Wednesday, August 30, 2006
– Influential musician/producer Harold Bradley, Sonny James and George Strait will become the newest members of the Country Music Hall of Fame in November, it was announced Wednesday.
Bradley will be inducted in the “Recording and/or Touring Musician Active Prior to 1980” category, which is awarded every third year in a rotation with the “Career Achieved National Prominence Prior to World War II” and “Non-Performer” categories.
James will be inducted in the “Career Achieved National Prominence Between World War II and 1975” category.
Strait will be the second artist inducted in the “Career Achieved National Prominence Between 1975 and the Present” category, created last year.
All inductees are chosen by CMA’s Hall of Fame Panel of Electors, consisting of more than 300 anonymous voters appointed by the CMA Board of Directors. Bradley, James and Strait will increase membership in the coveted Country Music Hall of Fame from 95 to 98 inductees.
“For the past 60 years I’ve been focused on playing the guitar in the Nashville recording studios,” said Bradley. “I never thought about being inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame because it seemed to be reserved for famous artists. And I want to thank the Country Music Association for putting studio musicians on the ballot, and I want to accept this honor on behalf of the pioneer studio musicians, the A-team studio musicians and all recording musicians everywhere, because they’re all in my hall of fame. Somewhere my brother Owen is smiling.”
James said, “It’s a great honor to join many of my friends in the Hall of Fame.”
“I’m very honored of course, to say the least,” said Strait. “I’ve tried to think of something good to say. So many things have happened in my career. I get asked sometimes ‘What’s the highlight of my career?’ because I’ve been doing it for so long, and I always have a hard time coming up with something because so many good things have happened. But I think this is, without a doubt, the most special thing that’s ever happened and I don’t know how anything could top getting put in the Hall of Fame. It’s just the very highest honor that you can get in this business.”
“After I hung up after talking with (CMA Chief Strategic Officer) Ed (Benson), I did kind of have to chuckle because I’m thinking, ‘Well, don’t people usually get this after their career’s over?’ I’m hoping this is no sign of that because I still feel like I’ve got a lot of good years left in me. I still enjoy everything and I’ve got a new record that’s going to come out in October that I feel like is the best record I’ve ever done since 1981, so I’m really looking forward to that coming out. And I’ve already got tour dates set for next year so I’m still rolling.”
“Actually, I was surprised. I don’t see how anybody could not be surprised. Early in my career it never crossed my mind actually. I guess later on in your career you start thinking about it and wondering if you could get in, but I don’t see how anybody could just figure they’re going to get in. It’s just too special an honor. Of course, I wanted it, but you just can’t expect it. It’s an overwhelming honor. It’s like nothing else that’s happened to me in my 20 some odd years in the business.”
Through the years, Bradley, 80, became the most recorded guitar player in history and would come to be known as “the Dean of Nashville Session Guitarists.” As one of the original “A Team” studio musicians of Nashville, his musical talents were heard on such recordings as “Chattanoogie Shoe Shine Boy” (Red Foley); “Do the Hokey Pokey” (Ray Anthony); “Ballad of New Orleans” (Johnny Horton); “Jingle Bell Rock” (Bobby Helms); “I’m Sorry” (Brenda Lee); “Crazy” (Patsy Cline); “Only the Lonely” (Roy Orbison); “King of the Road” (Roger Miller); “Big Bad John” (Jimmy Dean); “Make The World Go Away” (Eddy Arnold); “Harper Valley PTA” (Jeannie C. Riley); “Stand By Your Man” (Tammy Wynette); “Coal Miner’s Daughter” (Loretta Lynn); and “Swingin’” (John Anderson), among hundreds more. His performances can also be heard on recordings by Joan Baez, Perry Como, Buddy Holly, Burl Ives, George Morgan, Elvis Presley, Charley Pride, Jim Reeves, Marty Robbins, Hank Snow, Conway Twitty, Gene Watson, Hank Williams and more. In addition, he recorded three solo albums of instrumentals. He also performed on a variety of film soundtracks, including “A Walk in the Spring Rain,” “Clambake,” “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” “The Fastest Guitar Alive,” “Kissin’ Cousins,” “Six Pack,” “Smokey and the Bandit II,” “Stay Away Joe,” “The Sugarland Express,” “Sweet Dreams” and “…tick…tick…tick.”
Bradley was also prolific as a producer, working with Eddy Arnold and other artists. In 1999, artist Mandy Barnett turned to Bradley to finish producing her album I’ve Got a Right to Cry after his brother Owen (who was in the midst of producing the project) passed away.
James, 77, joined the Grand Ole Opry in 1962. Two years later, he hit number 1 on the Country charts with “You’re the Only World I Know.” This began his domination of the Country charts for the next eight years, with 21 of his next 25 singles reaching Number1. During the five years between 1967 and 1971, he had 16 consecutive number 1 singles.
Among his hits were “Take Good Care of Her,” “I’ll Never Find Another You,” “A World of Our Own,” “Born to Be With You,” “Bright Lights, Big City,” “My Love,” “Running Bear,” “It’s the Little Things” and “Only the Lonely” among others.
Backed by his band, the Southern Gentlemen, James toured the U.S. and overseas, as well as making frequent television appearances on national shows such as “The Ed Sullivan Show,” “The Bob Hope Show” and “The Andy Williams Show.” He also appeared in movies such as “Las Vegas Hillbillies,” “Second Fiddle to a Steel Guitar” and “Nashville Rebel.”
Strait’s debut single “Unwound” from his first album Strait Country was released in 1981 and became a Top 10 hit. Strait has had at least one single hit the Top 10 every year since. With songs including “If You’re Thinking You Want a Stranger (There’s One Coming Home),” “Fool Hearted Memory,” “Amarillo By Morning,” “You Look So Good in Love,” “The Fireman,” “The Chair,” “Nobody in His Right Mind Would’ve Left Her,” “Ocean Front Property,” “All My Ex’s Live in Texas,” “You Know Me Better Than That,” “If I Know Me” and “Love Without End, Amen,” Strait established a reputation for consistently recording songs influenced by honky tonk and Western swing traditions. He also began co-producing his albums from 1984 onward, starting with his fourth album, “Does Fort Worth Ever Cross Your Mind.“
The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has certified Strait with 13 multi-Platinum, 30 Platinum and 33 Gold albums. According to the RIAA, he has received more Gold albums than any other artist in Country Music, and is currently tied with Frank Sinatra in eighth place for the most Gold albums of any artist in any musical genre. Strait has received 16 CMA Awards, including two consecutive Entertainer of the Year nods (1989, 1990); five Male Vocalist of the Year Awards (1985, 1986, 1996, 1997, 1998); and three Album of the Year Awards (1985 – Does Fort Worth Ever Cross Your Mind; 1996 – Blue Clear Sky; 1997 – Carrying Your Love With Me). His most recent CMA Award was in 2005 for Musical Event of the Year for his performance with Lee Ann Womack on the song “Good News, Bad News.”