I told Jeannie Seely the other day that the twenty dollars I paid for my 2020 Monthly Planner was the biggest waste of money I could ever remember!
Almost everything I wrote down beginning in March and running through December has been erased. Nothing that I planned on has happened and most of it never will happen. A little thing called the Coronavirus has seen to that. I don’t know what kind of calendar you keep for your schedule, but I’m sure you’ve experienced a similar feeling. Thank goodness I wrote it all in pencil.
By now you probably know that our December Country’s Family Reunion cruise has been cancelled. The Salute To The Grand Ole Opry that Dailey & Vincent had planned for us in Hiawassee, Georgia, in September has also been cancelled. When these and several other of our scheduled concerts began falling like dominoes, I told my agent to simply clear the slate for 2020 and start focusing on next year which is what he has done. Like most artists in our business, we won’t be touring the rest of this year, but the majority of our dates have been rescheduled for 2021. When the dust settles, we’ll post a revised lineup.
Good things are still happening, though. Jeannie’s new album is coming out this month and she asked me to be part of it and sing “When Two Worlds Collide” with her…the song Roger Miller and I wrote together back in the early sixties. I hope you’ll enjoy our duet version. I’m proud to have three songs on Moe Bandy’s upcoming album due out August 28th. He cut “City Lights,” a new song Bobby Tomberlin and I wrote called “What If,” and the title track, “A Love Like That,” which I co-wrote with Bobby and Mo Pitney. Moe’s records are always country and always among the best.
John Berry’s recording of a song we co-wrote, “Don’t Think I Ain’t Country,” hit #1 on the Country Christian Music charts in late July. It’s not a “Christian” song as such, but it has a positive message which, fortunately, that audience can relate to. And our own album, “The Hits Re-Imagined,” continues to receive some wonderful reviews and comments, and I thank you for those. If you haven’t added a copy to your collection I hope you will do so.
We’ve had to face some sadness over the past few weeks with the passing of some of our good friends and co-workers. Our former road manager and souvenir salesman deluxe, Robbie Wittkowski, who rode a whole bunch of rivers with me back in the 80’s and 90’s, died of double pneumonia in a hospital near his home in Arizona. He was 64.
Everybody’s buddy and longtime radio personality, Bill Mack, passed away down in Texas last week. Bill gave so much to our business, and will certainly be missed. And of course we all continue to mourn the loss of Charlie Daniels, a great American and a kind, giving human being. What a hole all these deaths have left in the fabric of our musical family.
We had to postpone recording the pilot episode for the proposed new TV game show, “Name That Country Tune,” that I was scheduled to host in late July. Hopefully, we can get that back on the books sometime soon. It’s a really fun show that I think our fans will enjoy once we can get it on the air. I’ll keep you posted.
One thing that didn’t get postponed was my 59th Anniversary as a member of the Grand Ole Opry which took place on July 15th. We couldn’t go out and celebrate, of course, but thanks so much for your many congratulatory messages. They were all most appreciated. I just hope we can celebrate big next year on #60!
On a personal note let me add another warning to all the other warnings you are getting these days: Don’t peel a fresh peach directly over your garbage disposal! I tried it, dropped the peach down the drain, and nearly broke my wrist trying to get it out. Peach pits (seeds) and disposal units are not designed for each other, so it had to come out. No harm was done, but I wouldn’t want to have to go through fishing it out again. It was awkward and extremely messy. Men aren’t supposed to be in the kitchen anyway!! (Oh boy, that’s bound to stir up a hornet’s nest!)
Take care…stay safe…keep smiling…and I’ll see you back here again in September. Thanks a BILL-ion for everything…
1) Do you know whether or not Circle TV will broadcast the TV portion of the Opry when it resumes the regular shows? Or will Gaylord Entertainment allow it to be done?
The Circle Network is owned by the same people who own the Opry, so, yes, you can expect to see Opry shows on Circle once the pandemic passes and crowds are allowed back into the Opry House. We’re all looking forward to that.
2) I assume you do not read your mail! I wrote you a note a couple of months ago and never got a response. How do you handle all your mail?
I personally read every piece of mail that reaches my desk…whether it’s e-mail or snail mail. Keep in mind, though, that just because you sent it doesn’t mean I received it. The postal service and cyberspace are not perfect. Not every letter I get requires an answer, and I don’t have time to be pen pals with people who write me every day or so. I also cannot reply to everyone who wants to send me a song or asks me to listen to their granddaughter sing. I do the best I can to respond to as much of my mail as I can. If I failed to get back to you, I apologize.
3) I know you have signed many thousands of autographs over the years, but I wonder if you ever get autographs from fellow artists. If so, is there one you really cherish?
I collected autographs when I was a kid, mostly baseball players. I fought a monster crowd outside the ball park in Atlanta one Sunday afternoon to get Jackie Robinson’s autograph the year after he broke baseball’s color barrier. And when my wife, Becky, and I met Elvis in Las Vegas, he signed a picture to us: “To Bill & Becky – My best allways – Elvis Presley.” I valued that one for two reasons. One, of course, because it was Elvis. And the other because he mis-spelled “always.” Not knowing how much the Jackie Robinson autograph meant to me, my mom threw it away…along with my childhood comic books and other junk…years after I left home. So far as I know, Becky has the Elvis picture.
Quickies: I know you are from Columbia, S.C., but whereabouts? We lived in the Five Points/Shandon area and I went to Schneider Elementary School. What was your major at Georgia and did you write a lot of songs while attending UGA? I majored in Broadcast Journalism. I wrote City Lights and several of my early songs while I was still in school. I collect plates of country music stars and was wondering if your picture was ever on a plate sold as a souvenir? Yes, I think so. Unfortunately, I don’t have one. Any chance you and Mike Reid could get together and write a song? We’ve talked about it many times, but never have pulled the trigger. I’d love to. I’m a big fan of his. Did you write “When A Man Can’t Get A Woman Off His Mind”? I co-wrote it with Sharon Vaughn. Do you have any records available on vinyl? Yes, the “Anderson” album is available on vinyl and can be purchased from our website.
Thanks for your questions. Send me yours at email@example.com and we’ll see you back here for more next month. Stay curious.
1) One of country music’s greatest radio voices and most noted historians, Eddie Stubbs, has announced his retirement from WSM and the Grand Ole Opry. I first met Eddie when he was on the air at WAMU in Washington, D.C., and encouraged him to come to Nashville. He is a dear friend and my personal go-to guy when I have a question relating to anything country. All of us at the Opry wish him and his wife, Debbie, nothing but happiness as they open a new chapter in their lives. 2) John Berry and I performed “Don’t Think I Ain’t Country” together one time on the Opry, and we were both thrilled when it rose to #1 recently on the Christian Country Music charts. 3) I first met Robbie Wittkowski when he was around 12-years old and I brought him on stage to sing with me in Des Moines, Iowa. He came to work as my tour manager and director of merchandise years later. Nobody loved the music or the fans any more than Robbie did, and those of you who knew him loved him back. Rest in peace, my friend. We will miss you.
Charlie Daniels was a big ol’ teddy bear…one of the kindest, gentlest people I’ve ever known…with a wonderful sense of humor and a great outlook on life. I’ve played golf with him, shared the Opry stage with him, sat alongside him at the Titans football games, and always marveled at his talent and his tenacity. There’s a big ol’ hole in lots of our hearts today with the news of his passing.