It took 57 years from the release of his first single for Hank Williams Jr. to become a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame. His induction speech lasted less than two minutes.
Williams, an avid hunter, opened by celebrating the start of deer season. He told the many people to thank “know who they are” and concluded by referring to several of his classic songs.
“All my rowdy friends are come tonight. I has been born to boogie, and this – “
He turned to his newly unveiled plaque, which will now hang in the museum’s famous rotunda.
“… is a ‘family tradition’.
Williams, country torchbearer Marty Stuart and master songwriter Dean Dillon were all inducted at Sunday’s annual Hall of Fame medal ceremony.
Along with their songs, the CMA Theater was often filled with a strong sense of gratitude: not just for the inductees and the institution, but for the opportunity to come together for another ceremony.
Williams, Stuart, and Dillon, in fact, are Hall’s Class of 2020 and were first revealed over a year ago. Due to the pandemic, their ceremony has been on hold for over a year and a newly unveiled 2021 class is on their heels. But Sunday’s parade of tributes from friends and superstars ensured the wait was worth it.
Marty Stuart: “My life was traced”
Marty Stuart’s brilliance, in part, is fueled by his relentless respect for the most legendary figures in country music. On Sunday, he officially took his place alongside them.
Born September 30, 1958 in Philadelphia, Mississippi, Stuart was covering country music with his band at the age of nine. In the midst of the “British invasion” of pop, he said he felt the country stars of that era “needed a pen pal” in his town.
“I always feel like I’m a correspondent for Hank Sr., and Merle Haggard, and Johnny Cash and country music culture, because that’s what I love.”
He started choosing professionally at the age of 12, joining the Sullivan family’s bluegrass band for a summer tour in 1972, and it didn’t take long for him to start living all of his country music dreams, track. by piece.
The first two records he ever owned, he said, were by Lester Flatt and Johnny Cash, and they later became the two artists who hired him for their bands. He saw country star Connie Smith in his hometown when he was 11 and told his mother he was going to marry her.
On Sunday, Smith, Stuart’s wife of 24 years, tearfully inducted her husband into the Hall of Fame.
“My life was fixed,” he said. “It was just a matter of growing up in it.”
Stuart’s celebrated journey – from talent beyond his years to a traditionalist star, fiercely independent artist and ambassador – is reflected in his tributes.
Hall of Fame CEO Kyle Young called Stuart a “Flame Keeper, Spokesperson and Leader,” and noted that he was not only inducted for his years of success, but for the crucial work he has done throughout the 21st century.
Friend and collaborator, Pastor Evelyn Hubbard of Mississippi performed “It’s Time to Go Home”, from Stuart’s 2005 gospel album “Souls’ Chapel”. Emmylou Harris and Charlie Worsham have loaned Everlys harmonies to “Tempted”, her chart-to-top solo single.
Ashley McBryde delivered an inspired rendition of “The Observations of a Crow”, an excerpt from her 1999 flagship album “The Pilgrim”.
“Anyone who knows me knows I love this building,” Stuart said after seeing his plaque. “I have to be part of it when I come out of the earth, just a small part. But this is our living room. It is our spiritual home. This is our treasure chest. And that’s where we belong. God got his hands on this place.
Dean Dillon: “I knew what I liked most”
In 1973, Dean Dillon had just finished high school when he carried his guitar up the ramp to Interstate 40 in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, stuck his thumb out and hitchhiked to Nashville.
Almost 50 years after he started knocking blindly on the doors of Music Row, he has become a member of country music’s most exclusive club.
He may have arrived in Music City as an outsider, but Dillon quickly made some crucial friendships. The first songwriter he met in town was Frank Dycus, and the two became frequent collaborators. They were sitting on Dycus’ porch, “popping the lids of the beer cans”, when producer Blake Melvis stopped by and asked them if they had any songs for “that kid from Texas” named George Strait.
Among the songs they came up with was “Unwound,” which became Strait’s groundbreaking hit in 1981. Both sides decided to continue a good thing, and it hasn’t stopped for 40 years.
Strait has now recorded over 60 Dillon songs including “The Chair”, “Marina del Rey”, “Ocean Front Property” and “If I Know Me”.
He has also had strong songwriting partnerships with Kenny Chesney and Toby Keith, and cuts with Alabama, Brooks & Dunn, George Jones, Pam Tillis and Vince Gill.
A song continued to find new life with new artists. Dillon and Linda Hargrove wrote “Tennessee Whiskey,” which was first cut by David Allan Coe in 1981, made a hit by George Jones in 1983 and reinvented by Chris Stapleton in 2015.
Dillon was a full-fledged recording artist, with appearances on RCA, Capitol and Atlantic until the early 90s. During his acceptance speech, he recalled a turning point when Strait wanted to record his song “Easy Come” , Easy Go “. Dillon was planning to release it as his own single.
“Then I thought, ‘Do you want a recording career or do you want to be a songwriter? And deep inside, I knew what I liked most. I looked at him and said, ‘He can have it.’ I left that meeting and went to Atlantic, walked into (label manager) Rick Blackburn’s office and said, “I’m done.” And I can honestly sit here and tell you it’s the smartest decision I’ve ever made.
At Sunday’s ceremony, Kenny Chesney took the stage to perform his 2002 hit “A Lot of Things Different,” which Dillon co-wrote with fellow Hall of Famer Bill Anderson. He also couldn’t help but share the story of his meeting behind the scenes with Bruce Springsteen, who loved the song and asked him if he wrote it.
“I wanted to say ‘yes’ so badly,” he said as the crowd laughed.
The perpetual potency of “Tennessee Whiskey” was showcased by rising star Brittney Spencer, who received another standing ovation for her performance. And Strait – who, of course, had a plethora of cuts to choose from – picked his 1985 chart top “The Chair,” which Dillon co-wrote with songwriting legend Hank Cochran.
“I knew you were going to be in the Hall of Fame,” Strait told Dillon, as he officially inducted him from the podium.
Hank Williams, Jr.: “It’s a family tradition”
The man known as “Bocephus” may have kept it short, but his songs and story, of course, said it all.
It’s the story of a talent who fought to escape the shadow of one of country music’s most legendary artists – his father, Hank Williams – and became an icon in his own right.
He first hit the road at the age of 9, imitating his late father (who died aged 3) and continued in this strict tradition throughout the 1960s.
But Williams had other influences – mainly rock ‘n’ roll – and after barely surviving a 500-foot drop from a mountain in 1975, he reappeared with a singular look and rock-influenced sound. southerner.
He crafted the perfect mission statement in 1979’s “Family Tradition” – a rowdy hymn that used his lineage as a springboard to a new brand of country music.
His star continued to rise throughout the 1980s, culminating in two CMA Entertainer of the Year awards. In 1989, he solidified his place as one of the genre’s foremost artists through a successful partnership with ABC’s “Monday Night Football”. Williams sang a reworked version of her “All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over Tonight” to serve as the show’s theme song.
Shortly after becoming a prime-time star, Williams enjoyed his last top 10 country hit to date: “Good Friends, Good Whiskey, Good Lovin” from the 1990s. His most recent album was “It’s About Time” from 2016.
To kick off his musical tribute, Williams ‘”Feelin’ Better” was performed by an artist who relates more than anyone to his journey: Shooter Jennings, son of outlaw country legend Waylon Jennings.
“You made a path in front of me that didn’t exist before,” he told Williams from the stage.
Eric Church went the extra mile for his cover of “A Country Boy Can Survive” – and it was a bold move, considering the songwriter was sitting 10 feet away.
He began with his own autobiographical line: “I remember where I was and when, the first time I heard ‘Whiskey Bent’ / With a brother, I don’t have any, now he plays the guitar. on this paradisiacal shore.
Alan Jackson was one of many who said that Williams deserved more credit as a songwriter before performing “The Blues Man,” which he first covered and released as a single in 2000.
“It’s well overdue,” he said of Williams’ induction.
Williams was officially inducted by Brenda Lee, who first crossed paths with him as children and other early talents in Nashville. She referred to him as an old friend, who you could always call at midnight and say, “I’m in trouble.
“He might not come, but he will send his plane,” she said, and the room burst into laughter.
Next, the Hall of Fame looks to its 2021 class. Ray Charles, The Judds, Eddie Bayers and Pete Drake will be inducted at a later date.