Pete Seeger, folk musician and activist, passed away today at the age of 94.
Archive for the ‘Passings’ Category
Steve Fromholz, Farm Aid (7/4/1986) (Austin, TX)
According to Steven’s sister Angela, there will be a short, graveside service at Ft. McKavett Cemetery at Ft. McKavett, Texas at 2:00 p.m. this Friday, January 24th. It is not a private ceremony, and the family welcomes and those who wish to attend. Ft. McKavett is about 22 miles from Menard, TX. There will be a small reception at the McKavett Fire Station which adjoins the cemetery after the services.
Steven Fromholz, a gifted and esteemed songwriter who was named poet laureate of Texas in 2007, has died, according to his family. He was 68.
Fromholz’s “I’d Have to Be Crazy,” which was covered by Willie Nelson, was probably his best-known work, though “Texas Trilogy” – an epic narrative centered around central Texas Bosque County – was his career-defining piece, a richly detailed and characterized trio of songs (“Daybreak,” “Train Ride” and “Bosque County Romance”) that was covered by his admirer Lyle Lovett Lovett, who called Fromholz a “friend and teacher,” said “Texas Trilogy” “isn’t a song, it’s a transcendent Texas bible, a local setting with universal meaning.”
“Steven Fromholz and his work will be remembered, enjoyed and studied as music and literature forever,” Lovett said. “His insight into human nature was equaled only by his ability to write about it in such detail that he made his listeners feel as if they were standing in the shoes of his characters, seeing what they saw, feeling what they felt.”
Fromholz was born in Temple. He attended North Texas State before joining the Navy. After his discharge he headed to California, where he started writing poetry and fell under the spell of folk music in the ’60s, which is when he formed the duo Frummox with Dan McCrimmon in Colorado. The duo recorded one little-heard album called “Here to There,” which was released in the late ’60s. It included Fromholz’s enduring “Texas Trilogy.”
After a pair of albums, the duo split, and Fromholz began recording as a solo artist. In addition to his work as a songwriter, Fromholz became a beloved river guide in Big Bend, where his gift for storytelling made him a popular navigator.
He drew renewed attention in 1998 when Lovett covered “Texas Trilogy” as well as Fromholz’s playful “Bears.”
Fromholz suffered a severe stroke in 2003, which pulled him away from the stage for several years. But he recovered and continued to write, record and perform until the end of his life.
By Lou Antonelli
Hundreds of people – including colleagues from the music industry – crowded the First Baptist Church for a memorial service Saturday afternoon honoring County Music Hall of Fame member Ray Price.
Price died Monday in hospice care Dec. 16 after losing a battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 87.
Pastor Clint Davis noted the large number of people who were willing to brave the cold, wet weather to attend the memorial.
The event, noted Davis, was to “celebrate a life well lived on this very sad and special day.”
“He left a deep and indelible imprint on our culture,” added Davis.
Long-time country radio personality Bill Mack of Fort Worth, who knew Price for 60 years, said he asked him many years ago why he settled down in Mount Pleasant.
He said Price told him, “It’s a pleasant town, how do you think it got that name?”
Mack brought greetings from Willie Nelson, who had called him that morning. He said Nelson told him to say “Without a Ray Price, there wouldn’t have been a Willie Nelson.”
Nelson noted Price gave him his first big break when he was hired to play bass in Price’s band, The Cherokee Cowboys, after Don Young (whose stage name was Johnny Paycheck) quit.
“He asked me, ‘Can you play bass?’” wrote Nelson. “I said, ‘Who can’t play bass?”
“Well, he found out I can’t play bass,” said Mack as he finished Nelson’s anecdote.
Mack spoke of his long and deep friendship with Price, who made him his official spokesman. “He was a marvelous pal, just a good man to be around.”
Mack as well as the other eulogists praised Price as down-to-earth. “He never seemed to realize he was a start, he just knew people liked to hear him sing.”
The interludes in the memorial service were filled by a country music quartet playing songs such as “In the Garden”, “Danny Boy” and “Let’s Make a Memory Today” – all Price songs – on a stage before a large display of poinsettias, floral tributes, and photos of Price and his wife of 45 years, Janie.
Eddie Stubbs, a radio host with the Grand Ole Opry, came from Nashville to offer condolences from the county music industry.
“He was as good as any of his contemporaries,” said Stubbs, “and no one was his superior.”
Price was responsible for the last major musical innovation in classic country music, the 4/4 shuffling beat, noted Stubbs.
Over his 65 year career, Price earned the respect of his colleagues by constantly perfecting his craft, said Stubbs. “As a result, his voice is just as fresh today as it was 65 years ago.”
Mack agreed that Price retained his vocal skills until the end, “He just got better as time went by.” His last album is yet to be released.
Both Mack and Stubbs spoke of Price’s deep religious faith. Mack pointed out that both Faron Young and Marty Robbins has died in December, and he added – somewhat choked up – that perhaps Jesus brought him home to heaven “to sing for him on his birthday.”
Stubbs added that Price’s religious conviction was quiet but sincere, and mentioned that one time he learned Price supported a charity that helped elderly Jews immigrate to Israel from Russia after the fall of the Soviet Union.
Stubbs said he expressed some surprise at Price’s support of a Jewish charity. He said Price’s opinion was that more Christians should feel the same way, “I plan on spending eternity with one of them.”
“Ray Price was just a country boy who spent a third of his life in Mount Pleasant, but was known around the world” said Stubbs.
Another eulogist, Dallas Wayne – the Sirius XM radio DJ for the country channel Willie’s Roadhouse – said Price was a gentleman off the stage as well as on, possessing “heart and soul, grace, dignity, elegance and character.”
He credited Price’s music for drawing him to his career. “He had that kind of voice that sang from the heart, you know he put his heart and soul into his music.”
A natural gentleman, Wayne said – reflecting on his given first name – “He was the epitome of the word “noble”.
Other speakers included Tyler Mayor Barbara Bass – a member of the extended Price family – and former District Judge Lanny Ramsay of Mount Vernon, who got to know Price as he prepared his will.
Bass said Price was the same as a family member as he was in public, “he was a very umble man and down to earth.”
Ramsay said Price never stopped being a gentleman, and even in his last days, when they were discussing his estate, he apologized as he had to blot his nose because of an oxygen tube.
Price lived in Mount Pleasant for 31 years; he was born in Wood County, in the small community of Peach outside Perryville.
The benediction at the end of the service was given by Shiles Hubbell, chaplain of the Cypress Basin Hospice, which cared for Price at the end of his life.
A funeral is planned for Dec. 28 in Dallas by the Restland Funeral Home.
by: Calvin Gilbert
When Ray Price died Monday (Dec. 16), the world lost one of the greatest singers in the history of country music — or any other genre, for that matter. Aside from his smooth, effortless vocal style, his greatest talent was recognizing a great song when he heard it.
The world eventually came to understand the magic created by songwriters such as Harlan Howard, Hank Cochran, Bill Anderson, Roger Miller, Mel Tillis, Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson. Price identified it immediately, recording “Heartaches by the Number,” “Night Life,” “For the Good Times” and other songs that became country music standards.
Price recorded for several labels during his lengthy career, but his work for Columbia Records serves as the cornerstone of his discography. For those wanting a solid introduction, Sony Music’s Legacy Recordings imprint offers The Essential Ray Price, a two-CD set containing 40 tracks. Legacy’s 16 Biggest Hits package features a basic overview of his key Columbia tracks. Completists — or fans with plenty of disposable income — might consider The Honky Tonk Years 1950-1966, a 10-CD set released by the Bear Family Records, a German label.
In assessing Price’s vast catalog of recordings, a list of 10 definitive hits only scratches the surface, but here’s a quick recap of some of his most memorable recordings:
“Release Me” (1954)
Price first appeared on the country chart in 1952 with “Talk to Your Heart” and scored two additional Top 10 singles before recording “Release Me,” a song written by Eddie Miller and William Stevenson. The musical influence of Hank Williams was still firmly intact, and “Release Me” became a classic. By the ’70s, it had been recorded more than 200 times, including crooner Engelbert Humperdinck’s version which became an international pop hit in 1967.
“Crazy Arms” (1956)
With its shuffle beat, “Crazy Arms” spent 20 weeks at No. 1 on Billboard’s country songs chart and essentially defined Price’s early sound. The song was written by Ralph Mooney, a steel guitarist who later spent many years playing in Merle Haggard’s band, and Chuck Seals.
“My Shoes Keep Walking Back to You” (1957)
Texas swing legend Bob Wills had a profound influence on Price and his Cherokee Cowboys band, so it’s somehow appropriate that Price’s second No. 1 single was written by Wills and Lee Ross. It remained at the top of the country chart for four weeks.
“City Lights” (1958)
In addition to being Price’s third single to top the chart — a position it retained for 13 weeks — “City Lights” also launched the career of songwriter Anderson, another future member of the Country Music Hall of Fame.
“Invitation to the Blues” (1958)
Long before Roger Miller became a superstar in the ’60s with hits such as “Dang Me” and “King of the Road,” he was a member of Price’s band. Originally recorded by Rex Allen, Miller convinced his boss to record it, too. Price’s version was on the flip side of “City Lights” and peaked at No. 3.
“Heartaches by the Number” (1959)
Oddly enough, one of Price’s signature songs didn’t top the country chart, but it made it to No. 2 and helped establish Howard’s songwriting career. Price didn’t reap the rewards of a crossover hit, unfortunately. Guy Mitchell’s cover version spent two weeks at No. 1 on the pop chart later in 1959.
“Heart Over Mind” (1961)
Although Tillis was already enjoying success as a songwriter, Price’s recording of “Heart Over Mind” came two years before Bobby Bare released Tillis’ classic “Detroit City.” It’s another shuffle song with the fiddles kicking things off through a by-then familiar riff.
“Night Life” (1963)
At this point, “Night Life” is widely identified as a staple of the original song medley Nelson performs during the opening segments of his concerts. Even late in his career, it remained one of Price’s signature songs, too, even though the single only peaked at No. 28 on the country chart.
“Danny Boy” (1967)
With somber lyrics set to the tune of the Irish folk song, “Danny Boy” was a departure from the other country music on the radio in the mid-60s. Even though Price had already started moving to a more polished sound, the lush orchestration turned out to be an indication of the musical direction that led to his biggest hit, “For the Good Times.”
“For the Good Times” (1970)
The recording of the Kristofferson song was a defining moment for Price. With a shimmering violin section backing him, “For the Good Times” hit No. 1 on the country chart and No. 11 on the pop chart. The success resulted in a wider audience and more opportunities for appearances on national TV shows. He continued the direction with three subsequent No. 1 country hits — “I Won’t Mention It Again” (1971), “She’s Got to Be a Saint” (1972) and “You’re the Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me” (1973).
Lou Reed, Farm Aid 2015
Photo by the great Jay Janner
Guitarist Waylon was part of the Willie Nelson & Family band for 35 years before he retired in 2008. Baldwin County Coroner Stan Zinson says Payne died Saturday morning, at a local hospital. He said Payne got up early in his home in Stapleton, Alabama, feeling ill, and his wife Vicki called an ambulance.
Don Bowman passed away on Wednesday, June 5, 2013. He was 75. Don Bowman often opened for Willie Nelson & Family from late ’70′s until the early ’90′s, when he chose to stay in Branson after Willie Nelson & Family’s long run there. Thanks to Lyn Vyles and Budrock for sharing information and pictures about Don.
Willie wrote the liner notes for one of Don’ Bowman’s albums:
“One thing I like about Don Bowman is that he makes me laugh even when I don’t feel like it. He has always affected me this way. When he was a disc jockey in Lubbock, Texas, he broke up the whole city with this weather forecast, “Fair and warmer and his orchestra”, his Station Break, “This is K something or other serving the Portland-Vancouver area” — remember, he’s still in Lubbock, Texas. I could just see his boss Herman Mullet, driving down a west Texas highway, late for a sales meeting in Odessa, hearing this on his car radio, coming to a screeching halt in the middle of the road, beating his head against the dashboard and screaming, “Where did I go wrong?”
Don Bowman is a funny, funny man — and in this album you will find many opportunities to break up, double over, or split your sides. For instance, “What Kind of Fool Am I” is a very beautiful song that has been butchered by one of the world’s funniest butchers — my funny friend Don Bowman. How Come It Is, She thinks I Don’t Care — well, you pick one, play it, listen, or as Don would say, “List-ten” — and try not to laugh. I guarantee you can’t do it. ”
– Willie Nelson
The talents on Don Bowman are varied. He is a singer and guitarist, a monologist of subtle humor, a song writer and a budding film performer. He has also been a successful disc jockey. Don, who was born in Lorenzo, Texas, was doing turntable duty at a San Diego Radio Station in 1960 when he sent some of his song paradies to RCA Victor’s head man in Nashville, Chet Akins, with the request that he submit the material to Homer & Jethro. Chet did — and Don became a regular contributor to the duo’s albums. Several years later, acting upon Atkins’ advice, Don quit a $20,000 a year broadcasting job in Minneapolis and came to Nashville to be near the writing and recording activity. It was a wise move. In 1963 Bowman was recording his own material in the RCA Victor studio — Chit Atkins, Make Me a Star. Atkins really did, and today Don is a favorite recording artist and Opry laugh-getter. When Don isn’t touring with state shows, he lives in the penthouse of a high-rise apartment building in Nashville and concentrates on songwriting.
Goodbye to an Old Friend
By Joshua Clark
Goodbye to an old friend
As I was driving into work Thursday morning, I heard that country music songwriter and comedian Don Bowman had passed away Wednesday morning at a nursing home in Forsyth. He was 75.
He was one of the funniest men of country music, and counted legends like Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson as his closest friends. He had careers as a D.J., singer, songwriter and comedian.
Bowman recorded eight albums with his biggest single, “Chet Atkins, Make Me A Star,” spending four months on the country charts in 1964, peaking at No. 7 on the Cash Box charts. Other singles include “For Loving You” with Skeeter Davis, “Folsom Prison Blues 2,” and “Poor Old Ugly Gladys Jones” with Jennings, Nelson and Bobby Bare.
He also spent time opening for Jennings, Roger Miller, Merle Haggard, Bare and Bill Anderson. In addition, he spent 17 years on the road opening for Nelson before deciding to stay in Branson.
Bowman had his biggest professional success as a comedian. Throughout his career, he has appeared on the big screen, the small screen, onstage and on record. He received the inaugural award as Comedian of the Year from the Country Music Association, getting the nod over fellow comedians Ben Colder and Homer & Jethro in 1967.
After moving to Branson in the early 1990s, he portrayed “Seemore Miles” for the Moe Bandy Show. As a songwriter, Bowman may be best known for co-writing one of the biggest hits in the career of Jennings, “Just To Satisfy You.” The song hit No. 1 twice, once for Jennings in 1969, and once for Jennings and Nelson in the early 1980s. He also took the old Mother Maybelle Carter tune “The Wildwood Weed” and updated it in the 1960s.
I first met Bowman in 1995 when he was performing with Bandy. He was already a family friend, and that friendship was extended to me. I’d take Bowman to the movies, or to a show, or have a cold adult beverage from time to time, and always had a blast. In 2007, a group of friends and I took Bowman to see Willie Nelson in Joplin. He was treated like royalty by the band and the crew, and I got a story that I still tell to this day. It was without a doubt one of the greatest nights of my life.
Bowman suffered a stroke a few years ago and lost his ability to speak. Even though he had difficulty communicating, he never lost that outlaw twinkle in his eye.
Bowman will be remembered for his warped sense of humor and touching song lyrics. He will be missed. Goodbye old friend…
I had the pleasure of becoming friends with former Senator George McGovern about 4 years ago. His political career had been long over when we met and he came to me as a music lover. He wanted to go to the upcoming Willie Nelson concert and was calling to ask if there was a way I could get him in contact with his old friend Willie. I would get calls like this frequently and continued the conversation. He then said my name is George McGovern and I could tell he was an elderly gentlemen by our conversation and I immediately ask “Senator George McGovern?” and he replied “yes”. George and became friends and he attended several concerts at the St. Augustine Amphitheatre.
I also had the pleasure of introducing George to my good friend Stetson Kennedy. We set up a breakfast meeting and it could be one of my most humbling moments. I was eating a muffin between a man who along with Bob Dole created a program that feeds millions children each day through his school lunch program and a man/author who went undercover with the Ku Klux Klan and outed many of their secrets. The impact these men had our world can not be measured. George the children of the world may never know where their meal came from but you will be their hero just by providing a needed meal. That day they made a pact that unfornately neither was able to keep. They made a pact to live to 100 to each other. We lost Stetson last year and George this week. The last time I talked to George I was on my walk and he called me somewhere in South Carolina. We spoke about my walk and told me of his busy schedule. He was his normal sharp self and always generous with his time.
The best story I have about George is when we were at the James Taylor concert. We had arranged for James to talk to George during his intermission and I went and got George out of the crowd to take him backstage. George was excited to see Taylor because they had not seen each other since the 1972 election. I believe if it was possible for 87 year old man to float he was that evening. James Taylor finishes his song before intermission and comes off stage on the other end of the backstage hallway. He immediately makes eye contact with George and actually runs towards George as if he was the rock star. It was a great moment for George and I always wanted to thank James Taylor for making that moment so special a man who deserved to be treated like a rock star. We will miss you George and Thank you for your friendship, wisdom and service.