I guess 1976 was the year of the Outlaw. While the pop stylings of the Hollywood set still won their share of awards, hope was in the air.
I'll start by saying that the "regulars" won their usual awards. Not to diminish their achievements, but the same people just kept on winning in their "niche" categories.
I've exhausted YouTube's supply of videos for these folks, so I'll just say that the INSTRUMENTAL GROUP OF THE YEAR were Roy Clark and Buck Trent; and the VOCAL GROUP OF THE YEAR was the Statler Brothers.
Fortunately, the MUSICIAN OF THE YEAR award went to someone new this time around, Hargus (Pig) Robbins.
For those who are unaware, Pig Robbins played piano on pretty much every song that was ever recorded in Nashville.
'bout time that one of the session players got some recognition!
As you can imagine, as a session player, there really aren't any videos, per se, of Pig Robbins. But here's one from Patty Loveless's latest CD that Robbins played on. Just to show you, he's still going strong!
The SONG OF THE YEAR was written by Larry Weiss, and it went a little something like this:
RHINESTONE COWBOY - Glen Campbell
I've come to appreciate Glen Campbell more as the years have passed. I used to not care for him so much. But this song, I must say, was catchy at the time, and it still is.
The FEMALE VOCALIST OF THE YEAR was (again) Dolly Parton. Now, I think that Dolly is a good songwriter. Having said that, she had some really sukky songs during this time. We'll call it her "experimental period". "I Will Always Love You" was sappy enough, but then she did this one:
This was obviously done during Dolly's struggles with weight. Maybe that's why she wasn't at her best. It had to affect her self-esteem. Cuz this song is really crappy. Sorry.
MALE VOCALIST OF THE YEAR
As long as I can find videos of Ronnie, I'll keep posting them. I'm a pretty big Ronnie Milsap fan. He's one of those artists, like Ray Stevens or Bobby Bare, who don't get their just due.
This is a fun video, because it includes a medley of some of Ronnie's biggest hits. Enjoy.
And now we come to the Outlaw portion of our show. The SINGLE OF THE YEAR was recorded by two old pals, who, according to Willie's biography, tended to fight and fuss a lot, but they were still good friends. Willie, as you know, was generally very relaxed, while Waylon's medications tended to have the opposite affect. This, naturally, created some tension between the two. But watching this video leads one to believe that everything was quite all right, and regardless of their squabbles, they made some very nice music together.
GOOD HEARTED WOMAN
I can't help but notice, though, that they keep a'showin' his hands, but not his face on TV (second reference to the Dukes of Hazzard - I'm keeping count.)
Oh, by the way, WAYLON and WILLIE were also named VOCAL DUO OF THE YEAR. Chalk up another one for the Outlaws.
ALBUM OF THE YEAR
Wanted: The Outlaws
As I've written before, this was an album that none of the participants had a clue was being released until it was, well, released. The producer at RCA, Jerry Bradley (Owen Bradley's son) slapped the whole thing together from previously released material. He picked the songs; he picked the participants. They were: Waylon, Willie, Tompall Glaser, and Jessi Colter. And he decided to call them the "Outlaws". News to them! They didn't even know they were outlaws!
But once the money started rolling in, they were happy to call themselves anything the producer wanted....."old shoes", "peanut m & m's".......they didn't care. Fortuitously, the album wasn't titled, "Wanted: The Peanut M & M's".
Here is a track from that multi-$$$-selling album:
Regardless of the world-renown of the Outlaws album, the ENTERTAINER OF THE YEAR award went to this f-f-f-fellow:
Truth be told, Mel didn't win for his singing. He won for his funny stories. Sort of like this:
But one should not let Mel's "entertaining" obscure his accomplishments as a songwriter. After all, he wrote "Detroit City", "Ruby (Don't Take Your Love To Town)", among many, many others, including a string of hits for Webb Pierce. And he also wrote one of my all-time favorite classic country songs, "Heart Over Mind".
Here's but a sampling of some of Mel's songs:
HALL OF FAME
I admit, I didn't know anything about Paul Cohen, but when I looked him up, I found that he produced a whole lot of stars for Columbia Records. Here's a couple:
Later, at Kapp Records, he also produced Mel Tillis, so I guess what goes around comes around.
And he produced the second inductee from 1976:
Isn't this the quintessential country song? And this was recorded in 1952! That's even before I was born! Kitty is 89 years old now. Country singers, both male and female, owe a debt to Kitty Wells.