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December 29

Texas became the 28th state to join the union in 1845. It continues to breed numerous country stars who join legends like Bob Wills, Willie Nelson, George Jones, Gene Watson, Ray Price, Kenny Rogers, Waylon Jennings, George Strait and Miranda Lambert.

A front-page 1926 story in Variety magazine titled “Hill-Billy Music” thumbed its nose at the audience of the burgeoning country genre. The piece portrays the audience as “poor white trash” who are “illiterate and ignorant, with the intelligence of morons.”

Uncle Jimmy Thompson, the first person to perform on the Grand Ole Opry, made his final appearance on the show in 1928, just three years after its debut.

Ernest Tubb recorded I Love You Because, Give Me A Little Old Fashioned Love and Unfaithful One during an evening session in 1949 at Nashville’s Castle Studio.

Shreveport clairvoyant Bernard Ricks called Ring Of Fire songwriter Merle Kilgore in 1957 and warned him to check on his daughter. Kilgore found his baby being smothered by a pile of clothes.

Hank Williams Jr. made his first appearance on the CBS-TV series “The Ed Sullivan Show” from New York in 1963. He sang Jambalaya (On The Bayou), Your Cheatin’ Heart, Long Gone Lonesome Blues and Cold, Cold Heart.

Second Fiddle To A Steel Guitar debuted in movie theaters in 1966. Minnie Pearl, Sonny James, Lefty Frizzell, Kitty Wells, Johnny Wright, Connie Smith, Billy Walker, Curly Fox, Dottie West, Webb Pierce, Faron Young, Bill Monroe and Little Jimmy Dickens were all in the cast.

Capitol released Merle Haggard’s live Okie From Muskogee album in 1969.

Eddy Arnold recorded The Hand That Rocks The Cradle at Bradley’s Barn in Mt. Juliet, TN in 1976. The song became a hit for Glen Campbell & Steve Wariner more than a decade later.

Two men tried to kill songwriter Gary S. Paxton in 1980. Paxtonproduced hits for Vern Gosdin. One of the men told police a country figure recruited them to do the job. Paxton believes Gosdin was responsible.

George Jones received the first platinum album of his career on this date in 1983. That album was I Am What I Am.

Dobro player Mike Auldridge died from cancer in Maryland in 2012. A key member of the progressive bluegrass band The Seldom Scene, he played on Emmylou Harris’ Making Believe and on Harris’ duet with Linda Ronstadt, I Never Will Marry.


Rose Lee Maphis was born in Hagerstown, MD in 1922. Following her 1952 marriage to Joe Maphis, she worked as half of a husband-and-wife team on Los Angeles TV. The pair also Vern Gosdin’s Dim Lights, Thick Smoke (And Loud, Loud Music)

Guitarist Billy Gray was born in Paris, TX in 1924. He joined Wanda Jackson on the 1954 hit You Can’t Have My Love and played on numerous Hank Thompson singles, including A Six Pack To Go, The Wild Side Of Life and Honky-Tonk Girl.

Actress Mary Tyler Moore was born in Brooklyn, NY in 1937. She opened a country label, MTM Records, in the mid-1980s, creating a home for Judy Rodman, Holly Dunn, The Girls Next Door and Schuyler, Knobloch & Overstreet.

Ed Bruce was born in Keiser, AR in 1939. The rich-voiced performer worked as a vocalist, actor, commercial spokesman and songwriter. His writing credits include Texas (When I Die) and Mammas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys.