The River's Badge

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The First CMA Awards - 1967

Interestingly, while the Country Music Association itself was formed in 1958, for some reason, they didn't give out any awards until 1967. That seems like kind of a ripoff to those artists who had great songs prior to 1967. I guess they lost out, and their only hope was to live to be old enough to get inducted into the Hall of Fame. (Although I'm pretty sure that probably didn't exactly cross their minds at the time.)

One thing I applaud the earlier awards for, is their relatively small number of categories! Only ten! You know how I feel about how this whole thing has gotten entirely out of hand. But, back in 1967, they kind of kept things in perspective (although they did have a Comedian of the Year category, which, not surprisingly has fallen by the wayside. Unless you count Jessica Simpson.)

While I can't find a list of nominees for 1967, I do have the list of winners.

The 1967 CMA awards were not televised. So, I guess they met in some Shriner's hall or something, and had some drinks and basically watched Jack Greene run up to the podium every ten minutes, as you will see from the winners' list below.

SINGLE OF THE YEAR
There Goes My Everything, Jack Greene

ALBUM OF THE YEAR
There Goes My Everything, Jack Greene

SONG OF THE YEAR
There Goes My Everything - recorded by Jack Greene, written by Dallas Frazier

MALE VOCALIST OF THE YEAR
Jack Greene

Well, then, let's hear it! And before we get to the video, I would just like to mention - remember Dallas Frazier? A great writer. I could do a whole video blog post of just Dallas Frazier songs.



A few years may have passed, but Jack can still do it well! Jack was originally a member of Ernest Tubb's Texas Troubadours. He was ET's drummer before going out on his own.

My favorite Jack Greene recording is "Statue Of A Fool". Check it out when you have the chance.

One award that Jack didn't win in 1967 was:

FEMALE VOCALIST OF THE YEAR
Loretta Lynn

Tammy hadn't really hit yet at the time these awards were presented. And prior to Tammy, at least in the sixties, Loretta was the gal. Good old Buffalo Lynn, as I call her, because I got her autograph at Panther Hall sometime around 1964, and I swear she signed it "Buffalo Lynn". It's not my fault she has terrible handwriting.

Since the awards were presented in 1967, I'm thinking that they were honoring work from the previous year, so here's Loretta with a MAJOR hit from 1966:



Wow - that was fun! I really love watching videos like this from the sixties. I'll just ignore the fact that she was performing on that sexist Doyle (or Teddy?) Wilburn's show, but didn't she look young and cute?

I know this is really nitpicky, but was she actually playing that guitar? Cuz, first of all, I think that song was in the key of A, and for the key of A, that's the weirdest finger position I've ever seen, and I don't see a capo on her guitar. PLUS, she keeps taking her fingers off the frets. I don't know how you can play a chord if you're constantly letting go of the guitar. So, I thnk the guitar was a prop. But that's okay. You wouldn't see too many "girl" singers nowadays even pretending to play guitar.

VOCAL GROUP OF THE YEAR
The Stonemans

Now, I know my country music history, but I admit, I don't know anything about this group, really. But, in perusing YouTube, I did find some videos, and my impression is, first of all, they are bluegrass; not country. But that's okay. Country music embraces bluegrass, after all. You know, with Bill Monroe, and more recently, Marty Stuart.

Secondly, I guess they kind of tried to fill that "novelty" niche, because if you watch this, it's kinda weird. You got the one girl who's, shall we say, overly enthusiastic. Then you've got the other one who maintains the "stone face" throughout the entire number.

So, not my cup of tea, really. But, I think this was a transition period, and this group was one of the last remnants of the older stuff. Plus, I guess the only other "group" around at that time was the Statler Brothers, and they got their share of statuettes later, believe me.

And these guys were good musicians:



INSTRUMENTALIST OF THE YEAR
Chet Atkins

What can be said about Chet Atkins that hasn't already been said? He is most certainly a legend. Chet was in charge at RCA around this time, so how could they afford to not give him this award? (just kidding)

Chet's gotten a lot of flack about creating the "Nashville Sound", and how that ruined country music, but I think there's both good and bad to be said about that. Country music had to survive, number one. So, he did what he needed to do. And so he put strings behind Jim Reeves. Didn't hurt Jim's career now, did it? I read that Willie Nelson just couldn't work with Chet, because of the syrupy strings, but okay, it wasn't right for Willie, but it worked for others.

So, I don't know. I don't care for the Anita Kerr Singers horning in on every country record, either, but that stuff still sounds way better than the stuff they're putting out today.

Anyway, don't forget that Chet was first and foremost a musician. Here he is on the Johnny Cash Show:



INSTRUMENTAL GROUP OF THE YEAR
The Buckaroos

They don't have this award anymore. Cuz it's all about ME. ME, in the spotlight. The band is just incidental. They're interchangeable. Rock and roll still embraces the concept of a BAND. Country music used to. A lot of stars' bands used to put out albums of their own. I can cite The Strangers, for one. The Po' Boys are another. And these albums were GOOD.

Of course, it's hard to top the Buckaroos. When the band was in its prime, it featured, of course, Don Rich, and also Tom Brumley on steel, Doyle Holly on bass, Willie Cantu on drums. And they won GRAMMYS. Not to mention, they had really pretty "outfits" (or "costumes" or "uniforms" or whatever the male species calls its ensembles).

Here's the Buckaroos at their best:



The fiddle was not Don's original instrument. And I hear that's a HARD instrument to learn.

Don was taken before his time, in 1974. Buck never got over it.

COMEDIAN OF THE YEAR
Don Bowman

Okay, I got nothin' here. I remember Ben Colder (been colder here), but I just don't remember Don Bowman.

And YouTube is of little help. Here's one, but it's not a video, per se. Just some pictures and graphics and the original recording.

And humor is relative. But here's Don Bowman:



ENTERTAINER OF THE YEAR
Eddy Arnold

Of course, entertainer of the year is the most coveted CMA award.

Watching this video, one sees the ease with which Eddy performed. As you know, Eddy passed away this year. A lot of his songs were more "country pop" than country, but he opened the doors for country music beyond the Nashville city limits.

This one is short, but it's Eddy's most famous song:



COUNTRY MUSIC HALL OF FAME

Red Foley

Red Foley was really before my time. (I'm not as old as the hills, you know.) But I do know this song, obviously. The video quality is poor, but this was the best I could find of:

PEACE IN THE VALLEY


J.L. (Joe) Frank

I understand that Mr. Frank was a country music promoter in the early days. He promoted Eddy Arnold, Minnie Pearl, Roy Acuff, and Gene Autry, among others. I guess he was pretty brave, promoting those "hillbillies". We may not know these guys, but they paved the way.

Jim Reeves

I'll just say it. I am not a Jim Reeves fan. That doesn't negate the impact he made on country music in the early sixties. He had a niche. He was the tuxedoed guy who did the (thanks, Chet) Nashville sound recordings. He had some good songs. This just doesn't happen to be one of them (although it's his biggest hit):



And c'mon kids that were in the American Bandstand audience - what's with the screaming? You know, your parents listened to Jim Reeves. Have some teenager cred, will you? You're supposed to rebel.

Now, this one I like:



You know, the guy is long gone, so who am I to criticize? But it just seems to me that he was sort of going through the motions. Like this was his "schtick". But he was wildly successful, so....I'm just saying, he's no Bobby Bare.

So, there you have it. 1967. The first CMA awards.

We'll try to capsulize some other years as we go along.

After all, this is country music month. Oh, I guess it's not. This is still September. October used to be country music month, but now it's November. Man, it's hard to keep up with all these changes! I guess I have some time, then.

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