1) I am having a disagreement with a friend about one of your old records. It’s called “Country Music Died Today.” She claims I am thinking of “Murder On Music Row.” So did you have such a song and did it chart? Who is right? And is it available on compact disc?
I did record a song called “Country Music Died Today” in the one album I did for Swanee Records back in the mid-eighties. I didn’t write it, and I don’t think the label ever released it as a single, therefore it didn’t make the charts. It has never been released on CD, but I recently purchased the masters to these old recordings so anything is possible. Stay tuned.
2) I have always wondered how a country artist gets paid? Do they get a percentage of the venues and also a percentage of the records they sell? Do most artists divide the money equally with the band? I’ve always wondered how the band gets paid when the artist gets all the attention from the public.
This is one of those topics where there is no one-size-fits-all answer. But I will try to generalize and answer as best as I can. Artists have several sources from which they can make money, record royalties and personal appearances being the primary two. A royalty rate is established when an artist signs a recording contract, and it is usually based on a percentage of record sales or streaming money received by the label. Personal appearance fees can be negotiated on a percentage of ticket sales or on a guaranteed amount for the artist agreed upon ahead of time. Most artists do not divide their appearance money with the band but rather pay their band members a salary or on a per-show basis. There are probably as many variations to these answers as there are artists, but these are the simplified basic rules today. Somebody will probably re-write them tomorrow.
3) You produced some great albums on Lewis Grizzard. Please enlighten us on how you came to know Lewis and your friendship with him.
Lewis, who was a great southern humorist (some called him this generation’s Mark Twain), was a small-town Georgia boy who loved country music, journalism, humor, and the Georgia Bulldogs above everything else in the world. Does that sound like someone else you know? We had known of each other for a long time, but we connected over all that we had in common when he once came to speak at a PoFolks restaurant convention. I sat next to him at the head table and somewhere in the course of conversation I asked him if he had ever considered recording his speeches for a record album. Next thing I knew I was following him all over the country capturing all the funny things he said and editing them into a series of albums and CDs. I think we did eight in all prior to his untimely death in 1994 at the age of 47. Those were some of the best times I ever had, and hardly a day goes by but what I don’t quote something crazy that he said. He was truly one of a kind.
Our Question Of The Month comes from Marsha in Pennsylvania: What would you say is the biggest highlight of your career, and would your answer be different now from what it might have been thirty years ago?
Yes, my answer would be quite different. Thirty years ago I had not written two Songs Of The Year, been named to the national Songwriters Hall of Fame, been chosen BMI’s first country songwriting ICON, celebrated 60-plus years as a member of the Grand Ole Opry, nor been voted membership into the Country Music Hall of Fame. THE highlight? My whole career has been a “highlight” to me because I never expected any of these things to happen. I guess the cherry on top of the sundae, though, would be my election to the Country Music Hall of Fame. That’s the top rung on the ladder that I’ve been trying to climb ever since I was a teenager, and to have reached it is a feeling like no other.
Quickies: During the credits for Coal Miner’s Daughter I noticed the name Bill Anderson Jr. Is he your son or any kin? I must have been asked this question a thousand times over the years and my answer is still the same: No. How tall was Peter Cooper? I thought you were 6’2″ or so, and he is a lot taller than you. I don’t know Peter’s exact height, but he was a couple of inches taller than me. In some pictures, he appears to be even taller than that, but it was the camera angle that made it look that way. And on the subject of pictures: Did you know that in pictures featuring both you and Dolly you look a lot younger? And a lot better too! Dolly makes everyone and everything around her look better!! I am inquiring about your favorite car. I go to many car shows and sometimes see a celebrity with a classic. What was your favorite car? I’ve never been a big “car guy”, certainly not in the league with someone like Jay Leno. My favorite car I’ve ever owned was a late sixties Cadillac El Dorado…turquoise body, white leather top, and an all-white leather interior. It was hard to keep clean, but it sure was fun to drive. One of my favorite songs of yours is “Next Time You’re In Tulsa.” I feel that song should have gone high on the charts, but I don’t know if it ever charted at all. Did anyone else ever record it? Thank you. That song was in my “I Love You Drops” album, but was never released as a single. I can’t recall anyone else ever having recorded it. I love your monthly newsletter. It’s like getting a letter from a friend. That’s awfully nice of you to say. Sometimes I wonder if anybody cares about what I write, but I keep doing it because I enjoy staying connected to country music as well as to my friends and fans. I put a lot of time into it each month, but receiving a letter like yours makes it all worthwhile. Thank you.
I appreciate all your questions this month, and I hope I’ve satisfied your curiosity with my answers. We’ll do it again in March, so if you have a question send it to me. If yours is selected as our Question Of The Month, you’ll receive any item of your choice from our online store absolutely free. Write to me anytime in care of email@example.com, and I’ll see you next time.