George Jones Aids Hall of Fame Event


George Jones Photo Courtesy of Bandit Records

July 2, 2008 — George Jones joined classic-rock artist Peter Frampton in Nashville yesterday to announce the second annual inductees to the Musicians Hall of Fame, a list that includes a major country record producer and seminal players from both rock and R&B.

Billy Sherrill — who produced such classics as Tammy Wynette’s "Stand By Your Man," Charlie Rich’s "Behind Closed Doors," Johnny Paycheck’s "Take This Job And Shove It" and George’s "He Stopped Loving Her Today" — becomes the first producer to enter the Hall. Billy, who George referred to as "a little genius," was not on hand for the announcement, but he’s expected to attend the official induction ceremony Oct. 28 at Nashville’s Schermerhorn Symphony Center.

"In writing and pickin’ the songs to fit me and Tammy and other artists, I think that’s what he was a little genius at, ‘cause he knew what fit us the best," the Possum said. "He somehow knew that we would feel these songs the same way that he did, according to our abilities. He really had music in his mind all the time."

The event was important enough that Thomas Lee, president of the American Federation of Musicians, got up at 3 a.m. to catch a flight from New Jersey to attend.

"While artists are the ones that are mostly identified with the song, it’s the musicians who often play that particular bass line, that particular guitar line or piano line that sometimes makes that song very unique and adds a lot of value," he said.

Underscoring that point are Hargus "Pig" Robbins’ bluesy piano intro on Crystal Gayle’s "Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue," Brent Mason’s grinding guitar part on Alan Jackson’s "Chattahoochee" or Jerry Allison’s shuffling drum fills on the Everly Brothers’ "(‘Til) I Kissed You."

The other musicians and supporting ensembles selected for induction in the Musicians Hall of Fame include:
• Booker T. & The MG’s: Best known for the hit "Green Onions," they appeared on most of the Stax Records hits by Sam & Dave, Otis Redding and others. Organ player Booker T. Jones went on to produce Willie Nelson’s Stardust album.
• The Memphis Horns: Trumpet player Wayne Jackson and sax man Andrew Love punctuated many of those same Stax recordings. The duo also appeared on the Country Music Association award-nominated 1994 album Rhythm, Country & Blues in pairings of George Jones & B.B. King and Al Green & Lyle Lovett.
• The Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section: Referred to as "the Swampers" in Lynyrd Skynyrd’s "Sweet Home Alabama," they worked with the likes of Aretha Franklin and Bob Seger, and backed Willie Nelson on his 1974 Atlantic sessions, including "Bloody Mary Morning." Keyboard player Barry Beckett went on to produce country hits for Lorrie Morgan, Confederate Railroad and Neal McCoy.
• The Crickets: The supporting band for Buddy Holly also played on country hits by Billy Walker and the Everly Brothers. Guitarist Sonny Curtis had a brief career as a country artist and co-wrote Keith Whitley’s "I’m No Stranger To The Rain."
• Al Kooper: He played the iconic organ lines in Bob Dylan’s "Like A Rolling Stone"; helped form Blood, Sweat & Tears; and produced Skynyrd’s "Sweet Home Alabama" and "Free Bird." He also backed Trisha Yearwood on the album Common Thread: Songs Of The Eagles.

Many of the inductees who started elsewhere — such as MG’s guitarist Steve Cropper and the Memphis Horns’ Wayne Jackson — have relocated from other centers to Music City.

"The reason they moved to Nashville was because the musicians union [in those cities] didn’t stand up for ‘em and let them get the right money," said Nashville’s AFM president Harold Bradley, a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame.

He pointed out three players who’ve worked with Elvis Presley, Jimmy Buffett and Waylon Jennings as examples.

"They were on a weekly salary in Muscle Shoals, makin’ $150 a week," Harold said. "[Pianist] David Briggs, [bassist] Norbert Putnam, [drummer] Jerry Carrigan found out they could make $150 in three hours in Nashville. They moved here."

Memorabilia from many of the players’ noteworthy sessions is on display in the museum portion of the Musicians Hall of Fame in downtown Nashville.