Kenny Rogers died March 20 at age 81. He had an amazing career and racked up 21 No. 1s among his 36 Top 10 hits. Overall, he scored 120 charting singles and 12 No. 1 albums. He was part of the New Christy Minstrels before leaving to form The First Edition with the pop hit “Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)”. His big country hits began with “Ruby Don’t Take Your Love To Town“ (that was written by Mel Tillis and originally recorded by Waylon Jennings) and included iconic pop/country songs such as “Lucille” and “The Gambler.”
He recorded a lot of successful duets with artists that included Dolly Parton, Dottie West, Ronnie Milsap and more. He was of the main artists to create an interest in Country music among mainstream pop music listeners.
- Fun fact: The duet with Dolly, “Islands in the Stream,” was written by the Bee Gees (Barry, Robin and Maurice) as an R&B song for Marvin Gaye, but Barry adapted the treatment when he produced Kenny Rogers album that included that song.
Stages may be dark, but the shows go on – in a different form. Country artists are taking to social media to perform at-home concerts to combat feelings of isolation.
- On Monday, Garth Brooks used his weekly “Inside Studio G” to play a live acoustic set with wife Trisha Yearwood and was even taking requests sent to him by fans. That’s something you can’t do in an arena! Knowing Garth, he will continue to do something like this every week on “Inside Studio G”. https://garthbrooks.com/inside-studio-g
- A few days ago, Keith Urban performed a second live set from the warehouse where all his tour equipment is stored. He will be doing more in the coming weeks. https://www.youtube.com/user/keithurban
- Luke Combs had around 3 million views with a live Instagram acoustic set of hits, covers and a couple of new songs.
- The Nashville venue, Whiskey Jam, are doing nightly shows (titled Risky Jam!) with various artists performing.
- Third Man Records (one of the coolest places in Nashville, thanks to founder Jack White) is livestreaming daily performances, called Third Man Public Access, streaming live from The Blue Room in Nashville, starting Thursday, March 26, at noon CT. https://thirdmanrecords.com/
- The Grand Ole Opry continues an ‘unbroken circle’ as a radio show without a live audience. Video of the shows is available on the Opry’s Circle Network or at the Circle All Access Facebook and YouTube pages. (Last Saturday, about half a million people watched the show online.) https://www.circleplus.com/
- Among other artists already announcing streaming performances: Jake Owen, Ashley McBryde, Chris Young, Chris Janson, Jordan Davis, Gabby Barrett, Shenandoah, Brandy Clark and Michael Ray.
- A good place to find a directory of live-streaming concerts in every musical genre, updated daily, is https://www.cnet.com/news/all-live-streaming-concerts/
Venmo and Paypal options are being made available at most shows allowing to viewers access to a virtual ‘tip jar.’
With the economy in mind, livestreaming platform Stageit has rolled out Stageit Local, an avenue for artists to play online shows with proceeds designated to a local bar or restaurant of the artist’s choice. Example: Shut In And Sing, A group of songwriters joining forces to stay connected through music and community. https://www.stageit.com/
“I Know Country” Q&A from www.IKnowCountry.com
QUESTION: Can you name the singer/songwriter who earned a Gold record on March 25, 1981, for the song, “Drivin’ My Life Away”?
Elvis may have left the building, but the schedule has been announced for Elvis Week 2020, set for August 8-16. It will include a special tribute to the 50th anniversary of Presley’s now-historic recording session at RCA Studio B on Music Row in Nashville. There will be a special concert August 16 on the Graceland Soundstage reuniting guitarist James Burton, bass player Norbert Putnam and pianist David Briggs who all played on the 5-day recording session in 1970, plus other members of Elvis’ TCB Band. Real Elvis fans better start saving their pennies now: one option of Elvis Week includes a Jungle Room Experience at Graceland with Burton, Putnam and Briggs in an intimate Q&A session. Price: $750 per ticket. Elvis Week will also include a lot of less-costly options, including a candlelight vigil and the Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest. All the details are at https://www.graceland.com/elvis-week
Billboard Country Airplay Top 5 for the week of March 28 (last week’s position in parentheses):
A new No. 1 this week on the Airplay charts – Jake Owen’s eighth chart-topper:
- (2) “’Homemade” Jake Owen
- (1) “Homesick” Kane Brown
- (4) “What She Wants Tonite” Luke Bryan
- (3) “Kinfolks” Sam Hunt
- (5) “Catch” Brett Young
“I Know Country” Q&A Answer: Eddie Rabbitt. “Drivin’ My Life Away” and “I Love The Rainy Nights” were both crossover hits from his album, Horizon.
- Eddie passed away May 7, 1998.
- He first gained fame as a songwriter with hits such as “Kentucky Rain” for Presley
On this day in Country Music
March 25, 1963 Johnny Cash recorded “Ring of Fire,” written by June Carter & Merle Kilgore. It was actually a cover version: the original version was recorded and release by June’s sister Anita Carter.
March 25, 1978 “Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys” by Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson was No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot Country Singles chart and stayed there for four weeks.
This week’s Country Music Birthdays
March 23 Brett Young, 1981
Brett Eldridge, 1986
March 24 Mo Pitney, 1993
March 25 Hoyt Axton (hit songwriter, actor), 1938. Died Oct 26, 1999
Ronnie McDowell (“The King Is Gone”), 1950
March 26 Kenny Chesney, 1968
March 29 Reba McEntire, 1955
Preshias Harris is the author of “I Know Country” with 366 daily country music questions and answers. You can buy and instantly download your e-book copy at www.IKnowCountry.com.
Harris is also a music career development consultant with the emphasis on new and aspiring artists and songwriters. Visit www.collegeofsongology.com for more details. Follow her blog at www.nashvillemusicline.com