Country music felt a seismic shift this year as some of the people most intimately linked to the format took their final bow. Among these were the master vocal stylists George Jones and Ray Price and the less-heralded Tompall Glaser, who was instrumental in birthing the Outlaw movement that helped make superstars of Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson.
Few might recognize the name Charles Carr, but most would have heard of the shadowy figure at the wheel of the 1952 powder-blue Cadillac convertible who drove on as Hank Williams was drawing his last breaths in the back seat. This year, it was Carr’s turn to take that final ride.
Departing also were two pop stars who made significant forays into country music, back in the days when the division between pop and country was more porous — Patty Andrews (of the sweet-singing Andrew Sisters) and the inimitable Patti Page (of “Tennessee Waltz” fame).
CMT lost one of its own stalwarts, too, with the exit of editorial director Chet Flippo, a renowned journalist and music critic who wrote CMT.com’s long-running Nashville Skyline column.
Here is a more comprehensive list of our losses:
Patty Andrews, 94, last of the Andrew Sisters pop trio that also recorded with such country acts as Ernest Tubb and Red Foley, Jan. 30, in Los Angeles.
Leon Ashley, 77, who made history in 1967 with “Laura (What’s He Got That I Ain’t Got)” as the first country artist to have a No. 1 hit with a song he wrote, published and sang, Oct. 20, in Hendersonville, Tenn.
Bob Beckham, 86, music publisher and former recording artist, Nov. 11, in Hermitage, Tenn.
JJ Cale, 74, singer and songwriter whose work became hits for a wide range of other artists including Eric Clapton and Lynyrd Skynyrd, July 26, in La Jolla, Cal.
Charles Carr, 79, the Auburn University freshman who chauffeured Hank Williams on his last ride, July 1, in Montgomery, Ala.
Cowboy Jack Clement, 82, singer, songwriter, musician, record producer, film maker and member of the Country Music Hall of Fame, Aug. 8, in Nashville.
Chet Flippo, 69, rock journalist and author turned country music chronicler and commentator, June 19, in Nashville.
Jim Foglesong, 90, former record label executive and member of the Country Music Hall of Fame, July 9, in Nashville.
Tompall Glaser, 79, of the Glaser Brothers trio and a charter member of Nashville’s Outlaw movement, Aug. 13, in Nashville.
Chuck Goff Jr., 54, Toby Keith’s longtime bandleader, Feb. 27, in Noble, Okla.
Jack Greene, 83, former member of Ernest Tubb’s Texas Troubadours and Grand Ole Opry star whose 1966 signature hit was “There Goes My Everything,” May 14, in Nashville.
Sherman Halsey, 56, award-winning music video director and producer and son of legendary talent manager Jim Halsey, Oct. 29, in Nashville.
Sammy Johns, 66, singer and songwriter best known for writing and recording “Chevy Van,” Jan. 4, in Gastonia, N. C.
George Jones, 81, commonly conceded to be one of the greatest singers in the history of American music and a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame, April 26, in Nashville.
Claude King, 90, singer and songwriter most remembered for his 1962 hit “Wolverton Mountain,” March 7, in Shreveport, La.
Nelson Larkin, 70, producer, songwriter and music publisher, Nov. 18, in Brentwood, Tenn.
Betty Sue Lynn, 64, oldest daughter of Loretta Lynn, July 29, in Waverly, Tenn.
Johnny MacRae, 84, writer or co-writer of the hits “I’d Just Love to Lay You Down,” “You Lift Me Up to Heaven,” “Whiskey, If You Were a Woman” and “I’d Be Better Off in a Pine Box,” July 3, in Ashland City, Tenn.
Mindy McCready, 37, recording artist whose turbulent personal life sparked a spate of court conflicts and inevitable tabloid follow-ups, Feb. 17, in Heber Springs, Ark.
Lorene Mann, 76, songwriter and recording artist, May 24, in Madison, Tenn. She is credited with coining the phrase “It all begins with a song,” subsequently made famous as the motto of the Nashville Songwriters Association International.
Patti Page, 85, pop singer who had the original hit on “The Tennessee Waltz” in 1950, Jan. 1, in Encinitas, Cal.
Jody Payne, singer and guitarist and member of Willie Nelson’s band for 35 years, Aug. 10, in Stapleton, Ala.
Ray Price, 87, Country Music Hall of Fame member and one of country music’s prime hitmakers and bandleaders, Dec. 16, in Mount Pleasant, Texas.
Cal Smith, 81, former member of Ernest Tubb’s Texas Troubadours who hit big in the early 1970s as a solo recording artist with “The Lord Knows I’m Drinking,” “Country Bumpkin” and “It’s Time to Pay the Fiddler,” Oct. 10, in Branson, Mo.
Betsy Smittle, 60, Garth Brooks‘ half-sister and a longtime member of his band, Nov. 2, in Tulsa, Okla.
Gordon Stoker, 88, member of the world-famous Jordanaires vocal quartet and of the Country Music Hall of Fame, March 27, in Brentwood, Tenn.
Dan Toler, 64, guitar-playing mainstay in the Southern rock scene of the 1970s and ’80s, Feb. 25, in Sarasota, Fla.
B.B. Watson, 60, recording artist for BNA Records during the 1990s, Sept. 28, in Baytown, Texas.
Slim Whitman, 90, whose high-pitched yodeling style turned such pop standards as “Indian Love Call” and “Secret Love” into country hits during the early 1950s, June 19, in Orange Park, Fla.
John Wilkinson, 67, longtime rhythm guitarist in Elvis Presley‘s TCB Band, Jan. 11, in Springfield, Mo.