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May 26

May 26, 1907
Marion Morrison is born in Winterset, Iowa. Renamed John Wayne for the silver screen, he becomes one of the best-known actors of the 20th century. The Duke is namechecked in Big & Rich’s 2004 hit “Save A Horse (Ride A Cowboy)”


May 26, 1933
Jimmie Rodgers, suffering from tuberculosis, dies of a massive hemorrhage at New York’s Taft Hotel. Nicknamed the Singing Brakeman, he became country music’s first superstar, and, in 1961, the first person inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame
May 26, 1940
Drummer Levon Helm is born in Marvell, Arkansas. He joins The Band, a rock group that tours with Bob Dylan for two years.
May 26, 1943
Drummer Willie Cantu is born in Corpus Christi, Texas. He joins Buck Owens’ Buckaroos, laying down the backbeat for such hits as “I’ve Got A Tiger By The Tail,” “Buckaroo” and “Waitin’ In Your Welfare Line”
May 26, 1949
Vicki Lawrence is born in Inglewood, California. A regular on TV’s “The Carol Burnett Show” and “Mama’s Family,” she records “The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia,” a pop hit that reaches country’s Top 30 and gets covered by Reba McEntire
May 26, 1949
Hank Williams Jr. is born in Shreveport, Louisiana. The son of country legend Hank Williams, he develops his own career, taking Entertainer of the Year in 1987 from both the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music

May 26, 1951
Songwriter Richard Leigh is born in McLean, Virginia. He writes Crystal Gayle’s “Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue,” Billy Dean’s “Somewhere In My Broken Heart,” Steve Wariner’s “Life’s Highway” and Reba McEntire’s “The Greatest Man I Never Knew”
May 26, 1961
Ray Stevens records a minor pop hit, “Jeremiah Peabody’s Poly Unsaturated Quick Dissolving Fast Acting Pleasant Tasting Green And Purple Pills,” in his first Mercury session, at Nashville’s Bradley Recording Studio
May 26, 1972
Mel Tillis records “I Ain’t Never” in Nashville
May 26, 1973
Jeanne Pruett notches a #1 single in Billboard with her signature song, “Satin Sheets”
May 26, 1981
Charley Pride records a live album at the Grand Ole Opry House
May 26, 1982
Larry Gatlin & The Gatlin Brothers Band record “Houston (Means I’m One Day Closer To You)”

May 26, 1984
Onie Wheeler, harmonica player in Roy Acuff’s Smoky Mountain Boys, dies of cardiac arrest during videotaping of “Grand Ole Gospel Time” on the stage at the Grand Ole Opry House
May 26, 1989
RCA releases Lorrie Morgan’s “Leave The Light On” album
May 26, 1989
Columbia releases the Dolly Parton album “White Limozeen,” produced by Ricky Skaggs and named for a song written by Mac Davis
May 26, 1992
Alan Jackson records “Mercury Blues”
May 26, 2001
Loretta Lynn opens the Coal Miner’s Daughter Museum in Hurricane Mills, Tennessee. It houses artifacts from her career, including awards, stage clothing and her tour bus. There for the opening: George Jones, Naomi Judd and Crystal Gayle
May 26, 2006
Songwriter Cy Coben dies of a heart attack in Redwood City, California. He authored such hits as Eddy Arnold’s “I Wanna Play House With You,” Jerry Reed’s “A Good Woman’s Love” and Connie Smith’s “Burning A Hole In My Mind”