Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The 2012 Inductees for the Country Music Hall of Fame

2012 Country Music Hall of Fame inductees
Hargus “Pig” Robbins, Connie Smith, and Garth Brooks (left to right)

The Country Music Hall of Fame announced its 2012 inductees today (See the full list of all inductees here). They include:

Garth Brooks will be inducted into the Country Hall of Fame in the “Modern Era Artist” category. His 1989 self-titled debut album with Capitol Records produced #1 songs “If Tomorrow Never Comes” and the career-defining ballad “The Dance.” He amassed 19 #1 songs, including the iconic “Friends in Low Places.” Third album, 1991’s Ropin’ the Wind, was the first country album in history to debut atop the Billboard Top 200 album chart. CM With more than 128 million albums sold, Brooks is the top-selling artist of the Soundscan era, which covers from 1991 to present. TN In 2007, he was named the best-selling solo artist in American music history. CM

During the ‘90s, Brooks was named CMA Entertainer of the Year four times. He retired from touring in 2000 (although he has since returned for limited runs) to move back home to Oklahoma with his daughters. Brooks said, “I feel honored and it’s kind of a mixed emotion of joy and a little bit of guilt…I’m very happy because I didn’t expect it. I was stunned, I guess because if they just got around to Reba last year I thought it was going to be another 10 or 15 years and deservedly so before my name ever came up, if it ever did.” TN He went on to specifically cite Randy Travis and Keith Whitley as contemporaries who should have been inducted before him. TN

Connie Smith is being inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in the “Veterans Era Artist” category, which is open to a singer 45 years after initial national prominence. She was born in 1941 and discovered at age 22 after winning a talent contest which gave her a chance to sing on an Opry-troupe concert. In 1964, Bill Anderson, the headliner of that concert, invited her to sing on Ernest Tubb’s Midnite Jamboree. That same year she signed to RCA Victor Records. Her first single, “Once a Day,” went to #1. She went on to rack up 30 top 20 hits on the country charts and recorded gospel as well. Dolly Parton once said of Smith, “You know, there’s really only three female singers in this world…Barbra Streisand, Linda Ronstadt and Connie Smith. The rest of us are only pretending.” TN

Hargus “Pig” Robbins, a session pianist, is the third inductee for the Country Music Hall of Fame, entering in the “Recording and/or Touring Musician Active Prior to 1980” category. Robbins, who has been blind since 4 because of a knife accident, learned to play piano at age seven when he attended the Nashville School for the Blind. The focus was on classical music, but Robbins integrated his own style of rhythm & blues and country in the style of artists such as Ray Charles and Floyd Cramer. CM His nickname, “Pig,” came from him sneaking through a fire escape at school and playing when he wasn’t supposed to. Robbins’ supervisor said, he got as dirty as a pig. CM

In 1959, he played on his first of hundreds of professional recordings – George Jones’ “White Lightning”, his first #1 hit. Robbins went on to work with Patsy Cline, Porter Wagoner, Ray Price, Dolly Parton, Roy Orbison, Bob Dylan (on the classic Blonde on Blonde album), Alan Jackson, Randy Travis, Travis Tritt, and his fellow hall inductee Connie Smith. TN He has played on classic hits such as Charlie Rich’s “Behind Closed Doors” and Crystal Gayle’s “Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue.” In 1976, Robbins won the CMA Instrumentalist of the Year award and in 2000 he received the CMA Musician of the Year Award. In 2007, he was inducted into the Musicians Hall of Fame. Veteran producer Billy Sherrill, who discovered Tammy Wynette and worked on legendary tracks such as “He Stopped Loving Her Today,” has said Robbins “was probably the best musician I ever worked with.” TN

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