The Country Music Association created the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1961 to honor musicians, songwriters, broadcasters, and executives for their contributions to country music. Every year new inductees (up to 3 per year) are named during a ceremony and their names, stories, and work is then exhibited at the Country Music Association Museum in Nashville.
Many of the CMA winners have shared the backstories of their lives, their work, and the unlikely stories of their songs – maybe someone’s written a song about their Fair Go Casino lucky streaks. Let’s see…they include:
Charlie Pride, who became a country music performer in the ‘60s and continued to play until the 21st century, is still known as country music’s only black superstar. He spent much of his early 20s trying to break into major league baseball but he eventually took to the stage and fans learned to adore his music.
Price’s best-known hits include Is Anyone Going to San Antoine, It’s Just Me, I’m So Afraid of Losing You Again, and Kiss an Angel Good Morning.
Few people know that Charlie Pride was immensely popular in, of all places, Ireland. In 1975, when Charlie Pride was planning a tour of Europe, it was suggested that he skip Ireland. At the time the country torn apart by sectarian violence between Catholics and Protestants. Most international music acts passed Belfast, the center of The Troubles.
However, on his 1976 European Tour, Charlie Pride appeared at Belfast’s Ritz Cinema where fans from both sides of the conflict came together to enjoy the music. Charlie became a hero in Belfast, in Ireland, and, indeed, in the entire UK, for showing artists that it was worthwhile to go and perform in that country. After his performance, other big acts including the Rolling Stones and Rod Stewart came to Northern Ireland to perform.
Charlie Price’s Chrystal Chandeliers” was adopted in Ireland and in the UK as a “unity song” and subsequently, Charlie released it as a single.
Charlie Daniels was an accomplished vocalist, fiddler, and guitarist who was inducted into the CMA Hall of Fame for his Southern rock, country, and bluegrass music. He is probably best known for The Devil Went Down to Georgia which almost didn’t come to be.
Daniels left an indelible mark on country music and American music in general. He started his career playing with the Misty Mountain Boys and when he moved to Nashville he expanded to songwriting, playing as a session musician and music producer. In 1972 he formed the Charlie Daniels band which made its mark on country music with Uneasy Rider. Other memorable hits included The South’s Gonna Do It Again, The Legend of Wooley Swamp, Long Haired Country Boy, and In America.
The Devil Went Down to Georgia was the debut single on the Million Mile Reflections album but it wasn’t even supposed to be included as part of the album. While recording the album the band suddenly realized that there was no fiddle song. Daniels told Songfacts, “I don’t know why we didn’t discover that, but we went out, and we took a couple of days’ break from the recording studio, went into a rehearsal studio, and I just had this idea: ‘the Devil went down to Georgia’.”
Daniels credits the inspiration for the song to an old Stephen Vincent Benet poem that he once heard. “He didn’t use that line, but I just started, and the band started playing, and the first thing you know, we had it down.” In the song, a boy named Johnny bets the devil that, if he can out-play him, he’ll get a golden fiddle. If he loses, his soul goes to the devil. Johnny, of course, wins and The Devil Went Down to Georgia became Daniels’ biggest hit. It was featured in John Travolta and Debra Winger’s 1980 movie Urban Cowboy.
Dolly Parton grew up dirt-poor in Appalachia. While she was still in her teens she had already begun recording professionally. Her breakthrough single, Dumb Blonde was released early in 1967 and her career was launched. She recorded The Last Thing on My Mind with Porter Wagoner in 1968 and it reached the country Top Ten, allowing Parton the freedom to write and produce her own songs. Some of those early hits included Just Because I’m a Woman, In the Good Old Days, Mule Skinner Blues, and Coat of Many Colors.
Parton wrote I Will Always Love You. It got good reviews but it’s best known for Whitney Houston’s cover of it which made Houston into a mega-star. Many people probably remember Parton best for Jolene, a song about a woman begging her unseen rival to leave her man alone, and 9 To 5 which was written for the movie of the same name.
Dolly Parton recalls that she composed the song while on-set where she was one of the movie’s main characters. She would wander around the set by day, taking in the storyline about 3 women office workers, and then tap the developing song out with her fingernails to catch the sound of a typewriter and the tempo of women preparing their revenge against their boss.
Then, she would go back to the hotel and work out the details each night. 9 to 5 was a hit movie and Parton’s title song reached the #1 spot on the pop singles chart.
No list of country music Hall of Famers would be complete without mention of Johnny Cash. Cash was not only a beloved performer but he had the knack of being able to relate to almost anyone from any sector of society.
Cash came from a poor family. He’s remembered as a devout Christian (he even became an ordained minister) but also as a rebel (he was arrested 7 times). Much of his music, including Modern Day Drifter, There’s More Where That Came From, Same Trailer Different Park and The Outsiders synthesized those two aspects of his life.
Country music fans and almost everyone else remembers one of Cash’s signature songs, A Boy Named Sue, which spent 5 weeks on the country charts as number 1.
A Boy Named Sue was written by Shel Silverstein of The Giving Tree fame. Silverstein was inspired after hearing about a Tennessee judge named Sue who spoke at an event that Silverstein had attended. Judge Sue (Hicks), had been named Sue because his father named him after his mother, who had died in childbirth giving birth to him. It’s actually not an interesting story but questions about the song have long plagued Cash fans so it’s time to put the myths to rest.