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October 17

The Radio Corporation of America was formed in 1919. RCA becomes one of the most-storied labels in country music’s history, representing such acts as Elvis Presley, Dolly Parton, Alabama, Clint Black, Eddy Arnold, Chet Atkins and The Carter Family.

Capitol released Tennessee Ernie Ford’s “Sixteen Tons” on October 17, 1955

Jerry Reed held his first recording session, for Capitol Records in 1955, at the Castle Recording Studio in Nashville. he was promoted as a new “teen-age sensation” after recording his own rockabilly composition “When I Found You” in 1956. He recorded both country and rockabilly singles, and received notice as a songwriter when label mate Gene Vincent covered his song “Crazy Legs” in 1958.

Tom Selleck stars in the 1979 CBS movie “The Concrete Cowboys,” with Barbara Mandrell, Jerry Reed, Seidena Reed, Roy Acuff, Ray Stevens and Red West.

Dolly Parton headed to the studio in 1988 to record “Why’d You Come In Here Lookin’ Like That” with co-producer Ricky Skaggs.

Mercury released The Kentucky HeadHunters’ “Pickin’ On Nashville” album in 1989. This wasn’t long after they took Nashville by storm. They played a showcase with Lee Roy Parnell in 1988. Lee Roy later the band that when he heard them that night, he thought, “Oh my God, Heavy Metal Bluegrass!"”

Naomi Judd broke the news that she has hepatitis in 1990. The diagnosis required her to give up performing. She and Wynonna held the press conference in the same room in which they auditioned for RCA in 1983. Here she is on Larry King’s show shortly after…

We lost Tennessee Ernie Ford to liver disease in 1991. He mixed country and gospel recordings during his lengthy career. He was best known for “Sixteen Tons” and joined the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1990. Bristol might be the Birthplace of Country Music…but it’s also the homeplace of Ernie Ford.

American released the Johnny Cash album “American III: Solitary Man” in 2000. The title track wins a Grammy award.


Earl Thomas Conley was born in Portsmouth, OH in 1941. After writing hits for Conway Twitty and Mel Street, he fashions a string of his own tuneful singles in the 1980s, including “Fire & Smoke,” “That Was A Close One” and “Your Love’s On The Line”

Alan Jackson was born in Newnan, GA in 1958. The first artist signed to Arista Records’ country division in 1989, he becomes a traditional icon thanks to such hits as “Don’t Rock The Jukebox,” “Chattahoochee,” “Gone Country” and “Where Were You (When The World Stopped Turning)”