The earliest reported celebrity death yesterday, November 19, 2017, was actor, singer songwriter and former teen heartthrob, David Cassidy. It turned out to be a hoax.The 67 year old Cassidy remains in a Florida hospital suffering from multiple organ failure. Cassidy is best known for his role as a member of the Partridge Family on TV in the 1970s.
Then came news of Country Music legend, Mel Tillis‘ passing at age 85. Turns out this was true. Tillis, who was extremely popular through the 1970s with hits like Who’s Julie, Coca-Cola Cowboy and Good Woman Blues died of natural causes. He also had an acting part in Cannonball Run (1981) which starred Burt Reynolds, Roger Moore, Dom DeLuise and Farrah Fawcett.
About these true icons, I am very sad; but a third well-known American man died last night in Bakersfield hospital in California,cult leader and mass murderer Charles Manson, who was 83. I, for one of many, am glad that this un-remorseful criminal is no longer a burden on the California penal system. Perhaps this will bring some small closure to the families of his victims.
Some years ago, just after returning from a business trip, I was walking through the Nashville Airport on my way to the luggage return when I encountered a pair I was not expecting. There, only a few feet away, strolling in the opposite direction toward a gate, Glen Campbell was in a lively conversation with George Jones. Towering above his friend, Glen’s melodious voice rang out clearly in that corridor. I could have reached out and touched either of them, but that was so unnecessary, for both of them had touched me many times by their unique musical styles and the rapture in which one was lifted by their lyrics, tunes and voices.
Yesterday, August 8, 2017, Glen, like his friend, George, left this world and left us all with a lot of great memories. He was 81.
A few years ago I read Glen’s candid autobiography, in which he spared himself no shame for his wild past, and no regrets for his new, fuller life. I learned a lot about a man I now admire more than ever. I, for one, will miss him dearly, but always cherish the Rhinestone Cowboy who was the Wichita Lineman, and the guy who went to Phoenix, leaving behind a broken heart.
The great Pat Summitt touched and enriched the lives of so many young women over her 38-year career that the full impact of her life is immeasurable. Tennessee’s most winning female basketball coach of all time lost her battle with Alzheimer’s overnight at the young age of 64. She will be remembered always by players, fans, and anyone who admired the great people of this generation.
At St. Clair Publications, we are privileged to have published two books by great women involved in the women’s basketball staff of Tennessee Tech University: Coach Allison Clark‘s empowering book, Off the Back of the Rim is ‘an effective positive guide for life, whether read by young or old, and hits hard in directing its readers toward a more effective and fulfilling life with Christ as the Ultimate Coach.’
Dr. LeNise Rosemond‘s groundbreaking work, Coach, There is Hope deals with the often overlooked causes and effects of stress on coaches of all sports and levels from middle school to professionals and candidly relates from years of first-hand experience proper ways to deal with the difficulties faced by the coach in today’s ever-changing, perplexing world.
This past Thursday I was taken aback and very saddened to learn of the passing of my dear friend, Ron Cunningham. Since I met him at a Scottish event in April, 2009, we have been very close. Right away, before even getting to know me Ron purchased one of my books and told me a little about his harrowing experiences as a small town sheriff in the late 1970s and how a contract out on his life brought in experts with the FBI, TBI and US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. Information gathered in the FBI sting further incriminated the past Tennessee Governor, already under investigation, and got the present governor involved in the process. Right on the heels of the Buford Pusser saga which was made into the major motion picture, Walking Tall, he was sought after by the press and Hollywood wanting rights. He denied all at the time. Ron felt that the time had come and the story should be told. He came to my home and we made an agreement to co-write his story. The initial book, Conspiracy in the Town That TIme Forgot was my first book to be heralded as an Amazon Hot New Release when it came out in October that year. He and I traveled around the region and even out of state on book signings. Two were at campuses of Motlow State Community College, which carried it in their bookstores and libraries and recommended it to Criminal Justice students. It was carried in several regional bookstores and other places of business, even some in other states. He and I co-wrote two more books and have spent a great deal of time together, During most of this time he was serving as Captain over investigations for the city of Tullahoma, Tennessee. Ron has treated me like a brother, having me take part in several family events.
Due to the fact that his wife, Linda, was in Guatemala at the time of his passing, services have been put off until next weekend. I salute Ron, and his wife and three daughters have lost a great example of American fortitude and courage. He will be dearly missed by so many that I cannot begin to say. Our books are still available at stclairpublications.com and on Amazon and other bookseller websites around the world.
Many times when I have enjoyed immensely the score of a motion picture I have watched the credits to confirm that the composer was none other than James Horner. I consider him the best classical motion picture score composer of all time. I was shocked and deeply saddened this just minutes ago while watching CBS This Morning to learn of his death in a plane crash near Santa Barbara yesterday.
Horner, a humble genius, composed the sound tracks for so many great films over the past three decades that I can’t begin to mention them all. He won two Oscars for his efforts. Among them were A Field of Dreams, Brave Heart, Apollo 13, Aliens, A Beautiful Minds, the Star Trek movies, and what I consider his crowning achievement, Titanic, even co-writing the Celine Dion smash hit, My Heart Will Go On. The Titanic soundtrack was the best selling of all time–27 million copies sold worldwide!
James Horner was the greatest! He will be sorely missed, not only in Hollywood, but by millions who loved his music around the world.
Yesterday fans of Country music lost one of the greatest legends of all time. Grand Ole Opry star Little Jimmy Dickens had been a permanent fixture of the the music industry since 1925. His hit, “I’m Little But I’m Loud” was a testimony to the fact that his 4’11″ frame held a real giant. He even referred to himself as “Mighty Mouse in pajama’s.”
It was my great pleasure to see and hear this gentleman live in his heyday, and what a talent he was! He joined the Opry in 1948 and was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1983. I can still hear him singing, “Take an old Clod ‘Tater (and wait).” .And how about “May the Bird of Paradise Fly up Your Nose”? One day after his last (94th) birthday he preformed at the Opry! We will miss you, Little Jimmy!
Yesterday another legendary giant in the music industry passed away. British-born Joe Cocker died at his home in Crawford, Colorado of lung cancer. He was 70.
His 1968 recording of the Beatles song, With a Little Help from My Friends took him to the top of the charts in the U.K., but his performance of it at Woodstock hit a chord with the American audience that was never forgotten.
Though I never attended a concert at which he preformed, as I did with so many great talents, I loved his raspy, soulful voice, and I had at least one thing in common with him: my favorite song by him was You Are So Beautiful. When he did the take which went down on vinyl, his voice cracked at the end, showing great emotion. Rather than take it out, the producers left it in. That choice helped to make that record one of the most beloved of all times.
Rest in peace, Joe, we will miss you!
This morning on Nashville’s Fox 17, country music historian, Robert K. Oermann was talking about the humility of the late great George Jones. He said two things that caught my attention: “He had no idea that he was George Jones,” obviously an inference to how down-to-earth the legend was, and “Everybody has a George story.”
Well, I’m no different to the average middle Tennessean in this respect. Back in the late nineties I was in the Nashville Airport coming from a flight when lo and behold, who should walk by me only about six feet away but ole George and one of my all-time-favorite all-around stars, Glen Campbell. They were engaged in a jovial conversation which was easy for me to hear. Though they were both icons, they were as much different in both looks and style as one could imagine. Glen towered over George so much that it reminded me of the old ‘Mutt and Jeff’ cartoons of the 1950′s, which most of my readers can’t relate to, since many weren’t even born at the time. George was slump shouldered and Glen robust and broad. But they are both a major part of the core of country.
Obviously it is a coincidence that both were rumored dead earlier this month, when both were very alive. Though plagued by Alzheimer’s disease, Glen is still with us for now. There will be a public funeral service for George this Thursday, May 2nd, at the “Mother Church of Country Music,” the Ryman Auditorium on Broadway in Music City. He will never be forgotten.
Though rumors earlier this week proved a hoax, this time it’s real, as reported by the AP today.
George Jones, the iconic country singer who was famous for making smash hits of such sad ballads as “He Stopped Loving Her Today,” and “The Green, Green Grass of Home,’ has died. He was 81.
He passed away today, Friday April 26, 2013, at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville after being hospitalized with irregular blood pressure accompanied with fever.
He had Number one songs in five decades, from the fifties to the nineties, and was not only idolized by his fellow country singers, but by icons from other genres such as Frank Sinatra, Elvis Costello, James Taylor and many more.
Nicknamed the “Possum,” he had recorded more than one hundred and fifty albums and became the king and long-time symbol of traditional country music. He will be missed sorely by country music fans the world over,
Last month someone I greatly admired passed away. I was a good friend of his uncle, Frank, many years ago in Atlanta, though he was considerably older than I was. Joe South was one of the great singer-songwriters of his era. He wrote music recorded by everybody from Billy Joe Royal and Brook Benton to Jim Nabors and Gene Vincent, the Osmonds and Carol Burnett in pop and Johnny Cash, Glen Campbell, Lynn Anderson and Lorretta Lynn in country. He was nominated for two Grammys and inducted into the Nashville Songwrtier’s Hall of Fame in 1971, and the Georgia Music Hall of Fame in 1981.
Among his songs were Royal’s Down in the Boondocks, and Lynn’s Rose Garden. His own recordings included Games People Play and Don’t It Make You Want to Go Home? (my personal favorite at the time).
He played guitar on such records as Tommy Roe’s Sheila, Aretha Franklin’s Chain of Fools and Bob Dylan’s Blonde on Blonde album.
He was born Joseph Alfred Souder on February 28, 1940 in Atlanta, and last month, on September 5, 2012, passed away in Buford, GA. I was even unaware at the time, because there was no media blitz.
I, for one, will miss him.