Vince Gill, Mel Tillis and Ralph Emery have been selected for induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame. The announcement was made Tuesday morning (Aug. 7) during a press conference at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville.
The 50-year-old Gill, who first gained a following in country-rock circles as a member of Pure Prairie League, launched his solo career in the mid ’80s and has been a prime figure in mainstream country music since the release of his 1990 single, “When I Call Your Name.” He has sold more than 22 million albums and earned 18 CMA Awards and 18 Grammys, in addition to hosting the CMA Awards Show for 12 consecutive years. The Norman, Okla., native was elected to the Hall of Fame in a category for artists who achieved national prominence from 1975 to the present.
Tillis, who celebrates his 75th birthday on Wednesday (Aug. 8), has written some of the most memorable hits in the history of country music, including Bobby Bare’s “Detroit City,” Webb Pierce’s “I Aint Never” and Kenny Rogers & the First Edition’s “Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love to Town.” His songs have been recorded by Patsy Cline, Ray Price, Brenda Lee, Tom Jones and many others. As a recording artist since the late ’59s, he recorded numerous Top 10 singles, including six No. 1 hits. After appearing in movies such as Clint Eastwood’s Every Which Way but Loose, Tillis became a frequent guest on television variety and talk shows during the ’70s. Born in Tampa, Fla., Tillis is being inducted into the Hall of Fame in a category designated for performers whose careers achieved national prominence from World War II until 1975.
Veteran radio and television personality Ralph Emery, 74, is being inducted in the nonperformer category. A native of McEwen, Tenn., he worked at several radio stations before becoming the late-night disc jockey at Nashville radio station WSM-AM in 1957. With the station’s 50,000-watt clear-channel broadcasting signal covering much of the U.S., Emery became one of the most influential country radio personalities of the ’50s and ’60s. He appeared as himself in three country music movies during the ’60s and hosted a nationally-syndicated TV series, Pop! Goes the Country, during the ’70s. In 1982, Emery began hosting Nashville Now, a nightly interview and performance show airing on The Nashville Network (TNN). He was inducted into the Country Music DJ and Radio Hall of Fame in 1989.
Gill, Tillis and Emery will be officially inducted into the Hall of Fame in October during an invitation-only ceremony at the Hall of Fame and Museum and are expected to be acknowledged during the 41st annual CMA Awards show at Nashville’s Sommet Center on Nov. 7.