In Memoriam: Part One

Ken Morton, Jr. | December 7th, 2011

Few things have more of an impact on the human psyche than the passing of our loved ones, including those that have acted as our inspirations. In song, their collective stories live on in our hearts and our heads. Each note can remind us where we have come from and move us in ways we never knew before.

Because of this, Engine 145 feels the need to honor our past and recognize those that have passed on, leaving their mark forever on a rich musical tapestry behind them. Heartfelt thanks go to those on this list that dedicated their lives to the music that we find such passion in. May their memory and songs live on eternally.

Allen, Harley – The son of bluegrass artist Red Allen, singer-songwriter Harley Allen passed away in March of 2011. The younger Allen is credited with hits including Blake Shelton’s “The Baby,” Joe Nichols’ “I’ll Wait For You,” and Darryl Worley’s “Awful, Beautiful Life” and also had cuts recorded by Alan Jackson, Dierks Bentley, Gary Allan, Garth Brooks, Josh Turner, the Del McCoury Band and more. Jon Weisberger wrote a lovely piece on Allen for the Nashville Scene; read it here.


Anderson, Liz – A songwriter known for co-writing “(My Friends Are Gonna Be) Strangers,” to name just one, passed away at the age of 81. She also co-founded the Nashville Songwriters Association International. Here is the obituary Bill Friskics-Warren wrote for the New York Times


Baker, Kenny – Named to the International Bluegrass Music Hall of Honor in 1999, Kenny Baker is considered to one of the most influential fiddlers in the history of bluegrass music. He was the longest tenured member of Bill Monroe’s Blue Grass Boys, spending 25 years with The Father of Bluegrass. Peter Cooper wrote a piece on Baker’s passing for the Tennessean.


Barlow, Jack – Barlow, who passed away July 29 at the age of 87, recorded “I Love Country Music.” He spent many years in Nashville where he continued singing with artists like Johnny Cash, George Jones, Lefty Frizzell, Dottie West, Patsy Cline, Mel Tillis, Porter Wagoner, Chet Atkins, Boots Randolph and more.


Barton, Billy – Songwriter Barton was best known for “A Dear John Letter” recorded by Ferlin Husky and Jean Shepard. The song was a Number 1 country hit in 1953 and crossed over to the pop charts as well. The songwriter also wrote 1953’s “Forgive Me John, 1954’s “I Love You,” and the 1958 smash for Webb Pierce, “You’ll Come Back.”


Bramhall, Doyle – Bramhall started a band called The Chessmen with Jimmie Vaughan while in high school before moving to Austin and forming Texas Storm with him. He played with The Nightcrawlers in the 1970’s which included Jimmie Vaughan’s younger brother Stevie Ray Vaughan on guitar. Bramhall co-wrote the tune “Dirty Pool,” which appeared on Stevie Ray Vaughan’s debut album, Texas Flood.


Cerney, Todd – Cerney was a frequent rock/pop collaborator that had significant success in the country market as well. His songs were covered by acts like Restless Heart, John Anderson, Ty Herndon, Kenny Rogers, Dolly Parton, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Steve Holy, whose recording of “Good Morning Beautiful” spent several weeks at the top of the charts. Cerney played guitar, mandolin, harmonica, keyboards and sang lead and backing vocals with artists such as Kenny Rogers and played mandolin for the Dixie Chicks.


Cooper, Wilma Lee – Cooper, who teamed with husband Stoney Cooper as a top country duo for some three decades and earned the title “The First Lady of Bluegrass,” passed away in September at the ripe old age of 90. Elizabeth Cook probably said it best, “Sad to know of the passing of Wilma Lee Cooper, a personal hero and original punk rockin honky tonk girl.” Here is the obituary written for the New York Times.


Cox, Patsi Bale – A best-selling author who assisted superstars Tanya Tucker, Loretta Lynn, Wynonna Judd, Garth Brooks and others in penning their autobiographies died in November following a long battle with emphysema. She was 66. Here is a piece from the Tennessean about Cox’s passing.

Craig, Charlie – Craig was a Grammy-nominated songwriter who was credited with such songs as Kitty Wells’ “Every Step of the Way,” Travis Tritt’s “Between an Old Memory and Me,” Keith Stegall’s “I Think I’m in Love,” Johnny Cash’s “I Would Like to See You Again,” and Alan Jackson’s “Wanted,” among others.


Crain, Tommy – The Charlie Daniels Band lost two band members this year, with Crain being the first as he passed away in January at the age of 59. Crain joined the CDB in 1975 and he is credited with co-writing more than 60 songs during his tenure, which ended in 1990. His rhythmic guitar riff was the sound for the “band of demons” that joined in with the fiddling devil on “The Devil Went Down to Georgia,” a song he was credited with as a co-writer.


Croker, James “Glen” – Guitarist, singer and emcee Glen Croker, the last surviving member of the Hackberry Ramblers, passed away on August 23 in Lake Charles, LA, at age 77, following a lengthy illness.

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  1. Paul W Dennis
    December 7, 2011 at 8:26 pm

    JACK BARLOW was a pretty good singer but he sounded a little too similar to Dave Dudley for his own good. His besty selling records were recorded for Dot, but there were only two singles that cracked the top thirty for him. His cover of Donovan’s “Catch The Wind” was his biggest hit, reaching #26 in early 1972.

    I’ve got several of his albums, and they are all pretty good

    LIZ ANDERSON was a nice lady, as well as being an ace songwriter. I think that she short-circuited her own career as a performer by giving most of her best material to daughter Lynn Anderson. I doubt that she regretted doing so

  2. James
    December 7, 2011 at 10:32 pm

    Buddy Charleton?

  3. luckyoldsun
    December 8, 2011 at 2:14 am

    It’s not like the country music industry was looking to break in a middle-aged woman as a hitmaker.

  4. Paul W Dennis
    December 8, 2011 at 6:17 am

    I’m not sure of your definition of middle-aged (I tend to regard it as 40-55) and Lynn was in her 30s when she emerged as a recording artist (she was 17 when Lynn was born)

  5. luckyoldsun
    December 8, 2011 at 8:29 pm

    Per Wikipedia, Liz Anderson and Lynn Anderson both began placing records on the country chart in 1966. Liz Anderson put out a dozen singles in the 1960s, of which exactly 1 made the top-10. Lynn Anderson had 4 country top-10’s in the ’60s, before breaking through as an international sensation in 1970 with “Rose Garden”–a song that came from Joe South. Liz Anderson put out singles in the early ’70s, but they didn’t make the top-40.

    You can choose to believe that Liz Anderson would have been a country singing star if she hadn’t sacrificed her career for her daughter, but I think there’s about zero evidence for that. The woman was a very successful songwriter who managed to also have a respectable performing career. There’s nothing wrong with that.

  6. Ken Morton, Jr.
    December 8, 2011 at 11:02 pm

    James, thanks for pointing out an oversight on my part. Buddy Charleton should certainly be on this list. To make sure he’s included- albeit after the fact- here is an exerpt of his obituary from his website:

    Elmer Lee “Buddy” Charleton, the musician and teacher whose pedal steel guitar work was an integral element in Country Music Hall of Famer Ernest Tubb’s famed Texas Troubadours band, died Tuesday night at his home in Locust Grove, Va. He was 72 and was fighting lung cancer.

    From the spring of 1962 until the fall of 1973, Mr. Charleton was a featured Troubadour, playing crucial steel licks on Tubb’s classic honky-tonk material and entertaining listeners with imaginative, complex, at times unclassifiable steel guitar flights during Troubadour band sets when Tubb took a break. Tubb’s band endured numerous lineup changes, and Mr. Charleton and electric guitarist Leon Rhodes were the instrumental focus of what Tubb biographer Ronnie Pugh wrote was Tubb’s “greatest band of Texas Troubadours. … For sheer musical ability they were unsurpassed.”

    “Buddy was a quiet man, and yet on the steel guitar he stood out like nobody could,” Rhodes said. “I’ve always been able to play very fast, with the good Lord’s help, but a steel guitar player has a bar in his left hand and some picks on his right hand, and it’s not comfortable for him to go 90 miles an hour playing a tremendously fast song. No matter how fast I could play on my guitar, though, Buddy could do it on the steel. He was incredible, and I loved him dearly.”

    Mr. Charleton is also known for his post-Tubb career as a pedal steel guitar teacher in the Washington, D.C. area. His students became some of contemporary country music’s most accomplished players, including Bruce Bouton (Garth Brooks, Reba McEntire), Pete Finney (Dixie Chicks, Patty Loveless), Bucky Baxter (Bob Dylan), Robin Ruddy (Rod Stewart), Robbie Flint (Alan Jackson), Tommy Detamore (George Strait, Doug Sahm) and Tommy Hannum (Emmylou Harris, Ricky Van Shelton).

  7. Paul W Dennis
    December 9, 2011 at 12:46 am

    Lucklessold sun – I don’t recall saying that Liz Anderson would have been a superstar, but if you pull out Lynn Anderson’s Chart label recordings, it becomes really obvious where Liz’s best songs were going – songs that were better than the material Liz was recording for her own singles.

    I think that this may have contributed to the lack of push Liz got from her own label RCA. At best Liz would likely have had a solid journeyman career with somewhat more success than actually proved to be the case

  8. Jon
    December 9, 2011 at 10:21 am

    You can choose to believe that Liz Anderson would have been a country singing star if she hadn’t sacrificed her career for her daughter, but I think there’s about zero evidence for that.

    You can choose to believe that Paul’s post in any way suggested that he thought Liz Anderson would under any circumstances have been a country singing star, but I think there’s about zero evidence for that.

  9. luckyoldsun
    December 11, 2011 at 2:39 pm

    “I think that she short-circuited her own career as a performer by giving most of her best material to daughter…”

    “You can choose to believe that Paul’s post in any way suggested that he thought Liz Anderson would under any circumstances have been a country singing star, but I think there’s about zero evidence for that.”

    Did somebody say “clueless”??


  10. Jon
    December 11, 2011 at 4:59 pm

    Not surprised that an anonymous commenter would think that any kind of singing career at all would constitute stardom…


  11. luckyoldsun
    December 12, 2011 at 4:20 pm

    Gee, why do I get the feeling that I’m missing a really good insult that was directed at me?

    In any event, I have pointed out that the senior Ms. Anderson DID, in fact, have a singing career–and a recording career–so clearly there’s a lapse in your reasoning.

    It just seems to me that to claim that Liz Anderson short-circuited her career by giving her best material to Lynn Anderson–a genuine crossover star–would be akin to my writing that Dean Dillon derailed his career by giving his good stuff to George Strait. As Willie might have said: “It Ain’t Necessarily So.”

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