Tuesday morning in the rotunda of Nashville’s Country Music Hall of Fame, Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood announced this year’s inductees into the Hall of Fame: Ricky Skaggs, Dottie West and Johnny Gimble. Skaggs is in the modern category, West is in the veteran category, and Gimble is in the recording and/or touring musician category.
Singer, producer, composer and master musician, Ricky Skaggs started early: At the age of six, he shared a stage with bluegrass icon Bill Monroe, and at age 7, he appeared on TV, playing with legendary bluegrass duo Flatt & Scruggs. In 1970, Skaggs and pal Keith Whitley joined Ralph Stanley‘s Clinch Mountain Boys; later, Skaggs became a member of J.D. Crowe’s New South. In 1976, he and a then-unknown Vince Gill and Jerry Douglas formed the band Boone Creek. In 1977, he replaced Rodney Crowell in Emmylou Harris‘ legendary Hot Band.
As a solo artist, Skaggs, 63, scored 12 #1 hits, eight CMA awards, 14 Grammys and eight ACM Awards. In 1982, he became the youngest member to date to be inducted of the Grand Ole Opry. Chet Akins once credited Skaggs with “single-handedly saving country music.” Skaggs’ hits include “Country Boy,” “Don’t Cheat in Our Hometown,” “Lovin’ Only Me,” and “Uncle Pen.”
The late Dottie West is considered one of country’s most influential and groundbreaking artists, both artistically and image-wise. In 1965, she became the first female country artist to win a Grammy. One of her signature hits was 1973’s “Country Sunshine,” which was also a Coca-Cola jingle. In addition to her solo hits, West, a close friend of the late Patsy Cline, was known for her duets with Kenny Rogers. West and Rogers’ joint hits included “Every Time Two Fools Collide, “What Are We Doing in Love,” and “All I Ever Need Is You.”
Despite starting her career in the sixties, it wasn’t until 1980 that West scored her own solo #1 hit, “A Lesson In Leavin’.” She continued to score hits through the early ’80s and also worked as a stage and screen actress. Her final album was released in 1984. West’s personal life was quite tumultuous, with numerous marriages and financial problems. She died in 1991 at age 58 following a car accident. Her daughter, Shelly, also became a successful country artist; she’s best known for her 1981 duet with David Frizzell, “You’re the Reason God Made Oklahoma.”
Johnny Gimble, one of country’s foremost fiddle players, helped popularize the genre known as Western Swing as a member of Bob Wills‘ band The Texas Playboys. Gimble even played Wills in the Clint Eastwood movie Honky Tonk Man. With the Playboys, Gimble was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as an “early influence.” From 1979 to 1981, he toured with Willie Nelson as a member of Nelson’s band. A noted session musician, Gimble appeared on 10 George Strait albums.
Gimble won five CMAs, nine ACMs and two Grammy Awards. He died in 2015 at the age of 88.
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