In class, I mentioned that the Country Music Hall of Fame would be announcing its 2015 inductees soon. Turns out, the announcement arrived at the end of March. I thought y’all might want to learn a little more about the new members.
Most years, the Hall of Fame honors people in three categories: (1) a “veteran” artist who has been around for 45+ years, (2) a “modern” artist who has been around for 25+ years, and (3) either a songwriter, musician, or someone else involved in the music business. As usual, I am getting my information from Trigger over at Saving Country Music, who shares additional information about who has been honored in the past and how the decisions are made.
This year’s “veteran” inductee is the Browns, a family trio that had a number of crossover hits in the 1950s and early 1960s. Their best known song is probably “The Three Bells,” which was adapted from a French song (“Les Trois Cloches”) and was a #1 hit on the country and pop charts and — most surprisingly for a country song — a top 10 R&B hit as well. The group’s success coincided with the heyday of the Nashville Sound, which explains the crossover appeal and lush orchestration — and also probably the reason it has taken the group so long to be canonized. If you watch the video, you’ll understand why people criticize the Nashville Sound for not sounding authentically country.
After the group disbanded in the 1960s, the male singer, Jim Ed Brown, enjoyed some success as a solo artist. His best known song is “Pop A Top,” which Alan Jackson covered in 1999. Jim Ed has continued to perform at the Grand Ole Opry, and in January of this year he made waves for releasing his first studio album in 40 years (called In Style Again). That same month he underwent a series of treatments for cancer, and it could be a combination of the new album and frail health that led the Hall of Fame to choose to recognize the Browns with its highest honor after ignoring the group for so long.
The “modern” inductee is the Oak Ridge Boys, whose Christmas music I am familiar with but who otherwise are pretty unknown to me. Trigger points out the irony that the Oak Ridge Boys actually formed in the 1940s, which makes their induction as a “modern” act kind of suspect. Anyway, they got their start as a gospel quartet before enjoying a series of country hits — including many #1s — in the 1970s and 1980s. One of their best known hits is 1981’s “Elvira,” which hit #1 country and #5 pop.
The musician being inducted is the late Grady Martin, who played guitar on Marty Robbins’s “El Paso,” Loretta Lynn’s “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” and handfuls of other Rockabilly, Nashville Sound, and Classic Country recordings.
Of course, as soon as the inductees were announced, discontented fans took to social media to say who really “should” have been recognized instead of these three. Since it’s pretty hard to get into the Country Music Hall of Fame, there are a number of people who have been eligible for a while who still aren’t in, and every year there are younger stars who are newly eligible.
Some eligible performers who haven’t yet been invited to join include the Maddox Brothers and Rose, Ralph Stanley, Hank Williams, Jr., Charlie Daniels, June Carter Cash, Lynn Anderson, Tanya Tucker, David Allen Coe, Johnny Paycheck, Ricky Skaggs, Rosanne Cash, Dwight Yoakum, Randy Travis, Alan Jackson, Brooks and Dunn, Tim McGraw, Toby Keith, and Kenny Chesney.
What do you think about the new inductees? Are you familiar with any of them? Who do you hope makes it in, in the next couple of years? I would love to know!