Hall of Fame Night

Written by Don Reid on July 2nd, 2008 Posted in General

We have received so many congratulations from so many good friends from around the globe in the recent days and most have asked about the Medallion Ceremony Sunday night in Nashville and exactly what took place.  I’ll try to recapture it as closely as possible although it felt like a dream sequence even as it was happening.

Tom T. was the first to be inducted for the evening.  It’s customary that four songs of note are sung by four different artists either of your choice or the choice of your organization if you want to be surprised.  Michelle Nixon, Heather Berry and Tony Mabe, and Bobby Bare each sang a song Tom had written and then he closed his portion singing his own, Old Dogs and Children and Watermelon Wine. Ralph Emery, a close friend and fellow Hall of Famer (you have to be in the Hall in order to perform this duty) put the medallion around his neck and then Tom spoke and offered some stories and thanks to all the proper people.

His half of the show.

Next came the Statler half.  Interspersed in the reading of the history of our lives and the group, three of our songs were sung.  Reba McEntire, bless her heart, came as a surprise and sang Flowers on the Wall to us.  Energetic and electric – topped only by the personal comments she made on the years she toured with us as our opening act.  What a sweet lady and good friend!

Daily and Vincent, a new Bluegrass group and the best I’ve ever heard, were next with their version of Do You Know You Are My Sunshine? These guys shine and sparkle and I’m going to see them in concert in a couple of weeks.  I hope you do, too, if they are anywhere close.  Super guys!

Next came the heart tugs for us.  Grandstaff – Harold’s and my sons – Wil and Langdon, performed their brand new, self-penned record simply called The Statler Brothers Song. It’s a salute to us using song titles from our career with some tear-jerking sentiments for four old guys sitting there on the front row trying to hide our emotions.  Pretty soon we just quit trying.  This song is on their new CD Live And Well.  I don’t tell you this so you’ll buy it, but I tell you this because I’d love for you to hear it.  These guys are very special to us as are all our kids.  And speaking of our kids.  They were all there except for one.  20 out of 21 and that’s what made the night really special for us.  Of course, I say kids, but they’re adults now with kids of their own.  The Balsley kids were there – the Fortune kids- the DeWitt kids – and both branches of the Reid kids.  God bless them all.

Then our good friend Brenda Lee, who had also toured extensively with us,  came forward and placed the medallions around each of our necks and we each gave our acceptance speeches.  The audience was full of old friends from the industry who came to see us inducted.  Earl Scruggs, Little Jimmy Dickens, Vince Gill, Amy Grant, Sonny James, Emmy Lou Harris, The Jordanaires, Jerry Kennedy, Marshall Grant and so many, many more.

Oh yeah, that left us one song short.  We didn’t tell many people in advance, but for the first time in six (6) years of retirement, we sang I’ll Go To My Grave Loving You as the closing song.  There was magic in the air from the time it all began until and final note was sung and the final tear was dropped.  Our plaque was unveiled revealing the image of all five Statlers – Harold, Phil, Lew, Jimmy and Don.  It was our choice that all five of us be represented as it was all five of us who did whatever it was we did in order to hang in that Hall.

What a night and what a range of emotions and memories it all conjured up.  As we walked the red carpet and did all the interviews along the way, one anonymous arm that stuck a microphone in my face asked a strange and poignant question.  It said, “What do you think Johnny Cash would say if he were here tonight?”  And my answer was as honest and from the heart as I could possibly be.  I said, “I think he would be less surprised than I am because he saw something in us so very early on, before anyone else did, and I think he would say, ‘I knew it that first day in Canton, Ohio back in 1964.  That’s why I hired you’.”

And John I’m sure glad you did.  Wish you were here.  Kiss June goodnight for us.

Don Reid – July 2, 2008