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May 31

May 31, 1922
“Vic” Willis is born in Schulter, Oklahoma. A member of the Grand Ole Opry through his work with The Willis Brothers and, later, the Vic Willis Trio, he spends his final 13 years as the secretary for the musicians’ union in Nashville
May 31, 1930
Actor Clint Eastwood is born at St. Francis Hospital in San Francisco. He duets with Merle Haggard on “Bar Room Buddies,” appears on T.G. Sheppard’s “Make My Day,” and co-owns the Viva label, which launches David Frizzell & Shelly West in the 1980s
May 31, 1938
Donald Lytle is born in Greenfield, Ohio. As Johnny Paycheck, he becomes one of country’s most colorful stars as his legal run-ins coincide with his membership in the “outlaw” movement. He’s best known for 1977’s “Take This Job And Shove It”


May 31, 1954
Steel player Paul Franklin is born in Detroit. Beginning his studio career on Gallery’s 1972 pop hit “It’s So Nice To Be With You,” Franklin plays on country hits by George Strait, Alan Jackson, Rascal Flatts and Shania Twain, among others
May 31, 1974
“The Midnight Special” takes on a country motif, with host Marty Robbins, plus Bill Anderson, Don Gibson, Freddie Hart, George Jones, Charlie McCoy, Anne Murray, Johnny Rodriguez, Tommy Overstreet, Tammy Wynette and Diana Trask
May 31, 1975
“Life ain’t nothin’ but a funny, funny riddle”: “Thank God I’m A Country Boy” brings a joyous John Denver to the top of the Billboard country chart
May 31, 1986
“Whoever’s In New England” takes Reba McEntire to #1 on the Billboard country chart
May 31, 1988
RCA releases Keith Whitley’s “Don’t Close Your Eyes” album

May 31, 1991
Tracy Lawrence is shot in Shoney’s parking lot on Music Row just after completing vocals for his debut album. Lawrence and a female friend were robbed by three gunmen prior to the shooting
May 31, 1992
Don Henley adds his vocal part to Trisha Yearwood’s “Walkaway Joe” during an evening overdub session at Nashville’s Sound Emporium
May 31, 1995
Alan Jackson records “Tall, Tall Trees” and “I’ll Try”

May 31, 1997
Lee Ann Womack makes her Grand Ole Opry debut, singing “Never Again, Again”