Four of America’s most iconic performers are each being recognised with a highly prestigious honour from the US Recording Academy.
Elvis Presley, Merle Haggard and the Everly Brothers are having some of their most legendary recordings inducted into the Grammy ‘Hall of Fame’ this year, including Jailhouse Rock, Okie From Muskogee, and Wake Up, Little Susie.
Presley’s Jailhouse Rock was recorded in conjunction with the release of his movie of the same name. It topped several Billboard charts after its 1957 release and Rolling Stone magazine named it on a list of the 500 greatest songs of all time.
Mississippi-born Presley, forever associated with rock ‘n’ roll, was essentially a country boy by upbringing and musical instinct. Elvis loved the Nashville sound, and gospel music, and he recorded some highly popular tracks in that genre.
Okie From Muskogee, co-written and recorded by Haggard, is one of Merle’s career-defining songs, a highly popular parody that proclaims ‘Good Ole Boy’ patriotic, conservative American values.
The chart-topping track and album, of the same name, won single and album of the year accolades at the 1970 CMA Awards. Merle, who died last April aged 78, perpetuated a legend with the song and he thrived on his ‘Okie’ status.
Wake Up, Little Susie, by the slick close-harmony Everly Brothers (Don and Phil), found immense cross-over success in the late 1950s. Everly music combined modern/pop with tinges of love ballad country and it struck a chord with a younger generation in the late 1950s/early 1960s. The brothers, no longer together as a musical duo, are both Tennesseans - Don is 80 next Wednesday and Phil now 78.
The Everlys other big hits were Wake Up Little Suzie, Bird Dog, Ebony Eyes, All I have To Do Is Dream, and Bye, Bye, Love.
“The Grammy Hall of Fame represents all genres of music, acknowledging the diversity of musical expression,” says Grammy president Neil Portnow. “These recordings are memorable and inspiring and are an integral part of our musical, social and cultural history.”
*CRYSTAL GAYLE became a member of the Grand Ole Opry during last Saturday night’s show at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. Her celebrated sister Loretta Lynn oversaw the induction.
Crystal made her Opry debut at the Ryman Auditorium when she was 16, singing the Marty Robbins classic Ribbon of Darkness. That night, she performed in place of elder sister Loretta, who was unable to make a scheduled appearance.
Crystal, born Brenda Gail Webb, in eastern Kentucky in 1951, followed her future superstar sister into country music with a rich repertoire of romantic love ballads.
“We’ve been together a long time,” Loretta said at Crystal’s Opry induction. “It was the greatest moment of my life when I became a member in 1962. I know Crystal is just as happy as I was then.”
New Nashville singer Carrie Underwood invited Gayle to join the Opry family in November. “You are an inspiration to so many of us,” she told Crystal. “You are important to country music, and you are important to the Opry,”
Crystal’s 1974 self-titled debut featured the first of her 18 No 1s hits — I’ll Get Over You and Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue — the latter of which won Gayle a Grammy for best female country performance in 1977.
She has made frequent visits to Belfast for shows and has a significant fan base in Northern Ireland.