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February 23

Jimmie Rodgers recorded Blue Yodel No. 5 (Ain’t No Blackhearted Woman), I’m Sorry We Met and High Powered Mama at the Victor Studios in New York in 1929.

Gene Autry had his first starring movie role in the sci-fi western The Phantom Empire in 1935. With Smiley Burnette co-starring, Autry found a lost race equipped with laser guns living beneath his ranch. He sang That Silver-Haired Daddy Of Mine.

Woody Guthrie wrote This Land Is Your Land at Hanover House (a New York City hotel) in 1940. He used the melody of The Carter Family’s When The World’s On Fire.

A flag was raised on Mt. Suribachi on the Japanese island of Iwo Jima in 1945. A photograph of the event became part of American history, though one of the soldiers has trouble dealing with his fame, inspiring the Johnny Cash hit The Ballad Of Ira Hayes.

Red Foley heard Brenda Lee for the first time in 1956. They were both performing at Bell Auditorium in Augusta, GA. He became a mentor, and she received a contract that night to become a regular on The Ozark Jubilee.

Porter Wagoner joined the Grand Ole Opry in 1957.

RCA presented an award to Eddy Arnold at New York’s Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in 1970 signifying 60,000,000 in record sales.

Decca released comedian Jerry Clower’s Mouth Of The Mississippi album in 1972.

The Atlanta Constitution quoted Skeeter Davis in 1973 on the Grand Ole Opry’s imminent move from the Ryman: “It’s the Mother Church of Country Music. It’s almost sacred. I wouldn’t even do a promotion for Opryland, and you can quote me on that.”

Hank Williams’ recording of Your Cheatin’ Heart was entered into the Grammy Hall of Fame during the 25th annual Grammy awards in Los Angeles in 1983.

The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band announced the group had added former Eagle Bernie Leadon, who replaced the departed John McEuen in 1987.

Billy Ray Cyrus recorded his salute to Vietnam veterans, Some Gave All, at Nashville’s Music Mill in 1991. It was the same day the 100-hour ground assault began in Iraq during the Gulf War.

Arista released Brooks & Dunn’s Hard Workin’ Man album in 1993.

Johnny Cash received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement award in 1999 along with Smokey Robinson, songwriters Jerry Leiber & Mike Stoller, Sam Cooke, Otis Redding, Mel Torme, Kenneth Gamble & Leon Huff, and Broadway composers Alan Jay Lerner & Frederick Loewe.

Glen Campbell’s Wichita Lineman, Faron Young’s Hello Walls and The Byrds’ Sweetheart Of The Rodeo album entered the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2000. 

Bass player and producer Howie Epstein died of a suspected heroin overdose in Santa Fe’s St. Vincent Hospital in 2003. A 20-year member of Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, he produced three country hits for longtime girlfriend Carlene Carter.

Songwriter and keyboard player Bobby Emmons died in Nashville in 2015. He authored Waylon Jennings’ Luckenbach, Texas (Back To The Basics Of Love) and George Strait’s So Much Like My Dad. Emmons also played on hits by Elvis Presley, Garth Brooks, Willie Nelson and Crystal Gayle.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY

Rusty Young was born in Long Beach, CA in 1946. He joined Jim Messina, Richie Furay and Randy Meisner as an original member of Poco, one of the pioneering acts in the country-rock movement.