Modern Era: Alan Jackson (1958-)
Two years ago Alan Jackson spent a year celebrating a quarter century in music, complete with a commemorative exhibit detailing his career at the Country Music Hall of Fame. Now, he’s the modern-era 2017 inductee, still standing by his belief in traditional country. Jackson became one of the ten all-time top selling country singers, with sales of over 60 million albums and a slew of awards (including two Grammys). His decision to stay traditional has certainly paid off. He writes his own songs, largely without any co-writer.
This 2015 blog entry adds much more about Jackson with representative clips.
Veteran Era: Jerry Reed (1937-2008)
Jerry Reed made his mark in four areas: as an innovative guitarist, a talented songwriter, enormously successful recording artist and actor. Born Jerry Reed Hubbard in Atlanta, his family plagued by poverty and divorce, he began playing guitar when he was seven. The fingerstyle guitarists Merle Travis and Chet Atkins were his first role models. He played country on Atlanta radio shows in the 50’s and gravitated to early rock and roll, becoming “Jerry Reed” when he began making records in 1954.
His own records didn’t sell well but Nashville singers began recording some of his vocal tunes. He built on the Travis and Atkins picking styles, which used thumb and one or two right hand fingers by developing a style that incorporated all the fingers of the right hand, giving it a piano-like feel. In the 60’s he started working as a Nashville studio guitarist and Chet Atkins, by then RCA Nashville’s head producer, began recording Reed’s instrumentals on his own records. He signed Reed to RCA in 1965 as a vocalist and guitarist, and his original songs and hyper-macho vocal style caught on.
He wrote the rocking “Guitar Man” for himself, and Elvis Presley later covered both it and Reed’s cocky “U.S. Male” (with Reed playing guitar on the sessions). He became a pioneer of country rap with his biggest hit vocal singles: the originals “Amos Moses” (1970), “When You’re Hot, You’re Hot” (1971) and “She Got the Goldmine (I Got the Shaft)” (1982). Reed’s best known movie role was Cledus “Snowman” Snow in the Smokey and the Bandit comedies.
1965: “Guitar Man” from a Nashville TV appearance (he’s introduced by Jim Ed Brown.
1970: “Amos Moses”
1971 “When You’re Hot, You’re Hot”
1975: “Jerry’s Breakdown” with Chet Atkins
Songwriter: Don Schlitz (1952-)
Schlitz became known as a master Nashville songsmith known for his solo compositions and tunes he co-wrote with others. By far, the best known was “The Gambler,” a 1978 hit single for Kenny Rogers, who made it a standard. Schlitz also co-wrote the hit “Forever And Ever, Amen” for Randy Travis with Paul Overstreet. The pair also co-wrote Keith Whitley’s 1988 hit “When You Say Nothing At All.”
1978 “The Gambler” Kenny Rogers (the original single and video)
1987 “Forever and Ever, Amen” sung by the composer
1988: “When You Say Nothing At All.” Whitley’s hit single