There are countless contributors to country music who help it reach the level it does today, working behind the scenes without being noticed yet still making an impactful difference in our genre.
Jane Dowden Grams made her mark on how country music entered living rooms throughout America through Show Biz Inc, her television production company.
Little Richard burst onto the scene in the Fifties with a dramatic piano performance and electric stage presence that revolutionized rock and roll music. His vibrant vocals, eye-catching dress sense, and gender-bending persona captured perfectly the spirit and sound of an emerging musical style.
Richard Wayne Penniman was born Richard Wayne Penniman in Macon, Georgia in 1927 to religious musicians such as church deacons and nightclub owners who shared religious views. Among his early vocal influences were Mahalia Jackson, Alex Bradford, Brother Joe May and Clarence Fountain from Blind Boys of Alabama. When Sister Rosetta Tharpe overheard him performing one of her songs before performing at Macon Auditorium during WWII she offered him to open for her and compensated him – this experience inspired Richard Wayne Penniman’s passion for performing!
In 1952, he moved to Houston and joined the Tempo Toppers R&B band that traveled throughout the South. Soon thereafter he met Ernestine Harvin whom he would marry the following year in 1957. Subsequently he left his band behind for solo pursuits, recording some R&B hits but none reached pop chart success; when Specialty Records signed him they released hits such as “Send Me Some Lovin,” “Jenny Jenny,” Miss Ann” and Good Golly Miss Molly which all peaked or topped R&B charts as well as appearing within pop Top 40 charts!
By the 1970s, however, he had fallen on hard times; recording old hit records for TV packager K-Tel while struggling with cocaine addiction was his main form of income. After leaving secular music behind and turning toward evangelism in 1978-79 he returned to performing during the 1980s; one of the original inductees into Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (and subsequent recipient of Grammy’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 1993), he made history again by being among first inducted.
In 2009, he suffered a hip injury and asked fans for prayers. Although still active in music up until 2010, when he recorded a gospel song for Dottie Rambo tribute album; at age 87 when he passed away.
Jimmy Capps, one of country music’s legendary session musicians, passed away today at age 81. A spokesperson from the Grand Ole Opry confirmed this news to Billboard. Capps was one of its house band musicians since 1958 and was revered for his smooth playing on both acoustic and electric guitar – becoming part of some of its iconic songs such as Tammy Wynette’s “Stand by Your Man”, George Jones’ “He Stopped Loving Her Today”, and Oak Ridge Boys’ “Elvira”.
At his peak of career, this musician was responsible for playing guitar on over 500 recording sessions annually – earning him membership to Nashville Musicians Hall of Fame and two Grammy awards. Furthermore, his work included serving as lead guitarist on RFD-TV show Larry’s Country Diner for over six years.
He has collaborated with some of the greatest names in country music such as Reba McEntire, Alan Jackson, Wynonna Judd and Faith Hill – among many others – as a producer and music director on several TV shows such as Hee Haw.
Jimmy Capps was also known for being an exceptional family man. In 1958 he married Anne Bridges Capps and they had three children together before later marrying Michele Voan Capps in 2007. Jimmy Capps had an avid interest in collecting classic cars as well as fishing – something he enjoyed doing with his grandchildren as much as anything.
Jimmy Capps was an iconic member of country music who will be deeply missed by his many fans. We mourn his untimely passing at age 81; his music legacy will live on and we pray for his family and friends during this difficult time. Rest in peace, Jimmy Capps – you will be missed!
Once you amass an impressive career in music that spans folk, country, Western and rock genres – to the extent that numerous other artists claim you as their own – then it becomes evident you were one of Country Music’s Four Million Dollar Quartet. And when your life was cut tragically short after hours from marrying your fiance in an airplane crash just days before being wed – no doubt his family and friends loved him dearly.
Jake Flint was known for many qualities that defined his character; on Saturday at age 37, his longtime publicist Clif Doyal confirmed his passing in The Oklahoman. Doyal noted: “Jake was loved by everyone he encountered – not just me as his publicist – so much that we considered each other friends.
Flint excelled not only as a singer and songwriter but also served as an actor and director. He appeared and produced Kathryn Bigelow’s low-budget film The Loveless (featuring Willem Dafoe as well as directed by Kathryn Bigelow herself who directed Zero Dark Thirty), was regularly part of Oklahoma Red Dirt performances, and even made cameo appearances during Red Dirt gigs in the Oklahoma region.
As so many different forms of music grew increasingly popular during the 1970s, a group of dedicated rockabilly cats did everything in their power to keep Sun Records and Memphis alive in present tense, using musicians such as Elvis Presley, Gene Vincent, Eddie Cochrane as touchstones. Singer Robert Gordon stood out among this revivalist class; with his distinctive D.A. haircut and penchant for 1950s clothing (not unlike what one might find at Happy Days), Robert made himself standout from other artists with powerful baritone vocals as well as his selections such as Link Wray Danny Gatlin or Chris Spedding made him especially memorable.
Over his long career, Gordon released numerous albums. 1978’s Fresh Fish Special and 1979’s Rock Billy Boogie are two highly popular releases that captured him at his most energetic. 1981’s Are You Gonna Be the One was more subdued while including R&B and country influences in its sound. Hellafied was due out this month on Cleopatra Records.
Don Edwards stands out as a premier cowboy poet, singer, and preservationist in his field. His ballads chronicle daily lives and emotions among those living there – keeping alive its sights, sounds, and feelings while inspiring many beyond country music culture.
Edwards was raised with Western music at his core, beginning to play guitar at age 10 and dreaming of becoming a cowboy like his heroes Gene Autry, Tex Ritter, and Jimmie Rodgers. He began singing cowboy work at Six Flags Over Texas from 1961 until 1964 before branching out into various rodeos and western-themed events across the U.S. and Mexico.
Edwards first garnered prominence when he signed with Michael Martin Murphey’s label Warner Western and began recording cowboy poetry and music albums. Over time, Edwards also released multiple anthologies of traditional songs including Guitars and Saddle Songs as well as writing Coyotes which plays at the conclusion of Grizzly Man film.
Later in his career, he moved over to Shanachie Records label and continued recording albums of Western music. Working alongside cowboy poet Waddie Mitchell he released Prairie Portrait album in 1998 before joining forces with folk-bluegrass artist Peter Rowan for their project High Lonesome Cowboy in 2002.
Edwards spent his final years of life touring with Kathy and their four dogs. He is survived by Kathy, daughters Courtney Gatewood and Llayne Padgett, son-in-law Richard Gatewood, grandchildren Jake Gatewood, Shelby Gatewood Lauren Padgett Maddy Padgett; sister Nancy Hezlitt as well as one grandchild at this time; his funeral will take place Saturday October 27 in Hico, TX and donations can be made directly to Fairy Baptist Church Hico in lieu of flowers.