Ronnie Milsap, songwriter Hank Cochran and singer, musician and businessman Mac Wiseman are the 2014 inductees into the Country Music Hall of Fame.
The announcement was made Tuesday morning (April 22) at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville.
Milsap, whose collection of 35 No. 1 singles made him one of the major country hitmakers of the '70s and '80s, was named for induction in the modern era artist category. The North Carolina native's many hits include "It Was Almost Like a Song," "Smoky Mountain Rain," "No Gettin' Over Me," "Any Day Now" and "(I'd Be) A Legend in My Time." At age 71, he released his latest album, Summer Number Seventeen, in March.
Cochran, whose songwriting credits include Eddy Arnold's "Make the World Go Away," George Strait's "The Chair," Vern Gosdin's "Set 'Em Up Joe" and Patsy Cline's "I Fall to Pieces" and "He's Got You," will be inducted in the songwriter category. A Mississippi native, Cochran died in 2010 at age 74.
The 88-year-old Wiseman, selected in the veterans era artist category, was a noted bluegrass vocalist and musician whose career included stints with Bill Monroe and Flatt & Scruggs. He also served as an executive at Dot Records during the late '50s and early '60s and was the founding secretary of the Country Music Association. A native of Virginia, his clear tenor voice was heard on hits such as "Shackles and Chains," "Jimmy Brown the Newsboy" and "Love Letters in the Sand."
The three will be officially inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame during the annual medallion ceremony later this year in Nashville.
With no less than 35 singles topping Billboard's country chart, Milsap's blend of country and pop made him one of the country's top stars of the '70s and '80s.
Born Jan. 16, 1943, in Robbinsville, N.C., Ronnie Lee Milsap was raised by his father and grandparents following his parents' divorce. Born blind from congenital glaucoma, he began attending the Governor Moorhead School for the Blind in Raleigh, N.C., at age 5. When he was 7, his instructors noticed his extraordinary musical talents, and he began to study classical music formally and mastered the violin, piano, guitar and other instruments. While in school, he formed a rock band, the Apparitions, and later studied pre-law at a college in Atlanta.
Milsap enjoyed minor chart success with the R&B-influenced single "Never Had It So Good" in 1965 and moved to Memphis in 1968 to become a session musician. Working with producer Chips Moman, he recorded with Elvis Presley -- playing keyboards on "Kentucky Rain" and providing harmony vocals on "Don't Cry Daddy." Milsap also recorded for the Warner Bros and Reprise labels in 1971 and 1972.
In 1972, future Country Music Hall of Fame member Charley Pride caught Milsap's performance at a nightclub and encouraged him to focus on country music. He moved to Nashville and signed to RCA Records in 1973. After releasing two singles on RCA, he scored his first No. 1 in 1974 with "Pure Love" and continued his string of hits in the '70s with classics such as "Daydreams About Night Things," "What Goes On When the Sun Goes Down," "(I'm a) Stand by My Woman Man" and "What a Difference You Made in My Life," among others. The chart-topping singles kept coming in the '80s with tracks such as "(There's) No Getting' Over Me," "I Wouldn't Have Missed It for the World," "Stranger in My House," "Lost in the Fifties Tonight (In the Still of the Night)" and others.
Still recording and touring, Milsap has sold more than 35 million albums.
The late Hank Cochran is one of Nashville's legendary songwriters whose songs were recorded Eddy Arnold, Patsy Cline, George Jones and George Strait, among many others.
Born Aug. 2, 1935, in Isola, Miss., Cochran moved to Nashville in 1959 and emerged as one of country music's most popular songwriters of the 1960s, earning cuts with Arnold's "Make the World Go Away" and "I Want to Go With You," Cline's "She's Got You" and "I Fall to Pieces," Jones' "You Comb Her Hair," Johnny Paycheck's "A-11," Ray Price's "A Way to Survive" and "Don't You Ever Get Tired of Hurting Me," Jim Reeves' "I'd Fight the World" and Ernest Tubb's "Through That Door." Cochran and longtime friend Willie Nelson also co-wrote "Undo the Right," a Top 10 hit in 1968 for Johnny Bush.
Cochran notched three Top 30 hits as a solo artist in the early 1960s with "Sally Was a Good Old Girl," "I'd Fight the World" and "A Good Country Song." Meanwhile, his compositions led to Grammy awards for Burl Ives' "Funny Way of Laughin'" in 1962 and Jeannie Seely's "Don't Touch Me" in 1966. He and Seely were married from 1969 to 1979.
In the 1970s, his notable cuts included Merle Haggard's "It's Not Love (But It's Not Bad)" and Loretta Lynn's "Why Can't He Be You," a remake from Cline's catalog. Cochran also released duets with Haggard in 1978 and Nelson in 1980, though none of the recordings cracked the Top 40. He was elected to the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1974.
In the mid-1980s, he enjoyed success with Strait's "The Chair" (which Cochran co-wrote with Dean Dillon) and "Ocean Front Property" (co-written by Cochran, Dillon and Royce Porter). Another Cochran-Dillon-Porter collaboration, "Miami, My Amy," was Keith Whitley's first Top 20 country hit, released in 1985.
Cochran often co-wrote with traditional singer Vern Gosdin in the 1980s, and the partnership was rewarded with hits like "Set 'Em Up Joe," "Who You Gonna Blame It On This Time," "Right in the Wrong Direction," "This Ain't My First Rodeo" and "Is It Raining at Your House." Other hit singles from that era include Mickey Gilley's "That's All That Matters" and Ronnie Milsap's rendition of "Don't You Ever Get Tired of Hurting Me."
Cocharan died in 2010 of pancreatic cancer.
In 2012, Jamey Johnson spearheaded Livin' for a Song: A Tribute to Hank Cochran, a tribute album featuring Merle Haggard, Ray Price, Vince Gill, Alison Krauss, Emmylou Harris, Elvis Costello and others.
Malcolm B. "Mac" Wiseman was born May 23, 1925, in Crimora, Va. As an infant, he contracted polio and spent much of his childhood indoors listening to old records on the family's phonograph. His mother would transcribe the lyrics from songs she heard on the radio into composition books for her young son.
When it became apparent that the damage to his leg from polio would prevent him from getting a traditional job, he decided to pursue a career in music. He attended the Shenandoah Conservatory of Music in Virginia with help from the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis, which would later become the March of Dimes. At the school, Wiseman excelled in a radio course and accepted a job offer from WSVA in Harrisonburg, Va., where he read the news and farm reports and played country records.
In 1946, Wiseman joined Molly O'Day's band, where he developed a love of classic country.
In 1948, he joined Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs as a member of their Foggy Mountain Boys, singing high harmonies and booking the band's first concert dates. In 1949, he joined Bill Monroe's Bluegrass Boys where he played the Grand Ole Opry for the first time. He also recorded the classics "Traveling This Lonesome Road" and "Can't You Hear Me Callin'" with Monroe. He left the band in 1949 for a solo career.
Wiseman soon attracted the attention of the independent label Dot Records and was offered a recording contract. In 1951, Dot released Wiseman's first single, "Tis Sweet to Be Remembered," which became a career-making song and earned him the nickname the "voice with a heart." Wiseman went on to record other classics, including "Ballad of Davy Crockett."
His move to the business the side came in 1957 when he was hired to head Dot Records' country division. In 1958, Wiseman was instrumental in the founding of the Country Music Association, becoming the organization's first secretary-treasurer.
Wiseman toured extensively on the folk festival circuit and college campuses in the '60s, also opening Johnny Cash's concert at New York's Carnegie Hall in 1962. From 1966 to 1971, he served as the program producer and talent director for the WWVA Wheeling Jamboree in Wheeling, W.Va.
In 2007, he and John Prine recorded a duet album, Standard Songs for Average People. More recently, Wiseman has released his music on his own Wise Records, including The Mac Wiseman Story (a six-CD boxed set of songs he recorded in the '70s) and Mac Wiseman -- An American Treasure (a DVD). He has also completed an album with Merle Haggard, Vince Gill and the Isaacs that will be released later this year.