The 1920’s first introduced the world to country music. That twang, blues, hillbilly Southern drawl had just about everyone tapping their feet. Through the generations, country music has gone from cowboys to honky tonk to outlaw country to bro-country and the list goes on. One thing is certain, country music revolutionized the music scene as we know it.
“The Man in Black” already had established himself before the 1970’s came round. Before long, the Country Music Hall of Famer was in the history books as one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century. Cash was more than a music genius, he was an activist at heart, as a champion for Native Americans, the poor, the hungry, the depressed, the addicts, the prison reform advocate, and the list could tumble on. Four months after his beloved wife, June, passed away in 2003, Cash also died of complications from diabetes.
David Allan Coe
When David Allan Coe released his first album, “Penitentiary Blues,” in the early 70’s, boom! That was all it took to get on the map. With hit singles like “Mona Lisa Lost Her Smile” and “You Never Even Called Me by My Name”, Coe was a star. Today Coe is still writing and making music, which falls into a new genre of music known as “country metal.”
Lynn Anderson is still considered one of the most popular and successful country singers of the 1970’s. Her country-pop single titled “(I Never Promised You A) Rose Garden” easily launched her into stardom, both on radio and TV. Before she passed away in 2015, she continued to perform and was a popular concert attraction.
Whether alone or with his singing partner, Joe Stampley, Moe Bandy dominated the charts in the 70’s. Singles like “Bandy the Rodeo Clown” and “I Cheated Me Right Out of You” still have people singing along today. Currently he’s taken a step back from singing and is instead focused on being a six time NFR bull riding qualifier! Moreover he was inducted into the Texas Rodeo Cowboy Hall of Fame back in 2007.
In the 60’s and 70’s, there wasn’t a single person who wasn’t singing along to one of Campbell’s hits. Furthermore if he wasn’t singing, he was hosting The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour, a music and comedy show. Campbell’s 50 year career has earned him numerous accolades, including four Grammys and the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. However he officially retired in 2013, two years after he announced his Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis.
June Carter Cash
Many of us remember June Carter Cash as a talented singer-songwriter, but she was more than that. June was also an author, dancer, actress, comedian, philanthropist, and humanitarian. With five Grammy Awards to her name, June continued to record and perform with her husband, Johnny Cash, up until her death in 2003.
Most people knew who Eddie Rabbitt was as he toured with country music legends Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton. However his first single “Every Which Way But Loose” really put him on the map. In 1998, Eddie tragically passed away from lung cancer.
Faron Young was a 50’s honky tonk singing sensation who then switched to country pop in the 60’s. “Hillbilly Heartthrob” wrote hits like “If You Ain’t Lovin’ (You Ain’t Livin’)” and “Live Fast, Love Hard, Die Young.” After a long battle with alcoholism, and his belief that the music industry didn’t want him around, Young tragically took his own life in 1996.
Rodney Crowell may have started his career as a songwriter but when he transitioned in singing, he did brilliantly. Since then, Rodney has earned two Grammy awards which include the Best Country song with “After All This Time,” moreover he also earned the Best Americana Album award. Currently he’s still making music with a new album hitting stores in late 2017.
Jeannie Seely was already a recording artist but in the 70’s, she set her sights on songwriting and after a while, went back on stage. At 76, Seely is still making music – in fact, she just released a new album this year “Written In Song.”
Even though most music stations refused to play Loretta Lynn’s controversial hits like “The Pill,” “One’s on the Way,” and “Dear Uncle Sam,” she was still a legend. One adored by many!Currently Lynn is still performing at the Grand Ole Opry. Plus she’s got a ton of awards to her name like getting inducted to the Songwriters Hall of Fame, and receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama in 2013.
Meet Ronnie Milsap, the first blind country music star who broke onto the scene with his single 1971 “”I Hate You.” Since then, he hasn’t slowed down once. While he’s still making music, he hasn’t performed since 2014.
By the time the 70’s rolled around, Don Gibson was already a star with hits like “There’s a Story Goin’ Round” and “Oh, How Love Changes.” Inn 2003, at the age of 77, Gibson passed away. However a few years later, a theatre was opened in his name in his hometown, Shelby, North Carolina. The impressive theatre has hosted Pam Tillis, Ricky Skaggs, and many others.
To date, 32 singles of John Conlee have landed on the Billboard Hot Country Songs charts. Since 1981, Conlee has been a member of the Grand Ole Opry, where he continues to perform. His latest single ‘Bread and Water’ was released in 2015.
Singer, actor, businessman, Jimmy Dean, had created a name for himself in the 60’s. Especially with his hit “Big Bad John” and his television series, The Jimmy Dean Show, everyone knew his name. Hits kept on coming in the 70’s, singles like “Slowly” and “I.O.U.” had everyone swooning. Although we should mention he is ultimately remembered best as the creator of the Jimmy Dean sausage brand. At the age of 81, Dean passed away in 2010.
Before Merle Haggard featured on the cover of Time magazine in 1974, he was an established country great. With nine chart toppers to his name, like “Always Wanting You,” “Someday We’ll Look Back,” “The Roots of My Raising” and “Grandma Harp,” there was no doubt of his skill. He influenced the world of country music as we know it and earned a ton of accolades along the way – sadly he passed away in 2016 from complications from pneumonia.
George Jones’s struggle with alcoholism didn’t stop him from producing hit after hit such as “The Grand Tour” and “The Door.” Jones passed away when he was 81 years old in 2013 and his impact on country music brought many legends to pay their respects, like Governor Mark Huckabee and even the Former First Lady Laura Bush.
The Oak Ridge Boys
Now The Oak Ridge Boys started out as a gospel quartet up until the 70’s when they re-branded as country. Hits like “Elvira”, “Bobbie Sue”, and “American Made” gave them tons of country and crossover success. Currently they’re still a group that continues to tour and record.
English-Australian singer, songwriter, and actress, Olivia Newton-John needs no introduction. Her career ultimately soared after her role in Grease in 1978, but you probably knew that already. Furthermore the four-time Grammy award winner is one of the world’s best-selling artists of all time. On top of all that, she’s an activist for environmental and animal rights issues. Recently it was announced that Olivia’s breast cancer had returned, we’re all wishing you a full recovery!
Yup, after he was a writer for Elvis Presley, Mac Davis penned his country/pop single “Baby Don’t Get Hooked on Me,” which went on to sell more than one million copies. That same year, he won the Academy of Country Music’s Entertainer of the Year award! Aside from singing – he did perform at Ronald Reagan’s inauguration in 1985 – Davis also did a cit of acting, earning a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Furthermore he was inducted to the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2000.
Who could forget the “Take Me Home Country Roads” hit single from 1971? John Denver’s success only continued with even more number one singles. Denver’s tragic death in 1997 at 53 was a total shock – he was flying an experimental aircraft when it crashed into the ocean.
During the 70’s and 80’s, Crystal Gale busted out 20 number-one country hits, like “Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue.” Known also for her floor-length hair, Gale has 6 gold-certified albums and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Currently she’s working on a new album, her first in over 13 years.
Dolly Parton’s younger sister, Stella, really stole the show with her breakout hit “I Want to Hold You In My Dreams Tonight.” Aside from singing, she also appeared on many television shows like Dukes of Hazard. Currently Stella resides in Kentucky, working with battered women, teaching them how to do hair and makeup. In addition, she’s also a national spokeswoman for Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and the Christian Appalachian Project.
Younger sister to country singer star Barbara Mandrell, and older sister to actress Irlene Mandrell, Louise Mandrell started her professional career in the early 70’s. However it wasn’t until the 80’s that Louise broke through. With singles like “Put It On Me” and “Everlasting Love,” Louise was a chart topper. Over the years, she’s turned to theater and writing.
Let’s start with a fun fact – Jimmy Martin is the KING of bluegrass. Martin performed with his band, Jimmy Martin’s Sunny Mountain Boys, and together they traveled the world. Sadly Martin died a year after he was diagnosed with bladder cancer at 77 years of age.
Inspiration came to this Cajun as he wrote songs, something that blessed him for years to come. 1974 is when his first single “Good News, Bad News” reached 27 on the charts and it only sky rocketed from there. While he carried on performing hit singles like “Two Much Candy For A Dime” and “Rock Me In The Rhythm Of Your Love,” he is remembered best for his song writing ability.
John Anderson’s career really kicked off in 1977, and since he has gone on to release numerous chart topping hits, like “I’ve Got a Feelin’ (Somebody’s Been Stealin’)” and “The Girl At The End Of The Bar.” Anderson is still performing today, his latest album was in 2015. Moreover he earned the Academy of Country Music Career Achievement Award.
Now here’s a country music legend that honestly needs no introduction. As the “most honored female country performer of all time”, Parton has 25 RIAA certified Gold, Platinum, and Multi-Platinum awards, plus nine Grammy Awards. While Parton had started her career off as just a songwriter, it was in ’67 that she debuted with Hello, I’m Dolly. Since then, singles like “Jolene” and “I Will Always Love You” have launched Parton to international stardom.
For 50 years, Hank Locklin was a member of the Grand Ole Opry, releasing hits like “Please Help Me, I’m Falling” and “Send Me the Pillow You Dream On.” Locklin sadly passed away in 2009 at 91, having released 65 records with his latest gospel album called “By the Grace of God.”
In the 70’s Vince Gill was the frontman for the country rock band ‘Pure Prairie League’ and in 1983, he embarked on a solo career. As of 2017, Gill has gone on to earn 21 Grammy Awards, which is more than any other male country music artist!
Let’s see, Williams began his solo career in 1970 and man was he successful – he earned 17 chart toppers and even began to be known as the Gentle Giant of country music. With hits like “I Wouldn’t Want to Live If You Didn’t Love Me,” and “We Should Be Together,” we’re not surprised. So Williams apparently retired in 2006 even though he carried on touring and released a new album. At 77, he as officially retired this time around.
Since the 50’s, Sonny James was releasing hit after hit, including the 1971’s single “Here Comes Honey Again” and 1974’s “Is It Wrong (For Loving You).” Plus he helped Marie Osmond’s career to take off. The Southern Gentleman was married to his wife for 59 years before he passed away at 87.
Speaking of Marie Osmond. While she was already a member of the family group, Marie began releasing her own solo singles, and finally her 1973 single “Paper Roses” put her on the map. Since then, her success has only multiplied, not only is she a singer, she’s a successful actress, author, and is also a massive a philanthropist.
Mel McDaniel found himself center stage when his first single “Have a Dream on Me” was released. Although, his career really skyrocketed in 1981 with “Louisiana Saturday Night” and “Baby’s Got Her Blue Jeans On.” McDaniel was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry and the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame. Tragically he passed away from lung cancer in 2013.
“The Queen of Country” released her fist album in 1976 but it wasn’t until 1984 that she broke through and found worldwide success. To date, McEntire has released 29 studio albums, is considered one of the best-selling artists of all time, and has sold over 85 million records worldwide. There is nothing this redhead can’t do!
Johnny Cash’s eldest daughter is a extremely talented singer-songwriter and author. 1978 is when she released her first album, but only in Germany, which makes it a collectable. With three Grammy awards to her name, two gold records, and so much more, Rosanne is unstoppable.
Janie Fricke’s 1977 debut single, “What’re You Doing Tonight,” only just missed the top 20. However she soldiered on and all throughout the 80’s, she became one of country music’s most popular female singers. Currently she still performs but makes certain to be with her family on her Texas ranch.
Now here’s someone who doesn’t need an introduction! With his “outlaw country” tone, Willie Nelson has gone on to earn more awards than we can possibly count. Which includes the the Kennedy Center Honors in 1998 the lifetime achievement award of the Library of Congress.
What don’t you know about Bob Dylan? The man is literally a superstar with numerous accolades to his name, including 11 Grammy Awards, the Nobel Prize in Literature, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and so much more which easily makes him one of the best-selling artists of all time. Currently Dylan is on a worldwide tour, which started out in Stockholm, and so far he has published seven books filled with paintings and drawings.
During the 70’s, Julie Newton formed a band known as ‘Juice Newton & Silver Spur’. By 1978, Newton released her solo debut album but it wasn’t until her third album in 1981 that brought her huge success. Since then she’s received five Grammy Award nominations and many Gold and Platinum records.
First things first, Vern Gosdin began his career by singing gospel music. While he briefly retired in the mid 70’s to run a glass making business, but he came back with a record breaking single “Hangin’ On” in 1976. Even though he suffered a stroke, Vern carried on singing, recording hits that Brad Paisley and Lorrie Morgan covered. Sadly, he passed away at age 74 after a second stroke.
After Leon Everette won a singing contest while serving in the Navy during the Vietnam War, he knew he was going to pursue a career in country music. Between the years of 1977 and 1985, Everette released eight albums and reached the top 10 on the Hot Country Songs with singles like “Over”, “Hurricane”, “Just Give Me What You Think Is Fair”, “My Lady Loves Me (Just as I Am)” and “I Could’a Had You”. He retired in 2010.
Kenny Roger’s career began way back in 1958. Rogers joined the jazz group known as The Bobby Doyle Three, after his solo album saw low sales. Then after the band split up, in 1976, Rogers launched his solo career and the rest is history. The Country Music Hall of Famer has been a recipient of numerous awards in the AMAs, Grammys, ACMs and CMAs. Currently he is about to retire to spend more time with his family, especially his wife and twin boys.
48 hours after she performed at a nightclub near the Grand Ole Opry, Barbara Mandrell received offers from six record companies! Throughout the 70’s and 80’s, Mandrell earned many awards and accolades, plus had quite a few number one hits. Singles like “Sleeping Single in a Double Bed”, “(If Loving You Is Wrong) I Don’t Want to Be Right”, “Years”, and “I Was Country When Country Wasn’t Cool”, are still considered classics to this day. However in 1984, at the peak of her popularity, Mandrell was in a serious car crash. Currently she is an avid seat belt advocate.