1) Did you ever meet Roy Rogers or Gene Autry?
Yes, I was lucky enough to meet them both, and under vastly different circumstances. Roy Rogers was a guest on my television show in the early 70’s shortly after I mentioned his name in my song, “Where Have All Our Heroes Gone.” His wife, Dale Evans, had heard the song, and encouraged Roy to reach out to me when they came to Nashville for a recording session. What a thrill it was to meet and visit with them both. I met Gene Autry when he owned the California Angels baseball team and I went to a game in Anaheim with my friend, Dave Bristol, who, at the time, managed the Milwaukee Brewers. Dave had let me put on a Brewers uniform, and I was in the outfield shagging fly balls prior to the game when I looked up and saw Mr. Autry over by the Angels dugout. I ran over and introduced myself. At the time, he had just been named either the President of the Country Music Association or Chairman of the Board, and I was on the Board of Directors. When I stood there in my Brewers uniform and told him I was a country singer and on the Board of the CMA, he got the most puzzled look on his face. I don’t think he ever quite understood how a Brewers ballplayer could also be a country music singer! I met him later on other occasions and was able to explain the situation.
2) I am from New Zealand, which is a considerable distance from you, but I need to ask if you would ever consider heading down this way? I’m sure you have lots of fans in this area who would turn out in great numbers for a concert.
Thank you. I had the opportunity back in the late sixties to come to New Zealand, but before the tour left Nashville, I ended up in the hospital suffering from exhaustion. Leroy Van Dyke made the trip in my place. I’ve always regretted missing out because everyone who went (Tex Ritter, Tom T. Hall, Connie Smith, Leroy and others) said your country is one of the most beautiful and hospitable places they have ever been. Maybe someday the opportunity to come there will present itself again. I hope it does.
3) Two questions this month regarding the Country Music Hall of Fame: 1) Do you think Jerry Lee Lewis can become a member of the Hall of Fame while he is still living? 2) I have a hard time believing Gene Watson is not in the Hall of Fame. Also Jeannie Seely.
There is no denying that Jerry Lee, Gene, and Jeannie have all had successful careers in country music and have each contributed much to our culture and to our music. At the same time, I’ve learned to never try and outguess the voters who determine who does and who doesn’t get elected to the Hall of Fame. Just as there are great baseball and football players who leave us scratching our heads because they never get elected to their respective Halls, there will always be those in country music who fall short as well. I guess the only answer to your question is, “Time will tell.”
Thanks for your questions this month, and I hope you’ll keep them coming. You can send them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or through the mail at P.O. Box 888, Hermitage, TN. 37076. We’ll see you back here with another batch in November.