fort Worth Texas in 1919. He apprenticed there under pioneering electric steel guitarist Bob Dunn & joined the Hi-Flyers in the mid-1930’s. He followed a stream of former Hi-Flyers to Amarillo in late 1937 to join the Sons Of The West and in the coming years became one of the earliest steel guitarists to significantly expand upon Dunn’s model. Briggs built his own nine-string steel, began experimenting with new tunings & chord voicings, and, when he formed his own band Swinging Steel in 1939, became perhaps the first steel player to attach legs to his guitar & play standing, fronting his own group. He returned to the Sons Of The West in 1940 and took part in their tightly arranged forward-looking 1941 sessions for Okeh Records. He held together a makeshift Sons Of The West lineup for a while during the war, then formed his own XIT Boys in 1946. In late ‘46 or early ‘47 Briggs began an association with Dan Allender’s Dalhart/Amarillo-based Time label that lasted to the end of the decade. A single release on Lew Preston’s Folke label followed, before a prolific stint with Imperial (1950-53) gave Briggs a regional and much covered hit “Chew Tobacco Rag” in 1951. Briggs ended a nine year association with Amarillo’s Avalon club in 1956 when he dispanded the XIT Boys and opened his own hall. Billy Briggs died in California in 1984.
Billy Walker – William Marvin Walker was an American country music singer and guitarist best known for his 1962 hit, “Charlie’s Shoes”. Nicknamed The Tall Texan, Walker had more than 30 charting records during a nearly 60-year career, and was a longtime member of the Grand Ole Opry. Billy attended High School in Whiteface, Texas, and had won a talent contest which entitled him to appear on radio in Clovis, New Mexico. Inspired by the music of Gene Autry as a teenager, he had begun his professional music career in 1947 at age 18. He joined the Big D Jamboree in Dallas in 1949. The same year, Hank Thompson helped him sign with Capitol Records after he worked with Walker in Waco. His manager at the time had him wear a Lone Ranger-style black mask and billed him as The Traveling Texan, the Masked Singer of Country Songs. In 1951, Walker signed with Columbia Records and the following year joined the Louisiana Hayride in Shreveport, Louisiana, where he and Slim Whitman were responsible in part for Elvis Presley’s first appearance on the radio program. In 1954, Walker scored his first hit with “Thank You for Calling”. His early Columbia recordings were at a Dallas studio owned by producer Jim Beck, responsible for hits by Ray Price, Lefty Frizzell and others. In 1955, Walker, Presley and Tillman Franks teamed up for a tour of West Texas. He was one of the first artists to record a Willie Nelson song; and although his 1961 version of “Funny How Time Slips Away” only reached No. 23 on Billboard’s country singles chart, it helped establish Walker’s national reputation. In 1962, he topped the chart with “Charlie’s Shoes”. His smooth tenor was well-suited to other Western-inspired hits including “Matamoros” and “Cross the Brazos at Waco.” On May 21, 2006, Walker died in a road accident when the van he was driving back to Nashville after a performance in Foley, Alabama, veered off Interstate 65 in Fort Deposit and overturned. His wife Bettie; bassist Charles Lilly Jr., son of Everett Lilly of The Lilly Brothers; and guitarist Daniel Patton were also killed in the 12:40 a.m. crash. Billy Walker was interred in Spring Hill Cemetery in Nashville.
Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys – James Robert Wills was an American Western swing musician, songwriter, and bandleader. Considered by music authorities as the co-founder of Western swing, he was known widely as the King of Western Swing (although Spade Cooley self-promoted the moniker “King of Western Swing” from 1942 to 1969). Wills formed several bands and played radio stations around the South and West until he formed the Texas Playboys in 1934 with Wills on fiddle, Tommy Duncan on piano and vocals, rhythm guitarist June Whalin, tenor banjoist Johnnie Lee Wills, and Kermit Whalin, who played steel guitar and bass. Wills favored jazz-like arrangements and the band found national popularity into the 1940s with such hits as “Steel Guitar Rag”, “New San Antonio Rose”, “Smoke On The Water”, “Stars And Stripes On Iwo Jima”, and “New Spanish Two Step”. Wills had a heart attack in 1962 and a second one the next year, which forced him to disband the Playboys, although Wills continued to perform solo. The Country Music Hall of Fame inducted Wills in 1968 and the Texas State Legislature honored him for his contribution to American music. In 1972, Wills accepted a citation from the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers in Nashville. He was recording an album with fan Merle Haggard in 1973 when a stroke left him comatose until his death in 1975. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inducted Wills and the Texas Playboys in 1999.
Bobby Bare – Robert Joseph Bare Sr. is an American country music singer and songwriter, best known for the songs “Marie Laveau”, “Detroit City” and “500 Miles Away from Home.” Bare’s big break in country music came when Chet Atkins signed him to RCA Victor. His debut single for the label was 1962’s “Shame On Me”. Follow-up “Detroit City” reached No. 6 Country. Then a surge of hits followed, including “500 Miles Away from Home” and Ian Tyson’s “Four Strong Winds”. In 1965 he received two further Grammy nominations for Best Country & Western Vocal Performance and Best Country & Western single for the latter song. Bare was also given an opportunity to star in movies. He acted in a Western with Troy Donahue, A Distant Trumpet, and had a memorable scene being branded for desertion, and a few episodes of the TV series No Time for Sergeants. He turned his back on Hollywood to pursue his country career.
Bobby Charles – Robert Charles Guidry, known as Bobby Charles, was an American singer-songwriter. An ethnic Cajun, Charles was born in Abbeville, Louisiana, and grew up listening to Cajun music and the country and western music of Hank Williams. At the age of 15, he heard a performance by Fats Domino, an event that “changed my life forever,” he recalled. Charles helped to pioneer the south Louisiana musical genre known as swamp pop. His compositions include the hits “See You Later, Alligator”, “Walking to New Orleans” and “It Keeps Rainin'”, written for Fats Domino. “I Don’t Know Why I Love You But I Do” was an early 1960s song that Charles composed, which Clarence “Frogman” Henry had a major hit with. Because of his south Louisiana–influenced rhythm and blues vocal style, Charles sometimes has been thought to be black, when in fact he was white. In September 2007, the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame honored Charles for his contributions to Louisiana music with an induction. Charles collapsed in his home near Abbeville and died on January 14, 2010. On June 25, 2019, The New York Times Magazine listed Bobby Charles among hundreds of artists who lost material in the 2008 Universal fire.
Bobby Edwards – Bobby Edwards was an American country music singer who recorded between 1959 and 1969. Edwards was born in Anniston, Alabama to a preacher, George Thomas Moncrief and Ila Eva Murray Moncrief. At the beginning of his career he performed and recorded under the name Bobby Moncrief. As Bobby Moncrief, he first recorded for Pappy Daily at ‘D’ Records in 1958. His first recording was called “Long Gone Daddy”. In 1959, he revived Tex Ritter’s 1945 hit, written by Jenny Lou Carson, “Jealous Heart”. Terry Fell placed him on Crest Records, and helped produce and arrange “You’re the Reason.” Though Edwards wrote the song, his manager and financier Fred Henley and Terry Fell received writing credits. In 1961, the song became a nationwide U.S. hit, peaking at No. 4 on the Billboard country chart and No. 11 on the Billboard Hot 100. The tune was later covered by Joe South and Hank Locklin. In the late 1960s, he operated a small recording studio. Edwards completely retired from the music industry in 1972 and returned to Anniston to raise a family. Edwards lived in Smyrna, Tennessee from 2000 until his death. He died on July 31, 2012, at the Middle Tennessee Medical Center in Murfreesboro. He was 86.
Bobby Helms – Robert Lee Helms was an American country music singer, best known for his 1957 Christmas hit “Jingle Bell Rock”. His other hits include “Fraulein” and “My Special Angel”. Helms began performing as a duo with his brother, Freddie, before going on to a successful solo career in country music. In 1956, Helms made his way to Nashville, Tennessee, where he signed a recording contract with Decca Records. The following year was filled with successes. His first single in 1957, titled “Fraulein”, went to No. 1 on the country music chart and made it into the Top 40 on the Billboard Best Sellers in Stores chart. Later that same year, he released “My Special Angel”, which also hit No. 1 on the country charts and entered the Top 10 on Billboard’s pop music chart, peaking at No. 7. His song “Jingle Bell Rock”, which was released in the late fall of 1957, produced by Paul Cohen was a big hit. Helms continued touring and recording for the next three decades. His pioneering contribution to the genre has been recognized by the Rockabilly Hall of Fame. Helms spent most of his later years living just outside Martinsville, Indiana, until his death from emphysema and asthma at the age of 63 in 1997. He was portrayed by Brad Hawkins in the 2007 film Crazy. On June 25, 2019, The New York Times Magazine listed Helms among hundreds of artists whose material was reportedly destroyed in the 2008 Universal fire.
Bobby Lord – Robert Lester Lord, better known as Bobby Lord, was an American country music artist popular in the 1950s and 1960s. As a teenager, he entered talent contests, wowing crowds with his edgy rockabilly style. He was popular with Tampa’s young crowd, playing concerts at dance halls. At Plant High School, he met his wife, Mozelle, whom he married when he was 20. After graduating from Plant, he was offered the chance to host his own television show while a freshman at the University of Tampa. The Bobby Lord Homefolks Show was an hour-long program on Saturday nights and featured Lord singing with a backing band. In 1952, he won a nationwide talent competition sponsored by TV Guide which led to an appearance on Paul Whiteman’s TV Teen Club on ABC-TV from Philadelphia. Soon after, songwriter Boudleaux Bryant heard one of Lord’s demo tapes and passed it on to Columbia Records, which signed him in 1953. At age 19, he was the label’s youngest recording star. In 1955 he joined Ozark Jubilee. In 1960, the Jubilee was canceled and Lord moved to Nashville, where he was immediately offered a spot on the Grand Ole Opry. He continued appearing on the Opry well into the 1970s. In 1969, Lord left Nashville and went into semi-retirement from the music industry to devote time to his family and his interests in real estate and insurance. Bobby Lord died on February 16, 2008 in Stuart, Florida, at the age of 74.
Bonnie Lou – Mary Joan Okum, known by her performing name Bonnie Lou, was an American musical pioneer, recognized as one of the first female rock and roll singers. She is also one of the first artists to gain crossover success from country music to rock and roll. She was the “top name” on the first country music program regularly broadcast on a national TV network. Bonnie Lou was one of the first female co-hosts of a successful syndicated television talk show, and a regular musical performer on popular shows in the 1960s and 1970s. She “was a prime mover in the first days of rockabilly,” and is a member of the Rockabilly Hall of Fame. Kath grew up listening to Patsy Montana and her band “The Prairie Ramblers”, and was greatly inspired by her. She learned how to yodel from her maternal grandmother Mary, who had emigrated from Switzerland. Once known as Mary Jo, the Yodeling Sweetheart, Bonnie Lou now earned the devotion of listeners which would last the rest of her career. She performed regularly with the sister duo she had listened to as a child, the Girls of the Golden West, one of whom was McCluskey’s wife. During her years with WLW, Bonnie Lou often performed at country music hub Nashville, Tennessee on weekends, including several times at the Grand Ole Opry. Early in her recording career, she performed country music songs. She soon had top-10 country hits with “Tennessee Wig Walk” and “Seven Lonely Days”, each of which sold about 750,000 copies. For decades Bonnie Lou was an indefatigable entertainer. Until her retirement she performed not just on radio and television, but at taverns, county fairs, conventions, trade shows, and countless other venues. Her accessibility, vivacity, and talent made her a headline favorite wherever she appeared. Bonnie Lou died in her sleep on the morning of December 8, 2015 at Hillebrand Nursing And Rehabilitation Center in Cincinnati, Ohio, aged 91. She had dementia and was in hospice care. Posthumous tributes to Bonnie Lou were featured by media throughout the world, including Europe, Asia, Africa, and Latin America. On December 11, 2015, The New York Times published a featured obituary for her in its printed edition.
Boxcar Willie – Lecil Travis Martin, whose stage name was Boxcar Willie, was an American country music singer-songwriter who sang in the “old-time hobo” music style, complete with dirty face, overalls, and a floppy hat. “Boxcar Willie” was originally a character in a ballad he wrote, but he later adopted it as his own stage name. Martin was once sitting at a railroad crossing and a fellow that closely resembled his B-29 Super Fortress chief boom operator during the Korean War, Willie Wilson, passed by sitting in a boxcar. He said, “There goes Willie.” He pulled over and wrote a song entitled “Boxcar Willie.” He entered American mainstream pop culture consciousness due to a series of television commercials for record compilations of artists who were obscure in the United States, yet had large international followings, such as Slim Whitman and Gheorghe Zamfir. He went on to become a star in country music. In 1981, Martin achieved a professional landmark by being inducted into the Grand Ole Opry. His was more than a US success too, with his 1980 album King of the Road giving him his greatest chart success by reaching No. 5 in the UK Albums Chart. Traveling around the world with his band, was his steadfast and trusty steel guitar player Chubby Howard, radio show host and musician for many years. Martin was diagnosed with leukemia in 1996, and died on April 12, 1999 in Branson, Missouri at the age of 67. He was buried at Ozarks Memorial Park in Branson. Major league baseball umpire “Cowboy” Joe West was among his pallbearers.
Buck Owens – Alvis Edgar Owens Jr., known professionally as Buck Owens, was an American musician, singer, songwriter and band leader. He was the front man for Buck Owens and the Buckaroos, which had 21 No. 1 hits on the Billboard country music charts. He pioneered what came to be called the Bakersfield sound, named in honor of Bakersfield, California, Owens’ adopted home, and the city from which he drew inspiration for what he preferred to call “American music”. While the Buckaroos originally featured a fiddle and retained pedal steel guitar into the 1970s, their sound on records and onstage was always more stripped-down and elemental. The band’s signature style was based on simple story lines, infectious choruses, a twangy electric guitar, an insistent rhythm supplied by a drum track placed forward in the mix, and high, two-part harmonies featuring Owens and his guitarist Don Rich. From 1969 to 1986, Owens co-hosted the popular CBS television variety show Hee Haw with Roy Clark. According to his son, Buddy Alan (Owens), the accidental 1974 death of Rich, his best friend, devastated him for years and impacted his creative efforts until he performed with Dwight Yoakam in 1988. Owens is a member of both the Country Music Hall of Fame and Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. Owens was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1996. He was ranked No. 12 in CMT’s 40 Greatest Men of Country Music in 2003. In addition, CMT also ranked the Buckaroos No. 2 in the network’s 20 Greatest Bands in 2005. He was also inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. Owens died in his sleep of an apparent heart attack on March 25, 2006. The stretch of US Highway 82 in Sherman is named the Buck Owens Freeway in his honor.