In Memoriam: Part Two

Ken Morton, Jr. | December 8th, 2011

Davis, Owen – Davis was best known for the song “The Other Side of Nashville” from the1983 documentary film of the same name in which he appeared alongside such luminaries as Kris Kristofferson, Bobby Bare, Johnny Cash, Emmylou Harris and Hank Williams Jr.  Among his other notable compositions were “Border of the Quarter,” and “Play Me or Trade Me.”

DeVito, Don – Probably best-known for his work producing some of Bob Dylan’s most critically acclaimed albums, DeVito also produced music for Bruce Springsteen, Simon and Garfunkel, Janis Joplin and Billy Joel.

Dickens, Hazel – This songstress is a legend in bluegrass circles and will be best-remembered for the environmental and pro-feminist stands she took throughout her career. The New York Times extolled her as “a clarion-voiced advocate for coal miners and working people and a pioneer among women in bluegrass music.”


DiGregorio, Joel “Taz” – Taz was an original member of the Charlie Daniels Band as a keyboardist for over 40 years and a co-writer on many CDB songs, including “The Devil Went Down To Georgia.”

Gold, Andrew – Known primarily for his work in television (he wrote “Thank You for Being a Friend,” which became the Golden Girls theme song) and film, Gold played on records or backed such artists as Carly Simon, Jennifer Warnes, Neil Diamond, Juice Newton, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, John Lennon, Brian Wilson, Don Henley, Trisha Yearwood, Wynonna Judd (who took Gold and Lisa Angelle’s “I Saw the Light” to the top of the charts in 1992), Eagles, James Taylor and Vince Gill.


Gracey, Joe – The former Texas disc jockey was a major influence on the Austin music scene for several decades. In the book, The Incredible Rise of Redneck Rock, author Jan Reid called Gracey a visionary who “played a compelling mix of Texas musicians, the Allman Brothers, Hank Williams Jr.” from a playlist that “was brash, seamless and almost all Southern: Listen up here, this was the direction country music was going, and Nashville better listen up and pay attention.” Here is an obituary from the Austin American-Statesman.

Grammer, Billy – Grammer passed away in August at the age of 85. He was a longtime Grand Ole Opry member who designed the Grammer Flat Top Guitar, the first of which has been with the Country Music Hall of Fame since 1969. The agile guitarist’s sophisticated licks garnered numerous studio sessions with artists such as Eddy Arnold, Louis Armstrong, and Patti Page, and inspired other guitarists, such as Roy Clark. In 1965 Grammer had his own syndicated TV series. Here is the New York Times obituary.


Grant, Marshall – Grant and Luther Perkins were the Tennessee Two, the band which backed Johnny Cash. Marshall Grant was an important part of the boom-chicka-boom sound of Johnny Cash that changed the face of country music forever. In addition to playing bass for Cash, Grant also served as road manager, stage manager, and driver. Here is a piece Peter Cooper wrote on Grant for the Tennessean.


Green, George Michael – A childhood friend of John Mellencamp, Green wrote over a dozen songs together that appeared on his friend’s albums over the years including Billboard Top 10 Billboard hits “Crumblin’ Down” and “Hurts So Good”. Green died in August at the age of 59.

House, Gerald – The songwriter passed away in July at the age of 69. House first sang on the Grand Ole Opry stage at the age of 16. He spent his working career in the printing business and he wrote country songs including Mel Tillis classics such as “Midnight, Me and the Blues” and “I Got the Hoss.”

Husky, Ferlin – The Country Music Hall of Famer had two dozen Top 20 hits in the Billboard country charts between 1953–1975, including “Gone” and “Wings of a Dove.” He also was one of the first country stars to get a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Husky passed away in March; here is an obituary from the Tennessean.


Imus, Fred – In 1976 he and a fellow railroad worker named Phil Sweet co-wrote “I Don’t Want To Have To Marry You,” a No. 1 country hit for Jim Ed Brown and Helen Cornelius.

Jansch, Bert – Long time folk singer and guitarist Jansch (Pentangle) passed away in early October at the age of 67 after a long battle with lung cancer.


Jobs, Steve – While Jobs wasn’t a musician, he had an incredible impact on the landscape of the music industry and the way in which we listen to music. Good or bad, more music is sold through iTunes than any other format these days and Jobs ushered in the digital age of music.

Johnson, Bill – Johnson was an acclaimed artist known for his album creations. His work included the logo for Rolling Stone magazine and the art direction on Rosanne Cash’s King’s Record Shop album, for which he won a Grammy Award. Among the dozens of artists whose visual images he affected are Janie Fricke, Larry Gatlin, Waylon Jennings, Joe Diffie, Ricky Skaggs, Dolly Parton, Mickey Gilley, Charlie Daniels, Ricky Van Shelton, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Patty Loveless and Exile.

Jones, Ryan “Troop” – The full-time fiddle player for the LoCash Cowboys passed away much too early after an ulcer caused pneumonia. He also played with Wade Hayes, Brian Comas and Jeff Carson. He had been with the LoCash Cowboys since 2006.

Kent, Chris – Kent was an accomplished Nashville studio bass player who performed or recorded with a variety of country, rock, jazz and Christian music acts, including Lorrie Morgan, Toni Braxton, Larry Carlton, Billy Preston, Steve Winwood and Stevie Wonder, to name just a few.

Kirby, Paul – In September, Kirby of the alt-country band The Cactus Brothers passed away at the age of 48. The Cactus Brothers toured nationally and internationally, released two well-received albums and appeared in the George Strait movie vehicle Pure Country.


Kurtz, Gene – Bassist and rhythm guitar player Kurtz passed away in October. Kurtz wrote the smash 1965 hit “Treat Her Right” and played in a number of different bands including, most recently, Dale Watson’s Lonestars. Here’s an obituary from the Houston Press.

  1. nm
    December 8, 2011 at 11:36 am

    Thanks for doing this. It’s good to take a minute to remember these artists.

  2. Paul W Dennis
    December 14, 2011 at 5:57 am

    Billy Grammer was a fine performer who apparently was happy with the steady life of being a session musician and was not especially interested in being a star “Gotta Travel On” was a huge pop hit in 1959. he also had the original single on “Detroit City” (released under the title “I Wanna Go Home”

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