Hall of famer Ken Nelson dies, signed Haggard, Owens
Tuesday, January 8, 2008
– Country Music Hall of Fame member Ken Nelson, who helped develop the West Coast and Bakersfield Sound by producing Buck Owens and Merle Haggard, died Sunday at his home in Somis, Cal. at 96. Nelson was a key figure at Capitol Records, particularly in the 1950's and 1960's and also signed Hank Thompson and Wanda Jackson.
Nelson was born in Caledonia, Minn. Jan. 19, 1911. His family moved to Chicago when he was a young boy. At 12, he became a stockboy at the Melrose Music Co. in Chicago for five years and was an announcer at several Chicago radio stations.
Nelson worked at WJJD as music director and was chief announcer of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. He also was put in charge of his radio stations's "Suppertime Frolic" show, a competitor to the National Barn Dance show. The job involved finding and booking acts to play at the station, leading Nelson to become aware of the best country acts.
Nelson moved to Hollywood to work for Capitol in 1946. In December 1951, he produced Thompson's huge hit "The Wild Side of Life." He signed many acts including Ferlin Husky, Tommy Collins, Wynn Stewart, Jean Shepard, Jerry Reed and Jackson.
In 1957, Nelson worked in rock, signing Gene Vincent to Capitol, although he continued working in country. He produced the Louvin Brothers's "Satan Is Real" disc.
He also signed his one-time session guitarist Buck Owens and later Haggard in 1962. Nelson produced Haggard for many years, even after he left as head of country production for Nashville. He retired in 1976.
Nelson was a founding member of the Country Music Association, serving two terms as president. At the age of 90, Nelson was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2001.
Editorial: Walking the talk
When names like Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Waylon and the Hag are invoked, you're talking hard core country. These are the touchstones of country , the guys who made country music what it was and still is (or maybe can be). When these folks would sing about being down-and-out and the rough-and-tumble, they knew of what they were singing about. Fast forward a few years to the country singers of today. »»»
Concert Review: Lambert refuses to rest on laurels
Watching this stop on Miranda Lambert's "Livin' Like Hippies Tour," one is struck by just how many great songs the country singer/songwriter already has in her repertoire. With most artists, it's relatively easy to guess which song a performer will choose to close a show. But Lambert has so many winners to pick from, many... »»»
Concert Review: DBT rocks on
Drive-By Truckers still sometimes get miscategorized as alt.-country, but who's kidding whom? With three electric guitarists upfront exchanging hard rock licks all night, this is a blistering Southern rock band.
Hitting the stage just before 10, the band played a satisfying 2-hour-plus set. At 11:40, Patterson Hood announced the band would be... »»»
Follow Country Standard Time
Elsewhere in the news
Currently at the CST blogs
Dan Tyminski (known simply as "Tyminski" on his 2017 release "Southern Gothic") has traditional music roots and unassailable bluegrass street cred especially given his membership in Alison Krauss' Union Station. He is also a powerful songwriter and has been writing songs for himself and others for years now.... »»»
Bela Fleck and Abigail Washburn have powerhouse individual talents; each has followed an estimable career path to where they find themselves today: making complex, but spare, records, writing music together and touring with their son Juno. Their new release, "Echoes In The Valley" features mostly songs written by Fleck and Washburn, banjos, Washburn's strong vocals and very little else.... »»»
Legends don't come any more legendary than Chris Hillman. The roll call of bands that comprises Hillman's half century in music reads like a wing exhibit at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame; Byrds, Flying Burrito Brothers, Manassas, the Souther Hillman Furay Band, the Desert Rose Band,... »»»