May 26 – This Day in Country Music


Jimmie Rodgers, singer, songwriter, who was among the first country music superstars and pioneers, died while staying at the Taft Hotel; he was only 35 years old. Rodgers was also known as “The Singing Brakeman”, “The Blue Yodeler”, and “The Father of Country Music.” Rodgers sold over 12 million records and was the first person to be elected into the Country Music Hall Of Fame.

Born on this day in Shreveport, Louisiana, was Randall Hank Williams, better known as Hank Williams, Jr. His musical style is often considered a blend of Southern rock, blues, and traditional country. He is the son of country music pioneer Hank Williams and the father of Hank Williams III.

George Jones released his seventh studio album White Lightning and Other Favourites. The track “White Lightning” which gave Jones a #1 hit single was written by The Big Bopper (“J. P.” Richardson), who was killed in a plane crash in Iowa in 1959, along with fellow musicians Buddy Holly and Ritchie Valens.

Bill Anderson was at #1 on the Country singles chart with “My Life (Throw it Away If I Want To)”. Despite spending just two weeks atop the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart, “My Life (Throw it Away If I Want To)” was named the #1 song of 1969. Several other songs – most notably Johnny Cash’s “Daddy Sang Bass” and “A Boy Named Sue,” and Merle Haggard’s “Okie from Muskogee” – had longer runs at #1.

Willie Nelson released his eighteenth studio Red Headed Stranger which became his first #1 country album. The cover of “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain”, released as a single previous to the album full release became Nelson’s first #1 hit.

Willie Nelson was at #1 on the country album chart with Always on My Mind, which became the Billboard #1 country album of the year. The album spent 22 weeks at the top of the charts and stayed for a total of 253 weeks on the Billboard Top Country Albums charts. The title track was originally recorded by Brenda Lee in 1972 and has since been recorded by dozens of performers including Elvis Presley in 1972 and John Wesley Ryles in 1979.

Toby Keith won four awards at CBS’ 39th annual Academy of Country Music Awards held at Las Vegas’ Mandalay Bay. Keith won Entertainer of the Year; Top Male Vocalist; Album, for Shock’n Y’all; and Video, for the Willie Nelson duet “Beer For My Horses”. Vocal Event of the Year went to Alan Jackson and Jimmy Buffett for “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere.”

Country music legend Willie Nelson cut his ‘trademark, waist-length braids.’ A spokesperson for the legendary entertainer explained that Nelson decided to lose his signature style a couple of weeks ago. In trademark laid-back fashion, he didn’t make too big a deal out of the event.