My Kind of Country

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

Spotlight Artist: John Conlee

John Conlee was born into the post-war Baby Boom, on 11 August 1946, in Kentucky, where his father was a tobacco and hog farmer. He grew up singing and playing music, but did not immediately plan on making it his career, instead becoming an undertaker. This career path figured largely in early publicity material, and as recently as 2010 when he briefly opened up a twitter feed, he described himself as “Christian, husband, father, farmer, singer, Opry member, undertaker”. He moved to Nashville in 1971, where he found work as a rock radio DJ, while he pursued his own country music on the side.

In 1976 he secured a record deal with ABC. A couple of flop singles later, overnight success dawned with the unforgettable ‘Rose Colored Glasses’, a top ten hit in 1978. He moved to MCA the following year, when ABC was taken over, and a decade of hitmaking ensued, first on that label and then on Columbia. Throughout his career he has worked with producer Bud Logan.
Over 30 when he first became a star, and never glamorous, he fell out of favour with country radio when the New Country movement of the late 80s cast aside older stars. At the end of the 80s he moved to independent 16th Avenue until the label folded.

The next decade was a quiet one with no recorded output, as John and his wife Gale raised their family on a working farm near Nashville. 1999 saw a return to music with a live album release, and in the present century he has taken to rerecording his earlier material with a few new tracks. Although, regrettably, not all his original recordings are readily available, this has helped to reach a new audience in the digital era.

Conlee was instrumental alongside Willie Nelson in running the Farm Aid concerts to support struggling American farmers in the 80s and 90s. Fans’ cash gifts when he sings his 1983 hit ‘Busted’ live are devoted to charity, initially Feed The Children and currently the Wounded Warrior Project.

He became a member of the Opry in 1981, and in recent years has become the unofficial father of the Opry.

We are delighted to announce that John Conlee is the MKOC Spotlight Artist for March 2019.

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3 responses to “Spotlight Artist: John Conlee

  1. Trey March 1, 2019 at 6:28 pm

    Wow. Awesome !!!! Love John’s music !!! Seen him many times live !!!

  2. Ken March 6, 2019 at 10:36 am

    Have always been a big fan. John has a very distinctive voice and selected great songs for his albums. Several songs on his LP’s became hit singles for other artists. His own singles include some of the best songs of the late 1970’s & the 1980’s.

    John’s early label affiliations ping-ponged due to changes at the corporate level of his recording company. His first three singles were issued on the ABC/Dot imprint. ABC discontinued using the Dot name in 1978 so starting with “Rose Colored Glasses” John’s next three singles were released on ABC. When ABC was sold to MCA records in early 1979 John became part of the MCA roster. His song “Backside Of Thirty” was the final #1 single for the ABC imprint in May 1979.

    John is a really nice guy that has always been very approachable. He truly appreciates his fans and treats them well. Glad to see that he’s in the spotlight this month.

  3. Michael A. March 6, 2019 at 11:06 pm

    A great choice. I’m looking forward to this month’s coverage!

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