My Kind of Country

Country music from a fan's point of view since 2008

In Memoriam: Country legends we’ve lost already in 2019

As our friend Razor X pointed out to me, January has been a cruel month for fans of historical country music. Before we flip the page into February, I wanted to note the legends who are, sadly, no longer amongst us. I’ve chosen to eulogize them in descending order.

Maxine Brown Russell (1931-2019)

Russell passed away January 21 at age 87 following complications from heart and kidney disease. Along with her siblings Bonnie Brown Ring and Jim Ed Brown, she was a member of the trio The Browns, who were active from 1954-1968. The trio scored their biggest hit “The Three Bells” 60 years ago, spending 10 consecutive weeks at #1 from August 7-November 2, 1959. The trio was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2015. Jim Ed, who went on to have a successful solo career with hits such as “Pop a Top” and “I Don’t Want to Have To Marry You” with Helen Cornelius, died in 2015 following a battle with lung cancer. The disease claimed their sister Bonnie in 2016.

Reggie Young (1936-2019)

Young passed away January 17 from heart failure at age 82. A guitarist, Young’s signature sound graced hundreds of rock, pop, and country records. He most famously worked with Elvis Presley and Waylon Jennings.

Carol Channing (1921-2019)

Perhaps the most recognizable name in this group, Channing was a Broadway legend who made her mark playing Dolly Gallagher Levi in the musical Hello Dolly, which premiered in 1964. While not known for impacting country music in any significant way, she had a duet with Webb Pierce in 1976, entitled “Got You On My Mind.” Channing passed on January 15 of natural causes at age 97.

Bonnie Guitar (1923-2019)

Guitar, a country singer, guitarist, and business-woman, died January 12 at age 95. Please read our friend Paul W. Dennis’ Country Heritage Redux piece on her to learn more about her remarkable career. One of her biggest hits was “Dark Moon,” which was a #14 country single and peaked at #6 on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart:

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3 responses to “In Memoriam: Country legends we’ve lost already in 2019

  1. Luckyoldsun January 30, 2019 at 11:34 am

    RIP All.
    Reggie Young was also called, for awhile, the “Fifth Highwayman”.
    He’s featured pretty prominently on guitar on this clip of “Silver Stallion” from the group’s 1990 show at Nassau Coliseum.

  2. A. Michael Uhlmann January 31, 2019 at 10:53 pm

    Don’t forget Sanger “Whitey” D. Shafer, who was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1989 and who passed away January 12.
    He was not only a songwriter and a musician, but also recorded for Musicor and RCA, but was never as successful as he was as a songwriter, his biggest hit was “You Are A LIar” which reached #48 in 1981.
    Born (10/24/34) in Whitney, Texas, he started touring with a then unknown Willie Nelson and in 1967 moved to Nashville. Apart from lesser known artists, George Jones recorded two of his songs “Between My House and Home” and “I’m A New Man In Town.”
    In the early 70s he started to write for publisher Acuff-Rose and befriended Lefty Frizzell, with whom he wrote “That’s The Way Love Goes” (recorded by Johnny Rodriguez & Merle Haggard) and “I Never Go Around Mirrors” (Lefty, Keith Whitley) as well as “Bandy The Rodeo Clown” (Moe Bandy). The Possum recorded with “Tell Me My Lying Eyes Are Wrong” another of his compositions. After Lefty passed in 1975, Shafer wrote a tribute song, “Lefty’s Gone” which was later reocordes by George Strait.

    It was fellow Texan, George Strait who recorded Shafer’s “Does Fort Worth Ever Cross Your MInd” and “All My Ex’s Live In Texas” which were not only #1 hits but were also nominated for CMA’s Song of the Year. He had another #1 hit with “I Wonder Do You Think of Me” which was the title track and the first single released by Keith Whitley right after his death.

    Shafer also released two sought-after albums “I Never Go Around Mirrors” and “So Good For So Long” containing his best songs.

    Shafer was 84, when he passed away earlier this year after a long illness.

    • Jonathan Pappalardo February 2, 2019 at 10:08 am

      Omitting Shafer was an oversight on my part and I realized it after this posted. Thank you for mentioning him. He’s just as important to the legacy of country music as all the legends I eulogized here.

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