July 16 – This Day in Country Music


Jimmie Rodgers recorded “Blue Yodel No. 9” with an uncredited Louis Armstrong on trumpet and his wife Lil Hardin Armstrong on piano. The song was later selected as one of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.

Sonny James was at #1 on the US Country singles chart with “Running Bear.” Johnny Preston first sang the song in 1959 with background vocals by The Big Bopper and George Jones, who did the “Indian chanting” of “UGO UGO” during the three verses, as well as the “Indian war cries”.

Alabama released “If You’re Gonna Play in Texas (You Gotta Have a Fiddle in the Band)” which went to #1 on the Country charts. The track was the fourteenth in a string of 21 consecutive #1 singles in as many releases, a string that spanned from 1980 through 1987.

Dolly Parton’s Dollywood theme park opened in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Dollywood has over 3,000 people on its payroll, making it the largest employer in the community. In addition to standard amusement park thrill rides, Dollywood features traditional crafts and music of the Smoky Mountains area.

Garth Brooks was at #1 on the US Country charts with, “The Dance”. The song, written by Brooks’ friend, Tony Arata, was a key track on his self-titled debut album Garth Brooks and is considered by many to be Brooks’ signature song.

Billy Ray Cyrus’ Some Gave All became the first debut album by a country artist certified for wholesale sales of 9 million copies. The album featured four hit singles on the Billboard country charts, the first of these was Cyrus’s breakthrough song “Achy Breaky Heart”.

Kenny Chesney set a new record for a country show when his concert at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts, grossed $4 million. The bill also featured Dierks Bentley, Gretchen Wilson, Big & Rich and Carrie Underwood.

American country music singer Kitty Wells died in Madison, Tennessee, from complications of a stroke. She was 92. Her 1952 hit “It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels”, made her the first female country singer to top the US country charts, and turned her into the first female country star. Her Top 10 hits continued until the mid-1960s, inspiring a long list of female country singers who came to prominence in the 1960s.