It was like a family reunion. Except everyone seemed to like each other.
Gayle, Ricky Skaggs, Mary Chapin Carpenter
and several other recording artists from CBS Records' 1975-95 glory days gathered at Nashville's Cellar One nightclub Saturday
evening (May 8) to party and renew old acquaintances.
There was no agenda, no performances, no awards and no announcements
-- just unhurried drinking, dining and schmoozing.
Roy Wunsch, who headed the legendary label's Nashville division
from 1988 to 1993, and Mary Ann McCready, a former marketing executive there, hosted the party.
To set the mood, they
had festooned the bar area with posters of album covers that featured the likes of Willie
Nelson, Merle Haggard, Charlie Daniels and
Larry Gatlin & the Gatlin Brothers. There was also a continuing slide show
of artists mingling with the label's staff members and other music industry figures.
The guest of honor was Walter
Yetnikoff, who was president and CEO of the CBS Records Group from 1975-1990. He was one of the last to exit the party, carrying
with him a gift sweatshirt the label had printed up for his 1982 visit to the Nashville office. It bore his picture and the
assertion "We Love Walter."
Early arrivals included Joe Stampley, who recorded both as a solo artist and as half the
Moe [Bandy] & Joe musical comedy act, and Janie Fricke, who, like Carpenter, is a
two-time winner of the Country Music Association's female vocalist of the year prize.
Other musical minglers included
Lynn Anderson, Bobby Bare, Charlie McCoy, Barbara
Fairchild (of "Teddy Bear Song" fame), Marshall Chapman and Sonny Lemaire and Marlon Hargis of Exile.
members of the Country Music Hall of Fame dropped in for the festivities: McCoy, former CMA executive director Jo Walker Meador,
former BMI chief Frances Preston and former MCA/Nashville and Capitol/Nashville helmsman, Jim Foglesong.
in the crowd were songwriter Don Schlitz; producers Norro Wilson, Doug Johnson and Blake Chancey (Carpenter's escort for the
evening); Bill Ivey, former chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts and former director of the Country Music Foundation;
and Rick Blackburn, who ran CBS/Nashville before Wunsch assumed control.
Carpenter was also celebrating the debut of
her album, The Age of Miracles. Gayle and her husband, Bill Gatzimos, confessed they had to miss their grandson Elijah's
softball game to attend the party. But they appeared reconciled to the loss. Gayle is currently screening songs for an album
she will produce.