Every now and then, I like to review the list of members of the Country Music Hall of Fame and think about who should, or should not, be inducted into the Hall of Fame. As you probably know, it’s a very small and select group of new inductees every year. If you have never examined the list, go to cmaworld.com and take a look.
These are some of the artists I think should be in the Hall of Fame:
Ray Charles: If he had done nothing but record his landmark album Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music, he should be inducted for that alone. That album introduced countless non-country music listeners to the country genre, and it continues to do so. If you’ve never listened to it, do yourself a favor and give it a spin. P.S.: Charles continued to work in and around country for the rest of his life.
Gram Parsons: This is a very polarizing figure for the nominators and voters in the Hall of Fame process. Parsons either did or did not invent country rock, according to his supporters and detractors. He turned the Byrds to country for their wonderful album Sweetheart of the Rodeo and created a body of excellent music as a solo artist and as a member of the Flying Burrito Brothers. And he helped Emmylou Harris begin a splendid country music career.
Bobby Bare: He has been a country all-star ever since his accidental hit “All American Boy,” which was accidentally credited to Bill Parsons. He has recorded a string of solid albums, including the superlative Bobby Bare Sings Lullabys, Legends and Lies. His latest album, Darker than Light, explores country music’s folk song heritage.
Johnny Horton: Just look at some of his hit songs: “The Battle of New Orleans,” “Johnny Reb,” “North to Alaska,” “Sink the Bismarck,” and “When It’s Springtime in Alaska.” Horton would probably have enjoyed a long musical career had he not been killed in a car wreck at the age of 35.
Alan Jackson: Why isn’t he there already? Jackson is the whole deal: a traditional-leaning country singer, songwriter and performing artist who has flown the flag of musical integrity for decades. Go back and listen to “Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning).”
Charlie Rich: A Sun Records labelmate, Rich long labored in Elvis’ shadow, but Rich was as solid a singer as there has ever been. People remember him mainly for “Behind Closed Doors” and “The Most Beautiful Girls,” but he did much, much more than that. Give a listen to “Big Boss Man,” “Lonely Weekends,” “A Woman Left Lonely” and “Mohair Sam.”
Randy Travis: I realize the man has had some personal problems lately, but his career and his songs speak for themselves. I’ll leave it at that.
Dottie West: Her debut single “Here Comes My Baby” went to No. 1 and won her a Grammy, the first ever by a female country artist. She became an early glamour girl of country. Her duets with Kenny Rogers remain song favorites. A car wreck cut short her life.
What are your thoughts about these artists? Who else would you like to see considered for induction?
Chet Flippo is Editorial Director for CMT/CMT.com. This NASHVILLE SKYLINE column first appeared on CMT.com.