RIP Chet Flippo, Pioneer Music Journalist

Friday, 21 June 2013 06:27 AM Written by 

Chet Flippo is a name associated with the earlier, in my opinion, classic days of Rolling Stone where he worked from 1970 until 1980 writing about rock, country and other cultural topics. After working as Billboard's Nashville editor from 1995 to 2000, he spent the past 13 years as editor of CMT's website, where he wrote the weekly "Nashville Skyline" column.  Flippo died in Nashville Wednesday morning at age 69 after a fall.

A Fort Worth, Texas native, he was both a first-rate rock journalist and one of the first serious, substantive country journalists. He did groundbreaking interviews with people like Chet Atkins and Les Paul when few pursued instrumentalists as serious interview topics. His RS interview with John Denver, considered a fluff act by many, was anything but fluff.

Stories like his warts-and-all coverage of the 1971 recording sessions for the original Will The Circle Be Unbroken album stand as great moments in music journalism. The album, now considered a landmark, united the long-haired country-inspired band with earlier generations of country icons including Roy Acuff, Maybelle Carter, Doc Watson, Jimmy Martin, Earl Scruggs and Merle Travis.

Flippo captured the underlying generational tension between stiff, cultural conservative Acuff and the Nitty Gritty folks (note--it went both ways). He covered country's Outlaw movement when it was just taking shape and very few were sure what the hell it all meant.  A good example: this 1973 profile of Waylon Jennings.

At CMT. com, Flippo was able to navigate the soft-core, less critical coverage of acts Music Row expects (and doesn't often deserve), yet he retained and expressed his independent, outspoken views, pro and con, in his weekly "Nashville Skyline" column.

Flippo's wife, journalist Martha Hume died in December. Friends say he never really got over her passing.


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