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January 1

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Hank Williams was pronounced dead at Oak Hill General Hospital in Oak Hill, WV in 1953. He passed away in the back seat of a Cadillac, en route to a show in Canton, OH. Many believe he died from a mix of alcohol and morphine.

Johnny Cash gave his first New Year’s performance at San Quentin prison in California in 1958. He’d do several more over the years….like the following year in 1959 when another future Hall-of-Famer was in the audience – Merle Haggard. Here’s his show from 1969.

Eleven years after Hank Williams’ death in 1964, Audrey Williams started a promotional concert tour for Hank Williams Jr.’s first record, Long Gone Lonesome Blues, in Canton, OH, the city in which Hank Senior was scheduled to play the day he died.

Elvis Presley’s new contract with manager Colonel Tom Parker took effect on January 1, 1967. It promised Parker would receive a 50% commission on any income above guarantees.

Tom T. Hall joined the Grand Ole Opry in 1971.

RCA limited its country albums to nine cuts in 1987. The company would abandon the policy a few short years later.

The American Federation of Musicians initiated a strike against the nation’s record companies in 1948. It’d continue through December.

Clint Black wrote Nobody’s Home in 1987. He was inspired after waking up with the flu in a new house following a breakup.

Faith Hill went to #1 on the Billboard country singles chart for the first time in her career in 1994. The song that took her there was Wild One.

Singer/songwriter Townes Van Zandt died following a heart attack in Mt. Juliet, TN in 1997. His credits included Don Williams & Emmylou Harris’ If I Needed You and Merle Haggard & Willie Nelson’s Pancho And Lefty.

Patti Page died in Encinitas, CA in 2013. A traditional-pop star of the 1950s, she landed numerous songs on the country charts across several decades, including her signature hit, The Tennessee Waltz.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY

Piano player Bobbie Nelson was born in Abbott, TX in 1931. The older sister of Willie Nelson, eventually became a member of his band. You can hear her playing on such hits like Whiskey River, Georgia On My Mind, Uncloudy Day and Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain.

Steve Ripley was born in Boise, ID in 1950. He’s the lead singer for The Tractors, a raw amalgam of country, R&B and roots rock that defies a country tradition in 1994, achieving a gold album without ever having played a full concert.