Remembering Country Music Losses of 2005

Deaths Include Several Significant Songwriters and Musicians

Bluegrass dynamo Jimmy Martin, legendary fiddler Vassar Clements, Grammy-winner Sammi Smith, showstopper Big Al Downing and Nashville Songwriters Hall of Famer Ben Peters were among the legion of country music figures who passed away in 2005. Other notable losses included rodeo champ Chris LeDoux, music pioneers Jerry Byrd and Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown and one of the most beloved members of the Nashville music community — songwriter and artist manager Merle Kilgore.

Here is the full list compiled from obituaries.

Hasil Adkins, 68, rockabilly singer. Circa April 26 in Madison, W.Va.

Charles Bradley, 77, recording engineer and brother of Music Row pioneers Owen and Harold Bradley. July 30 in Nashville.

Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown, 81, musician and bandleader. Sept. 10 in Orange, Texas, of complications from cancer and emphysema.

Danny Joe Brown, 53, lead vocalist of Molly Hatchet. March 10 in Davie, Fla., of complications from diabetes.

Jerry Byrd, 85, steel guitar pioneer. April 11 in Honolulu of Parkinson’s disease.

Robert Byrne, 51, songwriter whose hits included “I Can’t Win for Losing You.” June 27 in Nashville.

Terry Carisse, 62, Canadian country music star. May 22 in Ottawa of cancer.

Joe Carter, 78, son of A.P. and Sara Carter of the original Carter Family. March 2 of pancreatic cancer.

Floyd “Lightnin'” Chance, 79, Nashville session bassist and former Grand Ole Opry staff musician. April 11 in Nashville of cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.

Vassar Clements, 77, legendary fiddler who first gained national fame working with the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band on the original Will the Circle Be Unbroken album. Aug. 16 in Nashville of lung cancer.

Sonny Day, 80, original member of Roy Acuff’s Smoky Mountain Boys. Feb. 6 in Nashville of cancer.

Big Al Downing, 65, songwriter and recording artist. July 4 in Worcester, Mass., of leukemia.

Jimmy Griffin, 61, songwriter, founding member of Bread and the Remingtons. Jan. 11 in Franklin, Tenn., of cancer.

John Herald, 65, founding member of the Greenbriar Boys. Circa July 18 in West Hurley, N.Y.

Goldie Hill, 77, singer, wife of Carl Smith and sister of fiddler Tommy Hill. Feb. 24 in Nashville of cancer.

Saul Israel Holiff, 80, former manager of Johnny Cash. March 17 in Nanaimo, British Columbia.

Frank Jones, 76, producer and former record label executive. Feb. 3 in Nashville.

Merle Kilgore, 70, songwriter, recording artist and longtime manager of Hank Williams Jr. Feb. 6 in Mexico of congestive heart failure.

Larry Kingston, 63, songwriter whose hits included “Pittsburgh Stealers” and “Thank God and Greyhound.” Feb. 20 in Nashville of a heart attack.

Keith Knudsen, 56, former member of the Doobie Brothers and Southern Pacific. Feb. 8 in San Francisco of pneumonia.

Chris LeDoux, 56, recording artist, songwriter and former rodeo star. March 9 in Casper, Wyo., of liver ailments.

Vivian Liberto, 71, first wife of Johnny Cash and mother of Rosanne Cash. May 24 in California of cancer.

Jimmy Martin, 77, singer, guitarist, songwriter and self-proclaimed “King of Bluegrass.” May 14 in Nashville of cancer.

Monty Matthews, 77, founding member of the Jordanaires. April 5 in Missouri.

Howard Morris, 85, actor who played Ernest T. Bass on The Andy Griffith Show. May 21 in Hollywood.

Vanda deVere Perkins, 74, widow of Carl Perkins. Nov. 15 in Jackson, Tenn.

Wayne Perry, 55, songwriter whose credits include “Not a Moment Too Soon.” May 15 in Hamilton, Ohio.

Ben Peters, 71, member of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame whose hits included “Kiss an Angel Good Morning.” May 25 in Nashville of pneumonia.

Don Pierce, 89, former owner of Starday Records. April 3 in Nashville of a heart attack.

Hal Rugg, 69, steel guitarist. Aug. 9 in Tucson, Ariz., of lung cancer.

Roger Schutt, 73 or 74, former Nashville disc jockey known as Captain Midnight. Feb. 8 in Nashville.

Eddie Shuler, 92, producer and record label founder. July 20 in Atlanta.

Sammi Smith, 61, singer who won a Grammy for her recording of “Help Me Make It Through the Night.” Feb. 12 in Oklahoma City.

Art Stamper, 71 or 72, bluegrass fiddler. Jan. 23 in Louisville, Ky., of throat cancer.

Rufus Thibodeaux, 71, Cajun fiddler. Aug. 12 in Nashville.

Leslie Floyd Wilburn, 79, musician, music publisher and older brother of Teddy and Doyle, the Wilburn Brothers. Jan. 15 in Brentwood, Tenn.

Edward Morris is a veteran of country music journalism. He lives in Nashville, Tennessee, and is a frequent contributor to