January 1 – This Day in Country Music

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1953
American singer-songwriter and musician Hank Williams died aged 29. Williams is regarded as one of the most important country music artists of all time. 35 of his singles (five released posthumously) were placed in the Top 10 of the Billboard Country & Western Best Sellers chart, including 11 that ranked #1, including “Cold, Cold Heart,” “Hey, Good Lookin’,” “I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive,” and “Your Cheatin’ Heart.” During his last years Williams’s consumption of alcohol, morphine and painkillers severely compromised his professional life.

1956
George Jones won the Billboard Award for Most Promising New Country Vocalist.

1959
Johnny Cash played a free concert for the inmates of San Quentin Prison, California. One of the audience members was 19 year-old Merle Haggard, who was in the midst of a 15 year sentence (he served three years) for grand theft auto and armed robbery.

1963
Loretta Lynn released her debut studio album Loretta Lynn Sings on Decca Records. The album featured Lynn’s first top 10 Country hit, “Success” which was released the previous year.

1970
Johnny Cash released his 33rd album Hello, I’m Johnny Cash on Columbia Records which peaked at #1 on the Country charts. “If I Were a Carpenter”, a famous duet with Cash’s wife, June Carter Cash taken from the album earned the couple a Grammy Award for Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal in 1971, the song also reached #2 on the Country charts.

1975
John Denver was at #1 on the US Country chart with his eighth studio album Back Home Again. The multi-platinum album contained the hit singles “Annie’s Song” and “Back Home Again”. In addition, the studio versions of “Thank God I’m a Country Boy” and “Sweet Surrender” appear on this album. On the cover, John is shown with his then-wife Ann Martell.

1996
Alan Jackson released “I’ll Try” which became his thirteenth #1 single on the US Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks charts. The track was the second single lifted from his 1995 compilation album The Greatest Hits Collection.

2007
Del Reeves, singer, best known for his “girl-watching” novelty songs of the 1960s died. His hits included “Girl on the Billboard” and “The Belles of the Southern Bell”. He was also known for his 1968 trucker’s anthem, “Looking At The World Through A Windshield”.

2011
Shania Twain married Frederic Thiebaud in Puerto Rico (who was the ex-husband of her former best friend). Shania had been married to producer Mutt Lange who she first met at Nashville’s Fan Fair in June 1993. Twain and Lange became very close within just weeks, culminating in their wedding on December 28, 1993.

2013
Patti Page died aged 85. Page’s signature song, “Tennessee Waltz”, recorded in 1950, was one of the biggest-selling singles of the 20th century, and is also one of the nine official state songs of Tennessee. She was the best-selling female artist of the 1950s and sold over 100 million records.