It was after these awards, I think; or maybe it was following 1975's, that a group of disgruntled country music entertainers got together and formed their own association. I think they called it the "Pissed Off Brigade" or something (no, I'm sure that wasn't what they called it). But it is true, that an alternate association was formed, to counter the "pop-ishness" leanings of the Country Music Association.
Now, maybe it was 1975, because looking at this year's winners' list, I'm not finding too much of what you'd call non-country.
Unless they were po'd because Charlie McCoy and Danny Davis kept winning. "We hate harmonicas!", they whined. "It's like a cat screeching!" "Oh, and enough with the trumpets! Oy! I can hardly hear myself think with that thing blowing!"
"And also, what's with Charlie Rich and his hat? Is he trying to be Frank Sinatra or somebody? We don't need that riff-raff hangin' around the Ryman!"
So, I guess I gave away the Instrumentalist of the Year and Instrumental Group of the Year winners. Oops. And I don't think they really hated Charlie Rich - at least I hope not.
No, what they were upset about, and it's sort of silly in hindsight, was the Female Vocalist of the Year winner.
Yes, I suppose her hit song wasn't technically country - at least not typical 1974 country. Now it would never get played on country radio, because it would be too country.
But it was harmless enough. I don't know what all the fuss was about. I like the song myself.
And, you know, she wasn't exactly depriving another deserving soul of the prize. The other nominees were Loretta Lynn (and I think she got more than her share of awards, don't you?), Anne Murray (oh, a paragon of country music), Dolly Parton (who also carted home a bundle of awards over the years, and who, by the way, made her own foray into pop music later, if you recall), and Tanya Tucker. Well, Tanya was what? Fourteen then? She had plenty of time.
And just for the fact that she didn't wear long Little House on the Prairie dresses, I think Olivia deserved the award!
FEMALE VOCALIST OF THE YEAR
I don't know who could harbor resentment against Olivia Newton-John. I mean, just look at her, with her Bee Gee shiny white teeth. I'm thinking that Australia had a lot of fluoride in their water. And she had nice hair. I wished my hair was like that in 1974. I've got no problems with Olivia winning the female vocalist award. For cuteness alone, she deserved the prize.
MALE VOCALIST OF THE YEAR
I see no reason why the Pissed Off Brigade would have any problem with Ronnie Milsap. Unless they were prejudiced against the blind. And that would really garner no sympathy for their movement.
There's a couple of really good singers from the country genre who get little recognition, but nevertheless, they're (as I said) really good singers. One of them is Ray Stevens, whom I've written about before. The other is Ronnie Milsap.
Listen to this rendition of a Don Gibson song, "Legend In My Time", and see if you don't agree that Ronnie is a really, really good singer.
Wow! Great ending here! I frankly have always been a Ronnie Milsap fan, and I wish he'd gotten his due, like he deserved. Maybe one day.....
ALBUM OF THE YEAR
A Very Special Love Song - Charlie Rich
Charlie'd been around for a long time before he got any kind of recognition or fame. He didn't just start out with "Behind Closed Doors", you know. He was one of those artists who just kept on keeping on, and hoping that maybe lightening would strike one day.
And I guess it was sort of like lightening, because one year he was on top of the world, and then one day, people were asking, "Whatever happened to Charlie Rich?" Fame or popularity is a weird thing. I think that Charlie was supremely talented, but he only had a couple of years on top, really, and then we never really heard from him again, unless we were paying close attention.
So, 1973 - 1974 were Charlie's years. Here's a major hit from (I'm guessing) the album of the year:
VOCAL DUO OF THE YEAR
Conway Twitty & Loretta Lynn
Okay, here's a video for which I apologize, because it's got a bunch of that Hee Haw "comedy" before we actually get to the song. But in watching this, I realized that I'd totally forgotten about this song, and it's pretty good! In fact, it's way better than a lot of the duets that C & L were famous for. My memory being jogged, I realize now that this was the lead-off track to Conway and Loretta's first album. I'd sort of gotten tired (or "tarred") of posting C & L videos, but I just kinda really like this one!
VOCAL GROUP OF THE YEAR
The Statler Brothers
Yes, the brothers win once again! I'm hoping (selfishly) that they don't keep winning, because I'm running out of video choices.
As I've said before, I like the Statler Brothers. They maybe did some stuff sometimes that wasn't my cup of tea, but they more than redeemed themselves over the many, many years that they were on the country music scene.
So, here's one of their nostalgic songs (again) that most likely kept them running up to the podium year after year.
Wow, one of these guys actually graduated in 1957! And I thought I was old! I guess age is relative.
SINGLE OF THE YEAR
Country Bumpkin - Cal Smith
SONG OF THE YEAR
Country Bumpkin - recorded by Cal Smith; written by Don Wayne
I've searched and I've searched, but unfortunately, there are no videos to be found of Cal singing this hit song from 1974. I was almost going to skip 1974, since I couldn't find a video of the song/single of the year winner. But then I thought, no. That's not really fair. So, I'll give you a link to the song (no video, however).
But if you want to know how the song went, it was basically: A guy walks into a bar and orders a beer from the barmaid, who proceeds to cut him down relentlessly, calling him a hillbilly and worse. So he marries her! The end.
I don't mean to be flip about this song. It's just that I heard it so dang many times in 1974, I don't care if I ever hear it again. But it was a good song. And the only song that I know of that rhymed "bumpkin" with "pumpkin".
ENTERTAINER OF THE YEAR
Charlie won the big prize! Yay for Charlie! This was Charlie's heyday. Never to come again. So let's just enjoy Charlie performing live here:
So, if you think the Pissed Off Brigade was pissed off in 1974, just wait 'til 1975......
But before we say goodbye to 1974, let's take a look at the Hall of Fame inductees.....
Legendary producer Owen Bradley, famous for Bradley's Barn, and famous, of course, for producing Patsy Cline's records, among many others, including Brenda Lee, Conway, and Loretta. Bradley had his own team of hand-picked session players, and he developed a sound that became legendary.
Here's a glimpse of Owen in this fun video featuring KD Lang, Brenda Lee, Loretta Lynn, and Miss Kitty Wells.
Pee Wee King
Here's a really old video of Pee Wee singing the song he wrote, Tennessee Waltz, which later became the state song of Tennessee. That's a pretty good accomplishment! And a very pretty song.