Ricky Skaggs, the late Dottie West and instrumentalist Johnny Gimble have been elected the newest inductees into the Country Music Hall of Fame.
The Country Music Association hosted Tuesday’s (March 27) announcement with Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood at the Hall of Fame Rotunda. The formal induction will take place later this year during an invitation-only Medallion Ceremony at the CMA Theater.
Skaggs will be inducted in the modern era artist category, West will be inducted posthumously in the veterans era artist category and Gimble will be inducted posthumously in the recording and/or touring musician category.
Skaggs, West and Gimble will increase membership in the Country Music Hall of Fame from 133 to 136 members.
Born July 18, 1954, in Cordell, Kentucky, Skaggs is an eight-time CMA award winner with 15 Grammy wins who picked up his first mandolin at the age of five. By age 10, he had already shared the stage with bluegrass legends, Flatt & Scruggs. In the ‘70s he played with Emmylou Harris, and eventually met Keith Whitley, forming a lifelong friendship between the two artists. Skaggs’ third single “Cryin’ My Heart Out Over You” led to his first CMA win in 1982 for male vocalist of the year, and a few years later, he won the organization’s highly coveted entertainer of the year award. Brooks called Skaggs’ performances, “truly magical,” saying, “chart numbers do not do this man justice.” When it was Skaggs’ turn to speak, he thanked his father for raising him to be the artist he is today. “I just walked by a huge picture of Jimmie Rodgers and thought, ‘This is really big,’” Skaggs said. “My dad’s favorite singer was Jimmie Rodgers he couldn’t yodel for nothing. I think the joy that I have in my music comes through him. I never knew anyone who loved music more than my dad. He recorded everything I ever did.”
Born Oct. 11, 1932 in McMinnville, Tenn., West began playing guitar in high school and by 1959, she landed her first record contract. That same year, Jim Reeves recorded her original “Is This Me.” Their hit duet “Love is No Excuse” followed in 1964. That same year, she became the first solo country female artist to win a Grammy for “Here Comes My Baby,” launching a run of hits including “Country Girl” and “Country Sunshine,” which were featured in advertising for Coca-Cola. In 1976, while she was finishing a recording session, she first met Kenny Rogers, a friendship that led to new career highs for the artist. A run hit duets with Rogers including “All I Ever Need Is You” and “What Are We Doin’ in Love” led to CMA wins for vocal duo of the year in 1978 and 1979. In 1991, she was involved in a car accident and succumbed to her injuries at age 58. Her son Kerry West and longtime friend Jeenie Sealy each spoke on West’s behalf. “The voice of Dottie West could pull you out of this world and pull you through all the heights and depths that life has to offer,” her son said. “Her path was never easy, but she had the strongest determination,” Sealy added. “She never wavered from the road no matter how tough it was. That road was supposed to lead to here.”
Born May 30, 1926, in Tyler, Texas, Gimble will be remembered as of the most revered and awarded fiddlers in the history of country music. He began playing the fiddle when he was 10 and, by the time he was 12, was performing with his brothers in a band called the Rose City Swingsters. Although it occupied only two years of his career — 1949-1951 — Gimble acknowledged that he would always be known for having been a member of Bob Wills’ Texas Playboys western swing band, in which he played fiddle and electric mandolin. Gimble portrayed Wills in Clint Eastwood’s 1982 film, Honkytonk Man. The movie also yielded Gimble two chart singles, “One Fiddle, Two Fiddle” and “San Antonio Rose,” both of which he shared with Ray Price. He also played and acted in Willie Nelson’s 1980 movie, Honeysuckle Rose and was a member of Nelson’s touring band from 1979 to 1981. Gimble moved from Texas to Nashville in 1968, where he became a much-in-demand session musician as well as a regular on the TV series Hee Haw. He’s appeared on several recordings by Merle Haggard and George Strait. In his lifetime, he was nominated for 14 CMA awards and won five for instrumentalist of the year. His daughter Cindy was among the speakers at Tuesday’s announcement and delivered a few original quotes from her father about how he felt about music. “You could just feel the magic,” she said. “I don’t know if music ever did you that way but if somebody gets that big a kick out of my playing maybe it’s worthwhile to do. The magic, that’s what keeps you playing and that’s what never wears off.” Gimble passed in 2015 at the age of 88.