Sign up for newsletter

Country Hall inducts Bare, Clements, Rogers

Monday, October 28, 2013 – Two country vocalists known for interpretations of story songs joined a free-spirited maverick as the newest inductees into the Country Music Hall of Fame during a star-studded, emotional Medallion Ceremony on Sunday.

Bobby Bare, Kenny Rogers and the late Jack Clement - who died on Aug. 8, four months after learning of his election into the Hall of Fame - were feted with testimonials and performances of songs they made famous

In his opening comments, museum director Kyle Young pointed out that all three inductees were born during the Great Depression, when commercial music first was gaining a foothold in America. "They were present for the birth of rock & roll, the sixties folk revival, the ascent of hard country and the rise of sophisticated pop country," Young said. "Each made significant contributions to one or more of these trends."

The Medallion Ceremony represents the official induction of new Hall of Fame members. After a red-carpet arrival before more than 1,000 fans, the ceremony moved inside the newly expanded Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.

Hall of Famers in attendance were Bobby Braddock, Harold Bradley, Garth Brooks, Ralph Emery, Jimmy Fortune of the Statler Brothers, Tom T. Hall, Emmylou Harris, Sonny James, Kris Kristofferson, Brenda Lee, Barbara Mandrell, Charlie McCoy, Charley Pride, Connie Smith, Mel Tillis, Jo Walker-Meador, E.W. "Bud" Wendell and Ray Walker and Curtis Young of the Jordanaires.

The ceremony kicked off with a gospel song. Connie Smith, a 2012 Country Music Hall of Fame inductee, performed Hank Williams' (When I Get to Glory) Sing, Sing, Sing. Smith was backed by the Medallion All-Star Band, led by keyboardist John Hobbs, drummer Eddie Bayers, electric guitarist J.T. Corenflos, harmony vocalists Thom Flora and Tania Hancheroff, pedal steel guitarist Mike Johnson, bassist Michael Rhodes, fiddle and mandolinist Deanie Richardson and acoustic guitarist Biff Watson.

Young also acknowledged the passing of Hall of Fame members Jim Foglesong, George Jones and Gordon Stoker. "Country music lost three of its most beloved figures and greatest architects," Young said, before asking for a moment of silence in their honor.

Young traced Clements' career path with stops in Washington, D.C, Memphis, Texas and Nashville. He noted that Clement "was a key activist in the cultural revolution that still orbits the world as rock & roll" while working as an engineer and producer at Sun Records.

Performers for the Medallion Ceremony are kept secret until they walked on stage. John Prine kicked things off, performing a solo rendition of Ballad of a Teenage Queen, a Clement song that became Johnny Cash's third number one hit when it spent 10 weeks at the top of the country charts in 1958.

Prine recalled first meeting Clement in 1977, and he became a regular at Clement's Cowboy Arms Hotel & Recording Spa over the years. "No matter how I was feeling when I went in there, I always walked out feeling like I was nine years old," Prine said. "I felt like I was the kid at the candy store."

Others honoring Clement included Kris Kristofferson growling through Big River, another Cash hit, produced by Clement, who also contributed guitar. Marty Stuart & His Fabulous Superlatives presented three-part-harmony version of I Know One, a Clement composition that became a 1967 hit for Charley Pride. Clement financed Pride's first Nashville demos and was instrumental in getting him signed to RCA Records and launching his career. Clement went on to produce 13 albums for Pride.

Stuart also talked of his first visit to Clement's studio - "one of the most musical places in the world," Stuart said. When Stuart opened the door, he found himself staring at Clement and Johnny Cash, both of whom would end up hiring him and greatly boosting his career.

"John was sitting there, it looked like his suitcase had exploded, and his glasses were on crooked, and he was twitching and sweating and singing The Wabash Cannonball," Stuart said. "Cowboy was dancing with a martini on his head. I said, 'I have found my crowd.' And Cowboy never missed a lick. He just waltzed by me and handed me a mandolin. He saw something in me, and I appreciated him."

Emmylou Harris then brought out guitarists Rodney Crowell and Buddy Miller to join her in performing When I Dream, a Sandy Mason song that Clement recorded for his 1978 debut solo album, "All I Want to Do in Life." "Jack was such a treasure," said Harris. "He meant so much to all of us."

Pride, a member of the 2000 class of the Hall of Fame, inducted his mentor and friend. "I can say this for all of us: I wish Jack was here," Pride began. "But my mother used to say to me, if I'm the shortest liver, don't you die because I die. You got too much to do. Don't go around with a chip on your shoulder. There are good people everywhere. My mother also believed the dead knew what the living was doing. I think Jack's watching right now."

Pride also addressed Clement's importance to his career. "First time I ever went into a recording studio, it was with Jack Clement," he said. "I came down on vacation, I met him. The second time, we cut seven songs he gave me to learn."

One was Just Between You and Me, which Clement wrote. The song was Pride's favorite of the bunch, but the producer didn't want the young singer to release that song as his first single because he didn't want anyone to think he was taking advantage of his protégé. But when Pride did finally release the song, it became his first Top 10 hit.

Pride also pointed out that, at the time of the recordings in 1966, Clement told him, "Charley, these songs we are recording, 50 years from now people are going to still be playing them."

Alison Clement, accepting her father's Hall of Fame medallion, talked of the difficulty of giving an acceptance speech for a man of a thousand personas. The answer, she said, came to her in dream in which her father sent her an interplanetary memo. He started by telling her he was right, there indeed was music in heaven.

"He was blessed with believing that what he was doing was fun and pleasing, and he achieved it," she said. "He was grateful for all of his pals who surrounded him, the artists and cast members who trusted him and took the road less traveled."

She ended by quoting her father's advice to all musical types: "If you're not having fun, you're not doing your job."

For Bare's induction, Young mentioned how the Ohio native overcame the early death of his mother and the Depression-era struggles of his farming father by focusing on music - his love for a great song. As Young pointed out, Bare's talents as a storyteller led his former manager, concert promoter Bill Graham, to describe Bare as "the Bruce Springsteen of country music."

The performances honoring the singer started with Rodney Crowell performing Detroit City, Bare's first big hit. Crowell received a career boost thanks to Bare's willingness to take chances on new material from promising young songwriters. Buddy Miller followed with a soulful take on That's How I Got to Memphis, one of many Tom T. Hall songs Bare cut over his career.

"There's something about Bobby Bare's voice, I just believed every word he was saying," Miller said. "You knew when you heard that voice, it was the epicenter of telling a story in a song."

Kristofferson came next, performing his own Come Sundown, another Bare hit. "Bobby Bare was more than just the greatest artist I ever knew," Kristofferson said. "He's one of the nicest - and that's not a dirty word - and one of the best human beings I've ever known."

John Anderson concluded the musical portion of Bare's induction with a spirited take on Marie Laveau, one of many Shel Silverstein songs Bare cut in his career. "I want to say that some of the very first very real country music shows I was ever on, Bobby Bare was the headliner," Anderson said. "I'll never forget just how nice he was to everybody on the show. I don't believe you've changed a bit. God bless you, brother."

Hall inducted Bare, recalling he met Bare 51 years ago, and the two became life-long friends. They also frequently toured together.

"Bare is allergic to Freon," Hall said. "That's the stuff you put in the air conditioner to make the air cold. Here's an example. Bare and I were driving through Mississippi in July, two cowboys in a brand new Cadillac with the windows rolled down. We got stopped about every 25 miles. They thought we were drug dealers."

Hall also said there were many more tales he could tell, noting he was now 77 and Bare was 78. "So, it's beginning to look like we're going to get away with it," Hall said to a burst of laughter from the audience.

The two old friends laughed together on stage before Bare removed his hat so Hall could carefully put the medallion around Bare's neck.

"This is a big, big deal," Bare said of his Hall of Fame honor. "This is as far as you can go and as high as you can go." He traced his career, thanking those who played a major role in his success, "because you can't make it without them."

After citing his list of thank yous, punctuated with heartfelt remembrances, Bare said, "It's a combination of all the very talented people I have come in contact with and learned from. I've been blessed. The Gods have smiled on me. I'm just a singer, it's all I am. But ain't I something?"

Honoring the night's third inductee, Young said, "A life of vigorous and diverse creativity has established Kenny Rogers as a major superstar who has made an indelible mark on popular culture at home and abroad." The museum director also noted Rogers's work as an actor, author, photographer and humanitarian while acknowledging that music was always central to his creativity.

Launching the musical celebration, Darius Rucker applied his baritone to Lucille, Rogers' first number one country hit.

Rucker described his childhood as a devoted "radio kid" who came to love Kenny Rogers songs. "Lucille was a song I wanted to hear every day of my life," he said.

Don Schlitz delivered The Gambler, a song he wrote that initiated his career as a top Nashville songwriter. "I was one of the post-Kristofferson generation of songwriters," Schlitz said. "We came to Nashville and wrote what was in our hearts, and maybe, maybe, maybe one of the great singers would sing one of our songs and the whole world would hear it. Kenny - and Bobby and chose to nurture the folks who came to town to pursue our dreams. You chose to find the best songs you could sing and do your best to make sure the whole world would hear them."

Schlitz noted that many of his fellow songwriters treasure a Kenny Rogers cut. "That's the generation you nurtured," Schlitz said. "That's the Nashville, the Music Row, the heart of country music that came from your heart. There is nothing more important that we could say than, 'Thank you.' When it is deserved, it can't be said often enough. On behalf of my fellow songwriters, thank you, thank you, thank you."

Barry Gibb of the Bee Gees, who co-wrote and produced the hit Islands in the Stream for Rogers and Dolly Parton, drew a thunderous reception when he came out to recreate the classic sing-along with duet partner Kelly Lang.

Rogers's songwriting talent was recognized when Alison Krauss emerged to sing Sweet Music Man, a song Krauss had produced in a version by Reba McEntire.

Before her gorgeous rendition, Krauss testified about how everyone in her life knows how much she loves Rogers' music. Her friends regularly send her photos of Rogers, she said, and she joked about how much time she spends seeking new photos of him on the internet. She also recalled the Christmas gift her son gave her when he was six. "He came back with Kenny Rogers' 'Love Songs'. He said it was easy to know what to buy."

Brooks inducted Rogers, saying, "In this business, anyone who comes before you is a God. Anyone who comes after you is a punk." Acknowledging that his career came after Rogers, yet he joined the Hall of Fame prior to him, he said, "This is so backward."

Brooks continued, talking of Rogers taking him on the road as an opening act early in his career, and how much his career gained from playing to such big audiences, and how much he learned watching Rogers entertain crowds night after night.

"If there was an entertainment university," Brooks said, "when it comes to Entertaining 101, I can vouch firsthand that Kenny Rogers can be the professor of that class."

Rogers, after accepting the Hall of Fame Medallion from Brooks, said, "This is a wonderful, wonderful thing. I do not take it for granted. It is the pinnacle of all my success, and I appreciate it more than you could ever know."

Rogers, too, traced his career, thanking those along the way who were crucial to his success. He started with his brother Leland Rogers, who believed in him and helped him get his first record deal. "There's an old saying that most people who are successful, are successful because someone they treasured believed in them, and they didn't want to disappoint them," Rogers said. "I think that's the way it was with my brother."

Rogers concluded by recognizing his family in attendance, noting, "This is such a joy to be able to give this to my kids. The one thing I've learned, if nothing else, is that music comes and goes. Songs come and go. Singers come and go. But the Hall of Fame is forever, baby."

The night ended, as always, with the Hall of Fame members and the evening's performers gathering on stage to sing Will the Circle Be Unbroken.

More news for Kenny Rogers

CD reviews for Kenny Rogers

You Can't Make Old Friends CD review - You Can't Make Old Friends
Kenny Rogers has aged well, perhaps because he was already prematurely grey back when he first entered the country music realm more years ago than he'd probably care to mention. He sings, with the help of old friend Dolly Parton, on this album's title track about how you can't make old friends. And disarmingly honest lines like, "Who's going to tell me the truth?" raise this song above being just another music buddy number. The only trouble with having Parton sing a »»»
The Love of God CD review - The Love of God
There seems to be a theme among country superstars. They work their way onto the scene, burn bright, hopefully keeping the flame alive for some time. Then as their career ebbs and flows and the hits stop coming as steadily as they used to, they find themselves sitting in a studio recording a gospel record. Granted, country and gospel have always been fine bedfellows, but it just seems to be a trend that signifies that one is nearing the end of their career. "The Gambler" himself, Kenny »»»
Water and Bridges CD review - Water and Bridges
Kenny Rogers' first studio album in three years finds his gifts undiminished, with his voice resounding distinctively atop Dann Huff's country-tinged adult contemporary productions. The material sticks to the sort of contemplative mid-tempo numbers on which Rogers excels, and though the opening single (the power ballad "I Can't Unlove You") is lyrically pedestrian, there are songwriting riches to be found throughout. Walt Wilkins and Davis Raines' "Someone Somewhere Tonight" hits a high point »»»
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: There's a lot to be said about The Felice Brothers – The Felice Brothers have soldiered on, occupying the fringes of the musical world with ups and downs. After not knowing whether the group would even continue following the departure of half of the band a few years ago, The Felice Brothers continued with a new rhythm section and a new album, "Undressed," that is heavily political.... »»»
Concert Review: Turner bring it on (to his second) home – Frank Turner opined during the first of four sold-out nights of the Lost Evenings Festival that Boston was his home away from his British home. The likable, accessible singer hit the sweet spot not only with his perspective, but his performance as well demonstrated why. Turner made a major change in this year's festival. For the first time, he... »»»
Follow Country Standard Time  Subscribe to Country News Digest  Follow Country Standard Time on twitter  Visit Country Standard Time on Facebook 

Elsewhere in the news

Currently at the CST blogs

Wilson goes her own way After having huge success at the get go with "Redneck Woman," Wilson eventually went her own way and took a break. During her "hiatus," Wilson started her own label and was a "120 percent mom" to her teenage daughter.... »»»
Carll tells it like it is A visit with Hayes Carll finds him taking a rare day off at home to discuss new album "What It Is" co-produced by Brad Jones and Carll's girlfriend, Allison Moorer. "This album works around three themes; our relationship (he and Moorer), the world and myself.... »»»
Watson gets "Lucky" Dale (The Real Deal) Watson has been releasing hard country albums since 1995 and shows no signs of slowing down on his most recent release, "Call Me Lucky." This record marks his third effort recorded in Memphis, at Sam Phillips Recording Studio, with Watson's regular touring band, The Lone Stars.... »»»
The Long Ryders return to action The Long Ryders have come a long way since they were initially associated with other Los Angeles relatively retro acts collected under the Paisley Underground umbrella. Even back during the mid to late '80s,... »»»
Taylor uncovers the past, offering new perspectives Suffice it to say that the past has always loomed large throughout Chip Taylor's career. That's all the more obvious if only for the fact that Taylor wrote some of the biggest pop hits of the '60s, "Wild Thing"... »»»
Tyminski goes dark 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.... »»»
Washburn, Fleck create "Echoes" 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.... »»»
Front Porch CD review - Front Porch
Joy Williams' "Front Porch" album is a beautiful collection of acoustic, country-folk music. The title cut, for instance, includes sweet fiddling, while the rest of the album takes an appreciated low-key approach to its instrumentation. »»»
Hellbent CD review - Hellbent
Randy Rogers makes a big, bold statement with his title track, but it's the smaller insightful moment expressed through "Wine In A Coffee Cup" that stands out most. Rogers sings it empathetically over a swaying groove... »»»
When You're Ready CD review - When You're Ready
One of the most celebrated acoustic guitarists working within the Americana field, Molly Tuttle is two-time International Bluegrass Music Association Guitarist of the Year, the first female to be so honored. »»»
Stronger Than the Truth CD review - Stronger Than the Truth
The beauty of Reba McEntire's albums flows from her way with a phrase, knowing when to modulate to carry us deeper into sadness or joy and when to pull back when she wants us to listen quietly to the lessons of a tear falling. »»»
Reboot CD review - Reboot
Brooks and Dunn return with the duo's first studio album in a dozen years. Sort of. That's because they revisit a dozen of their hits (leaving a bunch behind) with contemporary country singers. »»»
GUY CD review - GUY
A decade after recording his tribute to Townes Van Zandt, Steve Earle has released an album of Guy Clark covers. It includes, perhaps, Clark's best-known songs, "L.A. Freeway" and "Desperados Waiting For A Train," as well as a  »»»
Honky Tonk Time Machine CD review - Honky Tonk Time Machine
At this stage of his nearly four-decades-long career, George Strait sure knows his sweet spot. Take a look at the cover of his 30th studio album, and it's understood that it's the honky tonks that are part and parcel of the tall Texan. »»»
Sorta Surviving CD review - Sorta Surviving
The front man for the Bay Area band Mother Hips, Tim Bluhm, steps aside to deliver an authentic country album recorded at Cash Cabin Studios in Hendersonville, Tenn. Yet, this is not an unexpected path for Bluhm, whose connections to classic country figures  »»»
Wrote a Song for Everyone CD review - Wrote a Song for Everyone
Considering that Creedence Clearwater Revival's back catalogue contains some of the most beloved and iconic music of the rock era, and John Fogerty himself - the man who made all those great songs great - will be dueting with you, an artist has to feel like he's got two strikes against him when he sets out to contribute to a cover album tribute to Creedence Clearwater Revival and John Fogerty. »»»
This World Oft Can Be CD review - This World Oft Can Be
Although it isn't rare to hear women singing and playing bluegrass-inspired music, it is still unusual to take in a five-girl band doing so. Della Mae are not what The Runaways and The Go-Go's meant to rock & roll, perhaps, but they're nevertheless significant and unique. »»»
Wilderness CD review - Wilderness
"Wilderness" is another twisted menagerie of The Handsome Family songs. Once again, husband Brett Sparks sings their songs, sometimes in a bellowing gravedigger voice, after adding music to wife Rennie's lyrics. This time out, each and every tune is named after an animal, insect or other such nature creature. However, Rennie studies animals the way Flannery O'Connor wrote about humans, which is with the weirdness and character flaws in primary focus. »»»