The first graphite reactor, designed to produce atomic power, went into operation in the secret government town of Oak Ridge, TN in 1944. The community’s name is soon borrowed by the Oak Ridge Quartet, which becomes The Oak Ridge Boys.
The Stanley Brothers recorded I’m A Man Of Constant Sorrow in 1950 at the Castle Studio in Nashville. Their version of the song provides a template for the version by the fictitious Soggy Bottom Boys, which appears in the film O Brother, Where Art Thou?
Roy Acuff and Eddy Arnold hosted the first live telecast from Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium in 1952. The half-hour “Celebrities For Eisenhower,” financed by the Republican party, airs in five Southern states.
Gene Autry and Smiley Burnette both perform in the debut of Last Of The Pony Riders, a western built around the Pony Express. The 1953 film was the last movie to feature Autry as a singing cowboy.
Marty Robbins recorded Singing The Blues and I Can’t Quit (I’ve Gone Too Far) during a late-night session at the Bradley Film & Recording Studio in Nashville in 1955. Marty’s version of Singing The Blues would make it to #1 on the Country & Western chart in 1956 and stayed there for 13 weeks into 1957. It even peaked at #17 on the US pop chart.
The Tulane Hotel was demolished at 8th & Church in Nashville in 1956. Home of the Castle Recording Studio, the building was a recording site for Ernest Tubb, Red Foley, Bill Monroe, Hank Williams, Red Foley, Carl Smith, The Louvin Brothers and others.
November 3, 1957 was a busy day for Jerry Lee Lewis. That day Sun Records released Great Balls Of Fire. Later that night “The Killer” performed his new single on the Steve Allen Show on NBC.
Merle Haggard was released from San Quentin Prison in 1960 and allowed to complete the more than two years remaining of his sentence on parole. A few short years later in 1966, Haggard earned his first #1 hit with a song about living a life of crime with I’m a Lonesome Fugitive.
Hank Williams, music publisher Fred Rose and Jimmie Rodgers are the first inductees in the Country Music Hall Of Fame in 1961.
Roger Miller recorded “King Of The Road” in Nashville in 1964. Sitting in for the session on guitar was Ray Edenton – on his birthday.
Eleven years to the day after the release of Great Balls of Fire, Jerry Lee Lewis was performing in Atlanta in 1968. A man in the audience had said something derogatory about his music. Jerry Lee hit the man in the face with his microphone stand. The man died in 1970 and his estate sued “The Killer” five years later.
Johnny Duncan records I’d Rather Love You at the Columbia Studio in Nashville in 1970. Seventeen days later, Charley Pride records the hit version of Duncan’s song.
Donna Fargo recorded The Happiest Girl In The Whole U.S.A. in 1971. The song was originally intended for Tanya Tucker, but she turned it down and chose to record Delta Dawn instead. Donna didn’t mind…it became her signature hit and went to #1 on the country chart, #11 on the pop chart and #7 on the easy listening chart. It was also named “Song of The Year” in ‘71.
At halftime of UT’s 1979 homecoming game, the marching band played Wabash Cannonball and I Saw The Light. Roy Acuff then played four songs for the Neyland Stadium crowd of 85,000. The Rutgers Scarlet Knights beat the Volunteers, 13-7.
Kenny Rogers’ You Decorated My Life rests at #1 on the Billboard country chart in 1979. As Kenny was prone to do, the song became a crossover hit, making it to #7 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Willie Nelson’s remake of City Of New Orleans powered its way to #1 on the Billboard country singles chart in 1984.
As if one dozen wasn’t enough: Minnie Pearl celebrated her 50th anniversary on the Grand Ole Opry in 1990, prompting Dwight Yoakam to send her 50 dozen roses.
Reba McEntire collects her fourteenth #1 single in Billboard with You Lie in 1990.
A year later in ‘91, Reba appeared with Kenny Rogers in the NBC-TV movie The Gambler Returns: Luck Of The Draw.
Shania Twain tapes an NBC-TV special, Shania Twain: Up! Close And Personal in 2003 at Citations in Nashville with special guests Alison Krauss + Union Station.
Songwriter Ronny Scaife died at Nashville’s Saint Thomas Hospital days after suffering a brain hemorrhage in 2010. His credits include Charly McClain’s Men, Hal Ketchum’s Hearts Are Gonna Roll and Conway Twitty’s I Couldn’t See You Leavin’.
Record executive Fabor Robison was born in Beebe, AR in 1911. He founded Abbott Records and Fabor Records, establishing recording careers for Jim Reeves, Johnny Horton and The Browns.
Cal Maddox was born in Boaz, AL in 1915. A member of The Maddox Brothers & Rose, he is part of the Most Colorful Hillbilly Band in America, whose energetic live show makes them one of the most popular touring honky-tonk acts of the 1940s and ’50s.
Guitarist Ray Edenton was born in Mineral, VA in 1926. A member of Nashville’s A-Team, his guitar credits include George Jones’ The Grand Tour, Patsy Cline’s Sweet Dreams, Loretta Lynn’s Coal Miner’s Daughter and Roger Miller’s King Of The Road.
Guitarist James Alan Shelton was born in 1960 in Kingsport. As a child he saw Ralph Stanley perform and was inspired to learn the guitar and banjo. After working for his father for $1.25 an hour to pay off a guitar, he eventually became a member of Ralph Stanley’s Clinch Mountain Boys.