Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Today in Country Music History...May 1, 2018 (Charley Pride became the first black Opry regular + others)

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May 1st: On this day

Born on this day near outside Hackleburg, Alabama, was James Loden who became known as Sonny James, best known for his 1957 hit, "Young Love". Dubbed the Southern Gentleman, James has had 72 country and pop chart hits from 1953 to 1983, including a five-year streak of 16 straight among his 23 #1 hits. James died on 22 Feb 2016 aged 87.

Born on this day in Lafayette, Tennessee, was Rita Coolidge, singer and songwriter. She met Kris Kristofferson at Los Angeles airport when they were both catching the same flight to Tennessee and he got off in Memphis with her rather than go on to his originally intended stop in Nashville; the two married in 1973. With him, she recorded several duet albums and earned the duo a Grammy Award for Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal in 1974 for "From the Bottle to the Bottom", and in 1976 for "Lover Please".

Johnny Cash released his classic song, "I Walk the Line", which became his first #1 Billboard country hit and remained on the charts for over 43 weeks, selling over 2 million copies. The unique chord progression for the song was inspired by backwards playback of guitar runs on Cash's tape recorder while he was in the Air Force stationed in Germany.

Born on this day in Delhi, Louisiana, was Tim McGraw country singer and actor. Many of McGraw's albums and singles have topped the country music charts with total album sales in excess of 40 million units in the US. McGraw had 11 consecutive albums debut at #1 on the Billboard albums charts, as well as twenty-one singles hitting #1 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart. He is married to country singer Faith Hill and is the son of former baseball player Tug McGraw.

Bob Dylan recorded an appearance for The Johnny Cash Show at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee. After two solo numbers from Dylan, Johnny Cash joined him for a rendition of "Girl From The North Country." In this primetime show, Cash enjoyed booking contemporary performers as guests; Neil Young, Kenny Rogers and The First Edition (who appeared a record four times on his show), James Taylor, Ray Charles and Eric Clapton were all booked to appear on forthcoming shows.

Winners at the 15th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards hosted by Loretta Lynn, Charlie Pride and Claude Akins at Knott's Berry Farm, Buena Park included: Top Female Vocalist of the Year - Crystal Gayle, Top Male Vocalist of the Year - Larry Gatlin, Band of the Year - Touring went to the Charlie Daniels Band and Single Record of the Year went to Larry Gatlin for "All The Gold in California."

Reba McEntire released Sweet Sixteen her sixteenth studio album, (the album's title derives from its being McEntire's sixteenth album). Four singles from the album entered the Billboard country charts: the #1 hits "Cathy's Clown" (a cover version of the Everly Brothers' song) and "Walk On", and the top ten hits "Til Love Comes Again" and "Little Girl". The album stayed at #1 for 16 consecutive weeks.

Charley Pride accepted an invitation to join the Grand Ole Opry, in the process becoming the first black Opry regular in the show's more than 70-year history. Pride has sold over 70 million records world-wide.

Dixie Chick Emily Erwin married country singer Charlie Robison. The couple who have three children divorced on August 6, 2008 after nine years of marriage.

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