In Memoriam: Part Three

Ken Morton, Jr. | December 13th, 2011

Part One, Part Two

Leiber, Jerry – Leiber may be most remembered in country circles for co-writing the legendary Johnny and June Carter Cash duet, “Jackson.” Additional country stars to cover Leiber-written tunes (and those co-written with Mike Stoller, like “Hound Dog”) include George Jones, Johnny Paycheck, Buck Owens, Ray Stevens, Peggy Lee, Elvis Presley, The Rascals, Old Crow Medicine Show, Hank Snow, Jerry Reed, Ray Charles, Mandy Barnett and Ronnie Dunn. Here is the obituary that was published in the New York Times.


Lopacinski, Tony – Lopancinski worked as Josh Gracin’s bandleader and teamed with the artist and Bobby Pinson to co-write the Gracin hit “We Weren’t Crazy.” Lopacinski also played with Shelly Fairchild, Julie Roberts, The Foo Fighters, and others. Recently he had been focused on a new band called Tailgate South. He passed away in June after a battle with cancer.

Louvin, Charlie – A member of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Grand Ole Opry member since 1955, Louvin was part of the duo the Louvin Brothers with his brother Ira and had a solo career as well. The last few years of his life were a renaissance for the longtime act with multiple critically acclaimed solo albums released in the last four years of the elder statesman’s life. Read Juli Thanki’s interview with him from 2009.


Mainer, Wade – Mainer, who passed away in September, was a legendary banjo player from Weaverville whose mastery of early mountain music earned him the title “grandfather of bluegrass.” The man who influenced Doc Watson, Bill Monroe and Ralph Stanley lived until 104. Here is the Washington Post obituary.


Mathis, Johnny – “Country” Johnny Mathis, a recording artist and songwriter whose compositions were recorded by notables including George Jones, George Hamilton IV, Ray Price and Charley Pride, died in September on the eve of his 81st birthday of complications from pneumonia. This is a piece on Mathis’ passing from the Tennessean.


McDaniel, Mel – McDaniel was a member of the Grand Ole Opry since 1986 and was best-known for his string of 1980’s hits which included the smashes “Baby’s Got Her Blue Jeans On” and “Louisiana Saturday Night.” He passed away from lung cancer in late March. Here is an obituary Peter Cooper wrote for the Tennessean.

Mooney, Ralph – Mooney was an influential steel guitarist whose sound backed dozens of country music hits by artists including Buck Owens, Merle Haggard, Wynn Stewart and Wanda Jackson. Mooney was also in Waylon Jennings’ band for a 20-year stint. He passed away in March at the age of 82.


Moore, Spencer – Considered one of the pioneers of Blue Ridge Mountain music, the North Carolina native died in June at the age of 92. He began performing in a family band called the Moore Brothers in the 30s and didn’t release an album until his self-titled release in 2007.


Morrissey, Bill – Mr. Morrissey lived in New Hampshire and was a frequent performer in coffee shops and folk venues, especially in the Northeast. His music included songs like “Small Town on the River” and love songs like “Birches.”


O’Gwynn, James – The Mississippi native charted six singles on the country charts between 1958 and 1962 with his song “My Name is Mud” making all the way up to #7.


Orbison, Barbara – Barbara managed husband Roy Orbison’s career in the 1980s and served as executive producer for the TV special Roy Orbison and Friends: A Black and White Night. She passed away from pancreatic cancer on December 6, exactly 23 years after her husband’s death. Here is a lovely tribute to Orbison from Chet Flippo.

Ragovoy, Jerry – The songwriter and producer was known mostly for his soul songs — including “Piece of My Heart,” co-written with Bert Berns and recorded by Erma Franklin before Janis Joplin and later Faith Hill — and “Time Is on My Side,” which recorded by Kai Winding and Irma Thomas, but most famously recorded by the Rolling Stones. Here is the New York Times obituary.


Roady, Tom – The percussionist toured and recorded with several musicians over his career including Paul Anka, John Denver, Emmylou Harris, Kenny Chesney and Lynyrd Skynyrd. He was most recently part of Ricky Skaggs’ touring band and passed away in November on the tour bus in between gigs. Here is an obituary posted on


  1. Paul W Dennis
    December 14, 2011 at 6:02 am

    I’m not entirely sure why James O’Gwynn never became a star. He was an effective and personable singer and performer. Strangely enough, his biggest charting single “My Name Is Mud” was also his last charting single

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