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December 14

Frank Sinatra sent a telegram to Tennessee Ernie Ford, congratulating him on Sixteen Tons in 1955. The “Chairman” commented, “It’s a gasser!”

Jimmy Dean’s Big Bad John became the first country-based record awarded a gold single by the Recording Industry Association of America in 1961.

Lorrie Morgan gave her first performance on the Grand Ole Opry in 1973. The 13-year-old sang Paper Roses at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium. Hear in her own words what was going through her mind that night…

Alabama recorded Old Flame in 1980. It would become the group’s third #1 hit.

Dolly Parton starred with Lee Majors and John Ritter in the ABC-TV holiday special A Smoky Mountain Christmas in 1986.

Songwriter Tommy Brasfield died in Nashville in 1989. He wrote Earl Thomas Conley’s Holding Her And Loving You, Barbara Mandrell’s Angel In Your Arms and Ronnie Milsap’s (There’s) No Gettin’ Over Me, among others

Dwight Yoakam made his TV acting debut on CBS’ P.S. I Love You in 1991.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY

DeFord Bailey was born in Smith County, TN in 1899. He was the first African-American to play the Grand Ole Opry. The harmonica player was a key member of the cast until his firing in 1941. He wasn’t fired because of wrongdoing – it was over a licensing conflict between BMI and ASCAP that prevented his most popular songs from being played on the radio. Bailey was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2005.

Walter Haynes was born in Kingsport, TN in 1928. He played steel guitar on records by Little Jimmy Dickens and Patsy Cline He also wrote Del Reeves’ Girl On The Billboard, and produced hits by Jeanne Pruett, Mel Tillis and Cal Smith, among others. You can see him performing here with Little Jimmy Dickens here:

Charlie Rich was born in Forrest City, AR in 1932. Nicknamed “The Silver Fox”, he worked in jazz and pop music before finding a home in country, where he earned the Country Music Association’s Entertainer of the Year award in 1974.