The eighth class of inductees to the Music City Walk of Fame will be recognized officially with the unveiling of commemorative sidewalk markers on Sunday, Nov. 7, beginning at 2 p.m. in Walk of Fame Park in downtown Nashville.
Music City, Inc. today announced the eighth class of inductees to the Music City Walk of Fame, presented by founding sponsor Gibson Guitar: Eddy Arnold, Little Jimmy Dickens, Bobby Hebb, Kris Kristofferson, Rascal Flatts and Mel Tillis. The honorees will be recognized officially with the unveiling of commemorative sidewalk markers on Sunday, Nov. 7, beginning at 2 p.m. in Walk of Fame Park in downtown Nashville. The induction ceremony, which is sponsored by Great American Country (GAC), is free and open to the public.
The Music City Walk of Fame is an official project of Music City, Inc., the charitable foundation of the Nashville Convention & Visitors Bureau (NCVB), and is produced with the support of presenting sponsor Gibson Guitar and sponsors GAC, the City of Nashville and Metro Parks.
“We are pleased to honor this amazing class of inductees,” said Butch Spyridon, president of the Nashville Convention & Visitors Bureau. “Each honoree represents the immense talent, creativity and diversity that have made Nashville, Music City.”
Created in the fall of 2006, the Music City Walk of Fame, on Nashville’s Music Mile, is a landmark tribute to those from all genres of music who have made significant contributions to preserving the musical heritage of Nashville and have contributed to the world through song or other industry collaboration. With the induction of this new class of honorees, there will be 48 total stars along the Walk of Fame.
Permanent sidewalk medallions made of stainless steel and terrazzo, with each honoree’s name displayed in a star-and-guitar design, will be installed in the sidewalk along the Music Mile. The plaques for this class of inductees will be inlaid in Hall of Fame Park on Demonbreun, between 4th and 5th Avenues South.
Nominations were open to the public and accepted in the categories of Artist, Musician, Songwriter, and Producer/Music Industry Executive. Application forms were reviewed by the Music City Walk of Fame anonymous selection committee.
“Gibson Guitar is honored to continue the tradition of the Music City Walk of Fame which celebrates the vast wealth of talent and creativity that originates in Nashville,” said Henry Juszkiewicz, Chairman and CEO of Gibson Guitar. “This class of inductees is no exception. From our own signature artist Kris Kristofferson to Rascal Flatts along with Little Jimmy Dickens, Bobby Hebb, Eddy Arnold and Mel Tillis, this exceptional group of artists keep Nashville’s place in music history strong.”
The November inductees for the Music City Walk of Fame:
Eddy Arnold, one of the greatest singers in both country and pop genres, was born May 15, 1918 in Chester County, Tennessee. On his eleventh birthday, his father died; later that year the farm the family lived on was auctioned off and the family became sharecroppers on the farm they once owned. Arnold went to school through the ninth grade, then landed a job with a funeral home while he sang on the local radio station. Soon, he moved to Memphis, then St. Louis where he appeared on radio for several years before landing a job with Pee Wee King and the Golden West Cowboys.
During World War II Arnold toured all over the United States with the Camel Caravan, appearing at Armed Forces bases. After the tour, he embarked on a solo career with the Grand Ole Opry, with the moniker, “The Tennessee Plowboy” and was signed to host the show sponsored by Purina on the NBC network. In December, 1944, Arnold, already a star on the Grand Ole Opry, made his first recordings for Victor Records at the WSM Studios – the first recording session by a major label in Nashville.
In 1945, he joined forces with Colonel Tom Parker, who was his manager for the next eight years. During that time, Arnold had a string of #1 hits, and in 1947-1948, he had the #1 song on the country charts for 60 consecutive weeks. In fact, in 1948 he outsold the entire pop division of RCA Victor which helped persuade RCA Victor as well as other notable record companies to eventually invest in building and operating recording facilities in Nashville.
Despite his roots as a sharecropper, Arnold never employed the traditional “nasal” twang long associated with country artist of his time. His musical influences included Bing Crosby and Gene Autry, therefore Arnold’s smooth baritone lent itself more to crooning which helped him cross over into the pop genre and gain favor with non-country audiences. That smooth style has never been paralleled in country music ever since.
During the 1950s Eddy Arnold became the first country artist to host a network prime time television show when he became the summer replacement for “The Perry Como Show.” He also hosted a national network radio show, “The Checkerboard Jamboree” for CBS and starred in two movies for Columbia Pictures, “Feudin’ Rhythm” and “Hoedown”. Arnold became a major concert draw outside of the south during the late 1940s, and in 1952 “The Eddy Arnold Show” aired as a summer replacement show for Dinah Shore’s variety show on CBS. His theme song was “Cattle Call,” and he recorded it four different times. The 1955 version with the Hugo Winterhalter Orchestra was a number one record. Also, in 1955 he recorded the song “You Don’t Know Me”, a song he co-wrote with legendary songwriter, Cindy Walker. That song was made a standard by Ray Charles and has been covered by artists as diverse as Elvis Presley and Bob Dylan. Most recently it was recorded by Michael Bublé and Willie Nelson.
Despite a career downturn in the late 1950s and early 1960s, Eddy reemerged as a leading figure in the famed “Nashville Sound” movement which brought a more refined touch to country music and expanded its audience therefore giving it more mainstream appeal. In 1965, he scored his biggest hit of all, “Make The World Go Away”, a record that is now in the Grammy Hall of Fame. In 1966 he was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame, and in 1967 he became the first person to win the Entertainer of the Year honor from the Country Music Association.
Eddy Arnold sold over 85 million records and is the only country artist to have charted records in seven different decades, one of which was a duet version of “Cattle Call” with LeAnn Rimes from her “Blue” album that was released by Curb Records in 1996. In 2000, he received the National Medal of the Arts from President Bill Clinton and was awarded a “Lifetime Achievement Grammy” in 2005. Eddy Arnold died on May 8th, 2008, thus silencing an unmistakable voice that inspired generations of singers and millions of fans alike.
Following his death in May 2008, RCA Records released the single “To Life”, a song from the album “After All These Years” and it debuted at No. 49 on the Hot Country Songs charts, which was his first entry into that particular chart in 25 years. Because of this feat, he also became the oldest artist to chart Billboard and it also set the record for the longest span between an artist’s first chart single and the last: 62 years and 11 months (“Each Minute Seems Like a Million Years” debuted on June 30, 1945), and extended Arnold’s career chart history to seven decades.
Little Jimmy Dickens
Born in Bolt, West Virginia, Dickens began his musical career in the late 1930s, performing on a local radio station while attending West Virginia University. He soon quit school to pursue a full-time music career, and traveled the country performing on various local radio stations under the name “Jimmy the Kid.”
In 1948, Dickens was heard performing on a radio station in Saginaw, Michigan by Roy Acuff, who introduced him to Art Satherly at Columbia Records and officials from the Grand Ole Opry. Dickens signed with Columbia in September and joined the Opry in August. Around this time he began using the nickname, Little Jimmy Dickens, inspired by his short stature.
Dickens recorded many novelty songs for Columbia, including “Country Boy,” “A-Sleeping at the Foot of the Bed” and “I’m Little But I’m Loud.” His song “Take an Old Cold Tater (And Wait)” inspired Hank Williams to nickname him “Tater”. Later, telling Jimmy he needed a hit, Williams penned “Hey Good Lookin’“ specifically for Dickens in only 20 minutes while on a Grand Ole Opry tour bus. A week later Williams cut the song himself, jokingly telling him, “That song’s too good for you!”
In 1950, Dickens formed the Country Boys with musicians Jabbo Arrington, Grady Martin, Bob Moore and Thumbs Carllile. It was during this time that he discovered future Hall of Famer Marty Robbins at a television station while on tour with the Grand Ole Opry road show. In 1957, Dickens left the Grand Ole Opry to tour with the Philip Morris Country Music Show.
In 1962, Dickens released “The Violet and the Rose,” his first top 10 single in 12 years. Two years later he became the first country artist to circle the globe while on tour. He also made numerous TV appearances including The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. In 1965, he released his biggest hit, “May the Bird of Paradise Fly Up Your Nose,” reaching number one on the country chart and number 15 on the pop chart.
In the late 1960s, he left Columbia for Decca Records, before moving again to United Artists in 1971. That same year he married his wife, Mona. He returned to the Grand Ole Opry in 1975, and was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame a few years later.
He joined producers Randall Franks and Alan Autry for the In the Heat of the Night cast CD “Christmas Time’s A Comin’” performing “Jingle Bells” with the cast on the CD released on Sonlite and MGM/UA for one of the most popular Christmas releases of 1991 and 1992 with Southern retailers.
Recently, Dickens has made appearances in a number of music videos by fellow country musician and West Virginia native Brad Paisley. He has also been featured on several of Paisley’s albums in bonus comedy tracks along with other Opry mainstays such as George Jones and Bill Anderson. They are collectively referred to as the Kung-Pao Buckaroos.
With the passing of Hank Locklin in March 2009, Dickens is now the oldest living member of the Grand Ole Opry at the age of 89. He still makes regular appearances as a host at the Opry.
Bobby Hebb made his stage debut on his third birthday, when tap dancer Hal Hebb introduced his little brother to show business at The Bijou Theater. This was an appearance on The Jerry Jackson Revue of 1942. Harold Hebb was nine years of age at the time and the young brothers worked quite a few nightclubs before Bobby entered first grade.
Nashville establishments like The Hollywood Palm, Eva Thompson Jones Dance Studio, The Paradise Club, and the basement bar in Prentice Alley, as well as the aforementioned Bijou Theater, found Bobby and Hal dancing and singing. Hebb’s father, William, played trombone and guitar, his mother, Ovalla, played piano and guitar, while his grandfather was a chef/cook on the Dixie Flyer, an express train on the L&N — Louisville & Nashville railroad.
Bobby, with so much musical influence and inspiration, would go on to pen hundreds upon hundreds of tunes, among them, BMI’s number 25 most played song on their website in 2000, the classic “Sunny.” Georgie Fame and Cher, charted with the title in England, but it was Hebb’s original which reached the highest on charts in Europe and America. Covers by Frank Sinatra with Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Stevie Wonder, Frankie Valli, Nancy Wilson, the Four Tops, Wilson Pickett, Dusty Springfield, and so many others, insured the song would reach audiences outside of those who heard and continue to hear it on Top 40 and “oldies” stations. The song reached beyond Top 40, climbing the country and R&B charts as well. Kal Rudman calls this a rare industry “hat trick” in the liner notes on the 1966 Phillips’ album, but what no one could predict is how the song would find versions by Boney M. and Yambu bringing it to dance clubs, while jazz musicians explored the nuances of this amazing composition in their world.
Bobby Hebb’s influence reaches far beyond “Sunny.” When he joined Roy Acuff’s Smokey Mountain Boys around 1952, he was one of the first African American artists to perform on The Grand Ole Opry.
Around 1958 Bobby Hebb tracked “Night Train to Memphis,” a song written by Owen Bradley for Roy Acuff’s Smokey Mountain Boys. The tune was re-released in 1998 on a Warner Bros. box set, From Where I Stand, which also included “A Satisfied Mind” from the 1966 Sunny album.
Hebb was represented by Buster Newman and his partner, Lloyd Greenfield, who managed Tom Jones and Engelbert Humperdinck. Bobby Hebb headlined a 1966 tour with the Beatles. After this, Hebb met comedian/composer Sandy Baron and the two got busy writing a Broadway show that never made it to Broadway. However, two of the songs — “A Natural Man” and a tune they were writing about Marvin Gaye, “His Song Shall Be Sung” — were picked up by Lou Rawls and released on MGM.
After a recording gap of thirty five years, Hebb recorded That’s All I Wanna Know, his first commercial release since Love Games for Epic Records in 1970. It was released in Europe in late 2005 by Tuition, a pop indie label. New versions of “Sunny” were also issued. In October 2008, Hebb toured and played in Osaka and Tokyo, Japan.
Hebb continued to live in his hometown of Nashville until his death in August.
A member of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, Kris Kristofferson helped rejuvenate Nashville’s creative community in the late 1960s and early 1970s with the classics “Help Me Make It Through the Night,” “Me and Bobby McGee,” “For the Good Times” and “Lovin’ Her Was Easier.” Hundreds of recording artists have performed his songs. As a concert performer, Kristofferson toured for many years, releasing numerous albums with his long-standing backup band, the Borderlords.
Kristofferson began his music career in the mid-60s when he ended scholarly pursuits in favor of songwriting. The son of an Air Force general, he was a Rhodes scholar, a helicopter pilot and might have been an English Lit professor at West Point, but he gave it all up for a shot at selling some of his songs. Encouraged by a meeting with Johnny Cash, he moved to Nashville in 1965. He pitched songs while working as a night janitor at Columbia studios, emptying ashtrays and pushing a broom.
His turning point came in 1969. Nashville was still the bastion of conservative country music, but a new generation of renegade writers and performers were bucking the establishment. Cash gave him his break by recording “Sunday Morning Coming Down,” which won the Country Music Association’s song of the year trophy in 1970. Roger Miller sang “Me and Bobby McGee,” and Ray Price recorded “For the Good Times,” which won song of the year at the Academy of Country Music Awards in 1970.
He made his recording debut at the same time Janis Joplin’s version of “Me and Bobby McGee” went to No. 1. Sammi Smith reached the national Top 10 with “Help Me Make It Through the Night,” which won the CMA’s single of the year and a Grammy for best country song in 1971. Five subsequent albums, including The Silver-Tongued Devil and I and Jesus Was a Capricorn (which included the hit “Why Me”), went gold. His recordings with then-wife Rita Coolidge won the pair two Grammy awards. In 1973, “From the Bottle to the Bottom” was named best country vocal performance by a duo or group, and “Love Please” garnered the same award in 1975.
He started a movie career in 1971 when he co-starred with Gene Hackman and Harry Dean Stanton in Cisco Pike. He became an instant box-office draw, starring opposite such stars as Jane Fonda, Ellen Burstyn and Burt Reynolds. He also starred with Barbra Streisand in the classic film A Star Is Born in 1976. While making approximately two films a year, he continued to tour and record.
In the mid-80s, he joined Cash, Nelson and Waylon Jennings to form the Highwaymen. The supergroup’s single, “Highwayman,” was named the ACM’s single of the year for 1985. His 1990 solo album, Third World Warrior, demonstrated his concern for human freedoms. In 1999, he re-recorded some of his best-known tunes for The Austin Sessions, released on Atlantic Records. He teamed with Nelson, Jennings and Texas songwriter Billy Joe Shaver for Honky Tonk Heroes in 2000.
In the last decade, Kristofferson, who is signed with New West Records, has released two studio albums titled This Old Road and Closer To The Bone. This Old Road – Kristofferson’s first recording in almost a dozen years – was hailed by critics as “one of the finest albums of his storied career” (Rolling Stone), “a stripped-down stunner” (Esquire), and “a return to his best work” (Q). Kristofferson also continues a vigorous schedule of national and international solo appearances, and he is currently filming a movie called A Dolphin Tale. The Americana Music Association presented him its 2003 Spirit of Americana Free Speech Award. In 2004, Kristofferson entered the Country Music Hall of Fame.
In just 10 years, Rascal Flatts has become one of the most honored acts in country music history, reaching heights and achieving milestones reserved for the genre’s elite. They have set more venue attendance records than any country act en route to ticket sales of six million and counting. They have sold 20 million albums and earned 11 #1 singles. All six of their albums are platinum or multi-platinum and every one is among Billboard’s Top 100 Albums of the Decade. They have won more than three dozen awards from the ACM, CMA, AMA and People’s Choice, among others, and they have received that ultimate honor for those who have impacted the culture—a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Behind those statistics is an accomplishment more basic than numbers, more important than any trophy—for the past decade, the music of Rascal Flatts has been the soundtrack to countless lives. Songs like “These Days,” “Mayberry,” “What Hurts The Most,” “My Wish,” “Stand,” “Here,” “Here Comes Goodbye” and “Summer Nights” have soothed and uplifted, fired up, mellowed out and otherwise impacted millions.
Their place in country music history may be assured, but Gary, Jay and Joe Don retain a newcomer’s passion about capturing magic with each new project. Now, with the release of their latest, Nothing Like This, they have done it once again, taking their career and their legacy another long step forward. The album is a microcosm of all the things the band does well which is to say it touches on many of the best aspects of 21st-century country music. It is first and foremost uplifting, with songs like “Why Wait” and “Play” kicking off the proceedings with the call to enjoy life no matter what our circumstances. It features both the throwback groove of “They Try” and the fresh sparkle of “All Night To Get There.” “Summer Young” is an uptempo celebration of the season of warmth and romance and “I Won’t Let Go” is “You’ve Got A Friend” for the new millennium, a song steeped in the strength of love and friendship in times of trouble. The title cut finds a way to bring freshness to the subject of love and sees Gary bringing a disarming desperation to his vocal. Evident throughout is the group’s ability to recognize the best in Nashville songwriting.
The fact that they were able to do so reflects the magic they have always found in their approach to music and the respect with which they view their mission and each other. Their sound took root in the late 1990s, when Jay and Joe Don were band mates working with Chely Wright and Jay and Gary were playing a separate gig in downtown Nashville. When their guitar player was unable to make it one night, Jay asked Joe Don to sit in. The three honed their sound with club work, cut some demos and by year’s end had been signed to Lyric Street Records, where they flourished and took off on that magical decade of hits and sold-out shows.
Along the way, their “Bless The Broken Road” was Grammy nominated for Country Song of the Year and Vocal Performance, they became 2006’s top-selling physical and digital artist in all genres, scored four #1 country albums and three #1’s overall, and hit the Top 10 Billboard pop singles chart twice, among many other milestones. When Lyric Street closed its doors, they chose Big Machine as their new label home.
Committed to giving back, they are known for their charitable work, which includes raising three million dollars for the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt in Nashville.
Never content to rest on their laurels, they are eagerly looking forward.
Country music legend, Mel Tillis learned to play the guitar as a child, and in high school studied both the violin and the drums. Following high school, he entered the military and was stationed in Okinawa, Japan as a baker in the United States Air Force. During his time in the military, Tillis formed a band called The Westerners which played local clubs.
After leaving the military, Tillis moved to Nashville in 1956 to launch his musical career. In 1957, Webb Pierce took one of Tillis’ songs titled “I’m Tired” to number three on the charts. Tillis cut his first single that same year, a cover of “It Takes a Worried Man to Sing a Worried Song.” His first Top 40 hit came the following year with “The Violet and a Rose.”
Tillis continued to chart singles like 1959’s “Finally” and a pair of duets with Bill Phillips, “Sawmill” and “Georgia Town Blues,” while also supplying Webb Pierce with hit after hit, including the 1959 smashes “I Ain’t Never” and “No Love Have I” along with 1962’s “Crazy Wild Desire” and 1963’s “Sawmill.” Bobby Bare, Ray Price, Stonewall Jackson, and Little Jimmy Dickens also covered Tillis’ songs.
In 1965, Tillis recorded his first Top 15 hit, “Wine.” A string of successes followed, including 1966’s “Stateside,” “Life Turned Her That Way,” and his first Top Ten, 1968’s “Who’s Julie.” At the same time, his stature as a songwriter continued to grow thanks to hit covers of his “Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love to Town” by both Johnny Darrell and Kenny Rogers & the First Edition and “Mental Revenge” Waylon Jennings. After two 1969 Top Ten hits, “These Lonely Hands of Mine” and “She’ll Be Hanging Around Somewhere,” Tillis scored back-to-back Top Five hits in 1970 with “Heart Over Mind” and “Heaven Everyday.” In 1971, he began a successful string of duets with Sherry Bryce which included “Take My Hand” and “Living and Learning.”
“I Ain’t Never” became his first chart-topper in 1972. What followed was a series of Top Five smashes like “Neon Rose,” “Sawmill,” “Midnight, Me and the Blues,” “Stomp Them Grapes,” and “Memory Maker.” Between 1976 and 1980, he scored five more number ones — “Good Woman Blues,” “Heart Healer,” “I Believe in You,” “Coca Cola Cowboy,” and “Southern Rains.”
In all, Mel Tillis has written well over 1,000 songs, with approximately 600 recorded by major artists. He has recorded more than 60 albums, including 36 Top Ten singles, with nine of them going to #1.
Mel has appeared in numerous feature films including “Every Which Way But Loose” with Clint Eastwood, “W.W. & The Dixie Dancekings” with Burt Reynolds and Jerry Reed, “Cannonball Run I and II,” “Smokey and the Bandit II” with Burt Reynolds, and the lead role with Roy Clark in “Uphill All The Way.” His most recent role was that of a plumber in Toby Keith’s 2008 movie “Beer For My Horses.”
In 1976, Tillis was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters International Hall of Fame, and that same year, he was named Country Music Association’s (CMA) Entertainer of the Year. Also, for six years in the 70’s, Mel Tillis won Comedian of the Year.
Mel Tillis became a member of the Grand Ole Opry in June 2007, and on October 28, 2007, he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame
Mel Tillis has been in the music/entertainment business now for more than 50 years. He and his band, the Statesiders, have worked concerts all around the world, and continue to do so.
About the Nashville Convention & Visitors Bureau
The mission of the Nashville Convention & Visitors Bureau is to maximize the economic contribution of the convention and tourism industry to the community by developing and marketing Nashville as a premier destination. Visit the NCVB’s website at http://www.visitmusiccity.com.
About Gibson Guitar
Gibson is known worldwide for producing classic models in every major style of fretted instrument, including acoustic and electric guitars, mandolins, and banjos. Gibson’s HD.6X-PRO Digital Guitar, the Gibson Robot Les Paul and the Gibson Dark Fire guitar represent the biggest advance in electric guitar design in over 70 years. Founded in 1894 in Kalamazoo, Michigan, and headquartered in Nashville since 1984, Gibson Guitar Corp.’s family of brands now includes Epiphone, Dobro, Maestro, Kramer, Steinberger, Tobias, Echoplex, Electar, Flatiron, Gibson Baldwin Music Education, Slingerland, Valley Arts, Oberheim, Sunshine Piano, Take Anywhere Technology, Baldwin, J&C Fischer, Chickering, Hamilton, and Wurlitzer. Visit Gibson’s website at http://www.gibson.com or http://www.gibson.com/press
About Great American Country
Great American Country is America’s main street for the widest variety of country music, its artists and the lifestyles they influence. In addition to country music videos, GAC features original programming, special musical performances and live concerts, and is the exclusive television home of the Grand Ole Opry. GAC is available in more than 44 million households and online at http://www.GACTV.com
Posted On: Nashville, TN (Vocus) October 28, 2010