It looked as if all of Music Row had adjourned to attend Tuesday’s (Jan. 17) celebration for Joe Nichols’ latest No. 1 single, “Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off.” Held in the cavernous lobby of BMI’s Nashville headquarters, the party spotlighted the song’s writers, John Wiggins and Gary Hannan.
In keeping with the tequila motif, there was a lavish Mexican-themed buffet and a torrent of Patron margaritas.
“There’s a lot of people here,” observed BMI’s Perry Howard, who served as master of ceremonies. “I never thought we’d run out of room in this building.” Howard pointed out the song was the product of four independent publishers (Chobe Music, Fiddlestock Music, Heavy Leather Music and Notewrite Music) and two songwriters who had never charted a single before this one.
Wiggins, who with his sister Audrey recorded for Mercury Records in the 1990s, has been affiliated with BMI for 15 years, Howard said.
“It’s always good to see this many friends and relations,” Wiggins told the crowd. He thanked the song’s producer, Buddy Cannon, for his wizardry in the recording studio, noting, “Magic makes hits, guys.” Wiggins then offered a good-natured warning: “If you’re drinking Patron, be careful — and drive on the left.”
Hannan told the partygoers they might have some difficulty understanding his South African accent. “I always made a promise to myself,” he continued, “that if I ever got up onstage to accept an award like this, I’d thank the young man who always encouraged my songwriting.” That man, he said, was the late Miller Harris, a Nashville music publisher who died in 1999. Hannan also paid tribute to his father, who was in the audience.
“Once in a while,” Nichols said when it came his turn to speak, “you get a song that comes along, and you say, ‘What the hell is that?’” He, too, expressed gratitude to Cannon, remarking, “I’m glad you let me cut this and not Kenny Chesney.” (Cannon is also Chesney’s producer.)
Tony Brown, senior partner of Nichols’ label, Universal South Records, was likewise in a whimsical mood. He joked that the two best things about show business were No. 1 parties and being able to wear “shades” at night. “Mel Tillis is here tonight,” he added. “That means this is officially a cool place to be.”
Besides Tillis, other familiar faces in the crowd were songwriters Wynn Varble, Frank Myers, Harley Allen, Will Rambeaux and Larry Henley and Universal South’s other senior partner, Tim DuBois.