Rosanne Cash, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Dierks Bentley and Bobby Bare were among the friends and family who gathered Monday afternoon (Oct. 14) at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville to celebrate the life of CMT editorial director Chet Flippo.
Flippo, who first gained recognition during the early 1970s as a writer and editor for Rolling Stone magazine, died June 19 at age 69.
Cash hosted the event at the museum’s Ford Theater.
“Celebrity didn’t impress Chet, but great artists did,” she said. “And regardless of whether it was a superstar or a new, unsigned artist, he was an unwavering supporter of great music. For Chet, truly great music was the only kind truly worth hearing.”
Among the speakers were Flippo’s longtime friends Bill Carter and Paula Batson and his younger brother, Ernie Flippo. Rolling Stone founder Jann Wenner and editor Paul Scanlon provided video messages pointing to Flippo’s role as a country music advocate who was responsible for the magazine’s first cover stories on Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson and Tanya Tucker, among others.
Peter Cooper, music writer for The Tennessean newspaper in Nashville, read an excerpt from the “Fishing With Bobby Bare” chapter in Flippo’s book Everybody Was Kung-Fu Dancing: Chronicles of the Lionized and the Notorious and then introduced Bare, who spoke of his deep friendship with Flippo.
Nitty Gritty Dirt Band singer-guitarist Jeff Hanna explained how Flippo’s Rolling Stone story about the sessions for the group’s 1971 album, Will the Circle Be Unbroken, boosted their career and introduced a younger audience to the music of legends such as Mother Maybelle Carter, Roy Acuff, Earl Scruggs, Doc Watson and Jimmy Martin.
The Dirt Band performed “Keep on the Sunny Side,” while Cash sang a moving version of “The World Unseen,” dedicating the song inspired by her father, Johnny Cash, to Flippo’s memory. Bentley performed “50 Miles,” a traditional song Flippo’s family had often sung.
To close the service, Bare, Cash, Bentley and singer-songwriter Matraca Berg joined the Dirt Band to perform “Will the Circle Be Unbroken.”